52 Ancestors, Week 49: Phillip Jacob Finkbiner, a Revolutionary War Rifleman

Payroll for Captain John Lowdon's company,
Jacob Finkboner is listed in the middle column.

Phillip Jacob Finkbiner (Jacob) was born 25 Aug 1754 in Philadelphia, the son of Tobias, a recent immigrant from Germany.

Jacob (20)  married Maria Magdalena Schilly on 8 Feb 1774.  They had a son, Johann Valentin in 1774.

Jacob, (known as Jacob Finkboner in the Revolutionary War records) was a rifleman in the Continental Army:

“A resolution was adopted by Congress, June 14, 1775, directing the formation of ten companies of expert riflemen, six in Pennsylvania, two in Maryland, and two in Virginia - to be employed as light infantry and be paid the following sums per month:
  • a captain, twenty dollars;
  • a lieutenant, thirteen and one-third dollars;
  • a sergeant, eight dollars;
  • a corporal, seven and one-third dollars;
  • a drummer, seven and one-third dollars,
  • and a private, six and two-thirds dollars
  •  - all "to find their own arms and clothes."
One of these companies, Captain John Lowdon's, was recruited in Northumberland County PA.” (1)

“Captain Lowdon's commission reads:

IN CONGRESS:   The Delegates of the United Colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex, in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina:

To John Lowdon, Esquire:

We, reposing especial trust and confidence in your patriotism, valor, conduct, and fidelity, do, by these present, constitute and appoint you to be captain of a company of riflemen in the battalion commanded by Colonel William Thompson, in the army of the United Colonies, raised for the defense of American liberty, and for repelling any hostile invasion thereof.

You are, therefore, carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of captain, by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging.  And we do strictly charge and require all officers and soldiers under your command to be obedient to your orders as captain;

and you are to observe and follow such orders and directions, from time to tune, as you shall receive from this or a future Congress of the United Colonies, or committee of Congress for that purpose appointed, or commander-in-chief for the time being of the army of the United Colonies, or any other superior officer, according to the rules and discipline of war, in pursuance of the trust reposed in you.

This commission to continue in force until revoked by this or a future Congress.

By order of Congress.

JOHN HANCOCK, President.

Attest CHARLES THOMPSON, Secretary.

PHILADELPHIA, June 25, 1775.” (2)

Jacob Finkboner enlisted on June 29th, 1775 in “Captain John Lowdon's Company of Northumberland County Riflemen, a component of what was called the Pennsylvania Line.

To qualify for service with the company, a rifleman had to fire at and repeatedly hit a seven-inch target at 250 yards, far more than that required for basic marksmanship qualification in any branch of the service today — using modern high-tech rifles. That kind of shooting would immediately get a marksman into a sniper school in the Army or Marines. They were dressed in fringed buckskin and carrying knives and tomahawks as well as rifles.” (3)

“The journal of Aaron Wright, New York Historical Magazine, lS62, page 209, states, that Capt. Lowdon's company was sworn in at Northumberland, June 29, 1775, after which " we chose our officers and lay there until the 7th of July when we got orders to march next morning.

When on parade our first lieutenant came and told us he would be glad if we would excuse him from going, which we refused, but on consideration, we all concluded it was better to consent. * * * In the evening we chose a private in his place. The next morning we marched on board the boats, &c. July 13, reached Reading, where we got our knapsacks, blankets, &c."  (4)

“Lowdon’s Company of crack riflemen was soon ordered to Boston. The men made the more than 600-mile march in a little more than a month, (that was very fast!) They could not only shoot but route step.” (3)

“There they participated in the siege of Boston. He was also involved in the debacle in Brooklyn, the Battle of White Plains and the retreat across New Jersey.“ (5)

Jacob Finkboner was discharged January 26, 1776.

He and his wife Magdalena had two more children:

  • Jacob Henry in 1778 (our ancestor) 
  • Suzanna in 1783

Magdalena must have died, and he married his second wife, Deborah Eschenfelder, and they had a daughter, Abigail in 1808.

Jacob (68) died 22 Sept 1822 in East Vincent, PA.

Jacob Finkenbeiner's tombstone

(1) http://files.usgwarchives.net/pa/northumberland/areahistory/bell0005.txt
(2) http://files.usgwarchives.net/pa/union/history/lynn/l040088.txt
(3) http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/history/item/4786-the-american-rifleman-in-the-revolutionary-war
(4) http://archive.org/stream/pennsylvaniainwa01linniala/pennsylvaniainwa01linniala_djvu.txt


  1. So Phillip had to be a crack shot to get into the Northumberland County Riflemen of the Pennsylvania Line ... has a real ring to it, to be sure ... and then the siege of Boston after a 600 mile trek. Wow, they were serious about purging the British!


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