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Guest Contributors...            Edwin R. Scollon

Researching Lake Champlain...
The Valcour Bay Research Project- XII (a)

Jonas Holden’s Pension Record

Doty Cemetery in South Wallingford, Vermont is the final resting place of Revolutionary War soldier and patriot Jonas Holden.

For over two decades, members and associates of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) have collectively researched the Battle of Valcour Island.  Their historians and genealogists have searched through many archives and libraries.  Their survey crews and divers have diligently explored the depths of the lake.  

Contemporary journals and reports indicated that an American gunboat had sunk during the retreat from the Valcour battle.  Researchers were confident this gunboat was still resting on the bottom of the lake.  However, due to the separation and confusion of the fleet during its harried retreat, accounts of the vessels’ fates were conflicting. The exact location of the gunboat remained a mystery.  Many organized searches were launched throughout the latter half of the twentieth century in an effort to locate it.¹ In 1997 a LCMM survey crew, deploying side-scan sonar, discovered the vessel, intact and upright.

Although the gunboat had been located, its identity was uncertain due to the contradictory contemporary accounts.   An LCMM research team, that included Peter Barranco, Russell Bellico, Art Cohn, Robert Maguire and George Quintal, intensified their efforts in an attempt to correctly identify the gunboat².  It was during this exhaustive research effort that George Quintal discovered the pension records of Jonas Holden.

The grave of Revolutionary War Patriot Jonas Holden. Click the photo to see a larger image.Jonas Holden was a farmer from Westford, Massachusetts.  Soon after the start of the American Revolution, Jonas became a tireless patriot.  He would fight vigorously for the American cause throughout the conflict and witness the British surrender in Yorktown, Virginia.

Mr. Quintal would tell us, that in his six-year career as a patriot, Jonas would advance in rank from private to lieutenant; be involved in six major battles, suffering wounds in three; and march over two thousand miles!  Jonas was also among a detachment of Capt. Joshua Parker’s company that volunteered to reinforce General Arnold’s Lake Champlain fleet.³

Jonas Holden was laid to rest in South Wallingford, Vermont's Doty Cemetery. His gravesite is lovingly maintained to this day.
Many thanks to Wallingford Town Clerk Joyce Barbieri, Mrs. Carolyn Holden Patch and her husband Earl Patch for leading us to the Holden plot in Doty Cemetery. (Click on the photo to see a large-size image).

The inscription includes this tribute to the patriot:
      "A friend sincere and faithful
       A citisen [sic] virtuous and useful
       A soldier brave and valiant"

Although his entire pension record is extraordinary, it was Jonas’ account of his involvement in the Battle of Valcour Island that would be of greatest interest to the VBRP participants.  During the battle he had received injuries to his right arm and side when one of the New York’s cannon accidentally exploded!

Left: Jonas Holden’s pension application may have looked like this. This image is from an LCMM movie, A Key to Liberty. A Key to Liberty is a re-enactment of the Battle of Valcour Island featuring the LCMM’s replica gunboat Philadelphia II. The story is told from the perspective of Bayze Wells, First Officer of the American gunboat Providence. In this image taken from the movie, Bayze Wells (played by painter/actor/LCMM volunteer Ernest Haas) recounts his service on Lake Champlain to a pension officer (played by LCMM director/researcher/actor Arthur Cohn). The video may be purchased from the museum store. (Click the thumbnail to see a full-size image).

Mr. Quintal had discovered an invaluable link between historical record and the Valcour cannon!  But that was only the start of what Mr. Quintal would be able to tell us about the broken gun…  

Continued here:
Lieut. Thomas Rogers

Back to the VBRP HOME PAGE

Note:  Over the winter months of 2002 and 2003, members of the Westford Museum and Historical Society meticulously located, copied, organized and transcribed the Holden pension documents from U.S. National Archive records.  They have also made them available through the Westford Colonial Minutemen Website.  Many thanks to Marilyn Day, Bob Oliphant, and Webmaster Daniel Lacroix for making this material so readily accessible.   Links to the Westford Colonial Minutemen Website are provided below.

 Jonas Holden Pension Record Documents from the Westford Colonial Minutemen Website: .

In partnership with:

Other links about Valcour Island and the Battle of Valcour within The Lake Champlain and Lake George Historical Site

The Battle of Lake Champlain:

The American Revolution on Lake Champlain

Download a copy of the The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's Official VBRP Cannon Raising Commemoration Program- Click HERE.

Also of interest: LCMM's Valcour Island Battlefield Preservation

IMPORTANT NOTE: Artifacts on the bottom of the lake are the property of the People of the States of New York and/or Vermont by law. It is illegal to remove or damage them under State Law(s) without the appropriate clearances and permits. Removing them and transferring them across state lines violates Federal law & makes one liable to Federal prosecution.


¹ Bellico, Russell P. Sails and Steam in the Mountains: a Maritime and Military History of Lake George and Lake Champlain. Fleischmanns: Purple Mountain Press, 1992, 193-201.

² “The Battle of Valcour Island: A Burst Cannon Reflects a Moment in Time”.  LCMM: The American Battle Line Artifact Recovery, June 30, 2001.

³ “The Battle of Valcour Island: Research Uncovers New Information about Participants”.  LCMM News, (Spring/Summer 2000), 8.       

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