Our Patriot Ancestors
     . . . Biographical Sketches

William Phillips

  William Phillips was born about the year 1735, possibly in Maryland. He married Sophia and they gave birth to six children between 1765 and 1774: Nancy, Elijah, William Jr., Margaret, Bazil and Delilah. After his captivity, William and Sophia had five more children: Solomon, Comfort, Samuel, Joshua and Jesse.

  The Phillips family resided in the north end of Morrison Cove, near the present-day borough of Williamsburg. William Phillips obtained a warrant for two hundred acres of land in the Morrison Cove in 1774. The tract of land was, at that time, part of Barree Township and William's name appeared on the Barree Township tax assessment return for 1774. Since returns were usually written out during the fall of the year previous, William might have homesteaded on the property during 1773.

  When the hostilities between the Colonies and Great Britain began, William Phillips was serving as a Justice of the Peace for Frankstown Township. He received his commission in September 1776. Three years later, on 12 April 1779 William swore the oath of allegiance to the United States. William Phillips was commissioned to serve as the Captain of a company of Rangers in the Bedford County Militia on the 1st of May 1780.

  Only two and one-half months later Captain Phillips would be forced to surrender his company to the British-led Senecas who set fire to the cabin in which they were trapped. While the men whose lives were entrusted to him were retained in this clearing, Captain Phillips and his son Elijah were marched by the British Lieutenant John Dochstedder up the hillside and across into Morrison Cove in the start of a nearly three hundred mile and three week trek to Fort Niagara. In the 1700s, a normal day's journey by foot was fifteen miles, so the return trip of the British and Senecas would have taken about twenty days. Lieutenant Dochstedder was recorded as delivering his prisoners to Sir Guy Johnson at Fort Niagara a couple days prior to 11 August.

  The standard route northward from this frontier region to Fort Niagara, followed by the raiding parties was through the Tuckahoe Valley along the west slope of the Bald Eagle Mountain to the vicinity of Lock Haven where they arrived at Pine Creek. They followed Pine Creek north until they could cross over to the Tioga River. The Tioga took them into the Genessee Valley and the homelands of the Seneca, at the north of which was Fort Erie in the vicinity of present-day Buffalo, New York, just two days short of Fort Niagara. If the Memoirs of Edward Bell were correct, partway into that journey, William and his son, Elijah would have been separated. If Elijah had been taken to the Amerindian village on which Clearfield now stands, the party that took him in that direction probably would have separated from the main party when they reached the vicinity of Eldorado so that they could follow Burgoon Run westward through Kittanning Gap and across the Allegheny Front. William would not have known if he would ever see that son again.

  William Phillips was held as a prisoner first at Montreal and then at Ile Jesus. On 22 July 1782, two years after his having been taken captive, William was recorded at the latter British fortification. About the 1st of September 1782, William and another Militia officer, Lieutenant Roberts, escaped. A pension application for Lieutenant Roberts stated that "he and Captain Phillips made their escape, and after many adventures and hairbreadth escapes made their way back to their own country."

  William made his way back to his home in the Morrison Cove and reappeared on the tax assessment returns in 1785. Two years later, Huntingdon County was erected out of Bedford County and the north end of Morrison Cove fell within the bounds of the new county. Within the new Huntingdon County, the government needed to be developed. Among the individuals appointed to new positions within that new county government on 23 November 1787 was William Phillips who was commissioned as a Justice of the Peace for Woodberry Township.

  The family of William Phillips continued to reside near the town of Williamsburg at the north end of Morrison Cove until the 1790s. Around 1796, William moved his family to Kentucky. They initially may have settled in Boone County, but eventually made their home in Green County. It was there that Sophia died in 1803. William then married Sarah Bailey Walker and they gave birth to one daughter, Silvy. William died circa 1830.

  Of William and Sophia's children:

  Nancy Phillips married Rezin Davis and gave birth to: Sophia, Elizabeth Ida, Rezin Jr., Comfort, Nancy, Joshua, Lydia, Sarah, Francis Marion and Amos.

  William Phillips Jr., married Lucretia Davis. They gave birth to: Francis, Lott, Catherine, Sophia, Thomas, John, Nancy, Lucretia, William, Harriet, Davis, Godfrey and Emily.

  Margaret Phillips married a man by the name of Miller.

  Bazil Phillips married Nancy Baily. The couple gave birth to three sons: William, Elijah and Nathaniel.

  Delilah Phillips married a man by the name of Shirley and they gave birth to: William Henry, Ary and Sarah. After Mr. Shirley died, Delilah married Robert Walker. They gave birth to: Elijah, Martha Ann, Samuel, Philip, James, Mary Eunice, Milton, Sophia, Catherine and Nancy.

  Solomon Phillips married Delilah Davis.

  Comfort Phillips married Matthew Hutcheson. They gave birth to two sons: James T., and William Dailey.

  Samuel Phillips was married three times. His first wife was Sabrett Lee and they gave birth to: William Newton, Parthenia E., Joshua G., Moses Lee, Margaret, John W., Mary Elizabeth and James Simpson. Samuel's second wife was Sarah Murray and the couple gave birth to one son: Samuel Brookin. Samuel's third wife was Sarah Sylinder.

  Jesse Phillips married Sally Boyd.

  William and Sarah's only child, their daughter Sylvy Phillips married John Fryer. The couple gave birth to: Martha A., Lucy C., Amanda M., William Turner, Washington G., Elizabeth M. and Hetha Louisa.

  A final thought on Captain William Phillips needs to be stated. According to Jones, upon their return the local residents treated William and his son, Elijah with disdain. Some of his previous neighbors came to the assumption that William was a traitor and that he and his son had been spared from being killed by some deal he made with his captives. The region was rife with Tory sympathizers and some may have questioned whether William, like Joshua Davis, had negotiated with local Tories, if not with the British themselves, to betray his Patriot neighbors. Although that question eventually dissipated, who knows how long William and Elijah had to live with it? Elijah was young; he probably didn't waste too much time thinking about it and worrying what the neighbors thought of him. But William would have had to bear the full weight of such an accusation on his conscience. And it would have added to the burden of grief and guilt he probably carried all through his captivity ~ that men under his command had lost their lives.