52 Ancestors, Week 52: William Hamilton

A WPA Project in the 1930s

William Hamilton was born 20 Mar 1751 the 10th of 15 children in Adams, PA.
William (24) married Mary Magdalena Bittinger (21), 14 Sep 1775. They had 12 children:

  • Margaret b: 1776
  • John b: 1778 (our ancestor)
  • Jane b: 25 MAY 1780 twins!
  • Florence b: 25 MAY 1780 twins!
  • William b: 1782
  • Joseph b: 1784
  • Enoch b: 1786
  • James b: 1788
  • Robert b: 1791
  • George b: 1792 in York Co., Pa.
  • David b: 1795
  • Jesse b: 1797

 "William and  Magdalena Hamilton lived on what is known as the "Hankey farm,"  three miles west of Gettysburg, the title to which he purchased from the heirs of William Penn; the old homestead  was standing at the time of the Civil War battle, and was used by the  Confederates as a hospital."

I found a 50-page pension file, in which William’s youngest son Jesse relates his father’s war service:

That he (Jesse) is the youngest child of William Hamilton a soldier of the Revolution that he has often heard his father William Hamilton speak of his service in the Revolutionary war, that Jesse has a sword that his father used in the war.  

William served in the army and served as a lieutenant under Capt. Robert McConaughy, he thinks he was out two tours in that capacity but does not know the length of the tours.  It was about the commencement of the war that he heard his father speak of returning home from the war to see his family in the fall of 1776, and his oldest child Margaret was then born, and he stayed at home with his family some days and then returned to the service.  

He heard his father speak of carrying some money from his mother-in-law to his father-in-law Capt Bittinger who was at that time a prisoner of the enemy.  

He heard his father speak of a soldier being shot down by his side in a skirmish at Amity, he has also heard him speak of retreating from the enemy at the battle of Brandywine.  Upon one occasion, being upon a scouting party his father observed the enemy in the act of firing upon him but he fired a moment before the enemy, who fell, his ball passing close by his father’s head.  

His father afterward enlisted in the artillery at York PA and served under Captain Coven in the artillery, commanded by General Knox.  

Reproduction of pay ledger showing Wm Hamilton

He was a matross (a gunner or a gunner's mate; one of the soldiers in a train of artillery, who assisted the gunners in loading, firing, and sponging the guns.)  in the company and he thinks he entered this service about the spring of 1779.   He cannot tell how long he was in service but thinks it was a considerable length of time until the close of the war or nearly so.  –Jesse Hamilton, 1855

Reproduction of Service Record of Wm Hamilton

After the war, William was one of the commissioners appointed to supervise the erection of the first county building at Gettysburg, when Adams  County was formed.

William (72) died on 22 September 1823 in Adams County, PA.  His wife, Magdalena (88), died 17 Dec 1842.
Wm Hamilton's headstone

Pension File
"History of  Washington Co." 1882.


  1. One of 15 children and he went on to have 12 children. If each of his siblings all did the same, William Hamilton's parents would have 180 grandchildren. That's more names than anyone could ever keep straight ;)

  2. My connection to William Hamilton Sr is through William his son. My information has William Hamilton Jr as being born in 1783 and not 1782 as listed here. William Hamilton , his son had a son Enoch who is my great-great grandfather who died in 1892 here in Texas.

  3. I have a photo of Williams headstone that is newer and is a metal plaque. It says
    William Hamilton
    MAR 20 1740 SEPT 21 1823

    Contact me if you want a copy of photo

  4. From my understanding the house on the farm at Gettysburg was also used during the revolutionary war as a hospital and Mary Magdelena nursed the wounded. They treated soldiers from both sides because some of the enemy were Scottish and the Hamiltons are of Scottish ancestry, there very well could have been a Hamilton fighting for the British. From my understanding there was a Hamilton at the Battle of Kings Mountain who was under Ferguson on the British side, they were loyalists but the patriots won the battle and it turned the tide of the war.


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