Lineage Society, Sources of Service

Did Benjamin Graves die at the Battle of Groton Heights?

I have an update to this 2021 post…

Died at Groton Heights?

              Descendants of Benjamin Graves, baptized in 1734 in East Haddam, Connecticut, have long claimed he died from wounds received in battle at the Battle of Groton Heights.[1] Yet, he is not included among those listed as killed and wounded.[2] Where and when did Benjamin Graves die?

When did Benjamin die?

              At least four men named Benjamin Graves can be identified in the East Haddam area in the early to mid-1770s. One was a resident of Colchester; three resided in East Haddam. While none are close in age to the Benjamin baptized in 1734, creating profiles of each can help determine the actual death date of the 1734 Benajmin.

              The eldest of these four was a resident of Colchester, CT, a town adjoining East Haddam. Based on records of his death in late 1752 or early 1753, Benjamin Graves of Colchester was born about 1676.[3]  Based on a partially destroyed will probated in 1753, he had the following family structure: wife Mary; daughters Deborah, Abigail, and Ruth; sons Peter, Benjamin, Jedediah, and Jonathan.[4] This Benjamin is buried in Colchester’s Old Cemetery.[5]

              A second Benjamin Graves was born about 1699.  His will offers the following family structure: wife, Mary; sons Benjamin and Roswell; daughters, Mary, Lydia, and Ruth.[6] This man, who died 25 March 1770 in “his 71st year,” is buried in Tater Hill Cemetery in East Haddam.[7]

              The third is the Benjamin in question. Benjamin Graves, son of Benjamin, was baptized in the First Congregational Church of East Haddam on 25 August 1734. [8] As he was baptized with siblings Mary and Lydia, he was likely not a newborn, and his birthdate may be some years before.[9] As he is recorded as a child, he is still a minor.

              The fourth Benjamin Graves, son of Roswell and Elizabeth, was born in East Haddam on 25 July 1769.[10]  In 1778, a guardianship bond is issued by Elizabeth Graves for Benjamin Graves, suggesting that his father had died.[11] A Reverend Benjamin Graves of approximately the right age appears to have died in Middletown in 1830, aged 61.[12]

Only one death in the East Haddam area cannot be clearly attributed to a specific Benjamin Graves. An intestate estate was probated for a Benjamin Graves in 1777, with an inventory recorded on 8 February.[13] The youngest Benjamin was still alive at this date; the older two men were already deceased. The 1777 estate, therefore, most likely belongs to the Benjamin baptized in 1734.

Where did Benjamin die?

              A death date prior to 8 February 1777 does not fully rule out the family story of death due to wounds received in a Revolutionary War battle. It does, however, rule out the possibility that Benjamin died at or due to wounds sustained from the Battle of Groton Heights, which took place on 6 September 1781. [14] A review of Benjamin’s Revolutionary War service might help confirm or disprove the rest of the account.

              There are at least two men by the name of Benjamin Graves who served in the American Revolution from Connecticut. One, a native of Salisbury, can be placed on the Continental line after February 1777.[15] A second, however, appears on the rolls of Captain Holmes Company from East Haddam. “Benjn Graves” was part of Col. Samuel Selden’s regiment, raised in June 1776 and served until at least 25 December 1776.[16]

Conclusion         

              Unfortunately, we lose track of Benjamin after the end of December. As he was deceased within a month, there’s a good chance his death had something to do with his service. But that death was not at Groton Heights, as the family had claimed. It was also four years earlier.


[1] “Genealogical Research System,” database, Daughters of the American Revolution (https://services.dar.org/Public/DAR_Research/search_adb/?action=full&p_id=A047206: accessed 6 June 2022), entry for Benjamin Graves.

[2] “The Defenders,” Fort Griswold Battlefield (https://www.fortgriswold.org/defenders-2/: accessed 6 June 2022).

[3] Volume 18, Colchester, p. 137, “Connecticut, U.S., Church Record Abstracts, 1630-1920,” digital images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/199308:3032?tid=&pid=&queryId=79108eefd8e98f4cdae4897b69261abf&_phsrc=ViK3742&_phstart=successSource : accessed 6 June 2022). Colchester, p. 79, “Connecticut: Vital Records (The Barbour Collection), 1630-1870”, digital images, American Ancestors (https://www.americanancestors.org/DB414/i/13125/79/234321529: accessed 6 June 2022).

[4] Will of Benjamin Graves, Estate Papers, No. 1494, Colchester, 1753,

Probate Packets, Gillett, L-Hale, 1741-1880, Hartford, “Connecticut, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999,” Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9049/images/007642225_00494: accessed 6 June 2022).

[5] Connecticut Headstone Inscriptions Vol 09, p. 11, digital images, “Connecticut, U.S., Hale Collection of Cemetery Inscriptions and Newspaper Notices, 1629-1934,” Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/702336:2900?_phsrc=ViK3750&_phstart=successSource&gsfn=Benjamin&gsln=Graves&ml_rpos=5&queryId=3e381404eededa38b5779a84dc09bae7: accessed 6 June 2022).

[6] Will of Benjamin Graves, Estate Papers, No. 1495, East Haddam, 1770

Probate Packets, Gillett, L-Hale, 1741-1880, Hartford, “Connecticut, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999,” Ancestry.com ( https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9049/images/007642225_005074: accessed 6 June 2022).

[7] Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10867168/benjamin-graves : accessed 06 June 2022), memorial page for Benjamin Graves (15 Feb 1699–25 Mar 1770), Find a Grave Memorial ID 10867168, citing Tater Hill Cemetery, East Haddam, Middlesex County, Connecticut, USA ; Maintained by Jan Franco (contributor 46625834) .

[8] Volume 25 East Haddam, p. 161, “Connecticut, U.S., Church Record Abstracts, 1630-1920,” digital images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/3032/images/41107_620303988_0313-00163?pId=500702: accessed 6 June 2022).

[9] Volume 25 East Haddam, p. 161, “Connecticut, U.S., Church Record Abstracts, 1630-1920,” digital images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/3032/images/41107_620303988_0313-00163?pId=500702: accessed 6 June 2022).

[10] East Haddam Vital Records 1743-1857, p. 252, “Connecticut, U.S., Town Birth Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection),” digital images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/520054:1034?_phsrc=ViK3746&_phstart=successSource&gsfn=Benjamin&gsln=Graves&ml_rpos=3&queryId=c76e535dddfb09f349bcdf3837cba16f: accessed 6 June 2022).

[11] Guardianship of Benjamin Graves, Estate Papers, No. 1497, East Haddam, 1778,

Probate Packets, Gillett, L-Hale, 1741-1880, Hartford, “Connecticut, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999,” Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9049/images/007642225_00522  : accessed 6 June 2022).

[12] Connecticut Newspaper Notices Vol 64, p. 197, digital images, “Connecticut, U.S., Hale Collection of Cemetery Inscriptions and Newspaper Notices, 1629-1934,” Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/1289475:2900?_phsrc=ViK3751&_phstart=successSource&gsfn=Benjamin&gsln=Graves&ml_rpos=1&queryId=3e381404eededa38b5779a84dc09bae7 : accessed 6 June 2022).

[13] Inventory of Benjamin Graves, Estate Papers, No. 1496, East Haddam, 1777,

Probate Packets, Gillett, L-Hale, 1741-1880, Hartford, “Connecticut, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999,” Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9049/images/007642225_00515 : accessed 6 June 2022).

[14] “The Battle of Groton Heights,” Fort Griswold Battlefield (https://www.fortgriswold.org/the-battle-of-groton-heights/: accessed 6 June 2022).

[15] Henry P. Johnson, ed. The Record of Connecticut Men in the Military and Naval Service During the War of the Revolution (Hartford, CT: The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co, 1889), 211; digital images, Archives.org (https://archive.org/details/waroftherevolution00recorich/page/210/mode/2up?q=%22benjamin+Graves%22: accessed 6 June 2022).

[16] Henry P. Johnson, ed. The Record of Connecticut Men in the Military and Naval Service During the War of the Revolution (Hartford, CT: The Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co, 1889), 403-404; digital images, HaithiTrust (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=yale.39002004995578&view=1up&seq=428&skin=2021&q1=%22graves%22: accessed 6 June 2022).