Male, Bornin Scotland Parish, Windham County, Connecticut on 7/4/1748



Spouses / Children

Born July 4, 1748, in Scotland Parish, Windham County, Connecticut, of Jeremiah ROSS and Ann (PAINE) ROSS. He was one of ten children. His two brothers were Jeremiah and William; his sisters were Aleph, Ann, Sarah, Diana, Mary, Lucy, and Elizabeth.

At some point subsequent to 1761, the family moved to Montville, New London County, Connecticut, where Perrin married Marcy OTIS. Marcy was born June 5, 1747, and died in 1824. She was buried with her second husband in the Allen Cemetery, Lake Township. She was the daughter of Joseph OTIS and Elizabeth (LITTLE) OTIS, of Raymond Hill, North Parish, New London, Connecticut. The following is a summary of the considerable amount of information available concerning the OTIS family: Richard OTIS of Glastonbury, England, had a son John. John OTIS was born in 1581 in Glastonbury, England, and died May 31, 1657; he married Margaret, who died in 1653; he emigrated to America and settled at Hingham, Massachusetts in 1635; he had a son John, Jr. John OTIS, Jr., was the father of Marcy. (Chart M depicts Marcy's lineage. When charted, it appears that one of Marcy's ancestors is missing in this account because of the dates and generations; but this is the way the account was found.)

In early 1774, Perrin's family moved to the Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania. Since his father was named as a grantee in the original Indian Deed to the Susquehanna Company on July 11, 1754, it was natural the family should occupy their settlement as soon as possible. The year 1774 was the third year of peaceful and prosperous tranquility in the valley following fifteen years of horrible battles between the settlers, the Indians, and the Pennsylvania authorities. (Commonly called the Pennymite- (or Pennamite-) Yankee Wars, a forceful struggle between Connecticut settlers and the Pennsylvania government continued unceasingly for years as a result of boundary disputes between the two states.)

Presumably, Perrin's father traveled for several years to and from the Wyoming Valley to prepare the settlement for habitation, as was the practice of those early pioneers. The first white woman did not arrive in the valley until the summer of 1772.

Perrin was prominent in the new settlement right from the beginning. The first Town Meeting of the newly recognized "town" of Westmoreland was held "March ye 2d, 1774"; Perrin being elected one of 22 Surveyors and one of 15 Listers for the ensuing year. At that time there were no roads into the Wyoming Valley--only Indian trails, horse paths, and the river (boat cargo was described as extremely expensive). About this same time, Perrin had firmly established his own homestead which is still known as Ross Hill.

At the eighth town meeting of Westmoreland, held on December 6, 1774, Perrin was further elected one of 15 to comprise the School Committee for the year 1775. (It must be regarded both extraordinary and honorable that a people just commencing a settlement in the wilderness, still fighting the unbroken soil for bread, surrounded by so many deadly dangers, should be found so zealously pursuing measures to provide free schools for the children of the settlement).

The Connecticut General Assembly "established" Perrin's commission as a Lieutenant in the 3d Company of the 24th Regiment of Connecticut Militia in October 1775. This, in recognition of the renewed hostilities against the settlers by Indians and the Pennsylvania authorities, plus the new problem of the British who were now virtually at war with the Colonists. The conflicts becoming increasingly unbearable, the town petitioned the Continental Congress for aid. Congress, experiencing her own difficulties in the struggle against England, used the opportunity to her own advantage. On Friday, August 23, 1776, it was resolved by Congress that two companies of the Continental Army should be raised in the town of Westmoreland "and stationed in proper places for the defence of the inhabitants of said town, and parts adjacent." Three days later, officers of the companies were "elected" by the Congress, Perrin being chosen First Lieutenant in Captain Samuel RANSOM's company. Since Congress expressly pledged these companies to the defense of their own lands, able-bodied men flocked to the call and in less than sixty days both companies were full, numbering about eighty-four each. Perrin's brother, Jeremiah, was enlisted in the same company as a Private.

During this same period, General Washington's army had shrunk to less than three thousand soldiers, who were themselves decimated due to fatigue, sickness, and deprivation. They were almost naked and barefooted, winter was upon them, and they were forced repeatedly to retreat. On December 8, 1776, when Washington was pushed across the Delaware, Congress moved from Philadelphia to Baltimore. On Thursday, December 12th, the two Westmoreland companies were "ordered to join Gen. Washington, with all possible expedition." The two companies promptly obeyed the order and "before the close of the month and year, were upon the lines, under the command of their beloved Washington." Their precise activity that Christmas Day during Washington's famous crossing of the Delaware has not been determined, but it is almost certain that Lieutenant Perrin ROSS was there!

Back home in Westmoreland, the families did their best possible to secure themselves against even more barbarous dangers than before. Without the aid of husbands and fathers, women, young boys and aged men were pressed into constructing fortresses and conducting scouting missions, ever watchful and fearful of their new enemy--the Indians, inspired and led by British troops.

January 20, 1777, found Perrin engaged with his company under the command of General DICKINSON at the Somerset (New Jersey) House. They were occupying a line of posts along the Millstone River. Lord CORNWALLIS, situated at (New) Brunswick, sent a foraging party of about 400 men with about 50 wagons to seize the flour mill located across the river from the Wyoming companies. General DICKINSON's force attacked them, though the river was waist deep, with so much spirit that Lord CORNWALLIS' troops fled, leaving behind forty-seven wagons and more than a hundred horses which were immediately confiscated by the Americans. There were, of course, several losses among the Westmoreland soldiers. This victory was so noteworthy that General WASHINGTON dispatched a special letter on January 22, 1777, to the President of Congress describing it.

The regimental commander, Colonel Zebulon BUTLER, described the state of the Wyoming companies in a letter to General WASHINGTON on May 29, 1777: "Many soldiers in the Independent Companies have received no clothes since they entered the service, and are almost naked. Many of their arms are useless, and some of them are loss. They are also destitute of tents and every kind of camp equipage."

And, to add to Perrin's misery, his father died during the early summer of 1777: "One of the most respected citizens, Jeremiah ROSS, returned from Philadelphia, was taken sick with smallpox and died." Imagine the alarm of the town, heads of families away at war and facing a smallpox epidemic. It is not recorded how many died from the disease, but it is known to have spread viciously throughout the settlement.

Perrin, mortally concerned about the welfare of his family, continued in the service, unable to obtain the release of Congress to return home. He served at Bound Brook, at Brandywine, at Germantown, and at Mud Fort.

Early in the spring of 1778, it became widely known that the British and Indians were preparing an expedition for the destruction of the Wyoming Valley families. The officers and men pleaded with Congress to honor the conditions of their enlistment and permit them to flee to the defense of their families. In December 1777, Perrin had resigned his Connecticut commission, but still retained his Continental commission. During late June 1778, "every commissioned officer but two resigned and more than twenty-five of the men, with or without leave, left the ranks and hastened to the Valley." The enemy, numbering about four hundred British soldiers and from six to seven hundred Indians, had invaded the valley and now faced the settlers' force of about three hundred old men and boys and their families.

Perrin and his heartsick companions did their human best in an attempt to reach home before their families were massacred. There are numerous accounts of valor, perhaps only illustrated by Perrin's heroic actions. He was in such haste to reach his family that he "rode down three horses to reach home the day before" the attack. That night he started his wife and children, with one packhorse, across the mountain to their Connecticut homeland--some three hundred miles away.

The next day, Friday, the third day of July, 1778, he joined his neighbors and faced the enemy. Outnumbered by more than three to one, they fought a valiant battle, but were sorely defeated. Perrin and his brother Jeremiah were both killed. Their only brother, William, later to become a well-known General, remained at the fortress called Forty Fort; since he was without a weapon (he was seventeen at the time). William later fled and eventually joined his mother and sisters in Connecticut. Clearly, Perrin was a respected and capable soldier, since Colonel Zebulon BUTLER, in charge of the settler force at the battle "sent forward...Lieutenants ROSS and WELLS as officers whose skill he most relied on, to select the spot, and mark off the ground on which to form the order of battle."

As just one brief descriptive account of the savage nature of the massacre which followed the battle, the following passage is representative:  "Prisoners taken under solemn promise of quarter were gathered together and placed in circles.  Sixteen or eighteen were arranged round one large stone, since known as bloody rock.  Surrounded by a body of Indians, queen Esther, a fury in the form of a woman, assumed the office of executioner with death maul or tomahawk, for she used one with both hands, or took up the other with one, and passing round the circle with words, as if singing, or counting with a cadence, she would dash out the brains, or sink the tomahawk into the head of a prisoner.  The mangled bodies...were afterwards found round the rock where they had fallen, scalped, and shockingly mangled."
(A more detailed account of the battle and the massacre can be found at pages 340-352 of “The History of Connecticut, from the First Settlement of the Colony to the Adoption of the Present Constitution” by Gideon Hiram Hollister, Volume II, Second Edition, Enlarged and Improved; Hartford, Connecticut; Case, Tiffany & Co., 1857).

It was October 21, 1778, before sufficient forces could be mustered to approach the battlefield and bury the dead. Few could be recognized, but Lieutenant Perrin ROSS was known by a ring he wore. While protected by a group of armed men, the burial party hastily placed all bodies in a single large grave. In the mid-1800's, after numerous failures by the men of the community, the Luzerne Monumental Association, composed of ladies of whom Marcy ROSS, the wife of Perrin was one, succeeded in the erection of a monument above the bones of those honorably deceased men. The monument stands today in the town of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, near the spot where the battle was fought. Two engraved marble tablets bear the names of those who fought so valiantly in defense of their families and loved ones. Perrin's name is among them.

Perrin was survived by his wife, sons Daniel, Jesse, John, Joseph, and Perrin, Jr.; and daughter Elizabeth. Perrin, Jr., was born after his mother's flight from the Valley.

1 Photo

© MCMXCIII  Hank Ross