Sketches of Indiana County Revolutionary Soldiers – Part I

James Shields

James Shields enlisted in 1776 or early 1777 at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and served as a private in Captain William Chambers and Captain Pry’s companies, Colonel Moses Hazen’s Continental (called “Congress’ Own” Regiment).  He was discharged in June 1783.

He was in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown in which he was wounded in the right arm; Whitemarsh, Monmouth, Horseneck, Stony Point, Brunswick and in the Siege of Yorktown.  He was wounded also in his right eyebrow at an unknown date.

He was allowed pension on application which was executed on August 4, 1819.  In 1820, he resided in Mahoning Township, Indiana County and was aged 76 years.  His wife was aged 50 years.  He had six daughters (one had two children) and a son, James.  He was still a resident of the county in 1834.

Patrick McGee

Patrick McGee was born in Londonderry, Ireland, and came to American and located in Franklin County, Pennsylvania in 1771.  He was a wheelwright and wagonmaker and engaged in that trade.

During the fight for American independence Patrick McGee served as a private in Captain John Marshall’s Company, Second Battalion, Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment, commanded by Colonel Samuel Miles, in 1776.  In 1780 and 1781, he was listed as a private in the 7th Company, First Battalion, Cumberland County Militia, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James Johnston.  It is said that during one of these tours of duty he was captured by the British and confined in a prion in New York City.

After the close of the war, this Revolutionary hero came to what is now Indiana County, settling near the present village of Grafton, and a farm later owned by the Graff family, in the year 1794.  He continued his trade and engaged in farming.  He was a member of the Presbyterian church.

Patrick McGee was born in 1750, and married Esther Pilson on April 17, 1796.  He died in 1818 in Blacklick Township and was buried in the Hopewell Methodist Cemetery.  His wife, Esther, was born in 1762 and died in 1830 and was buried beside her husband.  Their grave markers were removed to the Oakland Cemetery in Indiana PA in the 1940s.

George Hice

On March 27, 1833, George Hice, a resident of Wheatfield Township, appeared before the Honorable John Young, Judge of the Common Pleas, Indiana County, Pennsylvania. Hice was 68 years old.

While a resident of Fort Ligonier, Westmoreland County he joined a company of volunteer rifleman commanded by Captain Samuel Shannon.  They assembled at Sheriff Carnahan’s on August 10, 1781, commanded by Colonel Archibald Loughry; they marched via Washington, PA to Wheeling, VA.  After a stay of about two days they went down the Ohio River in boats as far as a creek called Loughry’s creek, a few miles below the mouth of the Big Miami River.  At this place on August 24, 1781, about 110 men (many having deserted between Wheeling and this place) were attacked by a large number of Indians under the command of Simon Girty, George Girty and James Girty, and an Indian called Captain Brant.  The attack was made by the Indians from the shore just as some of the boats had touched for the purpose of landing.  Thirty-eight of the men were killed and Colonel Loughry was also killed by the Indians on the same day after he had been taken prisoner.

Those not killed, including George Hice, were taken to Shawnee towns on the Big Miami.  Four days after he was taken prisoner, he ran the gauntlet with several others.  He was taken to Mawmee towns where he was detained by the Indians for about a year.  He was then taken to Detroit, given to the British and held prisoner for another four months; thence in an English vessel to Fort Erie, thence to Montreal, St. Johns, across Lake Champlain to Ticonderoga; from Ticonderoga via Albany to New York.  From New York Hice made his way through New Jersey, Reading, Harrisburg and Carlisle, Pennsylvania, finally reaching Fort Ligonier, Westmoreland County, in the month of October 1783.

Hice further stated two years and two months elapsed from the time he left home until he returned, and that he never received a written discharge or documentary evidence to establish the facts and services in this declaration before Judge Young.

He stated, “I was born in the state of New Jersey about one mile from Flemingstown in the year 1765.”  He further stated he had a record of his age at the house where he resided, that he was living a Fort Ligonier when he entered service, and moved to Wheatfield Township, Indiana County, in 1785.  Hice said he volunteered for service, that he knew Colonel Archibald Loughry, Adj. John Guthrie, Captain Samuel Shannon, Captain Robert Orr, and that he (Hice) was known to John Ligat and Thomas Clarke.

Mathias Fisher, Ligonier Township, Westmoreland County, a soldier of the same company, testified Hice’s statement was true.

A note attached to the declaration states that George Hice died November 26, 1833.

Randall Laughlin

Randal Laughlin, a native of Ireland, came to America prior to the Revolutionary War, and purchased the improvement on a large tract of land lying part in Blacklick Township and part in Center Township, in what is now Indiana County.  A small quantity of ground had already been cleared, and Laughlin erected a small cabin.

After this improvement on his tract our subject returned to Franklin County, where he had lived for a short time, and there married Elizabeth Warnock, March 10, 1777, according to records of the Upper West Conococheague Presbyterian Church, at Mercersburg.  The couple came to their Indiana County cabin that spring intent upon peaceful progress of their land improvement.

They were sadly disappointed for the summer brought marauding bands of Indians, and they were forced to take refuge at Fort Wallace, near present Brenizer, Westmoreland County. The farmers went out sometimes in small groups to their little farms, armed with rifles.  One day Randall Laughlin found that his horses had disappeared from the fort, and believing they might have wandered back to his cabin, he asked his neighbors to go there with him.

This cabin stood on the farm in Blacklick Township, and Laughlin was accompanied by Charles Campbell, for whom Campbell’s Mills was named; Samuel Dixon, of Blacklick Township; John and Levi Gibson, brothers, whose tract adjoined Laughlin.  The Gibson families of Blacklick Township are descendants of John.

All went well until the frontiersmen reached the cabin.  There they were surprised and captured by a band of Indians, led by a Frenchman.  They were allowed to write a statement on the cabin door of what happened, then were marched away. This took place Thursday, September 25, 1777.

The captives were taken to Kittanning, thence to Detroit and delivered to the British, then to Quebec.  After a severe winter, they were finally exchanged the next fall, except for Levi Gibson who died in Canada. Laughlin arrived at Boston, October 14, 1778.

In the meantime Elizabeth Laughlin had returned to Franklin County where her husband found her.  Their first born child, a son, whom he had never seen was over a year old.

The Laughlins remained in Franklin County until the end of the war, Randall serving in the 6th Company, First Battallion, Cumberland County Militia, in 1780.

By the Act of March 25, 1805, Charles Campbell, Randall Laughlin and John Wilson were appointed to survey a grant by George Clymer, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, of 250 acres of land for the county seat of the new county – Indiana.

This pioneer and defender of freedom took an active part in the affairs of this county until his death on January 6, 1818.  He was buried in the Bethel Presbyterian Cemetery, near his home.

Elizabeth Warnock Laughlin, born 1748, survived her husband ten years, dying on January 30, 1828.

Conrad Rice

Conrad Rice, a Revolutionary solider and Indiana County pioneer, came here from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in 1794.  He took up the tract of land upon which Memorial Park in Indiana is located, but was unable to remain the first winter due to Indian troubles.  The Rice family spent the winter months in the Ligonier Valley, and made a permanent settlement in 1795.  The land extending south included at least a part of the old fair ground, now known as the Mack Park Recreation Center.  Rice was a blacksmith.

Devout Lutherans came to the Rice home to worship when a circuit rider found the time to visit the community.  It was probably this custom that was responsible for starting the Lutheran Cemetery (Memorial Park).  Burials were made there as early as 1803.  On January 24, 1818, Conrad Rice deeded over two acres of his land, including the little cemetery, to the Indiana County Commissioners for use of the Presbyterian and Lutheran churches.  He was buried in the cemetery in 1823.

During the Revolution Conrad Rice served as a private in the Eighth Company, Sixth Battalion, Lancaster County Militia.

John Work

Shortly after the close of the close of the Revolutionary War, many families from the eastern coast pushed further into the wilderness of western Pennsylvania.

Among these pioneers were John and William Work, sons of Samuel Work who had settled in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, prior to the Revolution.

John and William both served in the Revolution; John served as a private in Captain Jack’s Company, First Battalion, Cumberland County Militia.

In 1785, John Work married Mary Brady, of Cumberland County.  She was a daughter of Samuel Brady of the Hugh Brady family of colonial and Revolutionary fame.

The Work brothers first settled in Westmoreland County, but in less than five years moved to Mahoning Township, Indiana County.  John was one of the first Justices of Peace in Mahoning Township and one of the original elders of Gilgal Presbyterian Church.  His life was quiet and peaceful after his settlement in Indiana County, but of short duration. He was found dead in the woods after accompanying a friend part way home.  His death occurred in March 1809.

The government marker for John Work was dediated in Gilgal cemetery, Sunday October 11, 1953, by the Indiana County Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, assisted by the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County and Veterans of Foreign Wars, Indiana Post 1989.

Peter Sutton

Peter Sutton, pioneer of the Sutton family in Indiana County, served as a private in Captain David Peter’s Company, First New Jersey Regiment from October 10, 1775 to January 11, 1776. Next is a roll dated July 1, 1778, which shows he enlisted on June 1, 1777, for nine months.  His name is on a roll dated March 23, 1779 which reports him discharged.  Peter Sutton was a member of Captain Nixon’s Company of New Jersey Horse, and his name appears on an undated muster roll. Opposite the name is the date Jan’y 27th and the remark: “Discharged April 1, 1777.” He enlisted in Captain John Walton’s Company of Light Dragoons on April 1st and was discharged December 15, 1782.  From various census records definitely established, Peter Sutton probably served throughout the Revolution – from 1775 to 1782.

Peter Sutton and wife Pheobe, came from Basking Ridge, New Jersey, to Newport, the first town in Indiana County, and after Indiana was laid out they established a home at the county seat.  He built a two story log tavern at the corner of Philadelphia Street and Carpenter Avenue.  The first session of our county courts was held on the second floor of this tavern, December 1806.

Sutton died in Indiana in 1822 and   was buried in the old graveyard where Calvary United Presbyterian church now stands.  The location of the grave was lost, a memorial marker provide by the government was placed in Memorial Park.

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Through a broad range of activities, The Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County seeks to promote a greater appreciation of the Indiana community's rich heritage and a better understanding of life today.

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