Rocky Hill Revolution

River Road Farm Photo courtesy Barbara A. Desmarais, 2014

River Road Farm
Photo courtesy Barbara A. Desmarais, 2014

The previous blog, Alphabet Soup, described three footstones found at Cook Farm on the north side of River Rd. near the top of Rocky Hill in the 1930s with only initials and one date to identify the decedents:

S E , died 1830, age 71



That blog told of the Eaton family, including Samuel and Dorothy (Danforth) Eaton, who were known to have lived on River Road and may have been the SE and DE represented by the footers.

This blog is about the Eatons’ Rocky Hill neighbors Enoch Danforth (a possible ED) and John McManus, and their families.

Image courtesy Library of Congress

Image courtesy Library of Congress

At the conclusion of England’s almost century-long war with the Native Americans (1675-1760), Enoch (1727-?) and his wife, Dorcas (Hutchins), were among those newly arriving in the southern mid-coast of Massachusett’s District of Maine. In May of 1763 both were received into Brunswick’s First Parish Church from their previous church in Arundel, Maine. That same year, the Brunswick town clerk recorded Enoch’s log mark. He likely bought his 100-acre River Road farm that year, too. Genealogies list 10 children: Enoch Jr, Sarah, Joshua, Abigail, David, Deborah, Daniel, Mary, Paul, and Abner.

After the French and Indian War ended, the English treasury was sorely depleted; Parliament passed several new “navigation acts” to collect more revenues from the colonies. The New World settlers relied on the mother country for goods they could not manufacture themselves, purchasing one quarter of England’s industrial output. The higher cost of goods plus the difficulties of raising crops in Maine’s rocky soil threatened the precarious solvency of many Brunswick families. Enoch Danforth, a mariner, must have been adversely affected by each new reduction in his income for in 1772 he mortgaged his property to his next-door-neighbor, mariner Daniel Marquand.

Perhaps that is why in 1776 his sons Enoch Jr and Daniel enlisted in the Continental Army to fight the British, their former countrymen. Both brothers were at the Battle of Cherry Valley, NY, in 1778, where Enoch Jr was taken prisoner by British forces. Daniel returned to River Road the following year, but his brother wouldn’t come home for two more years.

Their father didn’t stand idly by. In 1779, at the age of 52, Enoch Sr served two months on the privateer Vengeance, on the Penobscot Expedition. One thousand colonial marines and militiamen, along with 100 artillerymen led by Paul Revere, fought the British from land at the mouth of the Penobscot River. A 44-ship rebel flotilla battled from sea. Though the Americans ultimately reclaimed the area, the Vengeance and most of the other privateers and warships were destroyed. The survivors of the Expedition, including Enoch Sr, trekked home on foot.

McManus Yard Photo courtesy Barbara A. Desmarais, 2015

McManus Yard
Photo courtesy Barbara A. Desmarais, 2015

The Danforth men weren’t the only River Road residents to fight in the American Revolution. They weren’t even the only ones at Cherry Valley. Halfway down Rocky Hill, on the south side of River Rd. is the McManus Family Yard*:

The website Cemeteries of Brunswick, Maine describes the graveyard, also known as Rocky Hill Cemetery, as being halfway up Rocky Hill on the left side. The transcriptions include:

John McManus (1760-1843), his wife Elizabeth (McDaniel) (1774-1854), their son Harvey (1812-1873), and two grandsons: Thomas (1834-1837) and Harvey (1854-1858).

1777 Deed from John Chase to John McManus

1777 Deed from John Chase to John McManus

John was the eldest son of James and Mary (Corbett) McManus, Irish immigrants. His brother Robert was the subject of the post Sins of the Father. John was only 17 years old when he purchased his River Road farm next door to Enoch Danforth. Another brother, Daniel, also lived nearby.

Both John and Daniel served in the Continental Army along with Enoch Jr and Daniel Danforth. All four men were at the 1778 Battle of Cherry Valley, NY.

Brunswick Rev Vet Heading

Brunswick Rev Vet Annotated

Family tradition correctly states that John was wounded at Cherry Valley and received a lifelong pension. The 1840 Census of Revolutionary War or Military Pensioners showed only the McManus brothers still living in Brunswick. Daniel was either on his own or in Daniel Jr’s home, and John was with daughter Catharine and son-in-law Capt. Henry Merryman. Elizabeth McManus continued to receive her husband’s pension after his death at age 84.

Daniel McManus, Elizabeth McManus, Daniel McManus Jr, Riverside Cemetery, Photo courtesy Barbara A. Desmarais, 2015

Daniel McManus, Elizabeth McManus, Daniel McManus Jr, Riverside Cemetery,
Photo courtesy Barbara A. Desmarais, 2015

When Riverside Cemetery opened at the foot of River Road and Pleasant St. in 1873, some monuments and bodies, as well, were relocated from McManus Yard to Riverside. This  may have included Daniel McManus (1763-1851) and his son Daniel Jr. (1819-1842) since their monument, with its pre-1873 dates-of-death, is in Riverside.

The Danforth and McManus graves at Cook Farm, McManus Yard, and Riverside Cemetery are physical reminders that 250 years ago five English colonists from Brunswick, Maine, traveled down Rocky Hill to fight for control of their own destinies and came back home as Americans.

Next Blog: McManus Women and Their Merry Men

Notes: *Yard is a shortened version of graveyard.


About Barbara Desmarais

Writer and amateur historian
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