Lowder and the DAR

A Successful DAR Application!

Back in August 2013, I wrote an article about Lowder Callaway, my 5th great grandfather who fought in the Revolutionary War. To me, this was just a very satisfying family history puzzle to be solved. To my niece, Rebecca, this as an opportunity to join the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Another interesting challenge…
Continue reading “Lowder and the DAR”

Road Trip!

If you want, you can accomplish a tremendous amount of genealogical research without ever leaving your desk, but there’s still a great benefit to getting out of the house and visiting the places where your ancestors lived.

For the past twenty years or so, my family and I have vacationed with friends and acquaintances at Fenwick Island  in Sussex County Delaware every summer.  Most of the time, this vacation is a few weeks of sun and sand, conversations on the beach all day and happy hour at the tiki bar in the evening.  But for the last couple of years, I’ve spent many of my vacation mornings traveling to western Sussex County to  see some of my ancestral stomping grounds.

Road Trip Area 2013I explored several areas this year, but spent most of my time in the triangle of land roughly bounded by the Nanticoke River, Broad Creek, and the line running between Laurel and Concord. This area was (and still is) a major farming area.  During the mid 1800’s, Lewisville (now Bethel, Delaware), Laurel, Seaford and Sharptown, Maryland were part of a major shipbuilding region, constructing the Chesapeake sailing rams designed to move freight on the Chesapeake Bay.  I’ve found several relatives who were involved in the shipbuilding or shipping industry.

I have records of ancestors surnamed Clifton, Callaway and Morgan living in this area back to the mid 1700s, as well as Waller and Lloyd ancestors in more recent years.  You can see several of these family names on the Pomeroy and Beers Atlas map from 1868.

So what was I able to do that couldn’t be done on the Internet?

  • Meet with local genealogists and researchers with an in-depth knowledge of the area.
  • Visit local libraries, historical societies and town halls that have records not available online or in the official archives.
  • Explore local cemeteries and find grave markers not listed on findagrave and see family plots in the context of others buried nearby.
  • Gain an appreciation for the local geography and architecture of area homes and churches.

I was originally draw to this area based on the will of Obediah Smith (~1728 – 1796) who left property to his daughter Margaret (~1750 – ?) and her husband Benjamin Clifton (~1750 – 1820) described as “all of the land called ‘Pine Grove’ on the south side of the Nanticoke River”.  I followed the river roads from the town of Concord to Woodland Ferry (shown as Cannon’s Ferry on the Pomeroy and Beers map), to Phillips Landing to see what the area looked like today.  The picture below was taken at Phillips Landing at the confluence of Broad Creek and Nanticoke River.

Nanticoke Phillips Landing

A Revolutionary Ancestor

Lowder Callaway (1755 – 1834)

His Mark

Lowder Callaway is my 5th great grandfather on my father’s side, born in 1755 and died on July 7, 1834.  He had eight children. His oldest boys, Lowder and Nathan, left Delaware for Ohio between 1815 and 1820.  The other six remained in Sussex County. He had one more son, Stephen, and five daughters:  Polly, Betsy, Sally, Peggy (who married Thomas Thompson) and Ann (who married Obediah Clifton, my 4th great grandfather).

He lived in Broad Creek Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware and farmed in the Laurel-Seaford area. One document I discovered had him receiving correspondence in  Concord, Delaware.  Concord, just east of Seaford, Delaware, is an unincorporated area today.  In the 1868 Beers Atlas of Delaware, however, it was significant enough  to warrant its own map insert and business directory. There are several Callaways to be found on the 1868 Beers Map in the Laurel area.

The 1st Delaware Regiment

BlueHenChickenLowder Callaway was a private in the Revolutionary  war from August 1780 until after the end of the war in May 1783. He served first in Captain Peter Jaquett’s Company with Colonel David Hall’s 1st Delaware Regiment and then with Colonel Henry Neill’s 2nd Delaware Regiment (Militia). Joining the military in 1780, Lowder would have missed some of the more famous battles involving the 1st Delaware Regiment, such as the Battle at Cooch’s Bridge and the Battle of the Brandywine, although he likely would have been at the Siege of Yorktown, Virginia.

Although it has gone through numerous changes and reorganizations over the years, David Hall’s Regiment still exists today as the 198th Signal Battalion in the Delaware Army National Guard, also known as the First Delaware. There is a website devoted to the 1st Delaware Regiment, which is where I found the history of this regiment. Delaware’s State Bird, the Blue Hen,  as well as the “Blue Hen” nickname, originated with Captain Caldwell’s Company of the regiment.  The Blue Hen was used in cock fighting by Caldwell’s Company and became famous for its fighting ability. Like the bird, Caldwell’s troops were  know for their fighting prowess.

Revolutionary War Pension Records

Pension Letter

Most of what I know about Lowder comes from his Revolutionary War Service and Pension Records housed at the National Archives and available at Fold3, a website dedicated to providing access to US Military Records. Lowder applied for a pension under the Revolutionary War Pension Act of 1818.  Prior to this, you needed to be an officer or to be designated as an invalid due to war injuries in order to receive a pension.  Starting March 1818, pensions became available to anyone who served in the Revolutionary War until it ended, or served for at least 9 months and was in “need of assistance”.  Basically, if you had served and could prove you were poor, you could receive a pension.

In his pension application of 1828, Lowder wrote that he had no property:

… except bed, bedding and a few chairs.  I have no particular occupation but work at such occupations as the kindness of charity of my neighbors affords whenever my health, which is very infirm, permits me to labour. My health does not enable me to work half my time, and at great risk and with much suffering when I do work. I have a wife living with me about sixty five years old and a grand child thirteen years old.  The health of my wife is very infirm, and the child too young to contribute to its own support.

He was awarded a pension of $8 per month (officers receive twice that amount), paid from November 25, 1828 until his death on July 7, 1834.

How am I related?

I came upon Lowder’s records quite by chance.  I was searching Fold 3 for revolutionary ware records for one of my Clifton ancestors when I found a reference to my 4th great grandfather Obediah Clifton (1783-1852). At Lowder’s death, he was owed $26.63 in back pension (about $720 dollars today), and his children applied to have the arrears paid to them.  The petition to received these funds identified each of the children, including “Ann [Callaway) who intermarried with Obed Clifton”.  From a death record for one of Obediah’s children, I knew his wife was named Ann.  Like Lowder, Obediah lived in Broad Creek Hundred his whole life and is the only Obediah Clifton found in the Sussex County census and tax records from 1810 until his death in 1852.  With this one record, I found the maiden name of my 4th great grandmother, the identify of my 5th great grandfather, and an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War!

Lowder's Children

An Ann by Any Other Name

I am easily distracted in my family history research.  I might find the name of a minister on a marriage record and go  searching for the churches he was affiliated with.  That, in turn, might lead  to researching the church where the marriage occurred, leading to an investigation of an interesting place name for the church location.  You get the picture.

The Name Mystery

1850 Census Obediah Clifton

Anyway, I was troubled by the name of the wife of my 4th great grandfather, Obediah Clifton (abt 1783 – aft 1850).  In the 1850 Census, the wife of Obediah is identified as ‘Nancy’.  However, the death certificate for Obediah’s youngest daughter (Sarah Clifton)  identifies the mother as ‘Ann’ and the death certificate for Obediah’s older daughter (Nancy Hall Clifton) identifies the mother as ‘Annie’. I also have a military pension record that identifies Obedeiah Clifton’s wife as Ann Callaway.  To keep things neat, I really wanted Nancy and Ann to be the same person.

Know your Nicknames

A shot-in-the-dark Google search for “Ann Nancy Clifton” turned up an unexpected result that eventually led to an answer – Nancy was a common nickname for Ann! A lot of readers probably know this already, but this is new to me. Based on an article from Name Nerds entitled “Where do Our Nicknames Come From?”, i learned that it was once common to affectionately refer to a child or family member by putting the word ‘mine’ in front of the name.  Referring to my daughter you might say “mine Ann”.  Referring to your neighbor’s daughter you might say “thine Ann”. Eventually, the ‘n’ sound was contracted with the beginning of the name to form Nan, Nannie or Nancy.  Similarly, Edward becomes “mine Ed” and eventually ‘Ned’.


Not being one to rely on a single source for any piece of evidence, I eventually found a wonderful book on Google Books with the ponderous title Transactions of the American Philological Association, Volume 23, which includes an article titled “Attraction in English” by Charles P.G. Scott.  Published in 1892, this 126 page article discusses “English Words which have Gaind or Lost and Initial Consonant by Attraction”, attraction being the transfer of the final consonant of one word to the following word. On page 295 of the book he describes how Ann became Nan.

Attraction in English

A little further reading reveals that while Nan derives from Ann, Nancy actually derives from Annis, which is an older form of Agnes (mine Annis – Nannis – Nance – Nancy).  In any case, Nancy was a common nickname for Ann and I can conclude that Nancy Clifton and Ann Clifton are one in the same person.

The moral of the story is that a knowledge of traditional nicknames is useful in genealogical research.  I found the Charles Scott article to be a fascinating read and highly recommend it.  For those looking for a quicker means to an end, Family Search has a wiki list of traditional nicknames that is a great resource.

I have never encountered Philology before this.  Wikipedia defines Philology as ‘the study of language in written historical sources’.  Investigating this a little further, I really think that Philology is a useful minor for anyone majoring in family history.  But I digress…