Brake Family History

Brake/Claypool Rebellion

The Tory Uprising or the Brake/Claypool Rebellion took place over a period of several months. Jacob Fisher in his pension application states: "On April 1781 marched against the Tories in the western part of Hampshire Co. which tour ended July 1781. Engaged in skirmish with Tories, near Brakes in Hampshire, now Hardy Co."[1] The following is a letter from Col. Van Meter of Hampshire Co. to Thomas Jefferson, then Governor of Virginia, dated 11 April 1781.

I am sorry to inform your Excellency that a dangerous insurrection has lately arisen in this County, occasioned by the execution of the late Acts of Assembly for recruiting this state's quota of troops to serve in the Continental Army, and the Act for supplying the Army with clothes, provisions and wagons, in consequence of which the collector of the tax under the former Act has been opposed in the execution of his duty and has been obliged to desist from any further proceeding therein, and although every measure that prudence could suggest has been taken to suppress the rioters, yet it has proved ineffectual by reason of their having a superior force. I therefore thought it my duty to lay the matter before your Excellency, and hope such measures will be taken in consequence of the late Act of Assembly for giving your Excellency further powers and as shall be thought requisite.

This day our draft was completed and in a few day shall send your Excellency a full account thereof and every other necessary information requisite.[2]

Garrett VanMeter, Colonel

Kercheval in his History of the Valley of Virginia first published in 1833, tells the following story of the events which took place during the Tory uprising on the Brake homestead. No where in this account does Kercheval mention a "castle like home"[3] or the destruction of Jacob Brake's building, stories which have been told to us by other historians. If Brake's Mill and distillery were destroyed, they were replaced by 1784 when Jacob's taxes included four outbuildings.

The army proceeded on to pay their respects to Mr. John Brake, an old German, who had a fine farm with extensive meadows, a mill, large distlllery, and many fat hogs and cattle... Brake, as before observed, had joined the Tory band, and his house was their place of rendezvous, where they feasted on the best he had. All this appearing unquestionable, Morgan marched his army to his residence, they halted, and spent two days and nights with the reluctant host. His troops lived on the best his fine farm, mill and distillery afforded, while their horse fared no less luxuriously upon his fine unmowed meadows, oat fields and etc. As Brake had entertained and feasted the Tories, Morgan concluded that he should feast them in turn.[4]

The Hampshire County garrison officially requested help from Fort Winchester 22 May 1781.[5] Jacob Brake Sr. was officially arraigned in Hampshire County court at Romney on 21 June 1781, Judge Thomas Bryan Martin, presiding. He was the first signer of the following petition. The petitioners were pardoned by the new Virginia Governor, Thomas Nelson.

Humbly Shewth, That your Petitioners living in an obscure and remote corner of the State are precluded from every intelligence of the state affairs either by public papers or from the information of men of credit and veracity, and at the same infested by the wicked emissaries or pretended emissaries of the British who travel through all parts of the frontiers and by misrepresentations and false news poisoned the minds of the ignorant and credulous settlers. That your petitioners from narrow and confined notions and attached too strongly to their interests conceived the Act for laying the enormous tax of eighty pounds (80#) paper money on every 100# hundred pound of their property, rated in specie and a bounty for the recruits of the Continental Army, and the law subjecting them at the same time to be drafted for the said service and the further Act for clothing the Army as unjust and oppressive after paying such a high tax on their assessed property. And those wicked and designing men by their artful insinuations and false intelligence industriously propagated to delude and seduce your petitioners, too readily prevailed on them to oppose the execution of the said Acts and take up arms in defense of what those wretches called their liberty and property. But your petitioners humbly shew that they never concerted or conspired the destruction of Government or the hurt of any individual, further then to defend themselves when attacked or compelled to yield obedience to those laws; and when your petitioners were made sensible of their error by the gentlemen from the adjacent counties who marched a body of men sufficient to have put all the disobedient and deluded crew to the sword, but, from motives of humanity and prudence attempted the more mild method of argument to dispel the delusion and bring them back to their duty, your petitioners, ready to receive information and open to correction, readily gave up their arms and engaged to deliver themselves to justice and submit to the laws of their country when called for, which they have since done and stood their trial in the County Court of Hampshire, and were by that Court adjudged to stand a further trial before a Special Court of Oyer and Terminer appointed to meet at the Court House on the 10th day of July last, but the gentlemen nominated as Judges by the Honorable Board failing to attend, the prosecution was postponed; and your petitioners were then informed by a proclamation under the hand of the County Lieutenant that the Executive, ever prone to adopt the most lenient measures to penitent offenders, offered pardon and indemnity to all those concerned in the late insurrection, if they would return to their duty and behave as good citizens in future. And your Petitioners impressed with a deep sense of the gracious intentions of your Excellency and the Honorable Board towards the ignorant and deluded were encouraged to sue for pardon; and that the same act of grace might be extended towards them since they humbly conceive their conduct has been more consonant to the duty of good citizens, who conscious that they have transgressed against the laws of their country readily delivered themselves to Justice and a trial by their peers to suffer the punishment due to their crimes though committed through ignorance and misguided zeal. Whereas those who have availed themselves of the said proclamation, the equally guilty, did not come in until their safety was insured to them by promise of pardon, wherefore you petitioners humbly hope from the known clemency of your Excellency, and that governs the Councils of the Honorable Board, that they will be graciously pleased to pardon their past offenses and include in the Act of Indemnity so mercifully held out to offenders under the like circumstances and they engage on the faith of honest citizens to act a true and faithful part to the State in future if they are released from further prosecution and restored to the privileges of other citizens; which your petitioner John Claypole[6]is more encouraged to expect form a letter of General Morgan to your said petitioner wherein he promises to procure his pardon on his returning to his allegiance and becoming a good citizen, this he humbly conceives his behavior has, since he was convinced by his error and freed from those mistaken prejudices that seduced him from his duty, wherefore in deep contrition for their past misconduct and sincere promise of conducting themselves as good citizens for the time to come they humbly pray for pardon, and that the Honorable Board will save their innocent wives and children from ruin and misery, which they must necessarily be involved, for the crimes of their deluded husband and parents. And your petitioners will pray.....

Petitions bound over for Jury in November:

JACOB BRAKE, Jacob Yeazle, George Sites, Adam Rohenbaugh, Thomas Stacey, Charles borer, John Mace, John Rorebaugh, Jacob Pickle, Michael Algier, Henry Rodenbaugh, John Wease, ISAAC BRAKE, Martin Rodenbaugh, Adam Wease, John Mitcheld, Jacob House, Adam Wease, Jr. Samuel Louri, Jeremiah Ozburn, Leornard Hier, Jacob Crites, George Peck, Anthony Reger, John Casner, Josia Ozburn.[7]

Image of Pardon

Request for Pardon

"Calendar of Virginia State Papers," Vol. II, page 686.
Submitted by Buzz Brake

[1]Pipers:Virginia Revolution Pension Applications, Vol. 37, p. 35-36. application #S15120.

[2]Cartmell, Thomas Kemp, Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and Their Descendants a History of Frederick Co., Virginia, Winchester, VA: Eddy Press Corporation, 1909.

[3]Nor is there any evidence that Jacob Brake, Sr. received his land as a grant from the King of England.

[4]Kercheval, Samuel, A History of the Valley of Virginia, Fourth Edition, Revised and Extended by the author and new notes added by the Editor, Strasburg, VA: Shenandoah Publishing House, 1925, p. 148.

[5]Palmer, Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Manuscripts 1652-1869. 11 Vols. Richmond: 1875 p.113-114.

[6]For Claypool's pardon, refer to Border Settlers of Northwestern Virginia by Lucullus Virgil McWhorter.

[7]Palmer, Calendar of Virginia State Papers and other Manuscripts, Vol: II, Richmond:, 1875,. p. 686, 4 Apr. 1781-Dec. 1781.

Compiled by Linda Brake Meyers

Page maintained by Dan Hyde, hyde at Last update September 24, 1998