Lt Elijah Shoemaker 1747-1778Leave a Comment
Biography of Lt. Elijah Shoemaker July-2-2012 by Kenneth D. Roach
Birth: 15 Feb 1747, baptized 22 Mar 1747, Smithfield Township, PA in present day Monroe County, [Records of the Reformed Dutch Church of Smithfield, PA, Complied by Amos Canfield, MD (New York Genealogical and Historical Society), 1926]; [The Schoonmaker Family, Part One,
Compiled By Ruth P. Heidgerd, (New Platz, NY, Schoonmaker Family Association,); 1974, Page 55]
Death: 3 Jul 1778, in the aftermath of the Battle of Wyoming, fought in present day Forty Fort, PA [Heitman, page 495]; [Monument on the Site of the Battle of Wyoming]; [The Methodist Quarterly Review, Edited by George Peck, D.D., (New York, Lane & Tippett), 1846, Page 456]; [History of
Luzerne County, Page 1349]; [History of Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys, Page 334]
Marriage: Jane McDowell.
Children: Elijah Shoemaker, Jr.
Education: Details of his education are unknown.
Military: By act of the General Assembly of Connecticut in May 1778, the Assembly “established Elijah Shoemaker to be Lieutenant of the second company or trainband in the 24th Regiment of this state”,[The Public records of the State of Connecticut from May 1778 to April 1780, Charles J. Hoadly, LL.D.; (Hartford, The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co.) 1895; Page 30]; [Heitman, Page 495]
Cincinnati: Died in Service prior to the formation of the Society of the Cincinnati; represented first by a Hereditary Member who joined in 1974.
Occupation: Farmer. [History of Luzerne County, Page 1349]; [History of Wyoming and Lackawanna Valleys,
Discussion: Elijah Shoemaker married Jane McDowell and moved to the Wyoming Valley taking up his father’s share of the Indian purchase in 1769. The land consisting of 1200 acres was adjacent to the property owned by Colonel Nathan Denison. Elijah was very successful improving the farm and becoming a prominent citizen of what was then known as Westmorland County, Connecticut. He served on a committee to “mark out a road from that (Delaware) river to the Susquehanna (River)” as no road existed from the Delaware River to the Wyoming Valley except bridle paths. He was very active in the affairs of Westmoreland County according to the records of the Susquehanna Land Company. While some settlers left the Wyoming Valley at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Elijah Shoemaker and many others remained in the Wyoming Valley choosing to endure the hardships and dangers of the frontier. Elijah and Jane had a child born January 4, 1778, that they named Elijah, Jr. By act of the General Assembly of Connecticut in May 1778, the Assembly “established Elijah Shoemaker to be Lieutenant of the second company or trainband in the 24th Regiment of this state”. Aholiab Buck was the Captain of the second company, 24th Regiment Connecticut Militia. In early June 1778, British Colonel John Butler, in command of a regiment of Loyalists, and Seneca Chiefs Sayenqueraghta and Cornplanter, decided to attack the Wyoming Valley. The British arrived in the Valley on June 30 with 110 Butler’s Rangers and 464 Iroquois. Colonel Nathan Denison and Lieutenant Colonels Zebulon Butler and George Dorrance commanded the defenders consisting of 340 militiamen. The number of the command also included a small contingent of Continentals. On July 3, 1778, Colonel Butler lured the defenders of Forty Fort away from the fort and into an ambush by burning Fort Wintermute, an outlying defensive fort. After a sharp battle, the order to retreat turned into a panic stampede. The Loyalists and Iroquois began a hunt for survivors and a massacre ensued. Colonel Butler reported that 227 scalps had been taken. After the battle, among those militia that attempted to escape was Lieutenant Elijah Shoemaker. A Loyalist by the name of John Windecker, who before the war was befriended by Elijah Shoemaker, tomahawked Lt. Shoemaker crushing his skull and then casted his body into the Susquehanna River. Elijah’s wife Jane and other survivors fled the Wyoming Valley and returned to the safety of the “Minisink”. In 1783, Jane Shoemaker petitioned the General Assembly of Connecticut for losses occurred during the Revolutionary War. The submitted bill signed by Colonel Nathan Dennison is in the Connecticut State Archives and part of the Susquehanna Land Records. This part of present day Pennsylvania was still considered Westmoreland County, Connecticut but would soon become a part of Pennsylvania settling a dispute and conflict between the Connecticut and Pennsylvania settlers. A monument commemorating the Battle of Wyoming was erected over a mass grave containing the bones of the battle and massacre. The monument contains the names of those who were killed in the battle. Each year a ceremony commemorating the battle and massacre is conducted on the grounds of the monument. Elijah Shoemaker remained unrepresented in the Society of the Cincinnati for 198 years after his death (until 1974).