Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Three Generations of Taylors in the Revolutionary War: By Pat Kinsella Herdeg

We have both Bakers and Taylors who served in the Revolu-tionary War, as well as other relatives, but we’ll focus on the Taylor side for this story—specifically, Josiah Taylor, his son, Gamaliel Taylor, and his grandson, Thomas Taylor.

Now, how far back is the Revolutionary War? You can figure out the dates—mid to late 1700’s, but in family terms, it goes like this: my grandfather Lloyd Taylor, had a grandfather Daniel Taylor, who had a grandfather Thomas Taylor who had a grandfather Josiah, which is where this particular tale begins. Or maybe before that…

Josiah’s grandfather, Captain John Taylor died in 1704--he was killed by Indians while pursuing them after they destroyed Fort Pascomuck. Captain John’s son, also John, married Wait Clapp, and moved to Fairfield—known now as Westport-- in the colony of Connecticut, by the time our Josiah was born in 1701. Green’s Farms Congregational Church was a huge part of the Taylor life; as one Westport history book exclaimed: “Green’s Farms Congregational Church WAS the town at this point.”

Josiah Taylor—born in 1701-- was an elderly man in his seventies when the Revolutionary War broke out; he fought as a private. We know that by 1779, he was chosen to commissary and supply soldiers’ families, as well as handle claims for dependents left behind by their fighting men.

His son, Gamaliel—in his early forties--also fought in the War; he was a 2nd lieutenant in the First Battalion under Colonel Whiting, Fifth Company under Captain Thorp. As a lieutenant, he was in several different companies and under several different commands. In 1780, Gamaliel was still found in military records. Which battles did he fight in? He would seem to have been the most traveled and battle scarred of the three, for anyone who wants to dig deeper.

Gamaliel’s son, Thomas, also fought; he enlisted at age eighteen on May 29th of 1776, along with Nathan Taylor, a cousin? PrivateThomas was stationed at Fort Schuyler (the rebuilt and re-named Fort Stanwix near Rome, NY) under the command of Colonel Elmore, in the company of Captain Albert Chapman.

And so, we have three generations of Taylors fighting for their colony of Connecticut, along with various brothers and cousins. As one Revolutionary War genealogist commented when he was reviewing these records two hundred years later: “ It isn’t all that uncommon to find a father and a son that served, but it is quite another to discover the grandfather served as well.”

Proof of our Taylor family’s passion for their soon to be country was evident in Josiah’s will, written in 1777, four years before his actual death. He passed everything on to his wife, Thankful, and their children. However, as Josiah named each of his children in the will, he singled out two of his sons-- Paul and Eleazer-- from the other boys, and next to their names wrote: “Afraid they will turn traitors”. Did they? I haven’t discovered that yet.

But, to stay Loyalist in their small town would have been an unpopular decision. While our relatives clearly knew of the war raging in the colonies—after all, the Taylor men were already enlisted, no one was prepared for April of 1777.

On Friday of April 25, 1777, Mercy Disbrow of Greens Farms was boiling water on the beach to make salt for the household. Looking up, she was the first to see twenty six mainmasts with Union Jacks flying—British warships were headed to Compo Beach. They landed, marched through Compo and Fairfield to Danbury and destroyed as many of the colonists war supplies as possible.

Almost two thousand British soldiers, led by William Tryon, faced Benedict Arnold--who was still on our side; more than 300 British were killed and untold colonists.

Then, on July 6th, 1779, Tryon and the British returned, burning homes, barns and churches, including the Green’s Farm Congregational Church of our Taylors. Although the church was destroyed, the Communion silver was saved by Deacon Jesup—he hid it in his well. Of the many local houses burned, one of those belonged to Widow Eunice Morehouse, most likely mother of Mary Morehouse, who would wed our Thomas in four years time.

So, yes, to remain loyal to the British at this time would have torn apart families, as Josiah pointed out in his will. While we do not know what choices Thomas’ uncles, Paul and Eleazer made, we do know what life had in store for our Thomas and Mary, and baby Gideon in the wilds of Vermont. But that is a story for another day.

Picture One: Green’s Farms Congregational Church, burnt to the ground by the British in 1779
Picture Two: Moat at Fort Schuyler, where Thomas Taylor-- my grandfather's, grandfather's grandfather (!) --fought
Picture Three: British Revolutionary War frigate
Picture Four: American Soldiers in the Revolutionary War


Sue Kinsella said...

Wow, Pat, wonderful to hear this history! I hadn't heard any of this before. Josiah was a private in the army IN HIS 70'S?!?

And, if I'm understanding this correctly, then Thomas served in New York not far from where the Taylors that we know and are part of eventually settled. (I know the borders of the states were pretty fluid at that time, but was he fighting as a representative of Connecticut while stationed in New York, or in the general battle of the colonies for freedom from Britain?)

Thank you for writing about this. Fascinating history. Can't wait for the next installment!

Jack Kinsella said...

Pat, great historical account!! Who can deny that history is interesting.
Dad (Jack Kinsella)

CB [Mom] said...

It must be remembered that past coastal New England was New York state that was not yet very "statish!" The area where young Tom was was still considered the frontier! Even when Gideon came to Oakfield in 1820 or thereabouts it was the end of known territory for many. Hard to consider! Thanks to Bryant Taylor's wife, Evie, she convinced him to apply for Sons of Revolutionary war, SAR instead of DAR and thus we know of this!!!

Diana said...

Wonderful - thanks for taking the time to post this. I am always facinated by learning of times when clearly easier decisions could have been made that would not put one in harms way. Clearly there were more self-serving options in the Revolutionary War - and yet they took the 'right' path.

Pat said...

Thanks, everyone!

I really enjoyed researching this story, and yes, MANY thanks go to Evelyn Taylor for her DAR records on our three Taylor soldiers--thoroughly documented--great work on her part!!

I have been searching for Paul and Eleazer to see if they did 'turn traitor' and can't easily discover that--some people feel that these two may have ended up in Nova Scotia, which would fit if they stayed on the British side.

But, we do have to keep in mind that it must have been difficult to choose back then from the individual's point of view--you wanted to be on the winning side and for so long, the British looked to be it!

Even on the Baker side, we hear that the land of Vermont was desired by Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire, and our New York friends were so unscrupulous in their legal attacks that the British approached Ethan Allen and Remember Baker and told them that if Vermont would stay true to the British, THEY would take better care of them. Canada's map could look quite different today if our Vermonters had taken up the British on that offer!

Tom K. said...

I too am boggled by son, father, and grandfather fighting. We think we live in scarey times now!

Anonymous said...

Eleazer fought for the King's American Rangers under Roger's Rangers. He went from ensign of the New Hampshire Volunteers and ended up Lieutenant in Roger's Rangers. Eleazer settled in Parrsboro Nova Scotia at the end of the war in 1783. There is a record of him staying in a derelict property in New York before returning home. It lists him with,under women and children -3, and states that he is from Connecticut.He ended up having 9 children in total. There is a monument dedicated to him at Diligent River in Nova Scotia.
This is his family

Pat Herdeg said...

Thank you for this information on Eleazer. I just wish we had a death certificate which listed his parents, so then we could be sure. With a last name like 'Taylor', it is difficult to be certain. Why wouldn't his brother Paul--who also supposedly turned 'traitor' fight also the Roger's Rangers along side his brother?

Susan Doran said...

hi Pat - just discovered this most impressive blog! You and I are 2nd cousins, or perhaps first cousins once removed? CB and my father (Thomas Taylor Doran - son of Florence Cordelia Taylor Doran) are first cousins. I've just started pawing away at the treasure trove, so yet to discover all that's here (looks marvelous so far), but fwiw I found these tonight:

Apologies if this is old hat. I've done a bunch of genealogical research myself, tho' very little on the Taylors (more my mother's side--Tiffany, Carter, Shepard, Brewster), so thank you for this! It really is fine work.

We clearly have tons of Colonial roots, and I'm wondering whether one or more of these Taylor forebears eventually wend their way to the Mayflower. Wouldn't be surprised, since so relatively few people were around in those days. My mother's side has a bunch of Mayflower "lines." One of the cool things about establishing Mayflower lines is the Mayflower Society has such a richness of well-documented histories, and makes sure that gets added to and preserved in perpetuity. Anyway, I was thinking tonight seeing some of the names that it also wouldn't be surprising if my parents ended up with a shared ancestor 300+ years ago, in the 17th C :)

So funny to think we've been kicking around this place for close to 400 years, isn't it! Especially when we have their stories and learn little things about them, and can piece them together with other known history.

best wishes form your geeky librarian cousin,

Pat Herdeg said...


I have emailed you at a two year old email address. If you did not get it,please email me at


Cousin Pat

Anonymous said...

American Ancestry: Volume 11

January 1, 1898

Paul Taylor of Norwalk CT M. to Sarah Nash at the outset of the rev. war was a determined tory, but later took up arms in behalf of the colony.

The Colonial and Revolutionary Homes of Wilton, Norwalk, Westport, Darien page 56 & 57 lists him as well.

This is the only info I have seen about him so far.

Pat Herdeg said...

Thank you so much for this!! Very interesting, as Paul's sister, Deborah, also married into the Nash family, and at one point, her son Israel is in Nova Scotia with Eleazer Taylor, who as a Tory fought for British and moved and stayed in Nova Scotia. Will have to do more work on the Nash family in Norwalk!

So, brother against brother in this Taylor family.

Anonymous said...

No problem. I have quite a bit of my family tree started at if you are interested. It is a work in progress. It's interesting that Eleazers son William named 2 of his children Israel (the first died young) and another son Gaius named his son Gaius Nash Taylor. There is a lot of circumstantial evidence to tie him to this family. I am interested in the trip your Deborahs son took to Nova Scotia. I wish as you do that I had something definitive. Still researching though. Something may come up.

Anonymous said...

Hi I found this entry in the book, American Migrations, 1765-1799: The Lives, Times, and Families of Colonial Americans who Remained Loyal to the British Crown Before, During, and After the Revolutionary War, as Related in Their Own Words and Through Their Correspondence
Page 23
Nash, Zophor of Norwalk. Petition dated Cornwallis, NS. 1786, by Eleazar Taylor. bother-in- law and administrator to the claimant who died in debt to [his brother] Johnson Nash. The deceased joined the Army in October 1776 and was killed in battle leaving a son Israel Nash aged 11. Details of the circumstances can be provided by the petitioner's sister Susannah Taylor living at Parr's Town. NS. Claim for house built by the deceased‘s father Nathan Nash in 1763; 50 acres of land. (13/80/348-349).

Pat Herdeg said...

Thank you! I believe this does prove that Eleazer Taylor of NS IS brother to our Taylors. Great detective work! And, Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, it only took a year and hundreds of hours of research. It is the most enjoyable hobby. Haha. Also I found this document from the American side.

Connecticut archives 11232.pdf states:

Confiscated estates. Nash, Zophar, Norwalk.
Selectmen’s certificate of persons whose estates have been confiscated Apr.1778-XXIX:244
Commissioner’s certificate of sale & receipt for deed to Jerusha Nash & Lemuel Brooks, 178 XXXIV: 278,282
County court return of estates leased & of personal & real estates confiscated XMXIV: 459bd,460a, 461a
Petition of son,Israel, by his guardian,with indorsement of friends & inventory, showing his father joined the enemy in 1776 when Israel was an infant. There yet remains a small part unsold,the dower right of his grandmother. He asks the right to that land. Gr. May 1788 XXXVI 324-326

Taylor Ripple said...

Are you speaking of Eleazer Cornish ( potentially Carnish) Taylor? I am tracking my DAR lineage and am eligible due to the above. He served in the fifth regiment seventh company under col. Waterbury. Born roughly 1755 deceased March 1847 roughly. Married to Hannah Starr. Both in Fairfield County, Connecticut

Pat Herdeg said...


We must be talking about two different Eleazer's who lived in the same area at the same time. Perhaps they are cousins.

Your, son of Matthew Taylor and Esther Waller, was born in 1755 and died in CT in 1836, right? I can find him on, and he WAS a Rev War American soldier, as you say.

Our Eleazer is definitely the one we mention above who ended up in Nova Scotia after fighting for the British, as I could find court documents that named a nephew and sister of our family. So definitely our Eleazer.

Good luck with your genealogical hunting. Always good to find a 'farflung' cousin, as I have no doubt you are!