Happy Birthday Lieutenant John Bacon (a good remembrance for Memorial Day)



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John Bacon (1721-1775)

It seems quite appropriate to celebrate John Bacon’s birthday on Memorial Day. While this holiday remembering the people who died while serving in US armed forces didn’t start until after the Civil War, we do use it now to also remember those who died in the American Revolution. John Bacon fits that description. But let’s start at his beginning.

John Bacon was born on 30 May 1721 in Needham, Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA (it was Suffolk County then) as the fifth child of Stephen Bacon and Mary Loker. He had four siblings, namely: Sarah, Mary, Stephen, and Henry.

He grew up in Needham Leg, which is in the far western part of Needham, Massachusetts. Needham Leg is now part of the town of Natick. The Stephen Bacon family was one of only six families to live in Needham Leg in 1724.

When he was 22, John Bacon married Abigail Sawin, daughter of John Sawin and Joanna Lyon, on 24 May 1744 in Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts, USA. Remember Joanna, John’s mother-in-law? It was her birthday last week – see Happy Birthday Joanna Lyon!

John Bacon and Abigail Sawin had the following children:

  1. John Bacon was born on 18 Sep 1745 in Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts. He married Zeruiah Drury on 27 Nov 1766 in Needham, Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA (Suffolk County). He died on 04 Mar 1831 in Vermont.
  2. Abigail Bacon was born on 16 Nov 1747 in Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts, USA. She married Issac Coolidge on 23 May 1770 in Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts.
  3. Timothy Bacon was born on 29 Mar 1751 in Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts. He died on 04 May 1823 in Lowville, Lewis County, New York.
  4. Moses Bacon was born on 17 Sep 1753 in Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts. He died in 1776 in Skeenesboro, Canada.
  5. David Bacon was born on 03 May 1756 in Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts. He died on 02 Aug 1757 in Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts.
  6. Jonathan Bacon was born on 03 May 1756 in Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts. He married Zeporah Goulding Mann on 28 Sep 1780 in Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts.
  7. Mary Bacon was born on 20 Jun 1759 in Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts. She married John Frost on 14 Nov 1776 in Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts. She died on 04 Aug 1840 in Westford, Middlesex, Massachusetts.
  8. David Bacon was born on 31 Oct 1761 in Needham, Norfolk, Massachusetts. He married Sarah Bacon on 28 Sep 1786 in Massachusetts. He died on 07 May 1803.
  9. Hezekiah Bacon was born on 08 Feb 1764 in Needham, Norfolk, Massachusetts. He died on 03 Nov 1799 in Brookfield, Worcester, Massachusetts.
  10. Rebecca Bacon was born on 11 Jul 1766 in Needham, Norfolk, Massachusetts. She died in 1777 in Needham, Norfolk, Massachusetts.
  11. Hannah Bacon was born on 22 Apr 1769 in Needham, Norfolk, Massachusetts. She married John Mann on 15 Jun 1786 in Natick, Middlesex, Massachusetts.

John and Abigail lived at Needham Leg which was between the towns of Needham and Natick. They registered the births of their older children in her hometown of Natick. Their younger children’s births were registered in his hometown of Needham. The distance between the two places is only about seven miles.

John was a successful farmer and was involved in community affairs. He was described as a great worker often having eight or ten men and four yoke of oxen working in his fields. In 1771, he served as selectman and assessor. During the French war between 1745 and 1748, he went to Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia to fight. He provided for and protected his family well.

But, their happy life in Massachusetts came to an abrupt end when the British marched out of Boston towards Lexington and the American Revolution officially began. John was a First Lieutenant in Captain Caleb Kingsbury’s Company in Colonel Aaron Davis’s Regiment.  In the early morning on 19 April 1775, the alarm was given and John Bacon, a 53-year old man at the time, picked up his musket and set off on horseback to join his comrades in the more eastern part of town. He rode his horse seven miles to Newton Lower Falls before sending his horse back home. John continued on foot for another eight miles to the Watertown, the next arranged meeting place, and then on to the town of Menotomy (now called Arlington).

The Needham Minute Men Company, including Lt. John Bacon, arrived in Menotomy while the British were making their return trip back to Boston from Concord. Thirteen towns had sent militia, so all of these men were now positioned along both sides of the road that the Redcoats were traveling to return to Boston. Eventually, John Bacon and a man they called “Old Hawes” were on a ledge of rocks behind a stone wall trying to get a good shot at the red-coats. Hawes was afraid that the flank guard would surprise then, so he kept a lookout. He was correct to be concerned as the British Lord Percy had put out strong flanking parties to his main forces so the militia became sandwiched in between. Bacon, with powder in his hat, was lying behind the wall with another man, when Hawes yelled, “Run or you are dead, here’s the guard.” John and the other man tried to get over the wall, but John Bacon was shot through the third button on his vest. He had been killed by one of the groups of British flankers on the farm of Jason Russell in Menotomy.

John Bacon died on 19 Apr 1775 in Menotomy on the first day of the American Revolution.

He was buried in a field with others that were killed at Menotomy that day. A monument was later erected over their remains.

Where is he in the tree?


Ancestry.com, Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.Original data – Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).Original data: Town and C), Ancestry.com.

“Battle of Lexington,” Web, 26 May 2016, http://www.baconlinks.com/Homepage/CapitolArt.html.

Clarke, George Kuhn, History of Needham, Massachusetts, 1711-1911: Including West Needham, Now the Town of Wellesley, to its Separation from Needham in 1881, with Some Reference to Its Affairs to 1911, (Needham, Mass.: Privately printed at the University Press, 1912), Google Books, 26 May 2016, https://books.google.com/books?id=YDriJEQN4CwC.

“The Battle of Menotomy,” Arlington Historical Society, Web, 26 May 2016, http://www.arlingtonhistorical.org/learn/articles/the-battle-of-menotomy/.

Descendants of John Bacon can apply to membership to the Daughters of the American Revolution based on his service. He is recorded there as ancestor # A004407. https://services.dar.org/public/dar_research/search_adb/?action=full&p_id=A004407.

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One response to “Happy Birthday Lieutenant John Bacon (a good remembrance for Memorial Day)”

    John Bacon is eligible for the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati.

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