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Descendants dedicate grave marker

By Staff | Jun 22, 2011

Descendants of an American patriot who served in the Revolutionary War gathered at Beech Run Cemetery on Saturday to dedicate a new grave marker.

Private John Williamson Sr. took an oath of allegiance with his father and five brothers in 1777, but he had been serving in the militia from September 1776 to 1783.

Williamson was born March 8, 1759, in Ringgold Manor, Md. He died on Feb. 17, 1856. In 1783 he married his first wife, Elizabeth Shepherd, who died two years later.

A descendant of Williamson, Anita Williamson Palmer from Albuquerque, N.M., said his second wife, Judith Dodd, sued him.

“She sued him for breach of promise in the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Pa.,” she said. “She said he had promised to marry her, but later refused when she was ready.”

Palmer said a bond of 1,000 pounds was posted. On Dec.1, 1782, he was ordered to pay her the equivalent of $53 in silver or gold. They married in 1786.

Palmer said Williamson lived his later days in poverty with his daughter and her husband, William and Rebecca Johnson, in what is now Pleasants County.

At the age of 34, John moved to 400 acres of land that had been deeded to them by his wife’s parents at the forks of Middle Island Creek and the next day he was deeded 400 acres of land along the river known as Long Reach, in what is now Tyler County

“He was broke and in ill health,” she said. “He was denied a pension twice since he did not have any documents to prove his service. He did not know his former commanders lived in Ohio. It was not like today with the Internet and cell phones that make it easy to find someone and contact them.”

Palmer said Williamson was in what could be considered a forerunner of today’s special ops units.

“He was in what we would call special ops,” she said. “He was a spy and tracked the Indians.”

Palmer said over the years Williamson had lost his property and had no other way to support himself due to age and illness.

Palmer said William and Rebecca, Becca as she was called, qualify as patriots as well.

“Becca had eight men who served in her background,” she said. “Her father, both grandfathers and five uncles.”

Palmer said her father was born and raised in the St. Marys area. She was born in Akron, Ohio. She said she had not been to the cemetery when she was younger and had only seen photos.

“I’ve been researching the genealogy for 12 years now, building on the work done by others in the family,” she said.

Later research found Williamson had served. According to records in Pennsylvania he was enrolled from 1781 to 1783 as a private in the Second Company under Capt. Eleazer Williamson, Third Battalion, Washington County Militia.