Revolutionary Hero

Enlisted in Sussex county, New Jersey
"Date and place of Birth and Names of parents not shown" in Rev. War records

Also lived in Muhlenberg county, KY for 10 years before moving to Gallatin county (which at the time included Saline County) in 1810

In 1840, he is enumerated under the household of Michael Roark in Equality, IL and his name is noted as a Revolutionary War Pensioner. He was listed at age 78 at the time of the census.

He died March 4, 1841, Gallatin county
(data from a letter typed in 1934 which is included in the revolutionary war records of William Roark --- Rev. War M805 Roll: 692 Image: 749 File: S32495) though the pensioners census of the Act of June 1832, has a hand written note that gives his year of death as 1842. The date and month are not easy to read, but it looks like Jan 4th, -- the year 1842 is clear.

The picture of his newer gravestone (posted on Find a Grave website) in Cottage Grove Cemetery, Saline Co., IL gives a death date of Jan 4th, 1843, aged 83yrs, 6ms, 12ds and does not mention his place of birth.

The older military stone of William Roark is the usual white marble and says simply "William Roark, NJ Troops, Rev. War"

The following piece is from "Kobweb Korners : a network of history and tradition relating to Eldorado and southern Illinois" by Leo. T. Dodd, March 20, 1967:

William Roark's last tour of duty turned out to be the longest, the most trying, and the most dramatic. He served under Captain Michael Catt and went to Wheeling where the contingent was to have joined with another under General Clark and later by another under command of Colonel Laury. When Captain Catt's forces arrived at Wheeling, General Clark and his men had already gone ahead and the Colonel Laury company had not arrived. Captain Catt led his men at rapid pace in the attempt to overtake General Clark.

Just before the two forces were joined, Captain Catt and his men were attacked by Indians, were defeated, and all but forty-seven of the men were killed. The forty-seven were taken prisoners of war. Prior to the march Captain Catt had received some reinforcements from Kentucky, which accounts for Mr. Roark's ability to substantiate his claim for a pension, since at least one of the Kentucky men was among the prisoners, along with Mr. Roark. The location of the engagement in which the Revolutionary forces were defeated is identified by Mr. Roark as "about ten miles below the Big Miami."

The prisoners were first taken to Detroit, then into Canada, near Montreal, where they were kept for almost a year. When news of the surrender of Cornwallis was heard, the prisoners were moved under British command to Quebec to wait out the exchange of prisoners of war. There was much delay in that operation.

Mr. Roark was finally discharged March 17, 1783. He "resided on the waters of the Monongohela" and then moved to Muhlenburg County (KY). Later he moved to Gallatin County, Illinois, which at that time included Saline County.

In making application for the pension, Mr. Roark signed his deposition with "His Mark (X)." with Jesse Pierce as witness, in the presence of Judge William Sutton. Leonard White was the clerk of the court.

There were certain minor discrepancies when the declaration was compared with the government records. A messenger was dispatched to take deposition from William Worthington in Kentucky. That gentlemen had been a prisoner of war right along with Mr. Roark. He vouched for the accuracy of Roark's account. After the war ended, Mr. Worthington had served in the Kentucky Legislature and as a Judge in Kentucky Courts for many years. His testimony no doubt carried considerable weight in helping to have the application for pension approved.

Additional testimony as to the honesty and integrity of Mr. Roark was given by several prominent acquaintances, including Jesse Pierce, who was an ordained minister. A plea was made and addressed to the Pension Board that allowance be made for the facts that fifty years had elapsed, that Mr. Roark was quite old, infirm, and needy, and that his honesty was unquestioned.

On September 4, 1836, the pension was allowed. It was set at $26.66 semiannually but made retroactive, so that the first payment was in the amount of $320.00.

The record of the service of William Roark is dramatic to read but tragic to have been experienced. Saline County is honored to be the soil in which the body of William Roark, Revolutionary Hero, reposes.

Genuine patriotism should and does thrive on this soil.

Since our soil is consecrated by the graves of such as he
Dare I do less than my duty in the land they fought to free?


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