Tuesday, September 10, 2013

SEPT 10, 1813 - Did Peter Picket fight with Commodore Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie?

Commemorative Bicentennial Flag
Gift from Linda Platt
View from Perry's Monument in the general direction of the Battle of Lake Erie
     Today is the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Eire.  Did Peter Picket fight with Commodore Perry in that battle? 
     My first clue about Peter Picket was found on page 324 of The History of Union County, Ohio1, in a bio about his son Barton H. Pickett.  I discovered this county history on my first trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

"Peter Pickett [Picket], was a native of Dutchess County, N. Y.; he went as a sailor boy when eighteen, and followed the water for thirty years. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, under Commodore Perry, and, participated in the battle of Lake Erie, where he was seriously wounded. He died January 13, 1854, aged seventy-four years. His mother, Elizabeth Mills, was born in Montgomery County, Md. , and moved to Harrison County, Ohio, with her parents, Elias and Nancy (Harris) Mills, when she was eighteen years old; she died October 31, 1857."  

    So I have an ancestor who may have fought with Commodore Perry during a critical time in history.  But can this be proven?      
    So far I have been able to verify that Peter and Elizabeth were indeed married in 1818 in Harrison County, Ohio and that she was the daughter of Elias and Nancy Mills.  All four of them are buried in Moorefield, Harrison, Ohio.
     But verifying that part about fighting with Commodore Perry has proven more difficult.  The timeline of 'followed the sea for thirty years' just doesn't match up with other dates. A recent trip the the Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial on South Bass Island didn't help prove what I was hoping.  His name does not appear on any of the brass plaques at the monument.  His name does not appear in Deep Water Sailors Shallow Water Soldiers2.  Several books indicate that the known records are incomplete.  There were sailors who fought in the battle but did not make it into muster rolls.       
     So did Peter Picket sail with Commodore Perry and fight during the Battle of Lake Eire?  Was he injured in this battle?  I know that not everything in county histories is true but I also know that new records are being discovered in archives so I will continue the quest to prove or disprove the county history.  So the answer as of now is "I don't know".   But I won't give up the hunt.       

1. Durant, Pliny A. The History of Union County, Ohio. Chicago: W. H. Beers & Co., 1883. http://archive.org/details/historyofunionco00dura (accessed July 29, 2013).

2. Altoff, Gerard T. Deep Water Sailors Shallow Water Soldiers. Put-in-Bay, Ohio: The Perry Group, 1993.

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