William Ralston’s Connection to William Perry of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania

I am still trying to figure out how William Ralston ended up owing the debt, along with John Miller, of William Perry.

The Pennsylvania State Archives does have the court records from 1792, but the archives are closed due to the pandemic.

I have found some things on William Perry and also more of a connection between the two and a bit more on Ralston’s service as a Ranger.

William Perry seemed to be a respectable sort of fellow.

He was the Captain of a company of rangers in Westmoreland County, sometime between 1778 and 1783. I tend to think toward the earlier years.

Here is a list of his company from the Pennsylvania Published Archives, Vol 23, page 335:

Take note that Jeremiah Lochry is listed under Perry’s company. Jeremiah was an important person in William Ralston’s life. He named one of his sons, Jeremiah. He was William’s neighbor. He was William’s captain when William was an Ensign in 1780 as a Ranger for Westmoreland.

Perry was a sheriff of Westmoreland County also for a number of years. Elected at Hanna’s Town in 1777 and still elected a sheriff through 1789. He was a collector of excise in 1778. He was also treasurer of Westmoreland County for some years. His people trusted him.

It seems something went wrong with Perry in 1787. John Nicholson posted public notices that as treasurer Perry had not settled his accounts and had until 2 July 1787 to do so.

Since the court case was determined in 1792, I am leaning toward this being the incident in which William Ralston ended up losing his land due to Perry’s debts (rather than the family story of 1778 in the Ralston books) but until I see the court documents, it is all speculation.

I was wondering why William Ralston, since he was in Westmoreland County in 1769, and was a young man at the time, hadn’t been more involved in the militia and I think I have found that he was earlier involved, not just in 1780.

He is listed on the list of Rangers on the Frontiers 1778 to 1783, which unfortunately has no precise date listed with service. He is listed on the general list and also as serving with George Baird’s company in Westmoreland County:

Since Lochry was serving in Perry’s company, not as a Captain, and Ralston in Baird’s company, not as an officer, I think these are earlier records of service because Lochry in 1780 was a Captain of his own company with Ralston as a Sergeant and then an Ensign and Perry was an elected official by this time.

I found this interesting article written by Gregory T. Knouff of Rutgers University, New Brunswick in which he talks about what it was like to be a Ranger on the Western Frontier of Pennsylvania. It is not pleasant to think about the violence and racisim in which William Ralston operated.

I have figured out, I think, how Ralston’s land was confiscated for some time during the Revolution, and this will be next time’s blog along with some more interesting information all gleaned from the Pennsylvania Published Archives. Stay tuned.

The Mysterious William Ralston of Greensburg, Westmoreland County, PA (1750 ish to aft. 1801)

William Ralston (born about 1750) settled in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania in April, 1769 according to the testimony he gave to the court. This testimony can be found in the Pennsylvania, Published Archives Series, 1664-1902, 6th series, Volume XIII, Part Two on pages 31 and 32 and of which you can read below. This is also available in full on Ancestry.com.

In February of 1786, William tells the court that he claimed land north of Big Sewickley Creek, next to the lands of Jeremiah Lochrey and John Hughes in April/May of 1769. This is the exact time when this area of Pennsylvania was opened to legal settlement by the white people.  He loses this land during the American Revolution, and the US government pays him 646 pounds on March 17, 1782 as a result of the confiscation of his estate. You can see these documents in the same 6th series, Volume XII, pages 578 and 845.q

It is important to note the mention of Jeremiah Lochrey. This connects our William to Lochrey and we can then assume with a good deal of certainty that the William Ralston in the Pennsylvania Volunteers in the company commanded by Captain Jeremiah Lochrey, stationed in Westmoreland County, for the defense of the the frontiers is our William.

William Ralston was a sergeant in this company from April 11 to October 10, 1780 and then promoted to Ensign from October 11 to December 15, 1780. He is not listed as being specifically in the company of Rangers who were under Captain William Guthrie’s Company which served under the command of Captain Lochrey. But the term “ranger” was used for the soldiers who defended the American frontier at the time of the revolution from the American Indians working in conjunction with the British.

Here is a fabulous map of Pennsylvania in 1770. If you download it you can zoom in and see all of the marked areas.

1777fadenatlaspa

What else can we deduce with some certainty about this William Ralston?

He is not the William Ralston in East Caln, Chester County nor is William of East Caln, born about 1733, the father of my William. William of East Caln is the third son of John Ralston out of Pikeland and then Vincent, Chester County. John Sr. begins to own property in Chester County in the 1730s. William remained in East Caln, Chester County until he removed to Philadelphia and died there 18 Nov 1808 at the age of 75. Our William was in Westmoreland County with certainty. So the William Ralston in East Caln on the 1751, 1754, and 1786 census (and others) is another man. William Ralston also owned land in West Nantmeal and lists this as his residence when he purchases additional land in East Caln in 1756. See Book T-4, Page 629, Deeds of Chester County. He sold his property in East Caln to Joshua Way in 1801 Deeds Book W-2, Page 48 and he lists himself as being of Philadelphia at the time.

John Ralston Sr. came from Northern Ireland with his son Robert in 1728 and they settled in Pikeland, Chester County. Robert’s son John born in Vincent, Cester Co in 1744 and died in West Vincent in 1825. There is an entire article about these semi-famous and important Ralstons in the book Old Families of Philadelphia. Robert was an important man in the American Revolution and the listings of these Ralston men out of the Philadelphia militia in the Pennsylvania Published Archive Series are not my Ralstons, the Robert and William who lived in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. William Ralston of East Caln, Chester County had only one child, Robert, born 18 DEC 1761 in East Caln, Chester County, Pennsylvania. This Robert resided in Philadelphia by 1780 and is the reason William moved there. Same names and approximately the same ages, different family.

My William was on Forbes Road in Hempfield Township, Bedford County, PA in 1773, an area that became part of Westmoreland County.  Pennsylvania Tax and Exoneration List:

 

WmRalston1773HempfieldTownship

He lived in or very near to the historic Old Hanna’s Town.

In 1776, his son Jon was born near Greensburg, Westmoreland County, also very near to Hanna’s Town. We know this from the book titled Butler County (PA) History.

In 1774, William’s brother Robert signs a petition of Westmoreland County at Fort Shippen. You can see this in Pennsylvania Published Archives Series 1, Volume 4, 534.

RobertRalstonSignsPetition1774

 

You can read more about Fort Shippen and other western frontier forts and places here.

Let’s stop here at 1776 and with William’s American Revolution service and continue next time. I have the archives to continue perusing and also Westmoreland land deeds and surveys to look up and download. We have a court proceeding to find also for William lost his land in a court proceeding in the 1790s. A court proceeding that arose due to an event during the Revolution, separate from the confiscation noted above. The Ralstons were Scots-Irish presbyterians so maybe we can find some church proceeding records on them also.

Once we find everything we can readily find on William and Robert (and I have Robert’s will) we will try and see if we can deduce from whence they came to Westmoreland County and to where William went, along with wives and children.

Make note please of the proximity of the Hanna family in Westmoreland County as DNA results show a common ancestor 12 generations back from me. Or a few more generations back from William.

William ~ John Sr ~ John Jr ~ Millen ~ William A ~ Ivan ~ Richard ~ Me.

But more on this as I cannot locate a birth record for Ivan, though he was born in 1902 when they were required at the county level in Iowa. Orphan Train baby?

 

Benjamin W Ellison’s Sergeant in Civil War

Sergeant Donohue of Company G of the 16th Michigan Infantry during Benjamin W Ellison’s time of service as private:

http://www.michiganinthewar.org/photos/donohu.htm

Sergeant John Dono(g)hue was admitted to Harper Hospital in Detroit on July 18, 1865, two days after Benjamin W Ellison was admitted there.

I am still transcribing the Harper Hospital records and these are being published in the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research magazine (see last two issues with more to come).

Benjamin W. Ellison Civil War Hospital Record

Here is a copy of the original record of Benjamin W. Ellison’s admission to Harper Hospital USA General Hospital in Detroit, Michigan on July 16th, 1865. He was suffering from malaria.

The record reads:

Benjamin W Ellison Prvt 16 Mich Infantry Company G  Admitted from Transfer

This means Private Ellison was in another civil war general hospital and transferred to Detroit.

This record is held at the Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library. My transcription of some of these records is set to be published in the spring edition of the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research Quarterly.

I sought out this record because Private Ellison’s pension increase requests were denied by the federal government. Their response to him was that there was no proof he’d gotten ill during his service as a soldier or been treated for his illness during the war. Their denial forced his wife to have no alternative but hospitalize him at Traverse City State Hospital, when she wanted to hire a private caretaker so he could live at home with her in Boyne Falls. It broke her heart to send her beloved husband away.

Ellison & Austin, Boyne Falls Village, Michigan

In the Patron’s List of the 1901 Charlevoix County Plat Book I found an advertisement:

Ellison & Austin –General Blacksmithing, Wagon Making and Repair Shop

Horse Shoeing Done in a Scientific Manner

Within the 1901 Plat Book are listed:

William Ellison

J. P. Austin

I am pretty certain this is my 2nd great-grandfather, William A. Ellison. Further research will determine.  He was there in Boyne Falls in 1901, not moving down to Hazel Park until 1911. I wonder what it means to horse shoe “in a scientific manner”?

New York Times Article about Ship Senator

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November 19, 1863

The Case of the Ship Senator, Alleged to have been Scuttled by the Captain.; SUPERIOR COURT TRIAL TERM. Before Justice Robertson.

Edwin Walsh vs. The Washington Marine Insurance Company. — This action is brought to recover on an insurance policy on the ship Senator. The Senator sailed from this port, loaded with grain, and was lost at sea on the 27th of August, 1862, as is claimed by plaintiff, during a heavy gale. The ship was insured in five Companies. Only one, the Neptune, has paid the amount of its policy without contest. Suits are pending against the others. The defence allege that the vessel was so old and unseaworthy that she cropped to pieces; that she was not lost in a gale, but foundered in ordinary weather from weakness and being overloaded. The amount involved is over $35,000. The Captain of the Senator has been arrested, charged with scuttling the ship. The case has occupied the Court for several days. The evidence of well-known sea-captains, and of the plaintiff himself, was given at great length to show the seaworthiness of the vessel at the time of sailing. On the part of the defence the mates of the Senator were examined. The second mate, Mr. Thompson, testified that before sailing part of the cabin furniture, spare sails, cordage, &c., were sent ashore. That part of the lower hold was not stowed; that she commenced making water the evening of the first day out and on the fifth day she had five and a half feet of water in the hold. They had, in his opinion, no rough weather — nothing more than a good stiff breeze. On the fifth day the master of the ship asked Thompson to go among the men and frighten them in regard to the condition of the vessel. In consequence of what Thompson told them, the men went aft to the Captain and it was decided to abandon the vessel. At that time the weather was calm and pleasant. The first mate was also examined and testified that with the assistance of the Captain he had scuttled the ship, although in the protest he swore that she was lost through the stress of weather. The witnesses for the defence were subjected to a rigid and lengthy cross-examination by plaintiff’s counsel.

Testimony was afterward introduced by the plaintiff to discredit the evidence of Thompson, the second mate.

The case has excited an unusual degree of attention among seamen and stevedores during the week that it has occupied the Court.

Verdict for plaintiff for $5,243 61.

Elbridge T. Gerry and Wm.C. Noyes for plaintiff; Townsend Scudder and Wm.D. Booth for defendants.