Sampson Piersol was born in 1764 in Chester County, Pa., probably to
Benjamin and Rebecca Pearsall. (1)
Married Susannah Castor, daughter of Benjamin and Ruth Castor, who lived in what is now Allegheny County, Pa. (2)
At the time of the Revolutionary War, Sampson lived on Peters Creek in what is now Allegheny County, according to his Revolutionary War pension application.
During the Revolution, Sampson served as a private in the militia and an “Indian spy.” Sampson’s Revolutionary War pension application says: “That he entered the service of the United States as a private soldier a volunteer in March in the year 1781 under Captain Joseph Sipeney in a company of Indian Spies. That he served in said company under said Captain Sipeney during the summer of the year 1781 six months and the summer of 1782 from March until sometime in June when the he volunteered and joined the company commanded by Captain Andrew Hood under Colonel Crawford in his campaign against the Indians at Sanduskey. That he marched under said officers to Sanduskey and was in the battle at the time of Crawford’s defeat. That he returned with the remnant of Colonel Crawford’s army after his defeat at Sanduskey and joined his former company under said Captain Sipeney after being absent in Crawford’s campaign about six weeks. That he continued under said Sipeney until the first of October A.D. 1782 making in all eleven months under Captain Sipeney and six weeks or a month and a half in Crawford’s Campaign against the Indians at Sanduskey along the frontier up and down the Ohio River partly in the counties now called Allegheny and Beaver and partly on the north side of said river and after pursued and chased the Indians from the frontier settlements.” (4)
“Pennsylvania Archives” lists Sampson among the privates in Capt. Andrew Hood’s company on the ill-fated campaign led by Col. William Crawford in June 1782. (5) Crawford’s force was sent against the Indian villages near Sandusky, Ohio, believed to be the source of attacks on the settlements. However, the Indians received word of the troops’ approach and were able to evacuate the villages. A battle did erupt and the militia held its own during fighting on June 4. But the next day, the Indians were re-enforced and Crawford decided to withdraw. While the militiamen prepared to retreat, the Indians attacked and scattered them. Many were captured and killed. Col. Crawford was captured, scalped and burned at the stake. (6)
The Revolution on the frontier was far different from that in the East. Instead of English soldiers, the primary foes were native Americans stirred to action by the British and their sympathizers. These raids meant scalpings, kidnap and torture. The settlers often replied with equal savagery. The Indians were seen as a threat until 1794, when they were vanquished by troops under Gen. Anthony Wayne. (7)
“History and Genealogy of the Pearsall Family in England and America” states that Sampson also was listed as a lieutenant in the 4th Company of the First Regiment of the Allegheny County militia on May 1, 1792. He was promoted to captain in 1794. However, I have not located those listings yet.
Sampson probably was only 16 years old when he started serving as an Indian spy in 1781. Although every male who could carry a gun was expected to join the militia, Sampson may have had additional incentive. According to the Pearsall genealogy, Sampson’s father was killed by Indians around 1774. However, I have not located a primary source that confirms this.
Records show Sampson paid taxes in 1791 in Mifflin Township, Allegheny County, which had been formed from part of Washington County. (8) In 1796, he moved about 40 miles north to what is now Beaver County, according to his pension application. At the turn of the century, Beaver County was established. Sampson appears on the tax lists of the new county’s Sewickley Township in 1802. At that time he owned two 200-acre parcels, two horses and two cows. (9)
Sampson took an active role in Beaver County’s government. On Aug. 15,1803, he was appointed as one of the first two justices for the county’s fifth district, which was north of the Connoquenessing and east of the Big Beaver, population 116. (10) He also served as county commissioner from 1831 to 1834. He was a Democrat. (11)
According to Pearsall genealogy, Sampson was not only a leader among his fellow frontiersmen, he was like the “lord of the manner.” He acted as attorney for Eastern proprietors who owned huge tracts of land in Western Pennsylvania. He conducted their business on the frontier and represented them in disputes.
This history – which tends to paint rather flattering portraits of its subjects – states: “No doubt there were many men who under similar circumstances could have directed the settlement of a wilderness, but there are very few who could have retained the friendship and confidence of the settlers to the same extent as Sampson Peirsol. For as long as he lived he was father, counselor and advisor to the whole community which radiated from his farm. In a well-worn book found among his papers he records the names of over fifty of his neighbors for whom he was practically transacted all their business. Sampson Peirsol performed this duty for very little remuneration, in fact it seems to have been thrust upon him by the insistence both of great landed proprietors and by those who they sold their lands.”
Among Sampson’s contributions listed in the Pearsall history is the foundation of a small church. On March 20, 1830, Sampson was among the original members of the Mouth Pleasant Bible Class, according to the history. His will does state that he was “to be intered in the graveyard or burying ground of Mt. Pleasant Church situated on my farm.” (12) The Piersols and many of their children and grandchildren are buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in North Sewickley Township, Beaver County, outside Ellwood City.
Sampson died Aug. 8, 1842. The date given for Susannah’s death is Feb.
15, 1837. (13)
(1) Sampson’s application for a pension for his Revolutionary War
service – 522937 – says he was born “in Chester County in Pennsylvania. I
think in the year 1764 in June or July. I have now no record of any age.”
The application was filed March 6, 1834 in Beaver County and Samson said he
was 69 years old. Sampson’s tombstone at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Beaver
County, Pa., says he was 78 years old at the time of his death in 1842.
Some secondary sources list other dates. The “Daughters of the American
Revolution Patriot Index,” page 522, says he was born June 7, 1764.
“Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage Book, Vol. 98,” page 288,
lists his year of birth as 1764. It is listed as 1765 in “The Genealogical
and Personal History of Beaver County,” page 506, and “Inventory of the
County Archives of Pennsylvania, Beaver County, No. 4,” page 375. It is
listed as “circa 1764” in “History and Genealogy of the Pearsall Family in
England and America, Vol. III,” by Clarenece E. Pearsall, page 1452, which
is also the source for the names of Sampson’s parents.
NOTE: The will of Benjamin Pearsall’s brother, John, is supposed to contain a list of Benjamin’s children. I have written to Hampshire County, W.Va., requesting a copy of the will.
(2) Susannah is listed as daughter of Benjamin and Ruth Castor of Mifflin Township in “Will Abstracts of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Will Books I Through V,” compiled by Hellen L. Harris and Elizabeth Wall, page 63. Benjamin’s will is in Book 3, page 119.
(3) Children and spouses of daughters identified in Sampson’s will in Beaver County Will Book B, page 303.
(4) Pension application. He is also mentioned in “DAR Lineage Book,” Vol. 98, page 288, which relies on the application for proof of service.
(5) “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 6, Vol. 2, page 392. Another possible listing is a “Samuel Piersol” in Capt. Cunnigham’s company of Washington County militia, which appears in the same volume on page 239.
(6) “A History of Northwestern Ohio,” by Nevin O. Winter, pages 29 to 42.
(7) “The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania,” by C. Hale Sipe.
(8) “Pennsylvania Archives,” Series 3, Vol. 22, page 649.
(9) “Complete Index of Remaining Tax Records, Beaver County, Pa., 1802-1840,” compiled by Publishers of Beaver County Records, page 6.
(10) “History of Beaver County, Pa.,” page 123.
(11)``Inventory of County Archives of Pennsylvania, Beaver County, No. 4,” by the Pennsylvania Historical Society, page 375.
(12) Beaver County Will Book B, page 303.
(13) Sampson’s date is on his tombstone. No date is left on Susannah’s tombstone, which appears to be missing its bottom half. The date here is from “Beaver County Cemeteries,” Vol. 1, page 69, by Bob and Mary Closson. I do not know the source of their date.