George Debolt and Elizabeth Teagarden A Difficult Life

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George Debolt (1748/9-1829) and Elizabeth Teagarden (1748-1834)

George Debolt, son of Hans Michael Debolt, is born in the 1740's

George Debolt, son of Hans Michael and Elizabeth Debolt (and father of Mary Debolt who would marry Simon Overturf), was born, according to his tombstone, in March of 1748, probably in German Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. However, other sources indicate he was born 4 March 1749.

A Traumatic Early Life

The history of George's early life is found in a biographical sketch by one of his grandsons, Silas Debolt, who wrote: “George Debolt and brother Nicholas were both captured by the Pottawatomies in Pennsylvania. Nicholas was in his sixth year and never returned home. He became chief of the tribe and died September 28, 1828. George was in his eighth year when captured and was sold to the Senecas and was held captive nine years."

Silas Debolt goes on to say, "[George Debolt] was afterward a soldier under Washington. He was in the battle in which Braddock was defeated, and was subsequently in the employ of the government as a scout."

Did it really happen?

If George Debolt was 8 when captured, that would have happened in 1756. If he lived with the Indians for 9 years, it would have been 1765 when he returned home, now 17 years old. It is more likely he was captured by the Seneca than the Pottawatomies as the Seneca lived in what is now western New York state and eastern Ohio. However, warfare with other Indian nations was frequent; their losses were made up by adopting whole towns of other tribes. During the 17th century wars led to the expansion of their territory into Pennsylvania.

Edward Braddock was involved in the French and Indian War and died at Great Meadows, Pennsylvania on July 13, 1755 — one year before George was supposedly taken by the Indians. This would seem to disprove at least this portion of the rumour.

There is no doubt that a young soldier named George Washington was one of Braddock’s volunteer officers; Washington, of course, lived longer than Braddock, and therefore it’s possible that George eventually served under Washington.

So far, this family legend cannot be proven to be reliable. It can probably be assumed that George was, at least for a time, captured by Indians and taken away from home. He may also have been a government scout when he returned. There is some evidence he was a veteran of the French and Indian War. At the time of his birth, it was certainly in a disputed area — with equal numbers of native Indians and particularly the French desiring its ownership. When the ownership of the area was still undecided, 22-year-old George Washington fought his first battles against the French there in 1754 (at a time when George Debolt was just a child of six).

Finding time for a “regular life” and Family

As the Revolutionary War was fought, George married Elizabeth Teagarden in Fayette County, Pennsylvania in 1777. He was 28; she was 29. Some ancestry.com records give their marriage date as early as 1768, and some of their children were born before 1777. It was not uncommon, however, for marriages to be delayed until finances and availability of clergy were possible.

Elizabeth was born on 30 March 1748 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Abraham Teagarden II and Mary Parker. Her grandparents, born in Germany, had come to the United States in 1736.

George and Elizabeth had twelve children. Dates and places of birth are sometimes different, depending upon the source, but it appears likely that these are the children who were born to them:

There may have been children who died before their father completed his will in 1822 because in his will he only names four sons: William, David, Daniel, and Abraham.

George Debolt was assessed in Springhill Township, Bedford (now Fayette) County, Pennsylvania in 1773. He was taxed as a resident of German Township, Fayette County, on 10 Aug 1785. On 25 Oct 1787, he patented not only his father's farm but another farm nearby. At the time of the 1790 Census, the household of George Debolt of German Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania consisted of “two males aged 16 years or over, six males under the age of 16, four females and no slaves.”

Death in their 80’s

Both George and Elizabeth died in German Township, Fayette County, and were buried in a small, private family cemetery known as the "Debolt Cemetery" on their home farm. (Fairview Church was built nearby.) George died in 1829 and Elizabeth died five years later in 1834. The cemetery has since been destroyed, but their tombstones read:

In Memory of GEORGE Debolt who departed this life Jan. 4, 1892 Aged 80 y 10 m

In Memory of ELIZABETH DE BOLT who departed this life Nov. 14, 1834 Aged 86y 7m 15 d

This page researched and written by Susan Overturf Ingraham, a descendant of the Debolts through Mary Debolt who married Simon Overturf. This page last updated on February 10, 2016.

Return to Table of Contents for Exploring Ancestral Roots: Overturfs, Hansens, McDonalds and Mahoneys

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  2. To read more about Mary's life, click on her name.