With very little documentation available, and relying mainly on published genealogies and local histories, we’re able to piece together a view of the Boatman family. We must rely upon mostly second hand information: the work of genealogists and historians long passed as well as tales and oral tradition. Much of what we know about the family depends on the accuracy of this material; the few actual records found of the Boatman family have, in some cases upheld tradition, and at other times have cast doubt.
One can’t understand the life and times of Claudius Boatman without at least a good working knowledge of his wives and children, as well as stories and records they’ve left behind. Since this is Claudius’ history, here is a brief sketch of his wives and children, the rest left to the many genealogists who have done so much work on their individual ancestors.
Note: I have started to expand the histories of Claudius’ family. I cannot claim to have a fraction of the knowledge that family historians, many who have been studying their individual ancestors for years and even decades, have gathered. If there is any one who wishes to write the history for their ancestor, please comment or email me. If you have anything to add, stories or documentation, please let me know! The linked names, below, contain more information on the individuals. The others are yet to come.
Marie Boatman, wife – born about 1732, died 16 August 1782
The first wife of Claudius Boatman, and the mother of most of his children except William and Nancy, Marie’s last name is often said to be Reed or Reid, although this is sometimes contested by those who believe Marie Reed was the wife of Claudius Jr. Probably born around 1732, it’s most likely she was French or of French descent, and not English. It’s said Marie died in the John Lee Massacre near Winfield, Pennsylvania on August 16th 1782, and is thought to be buried on the site.
Margaret Boatman, daughter – born about 1752, died about 1786
Margaret was born around 1752 and passed away about 1786; the family was in New Rochelle by 1755, which makes Margaret’s birth location uncertain. She married John Morrison, and is said to have been the mother of at least three children: Marcy (Marcia), John and Samuel, and possibly a Nancy, Zalen, Anna and others. The dates most usually given in published genealogies for the birth of Margaret’s children predate the Boatman family’s entry into Pennsylvania; perhaps Margaret was married more than once.
Fanny “Francoise” Boatman, daughter – born about 1755, died bet 1844 – 47
Fanny was born around 1755, most likely in New Rochelle, Westchester, New York, as that is where the Boatman family was living at the time. Some say her birth was in France or even more improbably, Pennsylvania, and a record of her baptism is said to be at the “English” church in New Rochelle. Possibly married more than once, she married John English, Sr, around the close of the Revolution. During the early years of their marriage, the young family moved from the Island where John lived on the West Branch to the one they subsequently bought opposite Jersey Shore on Pine Creek, now in Cummings township.
Meginness, in his history of Lycoming county, has this to say about the young English family: “The country was extremely wild at that time and it required some nerve to settle in what was in every respect a “howling wilderness.” The Seneca Indians, whose country was less than a hundred miles north, frequently came here to hunt and fish, and parties of them passed his cabin almost daily. John English and his wife Fannie reared a large family. Their son Claudius was the first child born on this part of the creek…” Meginness, elsewhere, gives the name of the Indian as Shawney John.
John and Fanny are said to have had 11 children. Fanny is said to have been laid to rest, next to John, on English Island. The date of her death is unknown, but is said to have been between 1844 and 1847.
Mary (Polly) Boatman, daughter – born 1757, died about 1853
Mary or “Polly” Boatman was probably born about 1757 in New Rochelle, where the Boatman family lived at the time. She married Comfort Wanzer, most likely in Warwick, New York, and they were the parents of one known child, Elizabeth, probably born in Warwick, New York around 1776. Reports of Mary’s early demise are unfounded, as Mary is one of the two children of Claudius with a documented birth date and location. Mary passed away, most likely in Kinzua, Pennsylvania about 1853. Mary is said to be buried in Waterville with her husband, Comfort, in a small, unmarked cemetery.
Claudius Boatman, Jr., son – born about 1759
Claudius Boatman, Jr., is said to have been born about 1759, which places his birth location in New Rochelle, New York. Very little is actually known about Claudius; he served with his father in the Revolution under Captain Thomas Robinson, with Robinson’s Rangers. It’s been reported he was married to Marie Reed, although some controversy remains to this day, some believing Marie Reed was the wife of the Senior Claudius. Claudius is said to have had one child, Robert, born about 1781 and dying in 1782, and possibly another.
Claudius is said to have died from an Indian arrow to the back, and his father settled his estate. It’s unknown where Claudius was buried, but perhaps in the same small cemetery as Comfort and Claudius’ sister, Mary Boatman Wanzer.
Cornelius Boatman, son? – born before 1765, died after 1785
Said to have been a son of Claudius, there is doubt that Cornelius actually existed; many assume the only records found of him are, in fact, mistakes. Very little is known of Cornelius; one record in the Pennsylvania archives shows his name and the name Claudius Boatman is typed above his.
Jane Boatman, daughter – born 1761, died 13 June 1848
Jane is said to have been born in April 1761, which places her birth in New York, although during the time period between the last records of the Boatman family in New Rochelle and the first record of them in the Warwick area. Often it is stated she was born in Pennsylvania which is highly improbable. Jane married James English, a brother of John, and they had about eight children, John, Mary, Esther, Elizabeth, Jane, Sarah and James, and possibly Robert.
From the History of Lycoming county: “James, the younger brother of John English, settled about three miles up Little Pine creek in 1809 and made some improvements, for which he obtained a warrant for 219 acres and eighty-five perches June 10, 1816, and on the 20th of the following August it was surveyed to him. James English and wife spent their lives here and reared a large family. He was a man noted for his integrity and exemplary habits, and did much during his life time to advance the interests of his locality. He built a grist and two saw mills, the ruins of which may still be seen. He died in 1855.”
Jane is said to have about 1848, and is buried next to James in Bluestone cemetery, Lycoming County; James has a headstone there, but there is none for Jane.
Rebecca Boatman, daughter – born about 1766, died about 1839
Rebecca, was born in about 1766, which places her birth solidly in the Warwick, New York area. She’s said to have died around 1839 in Cummings township, Lycoming, Pennsylvania, although her death may have been much earlier. Rebecca married Isaac Smee and is believed to have had five children, and rumor indicates there was perhaps one more, from a Seneca Brave. Isaac died in 1839 in Cummings township as documented in his Revolutionary Pension papers.
Rebecca is known for having survived an Indian attack, with conflicting information in several local histories. From Meginness’ History of Lycoming, “He (Claudius Boatman) came from Buffalo valley, where, it will be remembered, his daughter Rebecca was scalped by the Indians while making one of their last forays. She was found and cared for, and recovered. In after years she married Isaac Smee and had three sons, Charles, John, and Alpheus, and two daughters; Mary married Louis Hostrander; Elizabeth, John Shaner. Their mother lived to a good age, but never had any hair on her head after being scalped.”
James Boatman, son – born 1768, died 2 May 1853
James was born about 1768 in New Jersey, possibly very close to the Warwick area. He married Anna Mills and had a family of 12 children. James was on the 1850 census in Butler County, Ohio so his birth year and location are documented; stories of a birth in Pennsylvania or an earlier demise are simply unfounded. The middle name often attributed to James as “hunter” likely comes from the 1800 taxables list in Lycoming county that gives James’ occupation as a hunter. James passed away on May 2nd, 1853 in Butler county, Ohio.
Excerpts from the History and Biographical Cyclopaedia of Butler County, Ohio:
BOATMAN, WARWICK, LAFAYETTE, MILLS, FLENNER, BROOKS (Hanover Twp., pp. 446-447)
The BOATMANs were one of the earliest families in the county. Jeremiah W. BOATMAN, now living in this township, is a descendant of this family. He was born in Hamilton, (Butler Co., OH), Sep 7, 1840, & is the s/o Mark M. BOATMAN & Cynthia WARWICK. The great-great-grandfather BOATMAN was of French descent, enlisting as a soldier under LAFAYETTE, & taking part in many of the actions of the Revolutionary War. He remained in America at the close of the war where he had married & raised a small family, of which the members were nearly all massacred by the Indians in PA. James BOATMAN was born in Northumberland Co., PA about 1771, as nearly as can be told. On the 22nd of Aug 1799, he married Anna MILLS, dau/o Col. James MILLS, & emigrated to OH two years after. Col. MILLS was of Irish descent. He emigrated from Berks Co., PA, & settled in Hamilton. He had seven children: Reed, Mark, James, Anna, Abbie, Julia, & Eliza. When the colonel started from the East he had three fine-blooded horses. These he sent on in advance, in charge of a man who was going that way, but when he arrived, either owing to the Indians or to the duplicity of his agent, he found neither horses nor man, & was obliged to content himself with his loss. Col. MILLS came down by boat, as did Mr. BOATMAN, who carried his family in a canoe, landing in Cincinnati, where there were then only a few cabins. From there he went to Hamilton. It was at that time a common thing to mark a road by little sticks & stones, to indicate the route; they followed these for a long time, & then discovered that some person had maliciously changed the little end, which indicated the right way, so as to point out another & entirely wrong direction. This cost them several days’ lost labor. As soon as the land was surveyed on the west side of the river, he located 160 acres four miles north of Hamilton, on Four-Mile Creek. Here he built a small cabin, in which he lived until he became easy in money matters, when he erected a commodious frame house, which is still standing. At the time he took up his settlement here there were only three families in his neighborhood–one opposite the FLENNER Mills, one on the farm now owned by Andrew FLENNER, & one on William BROOKS’s present farm. The two former lived in block-houses.
BOATMAN (Hanover Twp., p. 447)
James BOATMAN resided on his farm till his death, at which time he was 80 years old. He reared a family of 13 children: Claudius, James M., Mark M., Sarah M., Mary A., Ann, Jane, Reed M., William, John M., Nathan C., & Jeremiah N., eight boys & 5 girls. Himself, wife, brothers, & sisters were great hunters. In PA they would go out hunting many miles from home & remain for weeks. The game was bears, raccoons, deer, & turkeys, besides small fry. They were often chased by the Indians, having many narrow escapes. On one occasion, while he & his sister were hunting, they were pursued by Indians, & his sister was caught, scalped, & left for dead. She escaped, recovered, & afterwards married & lived to a good old age, although without a forelock, which was artificially supplied. Being penniless at the time of his marriage, he and his wife apprenticed themselves to a farmer for one year to get the means necessary for housekeeping. His wife, besides faithfully attending to her household duties & enduring the hardships of frontier life, acted as an herb physician, in which she was very successful. She was fine horsewoman & a good marksman. One night they had a visitor. The meat was out, & there was no way of getting any more except by shooting it. So she rose early in the morning, built a fire, put on the pot, & went out. Guided by her knowledge of the habits of deer, she soon found one, brought her rifle to her shoulder, & fired. The animal fell, & she soon had a large piece of it in the pot. Her breakfast was soon got ready, & by the time the family was awake & dressed it was upon the table.
Sarah Boatman, daughter – born about 1770, died 1836
Sarah’s birth of about 1770 occurred while the Boatman family lived in the Warwick area of New York. She married John Morrison, and had a family of eight children, Anna Marie, Sarah, Mercy, George, Rachel, Elizabeth, Margaret, Jane and Caroline. Sarah died about 1836, and her husband, John, in 1837, both on Pine Creek in Brown township, Lycoming County.
Esther Boatman, wife – born before 1765, died after 1810
Claudius married a second time to Esther, probably in 1783 and near Derr’s landing. Some say Esther’s last name is Callahan. Esther was noted as being a Physician and Nurse, self taught from having observed the Indians, a large woman riding a spotted horse to minister to the ill. Esther died sometime after 1810, although little is known of her death and burial. Esther is said to be the mother of William, born 1787, the first white child born in what is now McHenry township in Lycoming, and possibly another child, Nancy.
Nancy Boatman, daughter – birth, death unknown
Very little is known of Nancy Boatman, who filed a pension application as Claudius Boatman’s heir and daughter. A letter replying to her request indicates there is no pension available for adult children. The statements made by Nancy on the application are believed by many to be somewhat erroneous. Some family histories indicate Nancy Boatman married William Neville. There is some doubt that Nancy was actually a daughter of Claudius and Esther, perhaps she was a daughter of Claudius, Jr. Spencer Kraybll, listed her in his “Pennsylvania’s Pine Creek Valley and Pioneer Families.” I would suspect that the “Neville” would be one of the Nevil/Nabel/Nable families that settled along Pine Creek.
William Boatman, son – born 6 Mar 1787, died 3 March 1849
William Boatman was born in 1787 in what is now McHenry Township, Lycoming county, Pennsylvania, the first white child born in the area. He married “Nancy” Agnes Cole and had 11 children, Claudius, John, Jane, William, Thomas, Mary, Margaret, Cornelius, Robert, Sarah and Caroline.
William is buried in Lower English Center/Calahan Cemetery, d. Mar 3, 1849 “aged 62 yr.” with wife, Nancy: d. Apr 12, 1868 “aged 80 yr.” “Wife of Wm.” Two of his children are buried there as well.
I’ve had a lot of fun researching Claudius, and am pleased to share everything I’ve learned, much of it due to other researchers before me – please feel free to use anything on this site – I do ask you to source it, though, so others may find it. And please, share what you know in the same spirit this has been shared. mvkirby – I can be emailed directly at email@example.com.
Although I’ve personally done some research on several of Claudius’ children, it has not been to the extent that I’ve researched Claudius or my own branch; I’ve relied heavily on the trees of others. Discussion is encouraged! I do want to be as accurate as possible.