Elijah Towner

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Elijah Towner, son of Abraham Towner and Hannah (Anna) Foote, was born at Danbury, Connecticut, 20 August 1759.1 He died at Rome, Bradford Co., Pennsylvania, 7 October 1840, aged 81y, 1m, 17d,1 and was buried at Towner Hill Cemetery, Rome, Bradford Co., Pennsylvania.2

Elijah married Mary Knapp, daughter of John Knapp and Mary Hoyt, at Danbury, Connecticut, 17 December 1778.1

Elijah Towner served in the revolution, and his name is on the rolls of Capt John St. John's Co. in the 5th Regiment, Connecticut Line, under Col. Philip Bradley in 1780. He was also one of the first Marines. His pension application says much of his experiences in the war:
Declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress of the 7th of June 1832.

State of Pennsylvania Bradford County

On this Eleventh day of September, personally appearing before the Hon. Edward Herrick Esq., President of the 13th Judicial District for the County of Bradford, and his associates - the Hon. John McKean and Jonathan Stevens Esquire, Elijah Towner a resident of Rome Township, County of Bradford and State of Penn. - aged seventy three years, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following Declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the provision made by the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.

That he enlisted in the army of the United States on the first part of the month of October in the year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy Five, at the Town of Danbury in the County of old Fairfield, Connecticut for the term of three months, in a company commanded by Capt. Eli Magget, Lieut. Paul Hamilton, and Ensign Salmon or Zalman Taylor. His company was attached to the regiment commanded by Colonel Chandler, whose given name he does not remember. The company formed at Danbury, and marched to New York, where they joined the regiment. He continued at the camp at New York during the term of his enlistment. The business was keeping demeanor and working on fatigue at what was then called the Grand Battery and old fort. At one time he went out with a party, and crossed over to Governors Island in the night, under the stern of the British Shipping, and worked at making an entrenchment on the island. After being there about twenty-four hours, his party was relieved by another party from the camp, and he and his party returned to New York. There was no important event happen about New York during his term of service, that he knows of; and at the end of the term of the enlistment, he received a written discharge from Col. Chandler. But the declarant has no knowledge or recollection what became of it. He was at that time only sixteen years of age and was thoughtless concerning it. The British ships that lay at New York at the time was the Asia Man of War, and two smaller vessels, the Phoenix of 40 guns, and another of 20 guns. He thinks that soon after his arrival at New York, General Putnam came on and took command of the troops there. After his three months tour to New York, the said Elijah Towner further states that he returned home to Danbury aforesaid, and remained there until about the first of April 1776, at which time he again enlisted into the United States Army at said Danbury for the term of nine months, and joined the company commanded by Capt. Jabez Botsford, Lieut. Ezra Star, and Ensign Jeremiah Botsford, a cousin to the captain. The company marched from Danbury to Skeensborough (since called Whitehall) at the head of Lake Champlain, and arrived there towards the last of June, as near as he can recollect, and there joined a part of Col. Swift's Regiment. The other part of the same Regiment being stationed at Fort Independence or Ticonderoga. Soon after his arrival at Skeensborough his company were ordered out to open and improve the road between the old Fort Edward and Fort Ann, so here they were engaged near two months, and then returned to Skeensborough. During which time, this declarant was with them. Soon after his return, he was with his company ordered to Ticonderoga to join the regiment there. Not to exceed four weeks after he arrived at Ticonderoga or Fort Independence, he was detached from his company and put on board the Galley Washington on Lake Champlain, to serve as a marine. After getting the vessel rigged, She sailed down the Lake to the west side of Cumberland bay. Her Captain was of the name of Hatcher of New Haven, Connecticut, the Lieut. Fairweather of Horseneck, Connecticut. The fleet was commanded by Benedict Arnold and Gen. Waterbury of Horseneck was second in command. The latter was on board of the same vessel with this declarant. The fleet remained at Cumberland Bay between an island called Schuylers Island and the western main shore about two months from the time of his arrival there. When on a Friday morning, the British Fleet under command of Gen. Carlton, came up and formed a line from the south point of the island to the main shore. About seven o'clock in the morning, a battle was commenced between the fleets, and continued during the day. At night the American fleet withdrew and sailed up the lake, and the next day was pursued by the British. The Galley Washington had been a good deal damaged in the action, and fell behind the other vessels, and on Sunday morning very early the British with a twenty gun ship and two schooners came up with her, and Gen. Waterbury refusing to surrender a battle ensued. Gen. Arnold, instead of coming to her assistance, ran his ship and the other vessels ashore, and blew them up and after a conflict 'til about half after ten o'clock A.M. the galley being much cut to pieces and many killed and wounded, Gen. Waterbury surrendered the crew and marines prisoners of war and caught them this declarant. And he together with the others were suffered to return home and go at large, on his parol, a writing for which, signed by Gen. Carlton, he received through the hand of Gen. Waterbury, and he immediately returned home. He thinks this was sometime in October, but cannot recollect with certainty. In the first battle on Friday, Lieut. Fairweather was killed by a double headed shot, and the same shot also killed a seaman by name of Taylor, so near this declarant that his flesh and brains struck him. Capt. Hatcher was badly wounded in his legs in the same battle by a shell. This declarant further saith that within a few days after his return home, he turned out a volunteer for a short expedition, and fought the Battle of White Plains in the company of militia commanded by Capt. Justus Barnum, contrary to his parol. But his enthusiasm, inducements, and age was such that he did not sufficiently consider his obligation of parol. He also turned out volunteer on an expedition to Fort Montgomery, and another in the winter to Kingsbridge. In April 1777, when the British took and destroyed Danbury, his chest and clothing, and also his written parol, which was in the chest, was taken and rifled, and he has never seen either since.

The said Elijah Towner further saith that he has lived in what is now Bradford County, thirty seven years past, and he has not at this time, knowledge of any person living who can prove his service. He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or an annuity except the present. And he declares that his name is not on the pension roll of any agency in any state.

Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid. We Joseph Kingsbury and Thomas Marshall residing in Sheshequin, adjoining the Township of Rome, and where the above named Elijah Towner resided for many years, do hereby certify that we are well acquainted with the said Elijah Towner, who has subscribed and sworn to the above and foregoing declaration. That we believe him to be as much as seventy three years of age. That he is referred and believed in the neighborhood where he resides to have been a soldier of the revolution, and that we fully concur in that opinion, and that we know ----- clergyman residing in said Rome or Sheshequin except that of said Elijah Towner.

Sworn to and subscribed in open court the 11th day of Sept 1832.


He moved from Danbury to New Lebanon, Columbia Co., New York, where he lived for some years. In 1793, with his son Enoch, he scouted out the area of northwest Pennsylvania and found Shesequin. He left Enoch with General Spaulding. He returned to New York to retrieve the rest of his family the following year. Crossing the Catskill Mountains and continuing through southern New York, they reached the Susquehanna River at Wattles Ferry. There he built a boat or raft, loaded up the family and their goods and went down the river with the current. In the journey, the boat was nearly capsized on a snag, and though much of the goods were lost, the family was safe. Enoch had sowed 13 acres of grain for Spaulding, and Enoch's share of that was sufficient for the Towners during their first year. After landing, he purchased 400 acres of land from a Mr. Thayre, paying 400 Spanish milled dollars. This land was located at the center of the so-called Connecticut town of Thayres, named Watertown. His title later proved to be worthless and he abandoned the place, and commenced to clear another on Oak Hill, three miles from the river. He cleared 100 acres, put up a distillery and operated it for several years. He then traded for 300 acres on what is now known as Towner's Hill where he lived from 1806 until his death.1,3

For more information on the Battle of Lake Champlain see http://historiclakes.org/Valcour/valcour_battle.htm.1,4

Family

Mary Knapp b. 3 Jul 1760, d. 21 Feb 1841
Children
  • Ezra Towner+1 b. 27 Sep 1779, d. 1 Mar 1807
  • Enoch Towner1 b. 1 Oct 1781, d. 19 May 1874
  • Abraham Towner1 b. 22 Sep 1783, d. 7 Sep 1857
  • John Towner1 b. 20 Aug 1785, d. 17 Oct 1863
  • Gersham Towner1 b. 29 Apr 1788
  • Ruth Towner1 b. 7 Sep 1790, d. bef. 1800
  • Elijah Towner1 b. 29 Apr 1792, d. 7 Feb 1831
  • Anna Towner1 b. 18 Jun 1794, d. 1883
  • Joseph Towner1 b. 14 Mar 1797, d. 12 Apr 1854
  • Olive Towner1 b. 2 Dec 1799
  • Elizabeth Towner+1 b. 8 Dec 1801, d. 21 Jun 1838
  • Benjamin Towner1 b. 8 Jul 1803, d. 1866

Citations

  1. [S13] James W. Towner, A Genealogy of the Towner Family: the Descendants of Richard Towner, who came from Sussex County, Eng., to Guilford, Conn., before 1685 (Los Angeles, California: Times-Mirror Printing & Binding House, 1910), 74-76. Hereafter cited as Towner, Towner Family.
  2. [S1381] Joyce M. Tice, Tri-Counties Genealogy & History, online http://www.joycetice.com, (http://www.joycetice.com/cemb/townhil2.htm, accessed Oct 2009). Hereafter cited as Tri-Counties.
  3. [S21] Clement F. Heverly, Pioneer and Patriot Families of Bradford County Pennsylvania 1800-1825, Two vols. (Towanda, Pennsylvania: Bradford Star Print, 1915), 1:241. Hereafter cited as Heverly, Pioneers of Bradford Co.
  4. [S630] Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-land-warrant Application Files, microfilm publication M0804, (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1969), Elijah Towner file no. S22558, FHL Film 972404, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.