Various History

John Gray, last living veteran of the American Revolution is born

On this day in history, January 6, 1764, John Gray, the last living veteran of the Revolution is born. Gray was born near Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. His father was an acquaintance of Washington’s and was killed at the Battle of White Plains in New York on October 28, 1776. John reported that his first job as a boy was working for George Washington and that Washington often greeted him in public, shook his hand and encouraged him.


John was the oldest of 8 children and when his father was killed, the responsibility of providing for the family fell upon him. His family was very poor and often had only the rabbits John could catch as food to eat. Toward the end of the war, John joined the war and was present at Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown. He was only 17 years of age and served in the army for six months. After the war, he married and eventually moved to the Northwest Territory, into what is now Ohio and lived in Noble County for the rest of his life. He died on March 29, 1868 at 104 years, 2 months and 23 days old, surviving three wives and all but one of his four children.

Gray never received a veterans pension because his term of enlistment was too short, but about a year before his death, he was finally granted one by special act of Congress. At the time of his death, there was some controversy about exactly who was the last living veteran of the Revolution. Daniel Bakeman died in 1869, but was never able to conclusively prove that he had served in the war. (He married at 13 by the way and his wife was only 14!) George Fruits died in 1876 and was another contender, but there is now some question about whether he was mixed up with his father and actually died much earlier.

John was a lifelong Methodist and a lifelong tobacco chewer. He sided with the Union during the Civil War and regretted that his home state of Virginia joined the Confederation. He died at the home of his daughter, Nancy McElroy in 1868 and is buried in the McElroy Family Cemetery at Hiramsburg, Noble County, Ohio.

Mary Allerton Cushman (c. 1616 – 28 November 1699) was a settler of Plymouth Colony in what is now Massachusetts. She was the last surviving passenger of the Mayflower. She arrived at Plymouth on the Mayflower when she was about four years old and lived there her entire life; she died aged 83.
Mary Allerton was born about 1616 (according to some sources, baptised in June 1616) in Leiden, The Netherlands to parents Isaac and Mary Norris Allerton. She came to Plymouth on the Mayflower in 1620, at about the age of four. Around 1636, she married Thomas Cushman, who had come to Plymouth in 1621 at the age of thirteen on the ship Fortune with father Robert Cushman, a prominent member of the Pilgrims' congregation in Leiden. Thomas and Mary had a surprisingly prosperous family; seven of their eight children survived to adulthood, got married, and provided at least 50 grandchildren. Thomas and Mary both lived to very old age, having never moved from Plymouth. Thomas died in December 1691, reaching nearly 85 years in age. Mary, who gave birth to and raised eight children, lived to the age of 83. Prior to her death in November 1699, she was the last surviving Mayflower passenger. She was buried on Burial Hill in Plymouth.[
Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Savin (17 April 1768? — 29 November 1894) was a French soldier of Russian descent and claimed supercentenarian though this cannot be verified. He claimed to be the last survivor of the French Revolutionary Wars of 1792-1802 and the last French officer of the Napoleonic Wars.
Savin enlisted in the 2nd Regiment of Hussars in 1788, claiming to have been born in 1768. His father, Alexandre Savin, was killed in battle defending the Tuileries Palace during the French Revolution. Savin had "been at Toulon in 1793," fought in Egypt in 1798, the Peninsular War, and in the 1812 invasion of Russia. Around this time he was promoted to sous-officier (lieutenant) and transferred to the 24th Chasseurs a Cheval. He was awarded many medals, including the Legion d'Honneur and St Helena Medal. In 1812 he was captured by the Cossacks and worked as a fencing teacher for the Tsarist army.
Following Napoleon's defeat Savin settled at Saratov Gubernia, Russia and changed his name to Nikolai Andreevich Savin. He married a Russian woman and had at least one daughter. From 1814-74 he worked as a tutor, teaching French to the children of nobility. In 1887,
Czar Alexander III gave "the old soldier a present of a thousand rubles." By the 1890s, he lived in a small Russian cottage with a bronze statue of Napoleon in his study. Voyenski attributes Savin's long life to his tea-drinking and active lifestyle: the old man enjoyed painting and continued gardening until he fell sick in November 1894. After receiving sacraments, Savin died on 29 November 1894 and is buried in the local Catholic cemetery.
If Savin was indeed 126 when he died, in
Russia, where he resided of latter, that would make him the longest-lived human male on record, and the longest-lived human of either gender. However, as this age has not been verified, the record (oldest male) currently belongs to Japanese-born Jiroemon Kimura (1897-2013), who died at the verified age of 116. The record for longest verified lifespan for a human is currently 122 years, held by Jeanne Calment (1875-1997).
However, Russian historian
V. Totfalushin has recently found a document in the Russian State Historical Archive that casts doubts about Savin’s claims and provides a few very interesting details about this man. The document is an excerpt from the official memo by the Russian Minister of Internal Affairs relative to the status of the surviving veterans of the Grand Armeé still residing in Russia . According to this document, in 1834, the French authorities contacted the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs with a note that Nicolas Savin had requested permission to leave Russia and return home. The memo specifies that, according to the French authorities, Savin was born in Rouen (western France ) and had served as a non-commissioned officer in the 24th Chasseurs à Cheval before being captured in 1812 and sent to Saratov, where he accepted Russian citizenship (poddanstvo) in 1813. The memo further notes that Savin married on the daughter of a local merchant in 1816 and had two sons (Pavel (born in 1821) and Alexander (born in 1828)) and two daughters (Avdotia (born in 1823) and Akulina (born in 1825)). Totfalushin’s research also questioned Savin’s age, noting that in another document, which Savin submitted to the local authorities in Khvalynsk in 1839, he indicated that he was 52 years old, which means he was born in 1787.
John Adams, known as Jack Adams (4 December 1767 – 5 March 1829) was the last survivor of the Bounty mutineers who settled on Pitcairn Island in January 1790, the year after the mutiny. His real name was John Adams, but he used the name Alexander Smith until he was discovered in 1808 by Captain Mayhew Folger of the American whaling ship Topaz. His children used the surname "Adams".
The mutineers of HMS Bounty and their Tahitian companions settled on the island and set fire to the Bounty. The wreck is still visible underwater in Bounty Bay. Although the settlers were able to survive by farming and fishing, the initial period of settlement was marked by serious tensions among the settlers. Alcoholism, murder, disease and other ills had taken the lives of most of the mutineers and Tahitian men. John Adams, Ned Young, and Matthew Quintal were the last three mutineers surviving in 1799 when Adams and Young got the thuggish Quintal drunk and killed him with a hatchet. Adams and Young then turned to the Scriptures using the ship's Bible as their guide for a new and peaceful society. As a result, Adams and Young embraced Christianity and taught the children to read and write using the Bible. Young eventually died of an asthmatic infection, but Adams continued his work of educating the women and children. The Pitcairners also converted to Christianity. (The Pitcairners would later convert from their existing form of Christianity to Adventism after a successful Adventist mission in the 1890s.)
The American sailing ship Topaz was the first to rediscover Pitcairn in 1808. John Adams was eventually granted amnesty for the mutiny. On 17 December 1825 Adams was married to Teio, or 'Mary', Teio had already borne Adams' only son, George Adams in 1804.

John Adams' grave on Pitcairn is the only known grave site of a Bounty mutineer. It has a replacement headstone, the original lead-covered wooden grave marker having been taken back to Britain where it is now on display in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London.
The main settlement and capital of Pitcairn, Adamstown, is named for John Adams.
Captain John Hatley, RN (c. 1762 – 12 December 1832) was an officer of the British Royal Navy during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Hatley is most noted for being one of the junior officers on board Captain James Cook's third voyage in HMS Resolution, aged approximately 14. He later went on to serve in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, receiving promotion after helping to thwart a mutiny in 1797 and later commanding frigates in several campaigns.
Hatley, born in approximately 1762, joined the Royal Navy at a young age and in his first posting was attached to Captain James Cook's ship HMS Resolution. This vessel had secretly been ordered to search what is now the Alaskan Coast for the Northwest Passage. Leaving Britain in 1776, the ship reached Tahiti the following year and returned Omai, Captain Cook's translator and guide, to his home. From there, the vessel sailed north and visited the Hawaiian Islands, the Sandwich Islands and was the first European ship to visit and chart the coastline from California to Alaska. During 1778, Cook's behaviour became gradually more unpredictable, until in 1779 he returned to Hawaii to effect repairs on his ship prior to returning to Europe. There he was killed by Hawaiian warriors during a dispute over stolen goods. The survivors of the expedition finally returned to Britain in 1780.
In 1782, in recognition of his service on the exploratory voyage, Hatley was promoted to lieutenant and ordered to join HMS Active for service in the East Indies. He remained a lieutenant, serving in various ships, until 1797 when he was embroiled in a mutiny aboard HMS St George. The problems arose against the backdrop of the Spithead Mutiny in Britain, when malcontents in the Mediterranean Fleet, at this time stationed off Cadiz, were seized at the orders of Earl St Vincent. These men were sentenced to death by court martial on Saturday and due to be executed on the Sunday morning. St George was chosen as the vessel on which the sentences would be carried out. The crew were strongly opposed to carrying out these executions on a Sunday and brought a petition to Captain Shuldham Peard, who passed it on to St Vincent. The admiral's reply was that the sentences were justified and must be carried out with alacrity. Infuriated, sections of the crew prepared to seize the ship and gathered on deck, where they were met by Peard and Hatley, the ship's second in command. Addressing his men, Peard attempted to calm them but without effect. Seeking to prevent a mutiny and ensuing massacre, Peard and Hatley then charged the mass of sailors and seized two ringleaders. The next day the scheduled executions were carried out and a week later the two men captured by Peard and Hatley were similarly hanged. For his services on this occasion, Hatley was promoted to commander.
In the Napoleonic Wars, Hatley commanded the frigate HMS Winchelsea in the West Indies and later in the Mediterranean where he was awarded a gold medal for services to the Ottoman Empire. At the funeral of Horatio Nelson, Hatley formed part of the procession that accompanied the coffin to St. Paul's Cathedral. In 1808, Hatley commanded the frigate HMS Boadicea during the campaign in the Indian Ocean and participated in the Raid on Saint Paul. The following winter he switched with Commodore Josias Rowley and took command of the ship of the line HMS Raisonnable which was returning to Britain for a refit. He retired at the end of the Napoleonic Wars and died in Dover, Kent on 12 December 1832 and was remembered as the last survivor of Captain Cook's voyages.
Paine Wingate (May 14, 1739 – March 7, 1838) was an American preacher, farmer, and statesman from Stratham, New Hampshire. He served New Hampshire in the Continental Congress and both the United States Senate and House of Representatives.
Wingate was born the sixth of twelve children, in Amesbury, Province of Massachusetts Bay, in 1739. His father (also Paine) was a minister there. He graduated from Harvard College in 1759.
Wingate was ordained a minister of the Congregational Church in 1763. He became a pastor in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. In 1776, Wingate gave up his ministry and moved to Stratham, where he took up farming.
Wingate was elected to several terms in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, and was a delegate to their state constitutional convention in 1781.

In 1788, he served as a delegate to the Continental Congress. Despite his own background as a preacher, Wingate successfully proposed that the salaries for the two chaplains of the Continental Congress be cut by 25% probably due at least partly to the Confederation’s untenable financial problems. Wingate was a strong advocate for ratification of the United States Constitution, writing as follows in March 1788:

[T]hose who are well-wishers to their country, and best know the situation we are in, are most sensible of the necessity of its adoption, and great pains are taken to obtain the end.

New Hampshire appointed him to the first United States Senate, in which he served from 4 March 1789 until 3 March 1793. He was then elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he served from 4 March 1793 to 3 March 1795.

Between 1789 and 1794, the U.S. Senate’s deliberations were conducted in secret, which Wingate supported: "How would all the little domestic transactions of even the best regulated family appear if exposed to the world; and may not this apply to a larger body?" He believed that secrecy promoted respect for the Senate: "to be a little more out of view would conduce to its respectability in the opinion of the country."

While in the Senate, Wingate served on the committee that drafted the Judiciary Act of 1789, which set up the federal court system. He was disappointed that the bill "will not extend to a tenth part of the causes which might by the Constitution have come into the federal court". The remaining nine-tenths of cases arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States were left for the state courts to decide. Wingate voted against the bill, but it passed.
After his national service, he served as an associate justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court from 1798 to 1808. Once he made up his mind, a change of mind was unlikely. According to Theophilus Parsons, "it was of great importance, that your Judge Wingate should form a correct opinion before he pronounces it—for after that, law, reason, and authority will be unavailing."

With the death of James Madison in 1836, Wingate drew some attention for surviving so long. Before he died at age 98 in 1838, Wingate was one of two surviving delegates to the Continental Congress (along with John Armstrong, Jr.), and the last surviving member of the first United States Senate. For several years he had been the oldest graduate of Harvard. Wingate’s wife, Eunice, was the sister of United States Secretary of State Timothy Pickering, and she died in 1843, having passed the century mark. The Wingates are buried in the Stratham Cemetery.
Daniel Frederick Bakeman (October 9, 1759 – April 5, 1869) was ostensibly the last surviving veteran of the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783). He was born in Schoharie County, New York and at the age of twelve married Susan Brewer (who was fourteen and a half) on August 29, 1772. Their marriage, at 91 years and 12 days, is the longest claimed on record and also the only marriage claimed to have exceeded 90 years. Together they had eight children: Phillip, Richard, Christopher, Betsey, Margaret, Susan, Mary and Christine. His wife died on September 10, 1863 at the age of one hundred and five years.

Records have shown that in 1825 the Bakemans settled in Arcade, New York, in a home on the north side of the County Line Road. In 1845 he moved to Freedom, remaining there until his death.
On February 14, 1867, the United States Congress passed a special act which granted a Revolutionary War pension to Bakeman. The act was required because Bakeman could not prove that he had served in New York. While on a four day trip from central New York to Albany, New York for wheat and other supplies, Bakeman's home burned down with nothing salvagable. This would occur two more times in his life. At the time, the longest surviving veterans who were on the pension rolls were Lemuel Cook of Clarendon, New York (d. May 20, 1866), and Samuel Downing of Edinburgh, New York (d. February 19, 1867). They resided for over 42 years in Herkimer County, New York, and part of the time in the town of Stark, New York where he owned a farm. George Fruits also claimed to be the last surviving veteran of the Revolutionary War (by the Daughters of the American Revolution), but was never on the pension rolls.

Bakeman died six months before his 110th birthday on April 5, 1869 and is buried in Sandusky Cemetery, Freedom, New York.
Patrick Gass (June 12, 1771 – April 2, 1870) served as sergeant in the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806). He was important to the expedition because of his service as a carpenter, and he published the first journal of the expedition in 1807, seven years before the first publication based on Lewis and Clark's journals.
Gass was born in Falling Springs (present day Chambersburg), Pennsylvania, of Scots-Irish ancestry. His parents were Benjamin and Mary McLene Gass.
Benjamin Gass and his father, William, were prominent citizens and members of the local Presbyterian Church in the small frontier town.
He began his military career in 1792, with a Virginia militia or ranger company stationed in Wheeling fighting against Indians. In 1794 he helped build the house of James Buchanan, Sr. near Mercersburg Pennsylvania and became acquainted with the young future U.S. President, James Buchanan, Jr. He joined the U.S. Army in 1799, serving under General Alexander Hamilton until 1800. He rejoined the army in 1803 and served in Kaskaskia, Illinois, near St. Louis.
He joined Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery as a private on January 1, 1804 and was promoted to sergeant by vote of the Corps members after Charles Floyd's death from appendicitis on August 22, 1804.
His skill as a carpenter was important to the expedition— he led the construction of the Corps' three winter quarters, hewed dugout canoes, and built wagons to portage the canoes 18 miles around the falls of the Missouri. On the return trip, Gass was given command of the majority of the party for a short period while Clark and Lewis led smaller detachments on separate explorations.
He remained in the army after the expedition returned, serving in the War of 1812, in which he lost an eye, and fighting in the battle of Lundy's Lane. During the Civil War, Gass at 91-years-old had to be removed from a recruiting station after he wanted to enlist to fight the rebels. (WIsdom of History by J. Rufus Fears). At the age of sixty he married Maria Hamilton, aged 20. She bore 7 children (6 surviving to adulthood) over the remaining 15 years of her life. They settled in Wellsburg, West Virginia where he died, 98 years of age, the oldest surviving member of the expedition.
He kept a journal that was published in 1807, the first published journal from the expedition. In it, he coined the term “Corps of Discovery”. The book was first printed and sold by subscription in Pittsburgh at $1.00 per copy. It was later reprinted in England, and translated into French and German. A reprint is currently being sold by the University of Nebraska Press and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln online version of the Lewis and Clark journals give 222 entries from Gass's journal.
Hiram Cronk (April 29, 1800 – May 13, 1905) was the last surviving veteran of the War of 1812 at the time of his death.

Born in Frankfort (town), New York, Cronk enlisted with his father and two brothers on August 4, 1814. He served with the New York Volunteers in the defense of Sackett's Harbor, and was discharged November 16, 1814. For his service, he received a pension of $12 per month. In 1903, the United States Congress increased it to $25 per month. He also received a special pension of $72 per month from the State of New York.
Cronk spent most of his life working as a shoemaker. He married Mary Thornton in 1825, with whom he had seven children. At the time of his death he had 14 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren (one of whom, Jane, lived to over 100 years of age herself, making the two "serial centenarians").
He died in Ava, New York in May 1905 at the age of 105. After his death, his body was displayed in the main lobby of New York City Hall. An estimated 925,000 people paid their respects. He is interred in the Mount of Victory, Cypress Hills National Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.

Black Americans in the US Military from the American Revolution to the Korean War:

The Brownsville Incident and Teddy Roosevelt
The Brownsville Incident: A War at Home

At the second Niagra Conference in 1906, W.E.B. Du Bois, forerunner of the NAACP, demanded full manhood rights. It was made clear that this message went to all Americans, but it enraged the South nevertheless. Several race riots broke out, the worst in Atlanta where 60 blacks were lynched.
It came to no surprise that more problems occurred when 170 Blacks from the 25th Infantry’s 1st Battalion were ordered to train alongside the Texas National Guard at Fort Brown, in Brownsville, Texas. Upon their arrival, these soldiers received a cold welcoming of signs barring Blacks from stores and parks. The citizens of Brownsville quietly watched their arrival, showing no respect.
Shots were heard outside Fort Brown on the night of August 13th, arousing the 25th. The soldiers noticed that someone had broken into the camp and unlocked rifle racks. Within the town, unknown attackers killed one person and wounded several others. Further investigation found Springfield rifle clips, and it was immediately assumed that Black soldiers were at fault. Eight out of twenty-two witnesses claimed that the attackers were Black.
The State Department demanded the three companies of the 25th name the gunmen or face summary dismissal. Still, every soldier denied any knowledge of the attackers. President Theodore Roosevelt accepted the recommendation of dismissal for anyone who did not speak up, and one hundred and sixty seven soldiers were slapped with dishonorable discharges. They would never again serve the government. The soldiers also did not receive a trial. President Roosevelt added that some of these soldiers were “Bloody Butchers” that should be “hung.”
A new investigation into the incident by Senator Joseph P. Foraker found that the bullets recovered did not come from any of the weapons issued to the 25th. The first attempt at reversing the dishonorable discharges failed because the trial process assumed guilty until proven innocent. The successful attempt came finally in 1971 when Augustus Hawkins, a Black Democratic Congressman, introduced a bill to declare the discharges honorable. After an investigation into the incident in 1972, President Nixon approved of honorable discharges, with no other compensation. The only remaining member of the 25th Infantry at Brownsville, Dorsie W. Willis, received $25,000 and medical treatment at the Veterans Administration hospital.
Theodore Roosevelt a Traitor
Theodore Roosevelt promised to recognize the gallantry of the soldiers who in more than one instance bailed out his “Rough Riders” in Cuba. Soldiers of the 9th and10th Cavalry had hoped that their efforts could be recognized. Roosevelt wrote about his experiences in Alone in Cubia, and had little to say of any Black accomplishments, yet alone the fact that the Black regiments were responsible for saving the Rough Riders at Las Guásimas and San Juan Hill. Anything the Black soldiers accomplished was due to White leadership, according to Roosevelt. Amidst this backstabbing, Roosevelt went so low as to claim that he encountered Black soldiers leaving the battlefield and had to force them at gunpoint to join the front lines. According to Presley Holliday, a former Sergeant in the 10th Cavalry, Roosevelt actually stopped four soldiers on their way to pick up ammunition from a supply point.


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