Sunday, April 21, 2013


My 5x  great grandfather Amos Upton had a good memory for a 90 year old
man when he applied for his Revolutionary War Veteran's Pension in August
of 1832 but unfortunately that was all he had with which to make his case. His
friends who had witnessed his service were all dead so they could not testify
in his behalf, nor did he have any documents he could produce as proof, either.
His statement was termed   "traditionary evidence" on the brief filed with his
application. Now according to Black's Law Dictionary, traditionary evidence is
"Evidence derived from tradition or reputation or the statements formerly
made by persons since deceased." Amos was not dead, but the term was the
closest to his defining statement. The next step was an inquiry into the
military records of Massachusetts where Amos had been living during the
Revolution. The answer came back in  April 1833 and it was not good news:

 "Boston Sec. Office, April 24, 1833
 Thomas Clark, Esq.
I send you a certificate of all that can be found as (pertains?) the service of
John Lombard. Amos Upton I do not find at all. There is one Roll of Capt.
Asa Prince's company, but Upton's name is not on it.
Edward S (Bangsby?)"

But Amos didn't give up. The rely had been written on April 24th and most have
taken two or three days to get from Boston up to Norway in Western Maine. A
few days after that, Amos reapplied for hs pension:

"State of Maine, Oxford SS May 1, 1833. Personally appeared before me, the
undersigned, a Justice of the Peace, in and for the county of Oxford, Amos
Upton who, being duly sworn, deposeth and saith, that by reason of old age,
and the consequent  loss of memory, he cannot swear positively as to the
precise length of his service , but according to the best of his recollection
he served not less than the period mentioned below, and in the following
grade: viz. For six months I served as a sergeant and for such service I
claim a pension.
Amos Upton."

There's none of the names of officers Amos mentioned in his first application.
His signature looks shaky and the "t" in Upton looks as if he forgot it and had
to add it after the original signature. Looking at this statement, with even less
information than on his already rejected first application, it's hard to think that
Amos would have any success this time around. But he did. I believe that someone
in  the Massachusetts state government finally found the records for this entry in
Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution:

"Volume 16  
page 226
Upton, Amos, Reading.List dated Reading, 2d Parish, May 15, 1775, of men who 

enlisted under Capt. Asa Prince, of Danvers, as returned by Capt. John Flint to Col. 
David Green; also, Sergeant, Capt. Prince's co., Col. Mansfield's regt.; order for 
advance pay, signed by said Upton and others, dated Cambridge, June 8, 1775; also, 
Capt. Prince's co., Col. John Mansfield's (19th) regt. commanded by Lieut. Col. 
Israel Hutchinson; company return dated Oct. 6, 1775."

A certificate of pension was issued on August 2 1833.  Amos Upton was to receive $30
a year, a good amount of money in those days, beginning the following year of 1834. But
he also received $75  immediately, $60 of which was in arrears.

Amos lived for another five years, finally passing away at the age of  95 on 3Apr 1838.
He had been probably the last surviving Revolutionary War veteran in Norway, Maine.


Janice Brown said...


I can see where you get your persistence. Isn't it wonder that these documents are easier to dig up these days. And that Amos Upton had a descendant who liked to dig.


Bill West said...

Thanks, Janice!

Michael Davies said...

Bill, this has been one of my favourite blogs to read, thanks for sharing it and I'm glad it all worked out for Amos in the end!