Case Study 2: Proving Benjamin Herndon (ca.1760 VA-1814 SC) is THE Benjamin Herndon Who Mustered from Caroline Co VA 1 June 1777, Serving in the Philadelphia Campaign & Entering Valley Forge 19 Dec 1777, Joining the Horse Service of George Baylor on 30 Dec 1777 with Five Others of His Unit

I believe I can now prove to the satisfaction of DAR standards, the service of my Benjamin HERNDON (ca. 1760 VA-1814 SC) DAR # A054146, on whom there was a DAR block requiring future applicants to prove it. The DAR block noted that because there was another Benjamin Herndon who became the leader of a company of dragoons, the service in question (in which Benjamin of Caroline Co VA became part of the 2d VA Regt by May 1777, enlisting in the Horse Service on 30 Dec 1777 at Valley Forge) could have been the earlier service of this other Benjamin. I became almost convinced that was so (considering that it may have been just a wistfully distorted family tradition), so I worked just as hard to disprove it as I did to prove it, wanting nothing but the truth, to know the true identity and circumstances of my own ancestor, not wanting any fictitious myth built around him. Hopefully, what I have assembled is sufficient to apply on Benjamin HERNDON without receiving a “Write Back” from DAR.

During the past couple years I’ve gone about proving the service of Benjamin Herndon of Caroline Co VA (2nd VA Regt Samuel Haw/e/s Company as it stood 1 Jun 1777: DISCREPANCY ALERT: it is Company 8 according to Saffell and Company 9 according to Wikipedia), in THREE different ways.

FIRST, I researched individuals of the unit as listed in W[illiam] T[homas] Robert Saffell’s Records of the Revolutionary War (3rd edition, 1894), page 275, by using to look up the name of every commander & private, serving with Benjamin Herndon in aforesaid company, to ascertain what survivors testified of their service in pension applications, dutifully typing extractions, but it soon became so voluminous, I deviated to begin another tack.

FINDINGS: Of 12 commanders (Col, Capt, 1st Lieut, 2nd Lieut, 4 Sgts, & 4 Corpls), I located records for 6 of the 12: Col Alexander Spotswood (R18089); Capt Samuel Hawes (BLWt1066-450); 1st Lieut Thomas Jones (S5630); 2nd Lieut James Upshaw [aka Upshur] (R18622); Sgt Thomas Parker (S1243); and Sgt John Gravatt (W7605). Of 44 privates (listed in two columns of 22 each, Benjamin being one with 43 other fellows), I found records for 17 of 43 (of the 19 listed herein, two are doubles for identifying one man): Thomas Ramsey (S35604); Charles Brown (S35797); Virgil Poe (S35565); Jesse Poe (VAS221); Samuel Taylor (W6230); James Sacrey (S35643); Isaac Sacrey (W10247); Richard Riddle (docs @ Library of VA); Obadiah Carter (W8585); John Carter (S9131); George Marshall (W304); Claburn Durrett (S39469); Landon Carter (S41471); Jesse Woodroof (Woodruff) (W2397); William Coates (Coats) (W10675 1/2) & William Coats (S8232); William Davis (S8277) & William Davis (S3257); and Rush Hudson (S38064). I literally dissected these pension application oaths looking for data on the battles they engaged in and any horse service mentioned &, as I alluded, my out-takes were voluminous! This necessitated changing my trajectory and condensing my research angle.

SECOND, Since I could find FOUR other Benjamin Herndon’s of the Rev-War-era mentioned in DAR & SAR membership applications, I traced each of them, assembling their timelines during the Rev War years of 1775-1783.


(1) Mine, the finally-proven one: DAR # A054146, Benjamin Herndon (ca. 1760 VA-May 1814 SC), served the 2d VA Regt from Caroline Co VA & married Ann Newton (daughter of Giles). This Benjamin Herndon (A054146) is the only one positioned (as a resident) in Caroline Co VA during Rev War years; he is listed as a resident “of Caroline Co VA on 14 Dec 1782 when he purchased 200 acres land in Charlotte Co VA witnessed by his father-in-law (or soon-to-be) Giles Newton. (DOCUMENT REF: FHL Film US/CAN # 30,782, page 45.) This Benjamin migrated with his in-laws to Charlotte Co VA (1783), Marlboro/ugh Dist/Co SC (1787; witnessing deeds for Newton in-laws), Halifax Co VA (1792, 1797; dealing with the will of maternal uncle of his wife), Marlboro/ugh Dist/Co SC (1797 till death in 1814; purchased land and was a resident there with Newton in-laws). His descendants moved to Stewart Co TN & Trigg Co KY, per probate distribution & powers of attorney documents.

(2) Died during early Rev War/was out-of-area/no known or claimed service/wife provided aid via supplying wheat & carriage: DAR # A054147, Benjamin Herndon (ca. 1740 VA-Oct 1778 VA) no service, of Goochland Co VA (that county was recruited by the 9th & 14th Regts!—acc to Wikipedia) & married Rosanna Wade, DAR # A210826 who gave aforementioned “publick service”; his three children were born in Goochland Co VA in 1772, 1775, 1776, which is also where in Oct 1778 he died, after making out his will in May 1778 as “sick in body.” I’m including the specific land deeds showing this Benjamin (A054147) was kept busy in that county, prior to the war, during the outbreak of it, and up to his death. (See DOCUMENTS: County Deed Books cited herein: Mom & I extracted data from original documents on microfilm on 26 Sep 2015 at SLC LDS FHL; REF: General Deed Indexes 1728-1839, US/CAN films # 31652, 31652, 31656; Marriages, The Douglas Register: Kept by Rev Wm Douglas from 1750-1797 transcribed by W. Mac Jones, published by Gen Pub Co, Baltimore, 1977, page 13 (p. 26), 26 Dec 1771, Herndon, Ben & Rosana Wade; and Goochland Co VA Marriage Bonds 1730-1854 typed by Gen Soc Utah, 1936, page 58-B, 30 Aug 1781, Mullins, David to Rosana Herndon.) The continual presence of this Benjamin was well-documented in Goochland Co VA for the following dates and reasons: 24 Nov 1770, purchased land (as Grantee) from Archelaus Mitchell (Grantor), Bk 10, Pg 102.

26 Dec 1771, married Rosana Wade, The Douglas Register…, Pg 13 (p. 26).
19 July 1773, sold land (as Grantor) to Valentine Herndon, Bk 10, Pg 367.
18 Sep 1775, sold land (as Grantor) to John Herndon, Bk 11, Pg 48.
20 Nov 1776, sold land (as Grantor) to Ann Wade, Bk 11, Pg 176.
? May 1778, “sick of body” made out will, Bk 12, Pg 190. (Need better
printout to read date.)
19 Oct 1778, will recorded & proven in court, Bk 12, Pg 190.
16 Nov 1778, estate inventory, Bk 12, Pg 205.
30 Aug 1781, widow Rosanna Herndon married David Mullins, Douglas Register,
Pg 58-B.
28 Mch 1782, estate [divided?], Bk 13, Pg 197.
21 Mch 1791, estate, Bk [15?], Pg 476. (Print is very faint; need to
verify by actual book.)
19 Aug 1791, estate, Bk 16, Pg 226-228.
31 Aug 1795, estate, Bk 16, Pg 501. (The 1 is iffy, badly formed, could be
a skinny 8 or 0.

Therefore, according to all pertinent land, marriage, & probate records, it was in Goochland Co VA, where this Benjamin (A054147) had continuous residency throughout the Rev War period, and the 2d VA Regt did not recruit in his county; therefore he couldn’t have simultaneously been in Caroline Co VA nor in Valley Forge PA.

(3) All service in NC: DAR # A133513, Benjamin Herndon (ca. 1748 VA-1823 NC), served from Orange Co NC & married Lydia Massey; his first four children were born in Orange Co NC-area in 1772, 1774, 1776, and 1778; surname spelled Hearndon, where in May 1778 he was part of a jury ordered to lay out a road there; in Aug 1778 he was overseer with road hands working under him; then surname spelled Herndon, in Nov 1782, he was appointed Patrol for St. Marks District, still in Orange Co NC, where his family had continuous residency throughout the Rev War. (DOCUMENT REF: SLC LDS FHL US/CAN Book, Abstracts of the Minutes of the Inferior Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions of Orange Co NC, 1777-1788 by Alma Cheek Redden, 1966, Part 1 [(1777-1782)] pages 17, 25, 29; and Part II (1782-1785), page 10. ALERT: The death year needs correction, amending from 1823 to 1825 (DOCUMENT REF: Orange Co NC Wills 1663-1978 & Estate Papers 1754-1944 viewable online at in which the search of his name brings up a double set including the documents of the 1840 probate for the estate of his son Aquilla Herndon {pages 1-28, images 33984-34011}, followed by those for the 1825 probate of the estate of his father Benjamin Herndon {pages 29-36, images 34012-34020}).

(4) All service in NC: DAR # A054139, Benjamin Herndon (10 Dec 1749 VA-30 Dec 1819 SC); served from Surry & Wilkes Co NC; he was a lieutenant in 1775-1778 in the Surry Co NC Regt and 1778-1783 was progressively Capt/Maj/Col in the Wilkes Co NC Regt Dragoons & Militia, fighting in the Battle of Kings Mountain (REF:; married twice (1) Sarah Pines (2) Patience Terry Glenn. He was active in government: “Wilkes county was formed in 1777, but it was not organized until in the spring of the next year. Following this is a list of the first county officers, who took charge of the affairs of the new county on the 2nd day of March 1778: Entry Taker: Benjamin Herndon, Coroner: Charley Gordon…” See: Historical Sketches of Wilkes County by John Crouch, 1902, viewable online at topicalbooks_1902_northcarolina_historicalsketches_
wilkes_county.htm. This Benjamin was the son of Joseph Herndon who died in 1757, leaving widow and orphans to the care of Charles Gordon of Spotsylvania Co VA; this is the earliest record of that Benjamin, at about age 8 (REF: Will Book B Pg 73) & the said widow Mary Boswell Herndon later married this guardian Charles Gordon, the same Charley Gordon who functioned in the administration of Wilkes Co NC with his step-son Benjamin Herndon. Key Events & Migration of this Benjamin:

1769, married (1) Sarah Pines;
by 1773 they were briefly in Culpeper Co VA;
about 1775 served in militia in Surry Co NC;
about 1775/1778 went to Wilkes Co Morgan Dist NC;
1790 was enumerated on the US Federal Census of Wilkes Co NC (22 slaves);
in 1798 first wife died;
in 1799 married Patience Terry Glenn.

Additional Data: This Benjamin (A054139), of the Battle of King’s Mountain, was working closely with Col Benjamin Cleveland, going after Tories, adn they were responsible for the court martial and execution of two notorious Tories, and for their participation, were both “indicted for murder in the Superior Court of the District of Salisbury, but on November 6, 1779, the North Carolina House of Commons offered a resolution to the governor, who signed it, and Ben [Cleveland] and [Benjamin] Herndon were pardoned for their actions.” (REF: “Deeds of Glory: A Biography of Colonel Benjamin Cleveland” by Vikki L. Jeanne Cleveland, Part One, posted at This Benjamin Herndon received numerous land grants for his service, and owned two plantations: “Horseshoe” in WIlkes Co NC and later “Mollihon” on one of his grants in Newberry Co 96 DIst SC. This Benjamin became active in Wilkes Co NC politics, serving in the House of Commons and in the Senate, even accepting fines on bastardy bonds. Concerning the location of his birth, inasmuch as there seem to be few, if any, documents, it’s a mystery to me upon what proof the author, Rita Jones Elliot based a supposition in her 1961 book, The Herndon and Connor Families “Kith and Kin”, for the birth of this Benjamin, asserting that it was in Drysdale Parish, Caroline Co VA. I’ve thus far found no proof for that. An earlier DAR membership application says “near Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania Co, VA.” I do see room for wondering since Joseph Herndon (this Benjamin’s father) of Caroline Co VA obtained land in Spotsylvania Co VA in 1747 and 1753, seemingly remaining in Caroline Co through those dates. However, whether or not this Benjamin was born in Caroline Co VA in 1749, it is provable by documentation of his guradian Charles Gordon that Benjamin was quickly absorbed into Spotsylvania Co VA in the latter 1750s, then after his own marriage, by 1773, he was living in Culpeper Co VA, then active in Surry Co NC military by 1775 and Wilkes Co NC by 1778—being nowhere near Caroline Co VA in 1777! There is zero documentation to tie him from any of those places to Caroline Co VA!

(5) Mentioned only in SAR; did not serve; no claim, only his father, Edward Herndon, served; this Benjamin is just listed as son/link in the lineage, Benjamin Herndon (1765 VA-Apr 1805 GA); married Susan Ahart; lived in Culpeper Co VA.

SUMMARY: I learned, through their marriages, childbirths, land transactions, and civil & military service records, that the four other contenders absolutely could NOT have been present in Caroline Co VA since they were actively ensconced in their OWN counties! By this detailed investigation, I believe I have successfully separated the five Benjamin’s to their separate identities, times & localities, families, personal events, & Rev War service or lack of it. I hope this is of benefit to DAR and all fellow researchers.

THIRD, Finally, the positive PROOF OF SERVICE was right in front of our eyes all along, looking at his last known muster roll at Valley Forge—as identified in the 1923 adjutant general letter from the War Department cited in the 1934 DAR membership application #288090 of Juliet Halliburton (1914-2011) later Mrs. Burnett then Mrs. Davis, having outlived both her spouses, passing away at age 97—viewing the original muster roll DOCUMENT on microfilm at “A Muster Roll of Capt. Jas. Upshaw’s Company of the 2d Virg[ini]a Regt of Foot, Commanded by Christian Fibigar Esqr for the Month of December 1777.”

FINDINGS: The aforementioned muster roll DOCUMENT shows that not only he, but five others from the same unit, for a total of six, on the same day were “inlisted in the horse service 30 December 1777” (two corporals (of three) and four privates (of 45): Corpl # 2 George Muse, Corpl # 3 W[illia]m Carter, Pvt # 12 Benja[min] Robinson, Pvt # 15 Cager Chapman, Pvt # 16 Obediah Carter, Pvt # 43 Benja[min] Herndon. (Sadly, of the 45 privates in this unit, 16 were in hospital as of the 31 Dec 1777 muster roll!) Fortunately, of the six from the unit who joined the unspecified horse service that day, one survived to apply for pension in 1818: Obadiah Carter, pension W8585, in his own words (transcript of DOCUMENT viewable online at made oath that they “enlisted in Col Baylors [George Baylor’s] Regt of horse called Light dragoons” that he had originally “enlisted in Caroline County state of Virginia in the Company commanded by Captain Samuel Haws of the Second Virginia Regiment on continental Establishment Commanded by Colonel Alexander Spotswood in the year 1775 for the term to serve in said regiment untill the 1777 when he was transferred to Colonel George Bailers 3rd Regiment of Cavalry” and later “After the defeat of Col Baylor in the Jerseys [Old Tappan NJ, 28 Sep 1778] I was under the Command of Col William Washington, Col Baylor being disabled by a wound in his groine” and that previously (which coincides with Benjamin Herndon’s, of Caroline Co VA, provable time of service with the unit) “he was in the Battles of Brandywine [11 Sewp 1777] and German Town [Germantown, 4 Oct 1777], and depending on how long said Benjamin Herndon remained in the service prior to leaving Caroline Co VA after the purchase of his land in Charlotte Co VA on 14 Dec 1782: Obadiah Carter still in the service of their horse unit continued in the Battles of Stono [Battle of Stono Ferry SC, 20 Jun 1779] & the red house in the South, besides many other smaller engagements, skirmishes &c.” and Carter mentions other specific battles in May & Dec 1780 in SC … and “that he continued to serve in said Regiment of Cavalry untill the year 1780 the 26th day of December when he was Honorably Discharged from said Regiment by Colonel William Washington then commandant oof said regiment of Cavalry on the Catawba river at the Old Nation Ford in North or South Carolina.” Seems to me this is the equally likely time when this Benjamin Herndon (of Caroline Co VA) was also mustered out of the service, and it is interesting that my Benjamin eventually moved to Marlboro Co SC near the NC border!

SIGNIFICANCE: The significant fact here is that one of the six men survived to identify exactly which horse service they joined! That one survived to make oath of their specific service is a miracle because histories state that the records of that unit likely burned in 1815, inasmuch as the George Baylor cavalry regiment was given charge of George Washington Lewis’s (Gen. George Washington’s nephew) volunteer unit which guarded Martha Washington to Valley Forge and Baylor’s was linked with the Commander-in-Chief guards under Caleb Gibbs (details found in George Washington’s own letters to-and-from these men, transcribed DOCUMENTS viewable at, and since there was yet no central repository for records, Caleb Gibbs kept charged of his documents in a chest supplied by Gen. Washington for that purpose and stored it at the Charlestown (Boston) Navy Yard (REF:, where, tragically, all his documents were burned in 1815 as reported in the Niles Weekly Register (Volume 8, page 368), Saturday, July 22, 1815: “Boston, July 11—Yesterday morning a large wooden storehouse in the United States Navy Yard in Charlestown, was consumed by fire, with all its contents, which however, we have not ascertained to be very valuable. All the books, vouchers, and private papers in the office of the clerk of the yard, Major Gibbs, were burnt….” See: http://www.revolutionary article, “A Brief History of the Commander-in-Chief-Guards with Roster” by historian Donald N. Moran (1940-2014), which states “Among the records lost in that 1815 fire, were the muster rolls of the C-in-C Guards. A few copies of monthly returns have been found, but the vast majority of these irreplaceable documents are lost forever. CLICK HERE to see a Roster of the known men who served in the Guard and the known “Muster Roll Returns,” which were gleaned from every possible source. This list is far from complete, but is the most comprehensive known to exist.”

RULING IN&OUT: Seeking to disprove as well as to prove, I even considered that IF by some unknown stretch the Benjamin Herndon of Goochland Co VA, who died in Oct 1778, I even considered that IF by some unknown stretch this Benjamin of Goochland Co for some strange reason traveled two counties away to join the 2d VA in Caroline Co instead of the 9th or 14th in his home county of Goochland, thereby entering Valley Forge & joining Baylor’s horse service, perhaps he was somehow injured with the unit, but that doesn’t pan out. The British attack on the unit happened, not in the Spring but in the Fall, at Old Tappan on 27 Sep 1778, and Benjamin of Goochland had been ill and dying in his home county since May 1778, expiring in Oct 1778, and there is no record of service for him nor any claims for him; but, instead, there is record for a publick service claim by his widow Rosana Wade Herndon for providing wheat and a carriage. So, the dates & transactions cited above, all constitute proof, to me, of this Benjamin’s continued presence in Goochland Co VA (1770-1778); for his 1770 land purchase, 1771 marriage, 1773, ’75, ’76 land sales, and his May 1778 illness causing him to make his will, followed by his Oct 1778 death. There was absolutely no reason for him to be in Caroline Co VA (two counties away) in Spring 1777 to join the 2d VA Regiment, when the 9th & 14th VA Regts were recruiting right there in Goochland Co VA. Furthermore, all extant documents, cited above, show him quite busy in Goochland Co VA from 1770 till death in 1778, with no deeds or other documents tying him from Goochland Co VA to Caroline Co VA. I find no valid tie at all for him to Caroline Co VA. To sum it up, since he has no land ties to Caroline Co VA, and lacks both immediate proximity and therefore opportunity, and dying so soon into the war, languishing in decline from May to October 1778, it seems unlikely this particular Benjamin served at all, at least not wth Baylor at Valley Forge, as the body of soldiers left winter quarters there on 19 June 1778.

CONSISTENCY: (In contrast, I do, however, find it interesting that the two details handed down to us of my Benjamin are that (1) he was with Gen. George Washington, and (2) he sustained a believed-bayonet wound that troubled him until his death—I have no way to prove the wound, but it is ironic, therefore perhaps happening at the time and manner described in Wikipedia “Baylor Massacre”, that when Baylor’s unit was attacked by the British at Old Tappan NJ, it was with bayonets “to maintain the element of surprise” and it was termed a massacre, happening while the men were sleeping in a “small collection of farm houses.” Also according to that Wikipedia article, this Virginia cavalry unit known as “Mrs. Washington’s Guards” then consisted of Baylor, 12 officers and 104 enlisted men, and in this attack “at least 69 of the dragoons were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. Eleven were killed outright, four were left and died of their wounds. Baylor was wounded and captured…McLeod was mortally wounded. One of the other officers was killed and the other captured. After the attack, some of the injured were taken to the Reformed Church of Tappan, New York, which served as a prison and hospital.

FAMILY BIBLE RECORD: I’ve now located the document handed down to us with what I previously viewed as potential legend: a 21 Apr 1949 letter from Juliet Halliburton Burnett to Dr. John Goodwin Herndon. This is the Juliet who in 1934 became DAR member # 288090, the 3x Great-granddaughter of Benjamin; the 1x Great-granddaughter of Benjamin’s grandson William H[enry] HalleBurton, who in 1891 applied for membership to SAR on both grandfathers, including Benjamin Herndon (ca. 1760 VA-1814 SC)—his own grandson! In the 1949 letter, Juliet makes the following declarations while citing her source: “The Halliburton family Bible states that … Benjamin “was one of the bodyguard of Genl. Washington, was wounded during war and never fully recovered. He died in middle age.” and “The Bible from which the information on Lucinda Herndon and Thomas Halliburton was copied was the possession of William Henry Halliburton, their son…” Seems to me that the info available to the grandson of the patriot is close enough to not be mistaken, and I’m grateful the Bible record preserved such valuable info. Wish I could locate the original, but, thank goodness, we at least we have the typed extract transcript in a letter!

MY HOPE: As you can probably see, this HERNDON line is extremely pressing to me, and I wanted it to be my DAR entry, since Benjamin Herndon is my ancestor through two lines of my father and two lines of my mother. Likewise, it’s been an equally exciting line, since the legend passed down that he was with George Washington, is now absolutely provable, since his unit, the 2d VA Regiment, was among the many which went to the aid of Gen. Washington, serving in the Philadelphia Campaign and accompanied him (among 12,000 soldiers) into winter quarters at Valley Forge on 19 Dec 1777, where he almost immediately “inlisted 30th December 1777 in the horse service.” This genealogical WhoDunIT/WhoWuzIt line is my Magnum Opus: been working on it for my Dad since the late 1980s, and have worked on it almost to the exclusion of all else for the past five years—so when I finally accomplish everything necessary to get this ancestor settled to DAR satisfaction, I can die happy!

MY QUANDRY: I hope this use of both positive and negative evidence (ruling in and ruling out) is sufficient to prove to DAR satisfaction the true service of Benjamin Herndon of Caroline Co VA as his unit stood in muster on 1 Jun 1777; enlisted in horse service 30 Dec 1777 at Valley Forge; identified by Obadiah Carter (W8585) as Baylor’s Regiment as cited herein. What do you think, is this proof enough?

By researcher, Rose H. Bonnell, 4 & 11 November 2015.
Citation: Intellectual Property of Rose Herndon Bonnell


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