I’ve spent the past week in the Library of Virginia’s Bounty Land Warrant database which is a great place to wile away your hours, reading digitized 19th-century handwritten affidavits and getting eye-strain from squinting. Yet the fruits of such labors are well worth it. In this recent excursion, I had downloaded all of the Bounty Land Warrant files I could find on the Culpeper County, Virginia Colvin men and then began the reading and sorting process, establishing who fit with whom. That task was made easier by the deponents themselves each of whom explained how they knew each other as they testified on each others behalf. And those depositions were critical to their land claim which were themselves how their government rewarded their service during the Revolution. But being entitled to land and receiving it were two different things. When you made your claim, you next had to prove you had actually served. In some cases that process became a trial as veterans, now in their elder years, had to track down old acquaintances and service members and with them recall specific details of their wartime experience. And sometimes the details were fuzzy. Not an enviable task for someone who had served honorably but was paid only in land –and not always the most desirable land — rather than spendable currency. Hence, witnesses were critical to the success of a land claim. In the case of Jeremiah Colvin (1758-1778) who had served in the 10th Virginia Regiment (and had been to Vally Forge,) he had plenty of witnesses in the form of his brothers, each of whom had not only served in a Virginia Company but had survived to tell their tales. But wait, there’s more. In the case of the deposition of his brother, Mason’s Colvin, his testimony not only clearly establishes his sibling relationship to Jeremiah but his order in that relationship as well. Think of it as double-bonus-points. In this digitized deposition, for example, notice how Mason explains he is Jeremiah’s eldest brother. That’s a two-fer, genealogically, speaking and highly valuable when trying to establish sibling order. Better still, Mason makes this same claim for some of his other brothers as well. Thus, documents like these prove their value by helping to clearly establish familial links among colonial Colvins in Revolution-era Virginia.
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- Not Their Father: A Response to the Errant Descendants Ascribed to Mason Colvin b. ca. 1684.
- Neither Heirs nor Marriage Record: The Mysterious Wedlock of Georgia E. Colvin and Robert Franklin McNemer.
- From Your Humble Family Historian. “My Thanksgiving Gratitude Declaration” 2016.
- Yet Too Few Clues: The Alleged Civil War Death of James M. Colvin
- Madison Colvin (1799-1846): Five Sons, But Only One With Male Heirs.
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