Patriots at Valley Forge

John Adams wrote, “Posterity! you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom!  I hope you will make a good use of it.” 

Our goal is to ensure that the sacrifices of our patriot ancestors are never forgotten.  By remembering what they did, and recalling why they did it, we can understand and appreciate our founding documents all the more.  We also begin to understand our obligations to protect and defend what they gave us.  We have an obligation to, as President Ronald Reagan stated, “preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”

Below are the stories, as far as they are known, of the ancestors of the members of the Thomas Jefferson Chapter who sacrificed to create the United States of America.  They risked all so that we might be free.  We honor their memories.

Elias Cotton served in the Revolutionary War in the Continental Navy on board the Frigate Deane under Captain Samuel Nicholson. The Continental Navy frigate Deane was one of the most successful ships in the Revolutionary War. She sailed from Boston January 14, 1779 with Alliance for a cruise in the West Indies and returned to Philadelphia April 17, 1779 with one prize, the armed ship Viper. She joined with Boston and two ships of the Virginia Navy guarding a convoy of merchantmen and continuing on for a five week cruise which netted eight prizes, including four privateers, the packet Sandwich, and the sloop-of-war HMS Thorn.

Lot Croom was born on 28 April 1761 in Dobbs County, NC, and he died in 1830 in Lenoir County, NC. Lot was the son of Major Croom and Olief Avery. He married on 6 February 1787 to Elizabeth Rasberry (1771-1844), and had a son Redding Croom (1795-1870), who married Elizabeth Moore in 1816.

Lot Croom served as a soldier in the North Carolina Militia.

Major Croom was born in 1723 in Henrico County, VA, and died in 1790 in Lenoir County, NC. He married (1) Olief Avery (1726-1762) in 1743 in Craven County, NC, and married (2) Susan Enloe Hardy. Major and Olief Croom had a son, Lot Croom (1761-1830).

Major Croom performed civil service and patriotic service during the American Revolution as a Commissioner and as a Member of the Committee of Safety.

James Edmundson was born before 1751 in Johnston County, NC, and he died in 1798 in Wayne County, NC. James married Penelope. James and Penelope had four children: Dr. John Edmundson (1771-1853); Theophilus Edmundson (1780-1824); Bryant Edmundson (1782-1855); and Burrell Edmundson (1785-1814). James Edmundson served as a 2nd lieutenant in the Revolutionary War under Captain Abraham Sheppard, 1st Battalion of NC Volunteers.

George Evans descends from an old Virginia family. His parents, Richard Evans and Mary Lillington, were planters in Richmond County, Virginia, and Beaufort County, North Carolina.

George Evans was born around 1744 in Bath, Beaufort County, North Carolina (in the area which became Pitt County in 1760). His father died when he was a youth, and his brother Richard became his guardian. George Evans married Anne Hines around 1764 in Pitt County, and they had three children: John Evans (born 1765), Peter Hines Evans (born December 12, 1781), and Susannah Evans (born 1784).

John Evans, descends from an old Virginia family. His grandparents, Richard Evans and Mary Lillington, were planters in Richmond County, Virginia, and Beaufort County, North Carolina.

John Evans, the son of Major George Evans and Anne Hines, was born in 1765 in Pitt County, North Carolina (in the area which became Pitt County in 1760). John Evans married Elizabeth McMurray in 1795 in Pitt County, North Carolina, and had three children: Elizabeth Evans (1799), William Parson Evans (1805), and Matilda Evans (1808).

Thomas William Gaines was born in 1738 in Orange County, Virginia. On June 17, 1776, Congress directed Maryland and Virginia to raise six companies of riflemen. These soldiers were equipped with rifles, not muskets, and specialized in long-range marksmanship. On August 30, when Thomas enlisted for three years in Captain Long’s Company, Maryland & Virginia Rifle Regiment, he was a 38-year-old farmer, married to Susannah Strother, with two small children and one on the way.

Fortunately for Thomas, the majority of Long’s company was slow to muster and depart Virginia to join Washington's army in New York. Because of this, he missed the regiment’s participation in the defense of Fort Washington, where all present were killed or taken prisoner.

Christopher Greene, the son of Nathanael Greene and Mary Mott, was born on 23 July 1748 in Potowomut Neck, Warwick County, Rhode Island. Christopher served as a member of the Committee of Public Safety in Rhode Island. He was the earliest commanders of the Kentish Guards of East Greenwich, Rhode Island Volunteers, which corps he helped to organize in the year 1774. He took part in Sullivan’s Expedition on Rhode Island, in which he occupied an honorable command under his brother, Major General Nathanael Greene. He was also a member of the Rhode Island state convention which ratified the Constitution of the United States.

Edward Hart was born on 20 December 1755 in Hopewell, Hunterdon, NJ, and died on 6 October 1812 in Beverley, Randolph, WV. Edward was the son of John Hart (a signer of the Declaration of Independence) and Deborah Scudder. Edward Hart married about 1777 to Nancy Ann Stout, who was born on 25 July 1756 in Hopewell, Hunterdon, NJ, and died on 25 February 1844 in Beverley, Randolph, WV. Edward and Nancy had five children: Henry Hart, John Hart, Susannah Hart, Deborah Hart and Joseph Hart.

Edward Hart served during the Revolutionary War as a private in New Jersey. Edward is buried in the Beverly Cemetery in Beverly, West Virginia.

John Hart was born on 21 February 1713 in Maidenhead, Burlington, NJ, and died on 11 May 1779 in Hopewell, Hunterdon, NJ. In 1739, he married Deborah Scudder, who was born in 1723 in Hopewell, Hunterdon, NJ, and he died on 26 October 1776 in Hopewell, Hunterdon, NJ. They had a son, Edward Hart (1755-1812), who was a private from PA in the American Revolution.

The following is taken from "Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence," by The Reverend Charles A. Goodrich.

The history of the world probably furnishes not another instance in which there was a nobler exhibition of true patriotism, than is presented in the history of the American revolution. It was certain at its commencement, in respect to numerous individuals, whose talents, wisdom and enterprise were necessary to its success, that they could derive but little, if any, individual advantage.

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