Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Search: Virginia Versus New Jersey


While searching through the pages and pages of Revolutionary War documents I happened to stumble across a very familiar name, Jacob Dufford. While we have been aware for some time of our immigrant ancestor providing supplies to the Continental Army on 17 December 1780, this document was completely different. This document which caught my attention was the “Names and ranks of those killed or taken on Long Island the 27th day August 1776.” The second name on that list, clearly printed, is Jacob Dufford. While an exciting find to be sure, it was quickly tempered, as I am familiar with the various Dufford families in the colonies at the time which begged the question, is this the same Jacob Dufford?

First, let’s consider the candidates…

Given the death of their original immigrant in 1767, the New Jersey line of the Dufford family has one possibility, Jacob Dufford from Morris County who was born in 1745 and died in 1822. Note that Morris County is immediate west of Northampton County, Pennsylvania. When conducting a further search into records, no other reference could be found regarding this Jacob Dufford and the Revolutionary War. In the Virginia Dufford tree, given the fact that the second generation Jacob was only 12 at the time, there really is only one possibility being that of our original immigrant, Jacob Dufford who was born in Alsace Lorraine on 12 January 1734, arrived in Philadelphia on 27 October 1764, and died in Augusta County on 12 April 1800. At the time, Augusta County extended well beyond its current boundaries all the way to Pennsylvania. Those are the two possibilities, the only two names that match.

Second, let’s consider the service document…   

The document which I discovered listed Jacob Dufford as having been killed or captured during the Battle of Long Island on the 27th day of August 1776. It also notes his enlistment date being 13 July 1776 and his discharge date being 1 December 1776 (the date on which the Flying Camps were disbanded). This information was confirmed when I was able to find his official service record. Despite his length of service being recorded as 1 month and 15 days, this second document, the only other document I could find and produced in November 1776 in Elizabethtown, provided me with some further details regarding the service of Jacob Dufford. As it turns out, he was a part of the Pennsylvania Infantry serving in Captain John Arndt’s Company of Colonel Baxter’s Battalion of Northampton County in the State of Pennsylvania of the Flying Camp… the Spartans of Long Island. While Baxter’s Batallion later fought at Fort Washington, it is doubtful that Jacob Dufford was present and/or able to fight as the prisoners taken by the British at Long Island were kept in inhumane conditions and nearly starved to death during their incarceration.

While this initial reading of the documentation suggests, based on county proximity, that this was a member of the New Jersey Duffords, I had to be sure and decided to look more closely into the history of the Flying Camps since I was unfamiliar with that term. Among the various writings on this obscure organization of militia forces during the Revolution, John Allen Miller’s article “The Flying Camp Batallion”, published on the Emmitsburg Area Historical Society webpage, proved to have the most complete history. In this article, Miller writes on the formation of the “Flying Camps”:

On June 3, 1776, the Continental Congress resolved "that a flying camp be immediately established in the middle colonies." For its part, Pennsylvania was called upon to provide a force of some 6,000 men. Delegations of one officer and two enlisted men from each of Pennsylvania's fifty-three associated battalions met in Lancaster, on July 4, 1776, for the purpose of selecting this force. Then, on July 10, 1776, the Bucks County Committee of Safety, citing "the Resolve of the late Provincial Conference for embodying four hundred of the Associates of this County," appointed the following officers to command. (Pennsylvania Archives, 5th Series, Vol. V; History of Bucks County, Davis)

The flying camp received little support from New Jersey. Pennsylvania sent some 2,000 associates, many of who were quickly drafted into service by Gen. Washington in New York. More men soon arrived from Maryland and Delaware, but despite the best efforts of Gen. Mercer the flying camp was fraught with difficulties almost from its inception, and never realizing its full potential was disbanded by the end of November, shortly after the fall of Fort Washington. (Pennsylvania Archives, 5th Series, Vol. V; History of Bucks County, Davis)

There was little mention of Virginia which seemed to strengthen the possibility of this being part of the New Jersey Dufford family history. And then I came across this paragraph later in the article which once again had me questioning which Jacob Dufford fought at Long Island:

A (Flying Camp) Maryland and Virginia Rifle Regiment was authorized June 17, 1776 in the Continental Army and was assigned to the Main Army. The Regiment was organized June 27, 1776 to consist of the three existing companies two from Maryland and one from Virginia, plus two new companies to be raised in Maryland, and four new companies to be raised in Virginia. The regimental organization was disbanded with the surviving Virginia portion being transferred on February 3, 1777 to the 11th Virginia Regiment and the Maryland portion provisionally reorganized in November 1776 as a single company under Captain Alexander Lawson Smith and attached to the 4th Maryland Regiment.

Taking all the evidence into consideration…

Given the later enlistment date of 13 July 1776 and the fact that few from New Jersey volunteered for service in the “Flying Camps” (and those who did volunteer would have likely done so in June and the early part of July, it is possible that the Jacob Dufford mentioned in this service record is, in reality, my immigrant ancestor. Of course, it would be nice to have additional evidence, even circumstantial, to now tilt the needle in one direction or another. While there seems to be little information about the Jacob Dufford from New Jersey (there is no service marker on his grave), there are a number of interesting facts regarding my Virginia ancestor that have swayed my opinion.

First, in looking at the family tree, there are no children conceived or born during the year 1776. Following his arrival through the Port of Philadelphia in 1764, he married his wife Christineh in Pennsylvania in the 1760’s and had his first child in the commonwealth as well. His subsequent children, Jacob and Johann (John), were born in Virginia and Maryland respectively. Later, the first mention of him owning land was when he purchased 268 acres in the newly formed Shenandoah County in 1778. He would later purchase 200, 205, 323 acre lots in Augusta County Virginia in 1780, 1788, and 1794 respectively. At the time of his death, according to the entry in the deed book on 29 October 1801, Jacob Teaford (Dufford) owned approximately 882 acres at the time of his death.

All of these things wouldn’t necessarily equate to anything except for the fact that when Jacob Dufford first arrived in the colonies he did so as a poor farmer. Somehow, over time, he amassed hundreds of acres by the time of this death. While much of this can be a testament of his work ethic, it is also logical to assume that some of this land acquired was from his service during the Revolution (not just a donation to the cause). This is why when considering both the hard evidence and the circumstantial facts surrounding the life of Jacob Dufford of Virginia, I believe that, despite his age at the time, he is the one who served in the Flying Camp as a member of Baxter’s Battalion and was captured at the Battle of Long Island.