On January 20, 1777, only a few days after George Washington crossed the Delaware and electrified the country by his victory at the Battle of Trenton, 17-year-old Henderson James Colvin enlisted in the Continental Army. For the next three years, James would be among the ranks of patriot soldiers who fought against the British as members of the Northern Army, participating in battle engagements of Northern New Jersey and the Defense of Philadelphia. He would also be listed on the roll of patriot soldiers who endured the historic winter of 1777-1778 with George Washington at Valley Forge.
James was born about 1760 and is believed to be the son of Robert and Elizabeth Colvin, who lived about 14 miles from Philadelphia. James' father was born in Scotland and immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1761 when he was 21.
When James began his military career, he was assigned to the 13th Virginia Regiment stationed at Fort Pitt. The 13th, known as the West Augusta Regiment, had been organized February 12, 1777 at Fort Pitt and consisted of nine companies. Commanding was Colonel William Russell. James served in companies commanded by Captain James Neal, Captain James Sullivan and Captain Uriah Springer. While serving with the 13th, James was listed on a report as being an artificer- a military mechanic. These skilled soldiers included carpenters, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, harness makers, coopers, nailers and farriers (blacksmiths who shod horses).
On May 16, 1777, the 13th was assigned to the lst Virginia Brigade, an element of the Main Army. On September 11, 1777, Pvt. Colvin's brigade took part in the Battle of Brandywine. On October 4, 1777, they were in the lead column making the main effort at the Battle of Germantown.
When cold weather set in, Washington took his army to winter quarters at Valley Forge.
At Valley Forge, Colonel Russell's 13th Virginia Regiment was one of the units of the Muhlenberg Brigade, commanded by the former Lutheran-Episcopal pastor, Brigadier General John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg. Major General Nathaniel Greene was division commander.
On June 28, 1778, James was in General Greene's main army that fought in the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse. In May, 1779, the 13th Virginia Regiment was reorganized and redesignated as the 9th Virginia Regiment. James was in Lieutenant Ephriam Ralph's Company of Foot, 9th Virginia Regiment, commanded by Colonel John Gibson, from May 1,1779, until he was discharged at Fort Pitt on January 20, 1780.
In recognition of his three years of service in the Virginia Continental line, James Colvin was awarded a bounty land warrant for 100 acres on April 5, 1784. However, like many other veterans, he chose to sell his rights to this free land south of the Green River in southwestern Kentucky, to a speculator.
On August 28, 1787, James married Mary Russell in Frederick County, Virginia. She was the daughter of John and Jane Russell of Shenandoah or Chesterfield County, Virginia. James and Mary lived in Frederick County until they moved, between 1795-1800, to what was then Nelson County, Kentucky, later becoming Green County, and, in 1848, Taylor County.
Before they moved to Kentucky, James and Mary had three daughters, Elizabeth, Ester and Jane. In Kentucky, the Colvins settled on land located on the Buckhorn Branch of Pitman Creek, near Campbellsville.
In the years ahead, James Colvin became an extensive landowner. The first recorded deed in Green County deed book eight, page four, describes the purchase for $500 a 156-acre tract from Joseph Richerson Jr. on the waters of Buckhorn Fork of Pitman Creek "where said Colvin now lives," July 5, 1817.
In her correspondence, the late Mary Lois Harding Felts, who was born in Campbellsville, relates how her father, the late Able Harding, a longtime and respected Campbellsville attorney, told her "James Colvin lived on Buckhorn Creek, " high on the bluff back of Campbellsville College."
Besides the three daughters born in 1789, 1791 and 1793 in Virginia, the Colvins had eight more children, eight girls and two boys. Nancy was born in 1795, Eleanor in 1797, Sophronia in 1799, John Washington in 1800 and Robert in 1801. The Colvin's fifth daughter, Eleanor "Nelly" Colvin, grew up to marry Robert Wilson on June 3, 1819, and become the ancient grandmother of the compiler of this journal
It also may be interesting to note that the compiler was born and raised near Buckhorn Creek in Campbellsville, about one-fourth of a mile from the location of James Colvin's original home.
James Colvin was a deacon of Pitman Creek Baptist Church. He died in 1837. Mary Colvin lived to be 82. She died October18, 1854, and was buried in Brookside Cemetery, Campbellsville. James Colvin is also believed to have been buried in Brook side Cemetery, and that the cemetery was located on land owned by the old soldier.