Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge: write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.
Scamming old people is nothing new. My 4X great-grandfather William Pendleton HERNDON was the victim of a scam at the hands of the very people who were supposed to represent his interests.
Until William Herndon applied for a pension for service to his country, he lived a rather ordinary life. He was born in Albemarle County, Virginia in 1764, one of twelve children born to Edward and Mary Ann Gaines HERNDON.
William was just sixteen when he joined the militia in Culpeper County in the war for independence from England. He served three tours of three months each. He saw action early. Soon after enlisting, he found himself in the Battle of Petersburg under the leadership of Captain Ambrose Bohannon and General Peter Muhlenberg. The militia was outnumbered 2 to1 but they put up a good fight giving General Lafayette time to entrench the Regulars in Richmond, thus saving the city from another assault.
The militia removed to Chesterfield Court House, and from there William returned home after his three-month obligation was complete.
The second time he was drafted, William spent much of his time near Richmond at Morbin Hills and Camp Holly where he was regularly in the company of Lafayette and Muhlenberg. The conversations around the campfire must have been charged with emotion and patriotism, so inspiring for young boys like William. He was only 16 and in the presence of the very leaders who would become our nation’s heroes.
His final tour was in Fredericksburg and Germanna. In 1781 at age 17, he was discharged and returned to Culpeper County and to farming.
|From Herndon Family Bible|
List of William and Mary's children
part of William's pension application
Fast forward to 1832. Congress approved the Act of June 7, 1832, which extended pension benefits to those who had served during the Revolutionary War. The terms provided that officers and enlisted men who served two or more years would get full pay for life; men who served less than two years but at least 6 months were granted pensions of less than full pay. Benefits were payable regardless of financial need or disability; furthermore, widows and children could collect unpaid benefits.
William contacted the local pension agent, Charles Gibbs, who told him he did not qualify since he had not served six consecutive months. So William gave up the idea of applying for a pension. Unfortunately Mr. Gibbs misunderstood the law; it actually did not require that service be continuous.
Twelve years later, the pension agent Coleman Payne in Greene County, where William was then residing, informed William that yes, indeed, his claim for a pension was good. Payne set himself up as William’s representative to receive payments in his name and then pass the money on to William.
Trust the man in charge – that’s what many people do. And that’s what William did. Whether paying Payne HALF the allotted amount was William’s idea of fairness or Payne’s fee is not recorded in the pension file. But William discovered the deal was not a good one.
|from complaint against Coleman Payne|
Justice did not come quickly if it came at all. In January 1847, William appointed Thomas S. Thornton to be his agent to do two things: collect the pension due him and to get his pension certificate back from Coleman Payne who was withholding it illegally. When Thornton confronted Payne, Payne claimed he had no papers for Herndon because his claim had been rejected.
It is not clear whether William Herndon actually received the pension due him. He died seven months later.
William Pendleton HERNDON ( 29 Feb 1764 Albemarle Co, VA – 12 Aug 1847 Greene Co, VA ) & Mary RUCKER (23 Mar 1763 Culpeper Co, VA – 26 Feb 1835 Orange Co, VA ) 28 Nov 1785 Virginia
1. Edward HERNDON ( 13 May 1787 Orange Co, VA – May 1866 Orange, VA ) & Mary BRADLEY 19 Oct 1822 Orange, VA
2. James HERNDON ( 23 Jan 1789 Orange Co, VA – 07 Dec 1857 Madison Co, VA ) & Esther FERNEYHOUGH (1803 – 1892 Madison Co, VA ) 30 Dec 1823 Madison Co, VA
3. Ezekial HERNDON ( 07 Dec 1790 Orange Co, VA – About 1845 Rockingham Co, VA ) & Sarah JONES (1794 Virginia – Jul 1869 Oskaloosa, IO) 19 Jan 1821 Orange County, VA
- Manson W. HERNDON ( 18 Oct 1821 Rockingham Co, VA – 11 Dec 1899 Adair, McDonough, IL) & m1) Minerva PENCE ( 1828 – 1846 ) 1843 Illinois ; & m2) Margaret REXROAT ( 30 Jul 1829 – 28 Nov 1899 McDonough, IL ) 12 Aug 1847 Illinois
- Nancy HERNDON ( 1823 Rockingham Co, VA – )
- Susannah HERNDON ( 1825 Rockingham Co, VA – )
- Mary J. HERNDON ( 1827 Rockingham Co, VA – ) & John H. HARMAN ( 1828 Virginia – )
- Allen A. HERNDON ( 09 Sep 1831 Rockingham Co, VA – 20 Feb 1863 Nashville, TN ) & Frances M. CAVE ( 1833 Rockingham Co, VA – 14 Jul 1893 McDonough, IL )
- Sarah A. HERNDON ( 1832 Rockingham Co, VA – 19 Mar 1893 Rockingham Co, VA ) & Franklin RUCKER ( 1824 Madison Co, VA – 05 Nov 1880 Rockingham Co, VA ) 15 Sep 1851 Rockingham Co, VA
4. Elizabeth HERNDON ( 06 Jun 1792 Orange Co, VA – After 1850 ) & Benjamin CASON 17 Dec 1818 Madison Co, VA
5. Mary Pendleton HERNDON ( 02 May 1794 Orange Co, VA – )
6. Abner HERNDON ( 22 Jan 1796 Orange Co, VA – )
7. Rachel HERNDON ( 25 Aug 1797 Orange Co, VA – )
8. William HERNDON ( 29 Jun 1799 Orange Co, VA – )
9. Patrick Henry HERNDON ( 09 Sep 1800 Orange Co, VA – 10 Mar 1851 Logan, OH ) & Elizabeth LLOYD ( 1807 Virginia – 15 Feb 1878 Logan, OH )
10. Manson HERNDON (29 Jun 1802 Orange Co, VA – After 1880 Albemarle Co, VA ) & Frances Ann RHODES
11. Joel HERNDON ( 27 Jul 1804 Orange Co, VA – )
12. Thomas HERNDON ( 29 Jun 1807 Orange Co, VA – )
NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. Record Group 15. National Archives, Washington DC. Digital images. Fold3. http://www.fold3.com : 2014.
© 2014, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.