Personal Struggles of a Revolutionary War Soldier
Sarah Abbott (1765-1856) and David Stevens (1761-1834)
Generation Five Family 384
Sarah Abbott is a fifth-generation descendant [Ebenezer (4), Ephraim (3), John (2), George and Hannah (1)]. Sarah and David were third cousins as they share immigrant Richard Barker (1621-1693) as an ancestor. Sarah Abbott and David Stevens were married at Andover 28 December 1784.
David Stevens was a wheelwright. He served as a private under that command of the Continental Army from 1779 to 1780. His declaration as part of his 1818 pension application stated he enlisted as a private at Andover 5 July 1779 at Andover and served for nine months under commanders of the Continental army. He marched from Andover to Springfield and then on to West Point. He served his entire nine-month term of enlistment and was discharged 10 April 1780. He was awarded a pension of $96 per year.
But David struggled with alcoholism. On 20 April 1819, the selectmen of Andover filed a petition to the probate court requesting that a guardian be appointed for David Stevens as due to excessive drinking and spending, he exposes “himself and family to want and suffering circumstances.” The date of the guardian appointment is uncertain, but in 1823 David was committed to the Andover almshouse due to his being a common drunkard and a petition was again made 15 December 1823 to have a guardian appointed for him. Joseph Holt, Jr. was appointed guardian. There are accounting records from 1824 through 1830 related to the guardianship.
The guardianship records include an appraisal of his estate on 16 February 1824 which found a total value of his personal estate of $54.32, $43.32 of which was his pension certificate. His personal possessions had a value of $11. Over the next two years, his estate was credited for a total amount of $301.58 for work done over that two-year period for a total value of $355.90. The accounting showed expenses over that period of $335.30 paid by the guardian leaving an estate value of $20.60 in 1826. There is similar accounting for other periods. For the 1830 accounting, those signing that they reviewed and agree with the accounting are Sarah Stevens, Ebenezer Stevens, and Herman A. Stevens. These are David’s wife Sarah and two of their sons.
As part of the “spendthrift” case, it was ordered that notices be posted at some public places, “to wit Mayo’s Tavern and Skinner and Kidder.” Mayo’s Tavern was located on Elm Square in Andover and Skinner and Kidder were merchants on Elm Square.
There are records for seven children born to David and Sarah at Andover. There is a death record for one of these children, David, in 1794 at age nine years. Three of the sons, Jacob, Ebenezer, and Herman, are known to have married and settled in Ohio. Their mother Sarah joined them there and she died there in 1856. It is not known what became of the other three children. Perhaps they died young, or there are just no records for them. Some of the children in the family had relocated to Danvers before the death of their father. In David Stevens’s 1834 probate record there is a statement by Nathan Pearson that he knew the family and that the children had traveled from Danvers to Andover to attend their father’s funeral.
Details of Family 384:
SARAH ABBOTT, born at Andover, 7 December 1765 daughter of Ebenezer and Lydia (Farrington) Abbott; died at Springfield, Ohio 7 September 1856; married, 28 December 1784, DAVID STEVENS, born at Andover, 3 February 1761 son of Thomas and Sarah (Gray) Stevens; David died at Andover, 29 January 1834.
There are records for seven children born at Andover.
1. David Stevens, born 27 July 1785 and died 26 June 1794
2. Ebenezer Stevens, born 25 August 1787 and died at Mt. Healthy, Ohio, 11 June 1857. Ebenezer married at Topsfield, 10 February 1811, Lucy Herrick (1790-1883) daughter of Edmund and Mehitable (Curtice) Herrick.
3. Ephraim Stevens, born 2 February 1790; there is no further information
4. Jacob Stevens, born 26 July 1792 and died in Cincinnati, 10 October 1874. He was described as “of Fishkill, New York” when he married Olive Beals at Medway, MA on 10 September 1823. Olive’s origins are not yet certain, but she died at Cincinnati 10 May 1879.
5. David Stevens, born 9 October 1794; there is no further information
6. Sarah Stevens, born 26 April 1797; there is no further information
7. Herman Abbot Stevens, born 18 October 1802 and died at Cincinnati, 14 April 1881. Herman married Sarah W. (last name not known but reported as “Beazy” on her burial record). Sarah was born about 1799 likely in Massachusetts and died 8 April 1871.
Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881. Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014.
Case 26319, 20 April 1819, David Stevens, spendthrift
Case 26320, 6 January 1824, David Stevens, spendthrift
Case 26321, 2 September 1834, David Stevens, intestate
U.S., Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900
Web: Cincinnati, Ohio, Spring Grove Cemetery Index, 1845-2012
Photo credit: https://preservation.mhl.org/elm-square