HAMILTON, John
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[p 184-185 in orig]

HAMILTON, JOHN, son of John Hamilton, was born June 17, 1749, in New London, Chester county, Pa.; died August 28, 1793, at Harrisburg, Pa. Under the will of his father he inherited a "plantation and fulling-mill, bought of James Long, on Shearman creek, in Cumberland county" (Perry county). He was educated principally in the celebrated academy of Rev. Mr. Alison, Chester county. When upon a visit to his patrimonyt in the Juniata region, he was attracted to the superior excellence of a tract of land called "Fermanagh" now in Juniata county. He purchased it. On the Shearman's creek farm Hugh Alexander was his adjoining neighbor; he became attached to his daughter, and at twenty-three years of age he married her; established himself at "Fermanagh," and erected a large stone mansion. This house is standing. It has been occupied by himself, his son John and a grandson, Hugh Hamilton. He became, by successful industry and in right of his mother, Jane Allen Hamilton, of great fortune for his day. The inventory of personal property at his death, in 1793, makes his effects in money 7,500. At that moment he had active enterprises of various kinds in full operation--at Lost creek, at Fermanagh, in Shearman's Valley and at Harrisburg. He was one of the original lot holders at Harrisburg. One of his largest houses was that at the southeast corner of Market square; another on his lot, Front street and Raspberry alley. In 1792 he employed at his warehouse and stores, on what is now Mulberry street, between Second and Third streets, "as many as fifteen mules and a far greater number of horses, upon which he sent nails and salt and other merchandise to Pittsburgh." Sending nails to Pittsburgh at this date would be reversing the usual course of trade. He was one of the last of those in the interior who held slaves, a half dozen in all. All but one continued in the family unitil the death of his widow, not as slaves, but as free laborers on the farms. Mr. Hamilton was a sergeant in Capt. Gibson's company, Col. Wilson's battalion of Cumberland county associators, in 1776; captain of a company in Col. Samuel Lyon's battalion in August, 1777; and also captain in Col Buchanan's battalion in 1778, and was out in two campaigns, 1776 and 1781. In the family records of the McAlisters, of Lost creek, Juniata, one of whom married a granddaughter of Capt. Hamilton, we have the following narrative: "The American army, December, 1776, shattered, disheartened and decreasing daily, were making precipitate retreat across Jersey into Pennsylvania, before the victorious army of Howe and Cornwallis. In this gloomy hour a meeting of the people was called at the farm of Mr. Hugh McAlister, near the present town of Mexico, to consult and devise measures to reinforce Washington and the army. All the neighbors below the Narrows met. John Hamilton, of Fermanagh, was made chairman. It was unanimously agreed to raise a company of mounted men. All were young men, with younger families, but they did not hesitate. They agreed to march. Hamilton pledged himself to start immediately, then McAlister and Sharon. The former was chosen captain, the latter lieutenants, and in two days they were off, more than eighty strong, riding the first day to the mouth of the Swatara, over snow many inches in depth. They reached camp, on the Pennsylvania side, below Trenton, the day after the Hessians were captured." None but men with their whole hearts in the cause would have made such a dreary march in a most inclement winter, unless thoroughly in earnest. This was the sentiment that actuated all the frontier settlers. In 1793 Harrisburg was scourged by a pestilence resembling yellow fever, an epidemic that then prevailed at Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York. One of its victims was Mr. Hamilton. He married, in December, 1772, Margaret Alexander, born March 17, 1754, in Shearman's Valley, Cumberland, now Perry county, Pa.; died August 22, 1835, at "Fermanagh," Juniata county, Pa., daughter of Hugh Alexander and Martha Edmeston.