News: Looking for females who are in the pure female lines (mother to daughter) from William and Sarah who are willing to do an mtDNA test. Such a person would be descended along an all female line from Mary DEVIN Biggers or Margaret DEVIN Reynolds. The hope is to identify the markers for Sarah SMITH Devin to help identify her parents. Contact the webmaster if interested.

Devin descendant, Stanley Wayne Devin, passed away at 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 4, 2014. He was the last living child of Ira & Oleta Devin.
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A Gift for Alexander Devin

Alexander was given a powder horn by one of his brothers. It has been passed down through the generations.

Written by David Devin, 13.July.1998; Updated 22.November.2001

Family heirlooms, artifacts, and documents are handed down from generation to generation. Many times these objects become misplaced, forgotten, or destroyed over the years. Unfortunately, the more distance the relative, the less likely someone knows of the artifact or document. And even if you know of an artifact, you most likely have lost the trail of who has current possession. It is exciting when you find someone who has one of the treasured family heirlooms.

The compiled genealogy booklet, The Devin Family, done by Dessa Hoffstetter, mentions several artifacts and documents which have been passed along the generations. One of those mentioned artifacts is a powder horn given to Alexander Devin, son of William Devin, Sr., by one of his older brothers. A powder horn was used to store gunpowder and charge muzzle-loaded rifles.

Photograph of the powder horn given to Alexander Devin
Contributed by Carol Rick on 03 July 1998.
The powder horn may be seen at the Indiana State Museum.

The following transcript is from page 2 of "The Devin Family" compiled by Dessa Hoffstetter:

William and Sarah Devin's four oldest sons were in the Revolutionary War. John was wounded and while confined to his room carved a powder horn and gave it to his brother Alexander, who was not old enough to go to war. Alexander used it when he went off to preach. The horn is now (1950) in the possession of William Devin, son of John Devin, son of Peyton Devin, son of Alexander Devin.

I had often wondered about the powder horn, but because the people mentioned in connection with the horn were outside of my direct line, I did not seriously look for it. In February 1998, I received an email from a granddaughter, Carol Rick, of William Alexander Devin. The following excerpt is from that email.

I have in my possession a powder horn that family tradition says William Devin carried in the Revolution. I am not sure which William (Junior or Senior) carried it. Tradition goes on to say that the carvings on it were done while William was recuperating from an injury. One of the carvings is supposed to have been his home.

Image of the carvings on the powder horn
Contributed by Carol Rick on 28 February 1998.

When Carol sent me the above images, she also sent along a photograph I was not expecting. I had never heard from any source that there was an ammunition case that went along with the powder horn. Carol surprised me with the following image:

Image of the ammunition case
Contributed by Carol Rick on 03 July 1998.

As often happens when doing family research, stories change over time or are different depending on who tells it. Obviously, the story about the powder horn is different. Now that there is evidence that the powder horn once belonged to William Devin junior or senior, I have more interest because they are in my direct line. My interest is in who gave the powder horn to Alexander.


  • Was it John or William Jr. who was wounded and gave it to his younger brother?
  • Was it William Sr. who was wounded and gave it to his youngest son?

What is the evidence?


Including the two pieces of evidence shown above, there is more evidence that applies to this mystery in The Devin Family.


  • On page 4, there is the following history for William Devin, Jr.
    He [William Devin, Jr.] was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and fought on the side of the colonies against Great Britain for a period of three years. He participated in the battles of Monmouth, Bradywine, Germantown and other, some of the most fierce and most hotly contested struggles of that historic war. While in the army, he had the smallpox in a very malignant from and come near to losing his life. His face was left badly marked with pits.

  • On page 5 in the history for William Jr.'s son, Robert Ira Devin, is a transcript of a letter from Robert to his cousin, Alfred Harrison Devin:
    I have heard my grandfather speak of Alexander Devin, his youngest brother, born in 1769. Our great uncle was a Baptist minister, he moved West somewhere. My grandfather William Devin, Jr. was born in Pittsylvania County, Va. and was a soldier three years in the War of the Revolution. Two of his brothers, John and Robert, were with him in the army. John was severely wounded by being shot through the body, but he, wonderful to relate, entirely recovered and afterward died at the home of his lady love to whom he was engaged to be married, while on a visit to see her. The pantaloons he had on when wounded were preserved for many years by the family as an heirloom that showed the bullet hole on each side that passed through his body.

My father tells me that the three above passages from The Devin Family are taken almost word for word from a missive written before Dessa wrote her compilation. Judging by the context, I suspect that Alfred Harrison Devin may have written that first family history, and these passages are his; they probably were not originally written by Dessa.

Sometimes, it is difficult to be objective when evaluating conflicting stories; one tends to cling to the story they heard first and most often. My opinion is that the story from Carol Rick is closer to the truth. In general, the family in possession of an artifact probably has the more accurate information, because the item in question is very real to them. To others, two or three generations and many miles removed from the event, it is simply a story that does not really apply to them. Besides, I like to think I might have at least a small connection to the powder horn; other than as an interesting family story.

However, as the saying goes, "One test is worth ten thousand opinions". The only way to determine who might have given the powder horn to Alexander is to see if military records show if it was John or William, Jr. as the one being wounded. And further, to determine if William, Jr. had smallpox. Because both stories do agree on the fact that the powder horn was carved by the wounded brother, finding out who actually was wounded is probably the only real evidence that could be accepted. I have not found any evidence to suggest William, Sr. fought in the American Revolutionary War; he would have been 52 at the start of hostilities and over sixty at the end of the war (assuming you accept he was born in 1724). Checking military records to investigate this story gives me another incentive to get the records for William Jr. from the National Archives.

Pure Speculation

The following speculative questions come to mind when thinking about the two similar powder horn stories:


  • Did William, Jr. carry the powder horn in ARW, carve, and give it to his youngest brother?
  • Did John carve the powder horn after being wounded and give it to his youngest brother?
  • Did John carve the powder horn, and John's father, William, Sr., gave it to Alexander after John's death?
  • Did William, Jr. carry the powder horn in ARW, and John carved it while recuperating?
  • Did William, Jr. carry the powder horn in ARW and carve it while recuperating from smallpox?

We will probably never be able to prove who gave the powder horn to Alexander or if it was actually carried into battle during the American Revolutionary War. We certainly cannot know until more information about Devin family participation in ARW is known and proved. Does anyone have any other evidence that could help solve this mystery?


Owner/SourceDavid D.
Linked toAlexander Devin; William Devin, Jr.

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