The now and then postings of the discoveries and contributions of the Miller and Bechtold families .

Friday, September 24, 2010

Virginia Uprising: The Claypole Rebellion during the Revolutionary War

Leinert Heyer, 6th Great Grandfather

Leinert Heyer, who has 2 daughters and a grand daughter who marry into the Constant-Stingley-Hagler lines, has a son, also named Leinert Heyer.

Leonard Hier (Leinert Heyer) Senior (I) and Junior (II), his son... were involved in the uprising. See the letters to Thomas Jefferson about it! They were pardoned after a petition of clemency.

Descendants of Leinert Heyer (one of the 3 lines)

1-Leinert Heyer (I)
Clara Grace Lutzler
2-Eva Marie Heyer
Sebastian "Boston" Hagler
3-Klora Hagler
George Stingley
4-John Stingley
Elizabeth Bush
5-Talitha Stingley
Isaac Constant
6-Emma Constant
John Herman Miller
7-John Herman C. Miller
Elizabeth McCaffrey
8-Mary Alyce Miller
8-John H. Miller
Marie Louise Bechtold
8-Hugh Joseph Miller
Mary Lou Jacobson
8-Robert Constant Miller
Shelia Cameron
        9 Miller Cousins

CLAYPOLE Rebellion:

In 1781, a number of area residents, including Leonard & Rudolp Hier (Hyre) (Heyer!) were in involved in an insurrection led by a local Tory, John Claypole. In 1780, taxes were increased considerably, as a war measure. A short-lived revolt broke out, with light bloodshed on either side, in what was then Hampshire County.

Note: It is likely that Leonard Hyre II (our uncle) was the one involved, although it could have been Leinart Heyer I (our direct ancestor). The names were spelled Hier on court records.

A view of the area today, along the South Fork of the Wappatomaka (modernly known as the Potomac) river:


A History Of The Valley Of Virginia
By Samuel Kercheval
In 1781 Cornwallis entered Virginia at the head of a large army, and in the month of June a party of tories raised the British standard on Lost river, then in the county of Hampshire (now Hardy.) John Claypole, a Scotsman by birth, and his two sons, were at the head of the insurrection (Moses Russell, Esq., informed the author, that it was reported and believed at the time that Claypole's two sons went to North Carolina, and had an interview with Lord Cornwallis, who appointed and commissioned them both captains in the British service, and sent the commission of colonel to their father). Claypole had the address to draw over to his party a considerable majority of the people on Lost river, and a number on the South fork of the Wappatomaka. They first manifested symptoms of rebellion by refusing to pay their taxes and refusing to furnish their quota of men to serve in the militia. The sheriffs, or collectors of the revenue, complained to Col. Vanmeter, of the county of Hampshire, that they were resisted in their attempts to discharge their official duties, when the colonel ordered a captain and thirty men to their aid. The insurgents armed themselves, and determined to resist. Among them was John Brake, a German of considerable wealth, who resided about fifteen miles above Moorefield, on the South fork of the river, and whose house became the place of rendezvous for the insurgents. When the sheriff went up with the militia posse, fifty men appeared in arms. The posse and tories unexpectedly met in the public road. Thirty-five of the latter broke and ran about one hundred yards, and then formed, while fifteen stood firm. The captain of the guard called out for a parley, when a free conversation took place, in which this dangerous proceeding on the part of the tories was pointed out, with the terrible consequences which must inevitably follow. It is said that had a pistol been fired, a dreadful scene of carnage would have ensued (lsaac Vanmeter, Esq., then about eighteen years of age, was one of the posse, and related these facts to the author.). The two parties, however, parted without bloodshed. But instead of the tory party retiring to their respective homes and attending to their domestic duties, the spirit of insurrection increased. They began to organize, appointed officers, and made John Claypole their commander-in-chief, with the intention of marching off in a body to Cornwallis, in the event of his advancing into the valley or near it.

Several expresses were sent to Col. Smith, requesting the aid of the militia, in the counties immediately adjoining, to quell this rebellion. He addressed letters to the commanding officers of Berkeley and Shenandoah, beat up for volunteers in Frederick, and in a few days an army of four hundred rank and file were well mounted and equipped. Gen. Morgan, who, after the defeat of Tarlton and some other military services, had obtained leave of absence from the army, and was now reposing on his farm (Saratoga) in Frederick, and whose name was a host in itself, was solicited to take the command, with which he readily complied. About the 18th or 20th of June the army marched from Winchester, and in two days arrived in the neighborhood of this tory section of Hardy county. They halted at Claypole's house (Claypole's former residence is now owned by Mr. Miller, and is about forty-five-or fifty miles south-west of Winchester, on Lost river in Hardy county.), and took him prisoner. Several young men fled; among them William Baker. As he ran across Claypole's meadow he was hailed and ordered to surrender; but disregarding the command, Capt. Abraham Byrd, of Shenandoah county, an excellent marksman, raised his rifle, fired, and wounded him in the leg (The spot was pointed out to the author, by Mr. Miller, where Byrd stood when he fired at Baker, and where Baker fell. The distance is about four hundred yards.). He fell, and several of Morgan's party went to him to see the result. The ball had penetrated just above the heel, ranged up the leg, and shivered the bones. As the poor fellow begged for mercy, he was taken to the house, and his wound dressed by the surgeon of the regiment. He recovered, and is still living. They took from Claypole provisions for themselves and horses, Col. Smith (who was second in command,) giving him a certificate for their value.

From Claypole's the army moved up Lost river, and some young men in the advance took a man named Matthias Wilkins prisoner, placed a. rope round his neck, and threatened to hang him. Col. Smith rode up, saw what was going on, and ordered them instantly to desist. They also caught a man named John Payne, and branded him on the posteriors with a red hot spade, telling him they would make him a freemason. Claypole solemnly promised to be of good behavior, gave bail and was set at liberty.

The army thence crossed the South Branch mountain. On or near the summit they saw a small cabin, which had probably been erected by some hunters. Gen. Morgan ordered it to be surrounded, observing, "It is probable some of the tories are now in it." As the men approached the cabin, ten or a dozen fellows ran out and fled. An elderly man, named Mace, and two of his sons, were among them. Old Mace„ finding himself pretty closely pursued, surrendered. One of the pursuers was Capt. William Snickers, an aid-de-camp of Morgan, who being mounted on a fine horse, was soon alongside of him. One of Mace's sons looking round at this instant, and seeing Snickers aiming a blow with a drawn sword at his father, drew up his rifle and fired at him. The ball passed through the crest of his horse's neck; he fell, and threw the rider over his head. Snickers was at first thought by his friends to be killed; and in the excitement of the moment, an Irishman, half drunk, who had been with Morgan for some time as a waiter, and had seen much tory blood shed in the Carolinas, ran up to the prisoner (Mace) with a cocked pistol in his hand, and shot the poor man, who fell, and instantly expired. Capt. Snickers soon recovered from the bruises received in his fall, as did his horse also from the wound in his neck.

The army proceeded on to pay their respects to Mr. John Brake, an old German, who had a fine farm with extensive meadows, a mill, large distillery, and many fat hogs and cattle. He was an exception, in his political course, to his countrymen, as they were almost to a man, true whigs, and friends to their country. Brake, as before observed, had joined the tory band, and his house was their place of rendezvous, where they feasted on the best he had. All this appearing unquestionable, Morgan marched his army to his residence, there halted, and spent two days and nights with his reluctant host. His troops lived on the best his fine farm, mill and distillery afforded, feasting on his pigs, fatted calves, young beeves, lambs, poultry, &c., while their horses, fared no less luxuriously upon his fine unmown meadows, oat fields, &c. As Brake had entertained and feasted the tories, Morgan concluded that he should feast them in turn.

The third day, in the morning, the army moved on down the river, passed by Moorefield, and returned to Winchester, where it was disbanded, after a service of only about eight or ten days. Thus was this tory insurrection crushed in the bud. The party themselves became ashamed of their conduct, and in some degree to atone for it, and wipe off the stain, several of the young men volunteered their services and marched to aid in the capture of Cornwallis.

South Fork area in blue:

South Branch nomenclature (Potomac River)

Early pioneer sources claim that the indigenous Native Americans of the region referred to the South Branch Potomac River as the Wappatomaka. Other variants of this name throughout the river's history were South Branch of Potowmac River, South Branch of the Potowmac River, South Fork Potomac River, Wapacomo River, Wapocomo River, Wappacoma River, Wappatomaka River, and Wappatomica River.

The Tory Uprising or the Brake/Claypool Rebellion took place over a period of several months. Jacob Fisher in his pension application states: "On April 1781 marched against the Tories in the western part of Hampshire Co. which tour ended July 1781. Engaged in skirmish with Tories, near Brakes in Hampshire, now Hardy Co."[1]

The following is a letter from Col. Van Meter of Hampshire Co. to Thomas Jefferson, then Governor of Virginia, dated 11 April 1781.

I am sorry to inform your Excellency that a dangerous insurrection has lately arisen in this County, occasioned by the execution of the late Acts of Assembly for recruiting this state's quota of troops to serve in the Continental Army, and the Act for supplying the Army with clothes, provisions and wagons, in consequence of which the collector of the tax under the former Act has been opposed in the execution of his duty and has been obliged to desist from any further proceeding therein, and although every measure that prudence could suggest has been taken to suppress the rioters, yet it has proved ineffectual by reason of their having a superior force. I therefore thought it my duty to lay the matter before your Excellency, and hope such measures will be taken in consequence of the late Act of Assembly for giving your Excellency further powers and as shall be thought requisite.

This day our draft was completed and in a few day shall send your Excellency a full account thereof and every other necessary information requisite.[2]

Garrett VanMeter, Colonel

Kercheval in his History of the Valley of Virginia first published in 1833, tells the following story of the events which took place during the Tory uprising on the Brake homestead. No where in this account does Kercheval mention a "castle like home"[3] or the destruction of Jacob Brake's building, stories which have been told to us by other historians. If Brake's Mill and distillery were destroyed, they were replaced by 1784 when Jacob's taxes included four outbuildings.

The army proceeded on to pay their respects to Mr. John Brake, an old German, who had a fine farm with extensive meadows, a mill, large distllery, and many fat hogs and cattle... Brake, as before observed, had joined the Tory band, and his house was their place of rendezvous, where they feasted on the best he had. All this appearing unquestionable, Morgan marched his army to his residence, they halted, and spent two days and nights with the reluctant host. His troops lived on the best his fine farm, mill and distillery afforded, while their horse fared no less luxuriously upon his fine unmowed meadows, oat fields and etc. As Brake had entertained and feasted the Tories, Morgan concluded that he should feast them in turn.[4]
The Hampshire County garrison officially requested help from Fort Winchester 22 May 1781.[5] Jacob Brake Sr. was officially arraigned in Hampshire County court at Romney on 21 June 1781, Judge Thomas Bryan Martin, presiding. He was the first signer of the following petition. The petitioners were pardoned by the new Virginia Governor, Thomas Nelson.

Petition for Clemency

Humbly Shewth, That your Petitioners living in an obscure and remote corner of the State are precluded from every intelligence of the state affairs either by public papers or from the information of men of credit and veracity, and at the same infested by the wicked emissaries or pretended emissaries of the British who travel through all parts of the frontiers and by misrepresentations and false news poisoned the minds of the ignorant and credulous settlers. That your petitioners from narrow and confined notions and attached too strongly to their interests conceived the Act for laying the enormous tax of eighty pounds (80#) paper money on every 100# hundred pound of their property, rated in specie and a bounty for the recruits of the Continental Army, and the law subjecting them at the same time to be drafted for the said service and the further Act for clothing the Army as unjust and oppressive after paying such a high tax on their assessed property. And those wicked and designing men by their artful insinuations and false intelligence industriously propagated to delude and seduce your petitioners, too readily prevailed on them to oppose the execution of the said Acts and take up arms in defense of what those wretches called their liberty and property. But your petitioners humbly shew that they never concerted or conspired the destruction of Government or the hurt of any individual, further then to defend themselves when attacked or compelled to yield obedience to those laws; and when your petitioners were made sensible of their error by the gentlemen from the adjacent counties who marched a body of men sufficient to have put all the disobedient and deluded crew to the sword, but, from motives of humanity and prudence attempted the more mild method of argument to dispel the delusion and bring them back to their duty, your petitioners, ready to receive information and open to correction, readily gave up their arms and engaged to deliver themselves to justice and submit to the laws of their country when called for, which they have since done and stood their trial in the County Court of Hampshire, and were by that Court adjudged to stand a further trial before a Special Court of Oyer and Terminer appointed to meet at the Court House on the 10th day of July last, but the gentlemen nominated as Judges by the Honorable Board failing to attend, the prosecution was postponed; and your petitioners were then informed by a proclamation under the hand of the County Lieutenant that the Executive, ever prone to adopt the most lenient measures to penitent offenders, offered pardon and indemnity to all those concerned in the late insurrection, if they would return to their duty and behave as good citizens in future. And your Petitioners impressed with a deep sense of the gracious intentions of your Excellency and the Honorable Board towards the ignorant and deluded were encouraged to sue for pardon; and that the same act of grace might be extended towards them since they humbly conceive their conduct has been more consonant to the duty of good citizens, who conscious that they have transgressed against the laws of their country readily delivered themselves to Justice and a trial by their peers to suffer the punishment due to their crimes though committed through ignorance and misguided zeal. Whereas those who have availed themselves of the said proclamation, the equally guilty, did not come in until their safety was insured to them by promise of pardon, wherefore you petitioners humbly hope from the known clemency of your Excellency, and that governs the Councils of the Honorable Board, that they will be graciously pleased to pardon their past offenses and include in the Act of Indemnity so mercifully held out to offenders under the like circumstances and they engage on the faith of honest citizens to act a true and faithful part to the State in future if they are released from further prosecution and restored to the privileges of other citizens; which your petitioner John Claypole[6]is more encouraged to expect form a letter of General Morgan to your said petitioner wherein he promises to procure his pardon on his returning to his allegiance and becoming a good citizen, this he humbly conceives his behavior has, since he was convinced by his error and freed from those mistaken prejudices that seduced him from his duty, wherefore in deep contrition for their past misconduct and sincere promise of conducting themselves as good citizens for the time to come they humbly pray for pardon, and that the Honorable Board will save their innocent wives and children from ruin and misery, which they must necessarily be involved, for the crimes of their deluded husband and parents. And your petitioners will pray.....
Petitions bound over for Jury in November:

JACOB BRAKE, Jacob Yeazle, George Sites, Adam Rohenbaugh, Thomas Stacey, Charles borer, John Mace, John Rorebaugh, Jacob Pickle, Michael Algier, Henry Rodenbaugh, John Wease, ISAAC BRAKE, Martin Rodenbaugh, Adam Wease, John Mitcheld, Jacob House, Adam Wease, Jr. Samuel Louri, Jeremiah Ozburn, Leonard Hier, Jacob Crites, George Peck, Anthony Reger, John Casner, Josia Ozburn.[7]


"Calendar of Virginia State Papers," Vol. II, page 686.
Submitted by Buzz Brake
[1]Pipers:Virginia Revolution Pension Applications, Vol. 37, p. 35-36. application #S15120.
[2]Cartmell, Thomas Kemp, Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and Their Descendants a History of Frederick Co., Virginia, Winchester, VA: Eddy Press Corporation, 1909.

[3]Nor is there any evidence that Jacob Brake, Sr. received his land as a grant from the King of England.

[4]Kercheval, Samuel, A History of the Valley of Virginia, Fourth Edition, Revised and Extended by the author and new notes added by the Editor, Strasburg, VA: Shenandoah Publishing House, 1925, p. 148.

[5]Palmer, Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Manuscripts 1652-1869. 11 Vols. Richmond: 1875 p.113-114.

[6]For Claypool's pardon, refer to Border Settlers of Northwestern Virginia by Lucullus Virgil McWhorter.

[7]Palmer, Calendar of Virginia State Papers and other Manuscripts, Vol: II, Richmond:, 1875,. p. 686, 4 Apr. 1781-Dec. 1781.

Compiled by Linda Brake Meyers
Page maintained by Dan Hyde, hyde at Last update September 24, 1998

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