David Jameson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, about 1715, and graduated at the medical school of the celebrated university of that ancient city. He immigrated to America about the year 1740, accompanied by his friend and fellow surgeon, Hugh Mercer, afterward distinguished in his profession and as a general officer of the Revolutionary Army. He landed at Charleston, S. C., and, after a brief sojourn there, removed to Pennsylvania; resided for some time at Shippensburg, and finally settled at York, in that province, where his name and fame yet linger, and where a number of his descendants of the fourth and fifth generations still reside. He became an officer of the provincial forces of Pennsylvania and attained the rank of lieutenant-general in the same, and of colonel in the militia of Pennsylvania in the Revolutionary war. He also held, by executive appointment, civic offices in the county of York. The only ones of which any record is found are those of justice of the peace, the appointments bearing date October 1754, and June 1777- (Glossbrenner’s History of York County, 1834)- and a special commission to him and his associate, Martin Eichelberger, Esq., to try certain offenders.
During the French and Indian war (1756) many murders and depredations were committed by the Indians on the frontier of Pennsylvania, extending to all the settlements from Carisle to Pittsburg. A road had been opened from Carisle through Cumberland County, which crossed the North Mountain at a place since called Stra(w)sburg; thence to Bedford and to Fort du Quesne (now Pittsburg). Near Sideling Hill was erected a log fort, called Fort Lyttleton, on this road- since the “Burnt Cabins.” This fort was constructed of logs and surrounded with a stockade work. Here we first find Capt. Jameson in his military movements. He was appointed an ensign by the proprietary governor of Pennsylvania, but at what precise period we are not informed. He very soon rose to the rank of captain, without an intermediate lieutenancy.
During his frontier service, Capt. Jameson was dangerously wounded in an engagement with Indians, near Fort Lyttleton, at Sideling Hill, on the road from Carisle to Pittsburg, then Fort du Quesne. His sufferings and perils (being left for dead on the field), and rescue make a thrilling narrative.
It became necessary for him to repair to Philadelphia for medical aid, but it was but a few months till he assumed the field again, though he did not recover fully for six years. He afterward discharged the duties of brigade-major, and also of lieutenant-colonel, all of which he did to the entire satisfaction of the appointing power, at Carisle and at different points, then on the frontier of Pennsylvania.
Capt. Jameson had been educated a physician, yet his ambition had prompted him to solicit a command and to share in the dangers of the field. This did not interfere with his humane prompting to devote a portion of his time to the sick and wounded, and we have seen a letter written by Dr. (Benjamin) Rush, in which he says: “I will remember to have seen your father (Dr. Jameson) dress the wound received in the shoulder by Gen. Armstrong, at the battle of Kitaning.”
In Scott’s geographical description of Pennsylvania, 1805, the following is found: ’gentleman of education, who does his duty well and is an exceedingly good officer.’”
“Col. David Jameason had command of Fort Hunter, Fort Augusta, Fort Aughwick, and was at the battle of Loyal Hanna, March 14, 1769.”
Col. Jameson’s age, on reaching this country, could not have been less than five and twenty years, for the medical school of the famed University of Edinboro’ town then, as now, required six years matriculation. In the French and Indian war, he must have attained the ripe age of forty. When the English colonies of America entered upon their long struggle for national independence, although he had passed the limit of age for military service, and his natural force had somewhat abated, and advancing years and wounds had in a measure enfeebled his physical powers, he nevertheless seems to have been active and efficient, joining at the age of sixty “a marching regiment” to reinforce the Army of Washington, and otherwise aiding “the grand cause” of his country.
The following letter is from the Committee of York County to the Committee of Safety in Philadelphia, dated December 31, 1876:
“In these times of Difficulty several gentlemen have exerted themselves much in the Grand Cause. Several Militia Companys have marched; more will march from this County, so as in the whole to compose at least a pretty good Battalion. The gentlemen who deserve the most from the publick are David Jameson, Hugh Denwoody, Charles Lukens and Mr. George Eichelberger. They have been exceedingly useful. As most of the Companys who have marched have chosen their officers, pro Tempore, an arrangement will be necessary as to Field Officers. We propose David Jameson, Col., Hugh Denwoody. Lt. Colonel, Charles Lukens, Major and George Eichelberger, Quartermaster of the York County Militia, who now march. It will be doing Justice to merit to make the appointment, and we make no Doubt, it will be done by your Board. We congratulate you on the Success of the American Arms at Trenton.”
It is also stated, on the authority of his son, Dr. H. G. Jameson, “that he had despoiled his fair estate near York of acres of its fine woodland, in order to contribute without money and without price, to the aid of “the Grand Cause.”
The intimate friend of Hugh Mercer, Benjamin Rush, James Smith, and Horatio Gates, and well known to other illustrious men of the Revolution, it is much to be regretted that the story of the life of a soldier of
“good old colony times.
When we lived under the King.”
Cannot be made more complete that the fragmentary records left behind him enables his descendants to do.
After the close of his military service under the province of Pennsylvania, David Jameson practiced his profession in York, (interrupted only by the period of his service in the Revolution), and died in York during the last decade of the last century, leaving a widow and children. In a memoir, prefacing a sketch of his services during the French and Indian war, and under the Province, by his son, Horatio Gates Jameson, M. D., the following reference is made to his abode near York:
“The spacious domain near the ancient borough of York, which, with a refined and cultivated taste, he adorned and beautified- though not after the manner (which could not be), of his ancestral home in “Bonnie Scotland,” yet adding to its natural beauty all that art could devise to make it fair to view; and where he dispensed a generous and graceful hospitality- has passed, as usual in our country, out of the hands of his posterity; the last possessor of the blood his great-grandson, Gates Jameson Weiser, Esq.”
Col. Jameson married Emily Davis, by whom he had eleven children- Thomas, James, Horatio Gates, David , Joseph, Nancy, Cassandra, Henrietta, Emily and Rachel. His sons all became physicians. Thomas settled in practice in York, James in Allentown, Penn., Horatio Gates in Baltimore, and David and Joseph in Columbus, Ohio, and all left descendants.
Taken from the book “History of York County, Illustrated 1886” by John Gibson, Historical Editor
Note: For a detailed description of the Battle of Kittanning, see the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum commission article.
D. Jameson to
(Fort Hallifax, Oct. 13, 1756)
Jameson, David in: Pennsylvania
Archives, first series,
Vol. III, pp. 8-9.
pp. 8, 9.
Fort Hallifax, Octobr 13th, 1756.
As Coll. Clapham is at Carlisle, and it being reported hear that his Honour, our Governor, has gone round by York, and therefore not knowing when he will receive an Express that is sent to him from Shamokin, I have thought fitt to send an abstract of Maj. Burd's Letter to me that arrived hear at Day break this Morning that the Gentlemen and Malitia of Lancaster County might take such steps as they think most Prudent. I though it Propper to acquaint you with a piece of Intelligence that I have Received by old Ogaghradariha, one of the Six Nations Chiefs, who came here yesterday in the afternoon, and is as follows, that bout 10 Days before he left Tioga there was two Delaware Indians arrived there who (page 9) was just come from Fort De Quesne & informed him that before they left said Fort there was one thousand Indians Assembled there who were Immediately to march in conjunction with a Body of French to Attack this fort, (meand) Fort Augusta, and he, Ogaghiadariha, hurried down here to Give us the information. He says further, that the day before he came in here he Saw upon the North Branch a large body of Delaware Indians & Spoke with them, & they told him they were going to speak with ye Governr of Pennsylvania, whatever intention they have they are marching towards our Inhabitants.
I am , Sr,
Your most obedient
Officers of the Pennsylvania Regiment–1759
Lieut Colonel–Thomas Lloyd
Lieut Colonel–Joseph Shippen
Major–David Jameson; to have a Brevet dated Apr 24, 1759
Colonel–Hugh Mercer, Apr 23, 1759
Lieut Colonel–Patrick Work, Apr 24, 1759
Major–Edwaed Ward, Apr 26, 1759
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