Revolutionary War


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Revolutionary War Pension of Joshua VAN FLEET   as given by  Frank C. Van Fleet

Extracted from a copy of the statement for a pension claim made by Joshua in 1832-1833.  General Services Administration, National Archives and Records Service, Records of the Veteran’s Administration, Revolutionary War pension file of Joshua Van Fleet, S7784, undated.

Joshua Van Fleet holds a unique place in Van Fleet history and particularly the Van Fleet’s of Kentucky, being the father of James, one of the first known Van Fleet’s to settle there.  Joshua was born in New York on July 22nd, 1764.  Joshua’s ancestral documentation is an enigma, as there is no record of his birth or baptism or who his parents were.  The only document that gives us a real clue is the statement that he made in 1832 in his claim for a pension for service during the Revolutionary War.  That statement by Joshua indicates that he was born “…at Minisink, State of New York ….”  “…he had a discharge from Colonel Wisenfelt and in the year 1784 it was burned up in his father’s house at Wilkes-Barre, during the troubles at that place.” [1] This statement and the evidence from documents of other Van Fleet’s who were living in this area and which were of the probable age for bearing children, lead us to believe that Joshua's parents are indeed Daniel and Sarah Van Fleet.

Whether Joshua was the son of Daniel or was Daniel’s younger brother remains in controversy; however, we do know much about Joshua himself from his own account in affidavits submitted in his pension claim.

From the time he was about 14, " Josh away", as he was called, served off and on as a Scout for the Colonial Army.  In 1779 he served a period of active duty, it is recorded that in 1780 he served in June and again in September. In Colonial days all able bodied men (within a certain age range that differed among the colonies) were members of the local militia and were usually called for a battle or other incident and then went home until recalled again. In 1781 Joshua was "levied" for six months and served in Colonel Wisenfelts Regiment. During this period he went to West Point in a Sloop and while there he saw General George Washington. He also mentioned seeing General Star and General Schuyler at Saratoga.  He traveled to Albany in a Sloop and was for a time at Fort Hunter on the Mohawk before being marched to Fort Edward. He spent much of his time "out on scouts". He returned to Albany and was discharged there in 1784, by Colonel Wisenfelt. He received no pay at any time for his service.

After the war, Joshua moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and lived there about 5 years, then moved to Tioga, New York and later moved to Ontario County,  NY.   In 1785 he married, probably while in Elmira, which is located in Chemung County, NY, east of  Tioga County.  There, Joshua married seventeen year, old Sabra Roberts.  Sabra, born in Litchfield, Connecticut, was the daughter of Moses and Rachel Adams Roberts.  Moses had served in the militia of Connecticut during the Revolutionary War.  

Sabra was descended on both of her parent’s lines from distinctive families of New England - her mother was of the Adams family of Massachusetts [of Presidential fame].  Sabra’s ancestors also included William Spencer who was born in England and one of the founders of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery in London and later an officer of the Company in Boston.

Joshua and Sabra had fourteen children.  Moses, born in 1787; Mary, born 1789; Joshua Junior, born 1790; Ruth, born September 13th, 1791; John Van Fleet, born October 3rd, 1796; We-enthroegh [sic] (probably pronounced Wenthrow) Van Fleet, born December 15th, 1795 and died October 7th, 1796; [cut off]

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