Henry Bolton (c1759-1846), Kidnapped, Revolutionary War Veteran, 52 Ancestors #45

Henry Bolton is a bit of a conundrum. On one hand, we know a lot about him, especially after he settled in Botetourt County, Virginia.  We know something about him when he immigrated, and we know nothing, or almost nothing, about his life before that except for misty shreds of oral history.

My line of the Bolton family descends through Henry’s second wife, Nancy Mann, through son Joseph Preston Bolton, through his son Joseph “Dode” Bolton, through his daughter Ollie Bolton who married my grandfather, William George Estes. The Joseph Preston Bolton family, along with three of Joseph’s siblings, moved from Giles County, VA to Hancock County, TN in the mid-1840s and Henry’s descendants are found in both Hancock and Claiborne County, Tennessee.  Of course, there are also many scattered to the winds today.

The Bolton family in Claiborne and Hancock County formed a family association in about 1900 and through at least the 1990s, had regular, annual meetings. In that area, these often took place over Memorial Day weekend, known as “Decoration Day” and were spent, in part, tending to family cemeteries.  Often, you have several events to attend on that same weekend and many people intentionally ‘came home’ at that time.  Finding a hotel anyplace in that vicinity was impossible during that timeframe.

The fact that there was a family association of some sort was extremely beneficial, because it allowed the family to preserve pictures and stories of the earlier generations.

Given that Joseph Preston Bolton only died in 1887, and his son, Dode, in 1920, you’d think that both of those men would have known about the early life of Henry Bolton, and passed those stories to their children. There is a story, as told in the Bolton Family History published in 1985 by the Bolton Family Association, but it is frustratingly sketchy.

Henry Bolton Sr. was born in 1755 and died November 24, 1846. There are several stories, somewhat different, as to how the two brothers, Henry and (Condery) Conrad came to America.

Reports from the family members, Mrs. Holt, late of Arizona and Mrs. Bunker of Iowa, say that Henry Sr. and his brother Conrad came from London, England around 1770-1774. Someone was showing the boys the scenes at the harbor when suddenly the vessel started to move out to sea.  The boys felt that they were tricked into being on the boat.

When they landed in America, the boys were taken to a farm near Hagerstown, Maryland and were bound out to a Mr. Moore for a number of years to pay for their passage to America. Their duties consisted of caring for Mr. Moore’s horses.

One day while Henry was thus employed, a stranger came to look at Mr. Moore’s horses with the idea of obtaining horses for the Continental Army, which was encamped near Hagerstown. The gentleman told Henry that if he would join the Army, he would no longer be bound to Mr. Moore.  The next day Henry went to the place where the soldiers were camped and joined the Army.  He saw the gentleman with whom he had talked the day before and to his surprise, learned he was General George Washington.  He served under him until the end of the war.  This is documented in the Pennsylvania State Archives, Philadelphia County Militia 6th Services, Vol 1, page 799.

Henry took part in the battle of Brandywine and during this battle he was wounded in the hip and as a result of this wound, he walked with a limp. After the battle, he was laid across a cannon and taken from the battlefield.  The battle of Brandywine was fought near Chad’s Ford, Pennsylvania, September 11, 1777.

Henry never received a pension because his papers were lost in a fire during the War of 1812, some say the Hagerstown fire, some say when the British buried the White House.  “He was with the Fourth Battalion of Philadelphia Co., Pa, Eight Company, under Captain Isaiah Davis.  8th Class under William Coats  – Henry Boulton.”

According to the books written about the Bolton families of England, Boldon, Bolton, Boulton, and Bolten were all common variations of the name which was Anglo-Saxon in the first place.

We still hear a great deal of Anglo-Saxon English in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky. “Have you eaten?” is the way we ask the question in mainstream American English.  “Have you et?” is the way it would be said in most of England, even in sophisticated households.  This is our true Anglo Saxon we sometimes sound like those of the British rather than those of the mainstream English.

Since the formative years of English language, irregular verbs have given its users more trouble than any other part of our speech. Mountain speech has preserved some of these different forms.  We don’t’ hear them as much as we did a few years ago.  We still hear expressions as : halp or holped for helped; clumb for climbed; seen or seed for saw; fotch for fetched; was borned for born; wropped for wrapped and on and on.  The use of more than one negative to make a strong statement has always been common in the Germanic language and English is much more Germanic than it is anything else.  Chauser, six centuries ago used double negatives, we have found some of the older Boltons closer to Chaucer in some respects than to the “Latin Learning” halls of learning.  So whether it was English or German, brothers often spelled the name differently in the old days when spelling was not formalized anyway.

In Passengers to America, 1977, by Michael Tepper, page 366, we find the statement that Henry Bolton, age 15 and his brother Condery, age 16, immigrated from the Port of London, England to Maryland between March 13 and 20, 1775 on the vessel Culbert. Both were listed as laborers and being indented servants for 7 years.

After the close of the Revolutionary War, Henry Bolton Sr. married Catherine Chapman, August 17, 1786. They had six children: Elizabeth, Catherine, Mary “Polly”, Jacob, Peter and Sarah.  Catherine Chapman Bolton died, August 17, 1798.

The files in the state library in Harrisburgh, PA reveals the following: There is an indexed in the published Pennsylvanian Archives a marriage of Henry Bolton of Swedes Church (Gloria Dei), Philadelphia, the church may have the complete record.

Here in Pennsylvania, their first child, Elizabeth Bolton was born on November 6, 1787. She married Absolem C. Dempsey on October 26, 1809.  This is listed on page 677 in the original Henry Bolton Bible.

In the 1790 census of Washington County, MD, both Henry and his brother Conrad are listed as heads of families. Henry is listed with one free male over 16 and one free while male under 6 and two free white females and one other free person. Page 117

At the time of the 1810 census of Botetourt County, VA, Henry Bolton is listed as head of a family with 3 males under 10, 1 male age 10-16, 1 male age 16-20, 1 male 45 and up, 3 females age 0-10, 1 female age 10-16, one age 26-45. Page 52.

Henry’s first wife Catherine Chapman Bolton died on August 17, 1789 and he married Nancy Mann on April 5, 1799. This is recorded on page 403 of the Annals of Southwest Virginia by Lewis P. Summers.  Marriage bond was signed by James Mann.

We don’t know the exact date, but sometime after the first census in 1790, Henry Sr. moved to Botetourt County, VA. He and Nancy Mann Bolton lived several years at Pearisburg, Giles Co., VA.  Giles County was formed in 1806 from Montgomery, Monroe, Tazewell, Gray, Mercer and Wythe Counties.

Henry’s Bible still had a small valentine “tucked” between the pages in 1972. Nelle Patterson Serry, daughter of Elyan Bolton Patterson, owner of the Bible told the story that it was from his sweetheart.  It had something written on it in the German language.

In personal appearance, Henry Bolton Sr., was a large, tall man, but a very gentle man.

In addition to his children, he “raised” Sarah Bolton, the daughter of his brother Conrad. The parents of Sarah both died rather young.

In the 1790 federal census, Washington County, MD on page 118, Conrad Bolton was listed as head of a household with 1 free white female. Then in the 1810 census of Botetourt County, page 52, Conrad is listed, one male 45 and up, one free female 0-10, one free female 26-45.  The census of 1830 doesn’t show Conrad.

In the census of 1810 and 1820 reveal that Henry and Conrad are listed as heads of family living in Botetourt Co., Va. In 1830, 1840 and 1850 lists Henry as living in Giles County.

In the back of this book, pages 148 and 149, we find pictures of the Henry Bolton Bible. These pages were subsequently used for DAR membership.

Henry Bolton Bible

Henry Bolton Bible2

The entries are transcribed as well on pages 150 and 151 and given in the table later in this article.

As it turns out, this cannot be the original Henry Bolton Bible, although the family in Claiborne County refers to it as such. Also as unfortunately, the DAR has it included in Henry’s file as “the Henry Bolton Bible,” even though it can’t be the original.  How do we know?

First and foremost, the Bible’s publication date of 1811 is many years after some of the entries, so it’s obvious that this was a later Bible and the entries from an earlier Bible were probably copied into this one.

I ordered Henry’s DAR application, years ago, and it is quite a mess. It appears that someone reused an application for a different ancestor.  There is nothing on the application that we don’t have from another source.

The Bolton book discusses two Bibles and refers to this one as “the original Henry Bolton Bible”, then says the following:

The one called ‘The Polly Bolton Bible’ was taken to the San Juan Islands by James Francis Bolton and George Bolton, sons of Peter and Polly. James F. copied the genealogical pages out of the old Bible before taking it to the San Juan Islands for his sister Adaline Capman Bolton (Ensign.)  Later his niece Marguerite Francis Wright, daughter of Mary Bolton Wright, copied Adalin’s records.  She then copied it again for Jane Virginia Berringhausen Sarnoff.  Marguerite has this copy notarized.  Jane Virginila Sarnoff has the notarized copy at this time.

I obtained a copy of a book, years ago, written about the Peter Bolton family who undertook the long wagon trip to Cedar County, Iowa in 1855. This was so long ago the copy is on slippery copy paper.  Peter Bolton married Mary Fall or Falls in January 13 or 16, 1822 in Fincastle, Botetourt Co., VA.  The license was dated December 26, 1821.  They moved to Giles County about 1830 and then on October 1, 1855 they sold their land on Big Stony Creek near Pearisburg in Giles County, and moved to Cedar County, Iowa, joining William Henry Bolton, Peter’s younger brother who had settled there in 1836.

In this book, they too discuss two Bolton Bibles. One of the two Bolton Bibles they discuss is called the “Polly Bolton Bible,” Polly being the wife of Peter Bolton, the second son of Henry Bolton.  However, their second Bible is actually a copy of this Bible that was made and then taken to the San Juan islands.  The author states that the Polly Bolton Bible was the one taken to the San Juan Islands, and the Peter Bolton Bible is the copy that remained in Iowa, and that was the copy subsequently notarized.  The author has that notarized copy.  There is yet a third Bible in Iowa that was copied from one or the other as well.  She has compared the two Iowa Bibles and the Polly Bolton Bible includes information about Henry Bolton’s other children, while the other does not.  The Peter Bolton Bible includes more information about Peter’s children and descendants.

Copies of the Bible pages are included, but I am not reproducing them here. The Bible was printed in Philadelphia by Jesper Harding who printed Bibles from 1829-1859, so we know from this date and from the history of the Bible that this one is newer than the Claiborne County one.  The handwriting is the same in all of the older entries as well.

So this brings us to a total of four Bolton Bibles, the 1811 Bible being the oldest.

The author then states that she received a letter in 1974 from Elyan Bolton about the “original” Henry Bolton Bible, which is the Bible referred to in the Claiborne County Bolton Family book. She speculates that perhaps the Bible they have is the Bible of Catherine Chapman, Henry’s first wife.  Unfortunately, that isn’t a possibility for either Bible with publication dates of 1811 and 1829-1859.  Catherine died in 1798, before these Bibles were printed.

What follows is the text of the notarized copy of the Iowa Bolton Bible.

This is a copy of Frances Wright’s copy taken from the Bible of Mary Bolton (Polly) who was born May 6, 1796 and died in 1875. The copy was made by Jams Francis Bolton, son of Mary and Peter Bolton for his sister Adeline Bolton Ensign, before he took the Bible to Lopas Island.

Mary was the wife of Peter Bolton. They were married in Pearsburg (sic) in Giles County, Virginia and came to Tipton Co., Iowa in 1854.

Frances Wright, daughter of Mary Frances Bolton Wright made this copy from that of my great Aunt Adeline Ensign.

Henry and William Bolton started from England to America with their parents in 1751 – or there about. They suffered shipwreck and Henry and William alone survived.  They both enlisted in the US Army.  William was never again heard of by Henry.  The name has originally been Bolder but was changed accidentally and thru shyness to correct officers during army enlistment.

Henry settled in Virginia and founded the family. He was married twice.

Henry Bolton born Nov. 24, 1741 – England

Died in 1846 – ages 105 years

Married Catherine Chapman who died in 1798

Married Nancy ? in 1799, died 1842

Obviously, some of this is incorrect or incomplete, based on records that we do have, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely incorrect.

I am listing Henry’s children and other individuals from the Bibles in the table below. One column is from from the Claiborne County Bolton Bible, a second from the Iowa Bible and a third with any additional information.

  Henry Bolton Children with Catherine Chapman Claiborne County Bible Birth Iowa Bible Birth Additional Information
1 Elizabeth Born Nov. 6, 1787, married Oct 26 to Absolum Dempsey Nov. 6, 1787 Married in 1809, died in 1874
2 Catherine June 17, 1789 Married Daniel Wrightsman March 7, 1815, died after July 1862 Washington Co., TN
3 Mary March 15, 1791- d 1809 Died Nov 25, 1809
4 Jacob April 27 1793 Married Virginia Inksell March 20, 1816, died Nov. 25, 1859, Georgia
5 Peter Sept. 28, 1796 – d 1888 Married Mary “Polly” Falls Dec. 20, 1820, died Mar. 7, 1858, Cedar Falls, Iowa
6 Sara Sally, died April 15, 1798 Sept. 15, 1797 – d Sept 10, 1798 Alternate birth is 1795
7 Children with Nancy Mann
8 Henry Jan. 11, 1800 Married Sept. 7, 1826 Elizabeth Obenchain, died before April 20, 1875
9 Margaret June 1802 Married Jacob Keister Feb. 23, 1824
10 George Dec. 24, 1804 Married Margaret Duncan Jan. 29, 1828
11 Sara 1806
12 William Nov. 10, 1807 Also known as William Henry, died 1863/1864 Cedar Co., Iowa
13 Patrick Oct. 21, 1809
14 Patsy Oct. 21, 1809 Martha Patsy, married George Pearis French Nov. 26, 1828, died after 1880
15 Nancy Oct. 21, 1809 Oct. 30, 1811 Married Thompson Harvey Peters March 18, 1830, died 1855
16 Christine Sept. 9, 1812 Married July 24, 1833 to Oliver Cline Peters, died after 1880
17 Christinery Month illegible, 6th, 1813 Same as above
18 Joseph July 28, 1816 July 18, 1814 Born July 28, 1816, married Mary Tankersley March 26, 1838, died Dec., 28, 1887 Claiborne Co., TN.
19 John B. 1814 July 30, 1816 Born July 30, 1814, married Sarah F. Tankersley June 29, 1835, died 1864 Cedar Co., Iowa, buried in Inland Cemetery.
20 Absolom August 1, 1818 Aug. 1, 1818 Absolem Dempsey Bolton, married Jan. 23, 1843 to Elizabeth Ann Henderson, died June 2, 1892 Crowley Co., KS
21 Daniel Last day of May, 1920 May 31, 1820 Married Elizabeth Jane Fulenwider, died 1887
22 Elyan April 6, 1822 April 1, 1822 Married Isaac Russell Patterson May 30, 1854 Giles Co., VA, died Aug. 9, 1903 Claiborne Co., TN
23 James July 9, 1824 James Madison, married Elsie Virginia Thorne Aug. 12, 1851, died May 26, 1904
24 David January 9, 1826 Jan. 9, 1828 Married Rebecca Henderson July 26, 1847, died Sept. 22, 1859, Hancock Co., TN
25 Other
26 Rebecca Henderson March 10, 1820 married on Aug 3 or 8, 1847 Wife of David Bolton
27 Rebecca Bolton Died November 18, 1856 Wife of David Bolton, children raised by David’s sister, Elyan
28 Truly Ann Dailey March 28, 1836
29 Olive Peters Johnson June 1887
30 Nancy Bolton Died October 16, 1841 This is Nancy Mann
31 Henry Bolton Died November 24, 1846 Henry himself.
32 Sara E. Jane October 15, 1864
33 Nancy C. Bolton February 13, 1850
34 Sarrah A. N. Bolton August 25, 1851
35 Martha V. Susan Bolton May 15, 1853
36 William Abslem Patterson January 19, 1866
37 Sally Bolton Died April 15, 1798 This is Sara, last child with Catherine Chapman
38 Cathy Bolton Died August 17, 17?? This is Catherine Chapman who died on this date in 1798.

It’s clear that neither of these Bibles is actually Henry Bolton’s original Bible, because neither has a full list of his children by either wife. Furthermore, it’s equally as unlikely that these Bibles belonged originally to his wives.  It’s unlikely that either wife was literate, and the list of children is incomplete for both wives.  Furthermore, both Bibles were printed after the wives respective marriages to Henry, and in the case of Catherine Chapman, both were printed after her death.

The records from the Claiborne County Bible were extracted by Hazel Venable Barnard and she stated that she couldn’t read much of the writing, so we know that there were entries not transcribed. Hazel’s transcription, along with a copy of the Bible pages, as shown here, were hand written and then notarized by Mary Trent on November 23, 1981 with the note that this can be used by any of the generations listed in this book, meaning the Bolton Family book, to join the D.A.R.

At the end of the book about the Peter Bolton family, the author included a pedigree chart of the Bolton family of Bolton and Blackburn in Lancashire as a possible progenitor family of Henry Bolton. That chart, found in a book titled, “Bolton Family” by Robert Bolton, John A. Gray, printer, 1862, does not continue through Henry Bolton’s generation, but she found several Henry’s and Williams in the chart.  Of course, William and Henry are both painfully common names in England, both having been names of Kings.  A Y DNA test with any Bolton male from that Bolton and Blackburn family would tell us immediately.

Another book, titled “Bolton and Culver (Colver) Family Tree” published in 1964 by Dorothy Bolton Bunker adds a few details. She says that Henry served as a deacon for 50 years in the Baptist Church.  In his youth he had been connected with the Methodist Church as he had a card showing his attendance at a Wesley School in England.

I contacted the school in England several years ago and they had no records of a Henry Bolton. Of course, that doesn’t disprove anything, it simply means we can’t confirm this information.  For all we know, the card Henry carried might have been equivalent to a Sunday School attendance card today.

And of course, no family story would be complete without the Crazy Aunts. They told me years ago, and I’ve also seen this story elsewhere too, that the Boltons were “proud Germans.”  I don’t know where they got that, unless it is a remnant story brought about by those German Bibles, but there is ample evidence today that the Bolton family was English, at least at the time that Henry and Conrad migrated, intentionally or unintentionally.

Henry from the Beginning

Now that you’ve heard the various stories about Henry, what do we actually know about him?

Absolutely nothing until he immigrates.

Henry Bolton Immigration

The first record we have of Henry Bolton is his immigration along with his brother Conrad, also called Condery. They left the port of London in March of 1775.  Henry was age 15 and Conrad was 16, both were laborers.  This puts Henry’s birth in 1760.  They sailed on the ship, the Culvert, and landed in Maryland.

Both boys are listed as “of London.” I notice there are many who would be indentured servants for 4-7 years as it states, but there are only 4 young boys of the ages 15 and 16, and 3 of those are from London, so they could have been kidnapped on the docks of London as some of the family stories state.  The story below includes the kidnapping, but with a bit of a different twist.

From the book “Biographical History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa.”

George Bolton was born in the Territory of Wisconsin (now Iowa), December 9, 1840. His father, William Bolton, was one of the seven men who first settled in Cedar County, in 1836. His grandfather, Henry Bolton, when a lad in his teens, was kidnapped and brought to America from his native country, Germany. He made his escape and a short time afterward enlisted in the cause of the colonies and fought in the Revolutionary war under General Washington.

From the book, London, The Biography by Peter Ackroyd:

London has always been a city of immigrants. it was once known as the “city of nations” and in the mid-18th century Addison remarked that “when I consider this great city, in its several quarters or divisions, I look upon it as an aggregate of various nations, distinguished from each other by their respective customs, manners and interests.

Fresh generations with their songs and customs arrived at least as early as the time of the Roman settlements, when London was opened up as a European marketplace. The working inhabitants of the city might have come from Gaul, from Greece, from Germany, from Italy, from North Africa, a polyglot community all speaking a variety of rough or demotic Latin.  By the 7th century, when London rose again as an important port and market, the native and immigrant populations were thoroughly intermingled.  There was also a more general change.  It was no longer possible to distinguish Britons from Saxons and after the northern invasions of the 9th century, the Danes entered the city’s racial mixture.  By the 10th century the city was populated by Cymric Brythons and Balgae, by the remnants of the Gaulish legions, by East Saxons and Mercians, by Danes, Norwegians and Swedes, by “Londoners”.  A text known as IV Aethelred mentions that those who “passed through” London in the period before the Norman settlement were “men from Flanders, Pontheiu, Normandy and the Ile de France” as well as “men of the emperor: Germans.”

 London map 1300

London about 1300 shows St. Katherine’s Hospital, where the docks were located, to the right of the tower at the furthest eastward development.

Ackroyd continues:

The immigrant roles of 1440-41 provide an absorbing study in ethnicity and cultural contrast. Some 90% were classified as Doche, this was the generic term including Flemish, Dane and German, but more than half in fact came from Holland.  In the city wards the Italians comprised “a commercial and financial aristocracy” although there were differences within the group.  There were Frenchman, a number of Jews, and the “Greek, Italian and Spanish physicians”, but the underclass of that period seems to have been Icelanders who were commonly employed as servants.

When it comes to European melting pots, London is an extreme case, but Ackroyd’s brief survey of its immigrant history provides some idea of how difficult it will be to figure out the precise origins of many European paternal ancestors, not just Londoners. People have moved around for a long time.  Our genes allow us to look through a keyhole into the distant past and in time may allow us to chronicle the journey from today back in time to the long-forgotten.

Cousin Dillis represents our male Bolton line and has graciously agreed to have his DNA tested, several times now. The good news and the bad news is that the Bolton men have a very unique DNA signature above 25 markers.  At 67 markers, Dillis only matches Boltons plus an Elliott and a Sheldon, both families hailing from England.

At 12 markers, Dillis has many matches on the Matches Map, which signify matches to an earlier common ancestor since many of these matches don’t hold at higher markers. This is particularly useful in showing the migration and settlement path of Henry’s ancestors.  Note that while England is the most prevalent, the Germanic region is the most prevalent on the continent, suggesting a connection with that region in the distant past.

bolton matches map

When I visited London in 2013, we visited the dock area at St. Katherine’s, which was, at the time Henry and Conrad would have been hanging about the docks, the poorest section of the city. St. Katherine’s is located beside the Tower of London on the Thames River, shown below, in a 1746 map.  This would have been just a few years before Henry and Conrad were here, willingly or unwillingly.

1746 London Map

Here’s a picture today of the Thames River and the Tower Bridge, very close to this location.

London Bridge

Kidnapping of young boys was not uncommon. A ship’s captain did not want to sail partly empty, so if he was short a few bodies, he would kidnap some strapping lads and hold them captive just long enough to depart.  After they were underway to America, their fate was sealed and upon arrival, they were sold into indentured servitude, auctioned upon arrival, with the auction fees paying the captain for their passage.

If it’s true that the boys were kidnapped, then it’s likely that Henry and Conrad were abducted from this dock area as it was the main dock for London and we know from the manifest this is where the ship sailed from.

I can just see two teen-age boys messing around, getting themselves into trouble and making a nuisance of themselves – just before they were nabbed. And I can hear their mother warning them against doing just that….can’t you?  In fact, maybe they were enticed onto the boat with the promise of a treat, food or payment for some odd job.  Maybe this is the same place that they lived and unwillingly departed for America. The tenements, the poor area, were adjacent the docks and everyone left the stench of the overcrowded quarters in the day.

One of the family stories related is that Henry and Conrad’s mother had died, and the step-mother “arranged” for them to depart. The other tidbit of that story is that they lived “on London Bridge.”  Today there are no houses on London Bridge itself, but at that time, or just prior, there were – so this could be true.

London Bridge pano

This 1632 painting, “View of London Bridge,” by Claude de Jongh, shows the detail of London Bridge including the houses and shops built on the bridge itself. This is not information that someone in the US would know, especially several generations later and after the original London Bridge was demolished in 1831.

By the 1600s there were some 200 buildings on the bridge. Some stood up to seven stories high, some overhung the river by seven feet, and some overhung the road, to form a dark tunnel through which all traffic must pass, including (from 1577) the palatial Nonsuch House, a model shown below.

nonsuch house

The roadway was just 12 feet (4 m) wide, divided into two lanes, so that in each direction, carts, wagons, coaches and pedestrians shared a passageway six feet wide. When the bridge was congested, crossing it could take up to an hour. Those who could afford the fare might prefer to cross by ferry but the bridge structure had several undesirable effects on river-traffic. The narrow arches and wide pier bases restricted the river’s tidal ebb and flow, so that in hard winters, the water upstream of the bridge became more susceptible to freezing and impassable by boat. The flow was further obstructed in the 1700s by waterwheels installed under the two north arches to drive water pumps, and under the two south arches to power grain mills; the difference in water levels on the two side of the bridge could be as much as six feet, producing ferocious rapids between the piers. Only the brave or foolhardy attempted to “shoot the bridge”—steer a boat between the starlings when in flood—and some were drowned in the attempt. The bridge was “for wise men to pass over, and for fools to pass under.”

The southern gatehouse became the scene of one of London’s most notorious sights: a display of the severed heads of traitors, impaled on pikes and dipped in tar and boiled to preserve them against the elements. The head of William Wallace was the first to appear on the gate, in 1305, starting a tradition that was to continue for another 355 years. Other famous heads on pikes included those of Jack Cade in 1450, Thomas More in 1535, Bishop John Fisher in the same year, and Thomas Cromwell in 1540. In 1598 a German visitor to London Paul Hentzner counted over 30 heads on the bridge. Heads were still reported on the bridge at late as 1772.  So, this is something that young Henry and Conrad would have witnessed, perhaps with great awe and fascination.  Or perhaps, with fear.

London Bridge 1616

In this 1616 drawing, you can see Old London Bridge with the spiked heads of executed criminals in the foreground above the Southwark Gatehouse in the lower right hand corner.

Another drawing from a 1682 map, below.

London Bridge 1682

By 1722 congestion was becoming so serious that the Lord Mayor decreed that “all carts, coaches and other carriages coming out of Southwark into this City do keep all along the west side of the said bridge: and all carts and coaches going out of the City do keep along the east side of the said bridge.”

In 1758–62, all houses and shops on the bridge were demolished through Act of Parliament. The two center arches were replaced by a single wider span to improve navigation on the river. If the Bolton family did have a house or shop on London Bridge, they would have lost it about this time, which is about when Henry and Conrad were born.

Whether or not Henry and Conrad left London willingly, or unwillingly, this area and adjacent St. Katherine’s dock would have been where they departed.

London map 1806

In this London map of 1806, you can still see the Tower and the docks, to the right of the tower, are marked in a teal blue box.

If you’d like to fly through a 3D animation of London before the 1666 fire, click here.  It’s well worth the time.

After arriving in American, both Henry and Conrad were indentured servants for 7 years. This would mean, under normal circumstances, that Henry and Conrad both would have been serving their time as indentured servants to pay for their passage until that same time in 1783.  Most crossings took about 60 days, so May or June of 1783.

Indentured servants were not allowed to marry until they finished their indenture.

We know they were indentured to someone, and several different accounts tell us that it was a Mr. Moore, one family history adding, near Hagerstown, Maryland.

One fact that argues against Henry Bolton being a poor child who was kidnapped is that he knew how to write, and judging from the letter he wrote asking for the clerk to issue his daughter a marriage license, he was far more literate than just having the ability to sign his name. It’s unlikely that a poor child would have learned how to sign their name, let alone write a letter.  Having said that, it’s possible that he learned during his indentured servitude, but rather unlikely.

Yet another story adds a bit more dimension. This one is from the Iowa Bolton family.

He enlisted through the direct influence of George Washington, who came to the barn where he was caring for the horses of a man by the name of Moore who he was bound out to. Washington wore a long coat and asked Henry if he would like to draw his own pay. (He) said, “I understand you are a bound boy and I see you take good care of the horses.” His answer was, ” I would like to, but Mr. Moore is very good to me.” Washington said, “You come to my tent in the morning at nine o’clock and we’ll will arrange it.” Henry said, “Who are you?” He said, “George Washington. The boys will tell you where my headquarters are.” So in the morning Henry went and was taken to headquarters where the guard asked Washington if he had an appointment with a young man at nine o’clock. He said yes. Washington advised him to enlist and go back and take care of his horses till further orders. He was assigned to the artillery. He was at the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at York. After the war he returned and worked for Mr. Moore. The story says that he was married while working for Mr. Moore then moved to … (end of transcription).  Reference: A typed page stating: “BOLTON HISTORY. This was copied from information Grandma Lewis had copied from the Bolton history book that Uncle Will (?) Bolton had.” Unknown where this book is available today (March 16, 1997).

We do have documentation that Henry was in the Revolutionary War, although I’ve never found anything on Fold3 or any other location, aside from the record from the Pennsylvania Archives, below, where he is listed as having served.

Ref. Penn. Archives, sixth Series, Vol. 1, page 799:

Military Record: Fourth battalion of Philadelphia Co., PA, Eights company, under Isaiah Davis, eighth, class under Lt. William  Coats – “Henry Bolton”

Oral history tells us that Henry was at the Battle of Brandywine. Oral history of his Revolutionary War service descended through several different lines that separated when his children left Virginia and had no subsequent opportunity to infect each other with Henry Bolton stories.

Battle of Brandywine

The Battle of Brandywine, also known as the Battle of Brandywine Creek, was fought between the American army of General George Washington and the British army of General Sir William Howe on September 11, 1777. The British defeated the Americans and forced them to withdraw toward the American capital of Philadelphia. The engagement occurred near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania during Howe’s campaign to take Philadelphia, which he ultimately did and held until June of 1778.

Here is a picture of the field where the Battle took place, looking toward the American position. If Henry truly was shot at the Battle of Brandywine, this was where it occurred and where he was rolled off of the field on a cannon, if that part is true.

Battle of Brandywine battlefield

Here’s the battlefield from another angle.

Battle of Brandywine battlefield2

With a little imagination, I can see the men from both sides.  It looks so serene today, but it wasn’t on September 11, 1777.

The painting below, Nation Makers by Howard Pyle depicts a scene from the battle and hangs in the Brandywine River Museum.

Battle of Brandywine by Pyle

In 1779, Henry is listed on the tax rolls of Providence Twp., Philadelphia Co., PA, taxed in the amount of 5.0, which would have been pounds and no shillings. Henry was clearly not in the military if he was farming at this time.  He also would not have been indentured.  This was only 4 years after his arrival and he would only have been 19 or 20 years old, unless there was a second Henry Bolton in that area.

If indeed, Henry was also at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, as claimed, that would have happened on October 19, 1781.

It would be unusual for him to be in the military in 1777, farming in 1779, in the military in 1781, on a tax list in 1783 and then finishing his indenture in 1787 when he was married.

This timeline doesn’t quite make sense from several angles.

This painting below depicts the surrender at Yorktown.

Yorktown surrender

Henry would have been 21 at this time.  Was he truly there?  Did he care for the horses?

One account says that Henry finished his time with Mr. Moore after he finished in the war. Another account says that George Washington told Henry that he was no longer bound.

We find Henry in 1783 in Limerick, Township, Philadelphia Co., PA on a tax list with no land, no horses, 1 cattle and no negroes. Were he indentured, he would not have been listed individually.

It’s recorded in the Bolton book that Henry married Catherine Chapman on August 17, 1787 in Olde Swedes Church, Philadelphia, PA. However, in the Old Swedes church records, compiled from the original records, I did not find a confirmation of this marriage. Note that there is no index and I read for several years in each direction.

Old Swedes Church

One story claims that Henry’s marriage took place during his indenture, and that he went back and finished his time with Mr. Moore. If Mr. Moore was living near Hagerstown, Maryland, it would be very unlikely for Henry to be marrying in Philadelphia.  Not to mention, no father would want his daughter marrying an indentured servant, a man of no means to support said daughter.  I expect, by the time that Henry was married that he had finished his indenture and had a trade or some ability to support a family.

In the 1790 census, we find both Henry and Conrad in Washington Co., Maryland, along with an unknown John Bolton:

  • Conrad Bolton – – 1 (this is free white females)
  • John Bolton 1 1 1 – – (free white males over 16, under 16 and females)
  • Henry 1 1 2 1 – (free white males over 16, under 16, females and other free persons)

So, by 1790, Henry appears to be married and he is living in the county where Hagerstown is the county seat.

Based on the reported birth locations of Henry’s children, he would have moved from Maryland to Botetourt County, VA between 1791 and 1793.

He is not on the Botetourt County 1793 tax lists, but in 1794, we find Henry in Hugh Allen’s District: Henry Boltan, 2 tithables, 2 horses. We then find him for the next many years on various tax lists.  Conrad does not appear until the 1820 census.

Tithables mean the number of people being taxed. Exact specifications vary depending on the time and place, but white males over either 16 or 21 and people of color of either gender, of any age beyond childhood, generally age 12 or 16, and over, were taxed.  One would assume it would be a man and his sons and any slaves.  In families of color, the wives were taxed too.

  • 1795: Henry Bolton, 1 tithable, 2 horses.
  • 1796, Robert Harris District: Henry Bolton, 1 tithable, 3 horses.
  • 1798: Henry Bolton, 1 tithable.

Catherine Chapman Bolton died in Botetourt County on August 17, 1798. 1798 was a particularly difficult year for Henry, because his infant daughter, Sarah, also died within just a couple of months of Catherine’s death.  Two accounts tell us she died in April, and one on September 10th.  Regardless of when, it’s apparent that Henry had a lot of loss, along with 5 children to care for between the ages of 2 and 11.  I wish we knew where Catherine and Sarah were buried.

In 1799, Henry Bolton is on the Botetourt County, VA personal tax list, but Conrad is either not in Botetourt County or is one of Henry Bolton’s tithables.

  • 1799: John Holloway District: Henry Bolton, 5 tithables.

On April 5th 1799, Henry Bolton married Nancy Mann, 8 months after Catherine’s death.  In January 1800, Nancy had the first of 14 children she would have with Henry.

Henry Bolton signs his marriage bond to Nancy Mann, below, along with James Mann’s mark. It’s uncertain how James Mann and Nancy Mann are related, but traditionally, a father would sign for his daughter, if he were living.  If not, perhaps a brother or uncle.

Henry Bolton Nancy Mann marriage

Beginning in 1803, and then for many years, we find Henry on the Botetourt County tax lists.

  • 1803: George Rowland District: Henry Bolton 1 tithable, 3 horses
  • 1804: George Rowland District: Henry Bolten, 1 tithable,. 4 horses.
  • 1805: George Rowlands: Henry Bolton 1 tithable and 5 horses.
  • 1807; George Rowland District: Henry Bolton 1 tithable 3 horses.
  • 1810: Joseph Hannah’s District: Henry Bolton 2 tithables 3 horses.
  • 1811: Joseph Hannah’s District: Henry Bolton 2 tithables 3 horses
  • 1814: Joseph Hannah’s District: Jacob Bolton, 1 tithable – Jacob is Henry’s oldest son born in 1793.  He would have been 21 this year.  He is also likely Henry’s second tithable in 1810 and 1811.

Henry’s son, Henry, was born in 1800, so this second Henry on the 1814 list cannot be Henry’s son. Henry may have been recorded twice.  Sometimes, on other tax lists, men are recorded twice if they own land in two places.  However, we have no evidence that Henry owned any land at all.

  • 1814: James McClanahan’s District: Henry Bolton 2 tithables, 5 horses, also Henry Bolton 3 tithables, 6 horses, 7 cattle
  • 1816: James McClanahan’s District: Henry Bolton 2 tithables 5 horses
  • 1817: James McClananah’s District: Henry Bolton, 2 tithables, 5 horses and Jacob Bolton, 1 tithable, 1 horse

In 1817 and1818, in Joseph Hannah’s District, a Robert Bolton (1818) and Robert Bolton, Jr. (1817) are introduced, with one tithable. Interestingly enough, DNA testing shows that these two Bolton lines, meaning Henry Bolton and Robert Bolton, do not share a common ancestor.

  • 1819: James McClanahan’s District:  Henry Bolton, 2 tithables, 7 horses, Peter Bolton, 1 tithable, Jacob Bolton, 1 tithable, 2 horses.  Peter Bolton was Henry’s second son, born in 1796.
  • In 1820, in James Trevor’s district, we find Henry Boulton with 2 tithables and 7 horses, Josiah Boulton with 1 tithable and 1 horse, Robert Boulton with 1 tithable and 1 horse and Edward Boulton with 1 tithable. Clearly Josiah and Edward were not sons of Henry, unless Josiah is actually Jacob.

In the 1820 census, Henry Bolton is in Botetourt County with 13 people, his son Jacob with 5 people and Conrad with 3 people. Where had Conrad been all of this time?

  • 1821a: James Trevor’s District:  Henry Boulton, 5 horses, Henry Boulton Jr., 1 horse and Jacob Boulton, 1 horse.
  • In 1822, on James Trevor’s list, Henry appears with 5 horses and his son, Henry Jr., appears with 1 horse.
  • In 1822, on Matthew Wilson’s list, Jacob Bolton is shown with 1 horse.

In 1828, Henry’s daughter married George P. French, and Henry pens and signs the following letter to the county clerk.

Henry Bolton French marriage auth

The above note reads:

David French


You will please issue a license for George P. French to marry my daughter Patsy Bolton. Given under my hand and seal this 26th day of November 1828.

Signed Henry Bolton
William Bolton
George Bolton

We are quite fortunate to have a picture of Martha Patsy Bolton French.

Martha Patsy Bolton French

I look at her and wonder if she looks like Henry or Nancy, or both.

The other picture we have is of Henry’s oldest daughter by Catherine Chapman, Elizabeth, who married the Reverend Absalom Dempsey.

Elizabeth Bolton Dempsey

Elizabeth’s portrait, painted about 1840 is located at the Mill Creek Baptist Church in Fincastle, Botetourt County, Virginia.  The church did not send the painting of Elizabeth’s husband, Absalom Dempsey, but it does hang in the church.

Mill Creek Baptist Church

Family stories report that Henry Bolton was a member of Mill Creek Church for 50 years, one story says a deacon, and if that is the case, it would have included the time when his son-in-law, Absalom Dempsey was minister there, and earlier. It’s evident that Henry thought a lot of Absalom, because Henry and Nancy named one of their sons after Absalom.  It may well be that Nancy Mann Bolton and daughter Sarah are both buried here beside the Mill Creek Church.  Abraham Dempsey and his wife rest here.  His stone is below.  Her grave is unmarked.  She died in 1874, two years after Absalom and is very likely buried beside Absalom.

Dempsey headstone

I would love to know what Henry Bolton looked like. We have two photographs of Henry’s sons, Peter Bolton (son of Catherine Chapman) and wife Mary Falls, and Daniel Bolton (son of Nancy Mann) and Elizabeth Fulwider that I have been prohibited from sharing by the individual who sent me the photos.  Additionally, we have photos of Elizabeth Bolton Dempsey, daughter of Catherine Chapman, and Martha Patsy Bolton French, daughter of Nancy Mann, both shown above.

I can tell you that Daniel, in one of the photographs I can’t share, looks incredibly like Abraham Lincoln. Had I not known it wasn’t, it would be a very easy mistake to make.  I can also tell you that I don’t see a lot of resemblance between the siblings.  Of course, one is a painting, one is a very poor tintype and two are fairly early photographs.  The photo of Martha Patsy French is by far the best.

The photo below, at left, is Joseph “Dode” Bolton, Henry’s grandson with wife Nancy Mann through son Joseph Preston Bolton.

Joseph B Bolton2

There is one more old photo, William Henry Bolton, grandson of Henry Bolton, the immigrant, and wife Nancy Mann, through son Henry Bolton and Elizabeth Obenchain.

In the 1830 census, Henry Bolton Sr. is living in Giles County with 11 children in his household, while his son, Henry Bolton Jr. is living in Botetourt County.

In the 1840 census, Henry Bolton Sr. is living in Giles County with 1 male under 10, 2 males 15-20, 1 male 20-30 and 1 male 80-90. Nancy seems to be missing although she reportedly did not die until 1841.  In 1846, Henry died as well. They reportedly lived near Pearisburg, in Giles County.

A cousin reports that a comment by a neighbor was recorded regarding Henry’s death: “One lady told me as though it happened yesterday. ‘It was a pity. He was getting better from the fever and feeling hungry he got up from his bed and went to the kitchen and ate beef stew that was on the stove and that finished him.'” I feel sorry for whoever made that stew.  Nancy Mann had died earlier, but Henry was obviously living with someone.

At one point in my research, I became quite excited because I thought sure we had found the Henry Bolton Cemetery. Turns out, we had, but not the original Henry, one of his descendants, his grandson Henry through son Jacob Bolton and Virginia Inksell.  Grandson Henry (1823-1890) married Mary Catherine Shue (1821-1915) and they build Rose Hill.

The book, Related Families of Botetourt County Virginia states that many of the early Bolton families are buried at Rose Hill on land that passed from the Boltons to the Firebaugh family and although this is not Henry’s original land, it probably was in the same general vicinity. According to local historian, Alice Firebaugh, the old Rose Hill farm is located on Route 630, Blackburg Road. This is where the “Bolton Cemetery” is located that caused me such great initial excitement.

A piece of that history lies on the ridge of Rose Hill Farm. The Firebaughs call it Cemetery Hill because that is where the Bolton Cemetery is located.

Bolton cemetery

The cemetery is in a state of disrepair.

Bolton cemetery2

Given the information we have, we know that the original Henry Bolton family was enumerated in two tax districts, McClanahan’s and Hannah’s.

The book also tells us that the McClannahan’s live on Catawba Creek. That the area is near Eagle Rock, and that the Hannah’s are on Craig’s Creek and that the Hannah family is buried in the Godwin Cemetery.  The Godwin Cemetery, according to FindAGrave, is dead center in the middle of the town of Fincastle and the Firebaugh family Cemetery is found on Virginia 735 .

These land marks give us some barometers to use to find the general area of Henry Bolton’s land in Botetourt County before he moved to Giles County before 1830.

Bolton Botetourt landmarks

803 Shawnee Trail is an address in the Shawnee Woods subdivision where the Bolton cemetery was cleaned up so that it didn’t get bulldozed when the subdivision was being built.

Catawba Creek runs out of Fincastle, shown on the map above, and extending the map distance, we can see Eagle Rock to the north, on the map below.

Catawba and Eagle Creek

Zooming in on that area, we find that Craig Creek dumps into the James River as does Catawba Creek.

Craig Creek James River

There is a Bolton Cemetery at Rose Hill, but it’s later members of the Bolton family that are buried in that location.

Mill Creek Church was 5 miles due east of the center of Fincastle.

Mill Creek Church

Henry Bolton’s land was probably in this vicinity, between roads 360 and 735.

Here’s a view of the area from near Fincastle. Looks beautiful, but quite imposing.

Fincastle view

The Bolton family moved a nontrivial distance from the Fincastle area to the Pembroke area of Giles County. After locating the Bolton land in Giles County, I marked the location as well as the Mill Creek Baptist Church outside of Fincastle.  Today, it’s an hour and a half on mountain roads.  In those days, it would have been probably a 2 or 3 day journey, if not more.  The average wagon speed was 20 miles a day, and that wasn’t through mountains.  Clearly, they didn’t go back and forth to church at Mill Creek from Giles County, so Henry’s membership at Mill Creek would have terminated about 1830 when he is first found on the census in Giles County.

Fincastle to Stoney Creek

Henry died at Big Stony Creek, Pembroke, Giles County, Virginia. It’s unclearly whether this was on son Peter’s land on Big Stoney Creek, on Henry’s own land although no deed was found, or on another relatives land.  One thing is for sure, a man in his 80s or 90s had to have some help in that place and time.  Henry could not have been farming at the time he died.  If born in 1760, he would have been 86 when he passed.

A cousin sent me an aerial partial view of the Bolton lands in Giles County where Henry and Nancy reportedly lived shortly before they died in the 1840’s.  She said that in 1975, there were still old rock foundations visible, and a dug out cellar.  A distance from the old foundations by traversing an old overgrown road was the Bolton cemetery, with all but two graves unmarked.  Most of the graves were sunken between 1-2 ft, indicating the use of disintegrating wooden caskets.  There was a remnant of a high, wide stone fence just beyond the graveyard.

Stoney Creek land

I didn’t receive any further information from the cousin, but I did search the Giles County maps along Big Stoney Creek where the Bolton family lived, according to the Giles County deeds when Peter sold his land in 1855.

Indeed, I found the land matching this screen shot above on road 627, also called Darnell Mountain Road which intersects with Big Stoney Creek Road.

Here’s the entrance to State Road 627 from 635, Big Stoney Creek Road.

Stoney Creek road

As you can see, it’s heavily forested.

Stoney Creek road2

Backing away a bit, you can see where road 627 turns off of Big Stoney Creek Road.

Stoney Creek Pearisburg

As you can see, this area is near Pearisburg, Pembroke and the Virginia/West Virginia border.

Stoney Creek Pearisburg2

Behind the Bolton property was nothing but mountains. Cascade Falls is shown on the map.

Giles county waterfall

Henry Bolton Estate Inventory

We may not know exactly where Nancy Mann and Henry Bolton died and are buried, although I strongly suspect it’s on the land where he lived in Giles County, but we do know something about what he owned at the end of his life.

Recently, with the help of a professional genealogist, Henry’s estate was located in Giles County. However, the film was too poor to read, so a second professional genealogist was retained to physically go to the Virginia State Archives and access the originals.  We were lucky, very lucky.  I could read most of the items and transcribed them, as follows:

Giles County, February 22, 1847 – Inventory and appraisement of the personal estate of Henry Bolton. Will Book B, pages 446 and 447

Note – Do means ditto

Items Amount in Dollars
Cupboard $5, one desk $4, One bureau $9 18
One wooden clock $8, one sugar box 12.5 cents 8.12
One family Bible $.75, two German Bibles, two hymn books rethence? confession of faith one hymn book vesper (or verger) Baptist $.75 1.50
One split bottom chair $3, one iron chur? 3.37 ½
1 falling leaf table $1, one high ? bedstead and other furniture $8, one ? posted Do (ditto, probably meaning bedstead) and its furniture $7 16.00
One Do $3.50, one Do $5, three candlesticks 18.75 7.50
One set of spools 50, one looking glass and slate 25 cents .75
One hand sun? auger chain and square 75 cents and one flat iron and sheep shears 75 cents and one pair saddle bags 25 cents 2.00
One hone for rasures 25 cents and bed pot 10 cents one set of shoe tools 25 cents three bed screws one resure (razor) and strap 12 ½ cents .72 ½
One pair of and irons and fire shovel 75 cents, one coffee mill candle moles and one stay? 37 ½ cents 1.12 ½
One spinning wheel and big wheel and reel 150, two churns and one half bushel ? and old irons 75 cents 2.25
One hand axe and three falling axes 1.50 and old box and old irons 50 cents 2.00
One falling leaf table and two pairs 1.50 one loom and its contents 1.50 3.00
Two pairs of hams and chains and two collars and two bridles , one pair hams and chains $5 and one pair brick lands and head stall? Bridle 75 cents 5.75
One pair stillyards and cutting knife steel draw knife sythe anvil 2.00
Relag gen saddle old bridle 25 cents four tubs and one box 87 ½ cents one large kettle and hooks 1.50 2.62 ½
One biscuit baker and lid one oven and pot and hook 2.75
One tea kettle and two pot racks 1.25 one half a crite of corn supposed to be two hundred bushels at 37.5 cents per bushel when measured 72.5 bushels 28.42 ½
One lot of pickled pork 6.82 at 4 cents per pound 27.28
One fat stand and lard 1.25, one bedstead and cord and grine stone 125 one sythe and cradle 100 3.50
One double tree two devises 50 two pair streature and log chains 2.62 ½ one patton felon 150 4.52 ½
Eleven head of sheep at 75 cents a head 8.25
One ball face horse for $35, one bay mare for $20, 55.00
Nine ? hogs $10 one dun cow 1 calf 8 18.00
One year old steer $3, one year old heifer $3 6
Half of two stacks of oats $2, one lot of flax %, one horse bucket one tube? Old shade? Two hoes two iron wedges and bull tongue and ring 1.60
Two shovel plows 1.50 one doe tray and maul rive? 25 cents 1.75
One cockle sieve and kittle hammer and old tick 75 cents .93 ¾
Hackle bull tongue and auger two little stacks of rye 38 cents and one lot of stack fodder 6 6.35

Signed by Hugh Johnston, Edward Eaton and David Eaton

Next, we have the bill of sale for the property of Henry Bolton, as follows:

Purchaser What How much $
James Stafford Two clevises? and double tree and single tree $1, one smoothing iron 50 cents 1.10
William Simpson? One patton ? 3.12 1/4
Washington Gordon One cupboard 3.63 ditto one collar and bridles 1.52 ½ 5.25
Henry Sadler One stack of flox 1.05
Andrew Gott One rasure strop and rasure 12 ½, do to four chairs 1.05 ¼ 1.18 ¾
John Morrison One ball faced horse 39.75
Absolum Bolton One pair big streachers $1, do to one pair one horse 31 ¼, do to one log chain 1.87 ½, do to one iron wedge 3 ½, two hoes 75 cents, one meal tub 12 1.2, one sieve wood bread tray 25 cents, one pot rack 90 cents, one pot rack 90 cents, one keg 50 cents, one pair of sheep shears 15 cents one arm chair 1.30, one bedstead and its furniture 5.25, one cutting bon? steel 20 cents, 11 head of sheep 11.55, two tacks 62 ½, one bay mare 15 43.26 1/2
James Johnson One bon .12 1/2
Edward Eaton One meal tub 15 cents, one falling leaf table 82 cents, one pair brick bands $1, one grine stone 88 cents white show 2.75, eight stock hogs 1.50 per head for $12 17.90
Richard Eaton One spade and ring 25 cents, one old saddle and old bridle 1.20 1.46
Samuel Thompson One pair candle moles and coffee mill 8 cents, one falling ? $1 1.08
John E. Stafford One bull tongue and bucket .25
John C. Farley One set and irons 75 cents, one box and old irons 1.00, one pair saddle bags 25 cents, one falling leaf table $1, one lot stock fodder $3 6.00
Subtotal here 118.78 1/4
Joseph Eaton Two chairs? $1, one half ? and old irons 1.12 ½, one square and auger and chisel 75 cents 2.87 ½
Reuben Hughes One sythe stake .12 ½
William Oliver Two candlesticks 17 ½ 17
Peter Meadows Two pailes 27 ½
Elean Bolton One wood clock $1, one bureau $1, one bedstead and its furniture $1, one do $1 4.00
David Eaton One oven and hooks 75, one tub 55 1.30
Olive C. Peters One iron wedge 37 ½, one big kittle and hooks 2.25, one spinning wheel 1.50, one chamber pot 15 cents, one candlestick 14, one bucket and auger 37 ½ one pair of gears 162 ½, bolt? of ayes? 2 8.92 1/2
William Morrison One shovel plow 1.12, one fret? 1.42, one felling ax 55 cents, one collar and bridle $2, one tin kittle 50 cents 3.66 ¼
David Bolton One tub and ? 50 cents, one sythe and cradle 1.37, one lot shoe tools 1.12 ½, one wheat sieve and hammer 50 cents, face ax 60 cents, one family Bible 50 cents, two German Bibles 5 cents, one lot of books 25 cents, half oat stack $4, one slate 16 ¼, one old hone 25 cents 9.00
Russle Johnson Biscuit baker and lit 1.06 ¼, set of spools 37 ½, one desk 1.50 3.93 ¾
James Eaton One pair of gearo? 2.12 ½
Subtotal here 46.50
Hugh Johnson One shovel plow 75 cents, six chairs 2.62 ½, one bedstead and end 50 cents 3.87 ½
Edward Johnston Sugar box 12 ½ cents, one big wheel 75, one hand ax 80 cents, one hand saw 37 1/2 , one cow and calf $11, two years old steer 3.14, one year old heifer 3.79 17.18
William B. Mason One lot of pickled pork 29.19
Peter Fizer One lot corn 25.37
Amount 77.62

Signed, Edward Johnson, admin of Henry Bolton decd, filed Feb 22, 1827, bill of sale

Note – Elean Bolton is Henry’s daughter who married Russell Patterson in 1854 and moved to Hancock County, TN. She and her husband wound up raising the children of David Bolton who also moved to Hancock County where he and his wife both died.

You can tell a lot about how a man lived by what was left when he died.  Henry farmed, had an assortment of livestock, and shaved.  He had a clock, which was a luxury, as was a desk.  Henry had 3 candlesticks and molds to make 2 candles at a time.  He owned shoemakers tools which he likely used himself, as there is no record of Henry ever having slaves.  He had a set of spools, a spinning wheel and a loom, which appeared to be loaded, meaning a project had been left half finished, probably by Nancy, before she died.

Henry drank coffee, because he had a coffee mill.  Like all pioneer homesteads, cooking was done in the fireplace and a potrack held the pots as they cooked, plus utensils sometimes.  A typical colonial fireplace in Jamestown is shown below.  This probably looked a lot like Henry Bolton’s home where the fireplace was also the only source of heat.  There is no stove as mentioned in the statement about Henry’s death – that he ate stew from the stove.  Perhaps he did not die at home.

colonial fireplace Jamestown

Henry had two horses, a saddle and saddlebags to carry whatever needed to be carried back and forth. Of note, he did not have any oxen which would have been used to plow, nor a farm wagon.  He may have previously sold those.

Henry had quite a bit of furniture in addition to the desk.  He had a cupboard and a total of 9 chairs, one of which was an “arm chair,” probably “his” chair.  There were two tables including one noted as a fall leaf table.  He had three bedsteads and a bureau. His house was probably quite full.

Further confirming Henry’s ability to read was a group of books.  I’d love to know the titles, as that would tell us even more about Henry Bolton.  I can just see Henry sitting by the fireplace, in his arm chair, reading a book on the table by the light of the fire and a candle as Nancy wove on the loom or spun on the wheel.

And now, we also have an answer about the Henry Bolton Bible, or Bibles. Did you catch that?

David Bolton bought the “family Bible” for 50 cents and two German Bibles for 5 cents. The “family Bible” was most likely Henry Bolton’s Bible dated 1811.  Why was Henry’s Bible dated so late?  Perhaps this was not the first Bible.  Cabin fires were very common in frontier America and if the cabin burned, so did everything inside the cabin.

So, where did David Bolton live? You guessed it…Hancock County, TN.  He died in 1859 and his wife preceded him in death.  Elyan, his sister, who married Isaac Patterson raised his children.  This entire group, including Joseph Preston Bolton lived very near each other in Hancock County – which explains how the “original Henry Bolton” Bible came to be in the possession of Elyan Bolton Patterson’s descendants.  Perhaps the Germany rumors were fueled by those 2 German Bibles.  So, there were indeed 3 Bibles owned by Henry Bolton, but the 2 German Bibles seem to have disappeared over time.  Where did they come from in the first place, whose were they and why did Henry Bolton have them?  We believe that Catherine Chapman was English and that Nancy Mann was Irish, but were they? I just hate it when new information causes me to second guess and question what I thought I knew!

In total now, we have 6 Bibles associated with this family.

  • The “original” Henry Bolton Bible that was sold at Henry’s estate sale, noted as the family Bible, to son David. This Bible, dated 1811, came to Hancock County and was subsequently owned by Hazel Venable Barnard whose mother was Susan Bolton, daughter of Milton Bolton, son of Joseph Preston Bolton and Mary Tankersley. Joseph was the son of Henry Bolton and Nancy Mann.
  • Two German Bibles, current whereabouts unknown, also sold to David Bolton at Henry’s estate sale.
  • The Polly Bolton Bible printed sometime between 1829-1859. Polly (Mary) Falls was the wife of Peter Bolton, son of Henry Bolton and Catherine Chapman. Peter is probably who Henry lived with in Giles County. Peter sold his land on Big Stoney Creek in 1855 and moved to Iowa.
  • Two additional Bibles, information copied from the Polly Bolton Bible, one of which went to Lopas Island in Washington State, and one stayed in Iowa.

It was 34 years after Henry Bolton’s death in 1846, in the 1880 census, that we obtain the final confirming piece of the puzzle indicating that Henry was born in England and that his wife, Nancy Mann, was born in Virginia.

The 1880 census was the first US census to list the location of the birth of parents. Joseph Preston Bolton in Claiborne County, TN listed his parents’ birth location as England for his father and Virginia for his mother

1880 Joseph Bolton census

Hints of Henry in England

Periodically I revisit searches that I have undertaken previously to see if anything new turns up. After all, records are being added to the major data bases everyday.

Searching for Conrad and Condery provided one record, but the dates are a bit off and the name doesn’t match exactly.  But look where the christening took place…at St. Katherine’s by the Tower in London…right where the boat docks are located.

Conrath Bolten

Searching for Henry, also at FamilySearch, unfortunately, doesn’t give us anything compelling, nor a birth to the same parents or location as Conrath, above. However, Conrath’s father’s name was indeed, Henry and both Henry and Conrad named daughters Sarah.  It’s enough to make you wonder, but not enough to do anything else.

Henry Bolton England

Henry’s DNA

Utilizing the autosomal DNA of the descendants of Henry Bolton and Nancy Mann, we see the confirmed Henry Bolton/Nancy Mann segments below.

Henry's painted DNAI have not been able to “prove” all of the possible segments through triangulation, but if all of the segments are indeed Bolton segments, then Henry’s chromosome map would look like the map below. Clearly, we need a lot more descendants to test to create more color on Henry’s chromosome map, but still, it’s pretty amazing that we can recreate this much of Henry’s chromosome map from these few descendants.

Henry's possible painted DNA

I don’t know how many descendants Henry has, but figuring that he had 20 children total and of those, 2 died fairly young. Of the remaining 18 children, most had 7 or 8 children.  I don’t have complete information for some.

Using a 30 year generation, Henry could have a huge number of descendants.

Year Multiplier Descendants
1760 Henry born
1790 Henry has 18 children
1820 8 144 grandchildren
1850 8 1152 great-grandchildren
1880 8 9216
1910 8 73,728
1940 2 (birth control had become prevalent) 147,456
1970 2 294,912
2000 2 589,824

If this is anyplace close to accurate, Henry Bolton could have well over half a million descendants today. If you add Sarah, Conrad’s daughter into the mix, you could well have another 4000 descendants in the US of the unknown parents of Henry and Conrad Bolton.

If you are a descendant of Henry or Conrad Bolton, please consider taking the Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA and joining the Bolton DNA project.  We’d love to have you!


I’d like to thank cousin Hazel Venable Barnard, now deceased, for being such a wonderful steward of that Bolton Bible record, cousin Dillis for Y DNA testing and for lots of research over the past 30 years, so much that I no longer remember what was mine and what was his, cousin Pam for the Google screenshot of the Giles County property and Henry Bolton cause of death information, and Anita Firebaugh for the Firebaugh, Bolton cemetery and Rose Hill information. In addition, a descendant of the Robert Bolton who is not related contributed the Bolton land tax information, extracted by Yvonne Mashburn-Schmidt, a professional genealogist specializing in southern records at www.GeorgiaGenealogist.com. I’d also like to send a special thank you to Yvonne for finding both the Henry Bolton estate inventory and the genealogist in Virginia to retrieve the originals.  Plus, she helped me decipher some of the difficult handwriting, especially pertaining to those all-important family Bibles.

Genealogy is not a hobby that one can undertake alone, or at least, it’s much more productive and enriching when people share their findings. Without the collective contributions and collaboration of all of these people, our knowledge of Henry would be scant indeed.  I hope this is a fitting tribute to our immigrant ancestor, Revolutionary War Veteran, Henry Bolton, on Veteran’s Day.



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25 thoughts on “Henry Bolton (c1759-1846), Kidnapped, Revolutionary War Veteran, 52 Ancestors #45

  1. We are distantly related! David Bolton married Rebecca Henderson. Those Hendersons go back to the Fordell, Fife,Scotland ones and I’m one of those. Knew there was a reason I enjoy your blog so much. Also J1C1. f

    • Have you done the Family Finder test. I was wondering if you match any of the Bolton descendants who have tested. If you have, you can join the Bolton project and let’s see:)

      • Yes I have sent my DNA from Ancestry.com to Family Finder so I’m in the system. I am good at research but DNA is new to me. I did DNA with 23andme also mainly to confirm my research on family tree. I had gateway ancestors that took me places I couldn’t imagine and I wanted proof. Now talk me thru to get my info to Bolton Project please. Susan

        • On your personal page at Family Tree DNA, after you unlock your results, you’ll see a projects tab on the upper left hand side. Click on it. Then on “join”. Then type Bolton into the search box. Then click on the Bolton project link and then on the join button.

      • I have contacted the Royal College of Arms, in London, about tracing my family tree (in the British Isles, and they have informed me, that they will research family history of Americans who immigrated from England, if you provide the person’s name, ship name, city from which they traveled in England, and the destination city in America. You seem to have that information.

        The official, that I met with there, stated that their entire process would take only three days to complete, since they have every family’s information computerized, and contained within their “Doomsday Book,” and the cost would be around 300 pounds (or approximately $400). Costs may have increased somewhat, but I would not think by much. I suggest this option, to solve the DOB and marriage inconsistencies discovered within some of the English documents.

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  3. I have the John Bolton born July 30, 1814 Married to Sarah Tankersly as being buried in Inland Cemetery in Cedar co.Iowa and Sarah was buried in Adair Co. Iowa.

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  12. Possibly not sure saved all this info and sent it to my cousin.
    I was given up for adoption and am trying to understand my birth family.

  13. I have done a dna thru ancestry. I have been trying to research Harmon Bolton married to Jane Whitehead backwards for about 15 years. No luck. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely, Lori Ann Bolton. On ancestry as Lori Bolton 14.

  14. We have a death certificate for a child who died in 1919. The cemetery is listed as Bolton Cemetery, Tazewell. I wonder if it could e the same cemetery you have been researching. The child’s last name is Garland and the family moved around between Tennessee, Virginia and N. Carolina. The death occurred in Claiborne, Tenn.

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