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James Cotton

James Cotton was born on Dec 25, 1749 in Upper Providence, Belfast, Ireland to unknown parents, his father having also been a native of Belfast and having died in New Jersey.  James was christened on December 25, 1748 in St. Anne's, Belfast, Ireland.  

He came to America in 1769 at the age of 20 to a farm near Princeton, New Jersey.  He enlisted in the fall of 1775 and served as a drummer under Capt. John Shank.  He reportedly helped bury the dead after the Battle of Princeton.  

Painting by Don Troiani of Washington at the Battle of Princeton, 1777 (Source: Don Troiani,

He was discharged on June 1, 1778 due to a knee injury.

He married Achsah Holloway on Jan 1, 1779 in Princeton, New Jersey.  They had nine children:

1.  Jane Cotton, b. Jul 25, 1797 in Johnson County, New Jersey
2.  Richard Cotton, b. Nov 2, 1789 in Johnson County, New Jersey
3.  Robert Hutchinson Cotton, b. Mar 29, 1793 in Johnson County, New Jersey
4.  Nancy "Anny" Cotton, b. Oct 30, 1794 in Johnson County, New Jersey
5.  James Cotton, Jr., b. Dec 18, 1787 in Johnson County, New Jersey
6.  William Cotton, b. Jan 3, 1781 in Johnson County, New Jersey, d. Dec 3, 1854 near Wadestown, Battell, Monongalia, Virginia
7.  Elizabeth Cotton, b. Sep 13, 1779 in Johnson County, New Jersey
8.  Mary Cotton, b. Jun 1, 1784 in Johnson County, New Jersey
9.  Unknown

James served as a drummer in the Revolutionary War under Captain John Shank for New Jersey.  He enlisted in 1775 and was discharged Jun 1, 1778.  

James died Feb 20, 1806 in Greene County, Pennsylvania or Monongalia County, Virginia (now WV).  Family story states he was accidentally killed by a falling tree because he couldn't get out of the way fast enough (perhaps due to the knee injury he suffered in the Revolutionary War as the pension application states he was crippled for life).


W-1830 NJ/VA (unknown book) Pension record:
James Cotton married Achsa Holloway, 1 Jan 1779 in Princeton, New Jersey. James died 20 Feb. 1806 in Monongalia County,Virginia (now West Virginia) He was christened 25 Dec 1748 at St. Anne's Belfast, Ireland. He came to America in 1769 to a farm near Princeton, New Jersey. Enlisted in the Fall of 1775, discharged 1 June 1778. Records show he helped bury the dead after famous battle of Princeton. This from Military Records from National Archives.

Source Citation (birth date and place, death date and place, children and birth dates:

"Ancestral File v4.19," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 June 2012), entry for James COTTON.

"Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files" Abstracted by Virgil D White published by The National
Historical Publishing Company, Waynesboro, Tennessee 1992

Cotton, James, Achsa Chalfant former wid, R1830, NJ Line, sol was b f25 Dec 1740 sol m Achsa (--) in fall of 1780 at Princeton NJ & she was b 13 Apr 1759, sol d 20 Feb 1806 & wid m next to Solomon Chalfant who d in Jan 1836, wid appl 21 Sep 1849 Monongalia Cty VA, wid d 15 Sep 1850, children were; Elizabeth b 15 Sep 1779, William b 3 Jan 1781, Mary b 1 Jun 1784, James b 18 Dec 1787, Richard b 2 Nov 1789, Robert H. b 29 Mar 1792, Anny or Nancy b 30 Oct 1794 & Jane b 25 Jul 1797, sol's son William Cotton was living in Monongalia Cty VA in 1853.

DAR Record:

Ancestor #: A026374
12-25-1749    IRELAND
Pension Number: 
Service Description: 

Residence: Princeton, Middlesex Co., NJ

COTTON, Robert H.
Portrait & Biographical Record Winnebago & Boone Cos., IL. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp 404-406

A long course of persevering industry and prudent management on the part of Robert H. COTTON has resulted in the accumulation of a competence which has enabled him to retire from the toils of life and spend his declining years in ease and enjoyment.  He was born in Monongalia County, VA, 15 Jan 1811, and is a son of James COTTON, a native of NJ, where his father, also named James COTTON, was born.  The great grandfather of our subject was a native of Belfast, Ireland, of Scotch ancestry, who came to America in the early Colonial times, spending the remainder of his days in NJ.  [p 405]

The grandfather of our subject was a farmer by occupation, and on removing from his native State, made his home in Monongalia County, VA, where he was among the earliest settlers.   There he purchased a tract of timber land and industriously set about clearing and improving his estate, being accidentally killed by the falling of a tree in 1806.  He was a patriot of the Revolutionary War, serving through all that struggle.  The maiden name of his wife was Achsa GALLOWAY; she was also a native of NJ, and departed this life while residing on the home farm in VA.

James COTTON, the father of our subject, was very young when his parents made their home in VA, where he grew to man's estate and married.  He became the proprietor of a tract of timber land with a small clearing upon it and a log house, which was the birthplace of our subject.  He was a hard working and economical man, and succeeded in accumulating a handsome estate, upon which he resided until 1822.  Then disposing of his acreage he removed to PA, locating in Greene County, where he made his home until coming to IL, at which time he settled in Henry County; his death occurred at the home of his son, R. H. COTTON, in 1871.

Jemimah CHALFANT, the mother of our subject, was born in Monongalia County, VA, and was a daughter of Solomon CHALFANT, whose birth occurred in Newcastle, DE.  The father was very young when his parents removed to the Old Dominion [VA], and when reaching mature years he served seven years under General Washington, participating in the battles of Brandywine, Stony Point and numerous other engagements.  He spent the winter at Valley Forge, made memorable in history for the sufferings which the soldiers endured, and had the pleasure of seeing Cornwallis surrender his sword at Yorktown.  His wife was Miss EATON, and he passed his last years in Monongalia County.  Our subject now has in his possession a $6 note of Continental money which was paid his grandfather in remuneration for his services in the Revolutionary War.  The mother of our subject died in Greene County, PA, after having borne her husband eight children:  Elizabeth, Robert H., Achsa, Eaton, James, Solomon, David and Lydia.

Pension application:

James Cotton's widow, Ascha Chalfant, applied unsuccessfully for a widow's pension.  The following was contained in the Declaration for Pension.

On the 21st day of September, 1849, appeared before me, Jas. Wise, Justice of the Peace of Monongalia County, Ascha Chalfant, an old and respectable resident of above count, aged 90 years, who being duly sworn according to law, doth on her oath make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefits of the provisions of the Acts of Congress passed July 4, 1836 etc.

That she ws married to James Cotton in the fall of 1780 at Princeton, NJ, who was a Drummer under Capt. John Skank, that he enlisted or volunteered early in the war, thinks in the Fall of 1775, was in several skirmishes, cannot tell the names of the Battles he was in, thinks in Princeton and Trenton, that he was discharged in consequence of a white swelling in his left knee, June 1, 1778 as the accompaning certificate will show.  That her husband James Cotton was a cripple or lost the use of his leg ever after to his death, Feb 20, 1806.  That she has no documental evidence to substantiate his serice other than the Surgeon's certificate.  That she had, by her husband James Cotton, nine children, seven now living, Vix. Elizabeth age 71 years, William age 69, Mary age 66, James age 62, Richard age 60, Robert age 58, Nancy age 56, and Jane age 53 years.  that she afterward married Solomon Chalfant who died January 1836 and that she was a widow and has remained a widow ever since, as will appear by annexed proof.  That she is unable to appear in Court on account of her age.  Signed in the presence of Justis Garrard and Obed Cotton.  Sworn and subscribed before me this 21st day of September, 1849, - James Wise, J.P.