Boatman Family

First Generation

Claudius Boatman appears in histories of early Lycoming Co. PA as a near-legendary figure. I don't know precisely how much of the following account is true, but it makes good reading:

From Meginness, John F., History of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. 1892:

"Claudius Boatman settled at the mouth of Callahan's run, October 17, 1785. His son-in-law, Comfort Wanzer, settled about the same time a short distance below on the same tract that was subsequently settled by Abraham Harris in 1802. Boatman, the pioneer, was a Frenchman by birth. He 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.

"It is claimed that the first child born within the present territory of McHenry [township] was William Boatman, son of Claudius and Esther Boatman, in 1787 [I suspect this may be a grandson, or else that the estimate of his age is very incorrect, also a likely possibility; an alternative is that most of the children are from a previous marriage - see below.]. They had several children besides this son and Rebecca. Another daughter named Fanny married John English, who had located as early as 1784 on what has since been known as English island in Pine creek. He was warned by 'Shawney John', a friendly Indian, to leave as the savages were about to make a descent on Pine creek. He heeded the warning and remained away about a year, when he returned.

"Esther Boatman, wife of Claudius, was a very useful woman in the settlement. She was a nurse and physician and quite successful in her ministrations to the sick. She was a very large woman, weighing about 250 pounds. Fanny, her daughter, also became very stout. Another daughter named Jane married James English, who was a Revolutionary soldier and settled on Pine Creek, and her sister Margaret married John Morrison, who resided at Horse Shoe bottom opposite Cedar run. William, their brother, settled in 1832 about two miles below the present village of English Centre.

"Claudius Boatman removed from the place where he first settled to the spring opposite Jersey Mills in 1796, where he died about 1802 at the great age of ninety-eight. When his wife died is unknown. On a slight elevation, a few rods east of the first fork of Pine creek, repose the remains of Claudius Botaman and wife, Comfort Wanzer and wife, and William Hamlin, father of Rev. Benjamin Hamlin. Probably other members of the family were buried there. A grove of young timber surrounds their graves. When Waterville was laid out Capt. James M. Wolf directed the engineers not to disturb their graves."

Estimates of Claudius Boatman's age vary. He gave his age as 87 years in the 1800 census, Mifflin twp, Lycoming Co., and was listed as still living and "104 years" in the 1810 census. However, Meginness (see above) says he died about 1802 at age 98. Even the most conservative of these estimates would make him close to 70 in 1782, a rather unlikely age to be a pioneer settler. Stephenson gives his birth year as 1715, but death as 1819.

Note that several of his children also lived into their 90s, if their dates have been given correctly.

Second Generation

Children of Claudius and Esther Boatman

Mary Boatman (1748-1846) m. Comfort Wanzer (ca. 1754-1802)

Fanny Boatman (ca. 1752-1847) m. John English (ca. 1750-1844)

Cornelius Boatman is listed by Stephenson as the third child, and said to have been a fifer in the Revolution. He is not mentioned by Meginness.

James Boatman

Margaret Boatman m. John Morrison (1753-1786).
Margaret does not appear under the name Morrison in the 1790 census. Did she remarry?

Nancy Boatman m. ____ Neville. Her name appears in an application filed in 1860 for remuneration of Claudius Boatman's Revolutionary War pension, an application that was rejected because children of veterans were not eligible. She states in the application that her father Claudius Boatman enlisted under Lafayette.

Sarah Boatman m. John Morrison (d. ca. 1846)

Jane Boatman (ca. 1755/1760-1849) m. James English (1745-1823)
There are family Bible records for some of their descendants on Joyce Tice's Tri-Counties Genealogy and History page

Claudius Boatman (1759-1787) m. Maria Reed (1760-1825)
Claudius served in the Revolution (see DAR record 141.886), also indexes to military records from Pennsylvania State Archives

Rebecca Boatman (1766-?) m. Isaac Smee (d. 1839)

William Boatman (?-1849) m. Nancy Cole (1788-1868)
William's birth is give as 1787, which is beyond any reasonable child-bearing capacity for Esther. Is this date wrong, or was he perhaps a grandson instead?

Although the Meginness book cited above implies that Esther was the mother of all these children, I've recently been told by a descendant that Esther was Claudius Boatman's second wife, and that his first was named Marie, surname unknown. This correspondent tells me that Marie was the mother of the older children, and that she was killed in the Indian attack in which Rebecca was scalped. If this is correct, then perhaps Esther was actually a much younger woman, and William's reported birthdate of 1787 is correct after all.

Does anyone have documentation for this? And can anyone confirm whether Esther's maiden name was Callahan?


Meginness, John F., History of Lycoming County, Pennsylsvania. Originally printed 1892, Chicago, reproduced from an original copy and reissued 1996 by Heritage Books, Bowie MD.
The entire book is available on-line at the Lycoming County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project

Allied Families of Boatman - English - Callahan - Carson - Bonnell - Havel
Typescript, author not indicated on my copy

Stephenson, Harry, History of Little Pine Valley. History & Genealogy of Little Pine Valley and its Residents. Camp Hill PA, 1992. privately published.

Additional Resources

Boatman page by Elaine Harris

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Elizabeth Harris,