Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Biographies from Heverly & from Craft

and Elijah Towner Pension Papers

Elijah TOWNER & Mary KNAPP

This page is part of the Tri-County Genealogy Site by Joyce M. Tice

No Unauthorized Commercial Use May Be Made of This Material

(Transcribed by Robert Towner,

Joyce's Search Tip - December 2007 -
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by Heverly, Vol. I, PP 241

Elijah Towner joined the American army and served under Arnold. He was taken prisoner on Lake Champlain, but was paroled and returned home. He, however, again joined the patriot army and continued in the service as a teamster until the close of the Revolution. He subsequently was given a pension by the government. While residing at Danbury he married Mary Knapp. From here he removed to New Lebanon, Columbia County, NY, where he lived a number of years. In 1793, in company with his second son, Enoch, he came to Sheshequin and stopped at General Spalding's, where he left Enoch and returned for his family, which the year following he brought to the Susquehanna. He came over the Catskills, reaching the river at Wattles' Ferry, where he built a boat on which he loaded his family and household goods, and floated down with the current. In the journey the boat was nearly capsized on a snag, and many of the goods lost, but the family arrived safely. Enoch had sowed 13 acres of grain for General Spalding, his share of which was sufficient to support the family the first year of their settlement. Mr. Towner purchased 400 acres of Thayer, paying 400 Spanish milled dollars for the land and located it in the center of the Connecticut town of "Watertown," which was a little east of Towner Hill, on what was afterwards known as the Upham farm. His title proving worthless, he abandoned it and commenced clearing up a farm on Oak Hill. He improved 100 acres and put up a distillery, which he operated several years. The land coming into the hands of LeRay, he traded, 1806, his improvements for 300 acres, on what is now known as Towner Hill. Here he settled permanently and died October 7, 1840, in his 82nd year. His wife died February 21, 1841, aged 80 years, 6 months and 18 days. They rest in Towner Cemetery.

FROM: HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY, by Rev. David Craft (1878)

P. 350 Rome Twp. - The first settlement on Towner Hill was made by Elijah Towner in the year 1806. His father, Abraham Towner, died on Lake Champlain, in the time of the of French War, about 1755. He served in the Rev. army, was taken prisoner on Lake Champlain, under Arnold, was paroled, and returned home. He, however, served as a teamster during the war, and for his services received a pension from the government. He moved from Danbury to New Lebanon, on the Hudson, in Columbia County, NY, where he lived for a number of years and reared a numerous family.

In 1793, in company with Enoch, his 2nd son, then 13 years of age, he came to Sheshequin, and stopped at Gen. Spaulding's where he left Enoch, and returned for his family, and the year after, 1794, brought them to the Susquehanna. He came over the Catskills, reaching the river at Wattles' Ferry, where he built a boat, on which he loaded his family & household goods, & floated them down with the current. In the journey the boat was nearly capsized on a snag, & many of his goods lost, but the family arrived safely. Enoch had sowed 13 acres of grain for Gen. Spaulding, his share of which was sufficient to support the family the first year of their settlement. Mr. Towner then purchased 400 acres of Thayer, paying 400 Spanish milled dollars for the land, & located it in the center of the CT town of Thayer's, called, "Watertown", which was a little east of Towner Hill, on what was afterwards known as the Upham farm. His title proving worthless he abandoned it, & commenced clearing up a farm on the Oak Hill, 3 miles from the river, where he cleared up 100 acres, put up a distillery & operated it for a number of years. The land coming into the hands of LeRay, Mr. Towner traded his improvements for 300 acres, on what is now (1878) known as Towner Hill, in 1806, and lived there until his death, at the age of 82 years. His wife survived him 6 mos., & was nearly the same age.

EZRA - the oldest son of Elizah Towner married Jane Westbrook, a daughter of Leonard Westbrood, who with George Murphy, were also early settlers. John Hicks also settled early in the hollow west of Towner's. Ezra died in 1804, in the month of Feb. The snow was 3 feet deep at the time, & no help could get to him. Dr. Grant tried to get through, but there being no roads he failed. The people of Sheshequin were two days in shoveling a road to his house. He was carried to the river and buried. He left 3 children - 2 sons & 1 dau. - whose posterity are scattered throughout the west. The widow remarried, & went west, where she died.

ENOCH - the 2nd son, married Elizabeth Moore & moved out on the hill west of the meeting-house, where - in 1809 - his oldest son, Philander, now (1878) a resident of Rome Twp. & who contributes this account of the Towner family, was born. He sold to J.M. Hicks, & removed to the river, where he lived 4 or 5 years, when he returned & bought the farm of Elijah Towner, Jr. & lived there until his death, May 19, 1874, at the age of 93 yrs. He reared a large family of children, 6 sons & 7 daus, all of whom grew to manhood & womanhood, & were married, with the exception of 3 or 4; all settled around him. Two of the children are now (1878) dead, Dr. Enoch & Evelina Robinson. The doctor was a very ambitious man, of good intellect, & killed himself by exposure & over-exhaustion. A son, Joseph Towner, married Theresa Gerould, one of that family long & favorably known in Bradford Co. She was the dau. of Theodore Gerould. They now reside in Sheshequin.

ABRAHAM - the 3rd son, married Lovina Hemenway, & commenced a farm on the south of the old homestead; lived there a number of years, & removed to the river, whence, in 1816, he moved to Ohio, settling a short distance above Cincinnate, at New Richmond. He reared a large family by his first & second wives, some 14 in all. He died in 1857, aged 76 yrs. The first wife's children are all dead but one dau., who lives at Montrose; those of the 2nd wife are in the west, if living.

JOHN - the 4th son, returned to New Lebanon for a wife, whom he brought back to the old homestead, settled near it, & remained for a few years. He then returned east for a period of 16 yrs., during which time his wife met with a misfortune, being crippled for life. He finally returned to Towner Hill, & cleared up a farm east of the homestead, where he & his wife died, she preceding him. They reared a family of 4 sons & 2daus.

GERSHOM, the 5th son, was of a roving disposition. He married Sarah Hemenway; was a blacksmith by trade; was in the army 7 years, serving during the last war with Great Britain. He finally settled down at Centre Valley, on Bullard Creek, & carried on his trade for 36 yrs. He & his wife were both blind in their later years. They had 7 children.

ELIJAH, JR - the 6th son, was the largest of the family, a "splendid singer, jovial, & good-natured". He married Phebe Hicks, & settled on the east side of Towner Hill, & finally moved to Vigo Co., IN, where he died. He left a family of 4 sons & 4 daus., who grew to maturity & were married.

ANNA - the eldest dau., lived unmarried to a good old age, past 80 years.

JOSEPH - the 7th son, "grew up on the homestead, & was a wild, mischievous boy until he was converted", when he began exhorting, & became very enthusiastic in the cause of religion. He married Amelia Pratt, & settled east of Towner Hill, & cleared up a farm, but sold it & moved to Candor, Tioga Co., NY, & preached on different circuits for a number of years. He then returned to the old homestead, & cared for & supported his now aged parents, who lived about 15 years after his return. He occupied his time in farming & preaching, & being a great favorite, was called from far & near to solemnize marriages & perform funeral rites. He reared a family of 4 sons & 4 daus. Rev. Joseph Towner was a public spirited man, & contributed to the advancement of all public & private enterprises within his power. He died in 1854, his widow suriviving him several years. The old homestead was sold to Wm. McCabe, who in turn sold it to Washington Towner, son of Enoch Towner, who is the present owner (1874).

OLIVE - the 2nd dau., married Russell Pratt, of Susquehanna Co., PA. She reared 4 sons & 4 daus., also. The 4 sons are all phusicians. The two older live in IL; one Dr. Leonard Pratt, was professor in the Homeopathic College of Chicago, & his son is now a Professor of Anatomy & Clinics in the same college. They reside in Wheaton, DuPage Co., IL, one of the numerous suburban villages of the Garden City, where they enjoy an extended & remunerative practice. Dr. D.S. Pratt is also a skillful & successful homeopathic physician in Towanda, & his son is in practice with him. Russell Pratt died several years ago in Towanda, his wife surviving him some years.

ELIZABETH - the youngest dau., married George Billings & reared 5 sons & 3 daus. She died in 1837.

BENJAMIN - the youngest son & child, "was a mischievous boy". He married Deborah Rose. He was a preacher & a fine singer, & prided himself on his talents, & "could sing for twenty-four hours without repeating a song". He reared a family of 3 sons & 4 daus., the most of whom still reside in Tioga Co., PA. He died in Mansfield, Tioga Co., PA, in 1866, but his widow still survives. (1878)

The Towner family endured hard service in the wilderness in clearing up their farms, & though naturally vigorous, healthy, and ambitious, their severe labors undermined the robust constitutions of some of the children, whose descendants are now reaping the fruits of their parents' exposures & privations. Abraham's family were all carried off by consumption.

Elijah Towner Pension Papers

September 3, 1932


ELIJAH TOWNER L. R. Doern S. 22558 827 East Mason Street Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Dear Madam:

Reference is made to your letter relative to Elijah Towner, a Soldier of the Revolutionary War.

The data contained herein were obtained from the papers on file in pension claim, S. 22558, based upon the Revolutionary War service of Elijah Towner.

While a resident of Danbury, Fairfield County, Connecticut, Elijah Towner enlisted in October, 1775, and served three months as a private in Captain Eli Magget's company, Colonel Chandler's Connecticut regiment. He enlisted April 1, 1776, as a private in Captain Jabez Botsford's company, Colonel Swift's Connecticut regiment, and Served until about August, 1776, when he was detached to serve as a marine on General Waterbury's galley, "Washington", on Lake Champlain and was in the battle of Lake Champlain where he was taken prisoner, but released on parole and returned home. He then volunteered, contrary to his parole, served four days as a private in Captain Justus Barnum's Connecticut company and was in the battle of White Plains. He also volunteered and served one tour of three days to Fort Montgomery and another of eight days to Kingsbury, officers not named.

He was allowed pension on his application executed September 11, 1832, while a resident of Rome Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, at which time he was aged seventy-three years.

There are no data on file as to his family.

The above history is that of the only soldier named Elijah Towner, of Danbury, Connecticut, found in the Revolutionary War records of this office.

Very truly yours

A. D. HILLER Assistant to Administrator Declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress of the 7th of June 1832.

State of Pennsylvania Bradford County

On this Eleventh day of September, personally appearing before the Hon. Edward Herrick Esq., President of the 13th Judicial District for the County of Bradford, and his associates - the Hon. John McKean and Jonathan Stevens Esquire, Elijah Towner a resident of Rome Township, County of Bradford and State of Penn. - aged seventy three years, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following Declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the provision made by the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.

That he enlisted in the army of the United States on the first part of the month of October in the year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy Five, at the Town of Danbury in the County of old Fairfield, Connecticut for the term of three months, in a company commanded by Capt. Eli Magget, Lieut. Paul Hamilton, and Ensign Salmon or Zalman Taylor. His company was attached to the regiment commanded by Colonel Chandler, whose given name he does not remember. The company formed at Danbury, and marched to New York, where they joined the regiment. He continued at the camp at New York during the term of his enlistment. The business was keeping demeanor and working on fatigue at what was then called the Grand Battery and old fort. At one time he went out with a party, and crossed over to Governors Island in the night, under the stern of the British Shipping, and worked at making an entrenchment on the island. After being there about twenty-four hours, his party was relieved by another party from the camp, and he and his party returned to New York. There was no important event happen about New York during his term of service, that he knows of; and at the end of the term of the enlistment, he received a written discharge from Col. Chandler. But the declarant has no knowledge or recollection what became of it. He was at that time only sixteen years of age and was thoughtless concerning it. The British ships that lay at New York at the time was the Asia Man of War, and two smaller vessels, the Phoenix of 40 guns, and another of 20 guns. He thinks that soon after his arrival at New York, General Putnam came on and took command of the troops there. After his three months tour to New York, the said Elijah Towner further states that he returned home to Danbury aforesaid, and remained there until about the first of April 1776, at which time he again enlisted into the United States Army at said Danbury for the term of nine months, and joined the company commanded by Capt. Jabez Botsford, Lieut. Ezra Star, and Ensign Jeremiah Botsford, a cousin to the captain. The company marched from Danbury to Skeensborough (since called Whitehall) at the head of Lake Champlain, and arrived there towards the last of June, as near as he can recollect, and there joined a part of Col. Swift's Regiment. The other part of the same Regiment being stationed at Fort Independence or Ticonderoga. Soon after his arrival at Skeensborough his company were ordered out to open and improve the road between the old Fort Edward and Fort Ann, so here they were engaged near two months, and then returned to Skeensborough. During which time, this declarant was with them. Soon after his return, he was with his company ordered to Ticonderoga to join the regiment there. Not to exceed four weeks after he arrived at Ticonderoga or Fort Independence, he was detached from his company and put on board the Galley Washington on Lake Champlain, to serve as a marine. After getting the vessel rigged, She sailed down the Lake to the west side of Cumberland bay. Her Captain was of the name of Hatcher of New Haven, Connecticut, the Lieut. Fairweather of Horseneck, Connecticut. The fleet was commanded by Benedict Arnold and Gen. Waterbury of Horseneck was second in command. The latter was on board of the same vessel with this declarant. The fleet remained at Cumberland Bay between an island called Schuylers Island and the western main shore about two months from the time of his arrival there. When on a Friday morning, the British Fleet under command of Gen. Carlton, came up and formed a line from the south point of the island to the main shore. About seven o'clock in the morning, a battle was commenced between the fleets, and continued during the day. At night the American fleet withdrew and sailed up the lake, and the next day was pursued by the British. The Galley Washington had been a good deal damaged in the action, and fell behind the other vessels, and on Sunday morning very early the British with a twenty gun ship and two schooners came up with her, and Gen. Waterbury refusing to surrender a battle ensued. Gen. Arnold, instead of coming to her assistance, ran his ship and the other vessels ashore, and blew them up and after a conflict 'til about half after ten o'clock A.M. the galley being much cut to pieces and many killed and wounded, Gen. Waterbury surrendered the crew and marines prisoners of war and caught them this declarant. And he together with the others were suffered to return home and go at large, on his parol, a writing for which, signed by Gen. Carlton, he received through the hand of Gen. Waterbury, and he immediately returned home. He thinks this was sometime in October, but cannot recollect with certainty. In the first battle on Friday, Lieut. Fairweather was killed by a double headed shot, and the same shot also killed a seaman by name of Taylor, so near this declarant that his flesh and brains struck him. Capt. Hatcher was badly wounded in his legs in the same battle by a shell. This declarant further saith that within a few days after his return home, he turned out a volunteer for a short expedition, and fought the Battle of White Plains in the company of militia commanded by Capt. Justus Barnum, contrary to his parol. But his enthusiasm, indu----ments, and age was such that he did not sufficiently consider his obligation of parol. He also turned out volunteer on an expedition to Fort Montgomery, and another in the winter to Kingsbridge. In April 1777, when the British took and destroyed Danbury, his chest and clothing, and also his written parol, which was in the chest, was taken and rifled, and he has never seen either since.

The said Elijah Towner further saith that he has lived in what is now Bradford County, thirty seven years past, and he has not at this time, knowledge of any person living who can prove his service. He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or an annuity except the present. And he declares that his name is not on the pension roll of any agency in any state.

Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid. We Joseph Kingsbury and Thomas Marshall residing in Sheshequin, adjoining the Township of Rome, and where the above named Elijah Towner resided for many years, do hereby certify that we are well acquainted with the said Elijah Towner, who has subscribed and sworn to the above and foregoing declaration. That we believe him to be as much as seventy three years of age. That he is referred and believed in the neighborhood where he resides to have been a soldier of the revolution, and that we fully concur in that opinion, and that we know ----- clergyman residing in said Rome or Sheshequin except that of said Elijah Towner.

Sworn to and subscribed in open court the 11th day of Sept 1832.

And the said court do hereby declare their opinion that the above named applicant was a Revolutionary Soldier and served as he states.

I James P. Bull prothonotary of the court of common pleas of Bradford County certify that the above ---- the original proceedings of said court in the matter of the application of Elijah Towner for a pension. In testimony whereof I have ----- my hand a seal of office this 11th day of September AD 1832. J. P. Bull State of Pennsylvania Bradford County

Personally appeared in open court of common pleas of Bradford County aforesaid Elijah Towner the applicant for a pension in the declaration annexed who being duly sworn deposeth and saith that by reason of old age and the consequent loss of memory he cannot swear positively to the precise length of his service in every tour thereof, but according to the best of his recollection he served not less than the periods mentioned below, and in the following grades. For three months in the first enlistment I served as a private soldier. For six months and twenty five days in the second enlistment for the northern town until I returned home on parole, I served as a private. For four days in the expedition to White Plains I served as a private. For three days to Fort Montgomery I served as a private. For eight days on the expedition to Kingsbridge, I served as a private, and for such service I claim a pension.

Sworn and subscribed in open court February 14, 1833 before me, J. M. Bull, Prot. E. S. Goodrich Bradford County. I James P. Bull, Prothonotary of the court of common pleas certify that the above is the original amendment to the declaration of Elijah Towner on application for a pension and that the ---- were sworn and subscribed to in open court by the said Elijah Towner, and after being read and considered by the court ordered to be annexed to the original application. With my hand ----- of office this 22nd day of February 1833. For J. M. Bull, Prot. E. S. Goodrich