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Why I care

The Revolutionary challenge from The Legal Genealogist yesterday got more than 80 percent of the way there in less than 24 hours.

The deal is simple: for every one of the first 50 readers who support the Kickstarter project for “Revolutionary Voices”: A Last Muster Film, I’ll donate another $5 of my own money. You kick in $10, you’ve caused a $15 contribution. And that’s on top of what I’m going to donate on my own account. Two more folks joined in this morning, so there are only eight to go to make me put my money where my mouth is.

As I said yesterday, it’s a great project — bringing the faces and the stories of Americans who lived in the Revolutionary War era — and lived on long enough to be photographed — to life on film.

So why do I care? What makes this project one I’m so happy to support?

There are three answers (that I know of, so far) to those questions.

David Baker. William Noel Battles. And Elijah Gentry Sr.

They are, respectively, my fourth, fifth, and fourth great grandfathers. And they were Revolutionary War soldiers.

David Baker was born 3 June 1749 in the brand-new county of Culpeper, Virginia, and died 15 September 1838 in what was then Yancey County, North Carolina.1 Married twice, he had a total of 13 children2; my third great grandfather Martin was the oldest son by David’s second wife Dorothy (Wiseman) Baker.3

David enlisted in the Continental Army in February 1776 in the 3rd Regiment of the Virginia Line under Captain John Thornton. He was named Corporal and held that rank during the two years of his service. After serving in the Battle of White Plains, the Battle of Trenton (where his brother Richard was killed) and the Battle of Princeton, he went into winter quarters 1776-77 at Morristown, New Jersey. In 1777, he was in the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown, and went into winter quarters 1777-78 at Valley Forge. He was mustered out from Valley Forge in February 1778, and then joined his family in western North Carolina where they had moved.4

William Noel Battles was born 2 January 1757 in Surry County, Virginia, and died 14 December 1840 in St. Clair County, Alabama.5 He was living in Albemarle County, Virginia, when he enlisted in the fall of 1776. He served in the 6th and 10th Virginia Regiments, and was at the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth and Stony Point. He served almost three years in total, and was slightly wounded once. After the war he married in Virginia, moved to Georgia and then to Alabama, settling in what became St. Clair County.6

Elijah Gentry Sr. was born around 1753, most likely in Lunenburg County, Virginia. He was in South Carolina when the Revolution was fought, then moved first to Georgia and finally to the Mississippi Territory by 1813.7 He died in Monroe County by May of 1818, when his will was probated.8

Little is known about this fourth great grandfather’s service except that he and several of his brothers served in the South Carolina Militia. The original stub indent records of South Carolina show two vouchers paid to Elijah Gentry on the 18th of July 1785. The first reflected at Lib U, No 654 was for two pounds 12 shillings and ten pence for “duty in the Militia as Private since the reduction of Charlestown.” The second reflected at Lib U, No 655, was for 14 pounds, three shillings and 11 pence for “Duty in the Militia as Sargeant before, & since the reduction of Chas Town.”9

Where he fought, with whom, in what units… all unknown. But serve, he certainly did.

None of these men, you can see, lived into the era of the photograph. David died in 1838. Noel in 1840. Elijah by May of 1818. I will not see their faces or learn more of their personal stories in “Revolutionary Voices.” But I can hope, by supporting this project, to learn more of their time, perhaps even of their units through the stories of comrades with whom they served.

David. Noel. Elijah. Keeping the history of their time alive will help keep their sacrifices and their courage alive — and that’s worth every penny to me.


  1. Bible Record, Josiah and Julia (McGimsey) Baker Family Bible Records 1749-1912, The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (New York : American Bible Society, 1867), “Births” and “Deaths”; privately held by Louise (Baker) Ferguson, Bakersville, NC; photographed for JG Russell, Feb 2003. Mrs. Ferguson, a great granddaughter of Josiah and Julia, inherited the Bible; the earliest entries are believed to be in the handwriting of Josiah or Julia Baker.
  2. All 13 are named in his January 1838 will. Yancey County, North Carolina, Record of Wills 1: 30, will of David Baker, 26 Jan 1838; North Carolina State Archives microfilm C.107.80001.
  3. Bible Record, Josiah and Julia (McGimsey) Baker Family Bible Records 1749-1912, The New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, “Births”.
  4. See generally Affidavit of Soldier, 26 September 1832; Dorothy Baker, widow’s pension application no. W.1802, for service of David Baker (Corp., Capt. Thornton’s Co., 3rd Va. Reg.); Revolutionary War Pensions and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, microfilm publication M804, 2670 rolls (Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Service, 1974); digital images, Fold3 ( : accessed 28 Apr 2012), David Baker file, pp. 3-6. And see Compiled Military Service Record, David Baker, Corp., 3rd Virginia Regiment, Revolutionary War; Compiled Service Records of Soldiers who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, microfilm publication M881, Roll 951 (Washington, D.C. : National Archives Trust Board, 1976); Fold3 David Baker file, pp. 12-17.
  5. Grace Thornton, Noel Battles: Our Revolutionary War Ancestor, CD-ROM (Alvin, Texas : pp, 1985).
  6. See generally Affidavit of Soldier, 7 November 1832; Noel Battles, invalid pension application no. S. 12960, for service as Pvt., Capt. Shelton’s Co., 10th (later 6th) Va. Reg.); Revolutionary War Pensions and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, microfilm publication M804, 2670 rolls (Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Service, 1974); digital images, Fold3 ( : accessed 2 Mar 2013), Noel Battles file, pp. 3-6. And see 10th Virginia Regiment (1777-78), and 6th Virginia Regiment (1778-79), Revolutionary War, entries for Noel Battles, Pvt.; Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783, microfilm publication M246, Rolls 104 (6th Regiment) and 108 (10th Regiment) (Washington, D.C. : National Archives Trust Board, 1980); Fold3.
  7. W. M. Gentry, editor, “The Sons of Nicholas-I Gentry, David Gentry and Family,” Journal of Gentry Genealogy, Vol. 2, No. 5 (2002, rev. 2011) ( : accessed 2 Mar 2013).
  8. Monroe County, Alabama, Orphans Court orders, 11 May 1818; Court Clerk’s Office, Monroeville; FHL microfilm 1548209.
  9. Copies of the original stub indents were provided by the South Carolina Archives in 2002. See also A.S. Salley, Jr., ed., Stub Entries to Indents Issued in Payment of Claims Against South Carolina Growing Out of the Revolution, Books U-W (Columbia, S.C. : Historical Commission of South Carolina, 1918), 94; digital images, Internet Archive ( : accessed 2 Mar 2013).
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