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Ann Kinnick’s Maryland (Revolutionary War era) Journal

Edited with comments by Cyrus Weston

Ann Kinnick’s Journal: Maryland

The Life and Times of a Revolutionary Daughter

Sunday, May 7, 1775

Ann: “This is the first entry of my journal! Today, I found out that my marriage to John has been approved. This is the happiest day of my life.

“Father and Uncle Jasper came back from the Rectory to tell us. They stayed after services today to ask for approval of our marriage, as fathers of the bride and groom. The answer was yes!

“John and I grew up in separate families, but living in the same household, our entire lives. We have worked side by side in the fields, we have laughed together, we have suffered together, and we have grown very close. About a year ago, our relationship changed from that of near brother-sister, or cousins, which we are, but to a romantic relationship, that neither of us expected. It was very uncomfortable, at first, but we have learned to know that it is the real thing, the right thing!

“In January, we were finally able to buy our own farm, with Father and Uncle Jasper and all of us working together. Prices for our tobacco were so good last year, we had the 90 pounds sterling that Mr. Keeth needed to get for this land, the house, and the fields we have worked so hard to make our own.

“Also, today, word arrived from Boston that fighting had broken out between the colonists there and British soldiers. Some say it is the start of a war with England.

“Now, John and I can have a family and raise them here. I pray the war doesn’t come here!

“John and I are very happy that our marriage has been approved. We are first cousins, and some say that is not good. But we feel it is good. John has his land. Now he is ready for me to be his wife, to bear and raise his children. He is a fine man. I am proud that he wants to share his life with me.”

Cyrus Comment: I have included the first entry of the Ann Kinnick Journal exactly as she wrote it. This journal represents her recorded thoughts and feelings from this date until the family left Maryland, and moved to North Carolina in 1792. She took the original journal with her, but this is a copy she left with me, for safe keeping. We have known each other since she, John, and I were youngsters and attended both church and school activities, such as they were, together. She knew I aspired to be a writer, and encouraged me to use this information she had recorded, about the War of Revolution times, as I saw fit. I will be forever in her debt. I hope you find her story as fascinating as I do.

Monday, May 8, 1775:

Ann: “I started writing down my feelings and thoughts, last night, because it was such an important day in my life. Father has been telling me I should do this, but now I have actually started doing it.

“He said I should write for myself first, but also for my children and their children. What should I say? We live in the Bryantown Hundred, on the east side of the Zekieh Swamp, in Charles County, Maryland. Our land, that we now own, is across the road from the Boarman Manor land. People will always remember that, I am sure, because the Manor is so big, thousands of acres. Our place is about sixty-six acres and is a farm, not a plantation. We do all of the work on the farm ourselves: Father and Mama, Uncle Jasper, John, my younger sisters, Millie and Elizabeth, my younger brothers, Richard and John, and me. We do not have slaves, as the larger plantations do. We raise tobacco as a cash crop, which we will need now to pay our taxes on the land. But, mostly, we raise crops and livestock for us to live on.”

Cyrus Comments: John and Ann were indeed first cousins. Their several youngsters were very healthy and productive when they all moved to North Carolina. The record of John Kinnick purchasing this land is in the deed dated 16 Jan 1775. It is from George Keeth, planter of Prince George's County, to John Kinnick, son of Jasper, in Charles Co, for 90 pounds, for a tract of land called the Seale of Head, lying in Charles County, bounded by a white oak by the east side of Askin Mill Swamp and on the north side of a main road that leads from Peter Montgomery's to Benedict Town, containing 66 acres. Signed by George Keeth (his mark). Witnessed by Robert Young and Philip Briscoe. Monika Keeth, wife of the said George Keeth, relinquished here right of dower. Recorded 31 Jan 1775. (page 689-690). George Keeth was well known in the area, owning several small properties in both Charles and neighboring Prince George’s County. Robert Young and Philip Briscoe were local officials.

Saturday, May 14, 1775

Ann: “After services, today, John and I were allowed to take a picnic lunch down near the East Branch landing. The flowers were blooming so bright, and it was wonderful to be able to talk with John about our future together, just the two of us! Chores earlier this evening seemed to go much easier, as I was almost floating on air!

“Uncle Jasper, John’s father, talks to the men of Bryantown, the little village nearby, at the crossroads, regularly. The battle up near Boston has been the talk of the week. When he came home, today, he said, “The men are split three ways. Some strongly support clinging to the British ties that hold so much of the tradition of the area. They are far outnumbered, however, by those who strongly feel it is time for the American colonies to break free of foreign rule, and those who want to ‘wait and see.’

“Uncle Jasper cannot do much of the heavy work on the farm, but has developed a skill, in town, of getting to know and be known by all the local folks. They actually pay him small fees, from time to time, to witness transactions, as an independent party. In the process, he hears all the news, and all the gossip, of course.

“He said that delegates representing each of the colonies are meeting in another Continental Congress, the second such gathering, in Philadelphia, to determine how the American colonists will react to and deal with the British government’s recent actions against the colonies.”

Sunday, May 15, 1775:

Ann: “John and I went with Cyrus Weston and Sarah Feeney to a social event near Bryantown this afternoon. We have known Cyrus since we were children. His father makes wagons for the Boarman Plantation. He has started to learn the craft of wagon making, but he would really rather be a writer and a teacher. He and Sarah have been seeking each other for about three months now. They are a very nice couple to know.

“There were horse races and games and lots of food today. We don’t often go to social events, but we treated it as special occasion, as we had heard a lot of the nearby people would be there from around the area to share the latest news of the day.

“The battles in Massachusetts with the British troops were a topic in about every conversation today. It was interesting to hear different people taking different positions, depending of their personal relationships with England. Merchant’s families fear losing their business with their English counterparts if there is war. Farmers and planters seem to feel the only way for trade, which we need, to really be fair, is for a break with England. A lot of people have not idea how to feel, except they are mostly scared of what might happen to their families.

“We also heard there today that the Continental Congress has voted to go to war with Britain, and has appointed George Washington, of Virginia, as Commander of the Continental Army.

“When I asked Uncle Jasper about George Washington, he told me that George Washington had been a hero out west when the British were fighting the French and the Indians for control of the western frontier. He added that there were stories told in the Brightwell family, when they were growing up, about a Colonel John Washington from Virginia, fighting the Indians in the early days along side of his grandfather, Captain Richard Brightwell. Uncle Jasper said he thinks the Colonel John Washington was the grandfather of George Washington.”

Cyrus Comments: “Current records do suggest that the relationships that Jasper mentioned to Ann were true.” [expand this with the brief story]

Tuesday, May 18, 1775:

Ann: “It rained all day today, so we could not work in the fields, but caught up with some inside work. It was unusually cold and damp, especially into the evening. John worked on the harness for the horse.

“Father went to a local militia meeting tonight. Since he is one of the older men, he is mostly retired, but still goes to hear what is going on. Usually, they just meet on weekends, but lately, they have been meeting on an evening during the week, sometimes. They expect to get a call for volunteers from the Committee on Correspondence to go to Boston. He said he won’t go, of course, but some of the younger men are hoping they get to go. Thank goodness, John is not interested in fighting. He wants to farm and raise his family. I pray to God he is allowed to do so.”

Cyrus Comments: “Ann’s “Father” is William Kinnick. “Uncle Jasper” is his brother, Jasper Kinnick, a few years older than William. They were the grandson’s of Capt. Richard Brightwell, a Horse Ranger of the early days of Charles County, by his daughter, Elizabeth. Their father’s name was also Jasper, but the family knows little about him or where he came from. He disappeared after Elizabeth died, when William was 2, and Jasper only about 7. They were essentially orphaned as youngsters, and fought over as farm laborers by their Brightwell uncles.

Wednesday, June 7, 1775:

Ann: “We have been very busy with the young tobacco plants. It has been unusually wet and cool, so every chance we do get, we must be out in the fields, removing worms and pulling weeds. It is very difficult, tiresome work, but it must be done. We barely fall in bed before we have to get up the next morning and do it again. It rained again late this afternoon, so we did get some relief today.

“I knew that both Father and Uncle Jasper were in a war when they were young. I asked Uncle Jasper this evening, to tell me again about that war. He really never seemed to want to talk too much about it, but the recent war talk seemed to change this. He said: “Both your father and I were young men working for our Uncle John Brightwell on his plantation. This was about 1739. Young colonists were being conscripted, that is, forced, into the British naval service for the war in Cartegena, down in South America. Later, they called it the War of Jenkin’s Ear. It was horrible for me. William came out of the service an experienced fighting man. I was wounded early, and taken to a hospital in Jamaica. Life was almost worse there than on shipboard and in the war. I suffered from some disease that weakened my lungs. The wound did not heal right, and caused me to have the severe limp I brought back.” I asked him how they got back together, after the war. He said: “William and I were re-united, by chance, or by providence, upon our return to the Chesapeake shore, at Benedict, in 1741. It was there that we talked to a Brightwell cousin, and I found out my young wife had died, and our son had been put with another family to raise, and they had been lost track of him. William and I found work with the Boarman’s near Bryantown, and just stayed. We had nothing to gain by going back to the Brightwell’s. They could have protected us from being taken by the British navy people, but they didn’t. If we hadn’t gone, two of their sons would have been taken. They didn’t want that!” I wanted to hear more, but he had to go do some chores. I’ll ask him more, later. I had not heard about all this before.

Cyrus Comments: The brothers apparently stuck together, William and Jasper, each doing what they could do best, William doing the heavy lifting, Jasper doing what he could. They gained respect in the community, and survived, together. At about the same time, some ten years after returning to Charles County from the war, thinking they were probably too old to become husbands and fathers, they each met a woman to share their lives. The two couples continued to share the tenant farm house that William and Jasper had occupied on the edge of the Boarman Manor.

Thursday, June 8, 1775:

Ann: “I asked Uncle Jasper to tell me more. I wanted to hear why they were working for the Brightwell family, and what had happened to their parents. He said: “As early as age 2, William had been raised by Richard Brightwell. This was the eldest son of Captain Richard Brightwell, an early official of the colony, who died in 1696, our grandfather. Our mother, Elizabeth, his daughter, had died, and I had been given to her brother, my uncle John, to raise already. I was about six or seven years old. As we grew up, I was not unhappy with Uncle John. We got along fine. William, however, had all kinds of problems living with our uncle Richard. You’ll have to ask your father what he remembers. When William was about thirteen or fourteen, he kept running away from Uncle Richard’s home, and came to be with us at Uncle John’s! He finally was taken in to the county court by Uncle Richard, and they let him choose between Uncle Richard and Uncle John to live with. He chose Uncle John, of course. A short time later, we all moved out to Montgomery County, to Uncle John’s new place. That is where we were when the British navy took us away to war.” I didn’t want to press him too hard. I am so glad he told me this story, but I do want to know more. I’ll have to find a way to ask Father what he remembers.”

Cyrus Comments: Tax records support that Jasper had likely been living with the younger Brightwell brother, John, because they appear together, in Montgomery County, in the early 1730s. At age 14, in 1733, William appeared in Charles County Court, related to a suit brought by his guardian, Richard Brightwell, against his brother, John Brightwell. The suit indicated that while Richard had provided support for young William, as agreed, William had recently been running off to live with his brother, John, and working on his farm. The court ended up asking William who he wished to live with. He chose John. John then agreed to provide William with two years of schooling, to learn to read and write, and cause him to learn a trade, prior to age 21. It appears likely that William may have wanted to be with his older brother, Jasper, as well as with his favored uncle, the younger brother, John Brightwell, rather than the older Richard Brightwell. It is also likely that William was in a much more subordinated position among the children of Richard than he was among the children of John… as well as being with his own brother, Jasper.

Friday, June 9, 1775:

Ann: “I asked Father tonight about what Uncle Jasper had said about the war and their early life. He said it happened about that way, but didn’t add much. He obviously didn’t really want to even think about it. It seemed to bring back painful memories. So, I tried to talk to Uncle Jasper some more. I had been saddened to hear that he had had two young wives who died after giving him a son. His wife, Betsy, had died when my John was just a youngster, too. His first son, Joseph, had found him, sometime, because he lived with us when I was young, and now had his own family, living a few miles away, with his wife’s family. I asked Uncle Jasper how Joseph had reappeared in his life. He said: “Somehow, when my marriage to Betsy was posted in Bryantown, Joseph saw it and connected with the unusual name of Kinnick, which he had retained, or retaken, from his childhood. He was 17 years old and came to see me! What a shock! It was wonderful to have him with us for a few years, until he got married himself, and had the opportunity to join his wife and her family on their plantation.”

Cyrus Comments: Here is what I know about these relationships and stories being partially told: Jasper had been married, where he lived in Montgomery Co with the Brightwells, before the war, and had a son, Joseph, born in 1737, that he lost track of during the war and had not since found. About the time of his marriage, to Betsy, Joseph shows up and lives with William and Jasper, for a time, before moving in with his bride’s family in about 1757. Their twin sons, Richard and William, were born early in 1758, followed by Jonathan, late in 1759. Later, another son, George, was born in 1768. Jasper met and married Betsy Askin, and their son, John, was born in 1754. Betsy was a strong woman, and John took on her characteristics. Unfortunately, when John was still a youngster, Betsy became very ill, and died. William met Sarah Ferguson, an Irish girl, who had also been orphaned at a young age and was living as a servant in her uncle’s household. The common link brought them together. In 1754, Anne joined this new family, only a few months after John had arrived to Jasper and Betsy. Jasper and John had continued to live in the household, which was fortunate. Joseph was also living with them, at the time, and helped make life viable, but still very hard. Jasper was able to care for John, and assist with Sarah and Anne, while William and Joseph continued to do the farm labor. They were difficult times, but, as John grew, even as a youngster, he worked hard and learned tasks often not taken on until later in life. Anne, also, was bright and ambitious, and helped out in both mental and physical tasks from a very early age.

Saturday, June 10, 1775:

Ann: “Hearing Uncle Jasper talk about the period of time back when John and I were born, it is hard to believe they were able to survive. I asked Father earlier this evening, and he shared some things about those times that I had not heard before.” He said: “After you were born, Sarah and I, and Jasper and Betsy and John, did have quite a tough time of it. Thankfully, Joseph could help some, for a few years, but it was difficult. At the same time, there was great pressure from my friends, to go fight in the war out west! I had tried to be supportive of the local militia, being a veteran of the earlier wars, but there was just no way that I could put forth that energy, barely surviving, physically, for my wife and extended family. Over those years, your mother lost three babies, for example, that we don’t talk about much, because the memory is so painful, even today. None of them survived more than a few days…

“I know it was very hard for him to talk about, even now, fifteen or so years later. My sister, Milly, was born in 1763, Richard in 1767, John in 1769, and Elizabeth in 1771.”

Sunday, June 11, 1775:

Ann: “John and I…

“Uncle Jasper told me today that the colonial soldiers in Massachusetts held their own in the battle at Bunker Hill. There seems to be stronger support for joining the militia and men are responding to the calls for joining the Continental army as well.”