About Captain John Little (Littel)




    On this 27th day of November 1848, before me Peter W. Plantz, a Justice of the Peace, in and for the County aforesaid, personally appeared Ann Hutchinson, in the Eightieth year of her age, and made oath in due form of law that, during the period of the Revolutionary War, (her father) John Little was a Captain in the militia, and that while keeping garrison in the Fort at Johnstown he resided in, and occupied two rooms in the Fort which was built for a goal, and during the Revolutionary War used and occupied for a Fort.

    That while thus residing in said Fort in Johnstown, she formed an acquaintance with Jacob Shew, who was among the Soldiers, keeping garrison, and that she has been informed that Jacob Shew is now an applicant for a pension, and that he is the same individual with whom she formed an acquaintance as above stated. And further this deponent saith not.

Sworn to and subscribed on the day
and year first above written before me                                                   her
Peter W. Plantz, Justice of the Peace                                              Ann X Hutchinson

    I, Peter W. Plantz the above named Justice of the Peace, do hereby certify that from personal acquaintance with the above named Ann Hutchinson I do not
hesitate to say that she sustains a good above affidavit are entitled to credit.
                    Peter W. Plantz Justice of the Peace

The above statement was taken from the pension application file of Jacob Shew, S22985 (N.Y.), National Archives, Washington, D.C..  

Besides the usual importance of Ann's testimony that Jacob Shew did serve during the War of Independence, she also mentions her father John Little (Littel as he spelled it), who will be the subject of this brief article.

Many of you know that I am working on a new booklet to replace the one that I did in 1975 on Captain John Littel's Company in the Third Battalion of Tryon County. Since that time a lot more information has been uncovered by many people such as Noel Levee, Lewis G. Decker and myself. Noel has taken a personal interest in Captain Littel as that is his 18th Century Character in the Third Battalion.

Some of the following facts should help Noel as well as the nearly 200 readers of the Third Battalion's newsletter. Many people think that Littel was here before the war but to the contrary he was not from Johnstown but from Curry's Bush and not to be confused with Currytown in Montgomery County. Curry's Bush (also spelled Currie's Bush) is now Princetown, Schenectady County.  It appears he moved to Johnstown in late 1777 or early 1778.

The earliest primary source that I have found is in June of 1778 in a letter describing a raid led by Lieutenant John Ross of the 34th Regiment of Foot (later to become Major in the Second Battalion of the King's Royal Regiment of New York). They burned and took prisoners from the following areas: Fonda's Bush (Broadalbin), Philadelphia Bush (Perth), Fish House (Northampton) and Mayfield, Tryon County (Fulton County). John Littel is mentioned in this letter but at this time with no military rank.

The company beat for these areas until sometime in 1776 was the Seventh Company under Captain Emmanuel DeGraff in the Third Battalion. In 1776, Andrew Wemple was appointed Captain and took in muster rolls for this company. Captain Wemple on May 15, 1780 deserted and eventually reached Canada and later was a Lieutenant in Butler's Rangers.

Sometime in 1776 or 1777, another company was formed under Captain Samuel Rees. Rees' Company beat took in Fish House and part of Mayfield. It is not known for sure which company beat Fonda's Bush or Philadelphia Bush belonged to as there is no company muster rolls for Rees' company.  Rees then moved out of the area after his home was destroyed in the June raid.

Sometime in 1779, Littel was appointed Captain which took in all four areas but most of the people had moved to Johnstown after the raid. Sometime in 1778 or 1779, Littel also became the jailer for the Tryon County Jail and was living there. The jail was also a fort during this time period and Captain Littel was also in command of this post for more of the war.  According to Ann's affidavit, Captain Littel had use of two rooms in the jail while he lived there.

Two questions arise from her testimony. Did his family live with him there or in the village? John Littel was married to Leah Crawford, but it is believed she had died prior to his moving to Johnstown. This could be the reason why he moved. Also, it appears by 1778, that he had remarried to Catherine McIntire, daughter of John McIntire, who was suspected to be disaffected (a loyalist). The only children that are known were three daughters from his first marriage. From Ann's testimony, it appears that she lived there or at least spent a lot of time there as she did know Shew.

The second question is how did a man with no apparent military experience become a captain? John Littel had been commissioned a First Lieutenant on January 15, 1776 in Captain Thomas Wasson's Company in Colonel Abraham Wemple's Regiment of the Albany County Militia (Second Battalion). John was re-appointed on June 20, 1778 but by this time he was in Johnstown. John Thornton was promoted from Second Lieutenant to First Lieutenant. Thornton received his commission on February 25, 1780 vice (in place of) John Lytle, moved out of beat (The men for a company were raised from the residents of a certain area which was called a beat). Alexander Crawford on the same date, was appointed Ensign in Wasson's Company.

Some other interesting facts are that a Thomas Little and David Little along with a John and Joseph Crawford also served in Wasson's Company from Curry's Bush. Also, Thomas Little had married a Lucencea Crawford. After the war, Thomas was also a constable in Johnstown for a short time. They are all related to Captain Littel but I am not sure how they are connected together.

There was a Crawford family in Johnstown but they were disaffected and had fled to Canada in 1776. William R. Crawford, Sr. with his two sons, Bryan and William, Jr., served in Sir John Johnson's Regiment also known as the King's Royal Regiment of New York. It is possible they were related to Captain Littel which may be another reason that he moved to Johnstown. There is no mention of any Crawford's in the area during the war, but I had thought maybe he was taking care of or living at the home of William R. Crawford in Johnstown, but there is no proof of any family connection to prove this theory. Also Ann's testimony proves that John did live in the fort and he was not renting any of the confiscated disaffected homes in Johnstown.

John had immigrated from Ireland but when and to where is not known. One of the earliest primary sources shows that John was serving as a private in Captain John Duncan's Grenadier company in the Second Battalion of Albany County Militia on May 11, 1767.

I also found that a William Little, Thomas Little, Jr., David Little and a Joseph Crawford were serving in Captain Daniel Campbell's Company in the same regiment.


This piece was kindly typed by volunteer, Jill Collins.

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Copyrightę1999, James F. Morrison
Copyrightę1999, Jill Collins, Jeanette Shiel
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Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:37:05 PDT