Joseph Brownlee

The story of Joseph Brownlee who served in Captain Joseph Erwin’s Company during the American War of Independence.


Joseph Brownlee, served in Captain Joseph Erwin’s Company during the Revolutionary War. This company was raised in Westmoreland County, PA, and joined the regiment at Marcus Hook. It was subsequently included in the Thirteenth Pennsylvania Regiment, then in the Second, and finally discharged at Valley Forge, Jan. 1, 1778, by reason of expiration of term of enlistment. Engagements were Long Island, White Plains, Trenton, Princeton, Quibbletown, Brandywine, and Germantown. Joseph was commissioned Third Lieutenant on April 15, 1776, Second Lieutenant on Oct 24, 1776, and First Lieutenant on April 18, 1777. He was captured at the Battle of Long Island on July 27, 1776, and exchanged December 9, 1776. He resigned June 22, 1777.

Joseph married Elizabeth Guthrie in 1775. They had two children, John and Jane. When the Indians attacked Hannastown in Westmoreland, PA on July 13, 1782, they captured Joseph and his family. Joseph was a well-known Indian fighter and when their captors found out who he was they killed him and his son, John, along with another women and her two children who they thought was Joseph’s family. Elizabeth and Jane, who was only four months old at the time, were taken to Buffalo and Niagra where Elizabeth was sold to British officers for $20 and Jane for $10 and 2 gallons of rum. They were then taken to Montreal and exchanged and returned to Hannastown in July 1783. 

Elizabeth married William Guthrie in Jul 1784 at Hannastown. He was killed by a fall from a wagon 10 Mar 1828. She d. 11 Feb 1842. Jane married James HUGLE and moved to Muskingum Co., Ohio. 

Joseph Brownlee owned a 150 acre tract of land in Hempfield Township in Westmoreland Co. which was sold in 1786 to pay his debts and support his surviving child. Hugh Brownlee, possibly Joseph’s brother, was appointed as one of the administrators of his estate, but had died by February 1785.

Sources for this information include:

• Pension File for Elizabeth Brownlee Guthrie, #3245 PA.

• American Guthries and Allied Families

• American Biographical Library, The Biographical Cyclopædia of American Women, Volume II.  Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution

• Old Westmoreland Newsletter, Vol. 2 #1, #3, #4, Vol. 3 #1, Vol. 9 #4, Vol. 12 #1, Vol 13, #3

• Pennsylvania Archives, 6th Series, Vol 14, pg 297

• Pennsylvania Archives, 3rd Series, Vol 22, pg 512

• History of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, pg 84

• Frontier Forts of Pennsylvania, Vol. II.  Letter from Michael Huffnagle to Irvine, dated the day after the battle at Hannastown


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