In 1760, the French and Indian War was still causing upheaval amidst the colonists, and it was also during that time that my 5th great-grandfather, Alam Blain, was born on the 13th of May in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. At that time, there was a considerable German population in the county, so perhaps Alam is another Pennsylvania Dutch connection in my family, but any evidence of that is unknown so far.

When he was 17 years old, Alam enlisted with the 4th Regiment Light Dragoons under the command of Col. Anthony White, and he fought for three years in the Revolutionary War. The Dragoons were a part of the Continental Army used mainly for scouting, patrolling, covering missions and for courier service, and on May 28, 1778, Washington sent orders for all the cavalry regiments to join the army at Valley Forge. Before the troopers could arrive, however, the orders were countermanded and the cavalrymen were directed to keep close watch over British movements in the vicinity of Philadelphia.

After his time in service, he met Miss Catharine Read, also from New Jersey. There were married on the 12th of April in 1784 in the Zion Lutheran Church in Oldwick, New Jersey.


They left New Jersey right around 1800/1801, moving to Pennsylvania, and remained in Luzerne County until 1815/1816, when the family moved to Ohio, locating in Zanesville, and then one final move in 1820 to Delaware County, Ohio where Alam would live out the rest of his days before dying in 1846.

Because he was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, I was able to locate a rather extensive pension file for Alam, a file that gave me a little added insight into his life after the war. My impression and personal opinion is that that latter half of their lives were difficult and filled with struggle to find the means to survive.

A statement given in August 1819 refers to Alam as being reduced (?) and indignant. The year prior, and again in 1820 he applied for his pension that Congress had entitled “an Act to provide for certain persons engaged in the Land and naval service of the United States in the Revolutionary War” His declaration stated:

“My occupation is coaling – not able to work more than one third of my time. the number of my family residing with me is three, named Catherine (my wife) aged 59 – Polly aged 25, works out part of her time, owing to her mother’s sickness [and] inability to work, to help maintain the family [and]Alam, 11 years old, very weakly, and does not contribute in the least to my support”

In 1847, Catharine Blain (84 years old at the time) applied to have Alam’s pension increased to $96 dollars, as well as her son also stepped in and corresponded as well. It seemed they were worried that Alam’s pension would no longer be sent, nor was it enough money for them to live off of. The grammar and spelling is a bit rough, but the idea is there. He wrote:

Dear Sir,
I take this opportunity to inform you that sometime last June I undertook to get my mother’s pension Catherine Blain the widow of Alam Blain, deceased, a pension of the Untied States who draw a pension under the Act of 18th of March 1818 of ninety six dollars….the above stated old Lady is a live and stand in much need of her pension if it can be got a holt [sic] of for her.

…will you please to consider this for her case and recamend to the department that she is the widow of Alam Blain who draw a pension of the United States under act of congress of the 18 of March 1818 and under the act of congress passed 3 of March 1843 and the 17th of June 1844 granting widow they pension if you will be so kind to help me in that case you will confer a grate favor on the poor old Lame widow to a small living in this world you will please to right to me without delay for she is in much want at this time.

Very respectfully yours

Obedient servant

Elam Blain

I’m not sure how much I would appreciate my son referring to me as the “old Lady” or the “poor old Lame widow”…but I imagine they were hoping to appeal to the softer side of the department and maybe pull a few heart strings at the same time.

Catharine died in 1855 at the age of 92 years old. Her and Alam rest together in Hunt Cemetery in Harlem Twp., Delaware County.