HomeDiscovering a Great-Grandfather’s LegacyDiscovering a Great-Grandfather’s Legacy

Discovering a Great-Grandfather’s Legacy

Valley Forge National Historic Park

By Carol Johnston

FullSizeRender-2When my sister Susie started a genealogy study of our family tree, she discovered that our fifth great-grandfather Benjamin Strother fought in the American Revolution with the 10th Virginia Regiment. She found his pension records. I continued to research and discovered that later in the war, he became a dragoon in Lee’s Legion which was an elite cavalry group led by “Light Horse” Harry Lee.

When my 7th graders began a cultural research project and started digging into their own roots, I decided to research my family history alongside them. One of the most intriguing stories was following the trail of Benjamin Strother. Part of that trail led me to Valley Forge and the winter of 1777-1778. So, this September, I was excited to visit Valley Forge National Historic Park which is right outside of Philadelphia. I encourage you and your family to visit this park and delve into our country’s revolutionary history.

When you get off the highway, large rolling hills and fields greet you. The Visitor Center is  tucked into one of the hillsides.  Inside the Visitor Center,  a life-size wax figure of George Washington riding one of his favorite horses Blueskin dominates one wall. You can head to the computer that has lists of muster rolls for different regiments. (You can also find the muster rolls online. That’s how I found Benjamin Strother.). Strother fought with the 10th Virginia regiment as a private in Colonel John Green’s regiment. His company captain was John Gillison. In order to find my grandfather’s encampment, I needed to find his brigade which was commanded by Brigadier General George Weedon. At the front ranger desk, volunteers or rangers can tell you where to find different encampment monuments.

FullSizeRender-1After visiting the museum, we started on our encampment tour. Park volunteers told us not to miss the interpreters at the first encampment. A line of replicated huts stand together. One hut held about 12 men. Bunks were stacked up along the walls, and a fireplace cooked their food and kept them warm. As we left one of the huts, along came an interpreter dressed as a regimental soldier. He stood at least six feet tall and wore cream colored breeches, a linen shirt and coat, and a tri-corner hat. We asked him questions about a soldier’s training at Valley Forge, and he showed us how his French-made musket worked. I then told him about my fifth great-grandfather and asked where his regiment would have been encamped. He said, “Right here. Your grandfather would have been living right in this area.”

With goosebumps on my arm, I walked over to the regimental marker and saw Weeden’s brigade and the 10th Virginia regiment carved into the stone along with the names of other regiments. It meant a lot to me to stand on the site where my grandfather survived a harsh winter with his fellow Virginians. I wondered if his regiment was trained by Baron Von Steuben, and if these skills helped him survive the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. I definitely have more research to do.

Valley Forge park rangers and interpreters were helpful and friendly. The park is also dog friendly which isn’t always the case. So get out there and search for your Revolutionary history, walk the encampment areas with your family, have a picnic, ride your bike, and enjoy beautiful eastern Pennsylvania.

See you in the parks,

Carol


30 Comments to Discovering a Great-Grandfather’s Legacy

  1. Leona says:

    Hello! I miss you so much! I can’t wait till you get to skype us!

  2. Tristen Selissen says:

    We are missing you because you are my favorite teacher in the Hole world and I like the article that you sent and I finished the things that I was missing from you class now I just have yo turn it in.

  3. That is very cool that you figured out that your fith grandfather fought in the American revolutionary wat
    P.s hope you are having fun mrs.johnston!

  4. Jaelyn says:

    Hey Mrs. Johnston, how is your trip going? I am kind of missing having you as a teacher and I will see you when you get back. I liked what you had to say about Valley Forge, it was cool that your fifth great grandpa was connected to that. See you soon!

  5. Andrew Vancise says:

    Hey Mrs. Johnston, I thought it was really cool how your spending 2 months in Philadelphia.

  6. Maggee Behling says:

    That’s cool that you got to visit where your fifth great grandfather was once at… And we really get to make our own family tree project, that’s cool.

  7. Kyha Scott says:

    I think it’s really very cool that you got to see all that cool scenery! I really hope to see the park too! I can’t wait for you to share your adventures in class with us all!

  8. Kara G. says:

    It’s super cool that you were able to find out that your grandfather was in the Revolutionary War. Valley Forge National Historic Park sounds like it holds a lot of information on people’s family history. I hope your having fun!

  9. Kylie Joles says:

    I really liked your article! I really liked how you told us what you and they were doing because then it made me invision the scene. I can’t wait to read/hear more about your trip! Safe travels!

  10. That is very cool and amazing that you found that your fith great grandfather fought in the American Revolutionary War
    P.s.hope your having fun mets Johnston

  11. Kaiya Leismer says:

    I think it is really cool your fifth great-grandfather was in this battle. It is also amazing you got to visit the very site where he was during a harsh winter and the battle of Valley Forge.

  12. Jada R.S says:

    I think it’s really cool, how you learned your own history along with us seventh graders! I’m really looking forward to learn my own family’s history in social studies! See you then!

  13. Jagger_Nicholls says:

    Whoa that’s really cool. I wish that my family history was that cool.

  14. Lauren Hudson says:

    Hey Mrs. Johnston, I hope you are having fun on your trip, the parks looks super fun.
    Bye,
    Lauren Hudson

  15. Taylor says:

    That is an awesome story! I can’t believe you ended up finding out where your 5th great grandfather fought. I hope you find some more interesting things about you grandfather.

  16. Madison says:

    This sounds like a very unique and fun experience. I know that almost everybody is gonna be so so excited to hear all about what you learned about your fifth great-grandfather when you get back.

  17. Sarah Persons says:

    That is so cool to hear and to know you great-grandfather was in the Revolution. I would love to hear more about him like what did he do or just what was he like. It seems like you are learning a lot there and I can’t wait to have you back.

  18. Jordan Montgomery says:

    It sounds like you are having a lot of fun digging up the history of our national parks. I hope one day I can visit Valley Forge it seems like such a neat place. I bet you’ll have a lot of stories when you get back.

  19. Isaac Shiers says:

    How are you enjoying your trip.

  20. Noah Vondra says:

    That’s cool. I wonder if any of my great-great grandparent fought in a war.

  21. Madison says:

    This sounds like a very unique experience and it sounds so fun. It is so cool that you are learning so much about your fifth great-grandfather. We all are so excite for you to come back and tell us all about your trip and what you learned.

  22. Taylor says:

    That is an awesome story! That is so cool how you ended up finding where your 5th great grandfather stayed and fought. I hope you find some other interesting things about him as well.

  23. This is so cool. I wonder what it would be like to know that your related to someone in that time.

  24. Emily bonneville says:

    That’s really cool! I wonder what my 5th great grandfather did.

  25. Xzandria Jozwiak says:

    That is really cool how you went and found out where your 5th great grandfather might have been.

  26. Ben leaman says:

    That is very interesting.

  27. Ariel Himmelspach says:

    Do you own the National Historic Park?

  28. Chris cheadle says:

    I never knew your grandfather was in the 10th Virginia regiment! That is so cool. (What is the Virginia regiment?)

  29. Zoe koch says:

    Im glad you’re having fun! We all miss you here

  30. Josylyn Morgan says:

    I hope you’re all having fun!

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