Revolutionary War Pension Papers


Thomas Rankins


James Rankins Jr.

Two Brothers in the Revolution

The pension records of Thomas and James Rankins Jr., brothers from the area of Little Falls, were contributed to us by Willis Rankins. Thomas's young age shows that in pursuit of the cause of liberty there was room for men of all ages.

"Thomas Rankins, my ggg-grandfather, enlisted in the Revolutionary War at age 8. His father James could have been with him in the war, but our belief is that James was killed at Oriskany. He received a pension for serving in the Revolutionary War. He was discharged at Newburg, New York, signed by Gen. Washington. Thomas served in skirmishes at Fort Stanwix and at Yorktown against Cornwallis, when he was taken, in Capt. Griggs Co, Col. Van Schaick's Regiment. This was the first regiment of the Line.

At the time of death, on Feb. 5, 1833, he owned a dwellinghouse and out buildings comprising about 2 acres of land. His will is found in Book E, Page 393, Arphaxed Loomis, Surrogate. At the time of his death neither his daughter Catharine nor son David were living. There was no mention of his children John or Sally. At the first Town of Little Falls board meeting Thomas was appointed by the Highway Commissioner as Overseer of Highways. The Commissioner was his son, James T. His death date is on his widow's request for a widow's pension. The pension was 88 dollars a year. Thomas and Catharine Rankins are buried in the Fort Herkimer Church Yard Cemetery. His grave stone was in the cemetery in the late 1960s but is not found there today. Thomas's son James T. Rankins was my gg-grandfather and served in the war of 1812. My g-grandfather Norman was the youngest of his family, and my grandfather was James Freeman."

Willis Rankins
February 1998

Thomas Rankins' request for pension:

On this third day of November A. D. 1819, before me, the subscriber one of the judges of the Court of Common Pleas of said county, personally appeared Thomas Rankins, resident in German Flatts, who being by me first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath, make the following declaration in order to obtain the provisions of the act of Congress entitled, "An act to provide for certain persons engaged in the land and Naval Service of the United States in, the Revolutionary War"; that he, said Thomas Rankins enlisted as a Fifer in the service of the United States, in the fall of the year 1779 or the summer of said year, in the company commanded by Cap't John Griggs, of Col. Van Shaick's Regiment, New York Line. That he enlisted for and during the continuance of the war being then at Fort Stanwix. That he continued in the same company and served in the same Regiment and Line, upon the Continental establishment, until the month of June 1783 as he believes. That he served in various skirmishes at Fort Stanwix, and at Yorktown against Cornwalis, when he was taken. That in June 1783 he was discharged at Newburg in New York, which discharge was signed by General Washington, but which is lost. That he is in reduced circumstances and stands in need of assistance from his country for support and that he has no other evidence now in his power, except such as here after follows. Sworn to subscriber the day and year aforesaid

Charles Wylie one of the Judges of Oneida Common Pleas.

James Rankins Jr. was my ggg-grandfather Thomas' brother.

State of New York
Herkimer County

On this ninth day of October in the year 1832, personally appeared in open court before Michael Hoffman first judge, John Mahon, Augustus Beardslee judges of the court of Common Pleas of the said county of Herkimer now sitting, James Rankins now residing in the town of Little Falls in said county and state, aged seventy two years, who being first duly sworn according to law doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7, 1832. That he was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia but removed when a child before the Revolutionary War about 15 or 16 years, to German Flatts (now Little Falls) in Tryon (now Herkimer) county in the state of New York when he was quite young, with the family of his parents. He resided at Little Falls when he entered the service of the United States. That he has no record of his age and depends for the correctness of his statement in reference to that point, on the intellegence he derived from his parents in relation thereto. That he enlisted in the spring of the year 1775 or 1776 (the day he cannot recollect nor the precise month) into Captain Marks Damewoods company of Rangers, the name of the Lieutenant was Robert Gordon. The company belonged to a regiment commanded, he believes at the time of his enlistment by Colonel Isaac Parry or Colonel Bellinger. They were called York Troops. The regiment was not all mustered together but each company by itself. Captain Damewoods company remained at German Flatts. That he (Rankins) was employed in this company with others, on scouting parties on and along the West Canada Creek which empties into the Mohawk River in the county of Herkimer, to spy out the Indians and give an alarm to the forts in said county, of the approach of Indians and Tories and to promote the security of the settlers on the Mohawk River. That he served as a common soldier in Captain Damewood's company until late in the fall of the year 1776, when he, with several others were drafted out of said company and were dispatched to Stone Arabia where they were joined to a company of rangers of which Christian Getman was Captain belonging to the same regiment. Nicholas VanAlstyne and Laurence Grop were the other officers of this company of rangers, but he cannot state their particulars of office. With this company he went in the winter of the years 1776 and 1777 to build a bridge across the stream at Tyconderoga to Mount Independence to prevent the enemy from passing with their shipping and munitions of war. That he worked for a long time at this bridge, it was called a sinking or floating bridge and was under the surface of the water, but he cannot recollect whether the bridge was completed, but of one fact he is certain, it was a cold job, and in the prosecution of it he endured great fatigue, suffered from hunger and want of clothing. That when he and his company left Tyconderoga, which occured in the latter part of the winter of the years 1776 and 1777. They were ordered, he believes, to Albany, and when they arrived on this journey, to a place called Saboda Point on Lake George about midway between Fort George and Tyconderoga, they were surprised and attacked by a band of Indians and Canadians commanded by one Captain McCoy: an engagement ensued and Rankins and about 25 or 30 others were taken prisoners and four others killed and the remainder of the company escaped. Rankins and the other prisoners were taken to Montreal, and in performing that journey at that season, suffered extremely from fatigue and want of food and of the number one perished on the way. He (Rankins) was for a long time (he cannot state the length of time) confined in prison in Montreal and until an exchange of prisoners took place, he did not get an opportunity to escape, being closely watched and remained in Canada until the close of the war. That he was in actual service and did duty from the time of his enlisted in the spring of 1776 until he was taken prisoner in the latter part of the winter of the years 1776 and 1777and before starting for Tyconderoga was employed as a scout in the now county of Herkimer and as a guard in the several forts on the Mohawk in said county. He was in no other engagements than the one befored mentioned. He never received a discharge from the Army and after obtaining his liberty he returned to his home and has resided in the same place ever since, being at Little Falls in Herkimer County. That he was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and was born in the year 1760. That he has no record of his age. That he resided at what is now the town of Little Falls, when called into the service, and has always lived and now lives at the same place, except he was a prisoner in Canada during the war. Fort Dayton was where the Village of Herkimer in Herkimer County now is. That he enlisted as a volunteer into the York Troops when he entered the service and never served except as a listed volunteer. At the time he was in the service he knew the following regular officers who were where he served: Colonel Parry; Colonel Corp; Major Truck; Colonel Bellinger; Major Eysler. That he never received a written discharge from service, that he is acquainted with Henry Ritter, and Stephan Eysamen residing near him who can testify as to his character for veracity, and their belief of his service as a Revolutionary soldier. That there is no clergyman residing in this neighborhood to whom he is known.

James Rankins

We, Henry Ritter of the Town of Manheim in Herkimer County and Stephan Eysamen of the town of Little Falls in said county do hereby certify that we are well acquainted with James Rankins who has subscribed and sworn to the above declaration and that we believe him to be seventy two years of age; that he is respected and believed in the neighborhood where he resides to have been a soldier of the Revolution and that we concur on that opinion. Sworn in open Court Henry Ritter
Oct. 9th. 1832         Stephan Eysamen
Julius C. Nelson clerk   his mark

And the said court do hereby declare their opinion after the investigation of the matter and after putting the interrogations prescribed by the war department that the above named applicant was a revolutionary soldier and served as he states. And the court further certifies that it appears to them that Henry Ritter of Manheim in Herkimer county and Stephan Eysamen of German Flatts in Herkimer, both of whose names are signed to the proceeding certificate, do reside in the respective places aforesaid and are credible persons and that their statement is entitled to credit. I Julius C. Nelson clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of the county of Herkimer do hereby certify that the foregoing contains the original proceedings of said court in the original matter of the application of James Rankins for a pension. The testimony whereof I have herewith let my hand and seal of office this ninth day of October 1832. Julius C. Nelson clerk

He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state.

James Rankins
Sworn in open Court Oct. 9th. 1832
Julius C. Nelson clerk

Thomas Rankins' name is listed in the roster of the First Regiment of The Line, under Colonel Goose Van Schaick. The captain mentioned in his pension application is officially listed as Capt. James Grigg.

James Rankins Jr. is listed in the roster of The Levies under Colonel Lewis Dubois. Both a James Rankin and a James Rankens are also listed in the roster of the First Regiment of the Line, together with Thomas Rankins. No men by the names of Lt. Robert Gordon, Capt. Damewood, Major Truck, Major Eysler, Laurence Grop or Col. Isaac Parry/Perry are officially listed in any records of the State Comptroller's office as having served in any regiments from the New York State, under any spelling variations. No Col. Corp is listed, although Joseph and Nathaniel Corpe were in the roster of enlisted men in the 12th Regiment of the Albany County Militia. Both Nicholas Van Alstine and Christian Getman are listed as enlisted men in the First Regiment of the Tryon Co. Militia. Many Bellingers served in various regiments, although Col. Peter Bellinger was in charge of the 4th Regiment of the Tryon County Militia. A Stephen Eiseman/Steffe Eyseman, who may be James's witness Stephan Eysamen, is listed as an enlisted man in the 4th Regiment of the Tryon Co. Militia, under Col. Bellinger. James Rankins Jr. was captured very early in the war, imprisoned in Canada for the duration, and would have been unaware of personnel changes and promotions during the war. It is possible that the officers he mentions may have been from a bordering state and spent time in New York State.

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Created: 2/25/1998
Updated: 5/9/2002
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