Follow Up Friday: documenting the military service of John Pearson Minor

I took up the Family History Writing Challenge.

Each day in February I have sat at my computer and clattered away.  I have watched the word count grow and have finally reckoned that The Life and Times of John Pearson Minor is indeed going to get written, 250 words at a time.  My manuscript is not worthy of an editor’s time, but at least I am getting through my perfectionism and assembling my data into a story line.

The first big chunk of primary source information I have on J. P. is regarding his service in the War of 1812.  And I know NOTHING about that military action.  Rather, I KNEW nothing.

Back to the very beginning. . . .

The Minor family was a large component of the early settler population in Greene and Fayette counties.  The southwestern hills of Pennsylvania, where Big Whitely Creek emptied into the Monongehela River, would shelter several children and grandchildren of Stephen and Athelia Minor.  There are many trails leading the Minors into that section of the country, none of which I have adequately followed, triangulating internet sources with family stories and institutional records.  BUT it does seem likely that the first Minors in the area by the 1770s were siblings: Sarah Minor Dye, wife of Andrew Dye; John Minor, general during the Indian and Revolutionary Wars and the Father of Greene County;  and William, colonel in the Revolutionary War.  Samuel, their brother, came to Fayette county by 1809 and settled around Uniontown.  Abia, Samuel’s son, and his wife, Margaret Pearson Minor, arrived in Greene Township, Greene County, in 1798 with three little boys –  John Pearson (b. November 7, 1791), Samuel and Asa.*

John Pearson, then, was a second generation Green County resident, and would have grown up among strong family ties that both promoted opportunities for land acquisition – and the rights conferred by that ownership – and bound him to powerful responsibilities within the community.  Certainly his military service during the War of 1812 came from a strong family commitment to the defense of the land and the new country.

I once knew nothing, now I know something

The War of 1812 was an extension, by some accounts, of the Napoleonic Wars raging throughout Europe.  New England and other coastal communities were making economic gains supplying the British with goods.  The western frontier communities, however, were being severely impeded in their attempts to grow and expand by the savage confrontations with various Indian tribes; peoples that the western Americans believed were negatively influenced by the British who remained in the area.  Furthermore, there was great land speculation occurring in the western territories, and such entrepreneurs as William Henry Harrison had a great deal to gain if the British could be pushed north of the Great Lakes and cede control of the vast western frontier to the young united states.  When war was declared in June of 1812, local militias along the frontier of Pennsylvania, western Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio were of necessity well trained and armed, and these community-minded men were quite ready to join the federal fight to secure their families’ safety and financial prospects.

Among the volunteers able and willing to fight the Indians (and the British) was John Pearson Minor, age 21.  He enlisted in Captain Thomas Seely’s light cavalry unit, 15th Division, 2nd Regiment, 2nd Pennsylvania Brigade as a corporal.  From October 2 – November 26 of 1812, Seely’s Light Dragoons were temporarily assigned to the 1st Regiment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Joel Ferree, 2nd Pennsylvania Brigade under the command of Brigadier General Richard Crooks.  The brigade was organized in Pittsburgh and left to join the Army of the Northwest on October 19,1812.  They marched and rode west to Wooster, Ohio and then on to Mansfield, Ohio.  The light dragoons companies then headed for Lebanon, Ohio to join the 2nd Regiment of United States Light Dragoons, a cavalry regiment newly created and assigned to Major James Vincent Ball. This service is documented in the War of 1812 Service Records, in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and by the war marker at his grave in Garard’s Fort Cemetary, Greene County, Pennsylvania.  **

But what happened to John and the other troopers of Captain Seely’s light dragoons; what assignments were they given and how long did these local militia members remain a part of the federal troops? This question is my follow up question of the week.  

And to answer it, I need help.  Among the items of my Minor Satchel, a cache of family heirlooms, is the pension certificate #13669 for Pearson Minor, late a corporal for Captain Thomas J. Sealey’s regiment, which awarded him an invalid pension of $8/month commencing February 14, 1871.  With this information I headed to the National Archives website.

 A complete history of John Pearson’s tour of duty should be embedded in his pension application file, and any of us genealogists can ask for copies of such files!! The order form – for a complete pension file or a pension packet – can be completed online or downloaded.  Opting for the quicker, online service, I completed the requisite form, eagerly pressing ADD TO CART.  I can expect to receive the complete pension file, # 13669, from this government repository within 42-120 days!  I can’t wait to read the contents!

*This presence is confirmed by the records of the Goshen Baptist Church, Garard’s Fort, and by the voting records of 1801 and 1806, as posted on the Cornerstone Genealogical Society website (accessed on February 4, 2012).

**Urwin, Gregory J.W. The United States Cavalry: An Illustrated History, 1776-1941. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1983. Print.

**Johnson, Eric E. “Re: Daniel Porter: War of 1812.” GenForum – Home. 13 Jan. 2007. Web. 08 Feb. 2012. <http://genforum.genealogy.com/warof1812/messages/5194.html&gt;.