John Gerrard (Gerard)

John Gerrard, son of Joseph and--------------Gerrard, was born probably on Long Island, New York, about 1756. He died near Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, February 23, 1829.

The name of his wife is unknown. She died before 1821.

He accompanied his father to southwestern Pennsylvania, and at the beginning of the Revolutionary War he "entered into the service of the United States at Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania in the later part of the year of 1775, as a private, in the company commanded by Captain John Nevil, then stationed at Pittsburgh, and continued in said company six months at which time his term of enlistment expired." [1]

He re-enlisted under Captain Andrew Wagoner, and in the beginning of 1777, marched to join the main army at Coryell's Ferry. There in July he was attached to the 12th Virginia Regiment commanded by Colonel James Wood (John Nevil was the Lt. Colonel) and fought at Brandywine, Germantown, and several other engagements in the brigade commanded by General Scott. On December 26, 1777, at Valley Forge, having but three months to serve, he re-einlisted for three more years in the Light Dragoons, 5th Troop, Third Virginia Regiment, under Cornet Presly Thornton and commanded by Colonel Baylor. [2]

He took part in the "surprise of the regiment" or "massacre" at Tappan in New Jersey, was captured by the British and held in the Sugarhouse Prison in New York City. [3] When he was exchanged, he rejoined his former regiment of Light Dragoons, then under the command of Colonel William Washington. He continued to serve there until discharged in South Carolina on December 26, 1780.

In 1784 the name "John Gerret" appears on the tax lists for Greene Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania, where two hundred fifty acres were surveyed to him March 29, 1785. "John garard" was received by baptism into the Goshen Baptist Church on September 30, 1786. He was on several lists of subscribers to provide corn for the maintenance of Reverend Corbly in 1788 and 1789.

He joined his father and brothers, Joseph Jr. and William, in the spring of 1789, floating down the Monongahela to the mouth of the Little Miami River where they founded Gerrard's Fort. Meanwhile, back at the Whitely Creek meeting house, on December 25, 1790, some charges were brought against John Gerrard by Jeremiah Gustin, concerning a debt, which Brother Gustin claimed he had paid and for which he had received a receipt. The Church refused John's letter of dismission until he could be present to clear up the misunderstanding. Whether or not he returned to resolve the matter is unclear, for the next mention of him was back in Hamilton County, Ohio, where he was a constable in the newly formed Columbia Township in 1791 and clerk of Anderson Township when it was created in 1793.

He became one of the first settlers of present day Miami County, Ohio in 1799, cultivating land two miles north of Troy, in Staunton Township, known as "Gerrard's Prairie." He entered four-hundred-thirty-three acres of land there, December 28, 1802. The land is described in "meets-and-bounds" as Section 9, Township 1, Range 10. He paid two dollars and acre for this land. The patent was issued May 6, 1813. On August 11, 1804, he entered an additional three hundred seventy five acres, which he later forfeited.

He was Justice of the Peace for Montgomery County in 1805, and was one of the first associate justices for the Court of Common Pleas in Miami County, appointed June 23, 1807, and serving eight years.

"John Gerrard" was head of household in Concord Township, Miami county, in the 1820 Federal Census of Ohio. He was characterized as being "a man of strict integrity, energy and a valuable citizen; and a prime mover in every enterprise looking toward the development of the infant county."

In his pension application, dated December 3, 1819, he declared "that he is in reduced circumstances and stands in need of he assistance of his country for support......." He returned to Hamilton County, according to pension records papers of 1821, in which he stated that "I am a farmer by occupation, that...........I have not kept house or had a home of my own for the past five years and that during this I have lived with my children who are married and settled--somtimes with one and sometimes with another, who have materially assisted me in everything that relates to my living--execpt my clothing which I have been able by my own exertions to provide for myself. From age and reduced circumstances I stand in need of assistance from my country for support." His property, at this time, consisted of "1 horse, 3 years old, small sized, together with an old saddle and bridle worth all together $50,00."

A certificate of pension was issued to him April 19, 1821, rate was $8.00 a month, commencing December 4, 1819. His last payment was dated March 4, 1829.

Issue: As indicated by his pension record, John had several children; the only one known by name is: i. Mehitable, b. 1775; d. May 21, 1827; m. Stephen Dye, 1789


[1] Captain John Neville reactivated Fort Pitt in August, 1775, by order of the Virginia Provincial Convention. This act on the part of Virginia was contrary to a recommendation made by the Continental Congress, July 25, 1775, calling upon both Virginia and Pennsylvania to dismiss all all bodies of armed men kept by either party at Fort Pitt. However, Neville and his men, who were paid by Virginia, remained here until June 1, 1777, when Brigadier General Edward Hand, commander in the western department took possession. [Mulkearn, Louis, and Pugh, Edwin V., A Traveler's Guide to Historic Western Pennsylvania (1954, pp. 16-18.]

[2] On the twenty-seventh of September, General Grey surprised Colonel Baylor's Light Horse at Tappan, as completely as he did General Wayne's command at Paoli; and Lieutenant-coloney Campbell, accompanied by Lieutenant colonel Simcoe, confirmed their antecedent custom warfare by forays which brought little plunder and less intrinsic credit....." [Carrington, Henry B., Battles of the American Revolution (1877), p. 459.]

[3] In a corner of old Trinity Churchyard, facing Wall Street stands a brownstone monument to "these great and good men who died whilst in captivity in the Old Sugar House and were interred in Trinity Churchyard." Livingston's Sugarhouse, on Liberty Street, the building mentioned on the , was built in 1756. It was a five story stone edifice with low ceilings and small windows. In 1776 it was commandeered as a prison by the British, and during the next few years many American prisoners died of neglect within its walls. When the Sugarhouse was demolished in 1840, some of the prisoner's names could still be seen cut into the solid stone walls.

Philip H. Dye, Ph.D.