Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Captain Samuel Ransom (52 Ancestors #5)

I thought I would start my genealogy blog the same place my love for genealogy started for me. Captain Samuel Ransom.

It was 5th grade Social Studies class and our assignment was to find something about our family history to share for the class. I went home and asked Mom what she knew about our family tree. She pulled out a stack of papers bound in a yellow folder. I still have that folder. I don’t think Mom intended for me to keep it, but after twenty plus years, she’s not getting it back now!

I remember being fascinated by the story of Captain Ransom. I was excited and proud to be able to share about my ancestor who fought and died in the American Revolution, and I have to admit, I’m sure I was excited to share the gruesome manner of his death with my classmates. But his story is certainly about more than just his death. Here is what I know about Captain Samuel Ransom.

Samuel was born on April 10, 1738 in Middleborough, Massachusetts to Robert and Sarah (Childs) Ransom. The next record of Samuel is his marriage to Esther Laurence, daughter of Daniel and Rachel (Kingsbury) Laurence. The marriage took place on May 6, 1756 in Canaan, Connecticut. The couple had 9 children; 8 were born in Canaan and the youngest was born in Plymouth, Pennsylvania.

Family and local histories seem to agree that Samuel was a prominent citizen, holding a number of titles such as Key Holder, Fence Viewer, and Member of the School Committee. He was also active in buying and selling land. In 1773, Samuel and his family moved to the Wyoming Valley in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania where Samuel quickly became a notable citizen.

In August of 1776 at a Wilkes-Barre, PA town meeting, it was voted that a fort be built for protection from the British and Native American forces. Tradition says that Samuel hauled the first log in building the fort. On August 24, 1776, Congress declared that two companies from Westmoreland be formed for the defense of the area (Westmoreland was at the time part of Connecticut, but is now in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania). It was also understand that the companies could be called elsewhere if they were needed. On August 26th, the captains of the two companies were named: Robert Durkee was made commander of the First Independent Company for the Revolutionary Service and Samuel Random was in charge of the Second Company.

On December 12, 1776, the two companies were ordered to join with General Washington’s forces. The men were part of the Battle of Millstone in New Jersey where retreating British forces left behind 50 wagons of provisions which were divided among the Continental troops. Captain Ransom sent one wagon home to Pennsylvania.  The men also saw action at Brandywine, Germantown, Bound Brook and Mud Fort. In the summer of 1778, tensions were rising in the Wyoming Valley and Captain Ransom, along with Captain Durkee, resigned and returned home. They arrived at Forty Fort on the morning of July 3, 1778. Ransom along with approximately 400 other men set out that day to defend their homeland against approaching British and Indian forces. Captain Ransom was sent out to survey the enemy forces. He never returned, and his body was found near the front line of the fighting with a musket ball through his thigh and his head severed from his body. His son, George Palmer Ransom (and my direct ancestor), was among those who buried the dead. Many of the bodies, including that of Captain Ransom, are buried under a large monument in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. His son George continued to fight in the Revolution and according to Samuel’s pension records, was given 300 acres of land on account of his father’s service.

*Unfortunately I don’t have as many well document sources as I would like. Much of Samuel’s early life was taken from other written accounts, no doubt passed from one book on to the next. If anyone happens to know have any better sources, I would love to know. Such books include: History of Western New York, Tioga County History, The Harvey Book, and Ransom Notes.


  1. This is a very interesting story! It must be nice to know that you have deep American roots and that you are descended from one of the original Patriots!

  2. Hi, Nellie - I'm also an Capt. Samuel Ransom descendant. Do you know of any descendant reunions? I'd love to attend and compare notes!
    RSVP and thanks, Shelley Evans, Elkton, MD

  3. Hi Nellie!
    I am also a descendant of Capt Ransom. I had contact with other descendants years ago but lost all of my contacts with a computer crash. I have attended the ceremony at the monument in the past but again it has been years since I have been up there. It would be great if we could all plan a big reunion! I have my family tree somewhere I will have to dig it out and send it to you. i will book mark this page so i don't loose it. my email address is dcastrati5@comcast.net. would love to hear from you.