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Notes for James Penny
James Penny came to America with his father in the spring of 1775, settling into Pennsylvania. He had been in the colonies just for a year and was only 14 years old and a half when he enlisted in Captain James Morrison's Company of the 3rd Battalion in the militia of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (unproven at this time). His name appears also a roll of Captain James Clark's Company of the 6th Battalion under the command of Colonel James Taylor 1780 (this has been credited by the Daughters of the American Revolution in a letter dated January 18, 2001and is referenced in the Pennsylvania Archives, Fifth Series, Volume V, page 707).
Soon after the war he ventured to Louisiana and bought land along with John Carltey at Fort Bute on Bayou Manchac. They sold the land the same year. According to "American State Papers", 1834, Volume 3 by Duff Green James Penny was already in Louisiana by 1785. He received two land grants from the Spanish Governors of Louisiana (as it was owned by Spain in 1785) and began cultivation in 1785. Governor C. deGrandpre granted him Section 89 which amounted to 105 acres. He also was granted Section 71, which had 426.15 acres, by Governor G. deLomas. This tract was "cultivated until 1811". This is the same tract where his home was located and where he is buried.
He first lived in a one-room log house and later built a lovely, large house that stood on high pillars. He appears as a head of household in the 1820 census with a total of 7 white males, 6 white females and 21 slaves. Thirteen years later, the 1831 tax list reveals that he had better than 1800 acres, and owned 31 slaves. In his will he equally divides his property among his seven children (James Jr had already died) as well as freeing two loyal slaves, Harriet and Lucy, and "shall build them a comfortable cabin, give them a bit of land to work during their lives and treat them kindly..". He later freed Sam, another slave and "charge my children never to sell Dick out of the family". He is buried on what was was the site of his plantation near Zachary, Louisiana with his wife, Nancy.
He was honored by the Long Leaf Pine Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution from Shreveport, Louisiana and the John James Audobon Chapter of the DAR from Baton Rouge with special tombstones and a bronze marker on the tomb, as the only Revolutionary War soldier buried in Louisiana. There is an article in the DAR Magazine (December, 1961 edition, page 697) describing the dedication ceremony and luncheon with the Governor of Louisiana and mayor of Baton Rouge after the ceremony. The author of this history's sister, Sharon Ann Fox Cruse, participated in the ceremony. The tomb is near the site of the old Penny mansion under a massive (sixteen feet around) live oak tree named the Henry Watkins Allen oak, that in 1935 was listed as one of Louisiana's largest.
The plantation passed to the J. W. Decker family around 1935-36. The ceremony for the grave markers was September 9, 1961. The directions to the small graveyard under the large tree are: go North from Baton Rouge on Highway 61 about 9 miles to the Magnolia Church, turn left on Carney Road, go 1/2
mile, turn right (North) and go 1/2 mile to the cemetery.
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