Week 26 June 26, 2020 Mason/Bracken Counties, Kentucky

Mason County, created as a Virginia county in 1788 and one of the original counties of Kentucky when it achieved statehood in 1792.  These maps are from Wikipedia.
Bracken County, created in 1796 from parts of Mason and Campbell Counties.

I’m writing about both Bracken and Mason Counties in this essay, because my ancestors were in these counties at about the time Kentucky was going through a process of rapid county formation and the county names and boundaries were kind of fluid.  One record I have, for example, says that one of my ancestors was born in “Bracken, Mason County, Kentucky.”  I can’t figure that out so I’ll talk about both counties to make sure I cover everyone.

Both Bracken and Mason Counties were among the earliest counties formed in Kentucky – Mason County as an original county at the time of statehood in 1792, and Bracken County just four years later.  They are both located on the Ohio River, more than 400 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The most important city in Mason County is Maysville and the most significant town in Bracken County is Augusta.  I have some slender evidence that some of my ancestors lived in Maysville, but I generally have information indicating only that they were in either Bracken or Mason County.

Evolution of County Boundaries in Kentucky

All of the following maps are from http://www.mapofus.org.

1777 map
Virginia created Kentucky County from its land beyond the Appalachian Mountains.
1780 map
Kentucky County was divided into three counties; Fayette County included the area that would become Bracken and Mason Counties
1783 map
After the American Revolution, Virginia claimed western lands – including virtually all of the land east of the Mississippi River, north of the southern border of Kentucky, and south of the Great Lakes.
1786 map
Virginia further divided Kentucky, now into eight counties.  Bourbon County included the land that would later become Bracken and Mason Counties
1787 map
After the settlement of the western land claims issue, Kentucky remained part of Virginia but the area north of the Ohio River became part of the Northwest Territory
1789 map
Mason County was formed from the eastern part of Bourbon County
1792 map
Kentucky was admitted into the Union as the fifteenth state, after the original 13 were followed by Vermont in 1791.
1797 map
Bracken County was formed from the northern part of Mason County
1800 map
Mason County continued to lose land as settlement increased in the region.
1807 map
Lewis County was formed from the eastern part of Mason County
1867 map
After 1867, the boundaries of Bracken and Mason County were fixed in their modern configuration.

A (Very) Little History

It took Americans 150 years to move from their early settlements on the eastern seaboard into Kentucky.  Colonies were established at Jamestown in 1607, at New Amsterdam in 1608, at Plymouth in 1620, and in Maryland in 1634; however, the white first settlement in Kentucky, Harrods Town in what is now Mercer County in central Kentucky, was established in 1774, more than 150 years later.  Exploration and settlement were delayed by both the physical challenge of traveling over the mountain ranges of the Appalachian chain and the security challenge of confronting (and eventually suppressing) the Native American tribes who were accustomed to using what some called “the dark and bloody ground” for their own purposes.

The story of the early settlement of Kentucky is well documented.  In the 1750s, a 16-year-named Daniel Boone traveled with his family from their home in Pennsylvania over the Shenandoah Valley’s Great Wagon Road to the Yadkin River Valley in northwestern North Carolina.  He served in a North Carolina militia unit from 1755-56 during the French and Indian War, and returned to Yadkin and married in 1756.

In the face of continuing raids by the Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, in 1758 Boone moved with his family to Culpeper County, Virginia (in the central part of the state) Virginia.  After the threat was diminished in 1762, the family moved back to North Carolina, and Boone began to lead regular journeys of exploration throughout the region – including his first visit to Kentucky in 1767.  In 1773, after several more exploratory and hunting trips to Kentucky, he led a party of pioneers over what came to be called the Wilderness Road into Kentucky (which would be identified officially as Kentucky County, Virginia, in 1776).  Boone’s little party was confronted by resistance from Indians in the area, and Boone’s son was among those killed in these encounters.  After a period of conflict know as Lord Dunmore’s War (which I talked about in my earlier essay on Augusta County, Virginia), white settlement into Kentucky County resumed.

This map shows the routes of these two major thoroughfares that were essential to the movement of hundreds of thousands of pioneers from the Atlantic seaboard into the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys.

great valley road

 It is possible, although not likely, that they took a different route to Kentucky – through the Cumberland Narrows, an Appalachian Mountain gap in western Maryland.  This was the route that General Braddock’s Army took as it moved west in 1755 to take on French forces in the area.  Despite Braddock’s defeat and subsequent death in this campaign, the fort they had established – Fort Cumberland – remained intact, and the fledgling settlement around it survived.  In 1806, the US Congress had decided to appropriate money for a National Road through this gap.  I have evidence that the earliest settlers in Bracken and Mason County arrived by river, but I can’t conclude that my ancestors, who came to the area 20 years later, traveled the same way.

The history of the settlement of Kentucky was impacted by events that occurred on the other side of the Ohio River – in what was then called “Ohio Country.”  Between 1785 and 1795, the Northwest Indian War (also called the Ohio War or Little Turtle’s War) was waged between the newly formed United States and a confederation of Native American tribes (supported by the British) over control of the Northwest Territory (north of the Ohio River, east of the Mississippi, and south of the Great Lakes.

In 1786, George Rogers Clark and Benjamin Logan, both of whom lived about 200 miles from Bracken/Mason Counties in the Louisville area of Kentucky at the time, launched a force of Kentucky militia in a series of raids on Indian villages along the Mad River in southwestern Ohio. These raids, which resulted in dozens of casualties among the Shawnee Indians who were targeted, served to unite the Shawnee nation against the Americans.  In the following several years, increased attacks led to the deaths of 1,500 American settlers who were traveling along the Ohio River.

A series of skirmishes over the next several years revealed the difficulty that the young American republic faced in trying to confront this challenge.  In 1792, President George Washington appointed General “Mad Anthony” Wayne to build a trained militia force called the Legion of the United States.

As a side note – I had never heard of this unit until I started researching to write my earlier essay on Boone County.

Moving right along.  After two years of recruitment and training, Wayne led this force against the Indian Confederacy at a location called Fallen Timbers in northwestern Ohio.  The 1 ½ hour “Battle of Fallen Timbers” was not militarily decisive, but it resulted in a peace treaty between the Americans and their Indian rivals, opening up the Ohio River and the Northwest Territory – and Kentucky – to safer travel.

History of Mason County

Much of the information in the next several paragraphs is from the website KYGenWeb http://kykinfolk.com/mason/about.html .

Mason County was officially formed in 1789 from portions of Bourbon County. It is important to Kentucky because it lies on the Ohio River. Early long hunters and river spies began traversing the wilderness in the mid-1700s. Later, familiar names like Christopher Gist and Daniel Boone would bring the first white settlers by two routes that led to Mason County – down the Ohio River or up through the Cumberland Gap – to establish fortresslike settlements called ‘stations.’

In the mid-1700s, Simon Kenton journeyed fled his home in Fauquier County, Virginia, after he thought he had murdered someone (the person didn’t actually die but Kenton didn’t know that for years).  He floated down the Ohio River in search of the legendary bountiful canelands – sugar growing land – of Kentucky. In 1775, he and a companion landed their craft at what was to become Limestone (now Maysville) and headed inland.  In 1785,  Kenton sold 400 acres of land to Arthur Fox and William Wood to establish the town of Washington in honor of the Revolutionary War hero who would later become the first President of the United States. The early settlers to the area came from Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Maryland.

Mason County was partitioned from Bourbon County in 1789.  At its formation, Mason County included one-fourth of the territory of Kentucky east of the Licking River. Nineteen counties were later carved from the huge swath of geography that ran from what is now Campbell County at the northernmost point of the state, all the way to Pike County on the Virginia border.

Maysville, at the mouth of Limestone Creek, was known as Limestone prior to 1790. It was made a town in 1787 and in 1833 became a city. Washington, the old county seat, was once a thriving town in the uplands, but suffered a decline beginning in 1844, when the county seat was removed to Maysville.

Limestone Landing Mural
This photo shows ”Limestone Landing, 1780s,” one of the murals along the river wall in Maysville.

History of Bracken County

Bracken County was organized in 1796 from parts of Mason and Campbell Counties. Originally, the county extended to southern Nicholas County (north of the Ohio River and west of the Licking River). It has two creeks (named for William Bracken), the Big and Little Bracken. William Bracken was a surveyor by trade and visited the area in 1773. He was later killed by Indians during the Northwest Indian War. The first county seat was Augusta, Kentucky but was moved to Woodward Crossing (Brooksville).

After the Revolutionary War, Captain Philip Buckner of Caroline County, Virginia, was awarded a land-grant by Virginia in reward for his service. After making his first visit to the area in 1781, Buckner returned fifteen years later with 40 other families to settle in the town he called Augusta (named, it is believed, in honor of his home in Augusta County, Virginia). At Buckner’s request, a meeting was held to choose town trustees whereupon he deeded over to them the 600 acres on which the city is located. On October 7, 1797, the Kentucky Legislature issued the town its charter.

Augusta served as the seat of government in Bracken County until 1839, when it was permanently relocated to Brooksville.

My Ancestors in Mason and Bracken Counties

I have two sets of ancestors who settled (independently from one another) in the Bracken/Mason County area of Kentucky.  The first set is on my father’s side, and the second set is on my mother’s side.  Throughout this series of essays, I continue to find locations where my paternal and maternal lines lived in the same towns centuries before my parents met in the 1930s.

Pedigree chart 1
This is my first set of Bracken/Mason County ancestors.  They came from central Virginia and settled in this part of Kentucky in 1795.  They are on my paternal side – Barbara Allen Walton’s great-granddaughter Orpha Lydia Ellefritz Arnold was my father’s mother.

My paternal 6th great-grandparents Simeon Walton (1741-1798) and Agnes Hester Walton (1746-1821) came to Kentucky in the mid-1790s.  I wrote about them in my essay on Cumberland County, Virginia during Week 9 of this series of essays, on February 28, 2020.  Here’s what I wrote then:

An 1810 book (A History of the Rise and Progress of Baptists in Virginia, by Robert Baylor Semple) had this to say about Simeon:

He was a man of note, in his day and generation.  In point of education he had opportunities above many of his companions in the ministry.  Having a relish for literary pursuits, he improved his mind above what might have been looked for from his school learning.  Being a good mathematician, he was appointed to discharge the duties of county surveyor, in Amelia the place of his residence, for a length of time.  Being a ready scribe, he was clerk to the Middle District Association, for many years.  There was a considerable intimacy between him and elder John Williams.  They were kindred spirits.  As a preacher, he was thought to be above mediocrity; though in this character, he did not shine as brightly as might have been expected, considering his cleverness in other points.  He resided in Nottoway church, as pastor, for many years.  But in 1795, he moved to Kentucky; where, in March 1798, God took him to himself.  He was a good and faithful servant.

 Agnes and Simeon also had 13 children, including my 5th great-grandfather John Walton (1765-1840), who was their second child.  As the note about Simeon (above) indicates, in 1795 Agnes and Simeon moved to Kentucky with many of their family members (including John), shortly after Kentucky became a state.  John married Susanna Anderson (1768-1817) in Amelia County in 1787, and Barbara was born before they moved to Kentucky.

Many members of this family moved to Kentucky at this time.  In addition to my 6th great-grandparents Agnes and Simeon and my 5th great-grandparents John and Susanna, various other family members made the trip as well – including my 4th great-grandfather William Walton, who was a Walton cousin who married John and Susanna’s daughter Barbara Allen Walton in Kentucky in 1805.  William was the son of a different John Walton (1738-1793), who was Simeon’s brother; this makes William the second cousin of Barbara.  The way I came to understand this when I wrote my earlier essay on Cumberland County was that after William’s father John 1738 died, William, who was considerably younger than his siblings, moved west with Simeon’s family because he was not likely to have received an inheritance from his father.

As I mentioned, Barbara married William in Mason County in 1805.  I think they had 16 children – that number could be inflated because there were a lot of Waltons around in Virginia and Kentucky during this time period, and many of them had the same names.  At any rate, one of their children was Tabitha Allen Walton (1816-1899), who married Joshua Mills Botts (1813-1863) in Boone County, Kentucky, in 1833.  I wrote extensively about the Botts family in my essay on Boone County in Week 15 of this series, April 10, 2020.  Tabitha and Joshua moved to Illinois in 1837 along with many other members of the Botts family.

Susanna Anderson’s parents, my 6th great-grandparents Charles Anderson (1739-1821) and Lucy Stokes Anderson (1742-1810), had also moved to Kentucky in the 1790s;  the 1800 Federal Census shows them living in Mason County.  They both died there – Lucy in 1810 and Charles in 1821.

In addition, Stokes Anderson, Susanna’s brother (and my 6th great-uncle) moved to Kentucky in the 1790s.  In 1804, Stokes was also licensed to operate a ferry over the Ohio River from his land in Mason County.  This had to be a lucrative investment.   He appears regularly in the land records of Mason County between 1798 and his death in 1856.  Some of the records show that he was in business with his family members.  As an example, Stokes was appointed inspector of tobacco in 1806, along with his brother Charles Anderson, Jr., and his brother-in-law John Walton 1765.  His father, Charles Anderson, Sr., was identified in the records as “acting as security” for these appointments – which I assume means that he provided a financial guarantee for the transactions the younger men oversaw.  Court records show that in 1803 Stokes took responsibility for the son of his deceased brother Matthew; later records show that in 1835 Stokes sold the ferry and surrounding property to Matthew’s son Asa.  In 1807, Stokes was appointed Justice of the Peace in Mason County.

Stokes was a slave-owner; in 1820 he owned 17 slaves, in 1830 he owned 10 slaves, in 1840 he owned six slaves, and in 1850 he had nine slaves – a 30-year-old woman named Martha and her two children, a six-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl.  Stokes married twice; he and his first wife Polly Marshall had five children, and he and his second wife Elizabeth Jennings had eight children.

Pedigree chart 2
This is my second set of Bracken/Mason family ancestors.  They came from South Carolina and also settled in this part of Kentucky in the mid-1790s.  They are on my maternal side – Elizabeth Betsey Hunt’s great-granddaughter Susan Vernon Anthis was my mother’s mother.

This set of ancestors came from Greenville County, South Carolina, in 1795.  I wrote about them in my essay on Greenville County in Week 14 of this blog series, on April 3, 2020.  Here’s what I wrote then:

My 4th great-grandfather John Hunt (1757-1821) married Martha Jenkins (1760-1850) in Chesterfield County, South Carolina, in 1781.  After Martha and John married, they moved to Union County, South Carolina, where they had three children. They soon moved again, and John served as sheriff of Greenville County (formed from the northernmost part of District 96) from its formation in 1785 until 1794.  That’s when he moved his family (which had grown to include four more children) to Kentucky. He bought 246 acres of land in Bracken County, where he was appointed captain of militia and inspector of tobacco. In Kentucky he and Martha had ten more children (for a total of 17 children), including my 3rd great-grandmother, Elizabeth “Betsey” Hunt (1801-1850).

One of the reasons I know a lot about this family is that one of John and Martha’s children, Jefferson Hunt, became well-known as an early leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) as they moved first to Illinois and then to Salt Lake City.  Because the tenets of the Mormon faith include a need to document their genealogy, Jefferson’s family history is well-documented – and so, by extension, is that of his parents John and Martha.  My 3rd great-grandmother Betsy Hunt was Jefferson’s older sister.  The Hunt family moved to Albion, Edwards County, Illinois (near the Indiana border) sometime after 1811.  Betsey married Andrew Starnater in Knox County, Indiana, in 1816; Knox County is just across the Indiana/Illinois border from Edwards County.



Week 25 June 19, 2020 Logan County, Oklahoma

Source of map: Wikipedia

The Organic Act of 1890 provided for the establishment of six counties in the Unassigned Lands. What would become Logan County was first known as County No.1. Guthrie was one of the two original locations planned to be used as land offices during the opening of the Unassigned Lands for settlement.  It was also designated to be the Capital of the Oklahoma Territory.  On April 22, 1889, Guthrie was formed with the first Land Run opening the Oklahoma Territory for settlement.

In less than 24 hours the population of County No.1 increased to10,000 people with Guthrie becoming so large that it needed to be split into four separate communities to stay in compliance with the rule that no settlement could exceed 320 acres. As a result, Guthrie was divided into Guthrie, East Guthrie, West Guthrie, and Capital Hill.  Guthrie was now the Territorial Capital of the Oklahoma Territory, and later it served as the First Capital of the State of Oklahoma.

The name County No.1 was changed to Logan County after the first election in the Territory on August 5, 1890. The county was named after Major General John A. Logan, a popular Union general during the Civil War. By 1900, the county population reached 25,563 people with a breakdown of 77% white and 23% black.

A (Very) Little History

Let’s put all of this in context.

In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States, adding parts of what would eventually become 15 states to the territory of the United States.  One of those states was Oklahoma.  The map below shows this.


In 1834, another piece of legislation, the Indian Trade and Intercourse Act of 1834, identified a large part of this land as “Indian Country.”  This map shows how this worked.


Over the next 50 years or so, Indians from all over the county found themselves removed to Oklahoma.  The infamous “Trail of Tears,” which was actually a series of forced removals from the American South to “Indian County,” was only the most well-known of these events.  This map shows what happened.

map on wall of museum

The names of the individual tribes are hard to read on this map (which was on the wall of the Oklahoma Territorial Museum when I visited in January 2018), but you get the idea.  Native American tribes from all over the country were forced to relocate to Oklahoma.

The next historic step was in 1848, when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the Mexican War, ceded the American Southwest to the United States.  This map shows this situation.

mexican cession

The slavery and anti-slavery interests in the United States were at odds about the future of slavery in this new territory; everyone was also very interested in the gold that had been discovered in California in 1849.

The way out of this was the Compromise of 1850, which dealt with a number of issues but included, most importantly for my story, an organizational plan for the parts of the Louisiana Purchase that had not already become organized territories or states.  The next map shows the territorial significance of the Compromise of 1850.  The boundaries of Texas are recognizable to us, and Oklahoma is part of a vast area called “Unorganized Territory” extending from Texas to the Canadian border.  The named territories – Minnesota, Oregon, Utah, and New Mexico — were on the pathway to statehood.


Okay.  Initially, all of Oklahoma was given to the Indians, as this map shows.

Oklahoma Indian lands

However, what came to be called the “Unassigned Lands” were in the center of the bright green and yellow lands ceded to the United States by the Creek (Muskogee) and Seminole Indians following the Civil War and on which no other tribes had been settled.  The Creeks and Seminoles had unfortunately (for them) aligned themselves with the Confederacy during the Civil War, and the United States did not take kindly to that.

So this is what Oklahoma Land Openings looked like over time:

oklahoma land openings

By the 1880s, this area of “Unassigned Lands” looked attractive to land-hungry pioneers.   The first Land Run, in 1889, was focused on allocating the “unassigned lands,” labeled as “Oklahoma Lands” on the next map.  If you look under the words “Oklahoma Lands” in the middle of this next map, you’ll see a little dot labeled “Guthrie.”  This town served as the territorial capital of Oklahoma from 1889 through 1910, after Oklahoma became a state and the capital was moved 30 miles south to Oklahoma City.

Indian and Oklahoma territories 1890-1907

By 1890, all of Oklahoma had been divided into counties, and Guthrie was in Logan County (Log) in the middle of the state.  That’s where my great-grandparents, Tom and Mary Workman, claimed their homestead in 1889.

My Ancestors in Logan County

Unlike the previous counties I’ve written about in this series of essays, I know exactly when, where, why, and how my ancestors came to Logan County.  On April 22, 1889, my great-grandfather Thomas Calvin Workman, Sr., (1854-1932) took part in the first Land Run into Oklahoma to gain possession of a land allotment in the newly available territory.  Here’s my tiny set of ancestors who lived in Logan County:

Pedigree Chart

My anchor ancestors in Logan County are my great-grandparents, Thomas Calvin Workman Sr. (1854-1930) and Mary Elizabeth Thomas Workman (1859-1926).  The Workman family had not successfully settled anywhere during my great-grandfather’s lifetime.  He was born in Overton County, Tennessee, in 1854, where the pro-Union sentiments of his father, James A. Workman (1827-1887), had led to some tumultuous times during the 1860s.  James moved back and forth between Tennessee and Illinois during the Civil War itself, and moved back to Overton County to become a county official during the Reconstruction era.  After a clash with the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1860s, James moved his family permanently to Illinois, where Tom grew up.  He married his first wife, Etta Rigsby (known as Eddie) there in 1879 and had two children with her.  Both of these children had died by 1880, about the time they moved to Nebraska.

Explaining their move to Nebraska is a little complicated.  Tom’s great-uncle, John Butler Workman, was living with his wife Martha Roberts in the same county in Illinois where Tom was living with Eddie.  Martha’s sister Caroline Roberts Thomas Taylor Watkins (1832-1904) (my 3rd great-grandmother), was living in the same community with her third husband and her children, including her 28-year-old unmarried daughter Mary Elizabeth Thomas. This group moved to Nebraska together sometime between 1880 and 1882.

In Nebraska, Eddie Workman had two more children, but she died two years after the birth of her last child, in February of 1887.  In November of that year, Tom remarried, to his 30-year-old spinster sort-of-cousin Mary. To be specific, Mary was the sister of the wife of his 1st cousin once removed.  I don’t know if there is a name for that relationship.  According to one source, Mary had taken care of Eddie as she sickened and died, and she continued to tend to the children after their mother’s death.  It is not surprising that Tom and Mary married.

Tom and Mary had two children in Nebraska before they took advantage of land offerings in Oklahoma and became part of the 1889 Oklahoma Land Run.

Logan County property map
The red square on this map shows the location of Tom Workman’s 1889 Land Grant. It’s about 1 mile east of Guthrie, the seat of Logan County
BLM grant
This shows the location of his land grant in the BLM records. You can’t get much more specific than this.
April 22 1889 Guthrie
This is Guthrie on April 22, 1889, the day of the land run.  My great-grandfather Thomas Calvin Workman, Sr., could be one of the men in this picture.  He was in Guthrie on this date.


days after the land run
Probably late April 1889.  This could show Great-Grandpa Tom as well

After arriving in Logan County, Tom and Mary expanded their family over the next 14 years, having eight more children, including my grandfather Thomas Calvin Workman, Jr., (1898-1973), who was their sixth child.

My Workman ancestors who lived in Guthrie were not surrounded by other family members.  William David Workman, younger half-brother of Thomas Calvin Workman, Sr., came to Oklahoma shortly after his brother had made the move.  William was 37 years old and unmarried when he traveled to Oklahoma to take part in the Land Run in 1893, settling in Antelope, Logan County, near his brother’s home.  William never married, and he returned to Illinois by 1930, when census records shows him living there with his younger brother Abraham and his family. No other family members were anywhere in Oklahoma, so far as I can determine.

This family of farmers owned their land free and clear, but they nonetheless moved away from Oklahoma by 1915.  I don’t know what the circumstances were that led them to move on, but here’s the newspaper advertisement documenting their decision to move away.

land sale 1915

They apparently left with not much more than the clothes on their backs.  They sold everything.

By 1916, most of the family was living in Wharton County, Texas.  Four of the children of Tom and Mary – their daughters Gemima, Mary, Lulu, and Tina – had married and stayed in Oklahoma.  The rest of the children – their older sons James and Wesley and their younger children  Charles, Thomas, Rosa, and Jacob – moved to Texas with them.  My grandfather, Thomas Calvin Workman Jr. (1898-1973) married shortly after the family arrived in Texas, and my mother was born there in 1921.

I visited this location in January 2018.  For comparison purposes, here’s what the land looks like today.  This is one mile east of Guthrie and about 30 minutes north of Oklahoma City.  It doesn’t look like land that would support a prosperous farm.


Week 24 June 12, 2020 Linn County, Missouri

Map from Wikipedia

Linn County, Missouri, was organized in 1837, and its settlement doesn’t go much further back in history.  The first recorded settler in Linneus, which was named the county seat in 1840, was John Holland, who arrived only in 1834.  He came from Virginia, which is actually important to my story because that’s where my Linn County ancestors were from.  He built a two-room cabin and then left his female slave Dinah in charge of 30 sheep and the premises until he returned from the East with his family and other slaves many weeks later.  Therefore, the first female resident of Linneus was a black woman.   She was freed upon his death in 1855 but remained in Linneus all her life.

Changing Boundaries of Linn County

All of these maps are taken from http://www.mapofus.org.

1804 2
This map puts Missouri in national context in 1804
The original 5 districts of the Louisiana District were created in 1804 and identified as part of Indiana Territory
Louisiana Territory and Michigan Territory were separated from Indiana Territory
By 1812, Louisiana Territory had been renamed Missouri Territory and the five original districts had become counties.  Treaties with the Indians established some western boundaries
Organized counties began to expand to the West
Howard County encompassed the area that would later become Linn County

1819 2

As Missouri approached statehood, more counties were organized.
1821 2
Missouri became a state. This is what the national map looked like
Missouri achieves statehood and continues to organize more counties as the population expands.
Chariton County was established in territory that would later become Linn County
Linn County was created from Chariton County.  The boundaries of Linn have not changed significantly since its formation

A (Very) Little History

The early history of the area that would become Missouri is a story of competition between France and Spain over control of the economically important Mississippi River valley.  It is impossible to understand what was going on in this area without understanding 18th-century international relations, as the competing French, Spanish, and British Empires competed for dominance.

The French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle was the first European to explore the region, naming it Louisiana in 1682 in honor of King Louis XIV of France.  The first settlement followed in 1699, on the coast near Biloxi.  Originally the French claimed all the land on both sides of the Mississippi River as far north as the Great Lakes.  By the 1740s, the French had divided their holdings into two colonies – one in New France and one in Louisiana.  The border between the two colonies was the Wabash River to the east and the Vermilion River (in modern central Illinois) to the north.

The French had settled beginning in the 17th century, and by 1750 had expanded their settlement to Ste. Genevieve, west of the Mississippi River.  “Illinois Country,” east of the Mississippi, was part of the French empire until the end of the French and Indian War in 1763.   At that time France ceded control of the area west of the river to Spain, which struggled to control its largely French residents in a time of increasing English pressure.  In 1779, Spain declared war on England; this led to an attack by the British in May of 1780.

After the end of the American Revolution, large numbers of American immigrants began to cross into Missouri from the east.  The Spanish encouraged this, hoping to make Louisiana economically successful.  To improve the administration of the region, the Spanish split the province into five administrative districts in the mid-1790s; these districts are shown on the maps earlier in this essay.

After Spain allied itself with France in 1796, Britain used its navy to cut off Spain from America.  As a result, in 1801 Spain signed a secret treaty with France to return Louisiana Territory to France.  The United States was unhappy with this move, because it feared that a resurgent France, under Napoleon, would seek to control the Mississippi River and cut off American access to the Gulf of Mexico.

Meanwhile, the Haitian Revolution continued to challenge French hegemony in that region, and the 1802 defeat of the French led Napoleon to sell all of Louisiana, including Missouri, to the United States in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase.

In 1804 the storied Lewis and Clark Expedition – the Corps of Discovery – began its journey down the Ohio River.  It struggled almost 200 miles up the Mississippi River, against the current, before turning onto the Missouri River, which would take them deep into the previously unmapped and undocumented Louisiana Purchase for another 1,500 miles.  It was at St. Charles, Missouri – 30 miles west of the Mississippi – that William Clark linked up with Meriwether Lewis to begin this expedition.  Continuing to make their way against the river, the boats of the expedition passed locations where important cities in Missouri – including Jefferson City, the capital, and Kansas City – would grow in succeeding decades.

Westward expansion and Manifest Destiny provide the framework for the history of Missouri after 1800.  In the summer of 1817, the Zebulon M. Pike made the first steamboat trip up the Mississippi River above the mouth of the Ohio River.  This opened up the expansion of settlement up the Missouri River.  Four years later, in 1821, the Santa Fe Trail was opened from Franklin, Missouri, west to Santa Fe.

With the discovery of gold in California in 1849, the Missouri towns of St. Louis, Independence, Westport, and St. Joseph became points of departure for emigrants bound for California, making Missouri the “Gateway to the West.”  A few years later, the short-lived Pony Express started its first run from St. Joseph to Sacramento, California.

Missouri was a lesser-known but still important theater of operations in the Civil War.  In 1861, the Battle of Wilson’s Creek resulted in a Union retreat, and southwestern Missouri was left in Confederate hands until 1862.  In that year, the Union Army forced the Confederates, excluding the state guard from Missouri, to retreat; this battle effectively ended the threat of Confederate military control in Missouri.

In 1863, William Clarke Quantrill and his band of pro-Southern guerillas raided the pro-Union town of Lawrence, Kansas, killing nearly 150 men and boys. This attack served to avenge the imprisonment of their wives, mothers, and sisters in Kansas City.  Later than year, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing issued General Order No. 11, requiring all people living in Jackson, Cass, Bates, and northern Vernon counties to vacate the area unless their loyalty to the Union could be proven.

At the end of the Civil War in 1865, slavery was abolished in Missouri by an ordinance of immediate emancipation, making Missouri the first slave state to emancipate its slaves before the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution.  Missouri’s second Constitution (the Drake Constitution) was adopted. A group of politicians, known as “Radicals,” favored emancipation of slaves and disfranchisement of persons who were sympathetic to the Confederacy during the Civil War. The Radicals included an “Ironclad Oath” in the new constitution to exclude former Confederate sympathizers from the vote and certain occupations, severely limiting their civil rights

My Ancestors in Linn County

This is another location where my ancestors are not numerous, but their story is important to the evolution of my family, so I want to document it.

Pedigree Chart

I’ll start the story with my maternal 3rd great grandparents, William Sutton “Jacob” Overman (1803-1857) and Cyntha Lambert (1803-1880).  I want to state right up front that I am very uncertain about these two individuals.  The Overmans were a significant Quaker family in eastern North Carolina, and I think that the man Cyntha Lambert married in 1823 was connected to the North Carolina family, but I’m not able to prove it.

I’m also uncertain about how they came to be in Missouri.  Records indicate that their first six children were born in Virginia, their next three in Ohio, and then three more in Missouri, for a total of 12 children.  I think it is likely that these records conflate at least two Overman families.

I do know that my 2nd great-grandmother, Susan Overman (1828-1910) was living with Cyntha and five of her younger siblings in Missouri in 1850.  I don’t know where William Overman was at this time.  Some records indicate that he died in 1850, but others say he died in Texas in 1857.  I don’t know.

With that start, it can only get better, right?

Well, somewhat.

Susan Overman married Oliver Kyle, Jr., (1829-1863) in Sullivan County, Missouri, in 1856.  Sullivan County is just north of Linn County.  Oliver was born in Ohio, but by 1850 he was living with his widowed mother and three siblings in Perry, Pike County, Illinois.  I don’t know when, how, or why he moved to Missouri.

Susan and Oliver had three children, including my great-grandmother Martha Elizabeth Kyle (1857-1932), before Oliver joined the Union Army in 1861.  He returned to his previous home in Pike County, Illinois, to join up, becoming a member of the 28th Illinois Infantry.

Oliver’s service took him through Shiloh, the Siege of Corinth, and Vicksburg.  Oliver was captured after Shiloh, in April of 1862, and held prisoner at Montgomery, Alabama, until he was released on parole due to illness – probably malaria – on May 23, 1862.  His parole expired on August 31, 1862, and he rejoined his unit, although he apparently never regained his health.  After the surrender of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, his unit moved to Natchez, where he was hospitalized again and died of disease on September 13, 1863.  He is buried as an unknown soldier in the Natchez National Military Park Cemetery and his name is listed on a bronze tablet inside the Illinois memorial at the Vicksburg National Battlefield Park.

Meanwhile, Susan was keeping things together in Linn County, although I’m having a bit of difficulty understanding exactly what was going on.  By 1870, Susan was living  in Locust Creek in Linn County with her mother Cyntha, her unmarried sister Rebecca, and three of her children – including Martha.  The census record confuses me a little; it shows her family living with another family – the Mendelsons – who had recently immigrated from Germany.  The family next door was also named Mendelson, and I’m wondering if the family and household identifiers on the census were screwed up.

Whatever the situation, my ancestors were no longer in Missouri by 1880 – they had moved on to Texas.  For a continuation of their story, see my essay for Week 28 (July 10, 2020) about Milam County, Texas.

Week 23: June 5, 2020 Licking County, Ohio

Source of map: Wikipedia

Licking County, Ohio, was formed in 1808 from Fairfield County, one of the original Ohio counties created when Ohio became a state in 1803.  The county, where the North Fork and South Fork meet to form the Licking River, is named after the salt licks in the area.  Newark is the county seat of Licking County.

Evolution of Boundaries of Licking County

All of these maps are taken from http://www.mapofus.org.

The 1783 Treaty of Paris (ending the American Revolution) transferred control of the Ohio valley from Britain to the United States but did not settle the conflicting land claims made by the various states over the region.


By 1787, these land claims had been resolved and the entire Northwest Territory (including areas that would form six states that entered the Union between 1803 and 1858)


The following year, Washington County was formed as the original county of the Northwest Territory, which had been identified as “Illinois County, Virginia” from 1778-1784.



The parts of the Northwest Territory west of Ohio were labeled Indiana Territory.  There was never an official “Ohio Territory,” although this was the prescribed process of achieving statehood that was outlined in the Northwest Ordinance..



Ohio was admitted to the Union in 1803



1803 2
When Ohio became a state in 1803, the area that would become Licking County was part of Fairfield County.



Counties were being created in Ohio at a rapid pace in these early years, and Licking County (Li, near the center of the state) assumed the shape it still has today.



This map shows the townships in Licking County.  Most of my ancestors are associated with McKean Township, which is in the red circle on this map.  Source of map: Wikipedia

A (Very) Little History

Between the onset of the American Revolution in 1775 and the 1795 Treaty of Greenville, the area between the Ohio River and Lake Erie was the location of many skirmishes between the Native American tribes and the settlers from the American states east of the Appalachian Mountains. Source of map: Wikipedia

The land that later became the state of Ohio was first organized by the Virginia legislature in 1778, when they created the Illinois County (of Virginia) and claimed all the lands lying north and west of the Ohio River to the Mississippi River.  After the 1783 Treaty of Paris, this area became one of the most desirable locations for Trans-Appalachian settlements.

Between 1785 and 1795, the Northwest Indian War (also called the Ohio War or Little Turtle’s War) was waged between the newly formed United States and a confederation of Native American tribes (supported by the British) over control of the Northwest Territory (north of the Ohio River, east of the Mississippi, and south of the Great Lakes).  In 1786, George Rogers Clark and Benjamin Logan, both of whom lived in Kentucky at the time, launched a force of Kentucky militia in a series of raids on Indian villages along the Mad River in southwestern Ohio. These raids, which resulted in dozens of casualties among the Shawnee Indians who were targeted, served to unite the Shawnee nation against the Americans.  In the following several years, increased attacks led to the deaths of 1,500 American settlers who were traveling along the Ohio River.

A series of skirmishes over the next several years revealed the difficulty that the young American republic faced in trying to confront this challenge.  In 1792, President George Washington appointed General “Mad Anthony” Wayne to build a trained militia force called the Legion of the United States.  After two years of recruitment and training, Wayne led this force against the Indian Confederacy at a location called Fallen Timbers in northwestern Ohio.  In 1794, the brief “Battle of Fallen Timbers” although not militarily decisive, led to a peace treaty between the Americans and their Indian rivals, opening up the Ohio River and the Northwest Territory to safer travel. This series of events made it both possible and profitable to settle on land along the Ohio River – including in the area that would become Ohio.

The earliest permanent settlement in Ohio was created by New Englanders who travelled across Pennsylvania to settle in southern Ohio near where the Muskingum River flowed into the Ohio River – where Marietta, Ohio, is today.  Other settlers from the south – from Kentucky and Virginia and other southern states – also came to the Ohio territory via that river and its tributaries.  The Muskingum River, which is joined by the Licking River at Zanesville, is only about 60 miles from the settlement at Marietta, and this river system provided a pathway for settlement in the years after the establishment of the Northwest Territory.  This map shows the configuration I’m talking about.

This map (from Wikipedia) shows the rivers in southern Ohio.  The purple circle is Marietta, the first settlement in Ohio, where the Muskingum River meets the Ohio River.  The green circle is at Zanesville, where the Licking River flows into the Muskingum.  The red circle is at Newark, in Licking County

In his 2019 best-selling book The Pioneers:  The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West, historian David McCullough tells the story of the settlement of Marietta and the exploration up the Muskingum River as far as Zanesville, which served as the capital of Ohio from 1810-1812.  McCullough’s story does not take his readers the additional twenty-five miles or so to Licking County.

With the backing of England, Native American tribes in the area continued to raid American settlements, and “westerners” in Congress – from Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana – demanded that the United States government act to end the threat.  These same westerners were certain that their problems could be best solved by forcing the British out of Canada.  The conflict erupted in 1812, and lasted for three years before ending in 1815.  The war was conducted in three theaters – the Great Lakes, at sea off the east coast of the United States, and in the Southern states and territories.   This map shows the Northern theatre of the War of 1812.

Map from Wikipedia

Although the most direct threat to Ohio was ended with the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie, the war stalled settlement in Ohio again between 1812 and 1815.  After this war ended, settlers flooded into Ohio and the pressure for access to the agricultural center of the state grew.

I’m not sure that my ancestors came to Ohio by the Ohio River and Licking River, the route I mentioned earlier.   David McCullough’s book (mentioned above) recounts the arduous and frightful trip overland from New England to Pittsburg to get to the Ohio River.  I think my ancestors may instead have taken one of two water routes to get to Lake Erie and then to Ohio.

  1. From Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence River, then westward to the Great Lakes and beyond. This would have required land portages around Niagara Falls and other rapids, and involved moving against the current. However, the Welland Canal, which completely bypasses the Niagara River to provide a route between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, was also built in the late 1820s and 1830s.  In addition, the first steamboats were operating on the St. Lawrence River by 1809, so traveling upriver, against the current, would not have been a problem.
  2. Another possibility is that they got to Lake Erie via the Erie Canal in New York. A canal between Lake Champlain and the Hudson River opened on the same day as the Erie Canal.

At this point in my research, this is all my surmising but I think it kind of works.  Nothing else makes sense.  No overland routes are logical – way too mountainous and slow.

Once on Lake Erie, they could have taken the Ohio and Erie Canal (connecting Lake Erie to the Ohio River), which was built between 1825 and 1832.  The first leg constructed went from Cleveland to Newark, Ohio, which is in Licking County, where many of my Maine and other New England and New York people went.    Shipping on the canal began in 1829.  This fits my timeline perfectly.

This map shows how the water route might have worked    Source:  https://transportgeography.org/?page_id=1128
This map provides some different details about the canal system connecting the Hudson River Valley and central Ohio.

Building the Ohio and Erie Canal

Here’s what I’ve been able to find out about the building of the Ohio and Erie Canal.  This information is mostly from Centennial History of the city of Newark and Licking County, Ohio by E.M.P Brister, published in 1909.

According to this account, the residents of central Ohio were in need of this canal; before it was dug, “this county had no outlet for produce, except by wagons to the lake, or by wagons to the Muskingum River, and thence by boat to New Orleans.  This country was full of produce for which there was no market.”

When the decision was made to build the canal, the first excavation was made at Licking Summit in Licking County on July 4, 1825.  The most renowned guest was New York Governor De Witt Clinton, who was a prime mover in the planning of the canal and whose infamous “Big Ditch” (the Erie Canal in New York) officially opened later that same year.  The first section of the Ohio and Erie Canal, from Cleveland to Akron, opened in 1827, and by 1831 the canal was finished to Newark in Licking County.  The rest of the canal was finished by 1832.  According to the same source, some of the earliest boats using the canal were “passenger packets,” which carried passengers (possibly my Licking County ancestors) from Lake Erie to Licking County.

My Ancestors in Licking County

Pedigree chart
I don’t have a large set of ancestors in Licking County, but because this is the line that carries my maiden name – Arnold – I want to make sure I tell their story.

As I mentioned earlier, my ancestors settled primarily in Fredonia, McKean Township, Licking County.   McKean was settled in 1806 and organized in 1818.  McKean Township was part of the United States Military District, set aside for Revolutionary War Veterans.  I haven’t been able to determine if any of my ancestors who moved to Licking County served in the Revolution and would have been able to take advantage of this land allotment.

So far as I can tell, the first of my ancestors to set foot in Licking County was my 4th great-grandfather Zebediah Pease (1767-1842).  You may recall (or you may not recall) that I talked about the Pease family at some length in my Week 10 essay on Dukes County, Massachusetts.  Zebediah had been born in Dukes County (Martha’s Vineyard) but was living in Maine (along with some other family members) by the time he married Sarah Meservey (1770-1814) in 1790.  Zebediah and Sarah had 12 children in Maine before Sarah’s death in 1810 or 1814.  He married a second time, in 1816, to Annis Burns before moving to Ohio; the 1820 census shows him living in the village of Granville in Licking County, which had been founded by settlers from Granville, Massachusetts, in 1805.  The census shows three family members living with him – one female over age 45 (probably Annis) and two sons under the age of 15 (he had four sons who would have fit these criteria at the time – George, Hanson, John, and William – and I don’t know which sons moved with him).

My 3rd great-grandfather Spencer Arnold (1794-1831) married Martha Pease (daughter of Zebediah and Sara) in Maine in 1817, and they moved to Licking County to join Sarah’s parents sometime before 1830 with their four oldest children, including my 2nd great-grandfather Miles Arnold (1821-1899), who was their third child.  They had one more child, a daughter born in Ohio in 1830.  Spencer had served in a Maine militia unit during the War of 1812.

Spencer Arnold is identified as a founder of Fredonia in Licking County; he is one of three surveyors who laid out the town in 1829.  Unfortunately, Spencer died unexpectedly in 1831; Martha remarried two years later, to Nathaniel Toothaker, in Fredonia.  Nathaniel was also born in Maine but had come to Ohio earlier, before 1820.  Nathaniel’s first wife died in 1829, leaving him with five children under the age of 12; it is not surprising that he quickly married Martha after Spencer died.  They went on to have one child of their own, Spencer Toothaker, who was born in 1834.  This all made for a very large household of 11 children.

The 1850 census shows Martha living in Ohio with her 20-year-old daughter Matilda and her 16- year-old son Spencer; her neighbors included her grown sons Miles Arnold (1821-1899), Adna, and Joseph, and their families.  Miles is my 2nd great-grandfather.  I don’t know where her husband Nathaniel was in 1850; census records show him living in Iowa, but I don’t know why. It’s a little confusing – there may have been two men named Nathaniel Toothaker living in Ohio and Iowa during this time period, and I’m not sure which man is Martha’s Nathaniel.

At first I thought that it was unlikely for there to be two people with the unusual name of Nathaniel Toothaker.  But a man named Roger Toothaker came to Massachusetts as part of the Puritan Great Migration, and one of his sons was named Nathaniel.  Over the generations there have been hundreds of people with the last name of Toothaker.   I have identified at least a half-dozen men named Nathaniel Toothaker in the 18th and 19th centuries, so it’s not impossible that two of them connected on the American frontier in the 19th century.


Spencer and Martha’s third son Miles Arnold (I mentioned him above) married Vandia Orilla Brown (1825-1900) in Fredonia, Licking County, in 1844.  Rilla (as she was known) was born in Licking County in 1825.  I have had a hard time figuring out exactly who Rilla’s father was.  There were 17 men with the last name of Brown in Licking County in the 1820 census, and 14,000 with that last name by 1830.  Some sources say that that Rilla’s father’s name was Harley Brown, and there was a mand by that name living in Licking County with daughters who could have been Rilla, but I’m not sure.

Except for the mysterious absence of Nathaniel Toothaker, life looked pretty routine for my ancestors in Licking County in 1850.  As I mentioned earlier, Martha Arnold was living with two of her children, and her older children were married, starting families, and living nearby.  Her oldest son, Joseph, was a wagon and carriage maker for the railroad.  Miles was a farmer, and her youngest son, Adna, was a laborer – although by 1860, Adna was also identified as a farmer.  By 1860, Spencer Toothaker had married and was working as a mechanic in Licking County.  Miles and Rilla had eight children before Miles entered service in the Civil War in 1861 – although three of those children had died in infancy.   Their first child only lived for 16 months, their second child for four months, and their fifth child for 18 months.

Their sixth child, my great-grandfather Warner Lismond Arnold (1856-1938) was born in McLean County, Illinois, not in Licking County; Miles and Rilla did some travelling in the 1850s, moving to Illinois and back again.  This confused me for a while.

In 1861, Miles and his two brothers – Joseph and Adna – all enlisted in the Union Army – Miles and Adna in the 76th Ohio Regiment, and Joseph in a different unit that I have not been able to identify.  I know a lot about Miles’s and Adna’s service in the war, because one of the regiment’s  officers, Charles Dana Miller, kept a diary that has been made into a book, The Struggle for the Life of the Republic, edited by Stewart Bennett and Barbara Tillery, Miller’s great-granddaughter.

The 76th Ohio was a storied unit, generally called the “Licking Volunteers” because the majority of the troops were from Licking County.  This unit fought throughout the South – from Ft. Donelson, through Shiloh, Jackson, Vicksburg, Atlanta, and on Sherman’s March to the Sea.

While the men were away, their spouses – Rilla, Joseph’s wife Betsy, and Adna’s wife Rebecca – kept the home fires burning.  As I mentioned earlier, Rilla and Miles had five children under the age of 10.  Joseph and Betsy had only one child, so far as I can determine, but Adna and Rebecca had six children.  The women lived close to one another, and I imagine they were a great comfort to each other while the men were away.

Miles came home when the unit went to “winter quarters” in the winter of 1863-64, and Rilla had another child – whom they named Charles Miller Arnold, after Miles’s captain – in the summer of 1864.  In the meantime, however, the 76th Ohio had been part of the aggressive Atlanta campaign, which culminated in the Battle of Atlanta in April of 1864.  In that battle, Miles was badly wounded and left for dead on the battlefield.  However, the next day, when the armies went out to recover their dead from the battlefield, Miles was discovered to be still alive.  He was patched up and mustered out the following month, and returned to Licking County.

Miles never really recovered from his wounds.  The child born that summer, named after his beloved captain, died the following year.  At this point, Miles and Rilla began their travels again, leaving Licking County for a while.  In 1866 they had another daughter in McLean, Illinois, and then had yet another daughter in 1869 back in Licking County.  The 1870 census shows this family in Licking County, but by 1875 they had moved to Kansas.  By 1878, when Warner married Angelina Wilcox, the family is living in Hancock County, Illinois.

So far as I can tell, Joseph, Adna, Spencer, and their sisters Rosa and Matilda never moved away from.  Matilda, Joseph, Spencer. and Rosa all died in Licking County, and Adna died in neighboring Knox County.

Week 22: May 29, 2020 Hampshire County, Massachusetts

Source of map: FamilySearch Wiki

When Hampshire County was created in 1662, it included territory that is now in modern-day Hampden County, Franklin County, and Berkshire County, as well as small parts of modern-day Worcester County.  It originally included the entire western part of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

This essay will focus mostly on the towns of Hadley, Hatfield, and Northampton, where most of my Hampshire County ancestors lived.  This map illustrates the location of these towns in Hampshire County.  The Connecticut River winds between these towns and explains why they are located where they are.

Source of map:  FamilySearch Wiki.

One thing that I have had to become accustomed to in doing this research is that in much of New England, the towns make up the entirety of every county.  There is no county land that is not in a town.  That’s not what I’m used to in Virginia, where towns are small enclaves surrounded by counties.

Evolution of County Boundaries

Over the course of a region’s history, county boundaries change, and this can have an impact on where records might be found.  All of the following maps are taken from http://www.mapofus.org.

Mass 1643
The original counties in Massachusetts didn’t extend to the western part of the area.
Mass 1662
It took 20 years for the county of Hampshire to be established, and it occupied all of western Massachusetts.
Mass 1731
It was another 70 years before Worcester County was carved from Sussex, Middlesex, and Hampshire Counties
Mass 1761
Thirty years later, Berkshire County was carved from Hampshire
Mass 1811
After another fifty years, Franklin County was carved from the northern part of Hampshire County
Mass 1812
Just one year later, Hampden County was carved from the southern part of Hampshire County.  The boundaries of Hampshire County have not changed dramatically since then.

My ancestors in Hampshire County group into three families, which I’ll talk about in detail a little later on.  However, here’s the surname breakout for those of you who want to know whether “your” names will be the focus of later discussion.

  • Family 1: Dickenson, Beardsley, Gull, Meekins
  • Family 2: Stebbins, Bartlett, Kingsley, Warriner
  • Family 3: Warner and Humphrey

All three of these families are on my father’s side of my family tree.  Families 1 and 2 are on the Arnold side and come together in the person of my 4th great-grandfather Rev. Phillip Perry Brown (1790-1876), who was born in Vermont but lived most of his life in western New York state.  Family 3 connects through my Ellefritz family line, and doesn’t link up to Families 1 and 2 until my grandfather John Cecil Arnold (1896-1957) married Orpha Lydia Ellefritz (1897-1986) in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1916.

A (Very) Little History

The three towns I’m interested in – Hadley, Hatfield, and Northampton – were all founded in the middle of the 17th century.  I’m going to talk about in the order in which they were founded, and then talk about King Philip’s War, which impacted all of New England along with these towns.  But first, I want to show you this map, which provides interesting insights into the settlement of Massachusetts:

This map shows that western Massachusetts – the tan area toward the left side of this map – was settled just a decade or so after the eastern counties that made up the original Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies.  The Connecticut River, which arises in northern New Hampshire and forms much of the border between New Hampshire and Massachusetts before flowing into Long Island Sound, formed an avenue for commerce and migration during the early colonial period.  Major cities in Connecticut – Wethersfield, Hartford, and New Haven – grew along this river, as did the most significant towns in western Massachusetts – Springfield, Northampton, Hadley, and Hatfield.


Northampton was founded first, in 1654, by settlers who moved up the Connecticut River from Springfield, which had been founded 20 years earlier by English Puritan William Pynchon – who was also the founder of Northampton.   It was the first town to be named Springfield in the United States  (although not the last – there are currently 33 populated places named Springfield in 25 US states, and there are at least 36 Springfield townships.  And let’s not forget The Simpsons’ fictional home town of Springfield.).

Pynchon had originally settled in Roxbury, but he and other settlers there had heard good things about the Connecticut Valley.  Those from Cambridge went to Hartford, those from Dorchester went to Windsor, and those from Watertown went to Wethersfield, so Pynchon knew he and his party would not be alone in the Connecticut Valley as he settled an area known as “Agawam,” which he renamed Springfield.  Originally the settlers believed that they were under the jurisdiction of the Connecticut Colony, and only later was its attachment to Massachusetts affirmed.

William’s son John Pynchon was the leader of the plan to move 25 families 20 miles up the Connecticut River to an area named Nonotuck, which they renamed Northampton.


Hadley was founded in 1659 by religious dissidents from Wethersfield, Connecticut.  A group of families from Wethersfield followed their minister, John Russel, to establish a new settlement 50 miles up the Connecticut River, to a location across the river and less than 10 miles from Northampton.  Three leaders of the party purchased the land, and 30 individuals are identified as “withdrawers” – men who withdrew their families from Wethersfield and relocated to Hadley.  Among these men were two of my 10th great-grandfathers Nathaniel Dickinson and Andrew Warner, about whom I’ll write later.  One of my other 10th great-grandfathers, Thomas Meekins, moved with this party but settled on land on the west side of the Connecticut River, closer to Northampton.  Thomas moved to Hadley from Braintree, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and not from Connecticut like the other people in this group of settlers.


Hatfield was the last of the three towns to be established, in 1670.  It was settled by families who had moved to Hadley, on the east side of the Connecticut River, but who had relocated to the west side of the river by 1661.  These families included my Dickinson and Meekins families that I mentioned above.  Nathaniel Dickinson was among the settlers who shared in the distribution of land in 1660.

From 1660 to 1670, Hatfield operated as a separate village but still part of the town of Hatfield.  The residents of Hatfield had expressed their desire to become a separate town as early as 1665 – citing the difficulties they experienced in having to cross the river to attend church or court.  Their petition to separate from Hadley went into great detail about the travails of crossing the river – invoking floods and ice and wind that made the crossing dangerous.   One phrase in the petition captures the mood of the petitioners:  “At other times, the winds are high and waters rough, the current strong and the waves ready to swallow us – our vessels tossed up and down so that our women and children do screech, and are so affrighted that they are made unfit for ordinances [services].”

Inhabitants of the east side (Hadley) argued against the partition of inhabitants of the west side (Hatfield), saying “We have done our brethren and neighbors no wrong.  We hold to the convenant made between us, which was done upon their desire.”  In other words, when the Hatfield folks moved west of the river, they committed to staying in fellowship with the folks of Hadley on the east side of the river, and the people of Hadley saw no reason to allow them to violate their own commitment.  The sentiment must have been something like, “Okay, y’all knew the river was there when you decided to move to the west side.  Nothing has changed and we see no reason to let you break the promise you made.”    However, the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony heeding Hatfield’s request and agreed to allow Hatfield to become a separate town, which was incorporated in 1670 and was allowed to have its own church, minister, and court.

King Philip’s War (1675-1676)

These towns grew and prospered through the first years of their existence, but they were still on the frontier and the residents faced the constant threat of violence from the local Native American tribes that were supplanted by these migrants.  After the Pequot War (1637-1638), the colonies of Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and New Haven recognized that they need to form a military alliance to defend against both the Indians and the Dutch, whose presence in New Amsterdam threatened the English colonies.  They formed the New England Confederation in 1643 in an attempt to unite in against their common enemies, but the confederation never achieved its aims.

A little bit of background:  the Wampanoag chief Massasoit had negotiated a peaceful relationship with the settlers at Plymouth in 1621.  He had been able to maintain a fragile peace with the English settlers at Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay until his death in 1661.  His son, Metacom, became the leader of the Wampanoag – and his view of the English settlements was quite different from his father’s.  Metacom was known by the English name of Philip, and he hatched a plan to attack English settlements.  Although a “Christian Indian” named John Sassamon warned the English of the upcoming attack, the English ignored the warning.  They then found Sassamon’s body in an icy pond, apparently killed by the Wampanoag because of his treachery.  Three Wampanoag men were tried for his murder (by a jury made up of colonists and Indians), found guilty, and hanged on June 8, 1675.  Philip was incensed by their execution, and the stage was set for war.

In the summer of 1675, Philip and a group of Wampanoag and Algonquian warriors attacked first at Swansea (in Plymouth Colony) and then throughout Plymouth Colony.  In response, the New England Confederation declared war against the man they called “King” Philip and his followers.  During the winter of 1675-1676, the Narragansett joined with King Philip, and King Philip’s confederacy assaulted English colonies throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Maine.

This map shows the extent of attacks during King Philip’s War.

King Philips war map
Attacks occurred throughout New England.  The red circle on the left of the map encompasses Hadley, Hatfield, and Northampton.  Source of map: https://speddingchowder.weebly.com/blog/family-history-5-king-philips-war

All three of the towns I’m focusing on were caught up in this conflict. Several of my ancestors were killed during this conflict, and I’ll talk about them when I discuss their families.

  • On October 19, 1675, Hatfield was attacked but the attack was repelled.
  • Northampton was attacked on February 14, 1676; a handful of settlers were killed and many houses were burned.
  • On May19, 1676, a group of 150 colonists under the command of Captain William Turner of Boston carried out a surprise attack against Indian camps at Turner’s Falls, Massachusetts. Among the colonists killed in this attack were 36 residents of Hatfield, Hadley, and Northampton.
  • On May 30, 1676, Hatfield was attacked again, and this time seven English settlers were killed. This was in retaliation for the May 19 attack referenced above.
  • Hadley was attacked on June 12, 1676, but the attack was repelled.
  • Even though King Philip had died on August 12, 1676, another raid on Hatfield was carried out on September 19, 1677, by a group of 50 Indians from Canada.

My Ancestors in Hampshire County

I’m going to talk about each of the families in turn.

Pedigree Hampshire Family 1
Family #1

This family has its origins primarily in Wethersfield, Connecticut, in the 1630s. My 11th great-grandfather) Nathaniel Dickinson (1601-1676) was an early settler of Wethersfield, serving as a member of the Board of Selectmen, Representative to the General Assembly, and church Deacon.  Nathaniel had married Anne Gull (1610-1678) in England, and they had 15 children, including my 10th great-grandfather Nathaniel Dickinson (1643-1710), who was their ninth child.  In 1659, Nathaniel 1601 and his family moved with a group to residents to found the town of Hadley, Massachusetts.

Nathaniel 1643 married Hannah Beardsley (1642-1678) in Stratford, CT, in 1662.  Hannah’s father, William Beardsley (1605-1661), is identified with the town of Stratford in Fairfield County, but he also served as deputy to the General Court at Hartford from 1645-1659.  He married Mary Harvey (1601-1655) in England before they moved with three of their children to New England in 1635.  They would go on to have 8 more children in Connecticut, including Hannah.

Here’s a little more information about Nathaniel Dickinson and the founding of Hadley. Hadley was first settled in 1659 and was officially incorporated in 1661.  Its settlers were primarily a discontented group of families from the Puritan colonies of Hartford and Wethersfield, Connecticut, who petitioned to start a new colony up north after some controversy over doctrine in the local church. The settlement was led by John Russell. The first settler inside of Hadley was Nathaniel Dickinson 1601, who surveyed the streets of what are now Hadley, Hatfield, and Amherst.

Nathaniel 1601 died in Hadley in 1676.  Three of his sons were killed in the Indian attacks associated with King Philip’s War in New England: John (1630-1675), Joseph (1675), and Azariah (1648-1675).  Nathaniel 1643 and Hannah lived in Hadley raised their nine children there.   I am descended their third child, my 9th great-grandfather John Dickinson (1667-1761)John was born in Hadley, and he married Sarah Meekins (1666-1707) there in 1688.  Sarah was also descended from an early settler in Hartford County; her grandfather (and my 11th great-grandfather) Thomas Bunce (1612-1683) had come to the county in 1636, although he settled in the town of Hartford, not Wethersfield.  Thomas married a woman named Sarah (I don’t know her last name) in Hartford in 1644, and they had five children, including my 10th great-grandmother Mary Bunce (1645-1682)Mary married Thomas Meekins (1643-1675) in Hartford in 1665, and lived in Hadley for the next ten years, before Thomas Meekins was also killed in an Indian attack in 1675.  Sarah Meekins, their oldest child, was nine years old when her father died.   The Meekins family does not appear to have ever lived in Connecticut; instead, they came directly from Boston to western Massachusetts.

This map shows the impact on this family of the 1677 raid on Hatfield; the Dickinson property is next to the red star.  In this raid, my 11th great-uncle Obadiah Dickinson (1639-1698), who was 8th child of Nathaniel 1601, was captured and carried off to Canada, along with one of his children.  They soon returned to Hadley.  Obadiah’s cousin Hannah was also carried off during this raid; she married Stephen Jennings (also on this map, north of the Dickinson property near the Connecticut River) in May of 1677, after her first husband was killed in the Turner’s Falls Fight the previous year.  Hannah bore her first child (whom she named “Captivity”) in March of 1678, and she and her child were soon returned to Hatfield.  Hannah’s story does not end there – in 1708, her son was wounded and her son-in-law was killed by Indians.  And in 1710, her second husband, Steven Jennings, was killed by Indians.

So, just to recap:  Nathaniel 1601 and his wife Ann lost three sons to the violence attendant to this war, and one of their other children was captured (along with one of their grandchildren) and taken to Canada.

Pedigree Hampshire Family 2
Family 2

The story of this family is quite different from the previous family.  The earliest immigrant ancestor in this line was my 11th great-grandfather Rowland Stebbins (1590-1671), who came to Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1634, and relocated in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1639.  He was a friend of William Pynchon (see above) and traveled with him to Springfield and again, 20 years later, to Northampton.  He had married Sarah Whiting (1591-1649) in England, where they had four children before coming to Massachusetts, including my 10th great-grandfather John Stebbins (1626-1678), who was their third child.

John married Ann Munson in Springfield in 1646.  They had three children before Ann’s death in 1656.  In that year, John married Abigail Bartlett (1636-1710) and moved to Northampton.  Abigail was the daughter of Robert Bartlett (1612-1676) and Ann Warriner (1616-1676)Robert was killed during the Northampton raid in 1676.  As one account notes:  “Northampton was attacked, its defences broken through in three places, and five houses and five barns burned.  A large number of soldiers being quartered there the assailants soon drew off, but not until they had killed Robert Bartlett and Thomas Holton, and two other men and two women.”  Robert’s wife Ann died two months later; I have not been able to determine the cause of her death. http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~shopefamily/misc/Tree/famf494.html

John and Abigail had 11 children in Northampton, including my 9th great-grandfather Samuel Stebbins (1658-1732).  But before I go on to talk about Samuel, I want to talk about John a little more.  John Stebbins is associated with a peculiar set of events in Springfield in 1656 and Northampton in 1674 – two witchcraft accusations against Mary Parsons.  The story of the Mary Parson’s witchcraft case is too detailed to go into here, but her story connects with John and Abigail in an interesting way.  The local suspicions about Mary Parson’s did not go away after her acquittal on witchcraft charges in 1675.  When John died (under what were described as “mysterious” circumstances – he was killed in an accident at the sawmill that he ran in the town) in 1678, Samuel Bartlett (Abigail’s brother-in-law) began to gather evidence against Mary to bring yet another witchcraft charge against her.  The court in Boston was apparently not convinced by Samuel’s charges, although the records of the case have disappeared. (More detail about this story can be found at http://larkturnthehearts.blogspot.com/2007/11/early-america-mary-bliss-parsons.html.)

Samuel Stebbins married Mary French (1657-1696) in Northampton in 1678.  Mary’s grandparents were Thomas French (1584-1639) and Susanna Riddlesdale (1584-1658), who married in England and had several children there, including my 10th great-grandfather John French (1622-1697), before they came to Massachusetts in the 1630s. John married Freedom Kingsley (1636-1689) in Bristol,  Massachusetts, where they had 11 children, including my 9th great-grandmother Mary French, who was their eighth child.   John and Freedom came to Northampton sometime in the 1680s – possibly to join Freedom’s brother, Enos Kingsley, who had moved there with the first group of settlers in 1659.

Samuel was not the most upright citizen of Northampton.  Mary sued him for divorce in 1691, alleging that he had fathered several children with other women in town, and had abandoned her several years earlier.  He was accused of other crimes as well – for example, selling strong drink contrary to law.  He apparently skipped town before his expected appearance in court and fled to Rhode Island, where he met and married Sarah Williams.  I think I am descended from Samuel and Mary’s daughter Mercy Stebbins (1682-1753), who was born in Northampton but married in Springfield in 1703 and soon moved to Worcester County, Massachusetts.  I say “I think,” because the records of Mercy’s parentage are a little unclear.  If Samuel and Mary are not actually her parents, then never mind.

Map of Northampton with housing lots
This map of Northampton shows the original lot allocations. The two red stars mark where my Northampton ancestors lived. Robert Bartlett is at the bottom of the map; the Nathaniel Dickinson at the top of the map is a cousin of “my” Nathaniel Dickinson who moved from Wethersfield to Hadley, as I mentioned above, but I thought I would mark the house anyway.
Pedigree Hampshire Family 4
Family 3

This is a very small stub of a family, but I want to give it its due.  My 10th great-grandfather Andrew Warner (1599-1684) married Mary Humphrey (1601-1672) in England, where they had five children before moving to Massachusetts in 1632.  Andrew and Mary had three more children after moving to Massachusetts, including my 9th great-grandmother Hannah Warner (1632-1682), who was their sixth child.

After initially settling in Cambridge, they relocated to Hartford, Connecticut, with Reverend Thomas Hooker in 1636.  After Mary died in 1672, Andrew remarried and moved to Hadley in 1659.  He was one of the leaders of the group of dissidents in Hartford called the “Withdrawers” who organized the move to Hadley.  It was at his house in 1660 that the migrants settled on the town structure, which was to create two plantation, one on each side of the river.  Warner chose to move to the west side of the river, to establish the town of Hatfield.  We saw what happened to that plan just a few years later.

In addition to his role as general rabble-rouser and founder of towns, Andrew was a maltster – someone who prepares barley for use in brewing.  Lots of products are made from malted grain – prominently among them, beer and whiskey.  Andrew also had a still – used to distill cordials, sweet waters, and medicinal waters from herbs, flower, spices, and the like.

If Hadley was a happy town, it was at least in part due to Andrew.

Week 21 May 22, 2020 Kings County, New York


Source of map: Wikipedia


Kings County, New York, is coterminous with Brooklyn, one of the five boroughs that make up New York City.  Brooklyn began as the Dutch settlement of “Breuckelen,’ on the west end of Long Island.  The Dutch settled here in 1614, and their community thrived through 1660, when it was taken over by the British and renamed New York (after the Duke of York, who reportedly had 10,000 men).

My ancestors were among the early settlers of this borough, and they lived there through the first quarter of the 18th century.  From Brooklyn, they moved west – to New Jersey, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Arizona.  My mother, Violet Henrietta Workman, was born in Texas and met my father in Tucson, Arizona, in the late 1930s.  World War II brought them back to the east coast, where they lived the rest of their lives.  I was born in Virginia and have lived here my whole life.

The Evolution of Kings County, New York

Unlike most of the counties I have written about in this series of essays, the evolution of the counties in New York was not a very important factor in the history of King’s County.  But I’ll give you the maps anyway.  These maps are from https://www.mapofus.org.

NY 1683NY 1915

The pedigree charts on the following pages introduce you to my ancestors who lived in Kings County.  Before I go any further, I want to comment on the difficulty of researching ancestors with these Dutch names.  I was not familiar with the patronymic Dutch naming system (more on that later), and I was confronted with records that employed imaginative spelling and inconsistent efforts to convert these Dutch names to English equivalents.  English-speaking researchers over the years made valiant efforts to make sense of these records, but in their efforts they often introduced errors that are hard to undo and correct.  I have done the best I could in the time that I have, but I know that there is more to do.

Brooklyn Pedigree Chart 1
This is my first set of ancestors in Kings County (Brooklyn).  My mother’s maiden name was Workman.


Brooklyn Pedigree Chart 2
My connection to the people on this chart and on the next chart gets a little complicated; Geertje Wyckoff (on the left in this chart) married Samuel Wyckoff (on the left in the next chart).  They shared a common 2nd great-grandfather, which makes them third cousins.  Elizabeth Wyckoff (who appears under Samuel Wyckoff on the chart above and under Geertje Wyckoff on the chart below) married Jacob Workman (from the first chart).
Brooklyn Pedigree Chart 3
See the explanation under the previous chart.

A (Very) Little History

The Dutch founded the colony of New Netherland in 1614, six years before the Pilgrim settlement at Plymouth seven years after the Jamestown settlement.  When I began exploring the history of this colony for this part of my family’s history, I was surprised (and chagrined) at how little I knew about it.  Apart from the fact that the settlers “bought” the land from the Indians for some small amount of “wampum,” that a peg-legged general named Peter Stuyvesant was involved somehow, and that the Dutch soon turned this colony over to the English (who named it New York) I knew nothing about this colony.

When I realized that the Dutch held this colony for more than 60 years, through an important period in the early settlement of the American colonies, I was annoyed that I didn’t remember more about the colony’s settlement.  I assumed that I had either been taught this material and had forgotten it, or that I had not been taught it because it was Dutch history, not English, and therefore deemed not important.

I did not expect to discover that I was not taught this history because it was not well known to anyone, not even to historians of the colonial Atlantic world.  In a recent book written by Russell Shorto, The Island at the Center of the World, the author describes his discovery of the archives of the early Dutch colony.  Hidden away on the mysteriously unmarked eighth floor of the New York State Library in Albany he found Dr. Charles Gehring, a historian who had spent almost 30 years studying an obscure archive of the early Dutch settlement.  Written in loopy, almost indecipherable 17th century Dutch script, these manuscripts required the keen eye of someone with historical insight and the ability to transcribe and translate the language – skills that Gehring uniquely possessed.

Gehring has thus far devoted three decades to the translation and analysis of over 12,000 handwritten sheets of records of this colony containing information previously unknown to scholars and history books.  It was reassuring to know that I was unaware of the history of this colony because, by and large, no one knew much about the history of this colony.  As Gehring translated the records of the colony, the things he discovered began to make their way into the scholarly journals and into common knowledge that would eventually make its way into textbooks.

Meanwhile, I discovered that there was a lot to know about the contributions of the Dutch to American history, and that the role of my Dutch ancestors could be dissected and understood.  Much of what follows in the history sections of this essay comes from Gehring’s book.

The Atlantic World In The 17th Century

One thing I discovered in the course of researching this book was how busy the North Atlantic was during the 16th and 17th centuries.  Mariners from Spain, France, Portugal, England, and the Netherlands were traversing the Atlantic in an ongoing quest to discover trade routes and the seemingly eternal goal – gold – in the lands that the improving navigational tools of the time allowed them to explore.  This quest for treasure and trade turned into a competition for glory as these nations sought political and imperial dominance in Europe and beyond.

This competition extended into the Americas.  Spain explored and conquered kingdoms in what we now know as Central and South America and the Caribbean; France explored Canada to the north and Florida to the South; Portugal competed with Spain in exploring South America until the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 divided areas of exploration between Spain and Portugal; England’s exploration focused on areas of North America we now know as the United States and Canada; and the Dutch from Holland (or the Netherlands) gained a foothold in this new land in the Caribbean, in South America, and in the area we now know as New York.

Although Dutch explorations get little attention in the study of American history, it should not be surprising that the Dutch were extraordinarily competent mariners.  They were intimately acquainted with the sea; keeping it back was their way of life, and as Europe’s ship-builders, sailors, and pilots – and pirates – the sea was their key to empire.

It was this out there orientation that made the Dutch republic in the 16th century so different from England at the same time.  England was about to enter into a century of religious civil war; Holland was a remarkably tolerant place – tolerance that would in the following years give haven to Jews from around Europe, to John Locke, to Huguenots, and to the Pilgrims.

Perhaps the most important difference reflected in the Netherlands was its form of government – a Republic.  The seven Dutch provinces were not united in a republic in a post-Enlightenment sense of the word, but they were anomalous in a Europe characterized by monarchs in the style of the Sun King, Louis XIV.

Henry Hudson, an English explorer, was introduced into the Dutch Republic at a propitious time.  He had already made two unsuccessful voyages to find a new route to the “East.” One trip was by what was termed a “mad” voyage over the top of the world – not “west to go east,” as others had in mind, but literally straight over the top of the world.  It was not surprising that this was unsuccessful; what was surprising was that he survived it.  His next effort was a northeast trip—over the top of Russia.  This was also unsuccessful.

Hudson was still ambitious, but somewhat depressed at his lack of success.  He had heard of and befriended a fellow explorer and adventurer, John Smith (of Jamestown fame), whose success represented what the New World had to offer.  Hudson decided he wanted to try what Smith had tried.

England, however, wanted no more of Hudson.  He decided to go to Amsterdam to try his luck.  In 1609, the Dutch agreed to provide him with a ship Halve Maen (“Half Moon”) and a crew of 16 to find a route – but again to the northeast.  He argued against this, but they were adamant.  So he just disobeyed them and attempted a northwest route anyway, once he was out of sight of land.  But this was just at the beginning of his voyage; following John Smith’s lead (and notes), Hudson soon turned to the southwest in an effort to find a way straight through the North American continent.  After coming within 10 miles of Jamestown and his friend, he turned around and headed north.  He realized, of course, that he had been in English waters and was sailing for a Dutch concern that would not be welcome there.

After poking into various bays and inlets along the coast on their way north along the east coast of North America, Hudson and his crew despaired of ever finding a way through the continent.  When they encountered New York Harbor (which they perceived as three rivers), their hopes were revived; this was “as likely a channel to the other side of the world” as they could hope for.  But as they sailed up what would come to be named the Hudson River, the river became shallower and narrower, and it soon became apparent that this would not be a way to Asia.

Hudson then sailed back to Europe, only to find that his voyage and subsequent discoveries fed into the existing uneasy political climate in Europe.  The English wanted to claim Hudson and his discovery as their own; the Dutch claimed that he had sailed on their ship using their funds and that his discovery therefore belonged to them.

Despite this reaction in Europe, Hudson continued to believe that he could find a way to Asia.  Three wealthy young English aristocrats funded another Hudson voyage, but it didn’t end well.  Finally resisting Hudson’s insistence in finding a northwest passage, his crew mutinied and set him and a small party of his supporters – including his son, John – adrift in the North Atlantic to die.

Which they did.

The Establishment Of New Amsterdam

During the 15 years after Hudson’s death in 1610, the Dutch exploited the resources of the river they had come to call Hudson’s River – furs, primarily – without establishing a permanent settlement.  However, that was to change in 1624-25.  Settlers and adventurers took the 3-month journey in the ships Fortune and Abraham’s Sacrifice to create a new home.  Contacts with the Indians in the area had become routine and the economic benefits of a settlement were expected to be substantial.  The Dutch West India Company (created in the model of the earlier Dutch East India Company) was eager to exploit the new land and fill its coffers as successfully as its predecessor had done in Asia.

To ensure the survival and security of the settlement, the Dutch wanted to settle young families, so they set a priority on providing passage for young couples, even marrying four couples during the voyage to America.  When they got to the harbor that Hudson had discovered more than 15 years earlier, they saw a diverse landscape of sandy coastal plain in one direction, rolling upland hills in another, and craggy escarpments in yet another direction.  They landed in a marshy expanse of tidal wetlands.  Coming from the low-lying Dutch lands, they settlers found this new land pleasing, familiar, and enticing.

The Dutch wanted to lay claim to as much land as possible; for them, claiming the land meant living on it, so they spread the settlers along the three rivers that described their land holding:  the Connecticut River to the north and east, the Hudson River, and the Delaware River to the south.  Two families and six single men were sent to live on the Connecticut River; two families and 8 single men were sent to live on the Delaware; eight men stayed on a small island in the harbor; and the rest of the families sailed a further 150 miles up the Hudson river to its junction with the Mohawk River (just north of the current city of Albany).

The colonists, scattered over 250 miles, began to clear land, construct defenses, and sow grain.  More ships arrived and deals were made with local Indians.  The Indians seemed to be peaceful and hospitable.

Things were to change.

By 1626, several settlements on the Hudson River were in turmoil.  An Indian “massacre” was reported at the site that would later become the city of Albany; the Dutch governor in another settlement was accused of unfair and arbitrary leadership.  A new leader then came onto the scene:  Peter Minuit, who took control of a newly formed council of settlers and negotiated the famous deal for the “purchase” of Manhattan from the Indians for the sum of $24.00.

Safety was his primary concern, and Manhattan was a safe location.  This land purchase is about the only thing that most of us know about the colony of New Amsterdam, and the fact that we know it reflects a great deal about the stereotypes we hold about Indians in North America.  Why would they sell such a valuable piece of property for such a paltry sum?  We know now that land ownership meant a different thing to Indians than it did to Europeans, but this transaction has nonetheless stuck in our collective memories.  What we know now suggests that the Indians fully intended to continue to use the land that they sold; the Dutch had different intentions.

After “purchasing” Manhattan, Minuit traveled to the far-flung Dutch settlements, ordering settlers to regroup in Manhattan – New Amsterdam – which would be the center of things from then on.  Within a few days, the 200 or so settlers had gathered together along the southwestern flank of Manhattan.  Within a year or so, they had constructed 30 wooden houses and one stone building to serve as the headquarters of the West India Company.  Two windmills were built at the southernmost tip of the island – one to grind grain, one to saw lumber.  Minuit also oversaw the construction of a fort on the southwestern point of the island.

The diversity and free thinking that characterized Dutch society was evident in the colony.  Its eclectic population seemed at times ungovernable, and Minuit was singularly unable, it appeared, to govern the settlement he had created.  Events in Europe continued to play out in New Amsterdam, as the continuing struggle for Empire among England, Spain, and Holland would leave its mark on the shores of the New World.

My Ancestors in Kings County

All of this history sets the stage for the arrival of my ancestors in New Amsterdam – specifically in Breuckelen, later to be named Kings County.  As I indicated earlier, I have two main family lines that run through this county – the Workman family (my mother’s maiden name) and the Wyckoff family (who married into the Workman family five generations removed from Kings County.  I’ll talk about each of these lines in turn.

Apologies in advance for errors I make in spelling these surnames.  There seems to have been little consistency in the spelling at the time, and over the years the spellings have changed – sometimes intentionally by researchers trying to clean up the records, but also sometimes by researchers who misread the names.  My intention is to use the most correct and common spellings, but I may slip up.

Also, a word about the Dutch patronymic naming system.  Prior to 1664, when the British forced the Dutch settlers in the newly named New York colony to adopt fixed surnames, the Dutch had used a patronymic naming system.  This means that the children’s second name was derived from their father’s name.  For example, if a father named Pieter name his son Jan, then the son’s full name would be Jan Pieterse – Jan, the son of Pieter.  If Jan went on to have a son named Dirck, then the son’s full name would be Dirck Janse – Dirck, son of Jan.  And so on.

This naming system can have genealogy benefits – if you know a person’s first name and his patronymic, then there’s a good chance you know his father’s name.  This was useful to me as I tried to untangle these Dutch names that were quite unfamiliar to me.  When the Dutch settlers adopted fixed surnames under British rule, that process sent the genealogical records into turmoil; the surnames chosen by the Dutch settlers were sometimes arbitrary, and the settlers were slow to adapt to this change.  The records show some back formation (surnames that were adopted only after 1664 added to records created before that date), and a lot of inconsistent spellings.

So let’s dig in.

Brooklyn Pedigree Chart 1

My mother’s maiden name was Workman, and it was probably the first name I ever associated with genealogy.  It seems like we always had a thick brownish-red book called Workman Family History, written by Thelma Anderson, around the house.  This book was a novelty because it contained the names of me and my close family members, and if you looked back at the beginning you could see names of people born in the 1500s and even the 1400s.  I couldn’t imagine how the research to write such a book had been conducted, and although I marveled at the book I never anticipated doing anything like what Miss Anderson had done.

Workman family history
This is the book


I don’t have a copy of the Workman Family History any more – I think it got lost in the shuffle as my parents moved after they retired.  I do have a digitized version of it.  I also have enormous on-line resources at my fingertips to help with the tasks of genealogical research, and I still marvel at the work done by Miss Anderson.  I have done a little research on her, and have discovered that she was born in 1915, was descended from one of my Workman relatives, and took over this research project from her mother, who pursued the story of the Workman family with a passion.  I’m not going to go into detail on her work in this essay, but the introduction to her books explains her research and is an invaluable aid to understanding the Workman family.  Her book contains errors that later researchers have commented on and corrected; but the existence of these errors does not degrade the value of her research.  I stand on her shoulders as I try to understand this family.

The earliest of my Workman ancestors was my 9th great-grandfather Jan Jantze Woertman (1598-1647).  My practice in these essays has been to focus on ancestors in the United States, but I’m going to talk about Jan anyway, even though he lived his whole life in Amsterdam.  I don’t know much about him, other than that it was his death which likely led his wife and son to emigrate to America in 1647.  This is one of those situations where Thelma Anderson got it wrong; her suppositions about Jan’s roots in England have been corrected by researchers who found conflicting information in the Amsterdam Archives – a research source not available to Miss Anderson in the middle of the 20th century when she was writing her book.

After the death of Jan Jantze Woertman’s, his wife,  Hannah Harmtje, came to New Amsterdam in 1647 with her son, my 8th great-grandfather Dirck Janse Woertman (1631-1708) and  his two sisters.  Dirck was 16 years old at the time.  We know the approximate date of his immigration because when he took the oath of allegiance (like a citizenship oath) in 1687 he dthat he had been in the country 40 years.

Dirck’s life is thoroughly documented.  He married Marrietje Teunis Denyse (1644-1691) in 1660, and they were admitted to membership in the Brooklyn Reformed Dutch Church the following year.  He served as a town officer, owned property in Brooklyn, and took the oath of allegiance there in 1687.  Some records suggest that he operated the ferry between Brooklyn and Manhattan, but I’m not sure about that.

His wife’s family background is interesting.  She was the daughter of Teunice Nyssen (1613-1663) and Femmetje Seals (1626-1666)Femmetje’s father, known as Jan Seals (1590-1645) in the records of New Amsterdam, had come to Charlestown, Massachusetts, as part of the Puritan Great Migration in 1632, where court records identifying him as “John Sayles” note that he was “the first known thief that was notoriously observed in the country,” and that he “stole corn from many people in this scarce time.”  These records go on to note that he was “removed to New Amsterdam” with his daughter Femmetje in 1638.  Apparently his behavior in New Amsterdam was no better than his behavior in Massachusetts.  He was convicted of various offenses such as “damaging hogs” in 1638 and “chasing and wounding cattle” in 1643.

Dirck and Marrietje had 13 children, including my 7th great-grandfather Jan Dircksen Woertman (1665-1712).  (See how the patronymic naming system works?).  Jan married Anna Maria Andriessen (1670-1712) in Brooklyn in 1690.  Anna’s ancestors also go back two generations in Brooklyn; both of her grandfathers, Juriaen Andriessen (1607-1654) and Pierre Prat (1620-1663), were in New Amsterdam by the middle of the 17th century.

Juriaen had married Jannetje Jans Bout (1614-1682) and they lived Manhattan, where they had four children, including my 8th great-grandfather, Andries Juriaenszen (1649-1681).  Andries married Annetje Pieterse Prat (1652-1698), who was the daughter of Anna’s other grandfather, Pierre Prat (1620-1663).  Pierre and his wife, Marie Philippe (1624-1658), were French Huguenots who fled first to Leyden, Holland, where they had six children before coming to New Amsterdam in 1659.  Pierre’s name begins to appear as Pieter, and his daughter Annetje carries the patronymic Pieterse in acknowledgement of this change.

Jan and Anna moved their family from Brooklyn to New Jersey in 1699; their fifth child, Elizabeth, was christened in Somerville.

My Workman family connection with New Amsterdam does not end here, however.  Jan and Anna’s son, my 6th great-grandfather Abraham Workman (1709-1749), married Annetje Smith (1706-1782) in New Jersey in 1723.  Her father was Abel Smith (1684-1715), and I have discovered that the only thing more difficult than penetrating the Dutch names in this family tree is documenting someone with the last name of Smith.  So I’m not even going to try.  But Anna’s mother was Tryntye Wybrantz (1684-1716), whose lineage takes us right back into New Amsterdam.  I don’t know much about this family.  Tryntye’s grandfather, Abraham Wybrant, seems to have come to New Amsterdam by way of Curacao, in the Netherlands Antilles off the coast of South America.  I don’t know enough about the Dutch settlement of Curacao to make sense of how Abraham might have made his way from Curacao to New Amsterdam.

Although the family had left New Amsterdam (now New York) by 1700, I need to tell you about Abraham and Anna’s son, my 5th great-grandfather Jacob Workman (1740-1821).  He married Elizabeth Wyckoff (1749-1823) in 1778; her family also takes us back into colonial New Amsterdam, even more deeply and more prolifically than the Workman family.

Brooklyn Pedigree Chart 2
This pedigree chart shows my New Netherlands ancestors on my Wyckoff family line.

Let’s just say – I have a boatload of direct ancestors in this line.  Like, 40 of them:  11 gg – 5, 10 gg – 13, 9 gg – 7, 8 gg – 8, 7gg – 4, 6 gg – 2, and 5gg – 1.  That is, officially, a boatload.  And I don’t really know how to spell many of the names.  Other than that, this will go swimmingly.

This pedigree chart starts on the left with my 6th great-grandfather, Samuel Wyckoff (1725-1813).  He was the father of Elizabeth Wyckoff, who I told you about in the previous section of this essay.  His ancestry goes back to my 10th great-grandfather, Pieter Claesen Wyckoff (1620-1694).  I know a fair amount about Pieter.  He was born in the Netherlands (some records say Sweden, but I haven’t seen anything to prove this).  He came to America in 1637 as an indentured servant to the van Rensselaer family.  He married Grietje Cornelis VanNess (1627-1689) in 1645.  Grietje was the daughter of  my 11th great-grandfather Cornelius Hendrick Van Ness (1599-1681) and Maycke Hendricks vanderBurchgraeff (1602-1684).  Cornelius and Maycke had come to New Amsterdam in 1641, and he appears in the land records of the colony in 1642.  He may not have been the most productive of neighbors:  according to one source, another resident “brought actions against him for calling him a liar and a cheat and for throwing oat straw on the dump heap out of spite against the director and to the detriment of the next lessee.”  I’m not sure what that was all about, but it doesn’t sound good.

Pieter was a prominent figure in the colony.  He acquired land, became a local judge, and helped establish the Flatlands Dutch Reformed Church in Brooklyn.  There is a bronze plaque in the church honoring him.  His original name was Pieter Claesen – Pieter, son of Claes, in the traditional Dutch naming system.  When the British took over the colony in 1664, they forced the Dutch settlers to adopt a fixed surname.  He selected Wijckoff, which soon became Wyckoff.  There are a number of possible reasons for his choice of this name, but none of them are singularly persuasive.

One of the best things about my Wyckoff family line is that their house is still standing and is identified as the oldest house in the state of New York.  Here’s a picture of the house:


Peter Wyckoff hous sign
This sign stands outside the Wyckoff House Museum

Pieter and Grietje had 10 children, including my 9th great-grandfather Claes Pieterse Wyckoff (1646-1714).  Claes was born in Beverwyck, near Albany, but moved to Brooklyn with his parents when they settled there in the 1650s.  (There is some confusion about Claes; some records talk about him as “Nicholas Claesen Wyckoff,” but under the Dutch patronymic system that would mean that his father was named Claes, and it wasn’t.)  He married Sara Pieterse Montfoort (1656-1704) in 1672.  Sara’s father, Pieter Montfoort (1616-1661), was born in France and came to New Amsterdam sometime before Sara’s birth in 1656.  I don’t know the name of Sara’s mother.

Claes and Sara had seven children, including my 8th great-grandfather Pieter Claeszen Wyckoff (1675-1759), who was their first child.  Pieter married Willemtje Jansen Schenck (1677-1754) in 1696, and they soon moved to New Jersey.  I’ll write about them in more detail when I focus on Somerset County, NJ, in Week 41 (October 9, 2020) of this blog series.

Willemtje’s family also takes us back into early New Amsterdam.  Her grandparents Martin Schenck Van Nydeck (1584-1684) and Maria Margaretha de Boeckhorst (1596-1688) came to New Amsterdam with their family around 1650. This family included my 9th great-grandfather Jan Martense Schenck (1631-1687)Jan is remembered today because the house that he built in 1675 in a community called New Amersfort (later, Flatlands) survived into the 20th century.  In 1952, it was dismantled and presented to the Brooklyn Museum, where it became part of an exhibit on early architecture of New York.

Source of picture: Wikipedia
Jan Martense Schenck House Brooklyn Museum
This is the reconstructed Schenck house in the Brooklyn Museum

Jan married Jannetje Van Voorhees (1658-1709) in 1675.  Jannetje was the daughter of  Steven Coerte VanVoorhees (1600-1684) and Willempje Roeloffse Seubering (1619-1690)Steven and Willempje had come to New Amsterdam in 1660 and purchased a farm at Flatlands in that same year.  Steven been married before, but had no children through that marriage.  He and Willempie had four children, including Jannetje, who was their first child.  Jan and Jannetje had 11 children, including my 8th great-grandmother Willemtje Jansen Schenck, who married Pieter Claeszen Wyckoff (see above).

Pieter and Williemtje married in Brooklyn but all of their children were born in New Jersey.  Once again, I’ll have more to say about them in October.  The only thing I need to say now is that their oldest child Nicholas Pieterse Wyckoff (1699-1778) (my 7th great-grandfather) married Elizabeth Maritie Delgyn (1704-1778) in New Jersey sometime before 1723, when their first son was born.  Elizabeth’s parents, Hans Jacob Delgyn (1679-1710) and Maria Catherine Deveaux Jung (1680-1735) had come to New Jersey from Germany by 1700 and had six children, including my 6th great-grandmother Elizabeth, who married Samuel Wyckoff (see above)

Now we have another tricky set of relationships to unravel, because Samuel married his third cousin Geertje Wyckoff (1725-1778)Geertje was also descended from Pieter Claeszen Wyckoff and Giertje Cornelis Van Ness (see above), but through a different son, Cornelius Pieterse Wyckoff (1656-1746)Cornelius married Gertrude Van Arsdale (1659-17130) in The Reformed Protest Dutch Church of Flatbush in Kings County.

Gertrude was the daughter of Simon Janz van Arsdalen (1627-1710) and Pieterje Claessen Vanschouwen (1640-1698)Simon was born in Belgium, came to America about 1653, and married Pieterje in Flatbush in 1658.  Pieterje was the daughter of my 11th great-grandparents Claes Cornelissen Van Schouwen (1607-1674) and Metje Herperts (1610-1671), who married in Amsterdam in 1632 and had two children there before coming to New Amsterdam, where Pieterje was born in 1640.

Simon and Pieterje’s daughter Gertrude Van Arsdale married Cornelius Wyckoff (see above) in Brooklyn in 1678, where Cornelius owned almost 200 acres of land.  He appears frequently in the church and land records of Flatbush.  They were members of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in Flatbush, and they had 12 children, including my 8th great-grandfather Simon Cornelise Wyckoff (1683-1776). In 1701, Cornelius and others in Flatbush bought 1000 acres of land in Somerset County, NJ, which they then sold for considerable profit.  Later on, he bought more land in New Jersey, and gave 300 acres to each of his sons – John, Peter, Simon, and Jacob – when they married.

This is the current Reformed Dutch Church in Flatbush, where so many of my ancestors worshipped.  This is an 18th century building that replaced the early building, constructed in 1654.  The records of this church include many of the names of my ancestors, as do the stones in the graveyard. Source of picture: Wikipedia

My 8th great-grandfather Simon Cornelise Wyckoff married Gertie VanDerVliet (1684-1759) in New Jersey in 1705, apparently taking advantage of the 300 acres purchased for him by his father.  Gertie’s family also goes back deep into the history of New Amsterdam; her grandfather (and my 10th great-grandfather Dirck Janse Vander Vliet (1612-1699)Dirck married three times in Holland before coming to New Amsterdam around 1660; his third wife, Geertgen Gerrits (1625 – 1689), is the one of interest to me, because I am descended from Dirck and Geertgen’s son, Jan Dirckszen Vander Vliet (1654-1722).  He was born in the Netherlands but came to New Amsterdam with his parents when he was a child.  He married Geertje Janse Verkerk (1658-1750) in Kings County in 1683.

Geertje was the daughter of Jan Janse Verkert (1630-1683) and Mayke Gybertse Gerrets (1632-1688)Jan and Mayke came to New Amsterdam in 1663 with their five children.  Geertje married Jan Dirckszen Vander Vliet (see above).

Remember Simon Wyckoff 1683, who married Gertie VanDerVliet?  Try to keep up.  They had 11 children, including my 7th  great-grandfather John Wyckoff (1708-1775), who was their first child.   This is where things get complicated once again; John married his first cousin Geertje “Gitty” Vliet (1711-1740), whose father was Gertie VanDerVliet’s brother, Jan Janse VanDerVliet (1683-1776).

By the time John and Gitty married sometime before 1725, they were living in New Jersey, so I don’t have to say anything more about them right now – except that their daughter, my 6th great-grandmother Geertje Wyckoff  (1725-1778), married her third cousin Samuel Wyckoff (see above), and that their daughter, my 5th great-grandmother Elizabeth Wyckoff (1749-1823) married Jacob Workman (1740-1821) in the 1770s, thus uniting these two lines of my ancestors in Kings County, Brooklyn, New York.

Week 20 May 15, 2020 James City County, Virginia


Source of map: Wikipedia

First settled by the English colonists in 1607 at Jamestown in the Virginia Colony, the County was formally created in 1634 as James City Shire by order of King Charles I.  James City County is considered one of only five original shires of Virginia to still be extant today in essentially the same political form.  The Jamestown 2007 celebration marked the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown.

Evolution of County Boundaries

These maps are all taken from https://www.mapofus.org.

Virginia 1634
James City County (JC in the middle of the map, to the east of CC (Charles City), was one of the eight original “shires” established in the Virginia Colony in 1634.  At this point in its history, the county extended both north and south of the James River.
Virginia 1651
In 1652, Surry County was created from the part of James City south of the James River.  The boundaries of James City County did not change again for 350 years.
Virginia 1900
In 1900, Virginia formalized the status of the independent cities in Virginia; Williamsburg was carved from the southeast east of James City County.  There were no further changes in the county boundaries.

A (Very) Little History

Most school children in America learn about Jamestown as they study American history (although they are usually taught that the Pilgrims, latecomers who did not land at Plymouth, Massachusetts, until 1620, were the first settlers in this new land).  They are told about the arrival of the three ships – the Godspeed, the Susan Constant, and the Discovery – and the establishment of the iconic triangular fort that identified the settlement.  They learn about John Smith and Pocahontas – although they probably get the details wrong (most people do).  Disney even made a movie about this.  If they live anywhere on the east coast – and certainly if they live in Virginia – they have probably visited Jamestown and its neighboring sights that make up what Virginia calls its Historic Triangle – Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg.

Of course, there is more to this story.  Wikipedia does as good a job as anyone describing the high points of this history:

“The Virginia Company of London was granted a proprietorship (charter) by King James I of England to attempt to establish a colony in the area we now know as Virginia. England had been at war with Spain and was seeking both capital funds and income in the form of royalties. In December, 1606, three ships set sail from England, led by Captain Christopher Newport. Upon reaching the New World at Cape Henry, they selected a site to settle about 40 miles (64 km) inland from the coast along a river to be better protected from attacks by sea from other Europeans. Soon after the establishment of Jamestown in 1607 in the new Colony of Virginia, English settlers first explored and then began settling more of the areas adjacent to Hampton Roads and along the James River.

“The first five years were very difficult, and the majority of the colonists perished. In 1612, imported strains of tobacco cultivated in Virginia by colonist John Rolfe were successfully exported and a cash crop had been identified.

“In 1619, the Virginia Company of London under a new leader, Sir Edwin Sandys, instituted a number of changes, to help stimulate more investment and attract settlers from England. In the long view, foremost among these was the establishment of what became the House of Burgesses, the first representative legislative body in the European settlement of North America, predecessor of today’s Virginia General Assembly, first convened by a Royal Governor, Sir George Yeardley, of Flowerdew Hundred Plantation. Also in 1619, the plantations and developed portions of the Colony were divided into four “incorporations” or “citties,” as they were then called. These were (east to west) Elizabeth Cittie (initially known as Kecoughtan), James Cittie, Charles Cittie, and Henrico Cittie. Each cittie covered a very large area. Elizabeth Cittie not only included land on both sides of the James River, but most of what we now know as South Hampton Roads and also included Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

“The Virginia Company’s “James Cittie” stretched across the Peninsula to the York River, and included the seat of government for the entire colony at Jamestown Island. Each of the four citties extended across the James River, the major thoroughfare of commerce for the settlers, and included land on both the north and south shores. With the incentives of 1619, many new developments, known as “hundreds” were established.

“About this same time, downriver from Jamestown, in the southeastern end of what is now James City County near present-day Grove, a fortified settlement known as Wolstenholme Towne was established near the river and just east of the confluence of Grove Creek on a land grant known as Martin’s Hundred. However, the population of the town, named for Sir John Wolstenholme, a principal of the Martin’s Hundred Society investors back in England, was severely decimated during the Indian Massacre of 1622, and many men, women and children were killed or abducted. While it was rebuilt, Wolstenholme Towne was eventually abandoned about 1643, and soon even the location was forgotten as it became one of the lost towns of Virginia.

“The privately owned Virginia Company lost its charter in 1624, and Virginia became a royal colony. In 1634, the English Crown created eight shires (i.e., counties) in the colony of Virginia, with a total population of approximately 5,000 inhabitants. James City Shire, as well as the James River and Jamestown which had been named earlier, took its name from King James I, the father of the then-king, Charles I. About 1642–43, the name of the James City Shire was changed to James City County.

On high ground midway across the Virginia Peninsula, Middle Plantation was established in 1632 as a fortress in the ongoing conflicts with Native Americans. By 1634, a palisade or fortification had been completed across the peninsula with Middle Plantation at the center. This protected the lower peninsula to the east.

“Middle Plantation and James City County were selected for the site of the College of William and Mary in 1693 and became the location of the capital in 1699 after Jamestown was burned (again) in 1698. Shortly thereafter, Middle Plantation was renamed Williamsburg in honor of King William III of England. The capital was moved to Richmond in 1780 at the outset of the American Revolution. The Battle of Green Spring was fought in the county just a short time before the British surrender at Yorktown. (Green Spring Plantation was the former home of Royal Governor William Berkeley).”

My Ancestors in James City County

Compared to earlier segments in this blog series, my ancestors in James City County seem almost unworthy of notice.  I don’t even really need a pedigree chart to talk about them.  They both came to Jamestown in the early years of the settlement (John Proctor is identified as an “Ancient Planters”), neither of them left proven descendants (although I think they had children, and so do a lot of other researchers), and they were both dead by the end of the 1620s.  But their stories are interesting, so I’m going to tell them.

I connect to both of them through my grandmother, Orpha Lydia Ellefritz.  Her mother, May Wilson, was John Proctor’s 6th great-granddaughter; her father, Howard Ellefritz, was Isaac Madison’s 8th great-grandson.  How about that?

My 11th great-grandfather Isaac Madison (1590-1624)

Isaac Madison came to Virginia in 1608, only one year after the founding of the colony.  He was active in exploring the new country and in making maps.  He made a trip back to England in 1620 but returned to Virginia in 1621.  He survived the Indian massacre of 1622 and subsequently served as a soldier against the Indians.  He was placed in charge of an effort to negotiate with local Indians to procure corn for the settlement, but the negotiations turned violent and Madison captured the chief and his son and killed many of their tribesmen.   Other men in the colony brought a complaint in court against Madison, but he left for England again before the suit could be pursued.  In his absence, it appears that opinion turned in Madison’s favor, and after a short stay in England he returned to Virginia and was restored to a position of leadership, being commissioned a member of the council in 1624.  He apparently died, however, before the commission reached him.

Now, here’s the hard part.

There’s no direct evidence that Isaac had a wife or family.  There was, however, a man named John Madison who received a land patent near the York River, not far from Jamestown.  There is circumstantial evidence to suggest that he is a son of Isaac, but it cannot be proven to a genealogical certainty.  It’s interesting to speculate that I am descended from Isaac, but I can’t prove it.  When I write about New Kent County (Week 31, July 31 2020) I’ll talk more about John Madison and his descendants – which include James Madison, 4th President of the United State.

My 9th great-grandfather John Proctor (1583-1627)

John Proctor came to Virginia in 1609, probably on the Sea Venture, one of nine ships that made up what was called the Third Supply mission to rescue the struggling colony at Jamestown.  These ships were hit by a hurricane, and the Sea Venture, separated from the other ships, washed up on the uninhabited island of Bermuda.  The passengers survived on the bountiful food supply on the island while they built two ships from the trees growing on the island and the scavenged remains of the Sea Venture.  The castaways – who had been feared lost – arrived in Jamestown almost a year later, and found a colony is disarray and despair.  Bowing to the seeming inevitable, Thomas Gates – the new governor whose arrival had been delayed by the shipwreck – decided to abandon Jamestown and head back to England.  As the bedraggled survivors of the colony sailed down the James River on their way back to England, they were met by yet another rescue mission, sent based on the assumption that the Sea Venture and its passengers were lost.  The colonists reluctantly agree to return to Jamestown and the colony was saved.

John made frequent trips back to England, and married there sometime around 1610.  His wife Allis Graye (1587-after 1624) joined John in Virginia in 1619.  They first settled on the western frontier of the colony, just up the river from the town of Henricus.  Proctors Creek, still carrying that name on current maps of the area, marks the location of their land.

Proctor's Plantation in Henrico
The Proctor land is at the location marked “70” on the left of this map, in a red circle. The source of the map is printed on the map itself. The inset is a modern map of this part of Virginia from GoogleMaps.

In 1622 John was away on yet another trip to England to recruit more settlers for the colony (thereby securing for himself the 50 acres of land for each recruit, promised by the colony’s headright system).   On May 22 of that year, the Powhatan Indians under the leadership of Opechancanough launched a coordinated attack on 31 locations up and down the James River, including as far west as the Proctor’s land in Henrico.  Richard Pace, who owned land called Pace’s Paine (the word “paine” meant “meadow” in the 17th century), had been warned about the impending attack by an Indian boy named Chanco, with him he had established an almost paternal relationship.  Richard Pace rowed across the James River to warn the colony’s leaders.  Because these leaders had received a warning of the pending attack, many settlers vacated their isolated land to seek safety back at Jamestown.  Allis Proctor, acting on her own while her husband was away, resisted requests by the colony’s leaders to abandon her property.  She left only when the authorities threatened to burn down her house.  Her house was in fact burned during the Massacre.

When John returned from England later in 1622, he found the colony in disarray and his home burned.  He was granted 200 acres in the area of Pace’s Paine, which was part of James City County but would be carved out as Surry County in 1642.  At the time of the 1623-24 Jamestown census, which was known as “The Living and the Dead,” 33 colonists were identified as living on the southside of the James River, across from Jamestown.

The Proctors were not necessarily upstanding citizens of the colony.  In October 1624 they were brought before the authorities and accused of causing the death of a servant girl they had ordered flogged with stout cord and fishhooks. Court testimony provided by some of the Proctors’ servants suggests that they were guilty and that they also were responsible for the death of another servant. Moreover, the Proctors were accused of detaining another planter’s servant. In May 1625 John Proctor was credited with 100 acres within the corporation of Henrico, the plantation he and his wife had seated prior to the 1622 Indian attack. By July 3, 1627, John was dead, at which time his widow, Allis, presented the justices of the General Court with an inventory of his estate and was designated his administrator. (Source of this story: https://www.houseofproctor.org/genealogy/getperson.php?personID=I2569&tree=hop)

But now, here comes the hard part again:  I don’t know for sure that John and Allis had children, so I don’t know for sure that I am descended from them.  Here’s what I do know:  there were several boys with the Proctor surname in Virginia in the 1620s, including a William, Robert, James, Richard, and George.  Sketchy records connect them to John and Allis, but I can’t prove the connection.  The Jamestowne Society, the lineage society that curates the list of Qualifying Ancestors to join the society, does not acknowledge that John and Allis had any children.  The House of Proctor lineage society (mentioned above), does believe that John and Allis had children.

Here’s another thing that I think I know for sure:  George Proctor (1621-1682), who was born in Jamestown and appears regularly in the colony’s records throughout his life, was my 8th great-grandfather.  There is a lot of “anecdata” to support the assumption that he is the oldest son of John and Allis, but no direct evidence.  And as a friend once warned me, “data” is not eh plural of “anecdote.”

What do I know about George?  He married a woman named Elizabeth, who may have been widowed twice, by her first husband John Bishop and by her second husband William Marriott before she married George.  This is all pretty sketchy.

George Proctor is identified as one of the supporters of Nathaniel Bacon in the revolt against the leadership of the colony in 1676.  As a landowner both in Surry County (across from Jamestown) and in Henrico (still on the frontier in the middle of the 17th century, and the area where Nathaniel Bacon lived), George shared Bacon’s grievances against Governor Berkeley.  After this rebellion fell apart, mostly because of Bacon’s death in 1676, George joined with other rebels who with “all humility and earnestness lay hold on his Majesty’s most gracious act of pardon,” and thus escaped the harsh penalties that were levied against other participants in the rebellion.  George must have made adequate amends to Berkeley, as he later became a judge in Surry County.

Other Ancestors in James City County

Eleven weeks ago, when I was working on Week 9 on this project, focusing on Cumberland County, Virginia, I suffered a loss.  Yes, friends, my deep dive into my Cumberland County ancestors revealed that I had conflated three (!) men named John Walton in that part of Virginia, and in correcting that error I detached myself from two putative James City County ancestors – William Cox (a 10-year-old indentured servant who was a passenger on the same ship as Isaac Madison in 1609) and Christopher Newport (yes, THE Christopher Newport), who captained the first expedition to settle the colony and several other expeditions after that.  I lost both of these connections when I fixed my John Walton problem.  It was sad to see them go – I had identified the Cox line several years ago, but had found the Newport connection only within the last year – but truth has to win.  I guess.

Week 19 May 8, 2020 Henrico County, Virginia

Source of map: Wikipedia

Henrico County was one of the eight original “shires” of the Jamestown colony, formed in 1634 as Virginia moved away from the “hundred” method of self-governing plantations to a more structured county government.  Its history is a storied one, and it is not surprising that after the oncoming British Army forced the colonial government of Virginia to relocate from Williamsburg to Richmond (in Henrico County) in 1780, there was no serious effort to move the capital back to Williamsburg.  The Henrico location made more sense in many ways.

Evolution of County Boundaries

All of these maps are from https://www.mapofus.org

Virginia 1634
Henrico (the “Hco” next to the “CC” in the middle of this map) was one of the original eight shires formed by Virginia in 1634. The shires were Accomac, Charles City, Charles River (York County in 1643), Elizabeth City, Henrico, James City, Warwick River, and Warrosquyoake (Isle of Wight County in 1637). These shires were almost immediately referred to as counties. Henrico did not have a western boundary for almost a century.
Virginia 1728
Goochland County was created from the western part of Henrico in 1728.
Virginia 1749
Chesterfield County was created from the southern part of Henrico County in 1749. The boundaries of Henrico County didn’t change again for 150 years.
Virginia 1900
In 1900, Virginia formalized its system of Independent Cities and the City of Richmond was separated from Henrico County. Henrico envelopes Richmond on three sides, as the following map details. This happened long after my ancestors had left central Virginia
Source of map: Familysearch.org research wiki

The following three pedigree charts provide you my with a preview of my ancestors in Henrico County.  All of these lines connect eventually to my Ellefritz family line.  I’ll talk about these ancestors in detail a little later.

Pedigree Chart Henrico 2
This family line lived in Henrico for four or five generations.  They were among the earliest landowners in the area and they didn’t move on until the middle of the 18th century.
Pedigree Chart Henrico 1
These small group of ancestors lived in the Henrico area for three generations. Their descendants had moved away from Henrico by 1700.
Pedigree Chart Henrico 3
For the most part, the people on this pedigree chart have no personal connection to Henrico County. However, my 2nd great-grandmother Mary Ann Botts (on the left side of the chart) brings the two previous lines together in Illinois in 1837. The Kennons and Worshams (on the right side of this chart) and Lucy Stokes (at the bottom of the chart) descend from the Henrico County ancestors who appear on the two earlier charts.

A (Very) Little History

I feel like I have said this regularly while writing this series of blog posts, but it’s always true:  I didn’t know much about the settlement of this area before I began work on this week’s location.  Because I live three miles from Jamestown, I have always assumed that the history portrayed in the museums there took place right around there.  But I have been wrong in that assumption; many of the significant events of early Virginia history occurred in or near Henrico, and many of the people whose names are important to the growth of this colony lived in or near Henrico, not Jamestown.

The origins of Henrico County can be traced back to the earliest days of the settlement at Jamestown.  The guidance from the Virginia Company about how to choose a place for settlement was  very clear:  it was to be far enough inland to be safe from the Spanish, high enough in elevation to escape the diseases that accompanied living in swampland, and accessible to good farmland and potable water. The site we now know as Jamestown Island didn’t meet any of these criteria; but the band of adventurers was ready to settle down after their long and perilous ocean voyage.  The captain of their expedition, Christopher Newport, almost immediately ventured further up the James to a place that met these criteria, but there was no persuading the men at Jamestown.  Had they heeded Newport, Virginia history would be celebrating a settlement in what later became Henrico County, and Jamestown would be no more than a vague memory of a temporary stopping point in their extended search for a good location to settle down.

Just a few years later, in 1611, Thomas Dale founded the “Citie of Henricus” on a peninsula in the James River that is now called Farrar’s Island.  This was about 50 miles inland from the original settlement of Jamestown and is at about the place that Newport had recommended.  Henricus appeared to be well on the way to becoming a more significant part of the Virginia Colony than Jamestown was. In 1614, another settlement in what would become Henrico County, Bermuda Hundred, became the first incorporated town in what is now the United States.  This land is in the area at the fork of the James and Appomattox Rivers, and these rivers play a major role in the evolution of this part of Virginia.

I was surprised to learn that Henricus was near where Pocahontas grew up among the Appomattox tribe of the Powhatan Confederacy.  Reverend Alexander Whitaker converted her to Christianity during the time at Henricus when she was living in the household of Sir Thomas Dale, deputy governor of the colony. She met colonist John Rolfe in Henricus during this time and they married on April 5, 1614. They lived across the river from Henricus, at Rolfe’s Varina Farms Plantation, which would serve as the county from about 1640 until 1752.  Their son, Thomas Rolfe (named for Sir Thomas Dale, deputy governor of the colony of Virginia), was born on the plantation.  It is at Varina that Rolfe conducted his experiments in tobacco cultivation.  The success of his efforts  would shape Virginia agriculture (and the evolution of slavery) for the next 200 years.

Rolfe is one reason we know a lot about Henricus in these years.  He was serving as a “recorder” for the Virginia colony in 1614, and it is from his notes that we learn that at that time more people were living in the area of Henricus and Bermuda Hundred than were living near Jamestown.  We also learn that people were settling even further up the James and Appomattox Rivers, taking advantage of good farmland as the colony’s reach expanded.

Henricus was being overtaken in importance at this point by the development of Bermuda Hundred.  By 1619, the earlier town had shrunk to only a few dwellings, and things looked bleak.  However, the decision to build a college at Henricus spurred interest in the town, and the outlook for the city of Henricus was more positive. The Virginia Company chose Henricus as the location of the first institution of higher education in British America. In 1618, they obtained a royal charter for a proposed University of Henrico, and in 1619 the First Virginia General Assembly, meeting at Jamestown, passed their “5th Petition, which called for the colony’s leaders to “Send men to erect the College,” referred to it as “A worke of Conversion [of the Indians]”, and set aside land for it adjacent near Henricus.  In 1619, Henricus was also incorporated into the City of Henrico.

This was all to change in 1622, however.  In the spring of that year, the Powhatan tribes under Opechancanough (brother of Chief Powhatan who had dealt with the English settlers from more than a decade) launched a coordinated attack on at least 31 communities up and down the James River.  More than 400 colonists were killed in this one-day attack (about 1/3 of the colony’s residents), and Henricus was abandoned.  No further efforts were made to develop the town, and the plans to build a college there languished until 1695, when the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg (near Jamestown), looked back to the efforts to build the College of Henricus as it wrote its charter.  A plaque in the Wren Building on the college campus noting the “Priorities of the College” (which I had to memorize as part of a hazing ritual when I became a student there in 1965) notes the significance of the College of Henrico.

The “Priorities of the College of William and Mary.” The first one reads:  “First College in the United States in its antecedents, which go back to the College proposed at Henrico (1619).”  The plaque then proceeds to grudgingly concede that William and Mary was “Second to Harvard University in actual operation.”

Despite this setback, new settlers moved to the area, and the population of this part of the colony was greater in 1623 than it had been before the massacre.  Henrico was created as an original shire in 1634.

Settlements near jamestown
This map shows the array of settlements along the James River in the middle of the 17th century.  The settlements associated with Jamestown appear above the arrow in the middle of the map; the settlements associated with Henrico are clustered on the left side of the map, where the James River curls and then runs north to south below Richmond.

The following map, showing the “Fall Line” and the cities that arose along this geographical feature, also helps us understand the early settlement of Virginia.  The field of Transportation Geography (who knew there was a field called Transportation Geography?) posits that cities form where modes of transportation change.  We understand that phenomenon at seacoasts – people and cargo are loaded or unloaded, and providers of goods and services set up shop there to serve the needs that emerge.  The challenge of the Fall Line is less obvious, but equally important.  The most significant cities in Virginia – Petersburg, Richmond, Fredericksburg, and the Alexandria/Washington DC complex – arose along the Fall Line, where boats had to offload, at least for a portage around the rapids.  The James and Appomattox were both navigable inland from the Fall Line, but the boats had to be smaller and lighter and their capacity was reduced.  This is why Henrico County grew where it did.  As overland roads began to develop and become more useful for moving people and good, it was logical that these roads emanate from these cities.  It is also not accidental that Interstate 95, the major north-south thoroughfare on the east coast of the United States, runs through Petersburg, Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Alexandria.

fall line cities

Details about My Ancestors in Henrico County

Pedigree Chart Henrico 2

My 5th great-grandmother Susanna Anderson (1768-1817) (on the left of this chart) is the 2nd great-granddaughter of several early settlers in Henrico, and the 3rd great-granddaughter of one more.  I’m going to talk about them in the order they appear on this chart, starting with my 8th great-grandfather James Anderson (1664-1711).  There were at least two families with the Anderson surname in colonial Virginia, and it’s been a little difficult to tease out exactly who belonged to whom.  When I write about New Kent County in a couple of months (Week 31, on July 31, 2020), I’ll be focusing on the “other” Andersons.

I’m not sure who James’s father was, but James was born in Charles City County and died in Henrico County.  I know almost nothing about him except that he married Elizabeth Thweatt (1670-1712) in Prince George County in 1685.  This map of central Virginia will put all of these counties in place, which is important because it appears that these families (along with the county boundaries) moved a great deal.

Charles City was one of the original shires in Virginia.  Prince George was formed from Charles City.  The unlabeled blue area of the top of this map in Henrico County (you saw that map earlier in this essay).  Chesterfield was formed from Henrico.  Depending on when a particular record was created on where it was stored, it might appear under a different county name than what existed at the time the event happened. Source of map: FamilySearch Research Wiki

Elizabeth’s father, James Thweatt (1643-1710) had a grant of land in 1673, lying on the south bank of the Appomattox.  This land was in Charles City County at that point and was part of Henrico County before the creating of Chesterfield County.  Some records identify him with a title, calling him Dr. James Thweatt, but I haven’t been able to find out why he was given this title.  James married Mary Lee (1647-1712) in Virginia sometime before 1667, the year their first child was born. They had a total of 11 children, including my 8th great-grandmother Elizabeth Thweatt (1670-1712), who was their fifth child.

James Anderson and Elizabeth had five children, including my 7th great-grandfather James Anderson (1698-1773).  I don’t know much about this James Anderson either, except that he married Elizabeth Ligon (1701-1781).  I do know a fair amount about Elizabeth’s family.  Her great grandfathers Thomas Ligon (1624-1675) and William Worsham (1619-1661) were well known in early colonial Henrico.  Her 2nd great grandfather Thomas Harris (1587-1658) also played an important role in the early history of the county.

I’ll start with Thomas Harris, who was the first of Elizabeth’s ancestors to arrive in Virginia.  He came to Jamestown in 1611 with Sir Thomas Dale, and this acquaintance would serve him well throughout his life.  Thomas is identified as an “Ancient Planter,” meaning that he arrived in the colony before 1616 and stayed in the colony for at least three years.  About 150 individuals have been accorded the honorific title “Ancient Planter.”

In 1635 he received a land patent in Henrico; his land holdings eventually grew to be larger than 2,500 acres and included a property called Longfield (later known as Curles).  He served in the House of Burgesses and was made commander of the Henrico militia in 1649.  After his death in 1658, the property became the property of Nathaniel Bacon (of Bacon’s Rebellion fame) in 1674.  He married twice; I believe that my 10th great-grandmother Mary Harris (1625-1703) was a child of this marriage, but I’m not sure.  She may have been born to his second wife, named Joane (I don’t know her last name).

Thomas Harris Marker
This marker recognizing the contributions of Thomas Harris sits on a road north of the James River at the area known as “The Curles,” where Harris’s land was in the 17th century.  Here’s the text on the marker: “Captain Thomas Harris came to the Jamestown Colony from England in May 1611 on the ship Prosperous with Sir Thomas Dale. In 1635, a patent was issued to Harris for 750 acres. In 1636 this property was called Longfield and later was known as Curles. The land ownership of Harris grew to be in excess of 2500 acres. Harris served as a subscriber in the 2nd Corporation of Jamestown, and served in the House of Burgesses. In 1649, Harris was made commander of the Henrico Militia. Following his death in 1658, the property passed through several hands before being sold to Nathaniel Bacon in 1674.”

Mary Harris married Thomas Ligon (1623-1675) in Henrico in 1649.  Thomas had been born in England and came to Virginia in the early 1640s.  He was 2nd cousin to Sir William Berkeley, and may have traveled to Virginia with Berkeley when he was named the colony’s Governor in 1642.  Thomas was a significant figure in the Virginia Colony, where he served in the House of Burgesses and was a surveyor in Henrico County for many years.  He served as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia militia, and is reputed to have fought off an Indian attack during the uprising in 1644.  He had land dealings with many of the important figures in the colony, at one point buying 800 acres from William Byrd.

Lygon marker
This official Virginia highway marker sits on a road south of the James River near Bermuda Hundred in what was Henrico at the time.  Here’s the test of the marker.  The properties of Harris and Lygon were across the river from one another. “Colonel Thomas Lygon, who came to the Virginia colony in the early 1640s from Worcestershire, England, patented several large parcels of land on the north bank of the Appomattox River in an area known as The Cowpens, near Mount My Lady, which was then part of Henrico County. It is likely that he lived in this area with his wife Mary Harris and their five children. Lygon served in the House of Burgesses from Henrico County in 1656, as a colonel in the county militia, and as surveyor of the county until his death in 1675.”

Mary Harris and Thomas Lygon had seven children; their oldest child, William Ligon (1650-1689) is my 9th great-grandfather.  I don’t want to leave Mary and Thomas behind without acknowledging that they must have been the 17th century equivalent of a “power couple.”  Their fathers were important landholders and public officials in the colony, and the fact that the land held by their fathers covered both sides of the James River at a strategically significant part of the waterway, meant that these were people to be reckoned with after they married and joined their family’s properties.

William Ligon married Mary Tanner (1662-1689) in Henrico in 1676; they had seven children, including my 8th great-grandfather Thomas Ligon (1676-1704) before William died in 1689.  The interconnectedness of this society along the James was made even more clear by Mary’s decision after William’s death to marry William Farrar.  William’s father, also named William, was a large landowner in Henrico; the land where the state of Virginia set up Henricus Historical Park, honoring the role played by the City of Henricus in early Virginia history, is on Farrar’s Island.

Mary Tanner’s father, Joseph Tanner (1629-1673) also owned land in Bermuda Hundred.  It appears that he was also clerk of the Henrico Court, as his name appears on many of the court’s records.   He was married Mary Browne (1639-1700), and they had five children, including Mary Tanner.

William Ligon and Mary Tanner’s son (and my 8th great-grandfather) Thomas Ligon (1676-1704) married Elizabeth Worsham (1677-1743) in Henrico in 1697.  Elizabeth’s family also goes back several generations in the history of the Virginia colony, back to her grandfather (and my 10th great grandfather) William Worsham (1572-1661).  William settled in Virginia where in 1652 he got a land patent for 400 acres with his brother George Worsham in Henrico.  He was at one time a County Commissioner in Charles City County.  He married Elizabeth Littleberry (1620-1678) in 1650, and they had six children, including my 9th great-grandfather John Worsham (1653-1729).  John married Phoebe Robertson (1657-1729) in  1673, and they had ten children, including my 8th great-grandmother Elizabeth Worsham (1677-1743), who was their first child.  John appears often in the land and court records of Henrico.

Elizabeth 1677 married Thomas Ligon 1676, as I mentioned earlier.  Their daughter Elizabeth Ligon (1701-1781) married James Anderson (1698-1773), as I also mentioned earlier.

James Anderson and Elizabeth Ligon had 13 children, including my 7th great-grandfather Charles Anderson (1739-1821) who was born in Henrico and was their 10th child.  Charles married Lucy Stokes (1742-1810) in Henrico around 1760, and they had two children, including my 6th great-grandmother Susanna Anderson (1768-1817).  By 1800, this family had moved to Kentucky, along with many other Virginians who made this move after the American Revolution and as Kentucky achieved statehood.

Lucy Stokes offers us another opportunity to climb on board the way-back machine, as we look to her ancestors – in particular, her great-grandfather Peter Jones (1634-1681) and two of her 2nd great-grandfathers, Christopher Stokes (1600-1648) and Abraham Wood (1614-1680).

I’ll begin with the earliest of these individuals to come to Virginia, my 10th great-grandfather Christopher Stokes.  The records of Jamestown show that he came to Jamestown in 1622 with his wife and four children, including my 9th great-grandfather William Stokes (1619-1699), who was a three-year-old.  They went on to have four more children in Virginia.  Christopher’s wife was Elizabeth Young (1593-1660).  One interesting naming tradition in this family is that one boy in every generation is given the first name “Young,” which we will encounter briefly when I talk about my 7th great-grandfather, Young Stokes, who was Elizabeth’s great-grandson.

Christopher Stokes served as a Burgess from three communities in the early colony – Warwick, Denbigh, and Poquoson before his death in 1648.  Although Christopher and his family do not appear on the 1624 Muster Roll at Jamestown, his name appears frequently in the colony’s records.

One particularly interesting tidbit from the records documents William – five years old at the  point – testifying in 1624 at an inquest as a witness to the 1624 drowning death of a child.  William married Jane Scarsbrook (1623-1653) in 1639, and they had three children, including my 8th great-grandfather Sylvanus Stokes (1650-1748).  Surprisingly, I don’t know very much about Sylvanus.  Several members of successive generations of this family were given this name, and the records about them are tangled.  However, I’m pretty sure that Sylvanus married Susannah Jones (1660-1742) sometime before 1680, and they had 10 children, including my 7th great-grandfather, Young Stokes (1690-1770).  I mentioned him earlier.

Susannah gives us another opportunity to travel backwards in the history of the Virginia colony, to her father, Peter Jones (1634-1674) and her mother, Margaret Wood (1641-1718).  Peter Jones was born in Charles City, Virginia; I don’t know who his parents were.  Peter made a name for himself; he was an explorer and fur trader, establishing a 1675 trading post called “Peter’s Point” in Henrico.  As early as 1657 his name appears in the records of Henrico, as it is in that year that he is given command of a militia unit under the overall command of Abraham Wood (1614-1680), his father-in-law.  The name of Peter’s Point was later changed to Petersburg.  He commanded Fort Henry in 1675 against the Indian threat that led to Bacon’s Rebellion the following year.

As should be clear, Peter’s wife, Margaret Wood, was the daughter (or possibly step-daughter – I’m not sure) of my 10th great-grandfather Abraham Wood , who seems to have served as a mentor to PeterAbraham came to Virginia with his parents as a 10-year-old in the 1620s.  In the 1640s he represented Henrico as a Burgess, and he was placed in charge of Ft. Henry at the falls of the Appomattox River (this is the Ft. Henry that Peter Jones commanded in the 1670s.  In 1650, he joined other Virginians in an exploration to the southwest of Henrico, along the James and Roanoke Rivers, and also far enough west to encounter rivers that drained into the Ohio River watershed.  He relocated south of the Appomattox, and represented Charles City as a Burgess.  Later in the 1650s he served as a member of the Governor’s Council – the upper house of the Virginia General Assembly.  During the reign of Cromwell in England, the Governor’s Council was elected by the House of Burgesses; before (and after) that time period, the members of the Council were appointed directly by the king.

Peter and Margaret had five children, including Susannah, who married Sylvanus Stokes (see above).  You’ll recall that Susannah and Sylvanus were the grandparents of Lucy Stokes, who married Charles Anderson (see above).  Their daughter was Susannah Anderson, whose story started this entire thread.


Pedigree Chart Henrico 1

This branch of my family tree was also in Henrico County, and the lines overlap just a little, as you’ll see.  Elizabeth Kennon (1679-1751), on the left side of this chart, is my 7th great-grandmother.  Through Elizabeth, I connect directly to two individuals who played an important role in Henrico County, and indirectly to a third family that everyone in the United States has heard of.

This is a simple story, so I’ll just dive in.  The easiest part of the story is Elizabeth’s maternal line, to her grandfather William Worsham (1619-1661).  If you look back a few pages, you’ll see that I’ve already talked about William in my discussion of my Anderson family line – he is shown on that chart as the father of John Worsham (1653-1729) and grandfather of a different Elizabeth Worsham (1677-1743), who was my 8th great-grandmother through my Anderson family line.  I refer you back a couple of pages to read about the Worsham family.

The new Elizabeth Worsham 1653 (the one on the current line I’m talking about) married Richard Kennon (1659-1698) in Henrico sometime before 1676, when their first child was born.  I think that Richard’s father, John Kennon (1625-1654), had been born in Henrico, in an area called Conjuror’s Neck near Bermuda Hundred, but I can’t confirm that.  I believe that John’s father was named Richard Kennon (1600-1689), and that he was a landowner in Henrico in the 1620s, but I can’t confirm that either.

John Kennon 1625 married Elizabeth Bolling (1625-1705) in the 1640s, and they had nine children, including my 8th great-grandfather Richard Kennon 1659.  Richard was a prominent merchant living at Bermuda Hundred.  In 1685 he was a factor (representative) for a London merchant, and in that capacity he traveled frequently to London.  He was justice of the peace for Henrico and served as a Burgess in 1686.  Richard married Elizabeth Worsham 1653 (mentioned above) and they had seven children, including my 7th great-grandmother Elizabeth Kennon (1679-1751).

Richard and Elizabeth lived on the Appomattox River, at a land patent called “Conjuror’s Neck”  that had originally been granted to his father John Kennon 1625Richard built a home that still stands today: “Brick House” on Conjuror’s Neck

brick house from googlemaps
This is a screenshot from the GoogleMaps current view of the Brick House in Conjuror’s Neck
conjuror's neck sign
And the nearby road marker

Richard and Elizabeth had nine children at Conjuror’s Neck, including my 7th great-grandmother Elizabeth Kennon (1679-1727).  Elizabeth married Thomas Botts II (1674-1742) in Stafford County, Virginia, about 60 miles north of Henrico.  I’m not sure how she and Thoms met; I originally thought that Thomas was connected to a family named Bott (or Batt) in Henrico, but I no longer think that’s true.  So this is still a mystery to be resolved.

Week 18 May 1, 2020 Hartford County, Connecticut

Source of map: Wikipedia
This map shows the towns in Hartford County; I’ll be talking mostly about Wethersfield and Hartford (in the center of the map).

Connecticut’s first European settlers were from the Dutch colony New Netherland.  These men  established a small, short-lived settlement called Fort Hoop in Hartford at the confluence of the Park and Connecticut Rivers.  Half of Connecticut was initially part of this Dutch colony.  The first major settlements in Connecticut were established in the 1630s by the English. Thomas Hooker led a band of followers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and founded the Connecticut Colony; other settlers from Massachusetts founded the Saybrook Colony and the New Haven Colony. The Connecticut and New Haven colonies established the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, considered the first constitutions in America. In 1662, the three colonies were merged under a royal charter, making Connecticut a crown colony.  This map shows the path of the Old Connecticut Path from Cambridge to Hartford.

Old Connecticut Path
Source of map:  https://www.facebook.com/oldconnecticutpath/photos/a.439991112740124/3167959039943304/?type=3&theater

The Evolution of County Boundaries in Connecticut

Connecticut experienced more frequent boundary changes than many other colonies.  The first map shows what Connecticut looked like before its counties were established.

connecticut colony-map 1635-1660
This map shows the configuration of these towns in the middle of the 17th century, before the counties were established in the Connecticut and New Haven colonies.  Wethersfield, Hartford, and Windsor are successive towns on the Connecticut River.  They are in what would become Hartford County in 1666.

The following maps (all from https://www.mapofus.org) illustrate the most significant of the county boundary changes after 1666.

CT 1666
Hartford was established as one of the four original counties in Connecticut in 1666
CT 1670
In 1670, Hartford gained a lot of territory
CT 1714
In 1714, Hartford gained a lot more territory.
CT 1749
In 1749, Hartford gained even more territory and reach its largest size.
CT 1751
In 1751, the county boundaries were adjusted once again, and Hartford shrank back to its earlier size.
CT 1785
In 1785, Tolland County was carved from Hartford County. The county boundaries have not changed significantly since this year.

I have several sets of ancestors who lived in Hartford County in the 17th century.  Before I talk about them in detail, I want to acknowledge that I am gobsmacked about the number of ancestors I have discovered among the founders and early residents of Hartford County.  I had come across them before – their presence in the county was one of the reasons I chose to focus on it during this research project – but my connections with Hartford exploded during the week I was focusing on the ancestors I knew about.  My ancestors were among the founders and earliest landholders of several of the towns in central Connecticut.  They served as clergy and town officials.  Some of them founded more than one town.

At this point, my normal pattern would be to use pedigree charts to give you a preview of the surnames I’ll be talking about in this essay.  Because of the large number of ancestors I have in this county, I’m using a Wordle instead to give you a preview of coming attractions.  More on these names later.

Ancestor Wordle

A (Very) Little History of Hartford County

To understand Hartford County you have to understand the founding of the Colony of Connecticut.  Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about this (I know the limitations of Wikipedia, but I’m just trying to provide a little context here):

“The Connecticut Colony or Colony of Connecticut was an English colony in New England which became the state of Connecticut. It was organized on March 3, 1636 as a settlement for a Puritan congregation, and the English permanently gained control of the region in 1637 after struggles with the Dutch. The colony was later the scene of a bloody war between the colonists and Pequot Indians known as the Pequot War. Connecticut Colony played a significant role in the establishment of self-government in the New World with its refusal to surrender local authority to the Dominion of New England, an event known as the Charter Oak incident which occurred at Jeremy Adams’ inn and tavern.

Two other English settlements in the State of Connecticut were merged into the Colony of Connecticut: Saybrook Colony in 1644 and New Haven Colony in 1662.”

This is what Wikipedia says about the establishment of Hartford County:

“Hartford County was one of four original counties in Connecticut established on May 10, 1666, by an act of the Connecticut General Court. The act establishing the county states:

“This Court orders that the Townes on the River from yee north bounds of Windsor wth Farmington to ye south end of ye bounds of Thirty Miles Island shalbe & remaine to be one County wch shalbe called the County of Hartford. And it is ordered that the County Court shalbe kept at Hartford on the 1st Thursday in March and on the first Thursday in September yearely.”

As established in 1666, Hartford County consisted of the towns of Windsor, Wethersfield, Hartford, Farmington, and Middletown. Over the next half-century, a half-dozen more towns were added to Hartford County.   In this essay, I’ll be focusing primarily on my ancestors who lived in the towns of Wethersfield and Hartford.

A (Very) Little History of the Town of Wethersfield

Now here’s what Wikipedia has to say about Wethersfield, Connecticut:

“Founded in 1634 by a Puritan settlement party of “10 Men” including John Oldham, Robert Seeley, Thomas Topping and Nathaniel Foote, Wethersfield is arguably the oldest town in Connecticut, depending on one’s interpretation of when a remote settlement qualifies as a “town”.

Along with Windsor and Hartford, Wethersfield is represented by one of the three grapevines on the Flag of Connecticut, signifying the state’s three oldest European settlements.  The town took its name from Wethersfield, a village in the English county of Essex.

During the Pequot War, on April 23, 1637, Wangunk chief Sequin, who had lived with the colonists in Wethersfield but had been forced out after a few years, attacked Wethersfield with Pequot help.  They killed six men and three women, a number of cattle and horses, and took two young girls captive. They were daughters of Abraham Swain or William Swaine (sources vary) and were later ransomed by Dutch traders. 

Four witch trials and three executions for witchcraft occurred in the town in the 17th century. Mary Johnson was convicted of witchcraft and executed in 1648, Joan and John Carrington in 1651. In 1669, landowner Katherine Harrison was convicted, and although her conviction was reversed, she was banished and her property seized by her neighbors.”

My Ancestors in Wethersfield

The following pedigree charts show my ancestors who lived in Wethersfield.  The all connect through my Arnold family line.

Pedigree Chart Hartford 1

The most significant name in my family’s history in Wethersfield is my 11th great grandfather Nathaniel Foote (1592-1644), who is identified as one of the “10 Adventurers” who founded Wethersfield in 1634.  This plaque recognizing these 10 men sits in Wethersfield today.

Wethersfield 10advents
This plaque is on a boulder on the north end of  Wethersfield’s Broad Street Green.  Nathaniel’s name is the second from the top in the right column.  Source:  https://sites.google.com/a/oldconnecticutpath.com/oldconnecticutpath/home/5-founders-of-wethersfield
foote family monument
This monument to Nathaniel Foote was placed on the south end of the Broad Street Green in 1908.  The base contains inscription about Nathaniel and his family.  The monument is topped by a street lamp. Source:  https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2016/06/the-nathaniel-foote-memorial-in.html

 Nathaniel was born in England and married Elizabeth Deming (1595-1683) there in 1615.  They had a total of seven children, including my 10th great-grandmother Elizabeth Foote (1616-1700); it appears that all of their children were born before they came to the colonies.  Elizabeth Deming’s brother, John Deming, came to the colonies as well, and appears in the Wethersfield records.

I know a lot about Nathaniel Foote.  When he first settled in Watertown, MA, in 1634, he was identified as a freeman, and as an original settler of Wethersfield his name appears as one of the patentees of the Connecticut charter.  He was a magistrate and representative to the General Court until his death in 1644.  He owned upwards of 400 acres of land in Wethersfield.  After his death in 1644, his wife married Thomas Wells, who became the governor of Connecticut.

Their daughter Elizabeth Foote married Josiah Churchill (1611-1685) in 1638.  Josiah had come to Connecticut in 1635, and when he married Elizabeth in 1638 he had already been a soldier in the 1637 Pequot War.  He did not appear to hold elected public office in Wethersfield, but the records show that he served as a juror in the Particular Court, as constable, and as a town surveyor.   Josiah and Elizabeth had seven children in Wethersfield, including my 9th great-grandfather Joseph Churchill (1649-1699), who was their fifth child and first son.  Joseph served in a number of civic positions in Wethersfield:  surveyor, collector of taxes, constable, and assessor.  He was chosen Selectman twice, toward the end of his life.  Joseph married Mary Catlin (1649-1738) in Wethersfield in 1664.  Mary’s father, my 10th great-grandfather Thomas Catlin (1600-1690), came to Connecticut about 1640, and first appears in the colonial records in 1644.  He served in a number of public capacities:  chimney viewer, surveyor, townsman, and constable.

Joseph and Mary had nine children before Mary died in 1675, including my 8th great-grandfather Joseph Churchill (1690-1768), who was their sixth child   I don’t know very much about Joseph.  He married Lydia Dickinson (1690-1781) in Hartford in 1714.

Lydia’s family is interesting.  Her great-grandfather (my 11th great-grandfather) Nathaniel Dickinson (1601-1676) was an early settler of Wethersfield, serving as a member of the Board of Selectmen, Representative to the General Assembly, and church Deacon.  Nathaniel had married Anne Gull (1610-1678) in England, and they had 15 children, including my 10th great-grandfather Nathaniel Dickinson (1643-1710), who was their ninth child.  In 1659, Nathaniel 1601 and his family moved with a group to residents to found the town of Hadley, Massachusetts.

Nathaniel 1643 married Hannah Beardsley (1642-1678) in Stratford, CT, in 1662.  Hannah’s father, William Beardsley (1605-1661), is identified with the town of Stratford in Fairfield County, but he also served as deputy to the General Court at Hartford from 1645-1659.  He married Mary Harvey (1601-1655) in England before they moved with three of their children to New England in 1635.  They would go on to have 8 more children in Connecticut, including Hannah.  They are identified as founders of Stratford, Connecticut, in 1639.

Here’s a little more information about Nathaniel Dickinson and the founding of Hadley. Hadley was first settled in 1659 and was officially incorporated in 1661.  Its settlers were primarily a discontented group of families from the Puritan colonies of Hartford and WethersfieldConnecticut, who petitioned to start a new colony up north after some controversy over doctrine in the local church. The settlement was led by John Russell. The first settler inside of Hadley was Nathaniel Dickinson 1601, who surveyed the streets of what is now Hadley, Hatfield, and Amherst.

Nathaniel 1601 died in Hadley in 1676.  Three of his sons were killed in the Indian attacks associated with King Philip’s War in New England: John (1630-1675), Joseph (1675), and Azariah (1648-1675).  More about them when I write about Hampshire County, MA, in week 22 of this blog series.

Nathaniel 1643 and Hannah lived in Hadley, Massachusetts, and raised their nine children there.   I am descended their third child, my 9th great-grandfather John Dickinson (1667-1761)John was born in Hadley, and he married Sarah Meekins (1666-1707) there in 1688.  Sarah was also descended from an early settler in Hartford County; her grandfather (and my 11th great-grandfather) Thomas Bunce (1612-1683) had come to the county in 1636, although he settled in the town of Hartford, not Wethersfield.  Thomas married a woman named Sarah (I don’t know her last name) in Hartford in 1644, and they had five children, including my 10th great-grandmother Mary Bunce (1645-1682).  Mary married Thomas Meekins (1643-1675) in Hartford in 1665, and lived in Hadley for the next ten years, before Thomas Meekins was also killed in an Indian attack in 1675.  Sarah Meekins, their oldest child, was nine years old when her father died.   The Meekins family does not appear to have ever lived in Connecticut; instead, they came directly from Boston to western Massachusetts.

Joseph Churchill 1690 and Lydia Dickinson (remember them?) had five children, including my 7th great-grandmother Mary Churchill (1720-1795) who was born in Wethersfield.  She married Samuel House (1741-1804) there in 1740.  The facts about their later lives show them living in Tolland County, Connecticut.  Tolland County was formed from the eastern part of Hartford County in the 1780s, so I suspect that these “facts” reflect the county identification at the time the record was located, not the time the events occurred.

Map of Wethersfield CT 1640_1699
This map shows the landholdings in Wethersfield in the 17th century.  The red lines note land held by my ancestors:  from top to bottom, Nathaniel Foote, John Deming, Thomas Bunce, and Nathaniel Dickinson. Source of map: http://couchfamilygenealogy.blogspot.com/2011/10/wethersfield-connecticut-landowner.html

A (Very) Little History of the City of Hartford

This is what Wikipedia says about the town of Hartford:

“The first Europeans known to have explored the area were the Dutch under Adriaen Block, who sailed up the Connecticut in 1614. Dutch fur traders from New Amsterdam returned in 1623 with a mission to establish a trading post and fortify the area for the Dutch West India Company. The original site was located on the south bank of the Park River in the present-day Sheldon/Charter Oak neighborhood. This fort was called Fort Hoop or the “House of Hope.” In 1633, Jacob Van Curler formally bought the land around Fort Hoop from the Pequot chief for a small sum. It was home to perhaps a couple families and a few dozen soldiers. The fort was abandoned by 1654, but the area is known today as Dutch Point.

“The Dutch outpost and the tiny contingent of Dutch soldiers who were stationed there did little to check the English migration, and the Dutch soon realized that they were vastly outnumbered. The House of Hope remained an outpost, but it was steadily swallowed up by waves of English settlers. In 1650, Peter Stuyvesant met with English representatives to negotiate a permanent boundary between the Dutch and English colonies; the line that they agreed on was more than 50 miles (80 km) west of the original settlement.

“The English began to arrive in 1636, settling upstream from Fort Hoop.  Puritan pastors Thomas Hooker and Samuel Stone, along with Governor John Haynes, led 100 settlers with 130 head of cattle in a trek from Newtown in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (now Cambridge) and started their settlement just north of the Dutch fort. The settlement was originally called Newtown, but it was changed to Hartford in 1637 in honor of Stone’s hometown of Hertford, England. Hooker also created the nearby town of Windsor in 1633. The etymology of Hartford is the ford where harts cross, or “deer crossing.”

“The fledgling colony along the Connecticut River was outside of the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s charter and had to determine how it was to be governed. Therefore, Hooker delivered a sermon that inspired the writing of the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, a document ratified January 14, 1639 which invested the people with the authority to govern, rather than ceding such authority to a higher power. Historians suggest that Hooker’s conception of self-rule embodied in the Fundamental Orders inspired the Connecticut Constitution, and ultimately the U.S. Constitution. Today, one of Connecticut’s nicknames is the ‘Constitution State.’

“The original settlement area contained the site of the Charter Oak, an old white oak tree in which colonists hid Connecticut’s Royal Charter of 1662 to protect it from confiscation by an English governor-general. The state adopted the oak tree as the emblem on the Connecticut state quarter.”

Founders of Hartford monument
This monument sits in the Ancient Burying Ground in Hartford.  This is a 1986 replica of the original sandstone monument of 1837.  163 names are engraved on the four sides of this monument.  Seven of the names on this monument are my ancestors who founded Hartford in 1637.  Source of picture: https://www.foundersofhartford.org/the-founders/

The following pedigree charts show my ancestors who lived in Hartford.  I connect to them through my Ellefritz family line.

Pedigree Chart Hartford
This is an overview of five generations of my ancestors in Hartford.

These next three charts are extensions from three ancestors on the far right of the chart above.  I couldn’t include enough generations on one chart.

Hartford pedigree chart Burr extension
This chart is a three-generation extension from John Burr in the first chart.  John Burr is the fifth name from the top in the list of names furthest to the right on the first chart.
Hartford pedigree chart Benton extension
This chart is a three-generation extension from Daniel Benton Sr.  in the first chart.  Daniel is in the center of the chart in the second row of names from the right.
Hartford pedigree chart Pratt extension
This chart is a two-generation extension from Rachel Pratt in the first chart.  Rachel Pratt is the fifth name from the bottom in the list of names furthest to the right.

Here’s a list of the Founders of Hartford who are my ancestors.  Look for them in the descriptions below:

  • John Baysey (1581-1645)
  • Benjamin Burr (1602-1681)
  • George Stocking (1582-1683)
  • John Skinner (1612-1650)
  • Joseph Easton (1602-1688)
  • Andrew Warner (1599-1684)
  • John Pratt (1608-1652)

Hang on as we dive into these ancestors in Hartford.

My 11th great-grandfather John Baysey (1581-1645) was born in England, married there, and had at least one child, my 10th great-grandfather John Baysey (1613-1671) before coming to Hartford in 1635.  I don’t know very much about what John (either of them) did in Hartford.  John 1613 married Elizabeth Freeman (1617-1673) in Hartford, and they had five children, including my 9th great-grandmother Mary Baysey (1635-1682), who was their first child.

Mary Baysey married Samuel Burr (1643-1682) somewhere around 1660 (the dates are inconsistent).  Samuel’s father, another Founder of Hartford and my 10th great-grandfather Benjamin Burr (1602-1681) had also come to Hartford in 1635.  He may have been a member of the Winthrop Fleet, as he came to Hartford from Massachusetts.  Benjamin appears in the records of Hartford a number of times: as a soldier in the Pequot War of 1637, as a freeman in 1658, and as a chimney viewer.  I had to look up what a “chimney viewer” did and found, not surprisingly, that a chimney viewer had the responsibility to inspect people’s chimneys and impose fines if people did not keep their chimneys safe and operational.  Benjamin was apparently well-to-do, as he owned two houses in Hartford as well as houses and land in Windsor.  At one point, what is now North Main Street in Hartford was named Burr Street.

Benjamin married Anne Hanna (1606-1683) before coming to the colonies.  Benjamin and Anna had six children (four in Hartford), including Samuel, mentioned earlier.  Samuel had married Mary Baysey around 1660, and they had five children, including my 8th great-grandfather John Burr (1670-1741), who was their fourth child. John married Sarah Nichols (1674-1767) in 1695, and they had 11 children, including my 7th great-grandfather John Burr (1695-1769), who was their first child.  Sarah’s grandfather, Cyprian Nichols (1620-1705) was a latecomer to Hartford; he did not arrive until 1669, when he and his family came from England.

John Burr 1695 married Mary Root (1694-1770) in 1722.  Mary’s roots can be traced to another early resident of Hartford, her grandfather (and my 9th great-grandfather) John Roote (1608-1684).  Thomas Root (brother of John 1608) is identified as a Founder of Hartford, and his presence in Hartford is the probable reason why his brother John 1608 moved to Hartford in 1640.  John 1608 married Mary Kilbourne (1619-1697) in 1640.  Mary Kilbourne’s father, my 10th great-grandfather Thomas Kilbourne (1578-1640), had come to Hartford in 1635 but was dead by the time the land allotments were made in 1639; some researchers speculate that he was killed in the 1637 Pequot War.

John 1608 and Mary Kilbourne had nine children, including my 8th great-grandfather Caleb Root (1658-1712), who was their sixth child.  John and Mary soon relocated to Farmington, Connecticut, another town in Hartford County.  Caleb spent most of his life in Farmington.  He married Elizabeth Salmon (167301712) in Massachusetts in 1693.  He and Elizabeth had five children, including my 7th great-grandmother Mary Root (1694-1770) (mentioned above) before Elizabeth died in 1712.

John Burr 1695 and Mary Root had six children, including my 6th great-grandmother Mary Burr (1729-1799), who was their first child.  (Just as a side note – could these people name their children something other than John and Mary?)  Mary Burr married William Manley (1731-1810) in Bloomfield (another town in Hartford County, less than 10 miles from Farmington) in 1752.  William had been born in Bloomfield, but his parents and grandparents were from Massachusetts, where they were early residents of the Boston area.

William and Mary had six children, including my 5th great-grandfather Luther Manley (1758-1824).   Luther married Hannah Benton (1759-1824) in Massachusetts in 1776.  Hannah’s 2nd great-grandfather (and my 9th great-grandfather) Andrew Benton (1620-1683) was an early settler of Hartford.   He was a civic leader in Hartford, where he owned land and held public office.  In 1649, he married  Hannah Stocking (1630-1672) in Hartford.  Hannah’s father, my 10th great-grandfather George Stocking (1582-1683), was another Founder of Hartford.  George had initially come to Boston in 1633, but joined Thomas Hooker on his trek to Connecticut in 1636.  George was an active resident of Hartford, serving as selectman, surveyor, and chimney viewer.

Andrew and Hannah had seven children, including my 8th great-grandfather Samuel Benton (1658-1683), who was their fifth child.

A bit of a side note here:  During the 1670s, Hartford was swept up in the witchcraft hysteria that we most commonly associate with Salem, in neighboring Massachusetts, but this peculiar obsession manifested itself in many other towns in early New England, including Hartford.  A woman named Anne Cole was among those accused of witchcraft in the 1660s, a time when several people in Hartford were hanged after being convicting of consorting with Satan and bewitching other residents of the town.  Anne Cole was acquitted of these crimes, however, and Andrew Benton married her after the death of his first wife, Hannah Stocking, in 1672.  Samuel was 14 years old when his mother died and when his father married Anne; this must have been a strange time in a young boy’s life.

Samuel married Sarah Chatterton (1661-1745) in Hartford in 1679, and although they spent most of their lives in New Haven, Samuel died in Hartford.  Sarah’s parents were both from New Haven as well.  Samuel and Sarah had six children, including my 7th great-grandfather Daniel Benton (1696-1726).  By this time the Benton family was living in Tolland County, Connecticut, which had been carved from Hartford County in the 1670s.

Daniel married Mary Skinner (1695-1766) in Tolland County in 1722; Mary’s background takes us to yet another Founder of Hartford, her great-grandfather (and my 10th great-grandfather) John Skinner (1612-1650)John had come to Boston in 1638, and joined with Thomas Hooker as an original proprietor of Hartford.  He had 22 acres of land in the 1640 division of property.  He married Mary Loomis (1620-1680) in Hartford in 1638.  Mary’s father, Joseph Loomis (1590-1658) was a large landowner in the town of Windsor in Hartford County.

There is one more Founder of Hartford to explore on this line; Mary Skinner’s great-grandfather (and my 10th great-grandfather) Joseph Easton (1602-1688).   He is sometimes referred to as Deacon Joseph Easton, and he owned a large amount of land in 1640.  I don’t know the name of his wife; but they had three children, including my 9th great-grandmother Mary Easton (1641-1695).  Mary married Joseph Skinner (1641-1690) (son of John Skinner 1612) in 1663, and they had 10 children, including my 8th  great-grandfather John Skinner (1666-1743).

John Skinner 1666 married Rachel Pratt (1671-1748) in Hartford in 1693.  So it’s time for another trip in the way-back machine, to two of Rachel’s grandfathers:  John Pratt (1608-1652) and Andrew Warner (1599-1684).  They are both my 10th great-grandfathers.

John Pratt and his brother William are both Founders of Hartford.  John had come to Cambridge in 1633, and later relocated to Hartford.   The land allotment of 1639 shows that John had 10 parcels of land in the town amounting to about 20 acres, and that William had land there as well before selling and moving to Saybrook in 1645. John married a woman named Elizabeth in 1636; I don’t know her last name.  John was deputy for Hartford to the Connecticut General Court in 1639, 1640, and 1641, was on the petit jury in 1650, 1651 and 1652, and was on the Connecticut grand jury in 1654.  He and Elizabeth had only one son so far as I can tell; Daniel Pratt (1639-1691), my 9th great-grandfather.

Daniel married Hannah Warner (1632-1682) in 1648; Hannah’s father, my 10th great-grandfather Andrew Warner (1599-1684) is the last of my Founders of Hartford.   He is identified as a “maltster” (the person who begins the process of modifying barley so that a brewmaster can make beer from it).  Andrew settled first in Cambridge and then relocated to Hartford in 1636.  In Hartford, he is identified as a deacon.  By 1648, Andrew bought land in Farmington, but by 1650 he had sold that land to return to Hartford.  In 1659, Andrew joined other residents of Hartford to relocate to Massachusetts, where they founded the town of Hadley.

This 1640 map of Hartford shows the land allotments at that time.

HARTFORD 1640 map edited
This 1640 map shows the allocation of land.  The red stars show the land holdings of my seven Founders of Hartford.  From top to bottom on the left side of the map:  George Stocking, John Baysey, Joseph Easton, and Andrew Warner.  From left to right on the right side of the map:  John Skinner, John Pratt, and Benjamin Burr.

So how did all of this come together in my family?  My father’s father, John Cecil Arnold (1895-1957) was Mary Churchill’s 5th great-grandson.  Mary’s ancestors were based in the town of Wethersfield  My father’s mother, Orpha Lydia Ellefritz (1896-1986) was Hannah Manley’s 2nd great-granddaughter.  Hannah’s ancestors were based in the town of Hartford.   John married Orpha in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1916.  My father, Lloyd Cecil Arnold (1918-2001) was born in Hancock County two years later.

Week 17: April 24, 2020 Hanover County, Virginia

Source of map: Wikipedia

Hanover County was created on November 26, 1719, from the area of New Kent County called St. Paul’s Parish. It was named for the Electorate of Hanover in Germany, because King George I of Great Britain was Elector of Hanover at the time. The county was developed by planters moving west from the Virginia tidewater, where soils had been exhausted by tobacco monoculture.

I don’t have a large number of ancestors who lived in Hanover County.  Hanover was kind of a way station for my family; many of them had been residents of New Kent County, but became part of Hanover County when the county was created in 1719.  Others lived briefly in Hanover before moving on to counties further west in Virginia or to the Carolinas.  I have ancestors on both my mother’s and my father’s side of the family in Hanover County in the first half of the 18th century.

It’s difficult to figure out exactly where my ancestors in central Virginia actually lived.  New Kent County, formed in 1654, had no western boundary for 70 years, until Hanover County was formed in 1721.  If you lived in this area between 1654 and 1721, you lived in New Kent County.  When Hanover County was formed in 1721, it had no western boundary.  It would be another 20 years before Louisa County was formed to the west of Hanover County, in 1642.  Thus it is possible, and probably even likely, that some of my ancestors who are identified as living in New Kent, then Hanover, then Louisa County, in fact did not move during these years.  I’ll talk about New Kent County in Week 31 of this project, on July 31, 2020.

These pedigree charts show my ancestral lines that spent at least some time in Hanover County.

Pedigree Chart Hanover County
This line connects from New Kent County to Hanover and then through Louisa and Cumberland Counties in Virginia before moving on to Kentucky and ultimately to Hancock County Illinois.  This line connects through my father’s side of the family
Pedigree Chart Hanover County 2
This line connects from York County through Hanover and then into North and South Carolina before moving on to Kentucky and ultimately to Edwards County Illinois.  This line connects through my mother’s side of the family

Evolution of the Counties in Virginia

It is important to know when counties were founded in order to know where to look for records.  The following sequence of maps (all taken from http://www.mapofus.org) shows this evolution in the central part of Virginia.  One important thing to realize about county formation – new counties are established as populations grow, because people need to be able to get to the county seat easily for activities like forming local militias.

Virginia was originally made up of eight “shires,” which immediately began to be called counties.  The area that would become Hanover County was part of Charles River County (soon to be renamed York County.  New Kent was carved out of York County in 1634

Hanover County was carved from New Kent County in 1721.  Hanover County got a western boundary seven years later

Virginia 1742
Louisa County was carved from Hanover County in 1742.  The boundaries of Hanover don’t change after this date.

A (Very) Little History

To understand evolution of Hanover County, it’s essential to understand the connection between the church parishes in colonial Virginia and the evolution of counties.  In many cases, the church parishes served as both religious and civil institutions.

Here’s how this went in central Virginia between 1650 and the 1740s.  New Kent County was formed in 1654 from the original Charles River (or York) County.  The original church parish in New Kent was Blisland Parish, which served the county from its formation in 1654 until the establishment of St. Peter’s Parish in 1679.   In 1704, St. Paul’s Parish was created in New Kent County, and the county was split between the two parishes.  In 1721, when Hanover County was formed, the boundary between the two parishes became the boundary between New Kent County and Hanover County.  St. Paul’s went with Hanover County.  In 1726, just a few years after the formation of Hanover County, St. Martin’s Parish was formed within the county.  When Louisa County was formed from Hanover County in 1742, St. Martin’s parish served both Hanover and Louisa Counties.  Once again, the dividing line between the two counties was the dividing line between St. Peter’s Parish (New Kent) and St. Paul’s Parish (Hanover).

This map helps put this in context.

Source of map:  FamilySearch research wiki

The following (somewhat confusing} map shows the relationship between the parish boundaries and the county boundaries

Map of New Kent and Hanover Counties
(source:  Mason, George Carrington. “The Colonial Churches of New Kent and Hanover Counties, Virginia.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 53, no. 4 (1945): 243-64. Accessed April 19, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4245370.)

This map is oddly positioned.  As it currently sits, the names of the parishes are properly displayed (from bottom to top, Waraney Church, Broken Backed Church, St. Peter’s Church, Lower St. Paul’s Church (3 of them), Slash Church, Upper St. Paul’s Church, and Fork Church), but the county names are sideways.  However, the compass arrow in the lower right corner indicates that you have to rotate the map 90 degrees counterclockwise to have “north” be at the top of the map, a more normal map configuration; when you do that, the county names are upside down and the parish names are sideways.  Like this:

Rotated Map of New Kent and Hanover Counties

Why would anyone draw a map like this?  Once you figure out which way is up, the map can help make sense of what was going on in central Virginia in the first half of the 18th century.

The Vestry books of St. Peter’s, St. Paul’s, and St. Martin’s churches have helped me understand my ancestors in Hanover County.  The official records of Hanover County were destroyed when Richmond was burned at the end of the Civil War.  The County Clerk (along with other clerks throughout Virginia) had sent the records to Richmond “for safe-keeping,” in anticipation of raids by the occupying Federal forces in the area.  The retreating Confederate army had set fire to Richmond in order to deter the encroaching Federal troops under the command of Ulysses S. Grant.  As a result, the old parish records are the best remaining sources of a variety of transactions in Virginia – births, marriages, deaths, land transfers, and so forth.

A brief survey of these vestry books reveals that my Hanover County ancestors were deeply involved in parish affairs.  I will leave the Vestry book of St. Peter’s to my essay on New Kent County.  The Vestry Book for St. Paul’s mentions various members of the Anderson family hundreds of times.  Other family names are referenced less often:  Hunt, more than a dozen times; and Hester, about a dozen times.  The Vestry book does not mention the Walton surname at all, although I know that members of this family were significant property-owners and county officeholders during this time period.

My Ancestors in Hanover County

This set of Hanover County ancestors represents my father’s side of the family.  The key family name is Walton; if you have been reading this set of essays, you may recall these people from other essays.  I wrote about them in Weeks 9 and 15, in my essays on Cumberland County, Virginia and Boone County, Kentucky.  I’ll be writing about them again in Week 31, when I write my essay on New Kent County, Virginia.

Pedigree Chart Hanover County

The earliest Walton I can say anything definite about is my 7th great-grandfather Edward Walton, Jr. (1672-1720).  He was born in New Kent County, Virginia, and I’ll talk more about him when I write about that county in Week 31.   The key figure for the Hanover County part of my story is Edward’s youngest child, John Walton (1709-1772).  Both of his parents died when he was about 10 years old (his mother in 1717 and his father in 1720), and I haven’t been able to figure who raised him until he was ready to live on his own.   His four oldest siblings were adults when their father died, and the three younger children (13-year-old Elizabeth, 11-year-old John, and 10-year-old Martha) probably lived with them.  Edward’s younger brother, Robert, was also living in New Kent County and might have helped support the young orphans.

John Walton married Mary Sims (1718-1804) in Hanover County in 1735.  Mary was born in the part of New Kent County that would become Hanover County in 1721.  John and Mary had 12 children, including my 6th great-grandfather Simeon Walton (1741-1798), who was their fourth child.  Their first four children are noted as being born in Hanover County, whereas records indicate that their last six children were born in Louisa County.  Louisa was formed from Hanover County in 1742.  I don’t think the family moved in these years.

Simeon married Agnes Hester (1746-1821) in 1763.  Agnes had been born in Louisa County — probably in the part of the county that had been Hanover just a few years earlier.  Simeon and Agnes had 13 children, including my 5th great-grandfather John Walton (1765-1840), who was their second child.  It is difficult to figure out exactly where Simeon and Agnes lived; their children are identified as having been born in Amelia, Hanover, and Louisa Counties over the years, and it’s hard to identify a pattern.  I do know that Simeon became pastor of a Baptist church in Nottaway County (west of Amelia) in the 1780s, and that they moved to Kentucky in 1795.

I’ll tell the stories of the families that married into the Walton family – Sims and Hester and their ancestors – in weeks 20 and 31, in essays on James City County and New Kent County.

The following set of Hanover County ancestors represents my mother’s side of the family.  The key family name is Hunt; if you been reading this set of essays, you may recall these people from other essays.  I wrote about them in Week 14, in my essay on Greenville County, South Carolina.

Pedigree Chart Hanover County 2

The earliest Hunt ancestor I can document is my 8th great-grandfather Ralph Hunt (1613-1675), who came to Virginia in 1635 and settled in Charles Parish (York County).  His grandson and my 6th great-grandfather, also named Ralph Hunt (1693-1780), was the first of his line to live in Hanover County.  He was born in New Kent County and married Dianna Charity Anderson (1693-1769) there in 1718. Records refer to her as “Charity,” so that’s what I’ll call her.  Ralph and Charity had 10 children, who appear to have been born in a number of counties in southern Virginia – including Lunenburg, Halifax, and Hanover – and I don’t have an explanation for these discrepancies.   My 5th great-grandfather, Christopher Hunt (1728-1781), was born in Hanover County; he was their sixth child.  Ralph and Charity both died in Hanover County, so the Hunt family must have maintained some kind of constant presence there over the years.

Charity’s mother, Mary E. Overton (1673-1734), was born in New Kent County. She married Robert Anderson (1663-1716) in 1690 in New Kent, but this was almost certainly the part of New Kent that became Hanover County in 1721. The Anderson family is historically associated with Hanover County; the family home, Goldmine Plantation (named after a nearby creek), was in Hanover County, near Ashland.  The Anderson surname is mentioned more frequently than any other of my family surnames in Hanover.  The Andersons were large landholders and significant county officials in the history of Hanover County.

One well-known Anderson in Hanover was my 2nd cousin 7x removed Richard Clough Anderson, who joined with fellow Hanover County resident Patrick Henry to raise an infantry company for the Continental Line in 1775.  Richard participated in the battles of Long Island and Trenton, wintered at Valley Forge, and was captured at Charleston.  He was wounded twice – once at Trenton and a second time at Savannah.  He served as aid-de-camp to General Nelson and was present at the surrender at Yorktown in 1781.  Richard moved with his family to Kentucky after the war, where he served as surveyor of the Virginia Military Land District in the 1780s and participated in the process by which Kentucky became a state in 1792.

Another well-known Anderson connected with the Hanover County family was Robert Anderson, who was the son of Richard Clough Anderson (and my 3rd cousin 6x removed).  After graduating from West Point in 1825, he had a a distinguished military career that spanned the Second Seminole War in Florida in the 1830s and the Mexican War in the 1840s.  He was appointed to command a small US force at Ft. Moultrie, outside of Charleston in the winter of 1860.  Finding that fort indefensible, he moved his troops to Ft. Sumter, where he held out for two days against a confederate attack led by Confederate General Beauregard.  Unable to maintain his position, he surrendered to General Beauregard. Although no lives were lost during this engagement, the attack on Ft. Sumter kicked off the four-years Civil War.