Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

700 College Pl
Williamsport, PA, 17701
United States

Biography

Seth McCormick, who mustered for war in 1776, was a member of a devoted revolutionary family. He was born in Paxton Township, Lancaster County on March 15, 1756 to Hugh McCormick and Sarah Alcorn.[1] That same year, McCormick and his family relocated to East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County after his father obtained several tracts of land there.[2] Looking to achieve the status of a gentlemen, and capitalizing on the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, Hugh purchased an additional 1,300 acres of unimproved land located in the White Deer Valley in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.[3]

Hugh was part of a rather large Scotch-Irish migration to the frontier. The Scot-Irish, most of whom were Presbyterians, established Cumberland County’s first locations of public congregation.[4] As the population of Scot-Irish Presbyterians increased, the Presbyterian Church became a powerful institution in maintaining order along the frontier.[5] Presbyterians occupied over a quarter of the existing legal structures and were a driving force of the revolution.[6] 

 Hugh McCormick, a staunch Presbyterian, led the revolutionary cause in Cumberland County. In the spring of 1776, he represented Cumberland County at the Provincial Conference in Carpenters Hall, Philadelphia.[7] On May 15, 1776, Hugh and the other members of the conference declared that the “present government” of the province of Pennsylvania “is not competent to the exigencies”[8] of the people. In order to meet the demands of the people, the conference members proposed a second meeting known as the Constitutional Convention, which created the most radical democratic state constitution in the Union. [9] Each county was to propose a committee of eight men to serve as delegates to the Convention and Hugh was one of them.[10]

Following in his father’s revolutionary footsteps, twenty-year-old Seth McCormick entered the service of the Revolutionary War in 1776 under the command of Captain Charles Leiper and William Cowen.[11] McCormick and the other troops gathered at Carlisle, which served as a munitions depot during the war,[12] and then marched to Philadelphia. After arriving in Philadelphia, McCormick went to Bergen County, New Jersey and remained in camp for two months in sight of the British Vessels of War.[13] After being in camp for two months, McCormick returned home and served as a volunteer under the command of Captain William McFarland[14] who served as a First Lieutenant in the Pennsylvania Regiment.[15] McCormick and the other troops of McFarland’s company arrived in Philadelphia the day before the Hessians were defeated in Trenton, New Jersey.[16] From Philadelphia, McCormick marched to Monmouth County, New Jersey and remained there for two months after which McCormick returned home.

Domestic tranquility was not in Seth’s vocabulary, and he quickly reentered the service as a wagoner under the command of John Cummins of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.[17] In this capacity, McCormick experienced a harsh three-month journey to the backcountry of Virginia. He went there to acquire clothing, forage, and provisions for the struggling troops at Valley Forge.[18] McCormick left Valley Forge and returned to Carlisle to haul artillery and ammunition to Philadelphia. After returning from Philadelphia, McCormick and his team assisted General George Washington, Commander and Chief, by hauling provisions for the army.[19] McCormick’s last trip as a wagoner was from Valley Forge to Princeton, New Jersey.[20]

Following the war, Seth settled on the lands his father bought in 1770 in Washington Township, Lycoming County. Although McCormick served in the war for over two years and his family was vital to the formation of the first Constitution, he still struggled economically. After the war, Seth worked as a common laborer and followed agricultural pursuits. According to the 1785 tax lists of Washington Township, Northumberland County, Seth McCormick paid a tax of 13 shillings, well below the average tax for the town.[21]  Seth, like many frontiersmen, struggled to recreate the life he had before the war. For many, the war destroyed their communities and their livelihoods, which is ironic because they entered the war to protect them.

Seth lived out the remainder of his life in Lycoming County. When he was 76, he appeared in the Court of Common Pleas to apply for a pension for his service in the Revolutionary War.[22] Seth received the approval of his pension and lived to be 79 years of age. Seth McCormick died on January 17, 1835 and was buried at the old “stone church” Presbyterian graveyard located in Allenwood, Brady Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.[23]

Maggie Slawson                                                                                                          

Lycoming College

 

 Endnotes   

 

[1] Seth McCormick, June 7, 1832, Revolutionary War Pension Applications, R6655.

[2] Leander James McCormick, Family Record and Biography (Chicago, 1896), 203.

[3] Franklin Marshall Eastman, Courts and Lawyers of Pennsylvania: A History, 1623-1923 (New York: The American Historical Society, 1922), 333.

[4] Rev. Ebenezer Erskine, The Presbyterians of the Cumberland Valley: An Address at the Celebration of the Founding of the Log College at Neshaminy, Pennsylvania, September 5th 1889 (Newville, Pennsylvania: J.C. Fosnot, Printer, 1889), 4.

[5] Guy Klett, “Presbyterian Settlements East of the Susquehanna River,” in Presbyterians in Colonial Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1937), 68.

[6] Christopher Pearl, “Pulpits of the Revolution: Presbyterian Political Thoughts in the Era of the American Revolution” Journal of Presbyterian History (Forthcoming: 2016), 12-13.

[7] Franklin Ellis, History of that Part of the Susquehanna and Juniata Valleys, Embraced in the Counties of Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, Union, and Snyder, In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: Everts, Peck & Richards, 1886), 676.

[8] Ibid., 321.

[9] Albert Sidney Bolles, Pennsylvania, Province and State: A History from 1609 to 1790 (Philadelphia: John Wanamaker, 1899), 456.

[10] Ellis, History of that Part of the Susquehanna and Juniata Valleys, 676.

[11] Seth McCormick, June 7, 1832, Revolutionary War Pension Applications, R6655.

[12] Judith Ridner, a Town in Between: Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the Early Mid-Atlantic Interior (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010).

[13] Seth McCormick, June 7, 1832, Revolutionary War Pension Applications, R6655.

[14] Seth McCormick, June 7, 1832, Revolutionary War Pension Applications, R6655.

[15] Pennsylvania in the War of the Revolution, Battalions and Line, 1775-1783, in Pennsylvania Archives ed. William Henry Egle (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: State Printer, 1880), 589-627.

[16] Seth McCormick, June 7, 1832, Revolutionary War Pension Applications, R6655.

[17] Seth McCormick, June 7, 1832, Revolutionary War Pension Applications, R6655.

[18] Seth McCormick, June 7, 1832, Revolutionary War Pension Applications, R6655.

[19] Seth McCormick, June 7, 1832, Revolutionary War Pension Applications, R6655.

[20] Seth McCormick, June 7, 1832, Revolutionary War Pension Applications, R6655.

[21] Tax Records, Northumberland County, 1785, in Pennsylvania Archives ed. William Henry Egle (Harrisburg: State Printer, 1897), 19:609.

[22] Seth McCormick, June 7, 1832, Revolutionary War Pension Applications, R6655.

[23] John F. Meginness, History of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, (Chicago, Illinois: Brown, Runk and Company, 1892), 576.


Copyright 2015 Pennsylvania's Revolutionary Soldiers