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Biographical Description

Rachel Rogers Debow was born in North Carolina on March 15, 1759. As a young girl she lived at her parents' orchard near the North Carolina-Virginia border in present-day Person County, North Carolina. She married Frederick Debow in Caswell County, North Carolina in 1777 and the couple eventually had at least seven children together. During the American Revolution her husband served at various times as a private and captain in the Caswell County Regiment of the North Carolina Militia as well as as a deputy commissary and wagon master for the Continental Army. While her husband was away in service, Rachel Debow cared for the family's children and managed the household. In March 1781 during the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, she and an enslaved African American woman she owned sowed a crop of oats on their farm. After that battle, Rachel Debow kept watch for enemy troops while her husband and her brother-in-law, Archibald Murphy, slept at her house. After the war the Debow family continued to reside on Cane Creek in Caswell County, later Person County, before moving to Tennessee. Her husband died in Smith County, Tennessee in 1809 and she never remarried.

In 1837 Rachel Debow applied for a widow's pension based on her husband's military service. Although she did receive a pension for $26.67 per year, it was only partial compensation, as the U.S. Pension office only credited her with 8 months of her husband's service as a private and not the other time he spent as a captain, deputy commissary, and wagon master. She died in Smith County, Tennessee on January 6, 1840. After her death, her sons renewed her application and successfully received an additional $146.66 per year from 1831 to the time of their mother's death in observance of the additional six months their father spent as a captain, deputy commissary, and wagon master.