Tobias Tillman, c1751-c1845, Revolutionary War Pensioner

Tobias Tillman is new research territory for me. My husband’s maternal line ties into the Nation family with his grandmother and, tracing backwards, Isaac Nation married Margaret Tillman in Preble County, Ohio on 27 February 1812.

Margaret, or Peggy as she was recorded on her wedding day, appears by name in just one formal record – that of her marriage – and she died relatively young, reportedly by 1835, probably in or near Overton County, Tennessee, where the Nation family had migrated.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve never done any real research on Peggy’s family. Identifying her father is quite simple, given that she was born c1790 and Tobias Tillman is the only man with that surname found early in Preble County, Ohio.

There is much heresay out there about Tobias, particularly the names of his parents, which I won’t repeat here because I have not found any documentation.

Source: Ancestry

What is known about Tobias is what he himself stated in his Revolutionary War application.

There are but a few facts gleaned from Tobias’s application. First, he was not literate and signed with his (X) mark. Second, he had no written documentation verifying his birth date, which he believed to be in the middle of June of 1751 or 1752. Tobias stated that he was born in Orange County, North Carolina, but we’ll look at that in a bit. He also had no discharge papers from his military service.

However, he did state that he was a private in the company of Captain W. O’Neal’s Company of Horse in Col. Butler’s Regiment in Orange County, North Carolina, serving from February until about the first of September of 1776. Tobias further stated that he was drafted two more times, but paid a substitute to take his place. He also was called on as a Minuteman for several short tours of duty.

It doesn’t appear that he took part in any of the major battles of the American Revolution. Instead, he was guarding the frontier from Indian attacks and British/Tory activities.

Tobias’s pension file actually has quite a few pages in it, but most of them relate to letters that (probable) descendants wrote to the Pension Office inquiring about his service.

No family members are mentioned, not even his wife.

Given the time period and scarcity of records, Tobias did include some very valuable information – a timeline of where he lived from birth to the present day (June 1833).

Tobias stated that he was born in Orange County, North Carolina, which may or may not be accurate. He wasn’t sure about his age. Also, if born in 1751, Orange County hadn’t yet been created. It wasn’t set off from parts of Bladen, Granville and Johnston Counties until sometime in 1752. I can’t find a month and day, so if it was formed after the middle of June, then Tobias still wasn’t born in Orange County. It is also certainly possible that Tobias lost track of a few years and was only in his late 70s in 1833 and really was born in Orange County.

Tobias continued to live in Orange County until the end of the war, which I would say was 1783. He then moved to Botetourt County, Virginia until 1806 and then continued on to Preble County, Ohio, where he had lived for 27 years.

As for Tobias’s wife, she is definitely Catherine, based on the 14 October 1823 land deed whereby noting that Tobias Tilman sold land to Jacob Tillman, his (probable) son on 14 October 1823. Both Tobias and Catherine are named in the deed and Catherine released her dower rights:

Catherine’s Dower Rights Released, 1823

Catherine’s prospective parents and siblings will be discussed in a future post, but it appears that her father and mother were Henry Scharp and Barbara Graves. Scharp records indicate that they followed the same migratory path as Tobias Tillman, from North Carolina to Virginia to Ohio. While Tobias didn’t mention living in Tennessee, his three eldest children married in Knox County, Tennessee and the Scharp family was in Tennessee at the same time.

The History of Preble County, Ohio, 1881 includes a page on Tobias Tillman and his family since they were early settlers.

Page 203
Source: Internet Archive Books

Much of what is printed is likely accurate, although due to early deaths of daughters and either an incorrect wife’s name (Nancy) unless it was a second marriage (not found), there are several omissions.

Correspondence in Tobias’s pension file indicates that grandchildren and later generations knew a lot about the family. There is no official record of Tobias’s death, but a statement in one letter says he died in 1845. That is likely true, as he was living with son Henry in Preble County in 1840 and not found in 1850.

Catherine was alive as of the 1823 land deed, but neither Tobias nor son Jacob Tilman are found in the 1830 census. There are no adults old enough to be Tobias and Catherine living with any of their children in 1830. Again, family correspondence in Tobias’s pension file mentions that Catherine died in 1837. In any case, she is not found in the 1840 census when Tobias was living in son Henry’s household.

Tobias wasn’t very helpful in passing on the names of his children and their vital statistics. He was unable to write, so I doubt a family Bible will be popping up anywhere. Thankfully, his FAN club traveled by mob and his surname is unique in the areas in which he lived, providing many clues. Therefore, it is likely that he had possibly as many as twelve children. Sarah, Rachel, Margaret and Eva are not mentioned in the county history article, so see below.


1. ?Sarah, born c1777, probably Orange County, North Carolina; died 1850-1860, Knox County, Tennessee; married David Gibbs. This couple reportedly married on 4 May 1797 in Knox County, but no marriage record has been found. The Preble County history article doesn’t mention her, but could be explained because by the 1880s, they had lost touch. The 1850 census lists her birth place as Virginia, but she might not have remembered living in North Carolina.
2. Barbara, born 8 November 1778, probably Orange County, North Carolina; died 18 December 1865, Preble County, Ohio; married Martin Rice, 16 November 1799, Knox County, Tennessee. Barbara’s gravestone gives her age at death as 87 years, 1 month, 10 days.
3. Elizabeth, born 25 December 1780, probably Orange County, North Carolina; died 10 May 1860, Preble County, Ohio; married Alexander McNutt, 22 December 1800, Knox County, Tennessee. Her gravestone gives her birth and death dates.
4. John, born 7 March 1783, probably Botetourt County, Virginia; died 24 February 1850, Preble County, Ohio; married Nancy Harless, c1805. Their marriage record hasn’t been found, but their daughter Sarah’s death certificate names both of them. His birth date is calculated from his age at death – 66 years, 11 months and 17 days.
5. Catherine, born 7 May 1785, probably Botetourt County, Virginia; died 24 January 1865, Wabash County, Indiana; married James Abbott, 14 October 1800, Knox County, Tennessee. Her birth date is calculated from her age at death noted on her gravestone.
6. Phebe, born 15 July 1787, probably Botetourt County, Virginia; died 11 August 1873, Page County, Iowa; married Jacob Loy, c1805, but their marriage record hasn’t been found.
7. Mary, born c1789; died before 1830;  married John Simonton, 22 November 1808, Preble County, Ohio. John Simonton is last found in the 1830 census with no female old enough to be Mary.
8. Margaret, born c1791, probably Botetourt County, Virginia; died c1835, probably in Overton County, Tennessee; married Isaac Nation, 27 February 1812, Preble County, Ohio. Margaret isn’t mentioned in the county history article. Given that she died early and far from the rest of her family, it isn’t surprising that an 1881 book would not mention her.
9. Rachel, born c1795; married Moses Huffman, 13 October 1825, Preble County, Ohio; reportedly died c1841. There is another Rachel who married Joel Thomas, 11 September 1828, also in Preble County. It appears that the second Rachel was the daughter of John, which leaves Tobias as the only possibility for the father of this Rachel.
10. Jacob, born 8 May 1801, probably Knox County, Tennessee; died 18 February 1870, Wabash County, Indiana; married Mary Thomas, 13 June 1822, Preble County, Ohio.
11. Eva, born c1803, probably Knox County, Tennessee; married Jesse Piles, 11 October 1821, Preble County, Ohio. Eva is not mentioned in the county history article either. She could possibly be a daughter of John Tillman, but, in any case, Eva died as a young wife, possibly in childbirth, because Jesse married (2) Mary Williams, 11 August 1825, Preble County, Ohio.
12. Henry, born 11 April 1805, in Tennessee or Ohio; died 5 October 1869, Whitley County, Indiana; married Parmelia House, 27 August 1826, Preble County, Ohio.

In future posts, I will take a closer look at the possible parentage of Tobias Tillman along with the family of Henry Sharp and Barbara Graves, the probable parents of Tobias’s wife, Catherine.







One thought on “Tobias Tillman, c1751-c1845, Revolutionary War Pensioner”

  1. Hi Linda,

    I really enjoyed this article about Tobias Tillman and his family. Tobias is a great-grandfather on my Mother’s side.

    I do my genealogy research via “”. They have a section called “sources” for each person where one can link to other documents.

    I couldn’t see anything in your “Terms of Service” page that would discourage me adding a link to your excellent article, but I wanted to check with you first to make sure. Please let me know your thoughts.


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