Allen County Indiana Cemetery Project|
Attracted by the opportunities offered to settlers in the newly opened Northwest Territory, James Saunders was another veteran of the Revolutionary War who spent his last years in Allen County, Indiana.
He was a Virginian, born in Gloucester County near York in about 1756. Nothing is known of his personal life, but his short military career was described by him when he applied for a pension for service in the War of the Revolution. He appeared in the Allen County, Indiana, Probate Court on August 11, 1833, a resident of the county, aged about seventy-six.
He said he had enlisted in the American army in April of 1781 in Berkeley County, Virginia. He was a volunteer in the company of Virginia state troops commanded by Captain George Cloke (Clark) in a regiment commanded by Colonel Willis. The company was held in readiness to march, and in August of that year they moved from Martinsburg to Winchester in Frederick County. In September they advanced towards “Little York”. However, they saw no action as they arrived a few days after the surrender of General Cornwallis to the American army under General Washington. Saunder’s company was employed in guarding that portion of the defeated British army allotted to Virginia. They marched them to Winchester Barracks, and Saunders himself continued on guard duty until March of 1782 when he received his discharge from the army.
He returned home to Gloucester County but was incapacitated by what he described as a “long spell of sickness”. During this time his discharge papers were either lost or stolen; he felt sure it was the latter. However, in his deposition when applying for his pension he “claimed that he personally knew General Washington, Marquis de la Fayette, General Lee, General Morgan, General Darke and several others who were officers of the American army”. This imposing array of acquaintances must have impressed the court favorably because his application for his pension was executed on August 14, 1833.
No further information on the activities of James Saunders has been discovered although the 1830 census of Allen County, Wayne Township, Indiana, lists him as the head of a household consisting of one male between the ages of seventy and eighty (himself) and one female between the ages of sixty and seventy (undoubtedly his wife). In the DAR roster of Revolutionary soldiers buried in Indiana, his wife’s name is given as Martha, and he is supposed to have had at least three children names, Sarah, Dorothy, and Elizabeth. He died in Allen County on February 2, 1834.
1830 census, Allen County, Wayne Township, Indiana(microfilm)
O’Byrne, Mrs. Roscoe C., comp. & ed. Roster of soldiers and patriots of the American Revolution buried in Indiana. n.p., Indiana
Daughters of the American Revolution, 1938
Revolutionary War Pension Application No. S32502
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