George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jacob Johnson, 7 March 1793

From Jacob Johnson

Wyoming [Pa.] March 7th 1793


I am one of the Sufferers—In the late Wars—Living on the Waters of the Susquehannah—Exposd to the Invasion of the Western Enemies—A Party of Indians and Tories under the Command of the (Indn Colo.) John Butler to the No. of Seven or Eight hundred came down upon us1—At which Time my House was burnt & all in it consumed—My flocks & herds killd or carried off—all my Labor’s lost—The whole Loss (at The lowest computation) more than Five hundred Pounds Pennsylvania currency—My Selfe Wife & Family driv’n away in a manner naked and Starving for a number of Days—Nothing to Support me for two going on Three years but continental Bills which depreciated in my hands almost to nothing—And when I came on again to these Waters on the Susquehannah—My horses were Stole by the Enemy and carried off to Niagara—My cows Swine &c. kill’d—House plunderd—All Supports of Life taken away—My two Sons carried off by the Enemy—One of them from under the Doctors Care In the month of march a Cold & rainy Season—Waded the Rivers Lay on the wet ground—nothing to eat for 48 hours—And then but a poor allowance for a Sick man Which threw Him into Such a disorderd State of body—That He has never had a Well Day Since—And never like to recover his health in this World Tho’ much has been expended on Doctors & means but to no purpose—Add to all this my mony to the amount of Several Thousand Dollers I put into the Loan Office to carry on the Wars Sunk down almost to nothing—And finally I lost more than a Thousand Dollers.

Now Sir for all these Sufferings & Losses (and much more not nam’d) I have received no Consideration—not to Say Compensation2—Altho’ I have expended almost as much as any man in these States in carrying on the Late Wars—And Sufferd & lost more than any one I know of on these Frontiers—I do therefore prefer this Letter in way of Memorial to your Excellency to Lay before Congress3—Petitioning at least a Consideration if not a full Compensation for my Sufferings & Losses—and that of my Sons &c. I am Sir with due Defference And great Respect Your Excellencys Sincere and most assured Friend &c.

Jacob Johnson
The First Ordaind Minister
at Wilkesbarre on the Susquehannah

N.B. The Revd James Sprout D.D. one of my Correspondents in Philadelphia4—And whom I have desird to wait upon your Excellency with this Letter can Inform & certefy of my Character & Sufferings—If there be need of it.

As also Abraham Bradly Esq. (Judge of the quarter Sessions in the County of Luzern)—now at Philadelphia at Col. T. Pickerin[g’s] office.5

And also Col. Mats Hollenbeck—(if yet in Philadelphia) can certify my Character & Sufferings—For He was one of the Sufferers at the Same Time.6

The above named with many more can attest to the Truth of my Sufferings and Losses if my Letter to your Excellency and memorial & Petition to Congress be not Sufficiently Satisfactory.

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

Before the Revolutionary War, Connecticut native and Yale graduate Jacob Johnson (1713–1797) had served as a missionary to the Pequot Indians in Connecticut and briefly, in 1768, to the Iroquois in New York. He was the current pastor of the First Presbyterian Church at Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, in the Wyoming Valley of northeastern Pennsylvania. In 1771 the Susquehannah Land Company had hired him to preach to those people from Connecticut who had settled in the Wyoming Valley, and in 1773 Johnson moved his wife, Mary Giddings Johnson (died c.1791), and children, Jehoiada, Jacob, Lydia, and Christiania, to the valley.

1In early July 1778 Maj. John Butler led an army of Indians and Loyalists against Wyoming Valley settlements. Butler’s force defeated the local militia and then burned buildings and killed many of the inhabitants (Pennsylvania Gazette [Philadelphia], 30 July 1778; GW to Philip Schuyler, 22 July 1778).

2In February 1781 Johnson had unsuccessfully solicited GW and the Continental Congress for an appointment as a chaplain in the Continental army (see Johnson to GW, 24 Feb., 22 June 1781, both ALS, DLC:GW, GW to Johnson, 23 Mar. 1781, Df, DLC:GW, and LB, DLC:GW). Later that year Johnson’s request for aid from the Continental Congress was denied (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 21:1041).

3Johnson arrived in Philadelphia on 23 April 1793 and wrote two letters to GW that day and another on 30 April. Although no reply to these letters has been found, Johnson’s second letter of 23 April indicates GW’s negative reaction to his request. The U.S. House of Representatives considered a petition from Johnson on 23 Jan. 1794 but tabled it in April of that same year (Journal of the House description begins The Journal of the House of Representatives: George Washington Administration 1789–1797. Edited by Martin P. Claussen. 9 vols. Wilmington, Del., 1977. description ends , 6:95, 233).

4James Sproat (1722–1793), who had served as a hospital chaplain during the Revolutionary War, currently was the pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia (Philadelphia Directory, 1793; description begins James Hardie. The Philadelphia Directory and Register . . .. Philadelphia, 1793. description ends Frederick Lewis Weis, The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies [Baltimore, 1978], 151).

5Abraham Bradley worked as a clerk at the office of the postmaster general, Timothy Pickering, and later became assistant postmaster general.

6Matthew Hollenbeck of Connecticut was an ensign 1776–78 in Samuel Ransom’s Wyoming Valley company.

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