Richland County’s First Veterans: William Bodley

Revolutionary War pension files can be a wealth of information for genealogists.  They can contain information on an ancestor’s service, their family, place of residence, and letters from others who knew the soldiers personally.  A fire at the War Department on November 8, 1800, destroyed all pension and bounty land warrant applications filed before that date, but those filed later are available through the National Archives and on sites like  Most files average around 30 pages, but some can contain as many as 200.  These records can often clear up misinformation about an ancestor, like in the case of William Bodley.  Many sources, like The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio, state Bodley served in the Virginia State Troops, but his pension file tells a much different story.

William Bodley was a young man when he decided to join his uncle in the war for independence in 1779.  Two months shy of his 15th birthday, William enlisted in Colonel Albert Pawling’s regiment with his uncle, Levi Dewitt.  After the war, William would stay in Ulster County, New York, get married, and raise a family before making his way to Ohio.  William’s war pension application details the service of the young patriot.

William’s Baptism Record (Holland Society of New York; New York, New York; Shawangunk, Wawarsing and New Hurley, Book 29)

William Bodley was born on July 9, 1764 in Wawarsing, Ulster County, New York[1] to John Bodley and Jenneke DeWitt and baptized at the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in Wawarsing on September 15, 1764.[2]  The Dutch settlers of Wawarsing were primarily farmers, a strong religious group, and almost unanimously supported war.  William’s grandfather, Andres DeWitt, was among a group of men representing Rochester, New York at the Revolution Convention in May of 1775.[3]  These influences most likely had a strong impact on young William and his decision to enter the service.

In the pension application, Bodley writes that he marched under the command of Lieut. DeWitt to Shandaken, New York. Once there, the company fell under the command of Captain Hunter and they were attached to a regiment commanded by Col. Pawling.  Bodley recounts one interaction with Col. Pawling: after building a fort in Shandaken in August of 1779, the company began to march west in order to join Gen. George Clilnton’s brigade along the Susquehanna River.  Col. Pawling looked at Bodley and told him to head back to the fort saying he was too young and would not be able to handle the march.  Bodley returned and was discharged in January of 1780.

William Bodley listed sixth from the bottom(Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783; National Archives Microfilm Publication M246, 138 rolls)

Bodley lived in Marbletown, Ulster County, New York when he reenlisted in 1781.  During this eight month enlistment, his company was again under the command of Col. Pawling and, in August of 1781, Bodley saw action when a group of British loyalists and Native-Americans under the command of William Caldwell raided the area around Wawarsing, New York.  The attack resulted in a number of buildings being burned and the death of at least one Bodley’s compatriots. Bodley wrote, “I seen one fellow fall I believe he was shot.”  Bodley was discharged again and, again, reenlisted in 1782, this time in Captain Andew Whites Company.  His third campaign was relatively uneventful, guarding the frontier in Ulster County, New York.[4]

William Bodley’s War Pension Application (S.2093) [5]

After the war, Bodley married Belinda Bevier in 1786 in Wawarsing, New York[6] and raised a family.  In the 1820s, William Bodley and many of his children came to Richland County, Ohio settling primarily in Plymouth Township.[7]  William Bodley lived out the rest of his days in Richland County, dying on November 2, 1843.  He is buried in Hazel Brush Cemetery in Shelby, Ohio.[8]


  2. Holland Society of New York; New York, New York; Shawangunk, Wawarsing and New Hurley, Book 29
  3. Clearwater, Alphonso. The History of Ulster County, New York. p. 394-396.
  4. U.S., Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.
  5. U.S., Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.
  6. New York City, Compiled Marriage Index, 1600s-1800s [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.
  7. Richland County, Ohio Original Land Purchasers Including School Lands (1999). P. 193-198.


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