Biography of Sergeant Major John Gibson


(This site is dedicated to the men of the 12th – but in particularly to my wife’s ancestor

Sergeant Major John Gibson)


It is believed, that John Gibson was born on 7 Feb 1746 in Stowe, Massachusetts to Timothy Gibson and Persis Rice.  Not much is known at present regarding the Sgt Mjr’s early history.  He obvious joined the effort to colonize Massachusetts’ holdings in now what is Maine, for on the 1st of January 1777, he enlisted into Captain Donald’s company of Colonel Samuel Brewer’s Regiment.  He was living at Old York (York, ME) His term of enlistment was three years, and later in that year he is listed on a muster roll as a Sergeant Major.


In January 1778, Baron von Stuben would standardize the role of the Sergeant Major to that of an assistant to the regimental adjutant and an enforcer of discipline.  He was also the highest ranking enlisted man within the company and we are uncertain as to whether he was the Sergeant Major for the regiment – more research is needed to determine that fact.[1]  


According to the pension affidavit that he filed near the end of his life, the Sgt Mjr’s first action was to march with the regiment to Ft. Bennington.  When he arrived there, a detachment of two companies from the regiment marched on to Ft. George.  That detachment remained at Ft. George, until the Continental forces began their retreat from Fort Ticonderoga.  At that point, they marched to Ft. Edward on the North River, and from there to Half Moon, New York where they rejoined their regiment. 


He notes that he was at Half Moon until the surrender of Burgoyne’s Army, at which time the regiment marched south to Philadelphia and camped at Valley Forge.  He noted in the application that he marched with the regiment to Schuylkill and also to Philadelphia until May or June.  The regiment then marched out of that area with the Army under the Command of General George Washington as the British retreated from Philadelphia.  He notes that he was in the Battle of Monmouth.


Following that battle, the regiment marched to Westpoint where he was mustered out of service in 1780.  He recalled that his discharge was signed by Captain John Williams, who was commanding officer of the regiment at the time of his completion of service due to the field officers being absent.  He headed to Boston, turned over his discharge for the pay owed to him, and returned home. 


However, somewhere before his discharge, or shortly thereafter, he met and married a Mary, or perhaps her name was Mercy, and they had a son – John Gibson who was born in the Spring of 1780.  By then the family had moved to New HampshireCheshire.  In a short time, the family would settle in Deering, New Hampshire and Charles, Mary, and Mercy would join their brother John.  In the early 1790s, two other children – Hepzabah and Rebecca – would join the family. 


Eventually, John would move to Pomfret, Vermont and establish himself there.  They would befriend the Fenno family in the region, and daughter Mercy (also known as Mary) would marry Samuel Fenno.  These two families were part of the original founders of the Baptist Church in Pomfret.  It is from that family that the author’s wife is a descendant.  In 1819, John filed for a pension – yet his original application was delayed in filing and a second affidavit was taken to augment the first.  He was awarded a pension due to being reduced in circumstances.  He notes that he had not been able to work for two years and his previous occupation was that of a farmer.  He has a wife, Mary, age 67 years, and that there is “no other family.” 


He notes that the value of his property is $196.87 and consists of the following:

o      Land in Himerburgh in the County of Chittenden          $100.

o      2 cows ($32), 2 yearlings ($12), 10 sheep ($10), 2 shoats (7) $62.

o      1 old table, a chest, six chairs, 2 kettles                       $ 5.33

o      Shovel and tongs, 8 milk pews, a tea kettle, copper pot $ 3.58

o      A milkpew, 12 platters, 12 saucers, 4 bowls, 1 iron pot   $ 5.45

o      1 BIBLE*, 6 knives & forks, 1 old wooden clock, 1 axe, 1 hoe $ 5.45

o      7 harrow teeth, 1 large wheel, 1 alntern, 1 staired table  $ 4.41

o      1 cheese press, 1 candlestick, 1 sickle, 2 iron wedges, 3 *** rings                                                                         $1.35

o      4 swarms of bees, 4 cyder barrels                                $10.


His debts amounted to $117 and were as follows:

o      Sylvester Even $58

o      E. Lyman $26

o      W. Howard $5.50

o      W. Snow $14

o      W. Rup $7.50

o      Caroline Haden $6


*{Obviously, if someone knows the whereabouts of this Bible…. 


These two pictures were taken by Michael Tinker, a descendant of the Sergeant Major, on a recent visit to Pomfret and the surrounding country.  The building is the North Pomfret Post Office, the hill is Teago Hill a dominate landmark in the Pomfret area. 


Between 1820 and 1825, he and  his wife had moved north a few miles into Roxbury-Northfield area of nearby Washington County – less than 20 miles away. 


The Sergeant Major died before his wife.  In his pension file is a letter from Charles Gibson to the Pension Office inquiring about a possible benefit owed to his widow.  This letter notes the following:


John Gibson a Private in the War of the Revolution from Massachusetts drew a pension until his death which took place in the Summer of 1825 in Northfield, Washington County, Vermont.  His administrator, Joel Whinch ((Welch)), Esq., drew the arrearages due him at the time of his death at Burlington, VT.  He was married to Marcy Lenox during the term of his service.  She survived her husband eleven years and died Nov 30th 1836 his widow at Parrisville, St. Lawrence County, NY.”


The letter inquires as to whether the widow would have been owed anything and if so what proofs would be needed to collect any amount due.  The letter is dated 30 Dec 1849, was received in March 1850 by the Pension Office, and in August 1850 the Pension Office receives a request from Rep. King asking for the forms requested by Charles Gibson.  There are no further notes associated with the file.  


To date, there have been efforts in finding additional materials about the life of the Sergeant Major, albeit somewhat limited, to find materials associated with the Death of John Gibson in Pomfret, or in Northfield.  In Washington County, probate proceedings were found.  Therein, he was noted as being a soldier of the revolution.  The probate proceedings were commenced in the Probate Court in January 1825.  His estate, including the additional draw on the remaining pension, was valued at $93.82, after bills and expenses, $76.12 was ordered as the property of the widow on 17 March 1825.  No name is listed for the widow.   However, it should be noted that John is referred to as being “late of Roxbury.” 


That could be an additional clue, however, the Town Clerk (Gloria Gerdes) noted that she reviewed the records they have and did find a reference to a Gibson family in the late 1820s.  However, there was no reference to John’s death or his wife in their records – “most of our vital records prior to 1858 were lost in a fire.”  An inquiry will be made of the Town Clerk for Northfield.  No records have been located for Parishville, St. Lawrence County, NY for the death of his wife in 1836.


PLEASE NOTE:  If you are a descendant of this line, please contact me and I can share info with you.  Also, a lineage proof has been accepted by the National Society of Children of the American Revolution.