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War of 1812 brought more to Ray County than National Anthem

By Linda Emley

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

When we hear these words, we think of a baseball game, a NASCAR race or a number of other events we’re sharing with a large crowd. Everyone knows the melody and we seldom get all the words right, but that’s OK because just hearing it makes us feel patriotic.
The Star Spangled Banner was written in 1814 as a poem by Francis Scott Key while he watched Fort McHenry being attacked by the British Navy during the War of 1812. It didn’t become our national anthem until 1931 when President Hoover made it official.
The War of 1812 is not as lucky as our national anthem because few people know anything about it. On June 18, 1812, 200 years ago this week, the U.S. declared war on Great Britain. The war ended on Feb. 18, 1815, and after reading over several different versions of this war story, it sounds like not much really changed.
It was a battle between the U.S., Canada and Great Britain plus a few Indian nations. Great Britain was in the middle of a battle against Napoleon, so it didn’t really have time to fight with the U.S. When the dust settled, the Indian nations were the ones that lost the most in this war. There were some famous battles like the Battle of New Orleans and Washington D.C. was burned by the British in August of 1814, but in the end the three nations were on friendly terms and the War of 1812 was history.
The main effect that the War of 1812 had on Ray County was that some of the soldiers settled in this area by using their bounty land grants. They were given 160 acres as payment for their military service so they could move west and claim their land or they could sell it to someone else to use.
The 1881 Ray County History book has a list of soldiers that received a government pension because of the War of 1812. They were: Thomas Blain, John Brewer, Thomas B. Brown, Alexander Bogart, John Bissell, William Bales, John Cornelison, John Davis, James Humphreys, James Kinzon, James Mason, William McIntosh, Thomas McCuistion, Edward Sanderson, Jabez Shotwell, Gerrard Spurrier, William Thornton, John Turner, and Emilius Wood.
I’m sharing the story of a few of these soliders so we can see how they served in the war and how they made their way to Ray County.
Edward Sanderson enlisted as a private in Capt. Scurry’s company of mounted riflemen, 2nd battalion, then joined Col. Thomas Williamson’s regiment of Tennessee volunteers, at Gallatin, Tenn. on Feb. 9, 1814. His company was commanded by Capt. George Elliott, who was promoted to be colonel of another regiment, and Captain Scurry succeeded him in the position of captain.
His company and regiment took up its line of march for New Orleans and reached the destination on Jan. 1, 1815. His company took part in the engagement of Jan. 8, 1815, in which Gen. Andrew Jackson gained a “complete and glorious” victory over the troops of Great Britain. Mr. Sanderson returned with his troops to Gallatin, Tenn. and was honorably discharged. A few years later, he moved to Ray County and became a farmer. He raised a large family and was a valuable citizen. He died on July 28, 1873, at the age of 81 when he was thrown from his horse, which had been frightened by a train. He’s buried at Todd’s Chapel Cemetery.
William Bales was born in 1792. He joined Capt. Sharp’s company, Tennessee militia, in December 1814 at Knoxville, Tenn. He was honorably discharged a short time before peace was declared. He became a citizen of Ray County after leaving Tennessee and become a resident of this county shortly after it was organized. He came to it when it was sparsely inhabited, when only a small portion of its land was under cultivation. He died on Jan 16,1882 and is also buried at Todd’s Chapel Cemetery.
William Thornton was born on Dec. 25, 1788. He enlisted as a private in Capt. James Simpson’s company, Maj. Peter Dudley’s brigade, in the division of Gen. Duncan McArthur on Sept. 1, 1813, and was honorably discharged at Winchester, Ky. on Sept., 25, 1814.
He served with McArthur’s company the greater portion of his enlistment in Canada. He became a settler of Ray County a few years after it was organized. He was a successful farmer and never married, but for many years lived with his sister, Miss Margery Thornton. After she died, he lived in the family of Gen. Alexander Doniphan for a number of years in Richmond. He died on Sept. 19, 1872 and is buried in the Richmond Cemetery.
Judge Jabez Shotwell, a Kentuckian by birth, lived for three-quarters of a century in Missouri and at the time of his death was just a few days of shy of 80 years old. He was one of the founders of Richmond.
For many years one of the judges in Ray County, Shotwell was honest and upright and made a hosts of friends. Though he was a member of a past generation, history notes that his death was mourned by all who knew him. Notwithstanding his advancing age, he still retained the use of his faculties and appeared much younger than his years denoted.
During the war of 1812, Shotwell served in the U. S. Army and for 60 years was a member of the Baptist church, thus setting what the Richmond Conservator referred to as a “lifelong example of Christian deportment and upright conduct to his family and friends. But he is gone and though the turf be piled above his coffined remains in the Shotwell burying ground … his wise counsels and personal worth will never be forgotten by those that knew him.”
Judge Shotwell died in Lexington on Nov. 10, 1871 after several weeks’ illness and, the newspaper reported, “was escorted to this city by a delegation of the old men of Lafayette, six of them acting as pall bearers, the oldest of whom was 78 and the youngest 72, accompanied by his son and daughter with their families. It was a sad sight to see those octogenarians standing beside the coffin of their old friend. In death, a good man has gone from among us and the community lost a valuable citizen.”

Have a story for Linda? You can contact her at raycohistory@aol.com.

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