Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Salute to Sommer Revolutionary Pats

Of the three Sommer brothers who hailed from Freistett, Georg, John, and Martin, here is what I know of each brother during Revolutionary times:
  • Georg Sommer, the elder, lived in Oxford, NJ and has long been credited as being the Ensign in Capt. Mackey's company (First Regiment, Sussex). I never questioned this until I realized our understanding of Georg's obituary had been incorrect (click here for more info), and that Georg had suffered from cataracts for 11 years at the end of his life, leaving him blind. This would mean in 1776, he was 54 years old and having sight problems. For this reason, I tend to think that the man from Oxford who served as the Ensign for the New Jersey militia in 1777 was instead the son, George Summers, 1747-1825, who later moved to Bucks, PA.
    • However, if indeed George, the younger, served for New Jersey, maybe it was not he who served as a drummer in the 6th PA Regiment? This article about the fife, drum, and bugle during the Revolution is interesting. What's notable for our discussion is that if drummers were either boys or old men, George, the younger, was neither in 1777 - he was 30 years old. And, we must remember to consider there were likely other men of the name George Summers in Pennsylvania during the Revolution....
  • John Sommer of Moreland did not serve in the military, that we know of, but we do now know two related things about his involvement in the Revolution:
    • John buried his deeds when the British took over Philadelphia, and when he later dug them up, they were so damaged, he had to address the PA Assembly to have his lands recognized again. 
    • John's only surviving son, Jacob, an Ensign in the PA militia, was taken prisoner and held on Long Island for four years; Jacob would later become a PA State Senator. 
  • I have not yet found any indication that Martin Sommer served in the Revolution, and his sons were too young at that time to have served in the military; research is ongoing. 
There's good news and bad news here.

The bad news is that the various approved DAR/SAR applications that claim either George Summers, 1722-1785, or George Summers, 1747-1825, as Revolutionary ancestors are probably incorrect (see my article here) because:
  1. George Summers Sr. was older and going blind at the time of the Revolution - so he likely never served in any military unit, though this point could still use more study and discussion. 
  2. George Sr.'s son, George Jr., had only one son, John, who died in 1791 - so even though we know that George Jr. did serve militarily, we also know he did not have descendants to survive him. 
The good news, in my opinion, is that it's not our association to Revolutionary Patriots that really matters. I consider all these Sommer ancestors Patriots because one and all, women and children included, they participated in a collective desire for freedom which changed history, and continues to influence some of our deepest-felt values today. So thank you to all veterans of military service and their families for embodying the struggle of so many to lead better lives. On Veteran's Day and every day, thank you. 

I dedicate this post to the memory of my father, Major Richard C. Schaefer, USAF, 1933-2009. He did love history.

1 comment:

  1. As of 14 Apr 2016, I received notification from the SAR acknowledging they can find no records to support that George Summers Jr. (d. 1825) had descendants. "Translating to current day SAR genealogical standards, any person applying for membership on this ancestor would be required to start at square one with all documentation for review of lineage as well as service."

    I also wrote to the DAR last spring on the subject of George Summers Jr. but have not yet received any reply.