Saturday, June 20, 2015

John Vincent: War of 1812 Veteran & "Habitual Drunkard"

John Vincent, a veteran of the War of 1812, was declared by the Court to be a "habitual drunkard" in 1840. He was about 48 years old and, according to the 1840 census, had 8 children living at home including four under the age of 10. His wife, Maria, must have had a tough time with so many children and a husband who was often drunk.

John's father-in-law, David Watson, was appointed trustee of John's property which was worth about $25,000 with debts of $5,000. By 1843, however, John Vincent was thankfully better and he regained possession of his property. He and his wife even had another child, a son, in 1845. 

Just a few years later, in 1846, John sadly reverted to his old ways. The newspaper account says that John's father-in-law, David Watson, "did not wish to create a difficulty with Vincent, stated he would use other means to get the property out of his hands. acting upon this, [the plantiff, Maria] alleged that from this time until the death of Vincent... he succeeded by different methods in getting the greater portion of his property into his, Watson's hands. Among these were several judgments obtained by Watson, and for which the plaintiff alleged no consideration was given." [See "Sources" 1859 newspaper]

Tombstone of John Vincent (see details below)
Thanks to Early Munday for posting the photo at Find A Grave

John Vincent died in August of 1853. His father-in-law, who had taken the "greater portion of his property," died just two and a half years later in January of 1856 allegedly without making a "full account of his trust."

When John's father-in-law died, the property and money that should have went to John's widow, Maria, and their children, must have been set to go to David's heirs. What did Maria do? She sued the executor of her father's estate: her own brother, John L Watson.

This matter before the court evidently went on for several years. Finally, in 1859, the court "rendered a verdict for the plantiff [the widow, Maria] of $5,277.68." But, the defendant, John L Watson, "made a motion for a new trail."

So, the matter still wasn't settled. In 1862, nine years after the death of her husband, it appears the lawsuit continued as there is yet another notice in the paper for "Mary [Maria] C Vincent vs John L Watson." At this point, records have not been uncovered of any final settlement.

What happened to the Watson & Vincent families because of this lawsuit? Was Maria alienated from her siblings? Were she and her brother, John L, enemies?

John L Watson's letter found in Maria C Vincent's Widow's application packet

It appears that, even if the situation was tough for years, they had some kind of family relationship in their later years. In 1877, when both Maria & John L were in their late 70's, Maria was applying for a widow's pension for her husband's service in the War of 1812. Needing evidence of the marriage of Maria Watson and John Vincent, Maria's brother, John L, wrote a letter testifying to the marriage of "Marie C Vincent... a sister of mine."

In this case, instead of fighting over money, John L was actually helping his sister to receive additional money! I hope, with both parents long deceased, they were able to be a family and share happy moments, love, and support.

  • Sunbury American, Sunbury, Pennsylvania, 16 Apr 1859, page 2, column 3; digital image ( accessed 20 Jun 2015)
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( accessed 20 Jun 2015), memorial page for John Vincent (1792-1853), Find a Grave Memorial no. 26,579,231, citing Warrior Run Church Cemetery, Delaware Run, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania; the accompanying photograph by Early Munday clearly show the name, John Vincent, but the dates aren't fully legible
  • Handwritten statement of John L Watson dated 1 May 1877, Mary C Vincent's, widow of John Vincent, Pension Applicaiton No. 2631, Pennsylvania, War of 1812 Pensions, 1866-1879 ( accessed 20 Jun 2015)
John Vincent: My 4th Great Grand Uncle
  • John Vincent (1792-1853) m Maria Correy Watson (1799-1881)
  • John Vincent was the son of Daniel Vincent (1760-1827) m Angelchy Hough/Huff/Heuff (1760-1821), my 5x great grandparents, & brother of my Elizabeth "Betsy" Vincent m George Watson (1783-1853)
  • Sarah Jane Watson (1852-1922) m Catharine Jane McClintock (1852-1929)
  • Andrew "Andy" McClintock Stewart (1882-1954) m Bessie Waldron Merrill (1879-1959)
  • James Edward Stewart (1910-1972) m Hazel Lucille Peters (1910-1975), my paternal grandparents
Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at


  1. Sounds like you need to hit the courthouse. Too bad you can't stay a few days after GRIP to do some digging!

  2. Oh, I'd LOVE to stay & do some research! Maybe next spring? I hope so!


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