Joseph Willis
Revolutionary Patriot

{Compiled by Kitty Kutchmark, pension file for Joseph Willis. Article was written by Flora L. VerStraten}

  • First Document - Willis, Joseph; died 1842; born 1759; place born, Elizabethtown, New Jersey; burial unknown; New Jersey Line under Captains Baker, Craig, Clark and Cols. Ogden and Porter.
  • Second Document - In the 1840 census listed with son, Isaac. Friends, who would vouch for him, are listed in Saline Twp. Jefferson County, Ohio and another on acres in Columbiana County, Ohio. By his location in the 1840 census he was possibly buried in the old Sugar Grove Cemetery, in Knox Township.
  • Third Document – Listed in the Muster Roll the following: Ohio, {Pittsburgh agency}, Joseph Willis in Jefferson in the state of Ohio was a private in the company commanded by Captain Baldwin of the regiment commanded by Col. Ogden in New Jersey for two years from 1777. Inscribed on the roll of Ohio {Pittsburgh Agency} at the amount of 80 dollars – cents for annum to commence on the sixth day of March 1834. Certificate of pension found the 1st day of June 1835 and sent to Mrs. Stokely & Wilson of Steubenville, Ohio. Attests to the 4th of March 1835, $320, allowance ending 4 Sept 1835, $40. Total, $360, Revolutionary Claim, June 7, 1832, recorded by Wm. A. Stewart, clerk, book E. 2, Vol. 5, page 758. Reported, Hon. A. Steward, July 20, 1846, Lic. Feb. 8th, 1848.
  • Fourth Document – Pension File: #7823, Pennsylvania, Grace Willis, widow of Joseph Willis, who was a private New Jersey, in the Revolution, ---- --- in 1842. Inscribed on the roll at the rate of 80 dollars --- cents, per annum, to commence on the 4th day of March 1843. Certificate of Pension issued the 30th day of June, 1866 and sent to Wm. A. Stewart, Clerk, Act of March 3, 1843, recorded in book D, Vol. 2, page 119.
  • Fifth Document – Letter from Acting Commissioner, Pension: Rev. and 1812 War Section, dated October 7, 1926, to A. U. Carkhuff, 68 & 70 Hudson St., Hoboken, New Jersey. Sir: I have to advise you from the papers in the Revolutionary War pension claim W. 3639, it appears that Joseph Willis was born in 1759 near Elizabethtown, New Jersey. While residing in Essex County, New Jersey, he served as a private in the New Jersey Troops, as follows – From March 1777, two months in Captain Matthias Baker’s Company. From June 1778, nine months in Captain’s Baldwin’s Company, Colonel Matthias Odgen’s Regiment, and was in the battle of Monmouth.  Shortly after this he was taken prisoner at “Blazing Star” and held two months, when exchanged; and in August 1779 he went on a gunboat commanded by Captain Thomas Clarke, was taken prisoner and held in New York City, five months, when exchanged. He served at various times in the militia, amounting in all to twelve months in Captain John Craig’s Company, Colonel Potter’s Regiment. He was allowed pension on his application executed September 16, 1834, while a resident of Jefferson County, Ohio. He died January 3, 1843. He was the son of Joseph Willis, a major in the militia in the War of the Revolution. Soldier married in the fall of 1784 in New Jersey, Grace, her maiden name is not stated. She was allowed pension on her application executed June 8, 1848, while a resident of Morgan Township, Green County, Pennsylvania, aged eighty-six years. She died prior to March 11, 1849, leaving nine children, only names stated being, Robert Willis, Fanny Leonard, and Ann Neel. Respectfully yours, E. W. Morgan, Acting Commissioner.
  • Sixth Document - Common Pleas Court, Green County, State of Pennsylvania, 8th day of June A.D. 1846, appeared Thomas Burson one of the judges of court of Common Pleas and appeared Grace Willis, a resident of Morgan Township, in the county of Green in the state of Pa. aged 86 years who being first duly sworn according to law on her oath made the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the provision made by the Act of Congress passed June 7th, 1844. An act granting four years additional pension to certain widows. That she is the widow of Joseph Willis, deceased, who was at the time of his death, which took place on the 3rd day of Jan’y in the year of 1842, a revolutionary pensioner, with the fact he held the amount and kind of services which he performed are on record in the pension office.  She declares that she married Joseph Willis in the State of New Jersey in the year of 1784 sometime in the fall of said year and that she has no certificate of her said marriage and that no family record of said marriage was kept in her house nor any other person. She was not married to him prior to his having the services but the marriage took place previous to the first of January 1794. Signed, Grace Willis, her mark.
  • Seventh Document – Jefferson County, March 11th, 1849. I am under necessity of troubling you again for a statement concerning pension that was granted to Grace Willis, widow of Joseph Willis as appears from your letter of this 8th Feb. 1848 that the attorney for Robert Willis, Fanny Leonard and Ann Neel children of Jos. Willis drew $265.69 they being all the children that were named in the certificate of the court the truth is there were nine children proven in open court as I myself was the witness called to prove her death, and number of heirs but as five of them reside in Ohio. The attorney that was attending to the business found its movement to get all their names to the power of attorney and …their heirs are a matter of right and have been brought by two of them and have before a justice of peace and a ---- taken one of their --- out and left… I am now the agent for the plaintiff you would confer a particular favour by sending me the copies as soon a convenient as the suit will come off on the 10th of next month not knowing what your fees would be I herewith enclose one dollar on the Western Bank of Baltimore. You will please inform me the amount and it shall be remitted to you immediately. Very Respectfully yours, Henry Neel, F. L. Ed---, commissionary pensioner.
  • Eighth Document - Common Pleas Record, State of Ohio, Jefferson County, Ohio on the sixteenth day of September one thousand eight hundred and thirty four personally appeared in open court before the court of common pleas now sitting within and foresaid county, Joseph Willis, resident of said county of Jefferson, aged seventy five years, who being first duly sworn according make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the act of congress proposed June 7, 1832. That he entered the service of the United States and served and herein stated…entered the service in the month of March A.D. 1777 as a private the volunteer company raised and commanded by Captain Matthias Baker, the Lieut. Clarkson Edgar, Ensign James Patton, The English were stationed on Statton Island. This company was raised to guard the Jersey Shore…he served two months as a private guarding the shore… this part being called “Woodbridge Ravay.” Sometime they were at Blazing Star and sometime at Bridgetown, sometime at headquarters which was the house of Captain Baker, on the road from Elizabethtown to Trenton…which there was several skirmishes which there was several between the volunteer company and the British… He not receiving a discharge nor aid any of the other members of the company. About the 1st of June in the year 1778 he went with others and joined the regular army at Mount Holley, State of New Jersey by enlistment and officers were, General Manfield, Colonel Matthias Ogden, Major Piatt, Captain Baldwin, Lieut. Robinson. The army remained at Mount Holley until the English Army started from Philadelphia to New York, then the American were marched out to intercept the progress and delay the march of the English…at Monmouth found the English army and the American army under Washington preparing for battle… that was the month he enlisted…He was in the battle of Monmouth at the commencement of this battle under command of General Lee. Two or three days after he was marched to Elizabethtown NJ, where they were quartered all winter and about the 1st of March they were discharged. Deponent received a regular written discharge but has since lost or misplaced it. He and two others were taken prisoner at Blazing Star he does not recall the time and kept in prison for more than two months. He was exchanged for other prisoners. He thinks this was the month of August succeeding his discharge by Ogden. In the month of August unsure his discharge from the regular army, two gun boats started from Brunswick, one commanded by Captain Mariner, the other by Captain Thomas Clarke, deponent was on the latter as a volunteer. These boats went out to guard Long Island they took a schooner which was in the enemy lines, there were 3 men on boat of this schooner and gun boats were unable to get the schooners out on account of the winds. The next morning one of the boats being filled with water the captains of the gunboats surrendered themselves & the crew prisoners. This was about two weeks after their departure from Brunswick. They were detained prisoners near five months in the city of New York. Deponent was out in the militia (with the exception of the time above) during almost the whole revolutionary war, under sometimes Col. Potter, Major Willis, Captain Craig, Lieut. Willis. He served in the militia about twelve months.

Recapitulation of service – Two months as a volunteer under Capt. Baker. Nine months in the regular army Cap. Baldwin, two months prisoner at Blazing Star, nearly five months prisoner at New York City. Twelve months in the militia. Whole pension thirty months. He knows of no person living who can testify to his service except Abraham Kelly, whose deposition is herewith transmitted. He knows of no clergyman in his neighborhood who can certify that he is reputed and believed to be a revolutionary soldier. He herebyrelinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present, and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state. Sworn to and subscribed the day & year aforesaid, Signed, Joseph Willis, James Wells, Clerk.

  • Ninth Document - Common Pleas Court, Jefferson County, Ohio written record, two witnesses for Joseph Willis – We the undersigned who live in the neighborhood of Joseph Willis who swore to & signed the above declaration, hereby certify that we are well acquainted with the said Willis, that we believe him to be seventy five years of age, that he is respected and believed and we live in the neighborhood where he resides, to have been a revolutionary soldier, we concur in that opinion. Signed, Joseph Burson, Thomas Blackledge…And the court further certifies that Joseph Burson & Thomas Blackledge who have signed the proceeding certificate are residents of Jefferson County and that their statement is entitled to credit. I James Ross Wells, clerk of the court of common pleas for Jefferson County, Ohio do hereby certify that the foregoing contains the original of the said county of the matter of this application of Joseph Willis for a pension…of said court this sixteenth day of September 1834.
  • The following was interrogators proposed by the court and answers:
  1. Where & in what year were you born? Answer - Near Elizabethtown New Jersey in the year seventeen hundred & fifty nine.
  2. Where were you living when called into the service and where do you now live? Answer - I lived in the county of Essex. I now live in Jefferson County, Ohio.
  3. Have you any record of your age? Answer – I have one at home.
  4. How were you called into service? Answer – Once or twice as a volunteer, once enlisted, once drafted.
  5. State the names of the regular officers which were the troops where you served such continental & militia regiments? AnswerGen’l. Manfield, Colonel Matthias Ogden, Major Piatt, Cap. Baldwin, Lieut. Robinson, I do not recollect the regiments.
  6. Did you ever receive a discharge from the service? Answer – Yes, I received the discharge from Col. Ogden, which I have since lost.
  7. State the army of persons to whom you are known in your present neighborhood who can certify as to your character or ------ or their belief of your services as a soldier of the revolution. AnswerJoseph Burson, Thomas Blackledge.