Samuel D. Davis had local connection

“Father told us children that when he was about 16 years old he was living in York County, Pa. When the war came, his father, Joseph, was drafted, but did not want to enter the service of his country, and asked my father’s oldest brother if he would go in his stead. My uncle had a premonition that if he went to war, he would be killed.

“Father, who was a few months past 16, said he would go to the front if they would accept him. Well, to make a long story short, father reported to the recruiting station and made inquiry if he would be accepted.

“George Washington patted him on the back and told him that he would rather have him than two like his father.”

These words, quoted from Phoebe Davis Touhig, appeared in the Dec. 15, 1872, issue of the Indianapolis State Ledger. The service of her father, Samuel D. Davis, in the Revolutionary War was one of her favorite topics. The copy of his yellowed pension application was her most treasured keepsake.

The Fayette County connection? Samuel D. Davis was living in Fayette County in 1851, when he requested an increase in his federal pension. He died here two years later.

His story continues.

After the close of the war, Samuel became separated from his family for seven years, and it was only by accident they became reunited.

Samuel’s daughter tells us what transpired. “While plowing in the field one day, Father was approached by two strangers, and during their conversation, one of the men noticed a peculiar scar on Father’s hand.”

This identification led to the development of the fact that one of the men was Samuel’s long-lost brother. Samuel left the field, and his brother took him to the home of their parents, not too many miles distant.

A few years later, Samuel moved with his wife and family to Mason County, Ky., living there 10 years before moving to Gallatin County in about 1818. He was still living in that Kentucky county in 1833, when he applied for a pension for his service during the Revolution.

Those who applied for a pension were asked a variety of questions. From Samuel’s application, we learn that he enlisted on June 10, 1777, as a substitute for his father. Samuel remembered that he was attached to a regiment commanded by Col. Steele.

In response to a question about his service, Samuel replied, “We marched to join the main army under General Washington near the Valley Forge, and I was present and engaged in the Battle of Brandywine.”

After the battle, Samuel was detached with 30 men to guard British prisoners, and was one of the detail who marched them to York, Pa. He was discharged Dec. 18, 1777.

When asked if he remembered the names of his commanding officers, Samuel said that because of his young age at the time of his service, he did not remember their names.

His pension of $20.90 per year was granted, and in September 1851, while living in Fayette County, he requested an increase because he was “old and feeble and entirely unable to do any kind of manual labor.” On the application, Samuel said that he was being supported by his children.

Samuel died on Nov. 21, 1853, in Fayette County, but his place of burial is unknown. Following his death, his widow and second wife, Nancy (Crowder), moved to Jefferson County, Ind., where she applied for a widow’s pension.

Members of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) ‘found’ Phoebe Davis Touhig, and did a little more research into her father’s service record.

They found that Col. Steele, the one commander her father remembered other than Gen. George Washington, was Col. James Steele, who, in fact, commanded a Pennsylvania regiment that took part in the Battle of Brandywine.

Seventy-one years after her father asked for an increase in his annual pension, due to old age and feebleness, his daughter, Phoebe, bedfast and living with her children, was recognized as a “real daughter” of the American Revolution, and was awarded a monthly pension of $20 by the NSDAR.

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