Tuesday, July 4, 2017

DNA Discoveries: Francis Meadows, Jr., Revolutionary Soldier and British Prisoner

My double first cousin's daughter, Rachel, once mentioned to me she knew little about her father's family history. We decided to DNA test her and see where her matches led. At the time she tested, she also gave me what information she knew about her paternal ancestors; and I began researching them, confining myself to online sources only. I was able to go back to her three times grandparents pretty easily as they were kind enough not to move too much after migrating to what became West Virginia from the Old Dominion. Along the way, I "met" Francis Meadows (1754-1836), her five times great grandfather.

Francis Meadows was born about 1754 in Augusta County, Virginia, to Josiah Francis Meadows and Mary Kesiah Bell (or Ball). His parents lived at the top of a mountain where Big Meadows is located. Aficionados of the Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park, or the Skyline Drive, typically look forward to a visit to the campground and lodge there. By 1780 he moved to Rockingham County and by 1798 he married Frances Bush. Between 1799 and 1808 the Meadows family migrated west to newly formed Monroe County, which is just west of the Appalachian mountains. Francis and his wife had 16 children, 12 of them sons. Francis died at the age of 82 on 20 November 1836 and was interred at the Peterstown Cemetery, which is now located in Giles County, West Virginia. His grave was marked with a stone originally. Ancestors installed a veterans memorial marker at his grave on Thanksgiving Day 2009.

The headstones of Francis Meadows and his wife; photograph courtesy of
Find A Grave volunteer, Oscar Meadows


At a Court of Quarter Session held for the County of Monroe on the 15th day of August 1820.

On this 15th day of August 1820 personally appeared in open Court, being a Court of Record for said County, Francis Meadows, aged about 66 years, resident in the said County, who first being duly sworn according to law doth on his oath declare that he served in the Revolutionary War as follows:

That he enlisted about the month of February 1777 in the county of Augusta for three years as a private soldier under Captain David Laird, who was afterwards cashiered (he returned to serve during the war) and the men who were under said Laird as he believes were placed under Captain Nathaniel Lamb of the 10th Virginia Regiment commanded by Col. Green and General Wheaton's Brigade, Virginia Line or Continental Line at enlistment. That he served in the Light Infantry two summers commanded by General Wate and that he served about three years and about three months and was taken prisoner by Lord Cornwallis at Charleston, S.C. Remained prisoner about 14 or 15 days, then made his escape to Albermarle County, Virginia, Reported himself to Col. Woods, who had command of the barracks in said county, who gave him a furlough until his company would be exchanged, who were also taken prisoners, which exchange did not take place until the close of the war, to the best of his knowledge. That he made a declaration before the said County Court of Monroe on the 16th day of June 1818 and that he has received from the Secretary of the Department of War a pension certificate dated 19th day of January 1819, numbered 6013.

And I do solemnly swear that I was a resident citizen of the United States on the 18th day of March 1818 and that I have not since that time by gift sale, or in any manner disposed of my property or any part thereof with intent thereby so to diminish as to bring myself within the provisions of an act of Congress entitled 'An act to provide for certain persons engaged in the Land and Naval Services of the United States in the Revolutionary War' passed on the 18th day of March 1818 and that I have not nor has any persons in trust for me, any property, or securities, contracts or debts dire to me nor have any income other that what is contained in the schedule hereunto annexed and by me subscribed to wit:

Two yearling colts, one colt two years old, four cows and two calves, 12 sheep, 14 hogs, 12 geese, three small pots, and six pairs of hooks, one bushel kettle, one half bushel, oven, one seng[1] hoe, two old axes, one hand saw and drawing knife, one plow, one plain J Coopers compass, one trowel, three bed stands, 7 pewter plates, one dish and basin, nine iron spoons, one set of knives and forks, one old rifle gun, one old loom, and two reeds, three peggons and one pail, one old washing tub, one big wheel, one pan cords, one new spinning wheel, one old wheel, one old looking glass, five old chairs, one old chest, one cut reel and churn, two bottles, one tin pan, two augers, two gimblets, six tin cups, three old reep hooks, one round shave, three bills, 124 acres of land which I bought of Henry Maddy, lying in Monroe County $105.00 cents which is coming to me, to be paid in trade in three years from this time I owe to Henry Maddy $100.00 cents for which my property is now under execution. I am not able to work, owing to a severe rupture. I have a wife who is very frail and not able to work. I have sixteen children (12 of them sons) who had all left me, but six of whom are under the age of 14 years."

From the pension files of Francis Meadows; courtesy of


The 10th Virginia Regiment was raised on 28 December 1775 in western Virginia for service in the Continental Army. The regiment would see action in the Battle of Brandywine, Battle of Germantown, Battle of Monmouth, and the Siege of Charleston. Most of the regiment was captured in Charleston, South Carolina on 12 May 1780, by the British. The 10th Virginia Regiment was formally disbanded on 15 November 1783.

As Private Francis Meadows enlisted in February 1777, he saw action in all of the battles mentioned above.

[1] Seng is probably wild ginseng.

In addition to the typical genealogical sources, such as wills, estate appraisals, deeds, tax rolls, census documents, military and vital records, I found the following sources helpful in my research:

Haga, Pauline"Prisoner of War Receives Marker" The Hinton News, 24 March 2009, page 6 (accessed 20 June 2017)
Morton, Oren B. A History of Monroe County, West Virginia, (Dayton, VA: Ruebush-Elkins Company, 1916) pages 17-67, 129-147 (accessed on 29 June 2017
Wayland, John W. Virginia Valley Records, (Strasburg, VA: Shenandoah Publishing Company, 1930), pages 88-89 and 115 (accessed 17 December 2016)


  1. i am seeking proof that Arris Meadows (a supposed brother of this Francis) was the son of Josiah Francis Meadows. I am wondering if Arris is really named for Capt. George Pearis, (Of Giles County), a local revolutionary war hero.

    1. Contact Genealogist Jan Hensley at: JanHensley2000@yahoo.com