Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Spy Who Eluded Me, Part 3: What Might Have Been

The Spy Who Eluded Me, Part 2: War and Captivity

Following the prisoner exchange of 1778, David Dobson seems to disappear from public records for about 12 years (more on that in part 4).

I've so far found reference to two other David Dobsons during the time period in question:

Silver belt plate worn by
soldiers of the New Jersey
Volunteers, 4th Battalion
1) Private David Dolson (a.k.a. Dobson in some source documents) appears on the muster roll of the New Jersey Volunteers, 4th Battalion, Capt. Ryerson's Company in September 1779. In December, he transfers (on detachment with Capt. Ryerson) from Capt. William Van Allen's Company into the American Volunteers (Ferguson's Corps of Riflemen and Rangers) in New York. The Volunteers are soon shipped to South Carolina for a prolonged campaign ending with their defeat at the Battle of King's Mountain (7 October 1780), where Private Dobson is wounded and captured. He is listed as "deceased in the Southern War" on the April 1781 muster roll of the New Jersey Volunteers, 4th Battalion, Capt. Wm Van Allen's Company). But what if reports of death were greatly exaggerated?

2) On 30 November 1781, refugee David Dobson of the Township of Tennicock is assaulted and robbed of a large sum of money by two soldiers of the Regiment du Corps near Brooklyn Church, Long Island, New York. In his memorial for assistance, he states he has a wife and four small children to support. He claims that Lord Rawdon and General Lesley witnessed his services to his country (in the "perilous capacity of a guide"). He also claims to have been captured and "tried for his life" by the Rebels but to have made his escape from prison. His assailants, Conrad Sonderwein and Adam Goebell, are hanged for their crime by August 1782.

Are these two men connected to each other or to my David Dobson?

In the one confirmed record of my ancestor during this period, David Dobson of Cumberland sells 350 acres of inherited land to his stepfather George Faulkinther for £60. While the deed is dated 9 December 1780, it isn't registered until 4 March 1782. But the language of the deed suggests that David is present in Cumberland, Nova Scotia, at the time the document is drafted. Does this rule him out as being the same man as either of the two identified above?

I need to get my hands on more primary source documents!

TO BE CONTINUED

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