Monday, June 30, 2008

Martin Carringer (1758-1835), an Independent Spirit

I am drawn to the stories of the pioneers - the first settlers, they ones who migrated from Europe to America, or across America in the 19th century.

One of my favorite "pioneers" was truly an independent spirit, if you can believe the article in the book "History of Mercer County, Pennsylvania", published in Chicago by Brown, Runk & Co in 1888:

"Mention will be made of one early pioneer, whose life was a succession of eccentric thoughts and equally as eccentric actions. Reference is made to Martin Carringer. He was an old Revolutionary War veteran, whose entrance into (Perry) township dates back, according to the best authenticated accounts, to the year 1796. Some assert that Carringer arrived as early as 1795, and built a cabin. If this could be verified it would unquestionably establish him as the earliest settler in the county. But however the mere date may be, he is fairly entitled to rank among the very earliest pioneers. He settled on donation lot No. 941, which had been granted to him from the commonwealth on account of his services in the Revolution.

"He was a German, as the name indicates, and was known, in later years, after settlements had been made about him, for his wonderful kindness. He was extremely generous, but his generosity was only extended to the poor and helpless. All worthy public enterprises received his hearty support, and all unworthy ones were as readily met with his vehement opposition. It is seldom in the history of any community that a character is found which deserves higher encomiums than those which even his neighbors and associates bestowed on Martin Carringer" (p. 568).

He was officially listed as a Pennsylvania Revolutionary War pensioner on 19 June 1824, when he was 75 years of age. His widow was allowed her pension in 1839 after his death, a resident of Sandy Creek township and 71 years of age. Martin Carringer's Revolutionary War pension file abstract reads:

"CARRINGER, Martin, Molly, W6905 BLW 1259-100, PA line, soldier enlisted in Westmoreland Cty PA, soldier applied 12 Apr 1824 Mercer Cty PA aged 65, soldier married Mary "Molly" Hoax in May 1785 and soldier died 25 Jan 1835 in Mercer Cty PA and widow applied there 8 Feb 1839 a resident of Sandy Creek Twnshp PA aged 71 and widow died there 31 Aug 1850. Children were Jacob, born 1 Oct 1785, Lizbet born 6 Sept 1789, Katharine born 18 Jan 1792, George born 5 Sept 1795, Calli born 9 Mar 1797, Henrick born 6 June 1800, Soloman born 24 Aug 1802, Joseph born 22 Oct 1805. Also shown was a grandchild Tastet born 13 May 1811 and died 27 Aug 1820; soldier's son George signs affidavit 28 Aug 1851 Mercer Cty PA, surviving children at widow's death were Jacob Carrigan, Elizabeth McCartney deceased in 1851, Catherine Cazbe, George, Henry and Joseph Carrigan. Soldier's daughter Elizabeth McCartney died 14 Nov 1850." ("Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files" by Virgil D. White, pub. 1990)

As you can see, I know quite a bit about Martin Carringer, and I also have several deeds, his will, have visited Mercer County and have stopped by his homestead in Perry township. But I don't know many things about Martin Carringer - including who his parents were (there are clues), where he resided before his marriage to Molly Hoax, etc.

Elusive ancestors are often independent spirits, aren't they?

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