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Three Bios of Revolutionary War Soldiers in Ross County
The presence of African American soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War has historically been ignored. Henry Hill was such a soldier in that war. Though specific records of his service were difficult to locate, some information about his life can be cited. Born about 1753 in Virginia, Hill's pension records reveal that he enlisted at the courthouse in Orange County, Virginia in 1780 and served as a private with Captain Stribling in the Second Virginia detachment company of “musketry.” Hill fought in the battles of Guilford and Eulaw Springs.(1)
According to an obituary that appeared in the September 21, 1833 edition of the Chillicothe Advertiser, (Ohio,) Hill died at age 80 on September 12. The obituary asserts that in addition to the battles already mentioned, he served on “heights of Charleston, at the battles of Lexington, Monmouth, Brandywine and Princeton and that he was one of conquerors at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. (2) An article in the abolitionist newspaper, Genius of Universal Freedom, cites his death and stated he “received the honors of the war, a singular tribute of respect to the life of a colored man.” He served a total of eighteen months and was discharged January 18, 1782.
Henry Hill migrated to Ross County from Virginia sometime before 1803. According to the marriage records for Ross County Ohio, he married Eve Nickens on December 18, 1803.(3)
Henry Hill taught the tanning trade to at least one of his sons. Dennis Hill is recorded as one of the leading tanners and curriers in Chillicothe in the 1820’s. Dennis and his brothers set up a floating tannery which they operated on the Scioto River beteen Piketon and Chillicothe and on the Ohio River as well.
The Hill family resided in a house located on the corner lot at the south side of Water Street east of Hickory and also owned property on South High Street (lot # 681) in Columbus, Ohio.(4) Hill applied for his pension in Columbus (Franklin County) on May 10, 1818. He was 69 years old when he made application. The Hills were members of the First Anti-Slavery Baptist Church of Chillicothe. (First Baptist Church.)
Prior to coming to Chillicothe, Henry lived near Richmond, Virginia, with his first wife, who apparently died before his move to Ohio. Hill and his wife were the parents of Dennis, James V., Samuel, Thomas, Henry Nelson and Rebecca (Moody), Catherine (Love), Jane (Smoot) and William all of whom migrated to Ohio.(5) His son James V. was one of the first persons to provide education to people of color in Chillicothe, Ohio by teaching a class in the gallery of the Presbyterian Church in 1817. (6)
1 Guthrie, James M. Campfires of Afo-Americans. 1899. And Pension File of Henry Hill
2 Waring, William. Hill Family Genealogy
3 Record of marriages Ross County Courthouse Archives. Vol. GA pg. 7
4 Will of Henry Hill, Ross County Court house Archives. Case number 3022. May 1833.
5 French, Carolyn. Interview and letter. 1990 Carolyn is the great-great-great-great grand daughter of Henry Hill.
6 Galbraith, R. C. A History of the Chillicothe Presbytery. 1899.
Many African Americans served as body servants to those in positions of leadership on the battlefield during the Revolutionary War. With great pride, William Dailey often showed his friends the razor used by himself to shave George Washington while Washington was at the helm of the Continental forces. However, his service was not limited to that of a body servant. He claimed to have served as a volunteer sailor during the Revolution, on the brig, Mars that was built at Warwick, five miles south of Richmond. His volunteer status indicates he was a Free Man of Color. Further, Thomas Jefferson employed him as a courier to the “country lieutenants” during the invasion of Cornwallis. It was at this time Tarleton took him prisoner. How he secured his freedom was not recorded.(1)
After the war he served aboard a schooner that operated on the James River. Shortly after the year 1800, he moved to Lexington, Kentucky where he opened a hotel that was termed one of the best in the state. The hotel served the finest of meals and catered to such gentlemen of the day as Henry Clay. William often entertained his customers by playing the violin, something he apparently did very well.
In addition to running the hotel, Dailey bred and raced fine racehorses. His horses were considered to hold “high rank with the sportsman of Kentucky,” and he was considered an excellent “turfsman,”(2)
Those who knew him described him as a well-dressed mulatto, while not a handsome man, he possessed the finest of manners and style.
In accordance with the Black Codes enacted in the state of Ohio, Dailey registered at the Ross County Court House when he, his wife Lucy, and stepdaughter Celia Bullock arrived in Chillicothe prior to 1825.(3) Dailey purchased a lot on the south side of water street east of Mulberry where he built his home. The family lived very well, supported by the bakery business conducted by Dailey. His bread wagon, stocked with fresh-baked bread could be seen traveling the streets of Chillicothe where he sold “Dailey Bread”, as it was referred to by his patrons.(4)
The family first joined the Presbyterian Church, then was baptized into the First –Anti-Slavery Baptist Church Of Chillicothe( now First Baptist) in 1824 not long after founding of the church. (5) William was the recording secretary for the Baptist Church and for the Chillicothe African Benevolent and Education Society which was organized in 1827.(6)
Dailey died on June 21, 1850 in Chillicothe at age 90. His death was recorded in an obituary that appeared in the Scioto Gazette. The article included much of his Revolutionary War experiences. However, before his death, he wrote to the grandson of Thomas Jefferson, requesting help in proving this employment by Jefferson during the war. He ask the grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, to "look among his grandfather's papers" to find the proof of Daily's courier work for Jefferson during the Revolution. No answer from the grandson has surfaced, therefore it is not known whether or not he answered Daily's inquiry.
He was buried first in the Presbyterian Cemetery on Sugar Street, but his remains were move in the 1880’s when the Railroad went through that part of the city.
Renick Waddle papers, Ross County Historical Society, Chillicothe, Oh.
The Scioto Gazette 1850
Letter to Thomas Jrffersoon Randolph
Born free about 1758, in York County Virginia, to John Clarke, a free mulatto,(1) William Clerke, aka William Clark, served in the Revolutionary War with Lt. Col. John Jameson. Col. Jameson resided in Culpeper County, as did Clark. According to Col. Jameson, Clark served with him in 1780 and 1781. During these years Jameson’s unit was stationed in North Castle , New York. When British spy John Andre, who was relaying a message from Benedict Arnold betraying the American cause in August of 1780 was captured, he was delivered to Col. Jameson. Clark was apparently present with Jameson during the transfer of Andre. Whether Clark acted as bodyservant, cook, courier, or teamster is unclear, but people of color often did these jobs during the Revolution. In addition, there were some people of color who participated by fighting as a soldier.(2)
After the War, Clark returned to Culpeper County, as did Col. Jameson. In 1795, Clark married Hannah Peters who lived in Stafford County Virginia. William and Hannah’s children were Willis (Coleman) Clark, William Clark, Betsey Clark, Kitty Clark Madden (wife of Willis Madden), and Nicholas Clark(3). Clark is listed as a Free Man of Color on the United States census for Culpeper County 1810 with 7 in his family. In 1816 he and his family were given a pass to visit his wife, Hannah’s mother in Frederick County, Virginia. Two of his children Nicholas age 13 and Coleman age 18 accompanied him on the journey.
It is not clear when Clark and family migrated to Ohio, however, his free registration along with his service record appears in the book that recorded Black and Mulatto Persons of Ross County Ohio.(4) William (Sr.) was sixty-four years old on 22 August 1820 when he appeared in Culpeper County court to apply for a pension for his services in the Revolution. According to his pension records, he died on 8 December 1827.(5) There are no records to record how long Clark lived in Ross County, however, in August of 1827, the year he died, his last pension payment was made to a J P of Jackson County. Hannah and family returned to Culpeper County Virginia before 1830, where she is recorded as a Free Woman of Color and head of the household.(6) His place of burial is not known.SOURCES: