Monday, May 23, 2011

Amanuensis Monday - Cornelius Feather's 1851 Affidavit

Genea-blogger John Newmark (who writes the excellent TransylvanianDutch blog) started a Monday blog theme many months ago called Amanuensis Monday. What does "amanuensis" mean? John offers this definition:

"A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another."

The subject today is the affidavit that Cornelius Feather (1777-1852) dictated in the Revolutionary War Pension File of his brother, John Feather (Revolutionary War Pension File number W3236, pages 14 and 15, accessed on, in the New Jersey collection, citing NARA Microfilm Publication M804, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files.  I have 37 page images from this Pension File):

"State of Pennsylvania
County of Mercer  S.S.

"Personally appeared before the subscriber a Justice of the Peace in and for said County - Cornelius Feather aged 74 years a resident of East Salem township in said county - who being first duly sworn according to law doth depose and say that he is a Brother to John Feather deceased late a revolutionary Soldier and pensioner of the United States at the rate of $39.89 per annum who died in Mercer county in the month of May 1838 leaving a widow whose maiden name was Mary Wheeler - who died on the 18th day of March eighteen hundred & forty seven (1847) in said County of Mercer - deponent states that his Father Stephen Feather emigrated from Middlesex County State of New Jersey about 2 years after the close of the revolutionary War to Westmoreland County Pennsylvania and that William Wheeler who was the reputed father of said Mary was a neighbor to his said father in Middlesex Co State of New Jersey and emigrated in company with his said father to the vacinity of Carlisle Cumberland county & state of Pennsylvania - the aforesaid John Feather and Mary his wife being in the same company and that said Wheeler settled at that time as he believes in the State of Virginia and in the following winter his said Brother John left Westmoreland Co for the State of Virginia and returned in the following Spring to Westmoreland County & State of Pennsylvania together with his said wife Mary and lived in lawful wedlock with her up to the time of his aforesaid death - deponent also states that seven children are now living who were born to the said John Feather and Mary his wife 5 of which were born prior to the year seventeen hundred and ninety four whose names are Hannah Hunter Jane Neely John Feather Betsey and Nancy Feather and subsequent to 1794 was born Polley Stewart and Stephen Feather - deponent states that about the year 1798 the said John was a boy of eight or 9 years old in company with him to see a large boddy of soldiers who were on march near a Camp on Carnahane hill in the west part of Westmoreland County - who were soldiers engaged in the Whisky insurection so caled of 1794.

"Sworn to and subscribed  ...............  Cornelius Feather
on this 23rd day of April 1851
before me - I als certify that
deponent Cornelius Feather is a
credable witness M.A. Leeck J.P."

This affidavit is dictated by my 4th great-grandfather, Cornelius Feather (1777-1852) in support of a pension claim by the children of his brother John Feather (1760-1838) and his wife Mary (Wheeler) Feather.  It provides useful information about the lives of John and Mary (Wheeler) Feather, and identifies the father of John and Cornelius.

There is an emphasis on children born before 1794 in this affidavit and in several other affidavits filed by other children of John and Mary Feather.  The reason is that the family had no written proof of the marriage before 1794 (a requirement for the pension, apparently) and had to use sworn depositions to justify their claim.

Other papers in this pension file detail more of the lives of John and Mary (Wheeler) Feather, and John's father, Stephen Feather, including John's own statement of his military service and the family migration from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.  These affidavits are the only information that I have about Stephen Feather, apparently of Middlesex County, New Jersey.

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