Benjamin Ishmael Ishmael

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Benjamin Ishmael Ishmael

Birthdate: (85)
Birthplace: Adams, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, United States
Death: July 10, 1822 (85)
Nicholas County, Kentucky, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Caesar Ishmael and Zilpha Ishmael
Husband of Elizabeth Jane "Jenny" Ishmael
Father of James Robert Ishmael; Margaret Wheeler; Robert C. Ishmael; Sarah Irvin/Irwin; Thomas B. Ishmael and 5 others
Brother of Thomas Ishmael and Robert Ishmael

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Benjamin Ishmael Ishmael


Farmer, Soldier, and Patriarch of the "ISHMAEL” family in the United States Benjamin ISHMAEL was born in the colony, Pennsylvania in 1736. First known records found on Benjamin ISHMAEL are the Military records on file in the State Historical Commision of Pennsylvania, However the most informative record is Benjamin's own Pension application which he filed in 1818. This pension paper, coupled with information found in a book by John B. B. Trussell, Jr, “The Pennsylvania Line, Regimental Organizations, 1776-1783",1977, makes a good story for the life and times of our Ancestor. Benjamin enlisted into Company "A", under the command of Captain Abraham Smith at Conecocheaque Settlement in Cumberland County.

This company was part of the 6th Pennsylvania Battalion raised by Colonel William Irvine. This Battalion authorized on January 4th, 1776. The initial strength of the 6th was 710 men. The uniform of the Battalion was a blue coat and breeches, the coat "turned up" with red, and a small round hat, bound with braid or tape, Most of the men were from Cumberland County, but two companies were from York County. This Battalion, with many others were involved in the fiasco at Three Rivers, Canada. Most of the Battalion was captured, with the notable except of Company "A", which escaped with the help of 10 riflemen of Captain John Lacey's Company "C', 4th Pennsylvania Battalion. This venture started after the 6th Battalion Ms mustered into service at Carlisle, receiving orders on March 14, 1776 to join forces at New York City, and by April 24th, the entire Battalion had arrived as ordered. Then on April 26th, it and three companies of the 4th Pennsylvania were ordered to go to Albany and join in an attach into Canada. The Battalion reached Albany on May 10th. Three days later it departed under the control of Brig. Gen. John Sullivan. It passed Lake George and reached Chambly on June 3rd, It joined the main army at Sorel the next day, On June 5th, under the over all control of Brig. Gen. Wm Thompson, it was sent to Nicolette to reinforce troops under Col. Athur St. Clair. On June 9th, this force engaged the British at Three Rivers. 78 members of the 6th Battalion were killed or captured. After this defeat, Company A", aided by the ten riflemen of Captain Lacey's unit, returned to Sorel. The survivors of the 6th, with the remaining American forces fell back to Isle Awe Noix. While there, some members decided to go fishing, These men were attached by a group of Indians. Two of the enlisted men were killed and scapled. After this the American's retreated to Crown Point, which it reached by July 1st, The troops of the 6th Battalion remained here as the other units moved to Ticonderoga, The 6th Battalion stayed at Crown Point for 39 months forming an outpost, having occasional brushes with the enemy. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Hartely was in command since Three Rivers, where Colonel Irvine had been captured, His orders were to hold unless a major attack was launched against his forces, then retreat, On October 14th, the main British army approached, so he set fire to the houses in the vicinity and fell back to Ticonderoga. The Battalion stayed here until the enlistments of the men ran out, returning to Carlisle, being mustered out March 15, 1777.

Benjamin returned home, where he worked until about one year later. And. Then joined Colonel Buford's Regiment. This was about 1778, and he was transfered to Captain Bentalou's Company of Count Casimir Pulaski command. During this service, Benjamin was in the Battle of Eggharhour, New Jersey. After a little more than one year, he was discharged at Williamsburg, Virginia.

Once more returning home, he worked at farming. Then in 1780 he joined the Militia in Cumberland County. He was assigned to Captain Daniel CLapsadle 's 1st Battalion as a Private, He was assigned from Washington Township, Cumberland County in the Militia, and was found on the tax records in the same area for 1780, He was listed on the tax records as a Freeman. On the 1783 tax records for the same location, he was listed as a Freeholder, owning a horse and a cow, Later he moved to Bedford County.

In Talley's books, a reference is made to Benjamin ISHMAEL as receiving a land grant of 160 acres from Virginia for services rendered in the Revolution.



In Darkest Indianapolis

A poor midwestern family is demonized by eugenicists and glorified by radicals.

Jesse Walker from the March 2009 issue

Benjamin Ishmael was a Revolutionary War Veteran from Pennsylvania and Kentucky with probably Welsh ancestors. His name ended up attached to a group of about 10,000 American nomads who roamed the state of Indiana and surrounding states during the mid 1800's to early 1900's.

They were a mixture of freed slaves, Africans, Native Americans, and poor whites. Some of them intermarried, causing alarm for the proponents of the newly popular pseudoscience of Eugenics. In 1888, a social reformer named Oscar McCulloch delivered a speech in Buffalo titled “The Tribe of Ishmael: A Study in Social Degradation.” Indianapolis, McCulloch declared, had been infected by a “pauper ganglion,” a depraved clan that survived “by stealing, begging, ash-gathering.” In the summer, he said, “they ‘gypsy,’ or travel in wagons east or west.…They have been known to live in hollow trees on the river-bottoms or in empty houses.” They also received “almost unlimited public and private aid,” which merely “encourag[ed] them in this idle, wandering life, and in the propagation of similarly disposed children.” The Tribe culture was felt to be "a social evil with a biological basis. Heredity had cursed them to live this way."

In 1907, influenced by McCulloch’s studies, the state of Indiana adopted what may be the world’s first compulsory sterilization law. The eugenicist Harry Laughlin even invoked the Ishmaels (calling them “inferior human stock”) during the crusade that produced the Immigration Act of 1924, a law that sharply curtailed immigration from southern and eastern Europe and barred it entirely from much of Asia. The Ishmaels were a curious family to cite for such purposes, given that they were descended from a Revolutionary War veteran whose ancestors probably hailed from Wales. For the eugenicists, Deutsch explains, “most immigrants were potential Ishmaelites until proven otherwise by intelligence tests and other forms of screening.”

From In Darkest Indianapolis: A poor midwestern family is demonized by eugenicists and glorified by radicals, by Jesse Walker, reasononline, March 2009.

Complete article:


Benjamin Ishmael's Early Life by Mark Painter

I've been working for some time now on the question of where, exactly, Benjamin Ishmael lived during his early years.

He appears on one known tax list for Cumberland County in Pennsylvania. It places him in "Hopewell Township." In modern terms, "Hopewell Township" is what we now call Franklin County, PA.

His military records say he enlisted at the Conococheague Settlement. (That's pronounced con-no-COT-cheek, I believe.) I started by getting a map of the county. The Conococheague is a stream that winds south through Franklin County and on into Maryland, where it empties into the Potomac. The first white settlers in this area were Scots Irish, but when I looked at the map, I noticed that there is a stream called Welsh Run that empties into the West Branch of the Conococheague. There is also a village of the same name nearby. You can see it on this map: msid=112947215848207603082.00044e529770c6a6ae631&ll=39.766391,-77.852554&spn=0.044335,0.0628 28&t=p&z=14

My family and I took a drive over to Welsh Run on Memorial Day to look it over. The terrain is rough and stony but generally flat. A few miles to the west is Tuscarora Mountain, a long north-south ridge that rises above the lowlands like a big, forested wall. This marks the county line.

Sometime about 1736-40, a David Davis and/or Philip Davis of Wales bought land here and started a Welsh settlement.

My hypothesis is that Benjamin Ishmael's parents were among the early families in this settlement, and I'm researching this now. I'll let you all know what I find. But if I'm right about this, it already gives us some insight into Benjamin Ishmael's early life: In 1740, this was the frontier. The Pennsylvania colonial government prohibited whites from settling any further west than Tuscarora Mountain. The colony was mostly run by Quakers, who believed in buying the land from the Indians before settling it. (They did not always live up to their ideals, but that's another story.) They were in the process of negotiating with the Indians for the land beyond the mountain, but there were Scots Irish settlers who didn't want to wait,

and were already farming beyond the mountain, much to the Indians' irritation.

In 1755, the British General Edward Braddock began his ill-fated expedition ( /wiki/Braddock_expedition) to attack the French Ft. Duquesne, where Pittsburgh is now. You may remember this story from school. A colonel in the Virginia militia, George Washington, was part of the attacking force. The reason a colonel from the Virginia militia was attacking a French fort at Pittsburgh was that, in those days, Virginia also claimed that territory. The reason there was no colonel from the Pennsylvania militia present was that, in 1755, Pennsylvania had no militia. The Quakers, being pacifists, had always opposed the idea.

After the disaster of Braddock's expedition, the French aided and encouraged the Indians to attack the British settlers on the frontier. This is the war that Americans call the French and Indian War (the Europeans call it the Seven Years' War.) In November 1755, a large number of settlers in those illegal settlements west of Tuscarora Mountain were massacred. In 1756, the Indians began attacking the Conococheague settlements. The Conococheague Institute ( has a nice timeline (pull down the list box and click on "Terror on the Frontier") of that year in Conococheague.

1756 must have been a terrifying year for the people living there. In response to the massacres here and elsewhere, the Pennsylvania colonial government finally gave in and organized a militia. But at this point, the settlers were on their own and this timeline demonstrates that the Indians were outfighting them.

Benjamin Ishmael would have been about 20 at the time and I feel certain he would have been in the thick of the fighting. Note the reference to Fort Davis. This was a private fort built by Philip Davis for the protection of the settlers at Welsh Run. Here's some more about Fort Davis: dq=welsh+run+pennsylvania+philip+davis&source=web&ots=nS8KxRic28&sig=YeCOqVYfpYNKeGlgGtp tGPwXYBs&hl=en

Notice the reference to the fort standing on land of the McPherran farm. I am sure that name is familiar to many of you. I think this is a sign I am on the right track, as this points to when and where the Ishmael and McPherran families first met.

I wonder if Benjamin's parents were killed in one of these attacks. That might help to explain why they're so hard to find.

Anyway, the coda to this story is that the American settlers learned guerilla warfare the hard way, from the Indians, but by 1776, they were able to put the lesson to good use when the Revolution started. Veterans of the French and Indian War were the backbone of the Continental Army. Notice that Benjamin Ishmael enlisted early on, in February 1776. I'd suggest he was asked to. As a veteran of the Indian fighting, he would have had a lot to teach the younger recruits.

Anyway, that's how I see it.

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Benjamin Ishmael Ishmael's Timeline

July 17, 1736
Franklin County, Pennsylvania, United States
Age 42
Washington County, Pennsylvania, United States
Age 43
Age 45
Franklin County, Pennsylvania, United States
May 1786
Age 49
Age 50
July 25, 1789
Age 53
Age 53
January 1795
Age 58