Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Our Grandfathers' Tory Rebellion

by Donna Gloff

Including Hyre, Mace, Rohrbaugh, Crites, Borer, Brake, Osborn & Others

It would be difficult to find someone from Orlando who is not descended from a veteran or patriot of the American Revolution. That makes it all the more interesting to learn that in 1781, six years into the Revolutionary War and a year and a half before it was finished, a number of our pioneer forefathers rebelled against the high taxation and conscription demands of the continental government and formed a Tory unit, to fight with the British against the Continental Army.

The Beginnings of an Insurrection

It was a desperate time for our infant republic, and the demands on the citizens were back-breaking. In April of 1781, a John Claypool and several of his pioneer neighbors along the Lost River, east of our forefathers on South Fork of the Potomac, had had enough and when the tax collector arrived they refused. They hoisted a Union Jack and "Drank to King George the third's Health and Damnation to Congress." By the time authorities arrived, forty or fifty men had made their way to Claypool's on the Lost River.

Above left: The Union Jack

Right: a sketch of typical Colonial militia, engaged in battle. The troops that marched on Torys included Army regulars and militia like these.

Those pioneers surrendered, but word spread anyway and 150 or more men rode to join the insurrection. These were not just pioneer farmers. Deserters from the Colonial army and English soldiers escaped from POW camps helped to swell the numbers. This growing band of Torys had centered on the West Branch of the Potomac, at Brake's mill, about 15 miles north of Moorefield.

Our Grandfathers

Several of our German immigrant forefathers who had settled on the West Branch joined the fray here. We know about them because of a document they signed: a petition for clemency. According to Richard K. MacMaster in The History of Hardy County, 1786 - 1986, found at Buzz Perry's website, http://www.perrybrake.com/ClaypoolRebellion.pdf,

"Another group of petitioners also asked for executive clemency, adding that they 'have been instrumental in detecting and bringing in some of the principal Comspirators to Justice.' Enough evidence against them convinced the Grand Jury, nevertheless, to indict them for treason and insurrection. The signers of this petition included Samuel Lourie from Lost River. The rest lived on the South Fork or the South Branch. Jacob Brake, whose name headed the petition, Jacob House, John Mitchell, Jeremiah Osborn, and Adam Rodebaugh lived on the South Fork or in the vicinity of Moorefield in Michael Stump's district. Michael Algire, Charles Borah or Borrer, John Casner, Jacob Crites, Leonard Hier, John Mace, Henry Rodebaugh, Jacob Pickle, Adam Wease, Sr., Adam Wease, Jr., John Wease, and Jacob Yeazle were all in John Wilson's district on Mill Creek in present Grant County. Jacob Hier, Isaac Mace, and Thomas Stacey were in Job Welton's district in the vicinity of Petersburg."

Most of the twenty-five South Branch pioneers who signed this petition have descendants throughout central West Virginia, including the Oil Creek area. Some of their descendants are named Riffle, Morrison, Hyre and Hyer, McCauley, Strader, Mick, Mace, Skinner and Heater.

The Petition for Clemency

[This petition was written as one paragraph, with extremely long sentences. Line breaks have been added to make reading easier. -ed]
"Humbly Sheweth,
That your Petitioners living in an obscure and remote corner of the State are precluded from every intelligence of the state affairs either by public papers or from the information of men of credit and veracity, and at the same infested by the wicked emissaries or pretended emissaries of the British who travel through all parts of the frontiers and by misrepresentations and false news poisoned the minds of the ignorant and credulous settlers.

That your petitioners from narrow and confined notions and attached too strongly to their interests conceived the Act for laying the enormous tax of eighty pounds paper money on every 100 pounds of their property, rated in specie and a bounty for the recruits of the Continental Army, and the law subjecting them at the same time to be drafted for the said service and the further Act for clothing the Army as unjust and oppressive after paying such a high tax on their assessed property.

And those wicked and designing men by their artful insinuations and false intelligence industriously propagated to delude and seduce your petitioners, too readily prevailed on them to oppose the execution of the said Acts and take up arms in defense of what those wretches called their liberty and property.

But your petitioners humbly shew that they never concerted or conspired the destruction of Government or the hurt of any individual, further than to defend themselves when attacked or compelled to yield obedience to those laws;

and when your petitioners were made sensible of their error by the gentlemen from the adjacent counties who marched a body of men sufficient to have put all the disobedient and deluded crew to the sword, but, from motives of humanity and prudence attempted the more mild method of argument to dispel the delusion and bring them back to their duty,

your petitioners, ready to receive information and open to correction, readily gave up their arms and engaged to deliver themselves to justice and submit to the laws of their country when called for, which they have since done and stood their trial in the County Court of Hampshire,

and were by that Court adjudged to stand a further trial before a Special Court of Oyer and Terminer appointed to meet at the Court House on the 10th day of July last,

but the gentlemen nominated as Judges by the Honorable Board failing to attend, the prosecution was postponed;

and your petitioners were then informed by a proclamation under the hand of the County Lieutenant that the Executive, ever prone to adopt the most lenient measures to penitent offenders, offered pardon and indemnity to all those concerned in the late insurrection, if they would return to their duty and behave as good citizens in future.

And your Petitioners impressed with a deep sense of the gracious intentions of your Excellency and the Honorable Board towards the ignorant and deluded were encouraged to sue for pardon; and that the same act of grace might be extended towards them since they humbly conceive their conduct has been more consonant to the duty of good citizens, who conscious that they have transgressed against the laws of their country readily delivered themselves to Justice and a trial by their peers to suffer the punishment due to their crimes though committed through ignorance and misguided zeal.

Whereas those who have availed themselves of the said proclamation, the equally guilty, did not come in until their safety was insured to them by promise of pardon, wherefore you petitioners humbly hope from the known clemency of your Excellency, and that governs the Councils of the Honorable Board, that they will be graciously pleased to pardon their past offenses and include in the Act of Indemnity so mercifully held out to offenders under the like circumstances and they engage on the faith of honest citizens to act a true and faithful part to the State in future if they are released from further prosecution and restored to the privileges of other citizens; which your petitioner John Claypole is more encouraged to expect from a letter of General Morgan to your said petitioner wherein he promises to procure his pardon on his returning to his allegiance and becoming a good citizen, this he humbly conceives his behavior has, since he was convinced by his error and freed from those mistaken prejudices that seduced him from his duty, wherefore in deep contrition for their past misconduct and sincere promise of conducting themselves as good citizens for the time to come they humbly pray pardon, and that the Honorable Board will save their innocent wives and children from ruin and misery, which they must necessarily be involved, for the crimes of their deluded husband and parents. And your petitioners will pray...

Petitions were bound over for Jury in November. All of the men were pardoned. Several of the men went on to fight against the British in the Colonial Army.

Our Pioneer Grandfathers

Who Signed the Petition for Cemency
with some information about their relationship to the Oil Creek watershed.
Leonard Hier b. 1727 in Benkin, Switz. D. 1786, Hardy Co. VA Descendants: all the Hyers and Hyres
John Mace b. 1711, s/o Henry and Ann (Petty) Mace, father of Eva Mace Descendants of Frank & Eva (Mace) Riffle
John Rorebaugh m. Barbara Reger, d/o Anthony Reger Descendants: all the McCauleys in the area, a few Micks, Skinners and Heaters
Jacob Brake b. abt 1730 in Germany Descendants: Lee Morrison, among others

A few of the Orlando descendants of the Claypool Rebellion: John Scott Riffle b. 1845 (descendant of John Mace), Lee Morrison b. 1867 (descendant of John Brake), Elizabeth (Wine) Blake b. 1866 (descendant of John Mace). Jonathan "Hedge" McCauley b. 1871 (descendant of Anthony Reger), Everett Allman, 1907 (descendent of Leonard Hyre). Doris Jean Blake b. abt 1933 (descendant of John Mace).

Some of the participants as yet unidentified as related to Oil Creek folks
Michael Algier
Isaac Brake
b. abt 1760, s/o Jacob, m. Roseanna Almon, moved to Ohio.
Charles Borer
Jacob Crites b. 1752 in Bucks Co, PA, d. 1837, Hardy County, m. Elizabeth Henkle
Adam Rohenbough one of 3 sons of Johann Adam Rodenbaugh & Maria Barbara Fischer
Henry Rodenbough one of 3 sons of Johann Adam Rodenbaugh & Maria Barbara Fischer
Martin Rodenbaugh one of 3 sons of Johann Adam Rodenbaugh & Maria Barbara Fischer
George Sites
Thomas Stacey
Adam Wease
Adam Wease, Jr.
John Wease,
Jacob Yeazle

John Mitchell This doesn’t seem to be our Mitchell line.
Jeremiah Ozburn
Josia Ozburn
George Peck
Jacob Pickle
Jacob House
Samuel Louri
John Casner

. . . . .

Note: for more information see http://www.eg.bucknell.edu/~hyde/brake/ToryUprising.html and
http://www.perrybrake.com/ClaypoolRebellion.pdf and Kercheval, Samuel. History of the Valley of Virginia, 1833.

Note: If your roots pass through Orlando and if you have questions about your ancestors, we'll do our best to help you with your search. Send your questions to orlandowestvirginia@yahoo.com.

Note: Among the ancestors of the Oil Creek community are at least two grandfathers who came to the Colonies with His Majesty King George III’s armies. Peter Shields and Henry Church were both English soldiers who became Prisoners of War. Church served out his time as a POW and married a Quaker girl, Shields gave his allegiance to the new Americans and joined their army.

Right: a British soldier

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