Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Unexpected Ancestor – A Hessian Soldier

I have found lots of Revolutionary Soldiers in my family tree. They’ve fought for NY, and fought for Ct, and fought for NJ and fought for MA – but I never expected to find one that fought for both sides. However, with the help of a cousin in California (Peter Fagan) I have discovered a new ancestor – a Hessian Soldier that also fought for CT.

I’ve been stuck on my Osborn line for a long time. The furthest back I could get was John Osborn who died March 4th 1848 and His wife Elizabeth _____ who died March 27th 1847. Getting that far back took help from a cousin in NY (Don Osborne) and some research as well. John and Elizabeth are buried in the Pierce Buring Ground, west of Pawling, NY. However I could find no clue as to the father of John nor any information on Elizabeth’s family.

After talking with Pete, I know now Elizabeth’s last name is Rhinevault. Her father William Rhinevault fought in the Revolutionary War. He filed for a pension after the war and I have obtained part of the pension file. This gives me all kinds of information including a family record of births, marriages and deaths for John Osborn’s family.

William Rhinevault states in his pension he was a Hessian soldier in Burgoyne’s army and was captured at Saratoga. This group of about 5,900 soldiers were supposed to be shipped back to Britain, but the colonists realized sending them back would make it possible for the British to send new troops in return. As a result, this group of soldiers were kept prisoner here for the duration of the war and came to be known as the ‘Convention Army’.

The Convention Army was marched through Massachusetts to Boston, and then through Ct, NY, PA, and other points south on their way to Virginia. The pension file does not say if William Rhinevault was one of many soldiers to disappear into the local population along the way, or if he was one of the ones offered his freedom if he fought with the colonists. He came to enlist one way or another in CT in the spring of 1780 as a private in Capt. Ten Eyck’s company, Colonel Webb’s CT Regiment, and after about a year, was transferred to Capt. Timothy Taylor’s company in Colonel Heman Swift’s CT Regiment, and there served until the spring of 1783.

Further Research into other records reveals William Rhinevault is most probably Wilhelm Reinwald, a soldier of the Brunswick troops, Regiment van Rhetz, Company van Ehrenkrook, born at Frankfurt/Main, age 19 years, 6 month (this record most likely recorded sometime in middle of 1779, which would make his year of birth appr. 1760) Religion: Evangelical, was at that time single, size 5' 2 3/4", He deserted on 24. July 1778 from the Winter Hill Barracks near Boston. This information seems to indicate he was from the Hesse-Hanua area which is where the description “Hessians” come from.

William Rhinevault married Mary Spencer, April 11, 1782 in Fredericks, Dutchess County, NY. This location is now known as Patterson, Putnam County, NY. I have no further information on Mary Spencer’s family. She and William later settled in New Fairfield, Fairfield County, CT. William’s Daughter, Elizabeth (Betsey) married John Osborn Nov 21 1804, the same day as Susanna Rhinevault married Ebenezer Osborn according the Fairfield County Marriage records.

The Pension file names John and; Elizabeth’s children: Sally, Mary, Phebe, Benjamin, Northrup, Daniel, George W, John, Abby Jane, and William. It lists their death dates which match the tombstones in Pawling, and also says John is the son of Benjamin Osborne and Sally _____. Although it gives Sally’s birthday of 13 Dec 1765, it doesn’t give any clues as to her last name. So although I’ve gained some generations on this family I have some new mysteries to solve as well.

The Hessian Soldier is related to me this way:
William Rhinevault, father of
Elizabeth Rhinevault Osborn, mother of
George Washington Osborne, father of
James Paulding Osborn, father of
Isabel Osborn Ryea, my great-grandmother.

He is my Great, great, great, great, great-grandfather.

Pension File for William Rhinevault
Abstracts of Rev. War Pension Files
Family Record collection of Don Osborne
Personal Records of Peter Fagan
Hessian Records of J. H. Mertz
A short history of the Slocums, Slocumbs and Slocombs of America by CE Slocum
Old gravestones of Dutchess County by JW Poucher