Tuesday, 6 June 2017

William R Powe’s land bounty for 1812 service: part 2 of his story

The previous post summarised what we know about William in the early part of his life prior to moving to Missouri.

In summarising the elements of his service in the war of 1812 it seemed that if we could find that he took up the land available to him as a veteran this may confirm his correct identification in those war records.

It turns out that I already had the answer but had put it aside. 

Originally, I believed the stories that he had died in prison in Missouri after being convicted of grand larceny in the early 1850s. These stories were persistent. I managed to get a hard to read a copy of the court record of the conviction. However, that record refers to a William Powe – not a William R Powe. 

I was eventually able to get a copy of the prison record which confirmed details of the person in question. He was only 22 years old, a whopping 6’ 4” tall with auburn hair, grey eyes and a light complexion. Obviously, a different man, William R was an average height of 5’6” with dark hair and more than double the prisoner's age.

Long before that, someone had sent me a copy of a land patent which I now realise matches his 1812 war service. It dates to October 1860 and grants 160 acres to “William Powe, who served under the name of William Pow”, as a private in Captain Wood’s Company in the Kentucky Militia of the War of 1812.  This is exactly the person whose service enabled his widow to obtain a pension much later in her life.

It also matches his widow’s description of the land grant as being for 160 acres as a result of war service that included the battle of New Orleans. We know that Captain Wood’s company was part of Lieutenant Colonel Slaughter’s regiment. In her submission for a pension, Poe’s widow could not recall the name of the company her husband had served in but she had correctly remembered the substance of it. 

It’s worth noting that most people eligible for this land grant seem not to have taken it up.  In addition, as with the other land warrants granted so long after the event, the land itself was not taken up by the veteran but was ‘assigned’ by them to another person. In this case, one John H Rust ended up owning the land and he presumably paid Powe an agreed price. 

The land was in Kansas, far away from Illinois where William was living at that time. Poe’s then wife was presumably aware of the transaction which would have resulted in a substantial increase in their household income. Those who interviewed her for the pension would probably have been able to determine she was genuine even if she was not aware of some details.

I am now very confident that the identification of William R Powe as the William Powe in this warrant which was the basis of his widow's claim for a pension is correct. However, the identification of him as also Corporal William Poe of Virginia in the same war remains possible, but the only tie which is currently obvious is that he was known to have been born in Virginia. Other information available in the 1920s now seems to be lost. 

Neither set of records identifies his parents but certainly does suggest the focus for that search should be in Garrard County initially and then Virginia.  It may be a process of elimination rather than direct identification.


Below is a picture of the military land warrant. The next post will cover WRP's later life.