Belated recognition

In the Summer 2017 issue of Mayflower Descendant,  we published an interesting article by NEHGS member Gregory J. Weinig entitled “Elisha Freeman of Provincetown, Massachusetts (ca. 1758/9-1825).”[1] The article clarified his age and parentage (establishing his mother but not his father), and his descent from Mayflower passenger William Brewster.

The article also clarified Elisha’s military service, and provided data that he served several tours from 1775 until 1778, including an eight-month stint in Rhode Island, which prior researchers had assumed to be different men of the same name. While the author’s interest in the subject was tangential, Greg recently told me that his article has now had a real-world application, and that Elisha Freeman of Provincetown is finally being recognized as a patriot of the American Revolution, honored today with a new bronze grave marker.

Elisha Freeman, the son of Martha Freeman, was born about 1758 or 1759, probably at Eastham, Massachusetts. Five Massachusetts Revolutionary War service records treat Cape Cod men named Elisha Freeman. Grouping them by town, these men enlisted from Eastham (three terms in 1775-76 and 1778), Yarmouth (1776-77), and Wellfleet (1777). If the five terms are aligned chronologically, none of them overlap:

A sixth Revolutionary War record for Elisha Freeman seemed puzzling, because he served from Rhode Island. From research undertaken at the Rhode Island Historical Society, this Elisha Freeman enlisted at Providence on 10 July 1777 for fifteen months’ service. The above Elisha of Cape Cod’s fourth term lasted from 10 May (or perhaps late April) to 10 July 1777, and included travel “at Rhode Island.”

That term of service ended on the very day (10 July 1777) the Rhode Island man’s began, so he evidently travelled to Providence and re-enlisted immediately. When this later term in Rhode Island service ended on 16 March 17778, Elisha returned to Cape Cod and several months later enlisted at Eastham on 6 September 1778. All six terms of service were for the same Elisha Freeman. Elisha later lived in Provincetown and died 8 March 1825; he is buried there at the Winthrop Street Cemetery.

Amy told Greg that as a result of his research, the DAR reconsidered their application for the man named Elisha Freeman in Provincetown.

As related in the Cape Cod Times, the work of Amy Whorf McGuiggan – assisted in her Freeman research by Zachary J. Garceau of NEHGS, who conducted analysis of military, church, and probate records to help confirm Elisha’s identity – has resulted in the Town of Provincetown Cemetery Commission and the Captain Joshua Gray–Jonathan Hatch Chapter (Cape Cod) Daughters of the American Revolution announcing the dedication of grave markers for seven Provincetown veterans. Her years of research helped authenticate six of the patriots in the first round, but Elisha Freeman (the seventh) required more research, which came at a perfect time with regard to Greg’s article.

Amy told Greg that as a result of his research, the DAR reconsidered their application for the man named Elisha Freeman in Provincetown. The six Elisha Freemans in question were actually the one man who later lived in Provincetown, who is being recognized there today at 11 a.m. at the cemetery at Court and Winthrop Streets.


[1] Greg also helped “complete” our United States map of modern descendants of Mayflower passengers by being the first descendant from the state of Delaware!

About Christopher C. Child

Chris Child has worked for various departments at NEHGS since 1997 and became a full-time employee in July 2003. He has been a member of NEHGS since the age of eleven. He has written several articles in American Ancestors, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and The Mayflower Descendant. He is the co-editor of The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton (NEHGS, 2011), co-author of The Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2011) and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus and Alice Nelson Pratt (Newbury Street Press, 2013), and author of The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2014). Chris holds a B.A. in history from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

3 thoughts on “Belated recognition

  1. Christopher – interesting; I wonder if there is a relationship between all of us somewhere. Please note the 17788 year in the 2nd paragraph after the table (you may choose not to post if you wish).

  2. I’m having this same problem with my DAR Supplemental Application for my 5th Great Grandfather, ROWLAND CLARK. I believe that he is the man mentioned on page 568 of Vol. 3 of the “Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the American Revolution”. He was living in Sturbridge,MA, but he served from Roxbury to Lexington during the “Lexington Alarm”. My research seems to support the fact that Roxbury was the “Muster” place for the “Lexington Alarm”, so ALL of the soldiers were “from Roxbury” as they marched to war. But, how to convince the DAR!!!

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