Lancasters and swords

Work continues on providing more information on the individuals who are attributed as once owning particular artifacts in the Switzerland County Historical Museum collection. The Veterans Remembered exhibit is the current focus. Two swords have raised a few quandaries due to their labels.  One tag states: Civil War sword used by Capt. Lancaster of Craig Twp. Given by Ethol T. Brown. The other reads: Sword of William Lancaster, dated 1821, saw use in the Civil War. Donated by Ralph Trafalet Miller.

Research has revealed that William Lancaster and his family moved to Switzerland County in about 1832, evidenced by his Revolutionary War Pension application. He was born on November 17, 1746 in Hanover County, Virginia and died in Switzerland County November 4, 1843 at the age of 96. His parents were Robert and Mary Mallory Lancaster, immigrants from England. William is buried in the Napoleon Miller Cemetery in Craig Township.

William Lancaster enlisted on January 20, 1779 and served two months as private in Captain William Buckner’s Company in Colonel Harvey`s Virginia Regiment, and guarded the British and Hessian prisoners at Albermarie Barracks. He enlisted again in 1780 and served 90 days in Captain Benjamin Johnson’s Company under Major Nathaniel Welsh. He enlisted sometime in July or Aug 1781, serving four months under Abner Porter, Commissary and was engaged in collecting cattle for the Army. After the Revolution he moved to Kentucky where he lived for 28 years before moving to Indiana.
William married Mary “Polly” Webb in 1772 and they had one son, Mallory Lancaster (1790 – 1844). Polly died in 1799. William married a widow, Sarah Blades in 1813.

Mallory Lancaster, served in the War of 1812 in the Kentucky Mounted Volunteer Militia under Captain Robert Smith. He enlisted September 9, 1812 and was discharged January 13, 1813. Mallory Lancaster married Catherine Byers on August 10, 1815 in Bracken County, Kentucky. They appear in the 1820 Census in Switzerland County. They had 12 children:
Children of Mallory and Catherine (Byers) Lancaster
(1) Margaret Lancaster, (1816-1877), married Mose Mckay
(2) John Lancaster, (1817-1877), married Sarah Johnston
(3) Eliza Lancaster, (1819-1901) married James Vaughn
(4) Phoebe Lancaster, (b. 1820, Switzerland Co., IN)
(5) William V. Lancaster, (1821-1892), married Jemima Garner, Bedilia Bridget Gallagher
(6) Catherine Jane Lancaster, (1823-1916), married Lewis Conner, Patrick Porter.
(7) Sarah Lancaster, (1825-1873), married Hunniwell Haskell
(8) Nancy Lancaster, (1827-1847), married Daniel McKay
(9) Oliver Perry Lancaster, (b. Nov. 3, 1830, Switzerland Co., IN-d. Aug. 19, 1845, Vevay, IN)
(10) Lucy E. Lancaster, (1834-1877), married John Turner
(11) Isabelle Celina Lancaster, (1836-1924), married Evan Miller
(12) Louisiana Lancaster, (1838-1877), married Solomon Hubbard
Mallory Lancaster died in 1844 while in route to sell farm produce in New Orleans, possibly from yellow fever.

Now here is where I lose the connection to the designated owners of the swords. The only Lancaster I find who served in the Civil War from Switzerland County is mentioned in Harriman’s 1885 History of Switzerland County. William W. Lancaster is listed as a Private in the Third Calvary, Forty-fifth Regiment Indiana Volunteers, Company A. Online I find William Mallory Lancaster, born August 16, 1842 in Switzerland County, Indiana. He died December 16, 1923 in Hemet, Riverside County, California. His gravestone reads PVT CO A 3 IND CAV. Additional information says William Mallory Lancaster joined the Union Army at the age of 20. Originally a farmer, he returned to that occupation after the Civil War. He also spent three years as a pilot on the Ohio River. After marrying in 1873 he and the family lived in Kansas where he continued to farm, as well as serving a four year term as the Sheriff of Hodgeman County. The family moved to Portland, Oregon where they spent eight years before finally moving to Southern California. William Lancaster was a resident of Hemet for the last three years of his life.

Of note, the sword tagged Sword of William Lancaster, dated 1821, saw use in the Civil War. Donated by Ralph Trafalet Miller, has a family connection between Miller and Lancaster. The William Lancaster that served in the Revolutionary War is buried in the Napoleon Miller Cemetery in Craig Township. His granddaughter Isabelle Celina Lancaster (1836-1924) married Evan Miller. Janet Miller Hendricks, daughter of Ralph Miller, still lives on the family farm.

Input from local ironsmith and Civil War re-enactor Jerry Wallin has revealed the maker of the sword donated by Miller to be Nathan Starr who was the first to manufacture swords for the U.S. government. The sword is stamped N Starr US P ET on the blade and 1821 on the hilt. Jerry also pointed out a bit of social history on this sword. A “V” nick in the blade of the sword shows it was used in a conflict, the nick being made by the striking from another sword.

Family folklore may be at play on the tags. As the proper attribution of the two swords is sought, I ask for help from anyone who may know the Lancaster Family Lines. The age of William Mallory Lancaster would make him a grandson of Mallory Lancaster who served in the War of 1812, but I have yet to figure which of his sons was the father. This has been a very challenging research project.

Martha Bladen

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