Tombstone Tuesday: Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego Pierson

ShadrackPiersonGraveIn 1754 three sons were born to Charles and Sally (Weathers) Pierson in Culpeper County, Virginia.  The boys were named, perhaps in order of birth, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego.  Charles and Sally were the parents of at least one other child, Charles.  My internet research indicates that Charles was a wealthy man at one point, but when his warehouses were raided by Revolutionary soldiers he was left penniless.  You see, it is reported that Charles was a Loyalist, and while not finding anything but unsourced anecdotal information, it is clear that he left (probably fled) Virginia at some point, first to South Carolina and then to Wilkes County, Georgia where he lived until his death in 1799.

Three of his children, sons Shadrack, Meshack and Charles, apparently had a different viewpoint than their father’s – they joined the Revolutionaries (more about Abednego later).


I came across anecdotal information that seemed to indicate Shadrack was the oldest of the triplets by virtue of being the first out of the womb.  Although I didn’t come across any information about the triplets’ early lives, other than his father being wealthy and a Loyalist, we do know that period of history was volatile with stirrings of revolution throughout the colonies.

Whatever the circumstances that led Shadrack (and brothers Meshack and Charles) to be of a different opinion than his father, he joined the 1st Virginia Regiment as a Private for three years in September of 1776, serving under Captain Richard Taylor.  Brother Charles enlisted in the same regiment but a different company, serving under Captain Tarleton Payne.  His company was based at Bound Brook, New Jersey.  In 1780 at a battle near the Catawba River in North Carolina, Corporal Charles Pierson was killed.

The Virginia Militia merged with the Continental Army and according to Shadrack’s affidavit and pension application, he served in General Peter Muhlenberg’s Brigade.  During his first three years of service, Shadrack participated in the battles of Germantown, Brandywine, Monmouth, Trenton, Princeton and Stony Point (New York).  At the end of his first three-year enlistment, Shadrack re-enlisted, again serving in the same regiment.

General Washington sent forces south to Charleston in early 1780.   The siege began on April 1, and on May 12 the Continental Army was forced to surrender to the British after suffering a decisive defeat.  Many soldiers on both sides were killed.  Shadrack was captured, and according to his affidavit, he was able to escape and rejoin the army, continuing to fight until the end of the war.  Captain Richard Taylor certified that Shadrack had served honorably:

CaptTaylorCommendOn October 19, 1781, General Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia.  Just two months before, Shadrack married Rachel Clinch, daughter of Jacob and Jean Clinch, on August 23, 1781 in Culpeper County, Virginia.  Revolutionary War soldiers were entitled to bounty land grants, and on August 29, 1807 Shadrack received a grant of 100 acres, presumably in Bourbon County, Kentucky.  Shadrack is listed on the Kentucky tax roll in 1800 (along with Mesheck).

Pierson1800KYTaxRollPiersonBountyLandGrantsThe first census record for Shadrack I found was in 1810, listing a household of eleven members (no slaves).  By 1810, Rachel had birthed ten children:

Frances – 1783
Bartholomew – 1787
Nancy – 1788
James – 1790
Sally- 1793
William – 1787
Shadrack, Jr. – 1799
George – 1803
Cassandra – 1805
Henry – 1807

In 1820 the Pierson family continued to reside in Bourbon County.  Sometime between the 1820 Census and 1826, Shadrack and his family migrated to Scott County, Indiana.  Rachel died on March 20, 1826 at the age of 64 and is buried in Craig Cemetery in Scott County, Indiana.

On May 1, 1826, Shadrack married Mary George.  In either 1820 or 1826 (record is hard to read), Shadrack began receiving a military pension of $8 per month.  For the 1830 Census, I found a Shadrack Pierson but I believe it to be Shadrack, Jr. because there are six young children listed.  There is also a land grant dated August 10, 1837 which I would presume was Shadrack, Jr.  The gravestone of Shadrack, Sr. lists his date of death as 1838, but curiously his name appears (86 years of age and noted as a military pensioner) on the 1840 Census near the same listing for Shadrack, Jr.ShadrackPiersonGraveThus, the date of Shadrack’s death is in question.  One more bit of information provided by the Triplet Pearson-Pierson Society:

The surname Pearson had been used in many documents from 1700 until 1870 due to the recorder. Then, Shadrack, being the only literate Pearson began writing his name as “Pierson” since 1820 from earliest known records. Ironically, several of his sons couldn’t write and only gave their marks. Following generations who became literate from the 1870’s used Pierson, but several later ancestors still used Pearson.


Regarding Meshack’s Revolutionary War service, he appeared before District Judge Robert Trimble on March 1, 1819 and provided the following facts:

Meshack (or Meshach as it is also spelled in the affidavit) enlisted in the fall of 1775 in the Virginia 8th Regiment for two years beginning in January or February of 1776, serving in Captain George Strother’s company.  The entire regiment marched under orders of Colonel Peter Muhlenberg (later promoted to Brigadier General and commanded an entire brigade).  He actively served with the regiment through the Battle of Germantown in 1777, when he was captured and held as a prisoner of war for approximately eleven months.

Meshack escaped and upon his return to the Army served as a Waggoner until after the surrender of Cornwallis on October 19, 1781.  Meshack signed the affidavit with an “X” so it appears the story above about Shadrack being the only triplet that was literate is true.

Larkin Field, who had served with Meshack, added his affidavit to the application by stating that Meshack had faithfully served as a soldier until captured by the enemy at Germantown.  Field had long been acquainted with Meshack and knew that he was very much in need of assistance at this point in his life.  Shadrack added his affidavit, attesting to the facts listed above, and added that during their concurrent service, Shadrack saw Meshack every week or two.

ShadrachAffidavitMeshack was granted a pension of $8 per month in 1819.

MeshackPensionAppIn 1830, Meshack again petitioned for additional financial assistance.  A schedule of his assets totalling $296 included one Negro boy ($250), two old horses ($40) and three hogs ($6).  Meshack’s debts were listed as $200 – owing John Pearson ($70), Ab. Vernorsdale ($10), Henry West ($3) and some addition small claims which added up to $200.  In this affidavit, he represented the following:

Meshack provided more detail of his service after his capture and return to service.  At some point, in addition to serving as a Waggoner, he was enlisted as one of George Washington’s life guards.  He reiterated his precarious financial situation (his wife was still living), and “prays to be reinstated on the pension list and to draw from his last date drawn, and he will ever pray.”  Meshack again signs with an “X”.  A neighbor and friend, H. Wingate, JP (Justice of the Peace) adds his affidavit attesting to Meshack’s financial situation.

Meshack married Mary Jennings, although I could not locate a specific date.  According to the Triplet Pearson-Pierson Society, they had children named Elizabeth, Sally, William and John.  Elizabeth’s gravestone lists 1788 as the year of her birth (she died in 1880).  Other sources list Daniel and Meshach, Jr. and I did locate references to Meshach, Jr.  Mary died in 1824, according to unsourced information on

Meshack, along with Shadrack, received a Bounty Land Grant of 100 acres in Kentucky.  The first census record I found is 1810 for Meshack, who lived in Shelby, Kentucky, enumerated a total of seven household members, including two slaves.  In 1820, there were four household members, two being slaves, so presumably all the children had left home.

Meshack’s home in 1830 is listed as “North of The Road From Louisville To Frankfort, Shelby, Kentucky” and there were six members of the household, with five slaves.  After Mary’s death, Meshack remarried Mrs. Mildred Ellis, a widow, on September 27, 1824.   Meshack is listed as an 86 year old military veteran in the 1840 Census.

On Sunday evening, August 15, 1847, Meshack Pierson passed away near Christianburg, Shelby County, Kentucky at the age of 92 or 93.  In the book, Old Kentucky, by Reverend J.F. Cook, Uncle Meshack Pierson is remembered as a beloved patriot:

He was patriotic and loved the old flag, and when he was seventy and eighty he would have been ready to shoulder his musket in defence of his country.

The author noted that he was a beloved member of the community even though he was known to be a man with a bitter spirit and opinionated.  He was an “ardent Democrat” who thought that Whigs were Tories, and he had no patience for them.  Still, the townspeople thought he deserved a funeral befitting his patriotic spirit.  He lived two or three miles from the Indian Fork Church; nevertheless, multitudes of people – some on foot, some on horseback and some by wagon – traveled to his home to escort his remains to the church.

One man with a red sash led the procession.  His body was carried in a wagon escorted by fifteen men riding alongside with their weapons pointed downward.   Also accompanying the procession were two men playing fifes and two playing drums.  They reached the church, surrounded by heavy forest, and proceeded to bury Meshack.  One mishap occurred – while lowering the coffin, one man fell in.  The minister was very solemn, the author noting (his grandfather was the minister) that the prayer he offered was so different than one he would pray at the creek when conducting a baptismal service.  Many people stood with their hats removed and wept.  Meshack was given a gun salute by those who brought firearms.  The author noted that he had never enjoyed a funeral more.

In August of 1846, Meshack wrote his will, wishing that upon his death all his debts would be paid.  He bequeathed some of his property (farm animals, household furniture, etc.) to Mildred with the remaining property to be sold and divided equally between his daughter Elizabeth and his deceased daughter Sally’s heirs.  William and John were to receive $2 each.  He named his friend Henry Bohannon as executor and signed the will with an “X”.


I found only anecdotal information for the third triplet, Abednego.  One site (unsourced) said he died in the Revolutionary War, but I find no record of his having served.  Another site (unsourced at said he was shot and supposedly killed by his own family members for taking sides with the King.  This might be a plausible story line, as there appears to have been a family split of loyalties with father Charles a Loyalist and his flight to South Carolina and then to Georgia.

I could find no records listing Abednego’s date of death, nor where he was buried (although presumably it would be in Culpeper County, Virginia).

This was a lengthy article today, but three people=long story.  I’ve enjoyed doing the research on the Pierson triplets (and the Pierson surname) and I hope you found it informative as well.

Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!

© Sharon Hall (History Depot), 2014.


  1. Love this one. Your 2nd Shadrach in less than a month! The Shadrach of December was the brother of my ggg grandmother Sallie David Boaz Williams . Sallie and brother Shadrach’s grandfather was Shadrach as well, and among his brothers were Meshach, Abednego and story is that all boys fought in the Revolution, but no papers have been found on Shadrach. They also settled in Ky (Western).

    I love your posts, so full of history and genealogy tips…like the great reminder that some of the veterans are listed in the 1840 census!

    • Yes, I REALLY enjoyed writing this one (and the surname article on Pierson) — so much history for us all to be proud of! That’s fascinating that your family had so many biblical names. I’ve run across the names Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego more than once in my research, plus some other unusual names — last night on the bounty land grant rolls I found a “Paul Pimple” — what a name!

      Thanks so much for reading the articles and so glad that they are informative and interesting. If you know anyone who wants to know their history but doesn’t have the time or is timid about the internet (or just needs some help searching), please pass along my web site and services to them

  2. Thank you for the wonderful insight into my past. Meshach is my 5th Great Grandfather (on my paternal Grandmother’s line). It’s very interesting to find little tidbits of information, as well as gratifying to learn of our forebears’ contributions to the founding of this great nation!

  3. Hi i am Josh Gilmore my mom maiden name was Nancy Pearson i am a living family member of Shadrack .. i grew up hearing this store told to me

    • Awesome! This was one of my very favorite articles and it’s been very popular since it was published. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing.



  1. Surname Saturday: Boaz | Diggin' History - […] I found it interesting that Thomas named three of his sons Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego, which reminds me of…
  2. Tombstone Tuesday: 2014 Reader Favorites (Most Views) | Diggin' History - […] Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego Pierson (240) – I couldn’t resist this one — triplets with such Biblical names, and…

Leave a Comment