James Whitecotton, Kentucky Soldier

James Whitecotton was born March 14, 1750 in Stafford, Virginia to George Whitecotton and Mary Harris. James married Ruth Newton Hudspeth about 1771, there is some confusion about Ruth’s name, but it appears Newton was her maiden name and Hudspeth a married name. Ruth was also born about 1750 and died sometime after 1840 when she signed an affidavit in which she stated she was then 75 years old, but that date does not match up with the birth of her children so it is more likely she was at least 85 years old in 1840. There are no records found of Ruth Whitecotton after 1840.

James and Ruth had 10 children, all of whom lived to adulthood and married. They have thousands of descendants roaming around the world. My own circle of known descendants numbers in the hundreds itself.

In 1776, James enlisted as a Private in Captain William Fountain’s Company in Virginia. Serving under Colonel Charles Scott, this company marched across Virginia near what is now Norfolk, at that time it was known as Long Bridge or Great Bridge. On December 9, 1775 the company engaged in battle with the British. The bridge was on the main road connecting Virginia to North Carolina, a very important and strategic holding for the Continental Army. James Whitecotton fought in this battle and was part of the victory forcing the British to evacuate Norfolk and later to totally retreat from Virginia. This defeat caused the British to lose their supporters in Virginia and was a huge victory for the Continental Army.

In 1778, James Whitecotton re-enlisted under General George Rogers Clark. If you are not from Indiana or Kentucky, the name George Rogers Clark probably has no great meaning, but in those areas Clark is revered to this day. General Clark was the brother of William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame). Under Gen. Clark, James Whitecotton was in the company that marched from Kentucky to Kaskaskia, Illinois. They were then able to capture Vincennes, Indiana from the British. George Rogers Clark and his company of men fought on the Northwestern frontier and marched across much of Indiana and Illinois fighting the British and their allies, the Native Americans.

By 1800, James and Ruth with their children, had moved to Kentucky. They settled in Washington County, near Bardstown. James and Ruth did not own slaves, but I doubt it was for ideological reasons, but more likely because of lack of funds and resources. From 1800 through 1840, James can be found listed in the U.S. Federal Census in Washington and later Marion Counties (Marion was formed from part of Washington County in 1834).

When we think of James marching across Virginia to Kentucky to Illinois, I think many times we picture these places as we’ve seen them today. However, once we realize that there were no troop transport trucks, no airships, no roads, we see things differently. In 1776, these men walked hundreds of miles through brush and briars, finding their food along the way. They rowed boats down the Ohio River and waded through creeks and swamps, evading both human and animal prey. The hardships were enormous and difficult as they spent days and nights in the open and endless time away from their families.

While in Kentucky, I visited Lebanon National Cemetery where James Whitecotton was laid to rest. I stood on the Ohio River bank and tried to imagine crossing it in 1778. I visited the home of George Rogers Clark and wondered if James had been there at some time in the past. I wonder what James and Ruth thought as their children began to move from Kentucky to Missouri and their descendants moved even further west. James Whitecotton, a Kentucky soldier, died on June 7, 1849 in Pleasant Run, Kentucky. He was 99 years old. James and Ruth Whitecotton were my 6th Great-grandparents. Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Patriot Index #1966, Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) Patriot Index #P-318654. I obtained much of my information through my own research, however I did also use the resources provided by Bettysgenealogyblog.

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