The Last Men of the Revolution: Adam Link (1761-1864)

In honor of America’s birthday, I am highlighting the lives of the last surviving veterans of the Revolutionary War who were photographed and interviewed by Reverend Elias Hillard for a book, The Last Men of the Revolution, which was published in 1864.  At the time of their interviews, all of the veterans were over the age of one hundred.  In case you missed the first two, you can read about them here and here (Daniel Waldo was the subject of a Surname Saturday article).

AdamLinkAdam Link

Hillard’s article on Adam Link was prefaced with a statement that “his part in the war was unimportant.”  This meant, apparently, that he may not have fought in any significant battles, but nevertheless served during that important time in American history.

Adam Link was born in Washington County, Maryland on November 14, 1761 to parents Jacob and Ana Link.  His mother, a distant relative of Jacob’s, was from Switzerland and died when Adam was six years old.  After Ana’s death, Jacob remarried and moved to Wheeling Creek, near present-day Wheeling, West Virginia.

At the age of sixteen, Adam enlisted and began his frontier service, serving in the area around Wheeling.  His father had been scalped by Indians and his stepmother returned to Baltimore to live.  Adam would later become friends with an Indian fighter by the name of Poe (presumably Adam Poe, although it could have been his brother Andrew).

At the age of twenty-eight, he married a distant relative, Elizabeth Link, she being seventeen years old.  Hillard noted that after his marriage, Adam, “being fond of change, roamed about from place to place living but a short time in each; and so spent the earlier part of his life.”  According to Hillard, Adam “roughed it” throughout his life and imagined that his constitution must have been made of iron to live as long as he had.  “He paid no attention to his manner of eating, either in quantity, quality, or time; and he was addicted to strong drink.  He labored severely and constantly.”

At the age of sixty Adam walked from his home in Pennsylvania to Ohio, about one hundred and forty-one miles, averaging forty-seven miles a day.  At age seventy he began clearing a farm, and while working there lived in a house where the main wall was formed by the flat roots of an upturned tree (talk about “roughing it”!).

Hillard noted that while Adam was a hard worker, he was always poor, pointing to his irregular and bad habits (or perhaps just “ill luck”).  After clearing the farm, Adam lived there for several years before moving to Crawford County, Ohio to live with one of his children.  His health, despite his habits, remained good until near the end of his life.

A few years before the interview, Adam’s vision became distorted either during or as the result of a severe thunderstorm.  “For a long time, everything appeared distorted and askew; men had bent legs and bodies, chickens were twisted out of shape, and the keyhole of his trunk tormented him by the figures which it assumed.”  He later recovered but never well enough to read again.  Not long before his death he suffered a stroke, lost some use of his limbs and found speech difficult.  His hearing and intellect, however, remained intact.

Adam had steadfastly refused to have his picture taken, so the picture which accompanied the article may have been secured with or without his permission.  At the time of the interview, the Civil War was in progress, although Adam had little to say about it.  Hillard noted that Adam frequently forgot that there was even a war going on at the time, even though one of his great grandsons was serving in the army.  He called himself a “Jeffersonian Democrat” but had voted for Lincoln.

According to his Find-A-Grave entry, Adam died at the home of his daughter, Nancy Link Markley in Sulphur Springs, Ohio on August 15, 1864, just three months short of his 103rd birthday.  He was buried in the Union Cemetery, the only Revolutionary War veteran to be interred there.

Interestingly, Adam Link’s grandfather, John Jacob Link, was the fourth great-grandfather of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!

© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2014.



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