If it dresses like a man, and says it’s a man, she must be a woman

Sometimes I find the coolest things hunting and pecking around the interwebs researching my ancestors in an attempt to flesh out their lives. This one was a very convoluted find, because it all started with questions about a probate record for Samuel Billings of Vermont, and ended up in Massachusetts during the Revolutionary War.

So, here’s what happened — I was working on creating a timeline for Samuel, to get a general sense of the whens and wheres, and it turns out that he had been a Captain in Colonel Learned’s 4th Massachusetts Regiment during the Revolutionary War. Upon further research into this regiment I find out that this is the same one that William Shepard took over after Learned died. Cool. Now I know that Samuel served under my 5x great grandfather Col. William Shepard. That, in and of itself, is pretty interesting. But then, this little gem pops up on my radar:

In 1778 Deborah Sampson wanted to enlist in the army as a Continental soldier. But the army said no, because, well, because women can’t serve you silly ninny. So, she disguised herself as a man. She had little difficulty passing as a man because she was 5′ 7″ in height, which was tall for a woman at that time. She ended up serving 17 months in the army, as “Robert Shurtlieff,” (wounded in 1782, honorably discharged in 1783).

Sampson was chosen for the Light Infantry Company of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment under the command of Captain George Webb. The unit, consisting of fifty to sixty, er…, men, was first quartered in Bellingham, Massachusetts and later the unit mustered at Worcester under the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, commanded by Colonel William Shepard.

~~ taken from (and, well, edited a bit by me, a girl has to spice things up a bit): https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Deborah_Sampson
Deborah Sampson statue.

In the town where she died, Sharon, Massachusetts, they have statues of her, buildings named after her, and lots of history honoring her service and life. I seriously doubt that William or Samuel ever knew they being snookered at the time. Good for her! Of course, it would have been even better if the military had said “by all means, the more warm bodies to help us kick English ass, the better.” But they didn’t.

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Is there a Doctor in the house…

In the past month or so, I posted a few pictures I found on Ancestry’s site that were uploaded by users. They were of Franklin Robinson and his wife Susan Landon, both of Grand Isle, Vermont. Well I have never done any research on Franklin, and I don’t have any excuse or reason for that, it just never happened.

So over the holidays, and my lovely two weeks off, I decided to focus on researching Franklin’s side of the family. In my records the information I had on Franklin was from over 10 years ago and mostly gleaned from our cousin who put together the Shaw family book. Not much was said about Franklin, just his parents being listed as Abijah Hall and Beulah H. Billings.
My first thought was why on earth is his father listed as HALL when he is a ROBINSON. I have to admit that is was probably just an error in data entry on someone’s part and as I was just entering the data mindlessly, I didn’t really analyze it at the time.
I do know that Beulah married Abijah in 1796 when Franklin was about 4-5 years of age and he wasn’t adopted by Abijah because he went by ROBINSON his whole life. Local histories indicate he was a descendant of the Robinson’s of Bennington County, Vermont, but there are, as of yet, no records that tell just which ROBINSON that was. So, for now, his father is still a mystery.
His mother on the other hand was the daughter of a BILLINGS and a FAY, and there was much information on her and her family to be found online and in books. And it is through the FAY line that we run into Richard PALGRAVE (apparently an official descendant of Charlemagne, but that’s not important now).
Richard was born about 1593. He arrived in Charletown by 1629, which we know because his signature on a document signed by all the inhabitants of the town at that time is quite clear, it shows up third in the list:

Signature of Richard Palgrave

He is the first doctor I have come across in my research on our ancestors and will probably be the only one. The author George A. Moriarty wrote that “[h]e was a quiet man who minded his own business, got into no trouble, and buried himself in his profession.” According to his inventory of property after his death in 1651 he was worth £313, which made him well to do. The quality of his signature also indicates a good education.

His daughter Mary married Roger WELLINGTON. Their granddaughter married into the FAY family.
Richard’s other claim to fame is also being the ancestor of the Bushes. Our second link as cousins – shudder.