Sunday, November 9, 2014

52 Ancestors #21: Selah Stedman, military man (and a picture of our Veteran's Day baby!)

Changing focus this week in preparation for Veteran's Day, I am impressed by how many members of our family have served in the United States armed services.  Both my parents, Jean Hammon and Robert Brooks, and Phil's father, Clint Norton, served during the 1940s and 50s.  But our family fought for this country before it was even a country!

It seems that for Phil he has Revolutionary War ancestors on both his mother's and father's side.  I haven't even had the time to comb through my family for this kind of information though I know my cousin, Virginia, joined the DAR through one of my mother's ancestors.  In this post, I will focus on the man I have the most Revolutionary information about:

Selah Stedman

Selah is Phil's 4th great-grandfather.  His son, Eli Stedman, had a daughter named Sarah or Sally. She married the first Asahel Norton sometime before 1828.  It is through the 9th of their 12 children, Asahel Wellington, that we are descended.

Selah was born in Connecticut in 1762. He served in the war for 3 years from 1777 to 1780. There are many pages of muster rolls containing his service record and I haven't had a chance to go through them all.  Here's a copy of one from August 1777, where he is listed as "Zealous" Stedman.  His enlistment is for 3 years and it began in May of that year.  He is a Private in Captain Samuel Barker's Company of the Connecticut Regiment of Foot. Remember he is only about 15 years old at this time!

By 1779 he was still a Private but was now serving in Major Eli Levenworth's Company in the 6th Battalion Connecticut Forces.  His pay is meager, approximately 2 pounds per month.  There is also a subsistence amount of 3 pounds.  I'm not sure what that means.  There are many of these cards in Fold3, a website devoted to military records.  I followed them month by month and he was a very regular soldier. Amazing dedication for a young man, now only 17 years old.

There is an extensive pension file from 1832, available on  For reasons I can't quite figure out, his original application for a pension was returned and he had to offer additional testimony.  Here is a copy of the affidavit sworn on 27 September 1832 which I will try to transcribe.


State of New York
County of Livingston.  On this twenty seventh day of September 1832 personally appeared before the county courts of Livingston County aforesaid Selah Stedman a resident of the town of Livonia in the county of Livingston.  Aforesaid aged seventy years who first being duly sown according to Law doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the provision made by the act of Congress passed at the 7th June 1832 - That he enlisted in the army of the United States on the 7th day of May in the year 1777 and served in the Regiment commanded by Lieutenant Jonathan Meigs in a Brigade commanded by General Person after Connecticut ___?___ in a company commanded by Captain Samuel Backer - Enlisted for three years and served until the 27th day of April 1780 on which day he was discharged - That he resided at the time he enlisted as aforesaid in the town of Wolingsford, County of New Haven and State of Connecticut - was born in the year 1762 - - That in the year 1777 was at Peckskill in the state of new York and in an alarm marched with his regiment into New Jersey as far as Quibble Town and joined the army with General Washington at the time of the Battle of Scotch Plains.  After the battle marched back to Peckskill and from there to White Plains to watch the enemy and convoy(?) the refugees and cow boys(?). Went into Winter Quarters at Fishkill and had the small pox - had a furlough and went home and in the month of March 1778 joined the army at Robinson ____?___ two miles below West Point on the east side of the North River where the Brigade remained the forefront of the summer then marched to White Plains and there stayed (p 1 ends)
until time to go into Winter Quarters and for that purpose marched into the state of Connecticut and then continued until the spring of 1779 - and marched back to the  Robinson Fords(?) near the North River at which place the regiment continued during the summer of 1779 until time to repair to Winter Quarters and for that purpose marched to Morristown in New Jersey and there continued until the spring of 1780 and from there marched to a town called West??? in New Jersey and was discharged by Col. Meigs on the day above named (to wit) the 27 day of April 1780, discharge lost.
I hereby relinquish every claim whatever to a pension or an annuity except the present and declare that my name is not on the Pension Roll of any agency in any state.
                                           (Signed by Selah  Stedman)
Sworn and subscribed the day and year aforesaid.
And the said court do hereby declare their opinion that the aforenamed applicant was a revolutionary soldier and served as he states.

This must have worked because Selah and then his widow did receive a pension.  It will be fun to re-read Revolutionary War history and look for these places. I'm not sure I got all the town's correct but they should be identifiable in the records of his regiment.

The good news is we know that Selah survived the war, even surviving smallpox!  By 1783, Selah - now only 21 - was married to Mary Hall.  At some point, following a common migration route, they moved to upstate New York,  The History of Livingston County shows that in 1813 he and Mary were founding members of the First Presbyterian Church of Livonia, New York church.  And that is where he lived until his death on 30 August 1844 at the age of 71.

I love that Selah lived near New Haven Ct where both Jessi and I went to school.  Also that his name comes from the biblical term - Selah  - used 71 times in the book of Psalms.  The meaning is uncertain but it appears to be a direction to musicians to "strike up".  And what a musical family Selah helped found!

I will let Selah - a man who served as a young boy and saw General Washington -sign this record for himself -

On a much lighter note, I want to close with happy birthday greetings to our own Eve G Norton Hanna, born on 11/11 and who did her (sometimes militant) service with the Veteran's Administration.  When you're with Eve, it's always a party!