Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements

Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life

By: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Four Sons of Repentance Townsend Served in American Revolution

Repentance Townsend who was born about 1712 in Sheffield, England and died about 1794 in Abbeville County, South Carolina had five known sons, four of whom served as soldiers in the American Revolution. The sons were Thomas, Samuel, Andrew, John and Henry. The first four, Thomas, Samuel, Andrew and John, were American Revolution soldiers. Thomas, Samuel and Andrew made applications for Revolutionary pensions in which they delineated their service to their country. Evidently John did not apply for a pension, for no record of his application has been found.

With a first name like Repentance, it was fairly easy to trace the migrations of this ancestor of many in the Townsend line who eventually settled in Union County, Georgia.

He and his wife, Mary Taylor Townsend, who was born about 1716, were in Augusta County, Virginia as early as 1746. It was there that their eldest son, Thomas, was born in 1753. Thomas is important to the Union County, Georgia Townsend line, for it is through this son, Revolutionary soldier, that we trace the links through Thomas’s son, Edward (1789-1860) and Edward’s son, Eli Townsend (about 1810-1849) and Eli’s wife, Sarah Elizabeth (Sally) Dyer Townsend.

From Virginia, Repentance Townsend migrated to Anson County, North Carolina, where his name appears on land documents. Repentance and Mary probably did not move about much in North Carolina but were on land that underwent name changes as new counties were formed there.

A portion of old Anson County became Mecklenburg County in 1762, and then Tryon County in 1768, Lincoln County in 1779, and Gaston County in 1846. The state line between North and South Carolina was in dispute, and part of Gaston County, NC fell into the old Camden District of South Carolina, later called York District. It was from the old Camden District, SC that Thomas, Andrew, Samuel and John, sons of Repentance Townsend, signed up to serve in the American Revolution.

By an act of the US Congress passed June 7, 1832, those who had served in the Revolution were eligible for pensions. Therefore, we see Thomas Townsend, Sr., the eldest of Repentance Townsend’s sons, making application for a pension as an eighty year old man on July 1, 1833, in Habersham County, Georgia, where he then lived. His full affidavit, a lengthy document, is available from the National Archives in Pension Claim Number W3889. In brief, Thomas Townsend served periods as a private in the militia, both as a volunteer and a draftee from 1775 through 1781.

He was granted a pension of $80.00 per year (not quite $7 per month) beginning November 6, 1832, until his death on February 17, 1836 in Lumpkin County, Georgia. After his death, and basing her application on the act of Congress of July 4, 1836, that made provision for the widows of Revolutionary soldiers to draw a pension, Thomas’s widow, Susannah Townsend, on April 8, 1844, applied for benefits. She was then 95 years of age and unable to attend court. Martha Alexander testified to the veracity of Susannah Townsend’s application. Susannah was twice a widow. Her first husband, Thomas Stephens, had been killed by the Indians. Susannah Hamilton Stephens, widow, married Thomas Townsend on December 16, 1778 in Abbeville District, SC. Thomas and Susannah Townsend had these children: Edward (who became the father of Eli who married Sally Dyer), Andrew, Eleanor, and Thomas, Jr.

Did Susannah Townsend, widow of Thomas Townsend, receive the applied-for widow’s benefits from her husband’s service as a Revolutionary War soldier? This writer could not find a record of her receiving a pension.

We have further information on the other three sons of Repentance who served in the Revolution. Samuel Townsend (1755-1849) died in Coosa County, Alabama on May 14, 1849 and was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery. John Townsend (1761-?), likewise, after traveling about rather extensively, ended up as did his brother Samuel, in Coosa County, Alabama. Andrew Townsend (1764-1838) received a pension of $20 a year and died in St. Clair County, Alabama. Henry, Repentance’s fourth son in the Revolution, did not make application for pension. His whereabouts at his death are unknown to this writer.

[Sources: Some Townsends of North Georgia by E. E. Townsend and online documents of pension applications and Revolutionary service.]

c 2009 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published July 30, 2009 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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