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A Letter about John Ross from His Grandson James Ross

(Note: The following letter is included in the Revolutionary War file of John Ross. Apparently, it was written to the Pension Department inquiring about John Ross. Other letters of inquiry were also included in the file; they simply show that people occasionally had questions about some of the people involved in the Revolutionary War. No one actually vouched for the accuracy of the details included in the letters.

As far as we know now, James Ross was the son of John Ross’s son John. James was born in Harrison County, Ohio September 10, 1831. At the time of the 1860 Census, he lived in Santa Anna, Illinois—a part of DeWitt County. His family consisted of his wife, Mary J., and his four-year old son Franklin P. Since Franklin was born in Minnesota, we assume that James must have lived there before he moved to Illinois. During the Civil War, James served the 41st Illinois Infantry in Company C where he attained the rank of Corporal. After the war, he returned to Santa Anna and continued his trade as a carpenter (recorded in the 1870 Census). Two more children were added to his family: Lina L. and Stella B. By the time of the 1880 Census, James’s wife Mary J. (a dressmaker) was living in Monmouth, Oregon, with children Lina L. and an additional son, James, Jr. Their son Frank (now shortened from Franklin) was living in Cathlamet, Washington Territory, where he worked as a fisherman. It isn’t clear where James was at that time, but we know he lived in the State Soldiers Home in Orting, Washington—comparable to a Veteran’s Administration Hospital—in 1904. According to Veterans’ Records, he is buried at the cemetery there. See other ideas about this letter in the Natcher section. J.W.)

(transcribed by J. W. using punctuation and spelling as used in letter. Some words were partially obscured in the copy procedure, so editor’s interpretations are included in brackets.)

State Soldiers Home
Orting, Washington
April 7, 1904

Hon Eugene Ware Commissioner of Pensions Washington DC
Sir

I have Been corresponding with the war department at washington trying to trace up the Record of my grandfather John Ross who was a Revolutionary war veteran. he Belonged to one of the organizations of the “Flying Camp he I think Enlisted in pennsylvania But possibly it might have Been in maryland. I think it was in Pa. he spent the Histeric winter at Valley Forge and was at one time “Deputy Quartermaster General” of the american army at that place. previously he had Been Ensign and probably held some intermediate officers. John Ross was Born somewhere in the Highlands of scotland But Raised and educated at Longford ireland he came to america I think in 1772. he was a well educated man of his day and had kept a Journal of every day of his Service—these old papers have all Been lost and although I remember him well I was too young at the time of his death to understand those matters at that time But hearing my parents and many other old persons speak of these matters I know that I am not mistaken in the main in all I claim to know of the matter         over

Page 2
Gen. Ainswerth of the War Department has kindly looked up all he could find in his department But in a card I received from him last evening He inferms me that this matter properly Bel [Belongs?] to the Department of the Commissioner of Pen[sions?] he tells me that the collection of the Revolu[tionary?] war Records in his office is far from Complete and refers me to you. Mrs. John A Logan has very Kindly assisted me in looking up the m[atter?] now with regard to the Records in cases of Revolutionary claims there is only one change of a Break in some of them. I have heard that at the time of the Burning of the capitol in 1812 By the British that some of these documents were destroyed But I dont think his (my grandfathers were) for reasons which I will now cite. Viz I think that my grandfathers widow Charlotta Ross (nee Charlotta Bosher) was a pensioner. I am not positive But Believe she was, if she was that Record must Be somewhere in your department. he died sometime in the early thirties she survived him until in 1845—or 1846. my father has told me that grandfather sent his papers to some Lawyer in pittsbrg [Pittsburgh] Pennsylvania to secure the Benefit of some act of congress granting lands to Revolutionary war Soldiers—well he never heard of the matter again. He never got anything. His pay was in continental money wiich of course—wurthless.

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well here is this case of his widow But if she is not on the pension Rolls then I want to call your attention to another matter which is a dead Sure fact—in Central Ills I met a Mr James Laurence from New Jersey. Mr. Laurence had Been engaged in Securing Landed and other claims for the soldiers of the revolution and had a Large Volume containing the names Services &c of perhaps nearly all of them. I spoke to him of my grandfathers case and he turned immediately to the name “John Ross.” (I think major John Ross) of the “Flying Camp.” I think Enlisted in pennsylvania. Of course there were John Ross’s & John Ross’s in all our wars But this one John Ross my grandfather can certainly Be located there must be some Record of his Service at Valley Forge and elsewhere. the Flying camp at Valley Forge did not acompany the Raid on the Hessions at Trenton N.J. they were detailed and sent to destroy a certain Bridge on that memorable occasion—this was grandfathers acount of it and this is confirmed By the history of the matter in “Lossings Field Book of the Revolution” a very good text Book of those times. I would cheerfully pay an agent at Washington to look this matter up But dont know who to write to         over

there were in Washington D.C. until recent years two Brothers R.S. and A.P. Lacey. Mrs Logan inferms me that captain A P Lacey is dead. But she dont know of the whereabouts of R S Lacey these men were Boyhood accepanterers[?] of mine in Ohi[o] and I also Know Hon Vespasian Warner m c for I enlisted under his father in 1861 [?] in Co C 41st Ills Vols. I will write to him soon and now Mr. Commissioner you are wondering what this old man, Ross of the State soldiers Hom[e] orting washington is doing all this scribbling about his grandparents for anywewey. Well permit me to say my honored friend it is Because I am an American I want my children to know that their ancesters served their country in every war that our contry has ever Been engaged in. I want them to Belong to the “Sons & Daughters of the American Revolution” yestury & today Recurs the aniversity of Shil[oah?]Where I saw the great immortal Grant and saw him under fire at that . I am proud to know that I did all I could for my country and I am also glad to know that I am a Republican. if you can help me in this matter you will place me under lifelong obligations. I am 73 years old and write with difficulty. hoping to hear from you I describe myself your most obedient servt

James Ross
State Soldiers Home