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Reuben Bramlett of Gallatin/Saline County, Illinois: Revolutionary War Service

By Deborah G. Dennis

Reuben Bramlett’s Revolutionary War pension claim is documented in National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. His pension number is S.30896, and his pension certificate bears the number 7814. (His surname is spelled Bramblet, Bramlett and Bramlet in various pension and estate documents.) He is sometimes confused by family researchers with two other contemporary men named Reuben Bramlett/Bramblett--his first cousins--who were associated with the war in Virginia and South Carolina, respectively. Census data indicate that long after the war these two men lived separately in South Carolina and Georgia during 1818-1840 while the subject of this biographical sketch, their cousin Reuben, lived in Gallatin (now Saline) County, Illinois.1

Reuben’s pension claim provides the exact date and place of his birth--March 15, 1757, in Fauquier County, Virginia, as well as detailed information about his war service. Additional biographical information is provided in a court document filed after Reuben died on September 11, 1844, in Gallatin County, Illinois. His seven children filed a survivors’ application for a final payment of his military pension there on March 21, 1845.2 The record names all seven children and indicates that, at the time of his death, Reuben had lived in Gallatin County, Illinois, for twenty-six years since moving in 1818 from Christian County, Kentucky.

A legal brief filed by W. R. Turner with Reuben Bramlett’s pension application indicates “Reuben Bramblet, County of Gallatin, in the State of Illinois” made his declaration of Revolutionary War service before a court in Gallatin County, Illinois, when he was 75 years old. His service was documented with “traditionary evidence” given in court by Reuben Bramlett and by a clergyman and a neighbor who both stated Reuben was well known as a veteran of the Revolution in the neighborhood where he lived.

A Summary of Reuben Bramlett’s War Service

Reuben Bramlett served as a private in the Virginia Line with General George Washington in Virginia and in South Carolina. Reuben first enlisted in the militia in Fauquier County, Virginia, in September 1777 and served three months as a private under Captain Samuel Blackwell in Colonel Armistead Churchill and Major Francis Triplett’s Regiment. Reuben said he marched with his unit through Maryland to Pennsylvania where they joined General George Washington’s army and were attached to the Third Virginia Regiment. He enlisted again in the spring of 1778 or 1779 in Fauquier County, Virginia, as a private and served three months in South Carolina under Captain William Berry in Colonel Williamson’s Regiment. While stationed at a fort on the Indian Line in northwest South Carolina, Reuben and two other soldiers were taken prisoner there by Tories commanded by Captain or Colonel Boyd when their officers and the other troops were out ranging. Reuben and his comrades were later released and left unharmed when the enemy took supplies and left the fort. After his discharge Reuben returned to Fauquier County and later enlisted there as a private for a third time in June 1781. He served three months under Captain William Triplett and Major/Colonel Francis Triplett before being honorably discharged near the end of the war just before Lord Cornwallis and the British surrendered at Yorktown.

Reuben Bramlett’s Court Deposition

“Declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the act of congress passed June 7th 1832

“State of Illinois}
“Gallatin County}

“On this 5th day of September 1832 personally appeared in open Court before the Hon. Thomas C. Browne Judge of the Circuit Court for the county aforesaid now sitting--Reuben Bramblet a resident of said county in the state of Illinois aged 75 years on the 15th day of Last March who being duly sworn according to Law doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7, 1832. That he entered the service of the United States under the following named officers and served as herein stated. He first volunteered under Capt. Samuel Blackwell of Fauquier County Virginia for the Term of three months in what year exactly he does not recollect but it was the same year of the Battle of Brandywine for he recollects that while out and just after he had joined his Corps he was marched by the Battle ground to join Genl. Washington’s army with whom he remained until his three months had expired. He is pretty sure he volunteered in September of that year. The Col[onel] of the regiment that he started with was of the name of Armstead Churchill but he did not command them long, but went back on the march and the regiment was then conducted to Head Quarters by Maj. Francis Triplet. There was two companies--one commanded by Capt. Harrison (Benjamin he thinks) and the other by Capt. Blackwell. They marched from Fauquier County through Maryland to Pennsylvania where they joined the army under Genl. Washington not more than 15 miles from Brandywine river. After his arrival at Head Quarters they joined the 3d Virginia Regiment. He remembers a Col. Ennis but whether he commanded the 3d Reg[imen]t or not he does not know. He turned out under him to fight the Hessians who had landed on this side of the Schuyeskill but they run and no fight took place. He was discharged at the same place where he joined the army at the end of his 3 months. He volunteered a second time for three months a year or two afterward in the spring of the year under Capt. William Berry to go into South Carolina on the Indian line where he was stationed under Col. Williamson several companies at different places. Col. Williamson commanded them all but was not much with his company which was stationed at a Block House. Their march had been by Orange Court house, Guilford Courthouse, Sal[i]sbury, across Broad river, Catawba river & Inaree [Enoree] river where his time was all but out and Capt. Berry & the whole company, but three, were absent rangeing. Those three of whom this applicant was one were taken prisoners by several hundred Tories under the command of Capt. or Col. Boyd who was proceeding to join the British. He was not taken away but the Tories after taking what they wanted went on & left him & his comrades at the fort & when Capt. Berry returned from his rangeing expedition he was discharged his second Tour of three months being expired. he was in no battle during this Tour nor served with any Continental regiment or company.

“He volunteered for a third term of three months the same year that Cornwallis was taken under Capt. William Triplett son of Maj. Francis Triplett before named. He entered the service this time in the month of June at Fauquier County Virginia and marched through Falmouth and Fredricksburgh to Little York where he joined the main army. He does not remember what regiment he was attached to on this occasion nor the names of his colonel or major, but recollects to have seen there Genl. Wayne and to have been commanded by him--was in no battle being discharged & returned home before the surrender of Cornwallis his three months being out & heard of the surrender of Cornwallis a few weeks after his return.

“He states that he served in all nine months in said three tours of three months each that he has no written or documentary evidence of his services & that he knows of no person living whose testimony he can procure who can testify to his service and he hereby relinquishes 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 & subscribed the day & year aforesaid} Reuben his X mark Bramblet

“Leod. White cl[er]k”

“We, Wilson Henderson a clergyman residing in the County of Gallatin state of Illinois and William Sutton, residing in the same hereby certify that we are well acquainted with Reuben Bramblet who has subscribed and sworn to the above declaration. That we believe him to be 75 years of age that he is reputed in the neighborhood where he lives to have been a soldier in the revolution & that we concur in that opinion.

“Sworn & subscribed the day and year aforesaid} Wilson Henderson Wm Sutton Leod. White cl[er]k”

“And the said court do hereby Declare their opinion after the investigation of the matter and after putting the interrogatories prescribed by the War Department that the above named applicant served as he states and the Court further certifies that it appears to them that Wilson Henderson who has signed the preceeding certificate is a clergyman resident in the County of Gallatin aforesaid and that William Sutton who has also signed the same is a resident in the same County and is a credible person and that their statement is entitled to credit.

“I Leonard White Clerk of the Circuit Court in afor[e] Said County do hereby certify that the foregoing contains the original proceedings of the said Court in the matter of the application of Reuben Bramblet for a pension.

“In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal of office this 5 day of September 1832 Leod. White cl[er]k”

Certificate of Pension

“Reuben Bramblet of Gallatin in the State of Illinois who was a private in the company commanded by Captain Black[well] of the Regt. commanded by Col. Armstead [Churchill] in the Va. line for nine months” was inscribed on the Illinois Pension Roll in 1833. His pension amounted to “30 Dollars 00 Cents per annum, to commence on the 4th day of March 1831.” The certificate of pension was issued on April 6, 1833, and sent to Henry Eddy, of Shawneetown, Illinois, who paid Reuben $75. William R. Palmer, Clerk of the Gallatin County Commissioner’s Court, recorded the payment document in Book E, Volume 8, page 55.

Reuben’s Survivors’ Application for Final Pension Payment

Reuben died intestate on September 11, 1844, in Gallatin County, Illinois. His youngest son, Coleman Brown Bramlet, administered his estate, which was divided between all of his legal heirs, and recorded at the county courthouse. His seven children filed their  survivors’ application for a final payment of his military pension on March 21, 1845:

“State of Illinois}
“Gallatin County}
“Be it known that before me, James Murray, a Justice of the Peace, in and for the said county, personally appeared Benjamin Bramlett,2 Henry Bramlett, Nathan Bramlett, Coleman B. Bramlett, John Bramlett, Margaret Easley, & Elizabeth Baker, and made oath in due form of law that they are the children of Reuben Bramlet, deceased, who was the identical person who was a pensioner and is now dead, and to whom a certificate of pension was issued which is herewith surrendered. That the deceased pensioner resided in Gallatin County with his children for the space of twenty six years before his death, and that previously thereto he resided in Christian County in the State of Kentucky.

“Sworn to and Subscribed before me this 21st day of March, 1845 James Murray, Justice of the Peace
“Benjamin Bramlet3 Henry Bramlet John Bramlet Nathan Bramlet Coleman B. Bramlet Margaret Easley Elizabeth Baker

“Two witnesses who write} John M. Burnett Joseph Easley

“Know all men by these presents that we, Benjamin Bramlett, Henry Bramlett, Nathan Bramlett, Coleman B. Bramlett, John Bramlett, Margaret Easley, & Elizabeth Baker, of the County of Gallatin, State of Illinois, the children of Reuben Bramlett, deceased, who was a pensioner of the United States, do hereby constitute and appoint Erastus Wright our true and lawful attorney for us and in our names to receive from the agent of the United States for paying pensions in the State of Illinois the balance of said pension from the 4th day of March, 1844, to the 11th day of September, 1844, being the day of his death.

“Witness our hands and seals this 21st day of March, 1845 Benjamin Bramlet Henry Bramlet John Bramlet Nathan Bramlet Coleman B. Bramlet Margaret Easley Elizabeth Baker

“Two witnesses who write} John M. Burnett Joseph Easley”

Reuben is listed in Gallatin County census data during 1820-1840.

“Reuben Bramlett,” 82, resident of Gallatin County, Illinois, and head of his family on June 1, 1840, is listed in the 1841 Census of Pensioners, created from the 1840 U.S. Census for Gallatin County, Illinois.

Michael Hillegas Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution at one time placed a copper marker on Reuben Bramlett’s grave in the oldest section of Wolf Creek Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Eldorado, Saline County, Illinois. Elder descendants in the area designated the grave’s location from personal knowledge. The copper marker and its placement was not mapped or documented; and some time later the copper marker was removed, disappeared. Graves for Reuben and Elizabeth are now marked with an inscribed companion stone from the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs installed in the old section of Wolf Creek Cemetery next to the marked graves of their daughter Margaret and her husband, Joseph Easley, and the unmarked graves of some of their family members.

Reuben Bramlett’s name is inscribed with others on a monument honoring Revolutionary War veterans buried in Saline County, Illinois. The monument was first placed on the courthouse lawn there in Harrisburg, Illinois, by Michael Hillegas Chapter D.A.R., in 1931. It was later moved to its current position in Sunset Lawn Cemetery in Harrisburg.

End Notes

1 Reuben Bramlett of Gallatin County, Illinois, is the son of Margaret and Henry Bramlett Jr. and grandson of Henry Bramlett Sr. of Fauquier County, Virginia. Two of his first cousins who share his given name were associated with the Revolutionary War in Virginia and South Carolina: 1) Reuben Bramblett Jr., the son of Reuben and Margaret Bramblett of Virginia and Bourbon County, Kentucky, who served in Elias Edmonds’ Company of the First Virginia Regiment of Artillery commanded by Colonel Thomas Marshall as a paid teamster in Virginia and later filed a pension application (R.1152) in South Carolina in 1832 that was twice rejected, and 2) Reuben Bramblett, the son of William and Elizabeth Bramblett of Virginia and Laurens County, South Carolina, whose Revolutionary War service is suggested in a reference to him as a military pensioner in the 1840 U.S. Census for Gwinnett County, Georgia. There is no other record of his war service. Reuben Jr. (1) moved from Fauquier County, Virginia, to Laurens County, South Carolina, in 1794 and lived there until he died after 1840. His cousin Reuben (2) moved from Laurens County, South Carolina, to Gwinnett County, Georgia, circa 1820 and lived there until he died after 1840. Their cousin Reuben, the pensioner whose service is documented, moved from Christian County, Kentucky, to Gallatin (now Saline) County, Illinois, in 1818 and lived there until he died in 1844.

2 Reuben and Elizabeth (Brown) Bramlett and children all moved from Christian County, Kentucky, to Gallatin County, Illinois. Elizabeth, who died circa 1830 in Gallatin Co., Ill., is the daughter of Mary Coleman and Willliam Brown, according to family tradition. Elizabeth and Reuben’s marriage in Virginia circa 1783 has not been documented due to lost parish records. Elizabeth’s mother and siblings also moved from Christian County, Kentucky, to Gallatin County, Illlinois. (Her brother Coleman Brown was in the territory as early as 1816 and bought land built a blockhouse with brothers there on the site of or near present-day Eldorado.) Elizabeth and Reuben may have moved from Virginia into Tennessee before or after moving by 1787 to South Carolina where several of his relatives had relocated before and after the Revolution. (The 1850 census says his son Henry was born in South Carolina in 1787.) Tax records show Reuben later owned a farm in Kentucky for several years, between 1802 and 1818, before he moved his family to Illinois. Elizabeth predeceased Reuben: She is not enumerated in the 1840 census, nor mentioned in Reuben's pension application and estate records. Their seven children, who are named in Reuben’s pension and 1844-1847 estate records in Gallatin County, are 1) Benjamin, who married his cousin Mary “Polly” Brown in Kentucky and died in 1830 (most likely buried in Wolf Creek Cemetery); 2) Henry, who first married Liddy Stephens (first person buried on Coleman Brown’s land, now Wolf Creek Cemetery) and second married Malinda Easley (buried beside Henry with markers in Bramlet Cemetery), and died in 1865; 3) John who most likely did not marry and died after 1845; 4) Nathan who married Mary “Polly” Upchurch in Illinois in 1820 and died in 1858; 5) Coleman Brown who married Susannah Upchurch in Illinois and died in 1889 (both buried with markers Bramlet Cemetery); 6) Margaret who married Joseph Easley in Christian County, Kentucky, (both buried with markers in Wolf Creek Cemetery); and 7) Elizabeth who married Elijah Baker in Gallatin County in 1829 (deaths and burial places unknown).

3 Benjamin Bramlet did not actually, physically appear in court as stated since he was already deceased. He died of measles circa 1830. His name is included in the court record since he was a child and heir of Reuben. Benjamin’s children are named in their grandfather Reuben Bramlett’s estate records as recipients of their father Benjamin’s share of his father Reuben’s estate.

Author’s Note: Deborah G. Dennis is the sixth-great-granddaughter of Elizabeth Brown and Reuben Bramlett, descending through their son Coleman Brown Bramlet and his wife, Susannah Upchurch. She is a dedicated Bram(b)let(t)(e) family researcher and native of Illinois who now lives in Charleston, South Carolina. For more information, contact