This is the name of a soldier of the Revolution - one of the twelve surviving pensioners reported by the Commissioner of Pensions to Congress in February last - of whom it is not known whether he is living or dead. All that is known of him is, that he is recorded in the General Pension Office as "on the St. Louis, Missouri, roll, at $32.33 per annum; born in Southampton county, Virginia, May 18, 1764; age, 100 years and 7 months;" and that he was reported by the St. Louis Pension Agency, in March last, as at that time residing in Greene county, in that state.
Endeavor has been made to find him and procure his photograph and a sketch of his life, but thus far without success. As no intelligence, however, has been received at the Pension Office of his death, the hope may be indulged that he is still living.
All the remaining pensioners included in the Commissioner's report are known to be dead.
As we name them, our thoughts recall those other seven men, the first of the great series of which these are the last: Jonas Parker, Isaac Muzzey, Jonathan Harrington, Caleb Harrington, Robert Monroe, Samuel Hadley, John Brown.
Those - the men of Lexington - opened the roll of devotion and glory; these close it. How grand a roll! How signal the period which these names respectively inaugurate and conclude! How great and how important a part of the world's history do these lives embrace! How vast they seem, - the lives of individuals, yet commensurate with an epoch in the life of the race! To the student of history there is profound satisfaction in such living connection of one of its great periods with another. The lover of his country will even recognize a favoring Providence in the signal prolongation of their lives - so far beyond the ordinary limit of human existence - as though it were that the first great conflict of the national development might, through its living representatives, impart its sanction and transmit its inspiration to the second.
But from these more general reflections we turn, in closing, to the men. And well we may; for while the lessons which their lives teach us will remain with us, they themselves will soon be gone. Already their loneliness affects with tender pathos our hearts, - so far away from what to them were life and friends, - so few of all once comrades in battle and victory!
Apart in the dim armies of the past;
Faint and afar they stand, who side by side
Their steel-clamped columns on the foemen cast.
The comrades of their toils and triumphs lie;
And marble sentries guard with noiseless breath
Their green encampments of Eternity."
But before they pass to join those far encampments, we rejoice to pay them the tribute of a nation's gratitude and honor. We honor them in the significance (now through like experience perceived anew) of the great conflict in which they bore a part, and of which they stand to us the representatives. Nor to us alone. For as the Revolution was an event, not in American history only, but in the history of the world, - since the rights contended for in it were "the rights of human nature," - so these few humble men, its alone survivors, are objects of the liveliest interest - the most sacred regard to every lover of liberty throughout the world. They stand forth in all their lowliness to all lands and nations and times; the representatives of that great movement in human history which vindicated liberty as possible to and the right of all.
With this distinction we may leave them, rejoicing to see how time, over all earthly circumstance, at last crowns and enthrones devotion to a good cause.
To those engaged in the preparation of this memorial, it has been a grateful service. For not only is it a rare privilege, from their historic associations, to have seen these men, but there is that in them which awakens regard, as well as excites interest. They are good old men, kindly, pleasant, Christian; waiting humbly, patiently, and hopefully till their change come. May God support and comfort their closing days! And before they close, may this brief, common record of their lives afford them gratification, as, strangers hitherto, in it they meet, as it were, together: and, comrades in the old common conflict, take each other by the hand, and look into each other's faces, and tell to one another the story of their lives, before they say the last farewell.
DEAR SIRS: I thank you for the opportunity of reading the very interesting account of these old patriots "who have come down to us from a former generation." From before the first war of Revolution, their lives have extended to the greater second Revolution. Beginning life more than a century ago, with hundreds of thousands of their fellows, in their ascending path to the period of manhood, they saw more than half of their number fall out by the way from disease or accidents: during the the most active period and before they came to the down-hill side of life, their ranks became thinner by swift degrees, until having passed beyond the usual extent of life's march, they are come out a solitary few!
Observations made in vital statistics within the last fifty years, with reference to life insurance, have reduced to a degree of accuracy the probabilities of life for any given age, up to three score and ten; but how many of a population will live beyond a hundred years? A leader of myriads might well weep to engage in the calculation! The number is so few that larger tables are necessary than any that have been compiled, in order to approach any accurate result. The number varies in different countries, and also in different portions of the same country. A rural population, that lives with sufficient necessaries and few luxuries of life, contented and laborious in the open air, shows the largest number of centenarians. In the state of Connecticut, during the year 1863, there were four deaths of those over a hundred years old, - two males and two females. During the year 1828, there were in France one hundred and twenty-eight persons who had attained their hundredth year - this in a population of about thirty millions.
It is known that there are more female centenarians than male.
What influences have conduced to such long lives? These six old patriots were of different temperaments, of different stature, and have pursued very different vocations, without much resemblance in their habits of life. Mr. Waldo and Mr. Cook were large and vigorous. Mr. Link is short and stout, with all the good and bad tendencies of the sanguine temperament. Mr. Downing is small, with the nervous temperament predominating; while Mr. Milliner is quite small, not half as large as Mr. Cook, and not vigorous.
They have not been alike careful of their health. Mr. Waldo was prudent in regard to food, and faithfully avoided all excesses; while Mr. Link has lived without any rule or restraint. The others have not been abstemious overmuch, nor yet has either one been intemperate.
A sprightly Frenchman has said, that to prolong life it is necessary to have a bad heart and a good stomach. The latter quality is essential; by the former he meant, a disposition not easily moved, not enthusiastic. He is so far right; and a temperament not of the susceptible sort is the most favorable to long life. Such was the case with Mr. Waldo particularly. But, as if to confound a rule Which seems obviously so correct, the case of Mr. Downing is quite opposite. He is of the nervous temperament. He is easily and strongly moved by all exciting subjects, and so has been through life.
These venerable men seem to agree in several particulars. They have all led industrious, useful lives, and were active in the use of their limbs. They have been cheerful, genial, good-humored, and withal blessed with good stomachs. A good intellectual condition has accompanied them to the end, and is as remarkable as the persistence of their physical powers. Those who have died seemed not to have had a long period of dotage, which is so common in those growing old. The good use of the mind is favorable to the health of the body. Idiots and insane people are not long lived. Among those who have devoted their lives to science and literature, longevity is notoriously common. It is unnecessary to mention well known names: the fact is well established.
A certain serenity and contentment of mind is noticeable in these old men. They have not been a prey to the corroding passions: the well-timed pensions from the government, for which they took up arms in their younger days, have removed the cares and anxieties for their temporal concerns, which often harrass the aged. A firm, calm, religious belief, and a confiding hope in the future, have added beauty as well as strength to their latest years. So we see, that the life which is happiest and best here, has the earnest of that life which is eternal,
[Between the writing of the Introduction and the preparation of this Note, some time has elapsed and some new facts have been secured, which accounts for the discrepancy between the statements of ages in the two]
The revival of interest in the pensioners of the Revolution, which has been so marked and beautiful a feature of the national life of the present year, and of which this work is a product, originated in the following action of the House of Representatives in March last. On the 14th of the month, the Committee on Revolutionary Pensions reported a resolution, which was unanimously adopted, "tendering thanks to the surviving soldiers of the Revolution, twelve in number, for their services in that war by which our independence was achieved and our liberty obtained, and sincerely rejoicing that their lives have been protracted beyond the period usually allotted to man; and that they receive a sum of money, as pensioners, which shall smooth the rugged path of life on their journey to the tomb; and that copies of this resolution be sent by the Speaker to each Revolutionary pensioner."
In accordance with this resolution, on the 10th of the month the following Act was passed: AN ACT TO INCREASE THE PENSION OF THE REVOLUTIONARY PENSIONERS NOW ON THE ROLL OF THE PENSION OFFICE.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled: That there shalI be paid, out of any money not otherwise appropriated, the sum of one hundred dollars per annum to each of the surviving soldiers of the Revolution, now on the pension rolls, during their natural lives, in addition to the pensions to which they are now entitled under former acts of Congress; said payment to date from and commence on the first day of January, eighteen hundred and sixty-four, and to cease at their death."
Pending this action, to inquiry at the Pension Office respecting the number of surviving pensioners the following answer was returned:
PENSION OFFICE, February 18, 1864.
SIR: In reply to your letter of February 10th, requesting me to furnish you with the names of all Revolutionary pensioners, I have the honor to submit the following report, which is believed to furnish, so far as is in my power, the information desired:
JAMES BARHAM, on the St. Louis, Missouri roll, $32.33 per annum; born in Southampton county, Virginia, May 18, 1764; age, 99 years and 9 months.
JOHN GOODNOW, on the Boston, Massachusetts, roll, at $46.67 per annum; born in Sudbury, Middlesex county, Massachusetts, January 30, 1762; age, 102 years and 1 1/2 months.
AMAZIAH GOODWIN. on Portland, Maine, roll,
born in Somersworth, Strafford county, New Hampshire, February 16, 1759; age, 105 years.
WILLIAM HUTCHINGS, on Portland Maine, roll, at $21.66; born in York, York county, Maine (then Massachusetts), in the year 1764.
ADAM LINK, on Cleveland, Ohio, roll, at $30 per annum; born in Washington county, Pennsylvania; age, 102 years.
BENJAMIN MILLER, on the Albany, New York, roll, at $24.54 per annum; born in Springfield, Massachusetts, April 4,1764; age, 99 years, 10 1/2 months.
ALEXANDER MARONEY, on the Albany, New York, roll at eight dollars per month; born in the year 1770, enlisted at Lake George, New York; age, 94 years; enlisted by his father, as he was young.
JOHN PETTINGILL, on the Albany, New York, roll, at $50 per annum; born in Windham, Connecticut, November 30, 1766; age, 87 years, 2 1/2 months.
DANIEL WALDO, on the Albany, New York, roll, at $96 per annum; born in Windham, Connecticut, September 10, 1762, age, 101 years, 5 1/2 months.
SAMUEL DOWNING, (papers do not show his age,) on the Albany, New York roll, at $80 per annum, served in the second New Hampshire regiment.
LEMUEL COOK, on the Albany, New York, roll, at $100 per annum; no age or birthplace given in papers.
JONAS GATES, on the St. Johnsbury, Vermont,
roll, at $8 per month; papers mislaid [Since found to be 101
JOSHEPH H. BARRETT, Commissioner.
Hon. John Law, House of Representatives.
Of these twelve men, seven are accounted for in the preceding pages. Of the remaining five, it is known that they are all dead. Indeed, four were already dead when the report was rendered, as will appear from the following evidence:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, PENSION OFFICE,
Nov. 29, 1864.
GENTS: Mr. Goodnow of Mass. appears by our books to have died Oct. 22, 1863, and Mr. Miller, Sept. 24, 1863, both Revolutionary pensioners.
JOS. H. BARRETT, Commissioner.
Mess. N. A. & R. A. Moore, Hartford. Conn.
ALFRED, Maine, April 5, 1864.
MESS. N. A. & R. A. MOORE,
DEAR SIRS: Mr. Goodwin died on the 22d day of June last. He had started from this place with his daughter, on the 12th of June, purposing to be at the Bunker Hill celebration on the 17th. They stopped at Dover, N. H., on the night of the day they left here, with a relative; and Mr. Goodwin was taken sick in the night, and languished until the 22d, when he passed away to his reward. Yours respectfully,
BENJ. J. HENICK.
The following is from a paper near Henderson,
Heretofore we have neglected to mention the death of John Pettingill, one of the oldest men that ever lived or died in this county. His death occurred in the town of Henderson, April 23, 1864, aged 99 years. Mr. Pettingill was a Revolutionary Soldier, and was in New Jersey in 1778 when the French fleet entered the Delaware. He was at Yorktown the day after the surrender of Cornwallis, the crowning act of Washington in the great drama of our National Independence. He was one of the twelve Revolutionary patriots to whom Congress gave an additional bounty of one hundred dollars.
He had resided in the town of Henderson since its first settlement. His wife, who survives him, is 85 years old. Just before the death of our lamented patriot father, he appeared fully conscious that his end was approaching. His son had left the bedside at 12 on the night of the 22d. In the morning he was lying in the same position, but his spirit had winged its departure to fairer fields than ours. Thus another and almost the last of our Revolutionary fathers has gone.
PENSION AGENCY ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt., March 19,
DEAR SIRS: Jonas Gates, the last Revolutionary pensioner in Vermont, died at his residence in Chelsea, this state, on the 14th of January last, aged 99 years, 6 months, and 8 days. Respectfully yours,
E. D. REDINGTON, Gov. Pen. Agt.
N. A. & R. A. MOORE, Hartford, Ct.
Giving the deaths in the order of time, the dates are as follows:
Amaziah Goodwin, June 22, 1863; Benjamin Miller, September 24, 1863; John Goodnow, October 22, 1863; Jonas Gates, January 14, 1864; John Pettingill, April 23, 1864; Daniel Waldo, July 30, 1864; Adam Link, August 15, 1864.
This leaves (of the twelve reported) five living. And with this agrees the report of the Secretary of the Interior lately rendered (December, 1864) to Congress, from which the following is an extract: "Of these patriots to whom pensions for services in the Revolutionary, war had been awarded, five still live at very advanced ages." Of these five, the following are the dates of birth in order:
Lemuel Cook, September 10, 1759; Alexander Milliner, March 14, 1760; Samuel Downing, November 31, 1761; William Hutchings, - 1764; James Barham, May 18, 1764.
These give their ages at the date of this note as follows: Lemuel Cook, 105 years and 3 months; Alexander Milliner, 104 years and 9 months; Samuel Downing, 103 years; William Hutchings, 100 years; James Barham, 100 years and 7 months.
One of these five men will be the last survivor of the American Revolution. Which will It be?
How great will be the break when he is gone!
"Be naught but ashes here
That keep awhile my semblance, who was John-
Still, when they scatter, there is left on earth
No one alive who knew, (consider this!)
Saw with his eyes, and handled with his hands,
That which was from the first, the Word of Life.
How will it be when none more saith, 'I saw!'"
- Browning's Dramatis Personæ.