Monday, January 28, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: Revolutionary War Pension Petition Pages, Part One

Amanuensis Monday

What's an Amanuensis, you say? It's a copyist: someone who sits like a crazy person squinting their eyes and probably ruining eyesight to read that old document hand-written so very long ago and type it out. We do because we love:)
Nehemiah Newans (1740 - 1820) is one of four Revolutionary War ancestors, and right now the most interesting for me. You can see more about him using the page tab above where you'll find a rough timeline of his life.

Quite a while back I got on Fold3 and downloaded his service and pension papers. I tried to transcribe what I could but wasn't ready and up to the task. Not that I am now, but I've made some progress in the transcribing department due to indexing for FamilySearch and 1940 US Census, and now want to take another stab at it. Indexing sharpened my skills because I could check after the file was arbitrated to better understand my skill and learn.

Am thinking so as not to get burned out, I'll do this a page at a time and see how it goes. Unfortunately the writing in the first bit is monstrous, slants vertical, and is scrunched. Drat! The pages written by Moses Atwater, Esq., Nehemiah Newans' regular attorney, are clearer and you'll see those later. I think I can do those without busting a pair of glasses. But these first pages... UGH! Can't quite figure out who this first writing comes from but maybe that will be revealed as I go.

If I can transcribe all of these documents for us for us, I think you'll find it interesting because it does outline Nehemiah Newans service and track where he went, even his leg wound from a musket ball and hospitalization in Williamsburg. Or maybe it's just Mom and me who go head over heels looking at this stuff...?

So off we go!

Canandaigua July 29, 1818

George G (?) Boyd Esq –
I endure you a new declaration and testimony in the case of Nehemiah Newens, which has been once returned. And I send the old (?) in hopes that if a pension is granted him, it (folded paper obscures some of this line) ….. from the time the original (?) was closed.
I assure you from my personal knowledge of Mr. Newans that his is a case that comes fully within the law, both as to service and poverty, and hope you will not hesitate to place him on the Pension list. (Have no idea what this says! Sorry.)
Very Respectfully
John C. Spencer

Moving right past the two spellings of the last name as Newans and Newens, used in this sample, I have other questions.

So here's what I want to know. Who was this George Boyd Esq. that the letter is addressed to? Was he with the pension review board or some such? And who is John C. Spencer? I find a John C. Spencer on Fold3 in the service records for the Revolutionary War. Is it one and the same? I notice that he's not signing this document as Esq.
Additionally, why is Spencer, the author, saying that Nehemiah Newnas is poor? He was at this time the proud owner of at least three prime parcels of land in the up and coming town of Canandaigua, New York in the finger lakes area of upstate. And he had a thriving stone mason business and even employed a couple of stone masons and brick layers. Was poverty a condition of being awarded a pension at this time??

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