THE ROSS FAMILY
The following are excerpts from a July 1998 letter from Sharon Sheldon, descendant of James Barefoot, eldest son of Benjamin and Rebecca (Ross) Barefoot, to Hazel Fuller Kreinheder, Corrections Genealogist for the he National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Note: Federal census records beginning in 1790 only listed the names of the head of household until 1850, when every person living in the household was named.
Re: Corrections Request to Patriots George Ross, Esq. (1730-1779) and
Col. James Ross (1753-1808) via Rebecca Ross and Mary Ann Ross
In April of this year my cousin Becky Barefoot and I had the opportunity to meet and discuss with you the errors as found in the lineage of our distant grandmother, Rebecca (Ross) Barefoot. Approved DAR membership applications, both recent and from years back, have implied that Rebecca Ross was the daughter of Col. James Ross of Lancaster, PA, who in turn was the son of George Ross, Esq., (1730-1779) one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. During the past year research has indicated that this lineage link of Rebecca to James is in error.
It has been documented by many sources that the above referenced Col. James Ross of Lancaster had four children only: George, James, Catherine and Maria….
We feel preponderance of the evidence in hand shows our Rebecca Ross to be one of four children, and that their parents were James and Ruth (Robison/Robinson) Ross of Morgantown, Caernarvon Twp., Berks Co., PA. The marriage record of James Ross and Ruth Robinson is found in the St. James Episcopal Church in Lancaster City, Lancaster, PA. They married 10 December 1767. In May 1768 Ruth’s father, William Robison/Robinson, died, and in his will left 45 acres of land in Morgantown, Caernarvon Twp., Berks Co., PA to his daughter, Ruth Ross. Ruth and James farmed the land and were on the tax duplicates for this location from 1770-1778. The following children were born: Rebecca, b. 22 Dec 1768; Margaret b. ca 1770; William b. 14 Oct 1772, and Mary Ann b. 11 Jun 1776. By at least 1777 this James Ross was involved in the Revolution as evidenced by records of his oath of allegiance and as one of two court-martial men in the 5th Battalion, Southern Section, 8th Company, Caernarvon Twp., Berks Co. (source Pennsylvania Archives). His commander was Capt. David Morgan. By April 1779 James Ross was dead as evidenced by intestate papers on file in Berks Co., PA. While it’s possible that his death was war-related (no grave for James has been found at this point), we have been unable to determine what his Battalion would have been doing during this time frame. There was an additional accounting of the estate of James Ross in 1798 which shows the following: “The accountants charge themselves with the balance specified in their first account being $1298.10.11 in continental money exchange at 75 for one, equal to $17.6.2 ½, with a balance due the accountants of $6.16.2 ½.” Other researchers familiar with depreciation pay indicate that this entry reflects the exchange of continental money or scrip paid for service in the Revolution. There is no widow’s pension file for our James Ross, and his estate does not reference children by name….While we were hoping to find guardianship papers for James’ minor children (a procedure common for the times to protect minor children who were left fatherless) , we were disappointed that there were none. Perhaps this was due to Ruth’s brother John Robinson being named co-administrator of James Ross’ estate, or the fact that Ruth appeared to have been more than capable of providing for her children, as evidenced by later tax lists. She never remarried. The Berks courthouse does not have a file on the estate of Ruth Robinson Ross (died 1815), which assuredly would have listed her children and possibly their respective spouses.
Copies of pages out of the Bible owned by Rebecca Ross show her marriage to Benjamin Barefoot in 1787 and the subsequent births of their five children. Baptism records for their three middle children were located at St. Gabriel’s Church in Berks Co., but an examination of the records show that the baptisms actually occurred at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Morgantown, PA. Further examination of St. Thomas Church records show that two of Rebecca’s siblings were buried in its cemetery years later: William Ross, who died in 1818, and Mary Ann (Ross) Brinley, who died in 1834.
We feel the absence of any document explicitly naming James and Ruth as the parents of our Rebecca and the others can be overcome by facts that place these four Ross children right in Morgantown and its environs during most of their lives, and that James and Ruth Ross were the only people carrying the Ross surname in that location during this time frame. During the years 1779-92 the widow Ruth Ross is in the tax records in Caernarvon Twp., Berks Co., and in 1794-99, William Ross takes Ruth’s place on the Caernarvon Twp. tax duplicates as head of household. We had been unable to locate the whereabouts of our Rebecca Barefoot and her children in 1800 as her husband Benjamin Barefoot was on the 1800 census in Fayette Co., by himself… it is probable that Rebecca and her children were indeed living with family in 1800: William Ross has the following people in his household at the time of the census:
2 males under 10 (to be precise, this would need to be 3 boys under 10 to account for ALL the Barefoot boys, but perhaps 2-year-old Job wasn’t obvious to the enumerator)
1 male 10-16 (James Barefoot, age 12)
1 male 26-45 (William Ross, age 28)
1 female under 10 (Isabella Barefoot, age 5)
1 female 16-26 (Mary Ann Ross, age 24)
1 female 26-45 (Rebecca Ross Barefoot, age 31)
1 female over 45 (Ruth Robinson Ross)
Both William and Mary Ann Ross were still unmarried at this time, so the younger children could not have been theirs. We know Rebecca and Benjamin (or at the very least, Rebecca and the children) were in the Morgantown area in 1797 as per the baptism records mentioned above. A search of other family members did not turn up anyone else who would have had the children referenced in those categories.
In 1809 Rebecca Ross Barefoot’s name appears on the payroll ledger at Joanna Furnace which was an iron works in Berks Co., not far from Morgantown. In 1810 the Caernarvon Twp. census shows Rebecca Barefoot as head of a household surrounded by family, as evidenced by the order of households on that census: John Brindle (a variation of the spelling – this is Mary Ann Ross’ family), and two doors down, William Robinson (possibly a relative but not proven at this point).
In speaking with Robert Brinley (a descendant of Mary Ann Ross and author of “The Brinleys in PA” book, which is on file at the DAR Library) about his Ross relatives, he knew nothing other than the father of his Mary Ann Ross served under a Captain Morgan in the Revolutionary War. The above referenced James Ross who died in 1779 did just that.
The primary proof in this file came from William Ross’ estate. William had moved to Uwchlan Twp., Chester Co. and died there in 1818. His estate papers include a request to partition his real estate holdings as he and his wife were childless. The petition…states that William Ross was survived by three sisters: Mary Ann Brinley, Margaret Wells and Rebecca Barefoot.
In summary, we believe we have conclusively proven that Rebecca Ross was the daughter of James Ross of Berks Co., not James Ross of Lancaster Co. While both men were patriots named James Ross, it is our honor to request that our ancestor be linked to her real family…
Very sincerely yours,