3 Replies Latest reply on Oct 8, 2019 3:17 PM by Lisha Penn

    Trying to determine where Martin McNary enlisted

    Thomas Shanley Newbie


      Martin McNary served in Captain Elias Stillwell's Company in the 1st Regiment, Connecticut "Line".  The published roll shows him paid from June 1 to Dec 31 1781 (Record of service of Connecticut men..., p. 319-20).  The service record card file (on Fold3) shows him enlisted June 1, 1781 and has a number of roll extracts showing in the 6th of the 1st.   The service file says he deserted 1783, but his pension file has a 1783 affidavit showing that he had provided a replacement soldier at West Point.  His statements in the pension file (also on Fold3; S42953 ) are generally consistent with the service record, though a few times he gave different details he did specify several times that he had been in Stillwell's Company.


      This Martin McNary lived out his days at Fishkill, New York and died in adjacent Philipstown in 1825.  He is commonly believed to have been the son of Martin McKenery, a Scots-Irish adventurer who served in the F&I War and lived at Middletown and later at Haddam, Conn.  A 1785 letter by the elder Martin mentions that he had a son Martin, his oldest, age 25 and a blacksmith.  Martin gave the ages of 9 other children in that letter and all of them can be verified from town and church records to have been accurate, most exactly correct and a couple of them within less than +1 year.  This son Martin's implied birth in 1760 was 3 years before his father Martin's only marriage of record, which was in Middletown 1763 to the widow Mehitabel (Johnson) Blake.  A letter written by a grand-daughter of the elder Martin in 1875 says that the son Martin grew up in Colchester (some 20 miles to the east) among his mother's people (Bettis family).


      The Problem

      I do find records at Colchester for the Bettis family and for an (illegitimate) child that may have the younger Martin.  But there's no real evidence linking the Fishkill Martin and Colchester, or the Bettis family, or the older Martin.  And there are conflicts that raise doubts: there are very persuasive age-at-date records for both, and the calculated birth year for Martin "of Fishkill" is 4 years earlier than that of Martin "son of Martin".  And Martin "of Fishkill" was a farmer and there is no evidence that he or any his sons ever was a blacksmith.   And the elder Martin is known to have had several relatives from abroad visit him at Middletown, suggesting a real possibility that the Martin who wound up in Fishkill was a close relative (e.g. a nephew) but still someone other than his acknowledged son.


      So I find so far that the common belief that Martin of Fishkill was the son of Martin of Middletown to be unproven and doubtful.


      The Question

      Is there any record that can show where exactly Martin McNary was (what town) when he enlisted at the beginning of June 1781?  Absent a record specific to him, is there any record showing orders that may have sent Stillwell to specific places in Connecticut to recruit, or giving the actual location of Captain Elias Stillwell on any dates around June 1 1781?


      More About Stillwell's Company

      I understand from the published sources that the Connecticut Line, mostly deployed in the Hudson Valley of New York, was being reorganized around the time that Martin signed up.  The old 3rd and 4th Regiments were consolidated into the new 1st.  In earlier years many of the rolls listed the soldiers' home towns but that does not seem to be the case in the 1781 reorg.  I found 11 of the 48 men listed in the roll of Stillwell's Company (as published, evidently from end-of-1781 payroll) listed in Captain Allin's Company under Colonel Wyllys in the old 3rd Regiment of 1779.   It seems a number of survivors from Allin's Company were transferred to Stillwell's command.  Six of those 11 men were from Colchester.


      I have the impression that company-level officers were sent "home" from the Hudson Valley to Connecticut during the reorganization to enlist more men to fill out the roster.  That's why I'm imagining that maybe the Martin who did enlist on or about 1 June 1781 may have been standing in some particular town in Connecticut at that moment.


      What it Would Mean

      If the Martin who enlisted in Stillwell's was at/of Colchester, it would be the key to building the first chain of evidence connecting the Martin who was at Fishkill to anything specific about the family history of the elder Martin... it would be very significant.


      If he was at Middletown, it would weigh less... it would tend to show there was some connection but not say much about the question of "son or nephew".

        • Re: Trying to determine where Martin McNary enlisted
          Lisha Penn Tracker

          Dear Mr. Shanley,


          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


          We searched the National Archives Catalog and located 3 file units:



          These 3 file units are digitized and available for your review on the Catalog.


          Also in the Catalog, we located the Population Schedules for the 1790 Census; 1800 Census; 1810 Census; and 1820 Census in the Records of the Census Bureau (Record Group 29). Digital images 1790, 1800, 1810 and 1820 census records are not available yet in the Catalog but are digitized and available on Ancestry. From 1790 to 1840, only the head of household is listed by name; other household members are merely counted in selected age groups.


          Using Ancestry, we located All Military Results for Martin McNary; a possible 1790 Census listing for his father; Martin McNary’s 1790 Census as head of household; Martin on the 1800 Census; on the 1810 Census; and on the 1820 Census. We also located Martin McNary in North American Family Histories; his Death in 1825 and his father’s death in 1809 with the same surname and lists his mother Mehitabel Blake.


          There may be a fee for using Ancestry. Instead, you may view these records online at one NARA's facilities for free via a NARA PC. For the nearest NARA location, please consult our web page at https://www.archives.gov/locations/. Also, some of the images from Ancestry are available for free on Family Search at https://www.familysearch.org/en/.


          For additional information about Martin McNary’s father, we suggest you contact The National Archives of the United Kingdom, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU, United Kingdom. The website is http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/.


          We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!


          2 people found this helpful
            • Re: Trying to determine where Martin McNary enlisted
              Thomas Shanley Newbie

              Dear Lisha Penn,


              Thank you for your efforts and your reply.  I tried to make clear the extent of the research I have already done, but I think I might have been more specific.  As it happens I have already studied and extracted relevant facts from every single one of the sources you linked, as far as I can determine (the links to Ancestry.com in your message only work from a NARA site as they go through the institutional portal; so I'm not sure exactly what you were linking to for "his Death in 1825" but I do have that information).


              Still, I am happy to say that I have found your reply somewhat helpful, as I was not aware that the RW pension and service files were now available online through the NARA catalog. I had been accessing them through Fold3, and I will be pleased to cite them direct to NARA instead and also to use the images from NARA that do not have Fold3's terms of use hanging over them; thank you!


              Yet I must be clear, my question is entirely unanswered, the answer does not lie in any of those sources, I have already studied them.


              I'm looking something like a record of orders to Captain Elias Stillwell sometime not long before June 1781 that would tell me where he was sent at that time; or a record of Stillwell's movements that would tell me exactly where he was on 1 June 1781; or a record of enlistments that would tell me either in what town in what state Martin McNary was physically located when he signed up, or what town in what state got "credit" for his service.


              thank you,




              PS.  "For the record", the matter of his supposed father, whom you mention in a couple of those links, is what is at issue here.  Also, the War of 1812 service is that of the son of the man who served in 1st Connecticut in the RW.

                • Re: Trying to determine where Martin McNary enlisted
                  Lisha Penn Tracker

                  Dear Mr. Shanley,


                  Thank you for posting your follow-up request on History Hub!


                  We were unable to locate any records in the National Archives Catalog pertaining to orders given to, or troop movement and location, of Captain Elias Stillwell in June 1781. We were also unable to determine the town in Connecticut where Martin McNary enlisted for military service during the Revolutionary War.


                  Unfortunately, most records in War Department custody were destroyed by fire on November 8, 1800; and later many of the remaining Revolutionary War records were lost during the War of 1812. In 1873, Secretary of War William Belknap purchased for the Federal Government the papers of Timothy Pickering, who had been a member of the Board of War, Adjutant General of the Continental Army, and Quartermaster General; the papers of Samuel Hodgdon, Commissary General of Military Stores for several years during the war; miscellaneous contemporary papers; and some minor groups of records and single record items.


                  Under authority of an act of March 2, 1913 (37 Stat. 723), the War Department made photographic copies of Revolutionary War records in the custody of public and private institutions in Virginia, North Carolina, and Massachusetts. These records in NARA’s custody form what is known as the War Department’s Collection of Revolutionary War Records (Record Group 93) that was transferred to the National Archives in 1938.


                  We hope this is helpful.