As promised, here is the first of 3 Declarations of Morris County Militia men concerning their activities during the Revolution. I engaged in some minor editing, mainly breaking it down to paragraphs, and adding some incidental punctuation. This copy was a bit dark, and I could not make out some words here and there; they are noted as (?).
Declaration of John Esler, July 5 , 1838 age 89
I was personally acquainted with William Willis in times of the Revolutionary war and before it broke out. He and his brother Joseph Willis came form New England and worked for Col. Saml. Ogden at Boonton in Morris County at the Iron works & on the farm. I lived on the other side of the Rockaway river , which divides Hanover & Pequanock townships & distante from Willis about two miles.
We often were together & I often saw him perform Militia duty under Capt. Ward & Capt. Hale at various places. I was in Capt. Jacobus and Capt. Miner's company, and we were often together on guard duty along the lines & under the same Regimental officers.
I think the first time I saw William Willis on Militia duty was in the City of New York, when we were engaged in building forts for defense of the City. It was early in the spring-in March & before the war was begun & before the enemy took (?). I am not certain whether it was in the year '75 or '76. Willis was in the same company with me and Col. Munson I believe commanded the Regiment.
We were engaged in this duty a month & then we were marched to Amboy where we were engaged a month performing guard duty before we were discharged. I recollect Willis another month on Militia duty at Elizabeth town under Colonel Munson, when Gen'l Washington with his army retreated through Jersey and the British followed closely on his rear, as far as New Brunswick . The Militia fell in the rear of the army & beyond Brunswick they (?) off Westward & Northward & returned to Morris County by Baskingridge. Willis was with us at the battle with the enemy at Springfield in December 1776, in Capt. Hale's company when we all performed guard duty upon the lines near Elizabeth town & Springfield. Gen'l Heard commanded Militia at the battle (?) Hessian prisoners were taken.
Willis enlisted under Capt. Hall early in January '77, as I believe, to form 3 months , which engagement he fulfilled. Col. Seely commanded the Regiment & the 3 months were engaged in defending the Country around New Brunswick & Amboy against the British then in winter quartes there & on Staten Island. Gen'l Winds , Col. Munson & Col. Seely were (?) had his quarters near Quibble town. I was at (?) & (?) a month under Col. Seely in Capt. Miner's company & I recollect William Willis on the same duty (?) company in the fall of the year '77, as I believe.
He was with us at Monmouth in the summer of 1778 under Col. Seely in Capt. Ward's company & performed guard duty there & along the sound opposite Staten Island (?) months.
I was with him a month near Hackensack & in a skirmish with the enemy at a little fort on the hill called Pollifly under the orders of Gen'l Winds, Cols. Seely & Hathaway, in Capt. Ward's company.
I was with him at the battle at Acquackanonck bridge, in which Gen'l Winds commanded the Militia , aided by Cols. Hathaway, Frelinghuysen, Seely & Hays. He was in Ward's company.
He was with me a month guarding the stores at Morristown & the prisoners in the jail in the latter part of November under Capt. Mandeville. The tour at Hackensack & Pollifly Hill was in the spring season & the fight at Acquackanonck was in the fall season, I think in September.
Willis was with us at the skirmish at Connecticut farms in May 1780 when the Church & village were burnt. He was in Capt. Ward's company & Gen'l Winds was in command of the Militia; Colonels Dayton & others of the army. He was stationed a month near Elizabeth town , guarding the lines in that neighborhood.
I saw him also at the battle of Springfield in the summer following under the same officers when he performed the same duties, guarding the lines between Springfield & Elizabeth town a month.
I recollect seeing Willis when the alarm came that the Pennsylvania line had revolted. I believe he was then under Capt. Ward's orders & I under Capt. Miner's in the spring season. We were near (?) and were detailed not less than two weeks.
I was also well aquinted with William Willis' wife before & after their marriage. She was Phebe Wilson. They were married and lived together as husband & wife & had one or two children before the war began. After living together about 20 years, Willis died, & his widow maried Barnabas Winds, who lived after this marriage but a year or two, when he died , & his widow married Aaron Kitchell, about the year 1808 or 1809, who died in the year 1820. When he died , & the said Phebe still remains his widow & is the same woman who is said to be an applicant for for a pension.
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