Transcribed and Contributed by John and Gene Sharp


John Adlum was born in York Town, Pennsylvania, April 29, 1759. His grandfather John Adlum senior (1699 -1773) had emigrated from Antrim County Ireland about 1732. Both his grandfather and father Joseph Adlum (1727-1814) served as York County Sheriff's and both men were supporters of the American independence movement. In July 1776, John Adlum at the age of seventeen became a corporal in Captain Christian Stake's second company of Colonel Michael Swope's battalion. He was captured at the battle of Fort Washington and held as a prisoner of war in New York. He was paroled in 1777. Due to the conditions of his parole he was restricted from reentering the army. After his return to York Town, Pennsylvania, he engaged in surveying and became a wealthy man. During much of his time surveying, John Adlum lived on a frontier area and worked among the Native American tribes of Pennsylvania and New York. Here he formed strong bonds of friendship with the great Seneca chief Cornplanter (Kaiioñtwa''k) AKA John O Beal.

In 1792, John Aldum along with fellow surveyor John Wallis achieved a cartographic triumph with their map of Pennsylvania. In 1799, he was commissioned a Major in the United States Regular Army. He resigned the following year due to his expanding business interests. For a period of time he lived and farmed at Harve de Grace, Maryland, with his younger brother Joseph Adlum (1767-1846) where he first experimented with domestic grape production. During this same period he bought land in Muncy Township, Pennsylvania, where he built a stone house for use by his aged father and mother. John Adlum later returned to serve his country during the War of 1812. In 1805 he married his cousin Margaret Catherine Adlum and together they had two daughters, Margaret and Anna Maria.

After moving into the District of Columbia in 1814, John Adlum established the "Vineyard" where he planted over 200 acres of domestic and other grapes and became the leading spokesman for American viticulture. He wrote two of the earliest books written by an American on winemaking and production: A Memoir on the Cultivation of the Vine and the Best Mode of Making Wine published 1828 and Adlum on Making Wine published 1823. In his later years he corresponded and exchanged agricultural and viticulture advice with Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison on grape production and domestic wine.

John Adlum died on 14 March 1836, at the age of seventy-seven, and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

The Revolutionary War Pension Application of John Adlum (1759 -1836)

Introduction The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C., has one of the most extraordinary collections of records for genealogists and historians researching Revolutionary War history as well as the lives of specific Revolutionary War soldiers and sailors. These NARA records are available in the Pension and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application Files which consists of some eighty thousand military application files.

Congress enacted pension legislation in the early days of the war, providing half pay in 1776 for officers and servicemen who were disabled in the service of the United States. After 1780, pensions were made available to widows and orphans of Continental army servicemen. In 1818 further legislation was passed granting pensions to veterans in financial need and in 1832 yet broader legislation was enacted which granted pensions to veterans of the Revolutionary War regardless of financial need. The 1832 act created a unique body of historical records since to qualify; veterans had to indicate the type and condition of their service and also had to answer a series of questions (interrogatories) regarding the specifics of their military service. These complete pension files contain more then just simple military narratives; most have valuable records of the veteran's birth date, place of birth, and other family member's birth and death dates as well as other genealogical information. Many of the questions for pensions provide information as to the veteran's subsequent travel and movements after military service. Some records contain considerable information regarding the veteran's health and financial circumstances. Since most of these records were complied after 1832 they are based for the most part on the memories of men and women who were (like John Adlum) seventy years of age or more; they may contain some errors or omissions, but they remain valuable and unique records of the Revolution. Many of the files also include contemporaneous documents such as diary entries or letters which were provided as verification.

This collection is now on microfilm at the National Archives (microfilm M804, 2,670 rolls). The NARA pension records are arranged alphabetically by surname but researchers should be sure to check under various alternative spellings when looking for a particular veteran. For instance a search for the name John Adlum failed to find any of his records under that spelling since his files, for reasons know only to the vagaries of the old Department of War (and later when transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration), are still misfiled as: "Adlam, John" Pension Certificate number 23082 Claim S. 11944.

Transcription: John Adlum's Revolutionary War pension application and interrogatives was partially transcribed for publication in The Revolution Remembered Eyewitness Accounts of the War of Independence, edited by John C. Dann, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago Illinois 1977. This 1977 transcription of John Adlum's narrative however consisted only of somewhat edited interrogatories and the editors chose to modernized Adlum's spelling and grammar.

To convey what a Revolutionary War pension application looked like and how John Adlum wrote and thought, we have transcribed the entire application for the first time in its entirety. In transcribing John Adlum's pension certificate and the interrogatories we have taken care to retain Adlum's punctuation (Adlum and most early 19th century writers used the dash rather then a period), spelling grammar, and document lay out and arrangement have been followed as faithfully as possible. Where Adlum has a unique spelling which may cause confusion it has been followed by the bracketed conventional usage, words stricken out by Adlum been shown where possible or noted as illegible. The one footnote in the pension narrative is that of the original and was placed by John Adlum himself as were the parenthetical passages.

Sources & Acknowledgement:

  • National Archives and Records Administration, Revolutionary War Pension Certificate Number 23082, Claim S. 11944 for: John Adlum claim filed under" John Adlam"
  • Dann, John C., ed. The Revolution Remembered Eyewitness Accounts of the War of Independence University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1977
  • Eisenhart, Willis W.The Abbott-Adlum -Green Familiies, Abbotstown, Pennsylvania 1957
  • Gahn,Bessie Wilmarth Major Adlum of Rock Creek, Records of Columbia Historical Society Volume 19 pages 127 -139. 1937
  • Burke, Helen Whitacre Mostly About the Whitacre and Warner Families 1981 with revisions 1982.

This transcription is dedicated with our special thanks and appreciation to our cousin, Helen Whitacre Burke Thomas, who first introduced us to John Adlum and the Adlum-Whitacre family.

Gene Kerr Sharp and John G. Sharp

For those interested in Adlum's further career visited our Genealogy Trails Washington D.C. website:

[JOHN ADLUM Pension Application and Interrogatories]

District of Columbia)

To wit

Washington County)

On this first day of November 1833 personally appeared before the subscriber Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of the District aforesaid John Adlum a resident of the County and District aforesaid aged about Seventy four years who being first duly sworn according to law doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of an act of Congress passed June 7, 1828 -

That he entered the Service of the United States under the following named officers and served as herein stated. Just, that he was a volunteer in the Militia of the State of Pennsylvania and afterwards attached to what was called the Flying Camp. That he volunteered in the York Town Militia consisting of four companies under the command in the first instance of Col. James Smith. That the deponent was in the company commanded by Capt. Charles Lukins who was the Sheriff of the County the other three companies under the command of Capt. William Bailey, Capt. Rudolph Spangler and Capt. Michael Hahn besides Col. Smith the field officers were Lt Col. Joseph Donaldson and Major Michael Swoopes. That the deponent joined his said company on the 7th July 1776. After the Militia was formed into a Flying Camp Major Swoope become the Colonel as Colonel Smith was a member of Congress - Robt. Stevenson was appointed Colonel and Capt. Wm Bailey was made Major. That when the said militia was formed into a Flying Camp deponent was attached to Capt. Stakes company as a Corporal though he did the duty generally of Sergeant. The whole Militia consisted of three Regiments and was commanded by Brigadier Genl John James Ewin of York County Penn -.

That the deponent marched from York Town for the Camp on the 11th July 1776. That on the 16th of November 1776 he was taken a prisoner at the battle of Fort Washington and was carried by the British to New York where he was kept until 1777 when he was released on parole and returned to York Town but was never discharged from Service. The officers of the company to which the deposed belonged after the companies were formed into the Flying Camp, were Capt. Stake, Lieut. Sheriff who was afterwards appointed Brigade Major and Ensign Barnitiz -

That the deponent served with the Regt of Militia from Cumberland County Penna commanded by Col. Watts also the Regt from Chester County commanded by Col. Wm Montgomery. That the Brigade in which the deponent served was sent up the North River before the evacuation of New York and began the erection of Fort Lee which was laid out by Col. Putnam as he believes. Genl Greene commanded Fort Lee afterwards and the deponent was on duty about 20 miles from Camp there at the bridge over the Hackensack River -

That after the deponent's return to York town on parole he was not Notified to do Militia duty until some time in 1780 when he complied and never received any notice of being discharged or exchanged in service. That the deponent was in the battle of Fort Washington and was taken prisoner on the 16th Nov 1776 -.

That he knew Genl Greene who commanded at Fort Lee and also Col. Meigs and Col. or Major Glover of the Regulars who came with the New England Troops under Genl Lee That the Militia marched from York Town in Pennsylvania to Phila. from thence they went to Trenton, thence to Newark 9 miles from Poulus Hook and there to Bergen in Jersey where they did duty sometime and thence to Fort Lee - And the deponent further Says that he has no documentary evidence in support of his claim and that he knows of no person whose testimony he can procure who can testify to his service That the deponent refers the answers annexed & the questions accompanying this paper for further explanation of his Service and of all matters connected hence with He freely relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the pension Rolls of the agency of any State Sworn and Subscribed to the day and year aforesaid -

[Signed] JOHN ADLUM )


[Signed] W CRANCH [Seal as JP]

Interrogatories, with answers -

First - Where and in what year was you born?

Answer, I was born in the town of York in Pennsylvania on the 29th day of April in the year 1759

Second, Have you any record of your age and if so, where is it?

Answer, The time of my birth is written in my late father's Bible, where I remember to have often seen it, This Bible is I presume either in the hands of my brothers or sisters, now living in Muncy Township or its neighborhood, in Lycoming County in Pennsa -

Third and Fourth - Where were you living when called into service, Where have you lived since the Revolutionary war, and where do you now live? 4th How were you drafted, did you volunteer, or were you a substitute? And for whom?

Answer, I was living with my father at York Town above mentioned, when I volunteered to go to the Militia to Camp - Independence was declared on the 4th day of July 1776, And on the evening of the 6th of July following the Honorable James Smith one of our neighbors (and one of the Signers of the said declaration) with Capt Francis Wade and Doctor Young arrived at York Town to see how the good people of the Town and its vicinity, relished the said declaration - Accordingly on the morning of the 7th day of July, The four companies of the Town militia was paraded / Mr. Smith (the Colonel of the Regiment) when the Declaration of Independence was read, Mr. Smith made a speech, as did Capt. Wade & Doctor Young pointing out the advantages that it would be of to our Country & Mr. Smith made a short concluding speech, and then threw up his hat and hurrahed for liberty & Independence and others attending followed this example - There was then a proposition, of who will go to Camp? When I believe every one on parade without exception volunteered to go, and of which I was one, But it was thought prudent to retain and keep them at home that was more then forty years old to take care of & guard the Town - And on the 11th day of July we marched for Camp - The four Companies of the Town were commanded by Capt. Charles Lukens the Sheriff of York County, (and to which I belonged) Capt. Wm Baily a respectable man a copper smith, Capt. Rudolph Spangler a silversmith and Capt. Michael Hahn, I am not certain as to his occupation but I believe it was a Smith - And it was generally believed that he was the most sensible and smartest man of the four Captains - Lieutenant Col. Joseph Donaldson & Major Michael Swoope, commanded the militia of York Town and its vicinity, on their way to Camp and while at Camp until what was called the flying camp was formed (W. Smith the Colonel was a member of the Congress) Major Swoope was then appointed the Colonel, Robert Stevenson the Lieutenant Colonel, and captain Wm Bailey was appointed the Major of our Regiment - Col. Watts of Cumberland County was appointed the Colonel of the Regiment from Said County, V[ice] Wm Montgomery Esq. was appointed the Col of the Regiment from Chester County - I do not recollect who was made Lieu Col of Watts regiment but his Majors name was Galbraith and who had as I stood informed about one hundred & forty man of the Regiment with him on the day we were taken prisoner, but being a prudent man he kept them out of harms way - except a few of his men, without orders ran to where the fighting was, and acted like men and soldiers and no doubt they all would have done so if their officers had led them on - Lieut Col Bull commanded Col. Montgomery's Regiment from Chester County I do not recollect of seeing Col Montgomery at Camp, Col. Bull was a Quaker Gentleman, and as brave a man as was in the Army - I saw him ride along the whole front of a British Regiment within eighty yards of them when they were firing briskly - And it appeared to me, that he had done it to show the men whom Col. Swoope and others were rallying that the firing of the enemy was not so dangerous as might be apprehended - These three Regiments were commanded by Brigadier Gen John or James Ewing of York County Pennsa

As to where I was born , and my marching with the Militia is answered above, But I was Corporal in Capt. Stokes Company of the flying Camp - And generally done the duty of a Sergeant when on guard, Our Adjutant who on the parade acted in place of our Brigade Major Lieut. Sheriff - Generally placed me when on the parade on the right of the Sergeants, and gave me a separate command - and sometimes I was sent a considerable distance on command for several days - On the 16th day of November 1776 I was taken prisoner at Fort Washington, and taken into New York, and sometime in the month of February 1777, I got a parole to go home, But being a prisoner I did not get a Commission of Ensign as I expected - And most of all the officers with scarcely and exception were superseded, I said at York Town with my father until April 1781 - When I went to Frederick Town Maryland where I resided until after peace was proclaimed and in 1784 I went to Northumberland County in Pennsa where I followed Surveying and called Northumberland County my home until Lycoming County was cut off of a part of it, when I called Muncy in said County my home, in the year 1798 I moved to the neighborhood of Harve de grace in Harford County Maryland, and in the year 1814, I moved to the neighborhood of the district of Columbia, and in October 1816 I moved, where I now reside. VIZ at the vin-yard in the District of Columbia -

Question 5 - State the name of the Regular officers, who were with the troops, where you served: such continental and Militia Regiments, as you can recollect and the General circumstances of your service -

Answer, at this distance of time, I cannot recollect the names of many of our own officers - even in the regiment I served in, which I suppose is owing to their having seldom appeared on parade - of our regiment there was Capt. Stake to whose company I attached myself - his subalterns, were Lieut. Sherriff who was appointed Brigade Major and who had been a schoolmaster in York Town - Lieut. Holzinger a brother-in-law of Col Hartly who commanded one of the Continental regiments during the Revolution - Holtzinger was fellow prentice with Simon Snyder afterwards Governor of Pennsa to Michael Doudle, a tanner

Captain Smiser I only recollect of Lieut. Zachary Shugart his first Lieut. I do not recollect of any of Capt Nelsons subalterns , And of Capt Tretts company I only recollect Ensign Meyers a blacksmith, and who the most uncouth looking man in the army and one of the greatest dunces - Ensign Jacob Barnitz of Stakes company was shot through both legs and lay on the field of battle all night naked, having been stripped by the Hessians or their trulls - He was taken up the next day after the Battle, by those appointed to bring the dead and carried to the hospital in New York - where one leg was cured, and he would not suffer the British surgeons to amputate the other he carried the ball a little below the knee, for thirty two years when it became so painful, he was obliged to have his leg amputated above the knee-

In our Brigade, the sergeants etc with but few exceptions were the most talented and efficient officers in the Brigade -

Before New York was evacuated by our troops our Brigade was sent up North river when we began to erect Fort Lee , Colonel Putnam who I believe was a nephew to General Israel Putnam was the Engineer, who laid it out - I think this was to toward the last of the month of September and after the Battle of White Plains General Greene assumed the command and if my memory is correct he brought two or part of two brigades with him, of New England troops, I think one was called Glovers and I recollect a Colonel Meigs I do not recollect the names of any other officers of these Brigades -

When General Green assumed the Command of the Troops of Fort Lee I was out on command about twenty miles from camp at a bridge over the Hackensack river, where there was a commissary store, And to intercept deserters from our camp, And while I was there And before I had ever seen General Greene and Irishman named Kilpatrick, and who had been in the British service and who came over to us while our troops lay before the City of Boston was the centry[sentry]on the Bridge - General Greene with another Gentleman was passing that way when Kilpatrick stopped him and called for me - I went to the Bridge, Kilpatrick observed here us a Gentleman who says he is General Greene, and your orders to me is not to say frightened, but I handed him my orders, which was written by Brigadier Ewing and endorsed from one Sergeant to another, General Green read them, and then handed them to me a letter from General Putnam introducing him to a Gentleman in the Country, a few miles from the bridge - I told the sentry to let him pass, - After he passed the bridge I told Kilpatrick that he had got me into a pretty hobble, as I was afraid the General might not be pleased with my conduct or being stopped - But Kilpatrick answered this will be the making of your fortune, you may depend on it that the General, will rather approve of then censure you, he added, now we must be prepared to receive him on his return in the best manner we can, We accordingly dressed ourselves as well as circumstances would admit of - And as when he came up to us we presented our arms - He told me to bring the men to an order - He then asked me a number of questions - As to whether any disaffected people were in that neighborhood and what supplies might be got on an emergency etc - To all which I could give him tolerable satisfactory answers - There was an intelligent farmer who lived within forty or fifty rods from the bridge, who was in the habit of coming and sitting with me in the evenings and he gave me the history of the neighborhood for several miles round, with real or supposed disaffected , with its resources - A thing which probably should not have thought of enquiry after, if this old gentleman had not communicated it to me - This command always lasted for a week - General Greene after this always took notice of and frequently spoke to me when I chanced to meet him in Camp or otherwise -

Question 6th - Did you ever receive a discharge from the service; and if so, by whom was it given and what became of it -

Answer- I was taken prisoner at Fort Washington on the 16th - day of November 1776 and I got a parole to go home in the month of February following And I was not notified to do Militia duty until some time in the year 1780, I went and mustered once and I then desired the Captains to inform me what evidence he had of my being exchanged, he said he had none, but that he supposed from the time elapsed since the Capture of Fort Washington he thought it very probable that an exchange of prisoners had taken place - I told him that whenever he could satisfy me that I was exchanged I would be ready to perform militia duty and until he could do that I would not again attend parade, And I never was again called to militia duty -

To an officers? To this I answer that I expected to receive and Ensigns Commission on the 1st day of January 1777, As I understood that on that day the Seventh Pennsa Regiment to be organized and be commanded by Col. Magraw who at that time commanded the 4th Pennsa Regiment, times of service of the men of said Regiment expired on the 1st day of Jan 1777 When twelve Regiments were to be raised in Pennsa and to be newly organized on that day, but the unfortunate of the business at Fort Washington deranged the whole business and the Council of Safety of Philadelphia Superseded and appointed officers in the place of almost all those that has the misfortune to be prisoners to the enemy - Major Otho Holland Williams afterwards General Williams, But there may have been others that I did not know of Col Rawlings who was the Colonel of the Maryland Rifle Regiment and Major Williams superior was superseded - Col. Rawlings was one of the handsomest as well as on the bravest officers in the Army - For he with Major Williams with 309 men of their Regiment a piquet guard of 100 & a Capt Guard 40 men repulsed near ten times their number at least twice and the enemy acknowledged the loss of 600 men - And if it had not been for the British Light Infantry, who formed in near the Hessians, and drove them on our Troops with their bayonets, would have been beat to a certainty, - This I mentioned with some hesitation, as Major Williams did not attend to it or know anything about the British that charged on the Hessians and I was within less then five yards of him when he was wounded I saw Doctor Mc Henry (afterwards Secretary of War) cut out the ball with which Major W. was wounded, as he was setting on a rock exposed to all the fire of the enemy and but a few minutes before the Hessians British charged bayonet on the Hessians -

Question 7th - State the names of the persons to whom you are known in your present neighborhood , and who can testify as to your character for veracity and their belief of your services as a Soldier of the revolution -

Answer, I have know Joseph Nourse, for about forty years - Nathan Lufborough Esq also about forty years - near George Town both of whom I believe will testify as to my veracity -

[One sentence illegible ]

[Possibility pertaining to the date & court seal]


The forgoing Interrogatories are put by me as Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia for the county of Washington to John Adlum after he was duly sworn upon the Holy Epistles of Almighty God and now answered and subscribed to by him as afore set forth before me on the first day of November 1833.

[Signed] W. CRANCH

Ch. Judge of the Circuit Court, etc.

[End document]

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