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Guards at Camp Security: William Adams


William Adams is next in my continuing series on York County Militia members who served as guards at Camp Security. Adams was born in Ireland on February 4, 1748 and emigrated with his family to York County, where he enlisted in July 1776. He was later drafted, still as a resident of York County, first in November 1777 and then in August 1781 when his militia unit served as guard at Camp Security.

Adams moved west near the end of the war and, on October 6, 1834, at age 86, he filed his application for Revolutionary War pension in Washington County, Pennsylvania, even though he lived in neighboring Green County. He explained that the Washington County seat was just as close to his home, and that he had lived in Green County for only three years, whereas he had “ lived in Washington County different times since 1782, about forty years and am well known to the people.” (He had also lived for some years in Virginia and in Ohio.) The pension application paperwork was completed by 1835 but not submitted because Benjamin Stewart, Esq. mislaid the documents and then died.

In December 1836, now nearly 89 years old, Adams came to the Washington County court again, because he needed the pension money. He was willing to go through the process once more, but after another search the original papers were found and submitted in early 1837. It seems that the pension was usually paid in arrears, dating to the passage of the 1832 law authorizing the payments, so Adams did receive some funds to help support him until his death on November 2, 1848, only two months shy of his 101st birthday.

Included with the pension application was an affidavit from Rachel Danley, who evidently also lived in southwestern Pennsylvania. According to Adams, she was the only living person that he knew who had known him during the time he served. She seems to have been his sister.

Someone had shared William’s pension application with me a few years ago, and I included part of it in a blog post then. Here is a link to his account of guarding the British prisoners “three miles from Little York.” I think his narrative is interesting because he calls the camp “Cooko’s [Cuckoo’s] Nest” instead of the more common “Camp Security.”

What I hadn’t seen before I looked at the original microfilm at the National Archives was Rachel Danley’s affidavit. It not only names family members and friends that marched off to serve in 1776, but also includes Rachel’s account of babysitting while William’s wife went to visit him while he was serving in the militia guard at Camp Security.

Rachel’s deposition, taken October 15, 1836 before J.P. Alexander Frazier reads:

“Washington County.
Personally before me the Subscriber, a Justice of the Peace in and for said County, came Rachel Danley, who being sworn according to Law, doth depose and say, that she has been acquainted with William Adams, who she understands is now an applicant for the pension from the U. States, since he was a lad, or more than sixty years, and remembers that during the Revolutionary War [illegible word] occasion, Wm. Adams, the petitioner, deponents father, William Adams, Henry Adams, her brother-in-law James Drummond & William Scott volunteered for a two month tour. Deponent saw them all depart from her father’s house in York County.

In addition to the above term of service, Deponent remembers William Adams, the petitioner, was absent from home…two months as a drafted soldier guarding the British prisoners near Little York in this State, and what strengthens her recollections is that she the deponent, nursed and took care of the petitioners wife’s child, whilst the said wife went to visit the petitioner at the camp on one occasion…Deponent never saw the petitioner in camp, but remembers that when the above soldiers came home from camp they brought with them Iron[?] ball and buckshot.”

William Adams appears on the militia list of Captain Samuel Fulton’s company, which guarded Camp Security from August 12th to October 12th 1781. Click here for the militia lists posted on the Friends of Camp Security. They were compiled by Blake Stough from the published Pennsylvania Archives.

Click here for more posts on Camp Security.