Week 51: December 18, 2020 York County, Pennsylvania

Source of map: Wikipedia

York County, Pennsylvania, is located in the southeast portion of Pennsylvania, on the border with Maryland.  It was formed from neighboring Lancaster County in 1749.

This map shows the townships in York County.  My ancestors were mostly in Dover, although some are identified in Conewago after that township was formed in 1818. Source of map: US Genweb Archives http://usgwarchives.net/maps/pa/county/york/usgs/
I like this map because it shows how the Great Appalachian Valley extends from the Canadian border into Alabama.  York County, PA, is about where the numeral “7” appears on the map.  This explains the migration patterns of people from Pennsylvania through Maryland and into Virginia and points further south.  (Source of map:  Wikipedia)

Changing Boundaries of York County

As the population of states grows, the organization of local government changes.  York County was established primarily because immigrants – mostly German – came into the port of Philadelphia and then moved west to take advantage of the fertile farmland in the Great Appalachian Valley shown on the earlier map.  All of these maps are taken from https://www.mapofus.org.

The land that would become Pennsylvania was contested between the English, Dutch, and Swedish through most of the 17th century.  In 1673, the Dutch established three county courts, which went on to become original counties in present-day Delaware and Pennsylvania (Upland County was the one later transferred to Pennsylvania. Today, Upland is a borough in Delaware County, Pennsylvania) 
In 1681, King Charles II granted a land charter to William Penn to repay a debt of 16,000 pounds owed to William’s father, Admiral William Penn.
In 1681, three counties were created as original counties in the colony of Pennsylvania
In 1729, population pressures in Chester County led to the creation of Lancaster County as the first “western” county in the colony
Continuing population pressures led the local court to approve new townships to the west; by 1749, the process of carving up Lancaster County into new counties had begun, beginning with York County
In 1800, Adams County was carved from York County.  No further significant changes have been made to York County

A (Very) Little History

The township of Dover, where my ancestors lived, was founded as part of Lancaster County before the establishment of York County.  The earliest settlers – almost all German immigrants – moved there in 1736, the year of the oldest land warrants in the area.  German was the primary language of this community even into the 19th century.  This was a small community; in 1783, one year for which I have found records, the population of the village totaled 81.  Everyone knew everyone else in the village.  The township of Conewago, formed  out of Newberry and Dover in 1818, was the home of some of my other ancestors.

The history of this part of Pennsylvania is caught up in the contest between the Penns (of the Pennsylvania Colony) and Lord Baltimore (of the Maryland Colony). Establishing the boundary line between the provinces was harder than it had to be, I think, because of the different assumptions and conditions under which the various proprietary land grants were given.  It was not until the boundary line was surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon that the border dispute was resolved by the drawing of what came to be known as the Mason-Dixon line.

The location of York County made it inevitable that the county would be at the crossroads of activity as the population of the country grew and moved around.  As the earlier map illustrated, York County’s position in the extended Great Valley region, east of the Appalachian mountains, meant that it was on the pathway of migration and commerce that extended into the American heartland during the 18th century. 

It also meant that the region did not escape the American Revolution, although no significant battles were fought there.  York County was, however, the site of the Continental Congress’s temporary relocation from Philadelphia, and was thus the place where the Articles of Confederation were drafted and adopted.  In addition, York County raised several corps of militia in 1774 and 1775 in preparation for the coming fight.  The first company that marched from Pennsylvania to the battlefield was a company of riflemen from the town of York in July of 1775.  York County sent our more soldiers the revolution than any one of her neighboring counties.

Although my ancestors were no longer living in York County by the time of the Civil War, it is worth noting that the first Civil War battle on Pennsylvania soil was fought at Hanover (in the far western portion of the county) on June 30th, 1863. Because of this engagement, Confederate General J.E.B Stuart and his much-heralded cavalry forces were unable to join General Robert E. Lee’s armies at Gettysburg until after the decisive battles had been fought. This delay in Hanover played an important part in the Union victory at Gettysburg, which is considered to be the turning point in the Civil War. The passing of Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train through York County marked a somber close to this period. A large part of the local population was at the railroad station to pay tribute to the martyred president on April 21, 1865, as his funeral train passed through York.

My Ancestors in York County

This pedigree chart shows the small stub of ancestors I have in York County.  They are part of my Ellefritz line.  As I have worked on my genealogy research, I have generally organized my work by my grandparents’ surnames – the maternal names Workman and Anthis and the paternal names Arnold and Ellefritz

My paternal 2nd great-grandfather Solomon Ellefritz (1825-1894) provides my link to my ancestors in York County.  My grandmother Orpha Lydia Ellefritz (1896-1986) was his granddaughter.

            My paternal 2nd great-grandfather wasn’t born in York County, but I wanted to put him here on this chart so it’s easier to see the connection to my immediate family.  My grandmother’s maiden name was Ellefritz, so this chart shows when this important surname became connected to my family tree.  One thing I have come to realize is that this part of my family tree moves in important direction at the level of my  great-grandparents and 2nd great-grandparents.  Through Solomon’s wife Mary Ann Botts, I am connected to a vast array of ancestors in colonial Virginia.  I’ve told the sequential story of the Botts family in my week 45 essay on Stafford County, Virginia, my Week 5 essay on Boone County, Kentucky, and my Week 19 essay on Hancock County, Illinois.  Through May Wilson, the wife of Solomon and Mary Ann’s son Howard Ellefritz (1875-1930), I am connected to a whole host of New England ancestors, including two Mayflower passengers.

Solomon’s great-grandfather Johann Georg Ilgenfritz (1702-1749) came to Pennsylvania in 1737 on the ship Charming Nancy, along with his wife Maria Appolonia (1705-1784) and their son Johannes George Ilgenfritz (1728-1810).  The trip from Rotterdam to Philadelphia lasted 81 days, from June 29 until September 18, including a 10-day delay in Portsmouth, England, due to customs inspections and unfavorable winds.  Once in Philadelphia, the passengers were quarantined until they were given a clean bill of health, on October 8.  At that point, the men were taken to city hall where they had to swear allegiance to King George II.

I need to warn you, however; this was a difficult tree to trace because for the first three generations, all of my direct male ancestors were named, with some variation, Johannes Georg Iglenfritz.  The first one, born in Germany in 1702, appears to have used the first name of Hans almost exclusively, although in records he appears as both Hans and Johannes.  The second one, born in Germany in 1728, appears to have used Johannes and George interchangeably, appearing in records under both names.  The third one, born in 1750 in Pennsylvania, appears to have been known as both Johannes and John.  So in this essay, Johannes Georg 1702 will be called Johannes; Johannes George 1728 will be called George; and Johannes Georg 1750 will be called John.

The family thrived in York County.  When Johannes 1702 died in 1749, he left his widow and children in pretty good shape.  He and Maria had two more children after they settled in York County – a son named Christian (1740-1810) and a daughter named Anna (742-1800).  George 1728 had married Margaretha Mohr (1731-1769) in 1748, and the young man rapidly assumed the position of head of the family.  He owned over 300 acres of land, served as constable for Dover Township in the county in 1753, and was named road supervisor in 756 and 1758.  He also owned a woolen mill.  In addition, the 1968 book Conestoga Wagon, by George Shumway, lists George Elefritz of York County as one of many who furnished a Conestoga wagon and teams for the ill-fated expedition of General Braddock against Fort Duquesne in 1755 during the French and Indian war. Benjamin Franklin had made a plea for the voluntary furnishing of the wagons as an alternative to requisitioning by the British army, Daniel Boone was listed among the wagoneers, and George Washington led the militia. The map I showed earlier in this essay illustrates that Dover’s location along the Great Valley route from eastern Pennsylvania through the Shenandoah makes this a logical place for someone to produce wagons.

Before I go any further, I want to talk about minute about the parents of Margaretha Mohr, the wife of George 1728.  Her father Peter Mohr (1703-1740) and her mother Catherine Matthias (1700-1761) came to Pennsylvania with their 10 children in 1740 on the ship Loyal Judith.  Margaretha was their sixth child.  Peter and Catherine lived in nearby Lancaster County, where Peter shows up on the 1769 property rolls as the owner of 100 acres of land.

George 1728 and Margaretha had 16 children in York County, including my 3rd great-grandfather Johannes George Ilgenfritz III (1750-1831).  This is the man I am calling “John.”  One interesting side note about George 1728; the militia muster rolls for York County how the name of George Ilgenfritz.  Although George 1728 was almost 50 years old at the time of the Revolution, his son named George was only born in 1766, so is unlikely to be the person on the muster rolls.  One suggestion about this family’s service is that, as German speakers, they helped communicate with the Hessian soldiers who had been captured after the Battle of Trenton and spent the rest of the war years working on farms in Lancaster County.

Margaretha died in 1769, the same year that records indicate she gave birth to a stillborn child.  It is not a stretch to imagine that she died of complications from this event.  George 1728 remarried in 1770, to a woman named Maria Dorr who was the widow with two children at the time they married.  George 1728 and Maria went on to have three more children.

John 1750 married three times.  With his first wife, Margaret Mummert, he had six children; with his second wife, Keturah Clark, he 11 children; and with his third wife, Permilia “Milly” Jarvis (1796-1860), he had five children, including my second great-grandfather Solomon A. Ellefritz (1825-1894)Solomon was born when his father was 74 years old (his mother was only 29 at the time), and his father died when Solomon was only six years old.

According  to one source, there was some sort of feud among the descendants of George Ilgenfritz 1728.  As the story goes, Eleanora (Ellen) Ilgenfritz (George’s great-granddaughter through his son Samuel) journeyed to Baltimore to visit her uncle John Ilgenfritz in 1836, and while there she met her distant cousin, Jacob Ilgenfritz, Jr., (George’s great-grandson through his son John 1750 and his second wife) and the young people fell in love.  Her parents opposed the marriage, and his mother Susan Lau was also furious (his father had died in 1828).  She forbade Jacob from seeing Eleanor.  So they eloped to Philadelphia and were married. 

Jacob began looking for work as a printer, but his mother hounded him and got him discharged from every position he got.  He tried for work of any kind, but it was winter, and there was no work to be found.  He and Ellen were expecting a baby, and still he could find no work.  He caught a cold, it developed into pneumonia, and he died from lack of medical attention and malnutrition. 

Ellen’s parents, hearing of her plight, went to Philadelphia and took her back to York with them, where her baby was born about three months later. Jacob’s mother, Susan (Lau) Ilgenfritz  refused to acknowledge the baby, and never helped Ellen and the baby in any way.  It is thought that she had a lot of property, as the Laus were wealthy farmers of Manchester Twp., York Co., and she had inherited much wealth.  Just to complete the story — Eleanora (Ellen) Ilgenfritz married Abraham Gartman in 1849 and lived in York, Pa., until 1905, when she went out to the state of Washington with her daughter, Fanny Spangenberg, to live with her granddaughter, Eleanora (Nelly) and her husband Frank Dice, on a large farm near Present day Walla Walla Washington where she died on Jan 19, 1911, 10 days shy of her 97th birthday.

I want to note how prolific the Ilgenfritz/Ellefritz family was, and how that complicates the process of researching them.  Johannes 1702 and his wife had only three children, but subsequent generations could have populated entire towns.  George 1728 had 16 children with his first wife and three with his second wife.  His son John 1750 had a total of 22 children, as I noted earlier.  His other children had varying number of children:  his five sons had 11, 10, 12, 10, and 10 children.  This meant there were a lot of people named Ilgenfritz/Ellefritz in York County at the end of the 18th century.  It appears that many of the boys were named some variant of Johannes or George, and many of the girls were named variants of Anna, Margaret, Elizabeth, and Catherine.  This makes it difficult to untangle the various family threads.

I picked up the story of the Ellefritz family as they moved west in my Week 19 essay on Hancock County, Illinois.

Johannes Georg Ilgenfritz, along with wife Margaretha Mohr Ilgenfritz were moved from another cemetery and re-interred at Prospect Hill Cemetery in York, PA.    When the stones were moved over to Prospect Hill, they were installed lying flat upon the ground, instead of vertically, and over time have become mostly illegible

Week 49: December 4, 2020 Wharton County, Texas

Source of map: Wikipedia

The area that the Wharton County now occupies had been controlled by Spain until the 1821 Mexican war for independence.  At that time, Anglo-American colonization of the area began under a program sponsored by the Mexican government in 1823, when 31 of Stephen F. Austin’s “Old Three Hundred” received titled to land in the area.  In 1846, after Texas statehood, Wharton County was formed from parts of Matagorda, Jackson, and Colorado counties. 

Evolution of County Boundaries in Wharton County

The next section of this essay summarizes the history of Texas from Mexican independence from Spain in 1821 through the consolidation of the state’s boundaries in 1850.  However, the next four maps place the evolution of the boundaries of Wharton County within this context. (These maps are taken from https://www.mapofus.org)

Wharton County didn’t exist in 1834, but the red circle shows where it would be by 1846

Wharton County was created in 1846, after Texas was annexed by the United States.
The Compromise of 1850 established the permanent boundaries of the state of Texas, with Wharton County in the red circle.

A (Very) Little History

The history of Wharton County begins with the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, led by the conquistador Hernan Cortes in 1519-1521.  The Viceroyalty of New Spain, which was established by this conquest, included what is now Mexico, Florida and the Gulf Coast, and virtually all of the land west of the Mississippi River in the United States.  Fast-forward to the 19th century, and we find tensions in New Spain as a result of changes in European power politics, in particular the relationship between France and Spain.  A series of insurgences in the first decades of the 19th century culminated in a war for Mexican independence in 1810-1821; a short-lived “First Empire” in Mexico was followed in 1823 by the establishment of the First Republic.

This 1821 map (Source:  Wikipedia) shows the territorial organization of the First Mexican Empire (after independence and before the First Republic), marking the largest extension of Mexico as an independent country.  The red square makes the area where Stephen F. Austin and his “Old 300” families settled; this includes the area that would become Wharton County.

It was into this confusing situation that Stephen F. Austin introduced his “Old Three Hundred” group of settlers.  His father, Moses Austin, had received an empresarial grant from the government of Mexico in 1821, giving him land and permission to settle 300 families in Texas.  After Moses unexpectedly died before he was able to act on this grant, Stephen was authorized to carry on the colonization enterprise under his father’s grant.  It took a few years for this to all work out, but by 1828 Austin had complete civil and military authority over this colonists.  About 43 of the original “Old 300” received land grants in what would become Wharton County.

The original settlers under this grant agreed to do three things:  become Mexican citizens, become Catholic, and speak Spanish as their primary language.  In general, the settlers didn’t meet these requirements, and tensions developed between the government of Mexico and the American settlers.  These tensions were exacerbated when the government of Mexico proposed a new constitution that abolished slavery in the country; because many of the Americans who settled in Mexico were slaveholders from the old South, this caused general consternation among these settlers, who figured out ways to evade the evolving prohibition of slavery in Mexico.  By 1835, Austin’s colonists had learned that Mexico’s tolerance for these evasions was drawing to a close; they soon took up arms against the Mexican government.  After a string of engagements in 1835 and 1836 (including the famed siege at the Alamo), the Mexican Army was defeated and the Republic of Texas was proclaimed on March 2, 1836.

This map shows the boundaries of the Republic of Texas between 1836 and 1845. (Source of map: Wikipedia)

Sam Houston, who was elected President of the Republic of Texas, was the leaders of the vast majority of the population that advocated annexation of Texas to the United States.  However, domestic American politics kept this from happening for almost 10 years, as the anti-slavery forces in both political parties opposed the addition of a new (and vast) slave-holding region into a country already divided into pro- and anti-slavery sections. 

It wasn’t until 1845 that the US Congress passed a bill that authorized the United States to annex the Republic of Texas.  On March 1, President John Tyler signed the bill.  Changing political circumstances within the United States had made this change possible, and President Tyler was particularly interested in pursuing the annexation of Texas to gain popular support for another four years in office.  He did not achieve his personal political goals, but he succeeded in making the acquisition of Texas an important part of the presidential election campaign of 1844; the result was that James K. Polk, who had run on a pro-Texas platform, won the presidency.  In 1845, in the waning days of his presidency, President Tyler signed the annexation bill that had been past after the November 1844 election.  Texas entered the Union.

The annexation of Texas precipitated a conflict with Mexico – the Mexican War – which lasted from 1846 to 1848 and resulted in the lost of 1/3 of Mexican territory to the United States.  The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (and the Compromise of 1850 which followed) established firm boundaries and regularized the status of Texas in the United States.

This map shows the territorial evolution of Mexico, Texas, and the American Southwest in the 1830s and 1840s (source of map:  Wikipedia)
Two years later, the boundaries of Texas were drawn as they appear today. Source of map: Wikipedia)

Texas barely had time to settle into statehood before the coming of the Civil War led to its secession; it was the 7th state to secede, on February 1, 1861.  Texas was firmly a slave state at this time, and slaves accounted for about 2/3 of the population in Wharton County prior to the civil war.  This was driven in part by the focus on growing sugar cane in the area; the counties of Wharton, Fort Bend, Brazoria, and Matagord came to be known as the “Texas sugar bowl.”

The abolition of slavery at the end of the civil war led to economic changes throughout Texas; in Wharton County, plantation style farming was replaced by cattle raising, drawing significant numbers of Mexicans into the area to serve as hersemen.  The percentage of blacks in the county remained high – as much as 80% in 1890 – but the numbers decreased to the point that by 1920 only 1/3 of the populations was black.  Today the black population of Wharton County numbers a little over 14% — just a little higher than the national average.

My ancestors were from the town of El Campo in Wharton County, and here’s what I have learned about the name of this town.  In 1882 a railroad camp called Prairie Switch was situated where El Campo now stands and served as a switching point on New York, Texas and Mexican Railway. Cowboys called the camp “Pearl of the Prairies.” Located in the midst of cattle country, the camp was used by Mexican cowboys who changed the name to El Campo in 1890.

My Ancestors in Wharton County

My ancestors did not move to Wharton County until the 20th century, well after the events that shaped the state in the decades surrounding independence, statehood, secession, reconstruction, and the years that followed.

My mother, Violet Henrietta Workman (1921-2012) provides my gateway to my ancestors in Wharton County.  She was born in the county, as were her siblings, but her family moved away when she was 10 years old.

My mother Violet Henrietts Workman (1921-2012) was born in El Campo, the largest town in Wharton County, on September 26, 1921.  Three of her four grandparents were living in El Campo at the time of her birth, and they never left the town.  They came to the town by different routes, however, and I want to tell their stories a little here.

Her paternal grandparents, Thomas Calvin Workman Sr. (1854-1930) and Mary Elizabeth Thomas (1859-1926) had moved to El Campo with several of their children in 1915 or 1916, so far as I can determine.  Before moving to El Campo, they were living in Guthrie County, Oklahoma, where they had lived for 25 years on land they acquired through the 1889 Oklahoma Land Run.  I wrote about their lives there in my Week 30 essay on Logan County, Oklahoma. 

I don’t know what led them to make this move; census records identify the men in this family simply as “farmers,” which doesn’t give me much to go on.  This family met with some tragedy shortly after moving to El Campo; Thomas and Mary’s first-born son, Wesley Harrison Workman (1888-1918) died in the 1918 influenza epidemic, and their second youngest son (and my grandfather), Thomas Calvin Workman Jr. (1898-1973), almost died in the epidemic and lived the rest of his life with weakened lungs.

Thomas recovered sufficiently, however, to marry Susan Vernon Anthis (1898-1944) in El Campo in 1919.  Susie’s parents, Franklin Anthis (1849-1899) and Martha Elizabeth (Mattie) Kyle (1857-1932), had moved to El Campo a decade or so before the Workman family moved there.  Prior to the move, they had lived in Lee County, Texas; I wrote about their lives there in my Week 27 essay on Lee County.

I can speculate a little more about what led this family to move the 100 miles or so from Lee County to El Campo.  A little research into Wharton County reveals that rice farming was an emerging industry in the early years of the 20th century, and the 1910 census shows that at least three members of the Anthis family – Susie’s older brothers and my great-uncles Kyle, John, and Harley – were identified as laborers on a rice farm.  According to one source http://genealogytrails.com/tex/gulfcoast/wharton/history_el_campo.htm the first rice mill in Wharton County was built in 1903 and second one in 1908.  The profits realized from growning rice attracted settlers from all parts of the country and during the period from 1901 to 1910 the country settled rapidly.  My Anthis ancestors may have been part of this population boom. My great-uncle John Anthis seems to have stuck with this trade; subsequent censuses in 1930 and 1940 continue to identify him as a laborer in a rice mill.

Thomas 1898 married Susie Anthis in El Campo in 1919.  The 1920 census shows them living possibly right next door or across the street from Thomas 1854 and Mary. (I know that’s not definitive – that placement on a page does not necessarily signal that they lived as closely together as their census entries suggest).  The 1920 census reveals something else interesting about this family.  You remember Wesley, who died in the 1918 flu epidemic?  He left behind his wife (also named Susie) and their daughter Emmie, and the 1920 census shows Susie and Emmie living with Thomas 1854 and Mary, Wesley’s parents.  Another occupant of the house was Wesley’s 28-year-old brother Charles, who married Susie at the end of 1920.  As an aside – through Ancestry, I found a DNA match with Velma Adele Workman Poenisch, the daughter of Charles and Susie.  I “found” Velma in 2018 and we talked off and on until her death in April 2020 at the age of 94.

Thomas 1898 and Susie Anthis Workman had three children in El Campo, including my mother Violet Henrietta Workman (1921-2012), who was their first child.  I think they must have doted on this child; when she reached school age, they moved from “the farm” into “town” so that she could go to school.  She told stories about picking cotton when she was a child.  The weakness that plagued Thomas 1898 after his bout with influenze impacted him in lots of ways; one change was that he was unable to do the outdoor work required by farming, so when they moved into town he took up work as a plumber and general handyman, the kind of work he would continue to do the rest of his life. 

Thomas 1898 and Susie had two more children in El Campo – my aunt Mary Lorraine Workman (1928 – ) and my uncle T. C. Workman (1929-2011) before the state of my grandfather’s health led the family to move to Arizona, where the dry climate would help my grandfather and his weak lungs.  It worked pretty well – he lived until 1973, more than 40 years after the move.  Their move to Arizona was facilitated by the fact that Susie’s older brother Abner had moved to Tucson sometime before 1930, and could help them find a place to live and get settled.  The 1930 and 1940 census records show Abner living in the city of Tucson and working as a house painter, which would have provided good connections for Thomas 1898 to continue to work as a plumber but also to branch out to work as an electrician by 1940. 

To see how this turned out, read the further story of this family in Tucson in my Week 39 essay on Pima County.

Week 48: November 27, 2020 Washington County, Rhode Island

Source of map: Wikipedia

Washington County was created as Kings County in 1729 within the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It was renamed Washington County on October 29, 1781 in honor of George Washington. At the earliest stage of colonial settlement, the area was called “The Narragansett Country”, named after the Naragansett tribe and its tributary tribe the Niantics, both of whom lived in the area.

Early settlers purchased land in the Narragansett Country after Indian trading posts were established at Fort Neck in Charlestown and at “Smith’s Castle” in Wickford. A series of conflicts involving the Manisseans on Block Island gave that island to the Massachusetts Bay Colony for a number of years, before it was transferred to the Rhode Island Colony under Newport County, and then finally to Washington County in 1959.

The borders of the Narragansett country were disputed for nearly 100 years among the colonies of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The Narragansetts had pledged their fealty to King Charles, and the area was known as “The King’s Province” and was placed under the authority of Rhode Island “until the King’s pleasure was further known”. In 1664, a royal commission under Charles II stepped in to adjudicate these conflicting claims. The commission extinguished the claims of Massachusetts, and Rhode Island was granted jurisdiction until the commission finished processing Connecticut’s appeals, which were not ended until 1726. Settlements of King’s Province were named to reflect the English Restoration, in honor of King Charles II. Towns reflecting this history include the two Kingstowns and Charlestown, as well as the villages of Kingston and West Kingston.

Washington County is also known in Rhode Island as “South County”. 

My ancestors lived in the four towns underlined in red on this map:  Westerly, Richmond, Exeter, and North Kingston Source of map: FamilySearch

Westerly:  A (Very) Little History

The first English colonists settled on the southwest shoreline of Rhode Island in 1661, and the town was incorporated in 1669.  Washington County was not formed until 1729, when it was created as Kings County.  As I write about this county in this week’s essay, I’m going to refer to it as Kings/Washington County.

The first European visitors on record arrived in Westerly, RI, (later in Kings/Washington County) in the early seventeenth century. In 1614, Adrian Block landed at Pawcatuck Rock, on the Connecticut side of the Pawcatuck River, and made the first survey and map of the river. Soon after, Dutch traders began exchanging cloth and arms for furs from the Indians, with whom they had a temporary compact. The first English settler in the area was Thomas Stanton, who built a trading house near the Pawcatuck, on the Connecticut side, in 1649, and enjoyed a monopoly of trade at the mouth of the river for many years.  The Pawcatuck River flows through Westerly and forms a portion of the boundary between Rhode Island and Connecticut

In 1660, a private company was organized in Newport to purchase and settle Misquamicut in what would become Westerly; in the same year, the sachem Sosoa, or Socho, deeded to Robert Stanton, William Vaughan, and several other associates the area that approximately comprises today’s town of Westerly.

In 1661, house lots were laid out extending along the east side of the Pawcatuck River and permanent settlement began. In 1669, when the entire area had only about thirty white families, the town was incorporated; it then included today’s Charlestown, Richmond and Hopkinton. Charlestown including Richmond was set off as an independent town in 1738, and in 1757 all of Westerly north of the Pawcatuck River became part of the new town of Hopkinton.  Kings County was created in 1729; the name was changed to Washington County in 1781, for reasons that should be obvious.

Richmond:  A (Very) Little History

I learned a lot about the history of the town of Richmond in an 1876 book Historical Sketch of the Town of Richmond R.I., written by The Rev. J.R. Irish.  Here’s what he has to say:

“The history of this town, during its settlement, can be traced only in connection with the history of Westerly, as it was a part of that territory for sixty-nine years after its organization. Still earlier, the entire area, from Narragansett Bay to the Pawcatuck River, and the bay at its mouth (early known as little Narragansett) was a subject of controversy, being claimed in turn by Connecticut and Massachusetts, in opposition to the claim of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

“The controversy arose because in 1660 Connecticut had received a royal charter from the King of England embracing all the territory from Narragansett Bay and the Pawcatuck River westward to the Pacific Ocean. The following year the King issued a charter to Rhode Island extending its limits westward to the Pawcatuck River.

“Authorities in each colony then laid claim to the whole. To add insult to injury, in 1642 a colony from Massachusetts had settled in Wickford with subsequent claims to lands in Narragansett Country. The dispute was settled in 1665 when the King dissolved the charters, assumed governance, and referred to the area as King’s county or province, today’s Washington County, or as it is commonly known, ‘South County’.

“In May 1669, it was organized by the General Assembly of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, under the name of Westerly, as the fifth town in the colony. Westerly, as then organized, embraced what is now the four towns: Westerly, Charlestown, Richmond and Hopkinton.

“Charlestown was set off as a separate town in 1738, and Richmond separated from Charlestown in 1747.  Settlement, however, was a slow process. To stimulate settlement a commission of the General Assembly in 1709 sold certain vacant lands known as the ‘Shannock purchase’ to approximately 27 persons who then settled in the area. These early settlers included the Barbers, Browns, Clarkes (Clarks), Hoxsies, Kenyons, Utters, Crandalls, Teffts and Perrys, names still common in the area.  It is of interest to note that these settlers were a conservative lot. They did indeed support the Revolutionary War, sending troops and setting aside monies for the manufacture of munitions. However, in March of 1787 they voted against the adoption of the Constitution. Of the 77 legal voters in the town at that time, 69 voted. The vote was 68 nays and 1 aye!”

The town of Richmond was originally part of the territory of Westerly, Rhode Island (1669 to 1747), which remained in dispute for several years among the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut Colony, and Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1665, King Charles II dissolved the charters of those three colonies and renamed the disputed area “King’s County”. In May 1669, the General Assembly of Rhode Island organized King’s County into the town of Westerly, and the town of Westerly organized itself into four separate areas: Westerly, Charlestown, Richmond, and Hopkinton.

North Kingstown:  A (Very) Little History

The roots of North Kingstown extend back in time to 1637, when Roger Williams, recently banished from the nearby Massachusetts Bay Colony, established a temporary trading post at the intersection of two major Native American thoroughfares, the Pequot Path (now Post Road) and the major east-west route of Narragansett People between their winter and summer villages (now Stony Lane); this seasonal trading outpost was additionally adjacent to the home of his friend Narragansett Chief Sachem Canonicus.

Williams was followed in 1639 by two additional seasonal traders, Richard Smith and Edward Wilcox.  (You’ll read more about Edward Wilcox later in this essay – he was my 9th great-grandfather.)  Wilcox left the area after a time and relocated to the region that was to become Westerly, but Smith in 1641 and Williams in 1643 decided to make the “Narragansett Country,” as it was then known, their permanent home. Roger Williams, for his part, stayed on at Cocumscussoc for nearly eight years, farming, raising goats on Queen’s Island, and trading with the Narragansett People for fur and wampum.  (A warning:  I have some trouble with the dates provided for Edward Wilcox’s activities; I think he died in 1643, which makes some of this untenable.)

Much of Williams’s groundbreaking writings, including Experiments of Spiritual Life and Health were written here. In 1651, needing funds for a trip to England to secure the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Colony’s Charter, Williams sold his land to Smith and never again lived here on a permanent basis. Richard Smith on the other hand was here to stay and increased his land holdings greatly through his involvement in the 1658 Pettasquamscutt Purchase. Smith’s vast estate eventually included all the lands in an area approximately nine miles long by three miles wide.

In 1674, Kings Towne was founded by the colonial government. This region contained much of the old “Narragansett Country” and included the present day towns of North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Exeter, and Narragansett. It got off to a rocky start though, as by virtue of its strategic location in the region and Richard Smith’s growing allegiance with the Connecticut Colony, it became a theater of King Philip’s War, a conflict between the Narragansett and Wampanoag People and the inhabitants of the Connecticut, Plymouth, and Massachusetts Bay Colonies, fought in 1675-6. More than 30 years of peaceful co-existence between the settlers of the region and the Narragansett people ended with the destruction of all colonial structures south of Warwick.

Exeter:  A (Very) Little History

The town of Exeter was founded in 1742/3, when it was set off from North Kingstown. To get the backstory on the history of the town of Exeter, I refer you to the earlier discussion of North Kingstown.

Changing Boundaries of Washington County

Rhode Island is a very small state.  It stretches only 48 miles from north to south and 37 miles from east to west.  Some of my ancestors seem to have moved around a lot, from Little Compton (Newport County) in the east to Westerly (Washington County) in the west.  Sometimes their children appear to have been born in different counties from where I thought they were living.  I think this can be explained in part by the small size of the state; it just wasn’t very difficult to travel from one part of the state to another, particularly if you traveled by water.  I think it is also true that the records in some parts of Rhode Island are inconsistent.

It is always useful to understand how counties formed.  These maps illustrate this process for Rhode Island. All of the following maps are from https://www.mapofus.org/ .

My Ancestors in Rhode Island

Although I have ancestors in the four towns I talked briefly about earlier in this essay, they are all one branch of my family tree over six generations.  I’m going to break the tree into two parts, however, so I can show the generations I’m interested in.

My paternal 4th great-grandmother Rebecca Moon (1752-1791) provides my link to this part of my family tree.  My grandfather John Cecil Arnold (1895-1957) was her 2nd great-grandson.

My paternal 4th great-grandmother Rebecca Moon had the distinction of being a 7-generation New Englander and 6-generation Rhode Islander when she was born in the 1750s.  Some of her ancestors lived in Massachusetts – mostly in Middlesex County, which I wrote about in Week 32 of this series of essays – but the others emigrated directly to Rhode Island.

I want to examine this pedigree chart by starting at the upper right, where you find my 8th great-grandfather Robert Moon (1621-1698).  Robert arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1637; I assume he came with his parents, but I haven’t been able to prove that.  He married Dorothy Osbourne (1624-1698) in Boston in 1644.  I haven’t been able to find out when Dorothy’s family came to Massachusetts.  Robert worked as a tailor in Boston before he relocated to Newport, Rhode Island, in 1651

Robert and Dorothy had four children before they left Boston, including my 7th great-grandfather Ebenezer Moon (1645-1712), who was their first child.  Some records suggest that they had three more children in Rhode Island, but I can’t find good proof of that.  Dorothy died sometime after 1660, and Robert remarried, to Hannah (Parker?).  Robert died in 1698, at which time Hannah, identified as his widow, appointed an attorney to settle her deceased husband’s affairs.

Although Robert and Dorothy never left Newport, my 7th great-grandfather Ebenezer Moon was living in Kings/Washington County by 1670, when he married Rebecca Peabody (1649-1728) there.  I don’t know much about Ebenezer’s life in Kings/Washington County.  He and Rebecca had five children, including my 6th great-grandfather, also named Ebenezer Moon (1680-1757).  All of their children were born in Kings/Washington County, probably in the town of Kingston (which is now in South Kingstown County). 

Ebenezer 1680 married Elizabeth Richardson (1680-1777) in Washington County in 1705.  Elizabeth’s paternal grandparents, Theophilus Richardson (1633-1674) and Mary Champney (1633-1704) had married in Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts in 1654.    I talked about them in my Week 32 essay on Middlesex County

Ebenezer Moon 1680 and Elizabeth Richardson had 13 children in Kings/Washington County, so far as I can tell, including my 5th great-grandfather, once again named Ebenezer Moon (1708-1788), who was their second child.  Ebenezer married Elizabeth Deake (1715-1778) in Kingston in Washington County in 1715. 

Elizabeth’s heritage is also worth exploring.  Her paternal grandfather, Charles Deake (1650-1735) was born in England and does not appear to have come to Rhode Island until sometime before 1705, when his son, my 6th great-grandfather Richard Deake (1637-1667), married Mary Lewis (1660-1739) there.  Mary’s great-grandfather, Edmund Lewis (1601-1650) was born in Wales but came to Massachusetts with his family on the Elizabeth in 1634.  His family included my 8th great-grandfather John Lewis (1631-1690).  This family settled first in Watertown and then moved to Lynn, Essex County, by 1648.  John relocated to Westerly, Rhode Island, where he married Mary Button (1634-1705) in 1650.

Mary and John had seven children in Rhode Island, including my 7th great-grandfather John Lewis (1660-1735), who was their second child.  John 1660 married Anna Lanphere (1661-1747) in Westerly in 1682.  Anna family was also notable; her father George Lanphere (1631-) was the descendant of French Huguenots who had fled France at the end of the 16th century.  George moved to Rhode Island from his home in Ireland in 1669, buying land in Westerly from John Clarke in that year.  He was baptized into the Seventh Day Baptist Church in Westerly in 1678.  He married Jane Hulet (1647-1742) in Westerly in 1669.  I have not been able to find out anything definitive about Jane’s background.

George and Jane had four children, including my 8th great-grandmother Anna Lanpheare, who was their first child.  I mentioned her above.

Anna married John Lewis 1660, as I mentioned above, and they had two children, including my 7th great-grandmother Mary Lewis (1689-1739).  Mary married Richard Deake (1680-1753) in Westerly in 1705, and my 5th great-grandmother Elizabeth Deake (I mentioned her above) was their third child.

This brings us back to Elizabeth’s marriage to Ebenezer Moon in Westerly in 1735.  Ebenezer and Elizabeth had 11 children, including my 5th great-grandmother Rebecca Moon (1752-1791), who was their 9th child (and yes, her oldest brother was Ebenezer Moon IV).  Rebecca is of the generation that might have been expected to serve in the American Revolution; it appears that, although her brothers served, none of them served in Rhode Island.  They had moved away, primarily to New York and Vermont.  Rebecca married Nathan Wilcox (1747-1823) in Washington County in 1772, and they had three children, including my 3rd great-grandfather David Alonzo Wilcox (1772-1860), who was born in Vermont. 

My paternal 4th great-grandfather Nathan Wilcox (1747-1823) provides my connection to this part of my family tree.  My grandfather John Cecil Arnold (1895-1957) was his great-grandson

My paternal 4th great-grandfather Nathan Wilcox (1747-1823) married Rebecca Moon in Rhode Island in 1772.  The pedigree chart above traces his lineage back into colonial New England, and I want to tell this story here. 

Nathan’s ancestors go as far back in New England as Rebecca’s did.  Nathan’s family is more purely “Rhode Island” than Rebecca’s.  The surnames arrayed on the right side of this pedigree chart – Wilcox, Hazzard, Crandall, Gorton, Brownell, Carr – are among the best know in colonial Rhode Island history.  That they all ended up in western Rhode Island – mainly in Washington County – tells us a lot about the evolution of the colony of Rhode Island as independence approached. 

Let’s begin with the Wilcox family, from the upper right in this chart.  Stephen Wilcox (1630-1690), Nathan’s 2nd great-grandfather (and my 8th great-grandfather) was not the first of this line to live in the colonies.  Stephen’s father Edward Wilcox (1604-1680) married Susan (or Susanna) Thomson (1607-) in England in 1631, where they had two children before coming to the colonies sometime before 1638.  One of the children was my 8th great-grandfather Stephen Wilcox.

Edward is identified as a “free inhabitant” of Aquidneck in 1638, and he joined in founding the compact of government in May 28 of that year.  He and Susan had six more children in Rhode Island.  Edward owned a trading house in Narragansett in 1638.  He died in Narragansett probably in 1648.  I’m not sure when Susan died; she and Edward had their last child in 1639, and when Edward died his business partner Richard Smith appears to have acted as guardian for all eight children, which probably means that Susan had already died.  Some of this is suppositional; some records suggest that Edward lived until 1690, but I don’t think that’s true.

The family continued to live in Newport County, Rhode Island; Stephen married Hannah Hazard (1636-1685) there in 1648.  I wrote about these families in my Week 35 essay on Newport County, Rhode Island.  He and Hannah had at least one child before moving to Westerly, in the early 1660s.  They had eight more children in Westerly, including my 7th great-grandfather Stephen Wilcox II (1670-1766).  Stephen 1630 achieved some prominence in Westerly; his name appears several times on the list of men who represented the town in the Rhode Island General Assembly.

My ancestors in Westerly, RI, include the names underlined in red on this list.  I write about all of these men in the course of this essay. (Source of this list:  Westerly (Rhode Island) and its witnesses, by Rev. Frederick Denison, 1878, retrieved from Ancestry.com)

Stephen II married Elizabeth Crandall (1675-1704) in Westerly in 1691.  Elizabeth’s family was also prominent in Westerly.  Her grandfather, John Crandall (1617-1676), also appears on the list of representatives above.  Frequently identified as Elder John Crandall, he was in Newport, Rhode Island by 1643, when he served as a grand juror.  At an early date he was associated with the Baptists at Newport and was made a freeman there in 1655.

A Baptist and later a Seventh Day Baptist, John and several companions were arrested at Lynn on July 21,1651 and suffered imprisonment at Boston.  All three men were fined and publicly whipped for their attachment to the Baptist cause. In 1660, he was one of a group of five investors who purchased a land grant known as Misquamicuck (later Westerly).  After several years of boundary and jurisdiction disputes, the town of Westerly was incorporated; John Crandall’s is the first name on the list of freeholders of the town in 1669.  He became the first elder and preacher in Westerly, where his name is the first in the list of “free inhabitant” in 1669.

On 21 May 1669, the Governor and Council of Rhode Island appointed six men as Conservators of the Peace for the Colony. The men were assigned to geographic areas in pairs, the first of the pair to also act as coroner for their area. John Crandal and Tobias Saunders were appointed as justices at Misquamicut, with John likely acting as coroner.   John is also listed as a deputy representative of Westerly in the General Assembly in both 1670 and 1671.

John married a woman named Mary in 1649.  I’m not sure of Mary’s last name.  They had eight children in Newport before moving to Westerly, including my 8th great-grandfather, John Crandall II (1651-1704).  John II inherited his father’s property when his father died, and worked as a blacksmith in the town.  He married Elizabeth Gorton (1641-1704) in Newport, RI, in 1672.  Elizabeth’s Gorton’s father, Samuel Gorton (1592-1677), seems to have been a wholly contentious fellow in Boston, Plymouth, and Newport RI; I wrote about him in my week 35 essay on Newport County, RI.

As I have written about a number of times in this series of essays, King Philip’s War interrupted the peaceful growth on New England’s frontier in 1675-1676.  John died in Newport in 1676; this is a little hard to understand, as he was clearly living in Westerly at the time.  Some sources suggest that he had temporarily relocated to Newport to escape the violence of King Philip’s War, while others suggest that he was wounded in the 1675 Great Swamp Fight in West Kingston, Rhode Island (about 20 miles from Westerly).  He is buried in a family cemetery located near the Crandall homestead in Westerly.

The red marker on this map shows the location of the Crandall property in Westerly.  The family of my brother’s wife, Susan Viguers, owned a beach house at Quonochontaug (“Quon”) on the right side of this map for generations.

This hand-drawn map shows the location of the Crandall property in the vicinity of the red marker on the previous map (Source of map:  Jennifer Geoghan’s WordPress blog https://wellsgenealogy.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/28-june-2015-elder-john-crandalls-homestead-in-westerly-ri/ )

The following photos of the Crandall property are also taken from Jennifer Geoghan’s WordPress blog (https://wellsgenealogy.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/28-june-2015-elder-john-crandalls-homestead-in-westerly-ri/) (I probably don’t need to put all these pictures in this essay, but I don’t want to forget that I have found them.)

Sign for the Crandall Cemetery Marker — Westerly
A View of some of the Graves
Commemoration for a 21-century Crandall descendant
An inscribed rock commemorating Elder John Crandall
Close-up of the inscription on the rock

Well, that was a lot.

John II and Elizabeth had four children in Kings/Washington County, including my 7th great-grandmother Elizabeth Crandall (1675-1704), who was their third child.  In 1691, Elizabeth married Stephen Wilcox II, which is where this part of my story began a few pages ago.  Stephen and Elizabeth had two children, including my 6th great-grandfather, also named Stephen Wilcox (1692-1766), who was their first child. 

Stephen 1692 married Alice Brownell (1695-1742) in Westerly in 1714.  Alice’s Grandfather, Thomas Brownell (1608-1665), was an early inhabitant of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.  I wrote about him in my Week 35 essay on Newport County.  Alice’s parents, William Brownell (1648-1715) and Sarah Smitton (1654-1715) never moved away from Newport County, and that’s where Alice was born.  I’m not sure how Alice and Stephen 1692 met, but there was sufficient interaction between the families in Newport and Westerly that it’s not surprising that they met and married.

Stephen 1692 and Alice had 10 children in western Rhode Island, including my 5th great-grandfather William Wilcox (1715-1805), who was their first child.  This family is identified as being in Richmond, but the town of Richmond didn’t separate from Westerly until 1745, so my guess is that they lived in the part of Westerly that split off to become Richmond.

William married Elizabeth Baker (1725-1788) in Exeter in 1744.  Elizabeth’s ancestors also have stories to tell us.  Her great-grandfather, Thomas Baker (1638-1710), appears on the list of freemen of Newport in 1655.  His father, William Baker (1616-1669), had come to Rhode Island by 1638, when he appears on the list of freemen and also receives a land grant.  Also in 1655, Thomas Baker he was ordained, and in 1656, he and others separated from the First Baptist Church and organized a new society, the Second Baptist Church.  He then moved with his family to Kingstown, Rhode Island, where he organized the Baptist Church.  He remained the presiding Elder of this church until his death in 1710.  Some records suggest that he was a tailor before he was ordained a minister, because he identifies himself as a tailor in his land transactions in Newport.

Thomas married Sarah Carr (1654-1721) in Kingstown sometime before 1679, when their first child was born.  Sarah’s father, George Carr (1613-1682), came to Ipswich in 1634, but had moved to Salisbury in Essex County by 1639.  George was a ferryman and shipwright in those communities.  His land was on an island in the middle of the Merrimack River that separated the towns of Newbury and Salisbury; today, this land is set aside as Carr Island State Reservation. 

George married Elizabeth Dexter (1624-1691) in 1641 in Salisbury.   Elizabeth’s father, Thomas Dexter (1594-1676) was one of the “Ten Men from Saugus” who founded Sandwich, Massachusetts, in 1637.  I wrote about him in my Week 3 essay on Barnstable County. 

George and Elizabeth had nine children, including my 9th great-grandmother Sarah Carr (1654-1721), who was their 8th child.  Sarah married Thomas Baker before 1679, as I mentioned earlier.

Sarah and Thomas had 13 children, including my 7th great-grandfather John Baker (1699-1757).  John married Susannah Reynolds (1703-1759) in Kingston, RI, in 1723, and they had six children, including my 5th great- 4th great-grandmother Elizabeth Baker (1725-1761), who was their fifth child.

As you should expect by now, Susannah’s ancestors have yet another set of stories to tell.  Her great-grandfather James Reynolds (1625-1698) was living in Rhode Island in 1643, when he signed the compact that established the town of Providence.  I wrote about him in my Week 35 essay on Newport County, Rhode Island. James was one of the first settlers of the community of Quidnesett in North Kingstown.  He married Deborah Potter (1628-1692) in North Kingstown in 1647; I wrote about Deborah’s parents, Nathaniel Potter (163-1644) and Dorothy Wilbur (1616-1696), in my Week 35 essay on Newport County.

James and Deborah had 13 children, including my 8th great-grandfather Joseph Reynolds (1652-1739)Joseph married Susanna Spencer (1653-1695) in Kingston in 1672.  Susanna’s grandfather, Michael Spencer (1611-1653) had come to Massachusetts in 1634 and settled at Cambridge before moving to Lynn in Essex County.  He had come to Massachusetts with his three brothers, each of whom made a name for himself in the colony.  Michael and his wife Isabel (I don’t know her last name) had  seven children, including my 7th great-grandfather John Spencer (1638-1684), who was born in Lynn.  John married Susannah Griffin (1644-1719) in 1657. 

I don’t know much about Susannah’s father, Robert Griffin (1613-1684), who appears in the records of Newport, Rhode Island, a number of times in the 1640s and 1650s.  I don’t know when Robert came to the colonies, I don’t know what he did for a living, and I don’t know who he married.  I do know that Susannah was Robert’s fourth child and was born in Newport.

John Spencer owned a house in Newport and became a freeman in 1688.  In 1677 he and 47 other veterans of King Philip’s War were granted 5,000 acres to establish a town situated across Narraganset Bay from Newport.  The named this town East Greenwich.  This confused me, but once again Wikipedia comes to the rescue.  When the town was founded, its founders named it Greenwich, for Greenwich, England.  After the more rural western ¾ of the town was set off as West Greenwich, the remaining portion was renamed East Greenwich.  John was named the first town clerk; he also served as a deputy to the colonial General Assembly.

John and Susannah had five children, including my 8th great-grandmother Susanna Spencer (1653-1695), who was their first child.  Born in East Greenwich, she married Joseph Reynolds 1652, as mentioned above.  Joseph and Susanna had 14 children, including my 7th great-grandfather, also named Joseph Reynolds (1672-1722), who was their first child.  By the time Joseph 1672 was born, they were living in Kingston.

Joseph 1672 married Susannah Babcock (1677-1723) in Westerly in 1697.  Susannah’s grandfather, James Babcock (1612-1679), had moved with his family to Leyden in Holland in 1620, and came to Plymouth perhaps on the Anne in 1623.  By 1638 James was living in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.  In 1660, James was one of a company of men who bought the land that would become Westerly.  At the time of Westerly’s incorporation in 1669, there were 24 freemen in the town; four of them were Babcocks, including James 1612 and his adult sons James, John, and Job.

I am descended from James’s son John Babcock (1644-1684), mentioned above.  John married Mary Lawton (1644-1711) in Westerly in 1552.  I wrote about Mary’s parents, George Lawton (1607-1693) and Elizabeth Hazard (1630-1711) in my Week 35 essay on Newport County, Rhode Island.  I am also descended from George and Elizabeth’s daughter Mercy Lawton (1660-1685), Mary’s sister. 

Tradition tells a romantic story about John and Mary.  According to the legend, John and Mary eloped from Newport and settled in what would become Westerly, where they remained undiscovered by their parents for several months.  This legend identifies them as the first white settlers of Westerly.  There is, unfortunately, no evidence proving this tale.  But it’s a good story anyway.

This marker, in Westerly Cemetery 7, displays the legend of John and Mary. Source: Wikitree.com entry for John Babcock.

What can be proven is that 16-year-old John was part of the company of men who settled Westerly in 1660.  In 1675, when King Philip’s War broke out and many settlers in Westerly fled to eastern Rhode Island for safety, John and his family stayed in the settlement.  By this time, John and Mary had six children.  John had volunteered to serve with the Connecticut militia (ownership of Westerly was disputed between Connecticut and Rhode Island until 1728), and participated in the “Great Swamp fight” on December 19, 1675 – the date of the birth of his seventh child, Elihu.  After King Philip’s War was over, John filled a number of public positions in Westerly, including “conservator of the peace” (sort of an early police force) and Deputy from Westerly to the colonial legislature in 1682 and 1684. 

John and Mary had 11 children in Westerly, including my 7th great-grandmother Susannah Babcock (1677-1723), who was their 8th child.   Susannah married Joseph Reynolds (1672-1722) in 1697; they had 9 children, including my 6th great-grandmother Susannah Reynolds (1703-1759), who was their third child.  Susannah 1703 married John Baker (1699-1757) in North Kingstown in 1723; this is where this part of the story began a couple of pages ago. 

Susannah 1703 and John had six children in Kings/Washington County, including my 5th great-grandmother Elizabeth Baker (1725-1788).  Elizabeth married William Wilcox (1715-1805).  They had 10 children, including my 4th great-grandfather Nathan Wilcox (1747-1823), who was their third child.

Nathan married Rebecca Moon (1752-1791) in 1768, bring together the two family trees I’ve written about in this essay.  This family soon relocated, leaving six generation of Rhode Island history behind; they were in Vermont by 1770, and in western New York by 1791.

The following book extract documents the interaction among my ancestors who lived in Kings/Washington County in the 17th and 18th centuries.

This paragraph is an excerpt from The First Hundred Years:  Pawcatuck Seventh Day Baptist church, Westerly, Rhode Island, 1840-1940.  Retrieved from Hathitrust at https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/005946131)  I have underlined in red the names of my ancestors in Kings/Washington County who were among the founders of this church.

Week 44: October 30, 2020 Spotsylvania County, Virginia

Source of map: Wikipedia

Spotsylvania County is about half-way between Richmond, Virginia, and Washington, DC, on Interstate 95. (Source of map:  Wikipedia)

The Evolution of the Boundaries of Spotsylvania County

Knowing how the counties grew within a state helps me understand how the population moved and why my ancestors moved to a particular location when they did.    

The area that would become Spotsylvania is in the shaded area on this map, the Northern Neck, which was identified as the Indian District of Chicacoan

In 1645, the Indian District of Chicagoan became Northumberland County
In 1651, Lancaster was formed from Northumberland County

In 1653, Westmoreland was formed from the western part of Northumberland County

In 1656 Old Rappahannock County was formed from Lancaster County

In 1691, King and Queen County was formed from New Kent

In 1692, Old Rappahannock County was done away with and divided into Essex and Richmond Counties

In 1702, King William County was formed from King and Queen County

In 1721, Spotsylvania was formed from Essex, King and Queen, and King William Counties.  At this point, it did not have a western boundary.

In 1728, Caroline County was formed from Essex, King and Queen, and King William Counties.  Spotsylvania gets a western border at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains

In 1735, Orange County was formed from the western end of Spotsylvania.  This was the most recent significant change in the boundaries of Spotsylvania County

A (Very) Little History

As the colonial population increased, Spotsylvania County was established in 1721 from parts of Essex, King and Queen, and King William counties. The county was named in Latin for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia Alexander Spotswood.  Spotswood had early business interests in the area; his “Iron Mines Company,” a mining and smelting operation, was founded in 1725 at Germanna.  Much of Spotsylvania’s early development is attributed to Spotswood’s ironworks founded in the early 1700s.

Spotswood’s Iron Mines Company, a mining and smelting operation founded in 1725 at Germanna, was the first fully equipped iron furnace in the colonies and the County’s first industry. A wharf was built at the mouth of Massaponax Creek for ships to load wares for colonial ports, including firebacks, pots, pans and kettles. A blast furnace, also founded by Spotswood, was operated in the area from 1730 through 1785.

The settlement of Germanna is an important part of the history of the area.  Although Germanna is currently in Orange County, it was at one point the county seat of Spotsylvania County.   In 1714, 42 German men, women, and children arrived in Virginia where Lt. Gov. Spotswood settled them on the Rapidan River in a five-sided palisaded fort (named Germanna for the Germans and Queen Anne) along what was then the frontier about 20 miles west of present-day Fredericksburg. With their pastor, Henry Haeger, they formed the first German Reformed congregation in Virginia.

The Germans had come from villages near Siegen, in North Rhine Westphalia, a silver and iron producing area. Spotswood planned to use them to mine his lands, and there were hopes that silver would be found.  By 1717, iron had replaced silver as the focus of Spotswood’s mining operation. As the this group of Germans was coming to the end of their contract, Spotswood settled a second group of Germans to add to his workforce. Coming mainly from agricultural villages in the Kraichgau area of Baden-Wurttemberg, they had expected to go to Pennsylvania. The first group acquired land in present-day Fauquier County and moved there by 1720. 

With the frontier now further west, Spotswood dismantled the fort and built a mansion, known as the “Enchanted Castle.” The Germanna settlement was also the site of the first courthouse for the large frontier county of Spotsylvania and was the starting point for Spotswood’s famous Knights of the Golden Horseshoe expedition over the Blue Ridge in 1716.

This second German group moved on to lands in the Robinson River Valley (now Madison County) and formed the Hebron Lutheran Church, the oldest continuously operating Lutheran Church in America. The influence and enterprising spirit of these early German colonists helped shape the Virginia colony, our young nation, and indeed can be felt throughout our nation’s history down to today.

Under Spotswood’s resourceful leadership, a road network for transporting the iron was laid out, and skilled laborers were imported from Germany. At his death in 1740, Spotswood left behind a nearly self-sufficient iron empire that set in motion the rise of America’s iron and steel industry. Spotswood’s furnace was acquired in 1842 by the U.S. Government, which set up a forge and foundries. Here, the government made hundreds of cannons to supply the Mexican War, making it one of the most important cannon works in the country.

My ancestors left Spotsylvania County shortly after the American Revolution, but the events of the Civil War that occurred in this county are worth a brief note.  Many major battles were fought in this county during the Civil War, including the Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of the Wilderness, Battle of Fredericksburg, and Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. The war resulted in widespread disruption and opportunity: some 10,000 African-American slaves left area plantations and city households to cross the Rappahannock River, reaching the Union lines and gaining freedom. This exodus is commemorated by historical markers on both sides of the river.

General Stonewall Jackson was shot and mortally wounded by friendly fire in Spotsylvania County during the Battle of Chancellorsville. A group of Confederate soldiers from North Carolina were in the woods and heard General Jackson’s party returning from reconnoitering the Union lines. They mistook them for a Federal patrol and fired on them, wounding Jackson in both arms. His left arm was amputated. General Jackson died a few days later from pneumonia at nearby Guinea Station. He and other Confederate wounded were being gathered there for evacuation to hospitals to the south and further away from enemy lines.  In a somewhat macabre footnote, Jackson’s amputated arm was buried separately from his body, and is commemorated by a stone and sign in the Jones family cemetery in Locust Grove, Spotsylvania County, Virginia.  (Both of these images are taken from https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/grave-of-stonewall-jackson-s-arm)

My Ancestors in Spotsylvania County

After writing about counties in New England where my ancestors lived, coming “back” to Virginia is a rude awakening.  My problem in New England is that I have too much information, not all of it in agreement, and I have to make choices about which sources I’m going to accept and which sources I’m going to look at with suspicion.  In Virginia, my problem is a lack of information.  I’m going to pull back the curtain here a little bit (as they say) to let you know that the most recent essay I worked on, focused on Plymouth County, Massachusetts, ran for more than 20 pages as I explored the lives of dozens of ancestors and utilized hundreds of sources.  For this week’s essay on Spotsylvania, I’ll be exploring the lives of a handful of ancestors using a limited range of sources.  But here goes.

My paternal 4th great-grandfather Charles Stuart (1774-1846) connects me to this set of ancestors in Spotsylvania County.  My grandmother, Orpha Lydia Ellefritz (1896-1986) was her great-granddaughter.

My 4th great-grandfather Charles Stuart (1774-1846) was born in Spotsylvania County in 1774; some records say he was born in Kentucky, but I don’t have evidence that the family went to Kentucky that early.  I don’t know a lot about Charles’s paternal line once I get back beyond his father Benjamin Stuart (1732-1813), who was born in Spotsylvania, as were his six siblings.  Benjamin’s father Charles Stewart (1690-750) (note the different spelling of the surname) was probably born in the same area as his children; some records say he was born in Spotsylvania, but Spotsylvania didn’t exist until 1721, so he was probably born in a part of either Essex County, King William, or King and Queen County, which would be folded into Spotsylvania after 1721.  I don’t know anything about the parents of Charles 1690.

I do know a little about the ancestors of Mary Proctor (1710-1773), the paternal grandmother of Charles 1774Mary descends from early settlers of Virginia; her grandfather, George Proctor (1621-1682), was born in Jamestown and participated in Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676.  He was living in Surry County at the time, and was one of the authors of the Bill of Grievances for Surry County

I have to admit that I’m a little confused about my Proctor family ancestors.  George 1621 seems to have lived out his life in Surry County, in southside Virginia across the James River from Jamestown; however, I think George 1660 was born in Spotsylvania County, and I can’t figure out why.

There’s even more confusion when I look at the immigrant ancestors of the Proctor line, John Proctor (1583-1627) and Alice Graye (1587-1627).  I have good documentation that John and Alice settled in the Jamestown colony and lived there until the late 1620s; I am not so fortunate when it comes to proving that George 1621 is their son.  Records show that he and his brothers were born in Jamestown in the first half of the 1620s, but they do not prove his parentage.  I don’t know of any other Proctors who were living in Jamestown at this time, but the Jamestowne Society (which curates membership in its hereditary organization) does not accept as members people who claim a connection to John and Alice.


George 1621 married Elizabeth Burgess Marriott (1621-1664) and they had four children, including my 7th great-grandfather George Proctor (1660-1730).  I’m not sure who George 1660 married; I think it was Katherine Frank (1670-1730), but I don’t know anything about her other than her name.  They married in Essex County in 1693 (probably in the part of Essex County that became Spotsylvania County in 1720).  Katherine and George had seven children, including my 6th great-grandmother Mary Proctor (1710-1773), who married Charles Stewart 1690, as I mentioned above.

I know more about the maternal ancestors of Charles Stuart 1774, the person who connects me to these ancestors.  Charles’s maternal 2nd great-grandfathers, Samuel Clayton (1640-1702) and Philip Pendleton (1654-1721), were both early immigrants to Virginia.  Samuel was born in England and settled in Gloucester County, Virginia (on the York River about 30 miles from Jamestown), where he married Susannah Morris (1654-1710) in about 1672. 

Samuel’s father, Thomas Morris (1632-1669), was an early immigrant to Virginia, serving as clerk of Gloucester County in 1657 and 1661.  Susannah and Samuel had six children in Gloucester, including my 7th great-grandfather Samuel Clayton (1680-1735).  Samuel married Elizabeth Susannah Pendleton (1685-1761) in Culpeper County in 1702.  I’m not sure how Samuel and Susannah got together; Culpeper is about 130 miles from Gloucester, and the roads were not good.  One possibility – Philip Pendleton, Elizabeth’s father, and his brother Henry came to Virginia in 1674; Henry was a minister and the brothers may have travelled in circles that put them in touch with the colonial gentry, which would have included Susannah’s father Thomas.  In the next generation, Elizabeth’s nephew Edmund Pendleton would find his place among the political leaders of Virginia, serving in the Continental Congress and the House of Burgesses before his death in 1803.

Samuel Clayton 1680 and Elizabeth had 10 children in central Virginia, including my 6th great-grandfather Jacob Clayton (1720-1771), who was their 9th child.  By the time Jacob was born, the family was living in Essex County, probably in the part that would become Spotsylvania County in that same year.

I’m not sure who Jacob married; some records show her first name to be Elizabeth, and many records refer to her only by her married name, Elizabeth Clayton.  Nonetheless, they married; I don’t know when they married, and I don’t know how many children they had.  I think they had at least one child, Millicent Clayton (1736-1813), who was my 5th great-grandmother. 

Just as a side note – as I’m writing this, I’m realizing how very little I can say for sure about these ancestors.  This is a framework of what I think may be true, not a story of what I know to be true.

Moving right along.

I think Millicent married Benjamin Stuart (I talked about him earlier).  They had seven children in Spotsylvania, including my 4th great-grandfather Charles Stuart (1774-1846), who was the fellow I talked about when I started this section of this essay.  Charles was living in Kentucky by 1800 (he may have been there earlier – I have inconsistent locations for the places where he married and where his children were born).  It looks as if many family members had moved to Kentucky – Charles’s father and mother both died in Rockcastle County in south-central Kentucky in 1813, if the records can be believed.

I have written about this family in several other essays in this series.  I mention the Stuart family specifically in my Week 2 essay on Augusta County, Virginia.  I mention the descendants of this family in my Week 31 essay on Mason County, Kentucky, and my Week 19 essay on Hancock County, Illinois.

Week 40: October 2, 2020 Plymouth County, Massachusetts

Working on this project for the last 10 months has taught me a lot about American history – history at the granular level, history as it was lived by the people at the time.  When I wrote about my first Massachusetts County – Barnstable County, in Week 3 of this project – I took a deep dive into the early history of Massachusetts, and soon realized how much I needed to learn.  The following map helped me understand some basics of early Massachusetts history.

For this week’s essay, I had to come to terms with three major evolutions of the Plymouth area of Massachusetts.  The town of Plymouth, the Plymouth Colony, and Plymouth County are three different entities, and I had to figure out which one I needed to research to find out what I needed to know.

The towns are fairly easy to understand.  They predated both the official organization of the Plymouth Colony (1643) and the County of Plymouth (1685), so they provide the organizational framework for my discussion of this county.  One of the many problems involved in researching these early years in Massachusetts is the uncertainty about where records may be located; I have to look in records for the town, colony, county, and state to make sure that I’m exhausting all possibilities.

  I’m going to talk about four towns in this county; this chart identifies the towns and the dates of their settlement and incorporation.

TownDate of Settlement/Incorporation
Plymouth1620 (never officially incorporated)
Bridgewater1624/1645 (originally part of Duxbury)

Impact of Boundary Changes on Plymouth County

As the following maps show, after 1707 little changed in the configuration of the boundaries of Plymouth County.  My ancestors were no longer in Plymouth after this time, so I’m not going to focus on this issue for this essay. (These maps are all taken from https://www.mapofus.org)

In order to make sense of this county, I am going to deviate from my normal pattern for this essay – I’m going to provide a little history for each town and then talk about the ancestors who lived in the town.  I’ll talk about them in the order in which they were founded.

Plymouth (1620)

It hardly seems necessary to talk about the town of Plymouth.  Famously the final landing site of the first voyage of the Mayflower, Plymouth was established in December 1620 by English separatist Puritans (Pilgrims) after first anchoring in the harbor of Provincetown, Massachusetts, on November 11, 1620.  This was not the intended destination for this ship; it was headed for the mouth of the Hudson River near the Dutch colony of Manhattan, which was also claimed by the Colony of Virginia at the time.  The voyage was long, the ship went off course, and once the weary travelers had landed, they decided to stay.

The Pilgrims who settled at Plymouth had an extended history as a community.  Many of them had first left England in 1607 to go to Amsterdam and then to Leiden, seeking religious freedom.  They found religious freedom there, but also found it hard to make a living and even harder to maintain their English identity.  In 1619, they sought investors to help fund their trip.  As they were planning their trip, they realized that they didn’t have enough people to successfully build the colony, so they recruited outsiders to join them.  The list of Mayflower passengers is divided between Saints (Pilgrims) and Strangers (non-Pilgrims).  Of the 102 passengers, 40 were Pilgrims and the rest were comparatively secular Strangers. 

Originally the Mayflower had a companion ship, the Speedwell.  This ship was poorly named; almost immediately after leaving Southampton, England, the Speedwell began to leak, and both ships headed back to port in Plymouth.  Travelers from both ships squeezed themselves and their belongings onto the Mayflower, and they set sail once again.  Because of the delay, the Mayflower had to cross the Atlantic at the height of the storm season, resulting in a horribly unpleasant journey.  It took the ship 66 days to cross the Atlantic; the passengers soon discovered, however, that they were in the wrong place, and technically had no right to be there at all.

What follows is an extraction of how Wikipedia tells the story of the settlement of Plymouth.

Realizing that they did not have the legal right to settle in the Cape Cod area, the Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact before they left the ship, establishing the procedures by which they would govern themselves in the absence of other governing authority.

Plymouth faced many difficulties during its first winter, the most notable being the risk of starvation and the lack of suitable shelter. From the beginning, the assistance of Native Americans was vital.  According to historian and sociologist James W. Loewen in his 1995 book Lies My Teacher Taught Me, one colonist’s journal reports:

“We marched to the place we called Cornhill, where we had found the corn before. At another place we had seen before, we dug and found some more corn, two or three baskets full, and a bag of beans. … In all we had about ten bushels, which will be enough for seed. It is with God’s help that we found this corn, for how else could we have done it, without meeting some Indians who might trouble us.”

Loewen doesn’t tell us who this colonist was, and everyone who repeats this quote cites Loewen rather than the “one colonist” who actually wrote this.

The Wikipedia account continues:

During their earlier exploration of the Cape, the Pilgrims had come upon a Native American burial site which contained corn, and they had taken the corn for future planting. On another occasion, they found an unoccupied house and had taken corn and beans, for which they made restitution with the occupants about six months later. Even greater assistance came from Samoset and Tisquantum (known as Squanto by the pilgrims), a Native American sent by Wampanoag Tribe Chief Massasoit as an ambassador and technical adviser.  Squanto had been kidnapped in 1614 by an English slave raider and sold in Málaga, Spain. He learned English, escaped slavery, and returned home in 1619.  He taught the colonists how to farm corn, where and how to catch fish, and other helpful skills for the New World.  He also was instrumental in the survival of the settlement for the first two years.  Even with this help, however, almost half of the colonists died during the first winter, due to a combination of disease and starvation.  In his diary Of Plymouth Plantation, the colony’s leader William Bradford described the first winter this way:

“But that what was most sad and lamentable was, that in two or three months’ time half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of the winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases which this long voyage and their inaccommodate condition had brought upon them. So there died some times two or three of a day in the foresaid time, that of 100 and odd persons, scarce fifty remained.”

Squanto and another guide sent by Massasoit in 1621 helped the colonists set up trading posts for furs.  Chief Massasoit later formed a Peace Treaty with the Pilgrims.  Upon growing a plentiful harvest in the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims gathered with Squanto, Samoset, Massasoit, and ninety other Wampanoag men in a celebration of thanksgiving to God for their plentiful harvest.  This celebration is known today as the First Thanksgiving, and is still commemorated annually in downtown Plymouth with a parade and a reenactment. Since 1941, Thanksgiving has been observed as a federal holiday in the United States.

Plymouth served as the capital of Plymouth Colony (which consisted of modern-day Barnstable, Bristol, and Plymouth Counties) from its founding in 1620 until 1691, when the colony was merged with the Massachusetts Bay Colony and other territories to form the Province of Massachusetts Bay.  Plymouth holds the distinction of being the first permanent settlement in New England, and one of the oldest settlements in the United States.

Plymouth’s early  years of self-government are well documented.  Under the Mayflower Compact, the Puritan Separatists (Pilgrims), although a minority in the group of settlers, were to have total control over the colony’s government during its first 40 years of existence. As leader of the Puritans congregation, William Bradford was chosen to serve as Plymouth’s governor for 30 years after its founding.

My Ancestors in Plymouth

I have several sets of ancestors who lived in the town of Plymouth; I’ll talk about each set in turn below.

My paternal 9th great-grandmother, Rebecca Freeman (1650-1738), provides the gateway to my first set of Plymouth ancestors.  My grandfather, John Cecil Arnold (1895-1957), was her 7th great-grandson

Rebecca Freeman had an illustrious ancestry in Plymouth.  One of her maternal great-grandfathers, William Brewster IV (1566-1644), was the spiritual leader of the passengers on the Mayflower; another maternal great-grandfather, Thomas Prence (1574-1630), didn’t arrive in Plymouth until 1621, but he soon married William Brewster’s daughter Patience Brewster (1600-1634).  Rebecca’s maternal grandfather, Edmund Freeman (1596-1682), was a real latecomer to Plymouth, arriving in 1635.  However, by 1640, he was chosen Assistant Governor to William Bradford.  In 1637, he was instrumental in founding the town of Sandwich, which was later in Barnstable County, not Plymouth.  I wrote about Barnstable in Week 3 of this essay series.

I’m going to talk first about my paternal 12th great-grandfather William Brewster IV, on the bottom right of the chart above.  This is what the Geni website says about him. https://www.geni.com/people/Elder-William-Brewster-Mayflower-Passenger/358782031710004109

William Brewster was born about 1566, the son of William Brewster. He was educated in both Greek and Latin and spent some time at Cambridge University, although he never completed a full degree. He went into the service of William Davison, then English Secretary of State, while his father back home maintained a position as the postmaster of Scrooby, Nottinghamshire. Under Davison, Brewster traveled to the Netherlands. After Davison’s departure as Secretary of State, Brewster worked himself into his father’s postmaster duties and maintained Scrooby Manor. Brewster was instrumental in establishing the small Separatist church with Richard Clyfton, and they often held their meetings in the Manor house. Brewster and the others were eventually found and forced out, and fleeing prosecution and persecution they headed to Amsterdam in 1608, and moving to Leiden, Holland in 1609. Brewster became the church’s Elder, responsible for seeing that the congregation’s members carried themselves properly, both helping and admonishing them when necessary.

In Leiden, Brewster working with Thomas Brewer established a printing press and published religious books and pamphlets which were then illegally conveyed into England. Brewster also taught English to students at the University of Leiden. By 1618, the English authorities were onto him and his printing press, and set the Dutch authorities in pursuit of him. Thomas Brewer was arrested and held in the University of Leiden’s prison, but Brewster managed to evade the authorities and briefly went into hiding.

When the Leiden church congregation decided to send the first wave of settlers to establish a colony in North America that everyone could eventually move to, their pastor John Robinson decided to remain behind in Leiden with the majority of the congregation, intending to come later. The smaller group that went on the Mayflower wanted the next highest ranking church official, Elder Brewster, to go with them; so he agreed. He brought his wife Mary and two youngest children, Love and Wrestling, on the Mayflower with him.

Brewster continued his work as Church Elder throughout his life at Plymouth Colony. His wife Mary died in 1627, and he never remarried. He lived to be nearly 80 years old, dying in 1644. Shortly after he died, William Bradford wrote a short but concise biography of Brewster, just a couple pages, in his history Of Plymouth Plantation.

William and his wife Mary (no one knows her last name for sure) had five children, including my 11th great-grandmother, Patience Brewster (1600-1627), who was their second child.  Only two of the children – Jonathan and Patience – went to Leiden with their parents.  When William and Mary relocated once again, this time to Plymouth, their two sons (Love and Wrestling) went with them, and their son Jonathan and their daughters Patience and Fear made the trip in 1623.

I have a take a minute to acknowledge the total Puritan-ness of these names.  Except for Jonathan, the children’s names are all expressions of classic Puritan values:  Patience, Wrestling (as in Jacob wrestling with the angel), Fear (as in Fear God), and Love (one of his grandsons noted his name as Truelove).

I have already described the position held by Elder William Brewster IV (the title often used to refer to him) in Plymouth colony.  Mary was one of only four women who survived the first winter at Plymouth, although she died of “pestilent fever” – probably typhus or plague – in 1627.

Patience Brewster, the oldest daughter of William and Mary, had married Thomas Prence (1600-1673) in Plymouth in 1624.  As I mentioned, Thomas had arrived at Plymouth on the colony’s second ship – the Fortune – in 1621.  He and Patience had four children, including my 8th great-grandmother Rebecca Prence (1627-1650) before Patience died in 1634, also of “pestilent fever.”  Her sister, Fear, died from the same cause in the same year.  Fear was married to Isaac Allerton, another Mayflower passenger, and they had two children at the time of her death.

My 10th great-grandfather Thomas Prence was an early economic power in the colony.  The original settlement effort combined the religious refugees from Scrooby via Leyden with a group of “Merchant Adventurers” who funded the venture.  When it became clear after only a few years that the Plymouth colony was not going to be profitable, the Merchant Adventurers were looking for a way out; Thomas was one of eight residents of Plymouth (known as the “Undertakers”) who agreed to assume all the debts the town owed to the merchants in exchange for a monopoly on the local fur trade.  The Undertakers established fur trading posts around New England to take advantage of this monopoly.

Thomas was assistant Governor to Governor William Bradford for seven terms beginning in 1640, and he held other official positions in the Plymouth Colony.  He was a proponent of religious tolerance in the notably intolerant society of early Massachusetts Bay, which is one reason why he moved to the relatively more tolerant Plymouth Colony. 

As a side note – Thomas Prence married three more times after Patience died, and had children by each wife. 

Rebecca Prence married Edmond Freeman III (1620-1673) in the town of Sandwich in 1646.  Edmond had been born in England and came with his parents to Massachusetts aboard the Abigail in 1635.  Edmond’s father, Edmund Freeman (1595-1682), settled first at Lynn and then moved to Plymouth.  By 1637, however, he was one of the famous “ten men from Saugus” who founded the town of Sandwich.  I wrote about this in my Week 3 essay about Barnstable County. 

Rebecca and Edmond had two children before Rebecca died in 1650, at the young age of 23.  That is the year of the birth of their second child, and I suspect that Rebecca died as a result of complications of childbirth.  Edmond’s second wife was Margaret Perry (1624-1688).  My 9th great-grandmother Rebecca Freeman (1650-1738) and her slightly older sister were raised by Margaret, along with the seven children Margaret had with Edmond; it is not surprising that when Rebecca (1650) was old enough she married Ezra Perry, Jr. (1652-1729), Margaret’s nephew.  The families must have been close.

By this time the family was living in Barnstable, so I’ll stop. 

My paternal 8th great-grandmother Mary Cooke (1647-1715) connects me to this small segment of my family tree.  My grandmother, Orpha Lydia Ellefritz (1896-1986) was her 6th great-granddaughter.

Mary Cooke was descended from two passengers on the Mayflower – her grandfathers Francis Cooke (1583-1663) and Richard Warren (1578-1628).  I’ll talk about each of them below.

My 10th great-grandfather Francis Cooke was living in Leiden as early as 1603, when he married Hester Mahieu (1582-1666), a protestant Walloon whose family had fled to Canterbury in England because of religious persecution in Spanish Netherlands (now Belgium).  Francis was identified as a “woolcomber”, and he and Hester did not immediately identify with the Separatists in Leiden, affiliating instead with the Leiden Walloon congregation.   Francis and Hester had six children who survived infancy, including my 9th great-grandfather Jean (or John) Cooke (1607-1695), who was their second child.   Five of their children were born in Leiden, and their youngest child was born in Plymouth.

John accompanied his father Francis on the trip on the Mayflower; they were originally passengers on the Speedwell, but after that ship’s difficulties they boarded the Mayflower.  Hester and the younger children followed on the Anne in 1623.  Francis was one of the signers of the Mayflower Compact, signed as the ship lay at anchor off what would become Provincetown.

Francis was active in Plymouth affairs in the 130s and 1640s, serving on committees to lay out land grants and highways, petit jury, grand jury, and coroner’s jury. He appears on the 1643 Plymouth list of those able to bear arms. At some point in 1638 or afterward, he settled at Rocky Nook on the Jones River, within the limits of Kingston, a few miles from Plymouth itself.

My 9th great-grandfather John Cooke married Sarah Warren (1614-1686) in 1631.  Sarah’s father Richard Warren (1578-1628) had also been on the MayflowerSarah had come to Plymouth with her mother Elizabeth (I don’t know her last name) and siblings on the Anne in 1623.  Richard was a London Merchant, not a religious member of the Mayflower assemblage; in the parlance of Plymouth, he was  “stranger,” not a “saint,” who became associated with the Pilgrims through the Merchant Adventurers in London.  He was not is Leiden, but joined the migrants in Southampton, England.

Richard died in 1628, shortly after the 1627 Division of Lands and Cattle. Elizabeth never remarried; however, all seven of their children grew to adulthood and had children, establishing Richard Warren as the Mayflower passenger with the largest number of descendants, including President Ulysses S. Grant, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, astronaut Alan Shepard, author Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prairie series), actor Richard Gere, Lavinia Warren, also known as Mrs. Tom Thumb,  educator and poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the Wright brothers, and . . . me.

Sarah married John Cooke (as I mentioned above), and they had six children, including my 8th great-grandmother Mary Cooke (1647-1715), whose story started this section of my essay.  By the time Mary married Philip Taber (1646-1693) in 1667, they were living in Dartmouth, Bristol County, Massachusetts.  I wrote about them in my Week 7 Essay on Bristol County.

My paternal 10th great-grandmother Elizabeth Mitchell (1627-1684) is my gateway to this set of ancestors in Plymouth..  My grandfather John Cecil Arnold (1695-1957) was her 8th great-grandson

Elizabeth Mitchell is also the granddaughter of a passenger on the Mayflower – and if the names on the bottom right of the chart look familiar, that’s because I just wrote about them.  The previous section focused on the family of John Cooke, oldest son of Francis.  But I am also descended from his daughter, Jane Cooke (1604-1640), who came to Plymouth with her mother and siblings on the Anne in 1623.  It’s interesting to me that I am descended from Francis Cooke through both my paternal grandparents – my paternal grandmother Orpha Lydia Ellefritz is descended from John Cooke, while my paternal grandmother John Cecil Arnold is descended from Jane Cooke.  This means that my paternal grandparents were 8th cousins twice removed.  One oddity of this is that Francis Cooke (father of both John and Jane) is my 12th great-grandfather through Jane but only my 10th great-grandfather through John.  The generations moved at different rates over the centuries. It took me a while to figure this out.

Jane married Experience Mitchell (1602-1685) (gotta love those Puritan names) in 1627.  Experience Mitchell’s parents were Thomas Mitchell (1566-after 1622) and Margaret Williams (1568-1628), who married in Amsterdam in 1606.  They had three children, including Experience, who apparently came to Massachusetts on the Anne in 1623 as well.  His parents did not leave Amsterdam.  Experience was granted a parcel of eight acres in the division of land for those who came over on the Anne in 1623, and he became a Freeman by 1633.  He served on juries and was a surveyor of highways.

It’s not surprising that Jane and Experience married; they had traveled to Massachusetts on the same ship, and were something near the same age.  They had three children, including my 10th great-grandmother Elizabeth Mitchell (1627-1684).  In 1631, this young family moved to Duxbury (more about Duxbury later in this essay), selling his home at Plymouth to Samuel Eddy.  He was identified as Surveyor of the Highways at Duxbury in 1639 and 1640.  (More about the Eddy family below)

Jane died in 1640, and Experience soon remarried, to a woman named Mary (I don’t know her last name), and they had five children.

Elizabeth Mitchell married John Washburn (1620-1696) in 1645.  John’s father, also named John Washburn (or Washburne) (1597-1670) had come to Massachusetts in 1632, settling in Duxbury.  I’m going to leave this story now; I’ll return soon, when I write about my ancestors in Duxbury.

My paternal 8th great-grandfather John Eddy (1637-1715) is my link to this small set of ancestors in Plymouth County.  My grandfather John Cecil Arnold (1895-1957) was his 6th great-grandson

My 8th great-grandfather John Eddy was born in Plymouth County in 1637, seven years after his parents arrived in the colony.  His father Samuel Eddy (1608-1687), had arrived in Plymouth on the Handmaid in 1630 and was listed as a freeman there beginning in 1633.  In 1631, Experience Mitchell (I talked about him above) sold him his house when the Mitchell family moved to Duxbury.  In 1643, he appeared in the list of men “able to bear arms.”  Samuel was a tailor by trade.

Samuel Eddy appears frequently in the land and commercial records of Plymouth through most of his life, although he and his wife Elizabeth moved to Swansea in Bristol County by 1781.  I can’t tell you very much about Elizabeth; some records suggest that she is the daughter of Thomas Savory of Plymouth, but I’m not sure about that. 

Samuel and Elizabeth had eight children, but they apparently had trouble caring for them, as they apprenticed out many of their children.  When he was seven years old, my 8th great-grandfather John Eddy was apprenticed to a neighbor, Francis Boulder, until he was 21.  John’s brothers were treated similarly – his brother Zachery was apprenticed to John Brown at age seven, and his brother Caleb was also apprenticed to John Brown when he was nine years old.  Court records show that John’s parents, Thomas and Elizabeth Eddy, claimed that they were not able to care for their children and that this is what led them to apprentice them to neighbors.

John Eddy married Hepsibah Doggett (1642-1726) in Martha’s Vineyard (Dukes County) in 1658, and they seem to have lived in a variety of places across southern Massachusetts, including Martha’s Vineyard, Barnstable County, and Bristol County.  I wrote about the Doggett family in my Week 12 essay on Dukes County, Massachusetts

This drawing shows the allocation of land lots in Plymouth in the 1620s.  The houses of my ancestors Francis Cooke, William Brewster, Thomas Prence, and Richard Warren are in the red circles.  (Source of drawing:  Ancestry.com.)

Duxbury (1624)

When the colony of Plymouth was established in 1620, the expectation was that the colonists would live together in a tight community for seven years.  Although the official settlement date for Duxbury was 1624, it appears that settlement of the town didn’t occur until 1627 or 1628.  It was at that point that land along the coast was allotted to settlers for farming, and many people began moving away from Plymouth.  Each man was given twenty acres for himself and an additional twenty for each person in his family.

The most notable leaders of Duxbury at its founding were John Alden (colonial court clerk and treasurer), Miles Standish (colonial militia leader), Thomas Prence (I wrote about him above), and Jonathan Brewster (son of Elder William Brewster).  At first, those who settled in Duxbury came to work their new farms just in the warmer months and returned to Plymouth during the winter. It was not long, however, before they began to build homes on their land, and soon requested permission from the colony to be set off as a separate community with their own church. Duxbury was incorporated in 1637.

My Ancestors in Duxbury

As promised – my paternal 9th great-grandmother Mary Washburn (1661-1740) links me to this set of ancestors in Duxbury.  My grandfather, John Cecil Arnold (1895-1957) was her 7th great-grandson.

My 9th great-grandmother Mary Washburn (1661-1740) provides a continuation of a story I wrote earlier in this essay when I was writing about Plymouth.  On Mary Washburn’s maternal line, she is connected to the Mayflower lines of the Cooke and Warren family.  Now I want to mention her paternal line, starting with her grandfather John Washburne (1597-1670), who came to Massachusetts and settled in Duxbury in 1632.  His family, including my 10th great-grandfather John Washburn (1620-1686), joined him in Duxbury in 1635.  John 1620 married Elizabeth Mitchell (1627-1684) in Plymouth in 1645; I’ve told the story of the Mitchell family above.

Scituate (1630/1636)

Scituate was first settled in 1627 or 1628 by a group of men from Plymouth, augmented by new arrivals from England.  The town was laid out a mile or so back from the coast, behind one of the several cliffs that marked the seafront.  They were initially governed by the General Court of Plymouth, but on October 5, 1636, the town incorporated as a separate entity.

My Ancestors in Scituate

My paternal  8th great-grandfather Nathaniel House Sr. (1685-1763) is my gateway to this set of ancestors in the town of Scituate.  My grandfather John Cecil Arnold (1895-1957) was his 6th great-grandson

My paternal 8th great-grandfather Nathaniel House was born in Scituate, where his grandfather, Samuel House Sr (1610-1661) had settled in the town in 1634, the year he was admitted as a freeman of Plymouth Colony.  Samuel was closely associated with Rev. John Lothrop, the founder of Scituate; Samuel’s sister, Hannah House, was Lothrop’s wife.  Lothrop was a dissenting minister in London, where he ran afoul of the clergy establishment there.  He was imprisoned for his beliefs and activities, and Hannah died while he was imprisoned.  When he was released, his freedom was contingent on his leaving England to go to the colonies.  It’s important to the story of my ancestors in Scituate that Samuel House was also imprisoned for much the same reason, and came to Scituate with Lothrop in 1634.  Samuel is identified as a ship’s carpenter. 

He married Elizabeth Hammond (1620-1662) in Scituate sometime before 1636.  Elizabeth’s father, my 11th great-grandfather William Hammond (1575-1662) settled in Watertown in Suffolk County in 1631.

Early Scituate was not a tranquil place; the church split over a combination of doctrinal and economic issues in 1638, leading Plymouth Governor Thomas Prence to grant Lothrop and his allies new land in Barnstable.   I’m not sure if Samuel and Elizabeth joined Lothrop in this move, but they did move around a bit over the next several years, moving to Cambridge in 1642, to Barnstable by 1645, and back to Scituate by 1646.  They had seven  children, including my 9th great-grandfather, also named Samuel House (1636-1702), who was their second child and first son.  Samuel 1610 served in a number of public offices, including tax collector, and grand juror.  His name appears frequently in the land records of Scituate.

Samuel 1636 married Rebecca Nicholls (1642-1702) in Scituate in 1664.  Rebecca was born in Hingham (more about this town later in this essay).  Rebecca’s grandfather, Walter Nichols (1584-1639) came to Cambridge in 1635, but apparently went back to England in 1638 before dying there in 1639.  Several of Walter’s children, including my 10th great-grandfather Thomas Nichols (1615-1696), who was his fourth child, came to Massachusetts with their father.  Thomas stayed in the colony when their father returned to England; I’m not sure about Thomas’s siblings.

I’m not sure when my 8th great-grandfather Nathaniel House Sr moved to Newport County, Rhode Island, but he married Hannah Davenport there in 1709.  I wrote about Newport County in Week 36 of this series of essays.

My House family ancestors in Scituate lived somewhere near the red circle.  This 1633 map was drawn before SamuelHouse arrived in 1634, but one source said his land was “southeast of the Colman Hills, near the land of Rev. John Lothrop.”  That’s where the red circle is. (Source of map:  http://scituatehistoricalsociety.org/early-scituate-families )

Bridgewater (1624/1645)

Bridgewater was the first inland town established in Plymouth Colony.  When the town was established, the original settlers were given a six-acre plot of land on the river that ran through the town.  This was for protection against the natives in the area.  The names of 52 men are recognized as settlers of Bridgewater; all of them had come from Duxbury.

My Ancestors in Bridgewater

I have two sets of ancestors in Bridgewater, both through my Arnold family line.  These lines came together when my 8th great-grandmother Mary Packard (1690-1740) married my 8th great-grandfather Samuel Kingsley (1693-1730) in Bridgewater in 1714.

My link to this set of ancestors is my paternal 9th great-grandmother Mary Washburn (1661-1740).  My grandfather John Cecil Arnold (1895-1957) was her 7th great-grandson.

My paternal 9th great-grandmother Mary Washburn (1661-1740) was born in Duxbury, Massachusetts, in 1661.  I wrote about her parents in Duxbury earlier in this essay.  I just put this here as a reminder that this set of ancestors bridged two towns – Duxbury and Bridgewater.  Mary’s parents were from Duxbury, but they ended their lives in Bridgewater.

My paternal 8th great-grandmother Mary Packard (1680-1740) provides my link to this set of ancestors in Bridgewater.  My grandfather John Cecil Arnold (1895-1957) was her 6th great-grandson.

My 8th great-grandmother Mary Packard (1680-1740) connects me to this set of ancestors in the town of Bridgewater.  I’ll talk first about her paternal ancestors.  Her grandfather (and my 10th great-grandfather) Samuel Packard (1612-1684) and his wife Elizabeth Stream arrived in Massachusetts on the Diligent in 1638, settling first in Hingham, moving to Weymouth in 1654, and then to Bridgewater in 1664.  By 1682, the list of proprietors in Bridgewater included Samuel and four of his sons – including my 9th great-grandfather John Packard (1655-1741).

In 1888, the Packard Memorial Association in Brockton (which was part of Bridgewater until 1821) held an event to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Samuel Packard’s arrival in the area.  Fortunately for me, the Association (which was formed for the sole purpose of planning this celebration) created a 75-page publication giving the history of the town and emphasizing the role that Samuel Packard played in it.  (Celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the landing of Samuel Packard in this country:  August 10, 1638, at Brockton, Massachusetts, by Benjamin Winslow Packard, 1888, microfilmed by the Family History Library at Salt Lake City and retrieved from Ancestry.com). The organizer of this program felt compelled to write a poem in commemoration of “our great ancestor” Samuel Packard.  I in turn feel compelled to let you read it here:

In sixteen hundred thirty-eight, in Massachusetts Bay was cast
The anchor of the “Diligent,” all ocean dangers passed.
One hundred thirty-three, ‘tis said, upon this vessel came,
Besides the crew and captain brave – John Martin was his name.
April the twenty-sixth they sailed from Gravesend harbor wide,
And until August tenth they braved the perils of the tide.

Then Samuel, with his wife and child, set foot upon the shore
To help to clear the wilderness, and did return no more.
Ere long he sought a settlement and home in Old Bridgewater,
And there he found, besides a home, a husband for his daughter

For Thomas sought Elizabeth, and she to wed consented,
And as an Alger lived for years both happy and contented.

The poet devoted a stanza to each of Samuel and Elizabeth’s children – making this a long poem indeed.  I won’t subject you to all of the verses, but here’s the verse focused on Samuel’s son John (my 9th great-grandfather).

The fifth child, John, in Weymouth born in sixteen fifty-five,
Had also but a single son; but many are alive
Who trace their origin to him and Judith, his good wife –
Of Willis stock a good descent, you may just bet your life
They make in sterling virtue up what they in numbers lack,
And proudest seem of ancestry of any looking back

He rounds out the poem with a (long) closing stanza about Samuel:

Now Samuel, our great ancestor, Deserves a notice brief,

Because of those of whom I’ve sung He father was, and chief.
He must have been a man of worth, though not a man of wealth;
He left his children all, no doubt,good counsel and good health.
He office held in church and state, and doubtless used them well;
A breach of faith or trust reposed no record lives to tell.
He died a Christian, full of years, and buried was with care;
Few annals live to tell the tale of when, or how, or where.

A monument he well deserves, his mem’ry to enshrine,
And his descendants are and near
to rear one should combine
Upon its tablets let it bear a record of his race,
And tell how many here today are gathered in this place
To celebrate his coming here, in sixteen thirty-eight –
Two hundred fifty years ago, — Why should we longer wait?
The place he lived is well defined, the landmarks are not lost,
And I doubt not we can secure a site at moderate cost.

And, too, her name who came with him, the mother of our race,
Should stand to share his noble fame when we his name shall trace;
For ‘tis the mothers of our land, as well as fathers brave,
That give the impress to the child that grows our land to save.
Then honored be our ancestors of any clime and age
And may the Pilgrim’s freedom be our lasting heritage.

The publication from this event goes on to present speeches made by Packard descendants from all over the country – from Massachusetts of course, Maine, Minnesota, and Georgia.  I want to talk briefly about the presentation made by Sophie Packard, who was introduced as the “head of a school of six hundred and fifty pupils” in Atlanta.  But there’s more to this story.  In 1880, after a career as an educator in Massachusetts, Sophie and her long-time companion Harriet Giles made a tour of the South and decided to open a school for African-American women and girls in Atlanta.  The school began as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary.  In 1884, John D. Rockefeller paid off the debts accrued in purchasing a permanent site for the school; in exchange, the school was named Spelman Seminary in hour of Rockefeller’s wife, Laura Spelman.  In 1924, the name of the school was changed again, to Spelman College.

Spelman College in Atlanta continues today as a renowned HBCU (Historically Black College or University), attracting African-American women from around the globe.

When Sophie spoke at the 1885 event in Brockton in 1885, this school had only been in existence for seven years.  Here is how Sophie explained her reasons for founding the school:

We went down to Atlanta, Georgia, because we felt something should be done for the colored girls in the South.  For if you care about the country, you must care for the women and girls.  In every place it is they who give character and tone to society, the colored no less than the white, but far more.  If we evangelize those, we will have both white and colored.  We went there with nothing, and commenced to teach in the basement of a colored church, and we called on the girls.”

She went on to announce an ongoing project to erect a new building on the campus, a building that would be named Packard Hall.  Today, Packard Hall is the second oldest building on Spelman’s campus. 

This picture of Packard Hall on the Spelman College is taken from the Spellman College website.

As I was researching this part of my family tree, I became fascinated with Sophie Packard and decided to do a little more research on her.  I discovered a blog written by Riese, the nom de plume of a woman who writes about community-building, feminism, cyberculture, and sexuality on her site on autostraddle https://www.autostraddle.com/16-lesbian-power-couples-from-history-who-changed-the-world-together-372223/.  She featured Sophie and her long-time companion Harriet E. Giles in her essay called “Lesbian Couples Who Got Shit Done, Together” on March 31, 2017.  The 1885 program about the Packard family didn’t mention the nature of the relationship between Sophie and Harriet.  But here they are:

This picture of Harriet and Sophia is taken from Wikipedia

Okay.  Back to my story.

Samuel Packard’s son John married Judith Winslow (1671-1761)  in Taunton in Bristol County Massachusetts in 1688.  I’ve had a little trouble tracing Judith’s ancestry.  The records are clear that John married a woman named Judith Winslow, but I’m a little stuck.  The Mayflower Society used to recognize Judith as a daughter of John Winslow (1625-1683), but they have since withdrawn this recognition. 

Although the poem about the descendants of Samuel Packard claims that Judith and John had only one child, a boy, other records make it pretty clear that they  had seven children, including my 9th great-grandmother Mary Packard, with whom this whole narrative about Bridgewater began a few pages ago.  Mary married Samuel Kingsley (1693-1730) in Bridgewater; Samuel was the oldest son of Mary Washburn, whose story I told earlier in this essay.

Hingham (1633/1635)

Hingham was in Suffolk County from its founding in 1643 until 1803, when it was transferred to Plymouth County.  I’m talking about it in this essay although it might as easily be placed in my Week 46 essay on Suffolk County. 

Hingham was founded by religious dissenters from Hingham, England, and it was incorporated as the 12th town in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635.   In 1638, the ship Diligent sailed from Ipswich, England, bringing an addition 133 settlers under the leadership of minister Robert Peck.

My Ancestors in Hingham

My paternal 7th great-grandfather, Joseph Ripley (1667-173) links me to this set of ancestors  in Hingham.  My grandfather John Cecil Arnold (1895-1957) was his 5th great-grandfather.

Joseph Ripley was born in Hingham in 1667.  His grandfather, my 9th great-grandfather William Ripley (1598-1656), came to Hingham from Hingham, England, with his wife and four children on the Diligent  in 1638.  Among this children was my 8th great-grandfather Abraham Ripley (1624-1683), who was their fourth child.  William, who was a weaver,  was admitted as a freeman in 1642 and was granted a four-acre town lot in the 1638 division of lands.

Abraham married Mary Farnsworth (1637-1705) in Hingham in 1656.  Mary’s father Joseph Farnsworth (1610-1659) came to Massachusetts in 1635, settling in Dorchester.  Mary and Abraham had 14 children, including my 7th great-grandfather Joseph Ripley, who was their 6th child.

As a side note – after Abraham died in 1683, Mary married again, this time to a man named Edward Jenkins, who was a widower with four children.  I am also descended from one of Edward’s children, Thomas Jenkins (1653-1739); in addition, Joseph Ripley (my 7th great-grandfather, if you’re keeping score) married Thomas Jenkins’ sister Sarah Jenkins (1648-????).  This make Sarah both my 7th great-grandmother (through Joseph) and my 8th great-aunt (through the Jenkins lineage).

Thus endeth my essay on Plymouth County.  About time, I’d say.

Week 26: June 26, 2020 Knox County, Maine

All of these maps are from Wikipedia

It is obvious right away that I’m going to be dealing with Knox County, Maine, differently from the way I’ve dealt with the other counties in this series of essays.  To tell the story of Knox County, I have to tell the story of its “parent” counties – particularly Lincoln County, which is where my ancestors lived.  Here’s a summary of how I arrived at this conclusion.

When I first encountered the set of ancestors I’ll be writing about this week, I identified them as living in Knox County, Maine, at the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century.  However, I then soon found out that Knox County wasn’t formed until 1860, long after my ancestors had left the area.  The records for this part of Maine before Maine became a state in 1820 are sparse and difficult to find, and I have found conflicting evidence that places these ancestors in a variety of counties, including York, Cumberland, Lincoln, Waldo, and Knox.  Here are the dates that these counties were established:

County NameYear Created

It became clear to me that if my ancestors lived “down east” – in the southeast portion of Maine – between 1790 and 1830, records of their lives would most likely be found in York, Cumberland, or Lincoln counties.  However, the towns they lived in are currently part of other counties:  the towns I’m most interested in, Appleton and Hope, once in Lincoln County, are now in Knox.  The town of Palermo was also once in Lincoln County, but is now in Waldo County.  Scarborough was once in York County but is now in Cumberland County.  Bristol, known as Pemaquid when it was founded in 1632, was in York County until Cumberland County was founded in 1760, and it is still in Cumberland County.  I’ll talk more about all of this later in this essay.

Evolution of Counties in Maine

The settlement of Maine is difficult to follow.  At various times, the area that would become Maine was part of New York and Massachusetts.  The counties were formed in an unusual vertical fashion, as settlement was primarily along the coast and extended inland to the “frontier” only in the 19th century.  All of these maps are from https://www.mapofus.org

Yorkshire County was formed as an original county of Massachusetts  

New York Claimed most of Maine and created Cornwall County

Yorkshire was renamed York County, still part of Massachusetts

The boundary of York County was extended to the Canadian border

Two Maine counties were created – Cumberland and Lincoln.  Lincoln occupied about 2/3 of the land area of Maine at the time.  

Two more counties were created — Hancock and Washington — from Lincoln County

Kennebec County was formed from the northern parts of Lincoln County


Waldo County was formed, taking land from the northeastern part of Lincoln County

Among other changes, Sagahadock County was formed from the western part of Lincoln County  

Knox County was formed from the eastern part of Lincoln County.  This was the last major county formation change in Maine.  

A (Very) Little History

The settlement of Maine began between 1629 and 1632, when three proprietary claims covered almost all of central Maine.  The westernmost claim was by the Pejepscot Proprietors, along the Androscoggin River.  The Kennebeck Proprietors laid claim to the Plymouth Patent, along the Kennebec River in central Maine.  To the east, Brigadier General Samuel Waldo and two companies of his partners, the Ten Proprietors and the Twenty Associates, claimed the Waldo Patent.  The Great Proprietors (the general name given to these men) did not possess clear title to the lands they claimed. The patents describing these proprietary claims were vague and overlapping, and they were in conflict with other smaller claims.  Throw in the longstanding native claims to these same lands, and this was a fine mess.

This rough map shows the locations of the three patents.

The area outlined in red in the Plymouth Patent (Kennebec Patent).  The part outlined in blue is the Waldo Patent.  These are the two land patents I’m most interested in. (Source of map:  Liberty Men and Great Proprietors, by Alan Taylor, 1990,  page 42.   I did the coloring)

For this essay, I am most interested in the Waldo Patent; it covers the areas that later became Knox County, including the towns of Hope and Appleton, where my ancestors lived.  Here’s what I’ve been able to find out about the Waldo Proprietors.  (Much of what follows is summarized from “History of Waldo County, Maine,” from A Gazetteer of the State of Maine By Geo. J. Varney, Published by B. B. Russell, 57 Cornhill, Boston, in 1886. (http://history.rays-place.com/me/waldo-cty-me.htm)

This grant was issued by the Plymouth Council in 1630 to John Beauchamp of London, and Thomas Leverett of Boston, England.  It stretched along the coast between the Muscongus and Penobscot rivers, comprising nearly 1,000 square miles and taking in most of the present counties of Knox and Waldo.  Fishing and fur-trading drew settlers to the coast of Maine for several decades; one of the first settlements was at the site where Thomaston is currently located.  However, conflicts with local native tribes, culminating with King Philip’s War in the mid-1670s, broke up this settlement.

For the next several decades, the area continued to be plagued with violence between settlers and the native tribes. Beauchamp had died in 1655, so title for the entire grant went to Leverett, who managed it for several years. Title to the patent then passed to his son, Governor John Leverett of Massachusetts, and in 1714, to President John Leverett of Harvard College, the great-grandson of the original grantee.  

By 1719, Leverett began an effort to re-settle and reorganize the patent. He divided the land into ten shares, and sold them to a group of men who came to be  called the “Ten Proprietors.” These proprietors admitted 20 other partners called the “Twenty Associates,” among whom were John Waldo and his nephew Cornelius Waldo of Boston. The Twenty Associates soon sold 100,000 acres to the Waldos. Under their auspices, in 1719-20, two plantations were established, which subsequently became the towns of Thomaston and Warren.  This was the first permanent settlement of the patent.  

Some of my ancestors lived Thomaston.

In 1726, Samuel Waldo (cousin to Cornelius) went to England to negotiate a problem over governance of the land patent; because of his success in resolving this problem, the 30 partners gave him title to one-half of the whole patent.   Then, in 1744 Samuel Waldo served as second in command to Sir William Pepperrell in the successful attack on the French at Louisburg, in Nova Scotia, and gained the title of General.  After this,  General Waldo was granted a larger interest in the patent; only about 200,000 acres still belonged to the original proprietors. General Waldo later contracted with the Twenty Associates to purchase one-half of their shares, leaving them only 100,000 acres, although this arrangement was not completed until 1768.

Meanwhile, General Waldo worked to attract immigrants from Europe to settle on the land, and in 1749 German colonists established the town of Waldoborough. Waldo died unexpectedly in 1749, but his name is commemorated in the area:  a county, two towns, and Mount Waldo (although it’s hardly a mountain, topping out at a bit above 1,000 feet) are named for him.   On his death, his four children – Samuel, Francis, Lucy, and Hannah – inherited the land.   Hannah married Thomas Flucker, secretary of the Province. Flucker soon purchased the shares belonging to Samuel. Lucy died without children, and her interest fell to the brothers and sisters. Because  Flucker and Francis Waldo were Tories, they soon moved to England, and their property was forfeited to the State. 

In 1774, Henry Knox, who later served as a general in the Revolution, married Miss Lucy Flucker, the second daughter of Thomas and Hannah (Waldo) Flucker, and the grand-daughter of General Waldo.  Lucy’s parents had not wanted her to marry Knox, whom they felt to be of low social status; when she married him anyway, they disowned her; they subsequently fled Boston and returned to London when Boston fell in 1775. When the Revolution ended, General Knox purchased four-fifths of the Waldo patent; the remainder was already the property of his wife. He and Lucy lived in Thomaston until Henry’s death in 1806, and Lucy continued to live there until her death in 1824. 

This is the same town where many of my ancestors lived until 1830.

I am also interested in the Kennebec Patent, along the Kennebec River in central Maine.  Some of my ancestors came from this area, so I want to talk about it also.  Much of this information comes from the website of The Town Line, a weekly community newspaper serving the area. (https://townline.org/up-and-down-the-kennebec-valley-kennebec-proprietors/?fbclid=IwAR3Z2V9eCo6KoB-cFdwBSsxkZGgzygOtsa6h64T2A2BQVPqWcmrjNwuX0uM)

The initial group of settlers interested in this property, the Plymouth Colony, was chartered in 1606 by King James I of England. The king gave it and its companion London Company, whose first settlers came to Virginia, control of most of eastern North America.  In a series of grants and sales in following years, the land went successively to the new Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts; to the Council for New England (1620-1635, a London-based joint stock company headed by Ferdinando Gorges, with a royal charter to promote American settlement), and to the Boston-based New Plymouth Company.

The Council for New England set up other land companies, including the Pejepscot Company, which was given a claim on the lower Kennebec and extended it upriver to Swan Island and Richmond, overlapping with the Kennebec Proprietors’ claim on the southwest.  On the east, the Waldo Patent  also overlapped in what is now Palermo and the surrounding area.

The Plymouth grant extended up the Kennebec from Merrymeeting Bay to the falls at Norridgewock, already known as a Native and French settlement, and for 15 miles on each side of the river. Since the river’s windings were not well documented and the surrounding land not well known to Europeans, there was considerable uncertainty about the size (supposedly about 1.5 million acres) and shape of the grant.

The New Plymouth Company, with a gradually changing membership as newcomers bought or inherited shares, did little with this property. In the fall of 1661, four Boston merchants bought the land rights for 400 pounds sterling. The beaver, basis for earlier fur trading, were by then in decline; the Bostonians’ plan was to use the timber resources, including as a basis for building ships, and in the future to encourage agriculture. They, too, failed to accomplish significant development.

Upriver settlement was discouraged by a series of wars with the Natives from the 1670s to 1763, including the four-war series beginning in 1688 and culminating in the French and Indian War almost a century later. Maine native tribes had support from the French, who had settled along the St. Lawrence River and disputed the British claims in northeastern North America.  The 1763 Treaty of Paris between the European rivals ceded Canada to the British and promoted settlement in Maine. (Many historians add that it contributed to Britain’s loss of the American colonies, because removal of the French threat made colonial leaders believe they no longer needed British military protection).

While this was going on, Samuel Goodwin, who had inherited a portion of a Plymouth Colony share, became interested in development along the Kennebec in the 1740s. After much searching, he found the original charter, which had been missing for decades, and in 1749 he and other heirs resurrected the New Plymouth Company back, beginning with a Sept. 21 organizational meeting in Boston.

In 1753, the Massachusetts General Court re-awarded the grant to “The Proprietors of Kennebeck Purchase from the late Colony of New Plymouth.” The name is shortened by historians to Kennebec Proprietors, Kennebec Company, or Kennebec Purchase Company (sometimes Kennebeck) or Plymouth Colony or Plymouth Company, used interchangeably in discussing the period from 1753 to 1818, when the company disbanded. 

This is the period when my ancestors were living in the area.

Because settlement was slow to expand upriver, the western boundary of the Kennebec Patent was not a big source of contention. The downriver line was intermittently challenged, especially by the Pejepscot Proprietors, leading to legal proceedings in America and in London.  In 1757, the boundary question was referred to a panel of lawyers, who confirmed the boundaries of the Kennebec Patent.

The Kennebec Proprietors brought settlement to much of the central Kennebec River area. Surveyors laid out lots along both sides of the river for miles, defining the 15-mile boundaries. The population had increased so much that Lincoln County was separated from York County in June 1760. By 1775, when the American Revolution began, Hallowell (including Augusta), Vassalboro (including Sidney), and Winslow (including Waterville) were incorporated as towns.

The Kennebec Proprietors reserved some lots in each new town for themselves. Some they gave away to encourage settlement, some they sold. A typical lot contained 100 acres; typical deed requirements included building a house of specified size and clearing a specified number of acres within a specified number of years. A settler or his heirs might be required to stay on the land for a specified term – two, three or seven years, sometimes longer. Often deeds included an obligation to help lay out roads, or provide for a church and minister, or both.

A complication was that some of the land the Kennebec Proprietors claimed, surveyed and gave away or sold was already occupied by Europeans. Some had bought their holdings from Natives. Some had deeds from other Europeans. Some had moved onto and improved a vacant tract and claimed squatters’ rights.  Native deeds had been a source of misunderstandings for years. When a Native chief “sold” part of his tribal land, he believed he was giving the European “buyer” the right to share the land equally with tribal members; and the right was valid only for the lifetime of each party. The European believed he acquired the exclusive right to live on and change the land forever, and to sell or will it to someone else.

The history of the town of Windsor offers an example of transactions between European claimants with no involvement with the Kennebec Proprietors.  

(This story does not relate directly to my ancestors living in the area at the time, but it illustrates what was generally going on and what my ancestors would surely have known about.)

As described in Linwood H. Lowden’s 1993 history of the town, (Good Land & Fine Contry[sic] But Poor Roads) in 1797 Ebenezer Grover and associates hired Josiah Jones to survey about 6,000 acres on the west side of the West Branch of the Sheepscot River in southern Windsor. They ended up with 33 Oak Hill lots, some individually owned and some held in common.  These lots were occupied or bought by families who became southern Windsor’s first settlers. Lowden points out that Grover had no legal right to survey or sell the land; indeed, he says, many of Grover’s deeds warned purchasers that Grover and his associates would not help them if the Kennebec Proprietors challenged their titles.

Jones did other, smaller surveys elsewhere in town, and Isaac Davis surveyed at least once, in northern Windsor.  In January 1802 the Kennebec Proprietors asked the Massachusetts General Court to appoint commissioners to deal with the people they saw as illegal squatters. The Proprietors also had their own survey done, laid out their version of lots (usually, Lowden says, smaller than the originals) and offered to sell them to the settlers  A political and legal dispute followed, during which some of the settlers paid again for their land and the Proprietors evicted others for non-payment. The Proprietors were unpopular, to say the least; their local representatives and their surveyors were threatened and had their property destroyed.

The culminating event of the “Malta War,” as it is often called (Windsor was named Malta from March 1809 to March 1821), came on Sept. 8, 1808. Surveyor Isaac Davis, hired by a settler to determine lot lines so the settler could pay the Proprietors, was heading a crew on Windsor Neck that included a resident named Paul Chadwick. Other residents, armed and disguised as Natives, intercepted the party and shot Chadwick, who died three days later.

Nine local men were arrested and sent to the county jail in Augusta. Disturbance continued as rumors spread of a planned attack on the jail to rescue them. On Oct. 3 a mob gathered on the east bank of the Kennebec; in response, authorities called out the militia and placed cannons to defend the bridge if necessary.  The accused were all acquitted in November 1809, an outcome historian Lowden thinks was the best choice to ease tension. He also suggests the men were after Chadwick specifically, because he had opposed the surveys and then hired on to help Davis; and he speculates they did not intend murder.

In neighboring Palermo, the Proprietors’ demands led inhabitants to petition the Massachusetts General Court for help. Legislators set up a commission early in 1802 that assigned three local men to value properties, subject to approval by the Proprietors’ agent, and assigned three surveyors to fix settlers’ boundaries. Local historian Millard Howard lists more than 60 families who bought their homesteads, mostly 100 acres, for prices ranging from $25 to $155.

Although the larger Sheepscot Great Pond area, including present-day Palermo and Windsor, hosted groups most actively and violently opposed to the Kennebec Proprietors’ effort to claim land they thought was rightfully theirs, other parts of the valley were affected.  In Vassalboro, for example, historian Alma Pierce Robbins writes that the presence of squatters who built cabins and cleared farmland before Nathan Winslow’s 1761 survey for the Proprietors started a century of legal disputes over land ownership. Additionally, she says, in Vassalboro and elsewhere the British Crown’s claim to any tree large enough to become a ship’s mast bred resentment, since landowners (legal or otherwise) were not compensated for the timber.

The Kennebec Valley settlers’ problems with the Proprietors on whose property they lived ended after 1813. A Massachusetts Commission recommended and the General Court approved an agreement giving the settlers their disputed holdings and giving the Proprietors Saboomook Township as compensation. (Saboomook Township has no web listings. It might be Seboomook, the unorganized township north of Moosehead Lake that hosted one of Maine’s four German prisoner of war camps from 1944 to 1946.)

My Ancestors in Knox (and surrounding) County

My paternal 2nd great-grandfather Miles Arnold (1821-1899) provides the link to this part of my family tree.  My grandfather John Cecil Arnold (1895-1957) was his grandson.

My 2nd great-grandfather Miles Arnold was born in Thomaston, Maine, in 1821.  At that time, Thomaston was in Lincoln County; it became part of Knox County with that county was formed in 1860.

Miles’s father, Spencer Arnold (1794-1831), was born in Maine in 1794; I’m not sure where in Maine his birth occurred.  I think his father was Eli Arnold (1750-  ), who was born in England.  I don’t know who Eli married, and I don’t know when he died.  In fact, I can’t find a trace of him in official records.  There are a number of Arnold families in New England at this time – in fact, there was another Spencer Arnold born around the same time as “my” Spencer.  This second Spencer lived in New York State, dying in Chautauqua County in the western part of the state; “my” Spencer moved to Ohio, dying there in 1831.  I may never figure out exactly who Spencer’s parents were.

I know more about the family history of Miles’s mother, Martha Pease (1800-1857).  She is descended from a family that settled in Martha’s Vineyard (Dukes County) Massachusetts in 1634; I told the story of this family in my Week 12 Essay on Dukes County.  My 5th great-grandfather Prince Pease (1729-1820) was born in Martha’s Vineyard in 1729 and moved to Maine sometime before 1790, when the 1790 census shows him living in Barrettstown (the name was changed to Hope in 1804).  In 1800, he was living in Appleton Plantation in Lincoln County.

Prince was married to Martha Marchant (1732-1771), who died in Martha’s Vineyard in 1771.  Sometime after that, he moved to Maine with several of his family members, including his sons Prince Jr., Shubael, Zebulon, and Zebediah (1767-1842), who was my 4th great-grandfather).  In 1790 Zebediah married Sarah Meservey (1770-1814) in Bristol, Lincoln County, Maine.  Sarah’s father, my 5th great-grandfather Nathaniel Meservey (1748-1815) had been born in Gorham, Maine, in 1748.  At that time, Gorham was part of York County; when Cumberland County was formed in 1760, Gorham became part of the new county. 

Nathaniel’s great-grandfather, Clement Jean Meserve (1655-1721) had come to America in 1673.  He settled in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, where he and his wife Elizabeth had 13 children, including my 7th great-grandfather, also named Clement Meserve (1678-1746).  Three of Clements’ sons have become identified with distinct geographic branches of the family.  His son Aaron is linked to the Massachusetts branch of the family, while Clement 1678 is associated with the York County, Maine, branch of the family.  A third son, Daniel, maintained the New Hampshire branch in New Hampshire.  I told the story of this family in Week 42 on Rockingham County, New Hampshire.

Clement 1678 married Elizabeth Jones (1680-1730) in New Hampshire in 1702; they had 10 children before moving to Scarborough, Maine, sometime before Elizabeth’s death in 1730.  Scarborough would become part of Cumberland County when that county was formed in 1760.   My 7th great-grandfather Clement Meserve III (1703-1772), was their first child.

Clement 1703 married Sarah Decker (1709-1752) in Rockingham County in 1726; however, by the time of the birth of their first child, they had moved to Scarborough, Maine.  Just for context, Scarborough is on the coast of Maine, about 50 miles north of Rockingham County.  Sarah had been born in Maine, but her parents were from Essex County in Massachusetts.  I talked about them in my Week 14 essay on Essex County.

Nathaniel was their eighth and last child.  I’m not certain who he married; some records claim that he married a woman named Rebecca Martin, but I’m not sure of that.  Anyway.  Nathaniel had 11 children, including my 4th great-grandmother Sarah Meservey (1770-1814), who was their eighth child.  Sarah married Zebediah Pease – that’s what started this part of the story – in Bristol, Lincoln County, Maine, in 1790.

Zebediah and Sarah had 12 children, including my 3rd great-grandmother Martha Pease (1800-1857), who was their sixth child.  Martha married Spencer Arnold in Hope, Maine, which was in Lincoln County at the time.  They had five children, including my 2nd great-grandfather Miles Arnold, who was their third child. 

This family was soon to be on the move again.  By 1830, Spencer and Martha had moved to Licking County, Ohio, along with Martha’s father Zebediah and several of her brothers.  As I have researched the history of Maine for this essay, I have come to understand why so many members of my family left Maine in the 1820s or so.  The years from the end of the American Revolution through Maine statehood in 1820 were tumultuous. 

I’m not sure what side of the constant conflicts my ancestors were on, although I have some evidence that they resisted the efforts of the Great Proprietors to control land acquisition and development in the area.  In the historian Alan Taylor’s 1990 book Liberty Men and Great Proprietors, my 5th great-uncle John Meservey (Sarah Meservey’s brother and thus Martha Pease’s uncle) is identified as having “endeavored to stimulate others in his neighbourhood [Appleton] to combine to fix their own terms for such land as they have trespassed upon.”  This happened in 1806.  Taylor goes on to note that the lawyer for the Kennebec Proprietors was instructed to deal with John’s opposition:  “As our prosecuting such sort of leaders heretofore, has been attended with salutary effects, we request that you would immediately send him a writ of ejectment.”  This was an eviction notice. 

Spencer and Martha’s fifth child was born in Ohio in 1830.  Unfortunately and certainly unexpectedly,  Spencer died in Ohio in 1831.  I’ve told the story of this family in Ohio in my Week 28 essay on Licking County, Ohio.

Week 25: June 19, 2020 Knox County, Indiana

Source of map: Wikipedia.com

In 1790, Winthrop Sargent, Secretary of Northwest Territory, organized Knox County, the first county in the Northwest Territory. It was named for Major General Henry Knox, who had completed his term as second U.S. Secretary of War the previous September.  Knox County was created prior to the formation of the Indiana Territory. When it was created, Knox County extended to Canada and encompassed all or part of the present states of Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio. When the Illinois Territory was formed in 1809, the portions of Knox County beyond the Wabash River became a part of Illinois.

Evolution of Knox County Boundaries

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

I found it hard to understand this map.  The Ohio River is at the bottom, the little curve at the top is Lake Michigan.

From this point forward, Knox County was gradually whittled away.

Knox County shrinks . . .

. . . and shrinks . . .

. . . and shrinks some more . . .

The process continued

And with the creation of Illinois Territory, Indiana Territory no longer extends to the indefinite West

The formation of Gibson and Warrick Counties reflects the growth of population along the Ohio River

With the formation of Sullivan County, Knox County was fully bounded.  Its configuration didn’t change after this date.

A (Very) Little History

Indiana’s oldest city, Vincennes (county seat of Knox County) figured prominently in early American history from the time of its settlement (1702, or possibly earlier) by French traders on the site of an Indian village. A fort, one of a chain from Quebec to New Orleans, was erected by the French in 1732, and in 1736 the settlement around it was named for François-Marie Bissot, sieur de Vincennes, its commanding officer. Ceded to the British at the end of the French and Indian War (1763), the settlement was virtually self-governing until the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, and remained predominantly French in population and tradition for almost 100 years after that.

Vincennes was settled at a natural location; a buffalo migration path, often 12-20 feet wide in paces, was well known and used by Native Americans.  Later, European traders and American settlers learned of it, and many used it as an early land route to travel west into Indiana and Illinois.  The Vincennes Trace, as it was called, crossed the Ohio River at the Falls of the Ohio (present-day Louisville), and thus connected to the trails that led to the Wilderness Road, an important pathway for early migration into Kentucky and the broader Ohio Valley from Virginia and other points east of the Appalachian Mountains.

The Vincennes Trace, connecting Louisville to Vincennes, Indiana. Source of map: Wikipedia

A British force occupied the fort (renaming it Fort Sackville) for a brief period, but briefly in 1778 and finally in 1779 it was taken by American forces under George Rogers Clark. Clark’s victory at Vincennes, followed by the passage of the Northwest Ordinance (1787), brought an influx of settlers from Kentucky, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. From 1800 to 1813 Vincennes was the capital of Indiana Territory (commemorated by a state historic site). The Indiana Gazette, the first territorial newspaper, was published there in 1804 by Elihu Stout. At Vincennes, Governor (later President) William Henry Harrison negotiated several treaties with the Native Americans and launched the campaign that culminated in the Battle of Tippecanoe (November 1811)

My Ancestors in Knox County

My maternal great-grandfather Franklin Anthis (1850-1899) provides my link to this part of my family tree.  My grandmother, Susan Vernon Anthis (1898-1944) was his youngest daughter.

My Anthis family ancestors were in Knox County for more than 70 years, arriving in the Northwest Territory sometime before 1796 and leaving when my great-grandfather Franklin Anthis –known as “Frank” – went to Texas in the 1870s. 

As I begin to tell you about my ancestors in Knox County, I want to acknowledge an important source for information about the Anthis family – June Barekman’s two-volume The Anthis Family in America.  She published these books in 1981, and they are an invaluable source of information about this family.  Much of what I will present here is based on her findings; she got some things wrong, but, given the difficulty of researching family history 40 years ago, her work is remarkable.  She wrote a couple of hundred pages on the Anthis family; I will extract a few paragraphs’ worth to give you a flavor of this family in this place and time.

Now on to my story.

Frank’s 2nd great-grandfather (and my 5th great-grandfather) George Anthis Sr. (1743-1802) was born in Hampshire County, Virginia (now West Virginia).  Hampshire County is located where two migration paths cross:  Braddock’s Road, from northern Virginia to Pittsburgh, and the Great Valley Road (or Great Wagon Road), from eastern Pennsylvania through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. George Anthis moved around a lot, living in North Carolina and Tennessee before moving to Indiana.  According to June Barekman, it took 32 years from George to make his way from Virginia to Indiana.  I can’t verify that.  Several members of the Anthis family made this trip along with George; it may be that some of these family members moved on through Kentucky and into Indiana before George made the trip himself.

Several of George’s children had married and had children on their own during this long trek from Hampshire County, Virginia, to Knox County, Indiana.  Among these children was my 4th great-grandfather, also named George Anthis (1770-1825), who had married May (or Mary) Stapleford (1769-unknown) sometime during this journey (probably in Tennessee); they had four children by the time they arrived in Knox County – including my 3rd great-grandfather John Anthis, Sr. (1793-1873), who was their third child.  George 1770 stayed in Knox and Gibson counties in Indiana for a few years before moving across the Wabash River to Wabash County, Illinois, sometime after 1812.  Records show that he served in Indiana during the War of 1812.

John Anthis 1793 shows up in the land records of Decker Township in Knox County in 1811.  He was an early Justice of the Peace in Knox County, and also served in the War of 1812 at the Battle of Tippecanoe.  In 1817 he married Sarah Johnson Philpot (1793-1861) in Vincennes; they soon moved to Wabash County, Illinois, where they lived the rest of their lives.  They had nine children, including my 2nd great-grandfather John Anthis, Jr. (1827-1857), who was their first child.  Sarah had one child with her first husband John Philpot; she and John 1793 raised her daughter with their other children.  There is another link between these families – Sarah’s brother, William Johnson, had married John’s sister Christina.

John 1827 married Matilda Janes Starnater (1822-1856) in Gibson County, Indiana, which is just south of Knox County and directly across the Wabash River from Wabash County, Illinois, where the family of John Anthis 1793 was living.  The history of the Starnater family goes back several generations, also into Virginia.  In 1777 Matilda’s grandfather, Francis Starnater (1740-1818) swore an oath of allegiance to the Commonwealth of Virginia, renouncing his allegiance to England.  Francis served in the Washington County (Pennsylvania) Militia in 1782, along with his brother, Peter Starnater.

I’m not sure who Francis married; however, he had four children between 1762 and 1799, including my 3rd great-grandfather Andrew (or Andres) Starnater (1775-1834).   One sidelight on Francis before we leave him behind; according to The History of Daviess County, Missouri, Francis Starnater was one of four men who settled Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where he died in 1818.  I have not been able to figure out when and why he went there.  Some records suggest that he had a child there in 1799, but I have not been able to prove that.

His son Andrew did not accompany his father to Missouri; he married Elizabeth (Betsey) Hunt (1801-1850) in Knox County in 1816.  Betsey’s family  had moved from South Carolina to Kentucky sometime before 1796, and lived in Bracken County, Kentucky (on the Ohio River).  I don’t know how Betsey linked up with Andrew, but it’s not hard to understand how travel on the Ohio River may have led to their acquaintance and marriage.

June Barekman fleshed out the story of a deep friendship between Andrew Starnater and John and Jacob Anthis in Knox County.  That explains the marriage between Andrew’s daughter, Matilda, and John Anthis (1827-1857), son of John Anthis 1793.  The 1850 census shows John 1827 living with Matilda – and Matilda’s youngest brother, Jackson Starnater.

John and Matilda had three children – including my great-grandfather Franklin Anthis (1850-1899) – before their unexplained early deaths in 1856 and 1857.  The 1860 census shows these young children – ages 10, 7, and 5 – living with their grandparents John 1793 and Sarah in Wabash County, Illinois.  Another young child – a girl named Nettie, age 12 – was in this household as well, along with the John 1792 and his two youngest daughters.  Nettie was also John and Sarah’s granddaughter through their son William Anthis, who had also died in  1857.  It does make me wonder what killed three members of this family in 1857.

By 1870, my great-grandfather Frank Anthis was apparently living with a neighboring family in Wabash County and working for them as a farm laborer.  The 1870 census shows lots of Anthis family households in Wabash County.  In 1874, Frank married Sarah Nunley in Wabash County; the 1860 and 1870 census shows Sarah living with her parents and siblings in Wabash County.  I have not been able to find out when they came to Wabash County.

Frank and Sarah pulled up stakes and went to Texas sometime between 1874 and 1877; they had a child in Wabash County in 1874, and their next child was born in Texas in 1877.  I think their move was connected to the death of Frank’s grandfather, John 1793, who died in 1873.  In his will he left virtually his entire estate to Frank’s younger brother, Isaac.  Frank received “One Dollar.”  The specific language of leaving someone “One Dollar” is often called a “no contest” clause; it means that the decedent didn’t forget that the person existed (which might be the conclusion if he was not mentioned at all in the will).  It could mean a number of things.  On the one hand, it might reflect some kind of estrangement between Frank and his grandfather.  On the other hand, it might simply be an acknowledgment of a situation everyone in the family understood.  Isaac, as the younger son, might have been perceived in more need of support than Frank, or maybe he took care of his grandparents after Frank moved out.  I know that Frank was not living with his grandparents or siblings in 1870, so it may be that Isaac  had agreed to live with and care for his aging grandparents in exchange for the inheritance at some later date.  We don’t know.  Records do show that Isaac relocated to Texas in the 1870s, and lived in Lee County, Texas, near Frank.  That does not suggest an enduring animosity between the brothers. 

In addition to Isaac, some other family members appear to have made the trip as well; Sarah’s mother and father both died in Texas around 1890s, and census records shows several of her siblings in Texas as well.  As a side note – Sarah and two of their three children died in Texas between 1877 and 1880.  Frank married Marth Elizabeth (Mattie) Kyle (1857-1932) in Texas in 1880; I’m descended from their youngest child, Susan Vernon Anthis (1898-1944).  She was born in 1898, the year before Frank’s unexpected early death at the age of 50 in 1899.  I told the story of this family in my Week 27 essay on Lee County, Texas.  Their story continues in my Week 49 essay on Wharton County, Texas, where Mattie moved sometime before 1910 with four of her children – her 25-year-old son Kyle and her three youngest children: 16-year-old John, 13-year-old Harley, and 10-year-old Susan.

Week 15: April 10, 2020 Fairfax County, Virginia

Source of Map: Wikipedia

Fairfax County, Virginia, is part of the suburban ring around Washington, DC.  Its county seat is the City of Fairfax, although because it is an independent city under Virginia law, the city of Fairfax is not part of Fairfax County.  Virginia is weird that way.  It is an affluent county – it was the first county in the United States to reach a six-figure median household income and has the second-highest median household income of any county-level local jurisdiction in the United States after neighboring Loudoun County.

The Evolution of Fairfax County Boundaries

As we have seen throughout this series of essays, knowledge of the changing county boundaries, which reflect the need for local government as an area’s population grows, is an important research tool for genealogists looking for records of their ancestors’ presence in a given area.  All of these maps are taken from https://www.mapofus.org

With the formation of Stafford County in 1664, the first organizational structure was imposed on what would become Fairfax County 80 years later

In 1730, Prince William was formed from the area north and west of Stafford County

Fairfax County was formed from Prince William County

Loudoun County was formed from the western parts of Fairfax County

Part of Fairfax County was ceded to the federal government to form the District of Columbia

Part of the District of Columbia was ceded back to Fairfax County

The City of Alexandria was carved out from Fairfax County

Alexandria’s name was changed to Arlington County

A (Very) Little History

In the earliest years of settlement of the colony of Virginia, it is clear that the centers of population, commerce, and government were in the lower Tidewater area of the colony – from Jamestown and Williamsburg on the peninsula between the York and James Rivers to the area at the Fall Line of the James River – the area that would emerge as the state capital of Richmond after the American Revolution.

However, a rival center for population and commerce emerged further north in the colony, in the area between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, by the end of the 17th century.  Called the Fairfax Grant or the Northern Neck Grant, this area became the home to some of the most famous names in Virginia (and American) history – Fairfax, Lee, Mason, Washington, Marshall, and Carter, to name just a few.

This map shows the Fairfax Grant, noting modern county boundaries.  Fairfax County was squarely within this grant. Source: http://ravensworthstory.org/land/ravensworth-landgrant/northern-neck-grant/

For the complete story of the impact of the Fairfax Grant on the evolution of the Virginia Colony, go to the Virginia Places website: http://www.virginiaplaces.org/settleland/fairfaxgrant.html. To summarize:  the grant was bounded by the routes of the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, but, once these routes were traced closer to their origins in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond, over the years people found it difficult to identify which of the many streams and tributaries were the “real” course of the rivers.  Selecting one small stream over another could change the acreage included in the grant by hundreds or even thousands of acres.  This would change who had the authority to sell these lands, and thus who could profit from them.  The controversy over the extent of the Fairfax Grant continued for more than 100 years, being resolved only in the 1790s.  The website I provided goes into this story in enormous detail.

By the 18th century, the area that would become Fairfax County was the home of both the Washington and Mason families, and had developed as an alternate power base to the Tidewater elites in southeastern Virginia.  As Virginians began to look westward for land, access to the Ohio Valley via the Potomac River began to look attractive, and surveyors and early explorers started to seek viable travel routes west.  Fairfax County was in that path.  One early surveyor of these prospects was a resident of Fairfax County, George Washington; his half-brothers were investors in the Ohio Company, a land venture that invested a lot of Virginia capital in the exploration and settlement of the Ohio Country, as the area beyond the mountains was called prior to the Revolution.

My Ancestors in Fairfax County

I have two sets of ancestors in Fairfax County – one during the 18th century, and one during the 20th century.

My link to this line of ancestors is through my 4th great-grandmother Philadelphia Simpson (1776-1849).  Philly (as she was called) never lived in Fairfax County, but a couple of generations of her ancestors did.  Two sets of her paternal great-grandparents lived in Fairfax County. Richard  Simpson (1692-1762) and Sarah Barker (1706-1766) were living in Fairfax County by 1730, when their son, George Richard Simpson (1730-1782), was born there.  Richard Wheeler (1698-1751) and Rebecca Frizzell (1700-1762) were living in Fairfax County by the time their son, Drummond Wheeler (their daughter Susannah’s brother) was born there in 1726.  My grandmother Orpha Lydia Ellefritz (1896-1986) was Philly’s great-granddaughter.

The Simpson and Wheeler families came to Fairfax County from Maryland.  One of my 7th great-grandfathers, Richard Simpson, was born in 1692 Ann Arundel County, Maryland, near Annapolis, and married Sarah Barker in Fairfax in 1726.  Another 7th great-grandfather, Richard Wheeler, was born in 1698, also in Ann Arundel County, and married Rebecca Frizzell in Baltimore before moving to Fairfax County around 1725.  I don’t know much about Rebecca; some records suggest that her father was William Frizell, who lived in Baltimore in the early 18th century, but there are other men named Frizell who are also likely candidates.  The records are unclear.

Both Richard Simpson and Richard Wheeler appear on the list of voters who elected members of the House of Burgesses from Fairfax County in 1744.  I have been able to find out a lot about these two ancestors because of the records of Truro Parish of the Church of England, which encompassed the area now occupied by Fairfax County.  The Vestry Book of this parish, covering the years from 1732-1785, has been transcribed and is available online; it provides a good record of life in this part of Virginia during precisely the time my ancestors were living there.

There were three churches in this parish, and I am most interested in the Occoquan Church – later known as Pohick Church.  For example, one of the duties of the parish vestries was to go around the plantations and renewing the landmarks denoted property boundaries.  This was called “Processioning,” and in 1743 the Vestry Book instructed the following:

 “that Richard Simpson and Thomas Ford procession all the patented lands that lye between Occoquan and Pohick on the upper side of the Ox road, and between that and Occoquan as far up as Popes Head, and that they perform the same sometime in the month of October or November next, and report their proceedings according to law.” 

In later years, two of Richard’s sons – George and Moses – also appear on the list of Truro Parish processioners.  I figure that this gave them permission to go wander around on everyone’s land – in fact, the Vestry Book describes this process as “perambulating” – literally, “walking around.”  This gave them an opportunity to poke their noses into everyone’s business – something as enjoyable and possibly titillating then as it would be today.  Sort of an 18th century HOA.

The Truro Parish Vestry Book reveals the names of individuals with whom my Simpson and Wheeler ancestors associated during the middle of the 19th century – among them, George Mason and George Washington.  Another well-known individual, Parson Mason Locke Weems (Washington’s first biographer, and creator of the famous Cherry Tree story), led services at Pohick Church on occasion from the turn of the nineteenth century until as late as 1817.

This is the current Pohick Church.  Completed in 1774, it replaced an earlier frame structure.  At the insistence of George Washington, this building was about 2 miles from the original structure – and about 2 miles closer to Washington’s home at Mt. Vernon.  My Simpson relatives would have been involved in the decisions made about the location and design of this building.  Although Richard and Sarah had both died in the 1760s, all of their children were still living in Fairfax at this time


This map shows property ownership in Fairfax County in 1760.  The area within the red square is where my Simpson ancestors lived at the time.  The blue circle is roughly where I lived with my family from 1985 through 1998.  I had no idea. The green circle is in the generation location of Pohick Church.  It was about 10 miles from where my Simpson ancestors lived; this trip would have taken them two to three hours.  Going to church in the 18th century was an all-day event. Source of map:  https://www.arcgis.com/home/item.html?id=cca6b4a3ef644dbfa89e16b6feb515fe

This expanded segment from the earlier map shows where my Simpson ancestors lived in 1760.  The two names in the red circles are my direct ancestors:  my 7th great-grandfather Richard Simpson with his 14 slaves lived next door to his son, my 6th great-grandfather George Simpson with his 4 slaves.  My uncles William Simpson and Moses Simpson lived nearby as well.  William did not own slaves (that’s what the red tint means); Moses owned 8 slaves. The Ox Road that you see in the middle of this map is Virginia Route 123; I drove this road every day for 10 years to commute from my home in Fairfax City to my teaching job in Prince William County, just across the Occoquan River form the land owned by my 19th century ancestors.

Richard and Sarah had seven children, so far as I can tell.  As has been the case in every county in the south that I have researched for this essay series, the records are a little imprecise.  Fortunately, Richard left a will, which has been transcribed, and he mentions his children in the will, so that helps.  His sons Moses, George, and William appear on the map above as property owners near Richard’s home, which makes sense. 

I am descended from George Simpson, Richard and Sarah’s fourth child.  He married Susannah Wheeler (1725-1820) in Fairfax in 1742 – probably at the first Truro Church that I mentioned above.  Susannah’s parents were also residents in Fairfax County and members of Truro Parish, although her father, Richard Wheeler, was not as prominent in church and local government affairs as my Simpson ancestors.

George and Susannah 11 children in Fairfax County, including my 5th great-grandfather Charles Simpson (1744-1834), who was their second child.  This is where the records dry up; Charles married a woman named Margaret Harris, but I don’t know when or where.  Some records suggest that they were living in Kentucky by 1772, but I find that unlikely; the settlement of Kentucky had barely begun at that point, and the counties in which their existence is supposedly documented didn’t exist until after the American Revolution – in some cases, well after the revolution.

A clue to what happened to this family can be discerned by examining the evolution of counties in Virginia and Kentucky.  One of their children, my 4th great-grandmother Philadelphia Simpson (1776-1849) was born in Augusta County, Virginia.  At the time of her birth (and of her siblings), Augusta County had no western boundary, as this map illustrates:

If my Simpson ancestors indeed were among the earliest settlers in Kentucky, as some records suggest, records about their lives might well be in Augusta County, which extended as far as Virginia claimed – to the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

It is a stretch, I think, to assume without evidence that the Simpsons were in Kentucky by the 1770s; I’m going with the idea that they were in Augusta County and well within the Shenandoah Valley.  Charles and Margaret’s daughter Philadelphia (Philly) married Charles Stuart (1774-1846) in Madison County, Kentucky, and I believe that they relocated there after the Revolution – although, once again, Charles Stuart’s birth is identified as occurring in Kentucky County, Virginia, which would be consistent with the theory that they were all early settlers in Kentucky and that the county names caught up to them after some time. 

None of these ancestors shows up in Kentucky until 1789, when Charles Stuart appears in the Kentucky census taken that year.  I’m not sure I’ll ever resolve this question, although I talked about these ancestors in my Week 2 essay on Augusta County, Virginia.

This is my family in Fairfax County.  My parents (Lloyd Cecil Arnold and Violent Henrietta Workman) moved to Fairfax County in 1950 and lived there until 1986.  I grew up in Fairfax County, and my husband Tim McPherson and I lived in Fairfax County from 1973 through 1998.  Our son, Kevin Timothy McPherson, was born in Fairfax County.

This essay is, fundamentally, the reason I do genealogy.  My son, Kevin Timothy McPherson, was born in Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax County in 1977, and Fairfax County is the final county, so far, of my family’s story.

My parents, Lloyd Cecil Arnold (1918-2001) and Violet Henrietta Workman (1921-2012) moved from Pima County (Tucson), Arizona, in 1942.  I’ve told the story of their move in my Week 39 essay on Pima County.  After World War II, my parents relocated permanently to Northern Virginia, living first in Arlington County.  They moved to Fairfax County in 1950, and lived in the county until 1986, when they relocated to Madison County, Virginia.

My older brother Kenneth Lloyd Arnold (1944-2014) and I were born in Arlington County, and of course we moved with our parents to Fairfax County when they moved in 1950.  We lived for the next 10 years in a part of Fairfax County near the independent city of Falls Church.  That’s where we went to elementary school, and where our younger sister, Maribeth Kay Arnold, was born in 1954.

We moved to Annandale in 1960, and we all went to Annandale High School before going away to college.  Neither Ken nor Maribeth ever moved back to Fairfax County, but I did.  After graduating from high school and marrying Timothy Charles McPherson in 1969, we lived for three years in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Tim went to law school at the University of Virginia.  That’s also where our first child, Lori Marie McPherson, was born in 1972.

After a brief sojourn in San Antonio, Texas, while Tim fulfilled his military obligation, we moved back to Fairfax County, where Tim took a job at a law firm in Fairfax.  After living for one year in the city of Falls Church, we moved to Fairfax City and then to Fairfax County.  Tim continued to practice law in the county, going out on his own in the late 1970s. 

I went to graduate school at Catholic University of America, in Washington, DC, from 1973 through 1980, earning an MA and PhD in political science.  While I was in school, our second child, Kevin Timothy McPherson, was born in Fairfax County. 

After working for a few years in the United States Senate, for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and for two defense contracting companies at Tysons Corner, I changed careers and began teaching.  My first teaching job was at Woodbridge Senior High School in Prince William County; we continued to live in Fairfax County through that time.  Both of our children graduated from Fairfax High School before they went off to college.  Neither of them ever returned to live in Fairfax County.

I didn’t realize until I was working on this week’s essay that I drove, every day, past the land owned by my 18th century ancestors in my commute to my teaching job in Prince William County.  You can’t make this stuff up.

Tim and I soon left the county as well.  Once our children had moved away – and we were pretty certain they were not planning to move back to Fairfax County – we decided to move also.  In 1998, we relocated to Williamsburg, Virginia.  We had met at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg in 1965, and we always enjoyed being there.  We weren’t old enough to retire yet; I continued to teach, and Tim switched careers, becoming a middle school teacher.  Oddly enough, we currently live in James City County, outside of Williamsburg; my Week 23 essay on James City County shows that we were returning to a place where my ancestors had lived in the 17th century.

This map combines these two stories.

This red numbers on this map show where I lived in Northern Virginia – mostly in Fairfax County.
1 – Pickett Homes, Arlington, 1947-1950.  2 – Bel Air, Fairfax County, 1950-1960.
3.  Annandale, Fairfax County, 1960-1969.  4.  Falls Church, Virginia, 1973.  5.  Fairfax City, 1974-1977.
6.  Fairfax City, 1977-198o.  7.  Fairfax City, 1980-1986.  8.  Fairfax County, 1986-1998
The red dot, near the top of the map, was where my husband Tim lived in Arlington County.
The green circle, near the bottom of the map, is where my Simpson ancestors lived in Fairfax County in the 18th century.

Week 43: October 23, 2020 Somerset County, New Jersey

Source of map: Wikipedia

The area of Somerset County was first settled in 1681, in the vicinity of Bound Brook, and the county was established by charter on May 22, 1688.  As I was researching this county, I kept coming across references that identified it as “one of America’s oldest counties.”  Why is it identified this way?  It’s only the fifth oldest county in New Jersey, and dozens of the counties I’ve written about in this series are older than Somerset County.

My ancestors in Somerset county lived mostly in Somerville and Raritan, in the middle of the county. Source of map: https://www.co.somerset.nj.us/about/county-info/maps/municipalities

Evolution of Somerset County Boundaries

All of the following maps are taken from https://www.mapofus.come

A (Very) Little History

After the Dutch ceded New Netherland to the English in 1674, King James gave the region between New England and Maryland to his brother, the Duke of York (later King James II), which was renamed New York.  Soon thereafter, James granted the land between the Hudson River and the Delaware River to two friends who had been loyal to him through the English Civil War: Sir George Carteret and Lord Berkeley of Stratton. That part of New Netherland was named New Jersey after the English Channel Island of Jersey.

The two proprietors of New Jersey attempted to entice more settlers to move to New Jersey by granting sections of lands to settlers and by passing “Concession and Agreement,” a document granting religious freedom to all inhabitants of New Jersey; under the British Church of England there was no such religious freedom. In return for land, settlers paid annual fees known as quitrents. Land grants made in connection to the importation of slaves were another enticement for settlers.   Philip Carteret was appointed by the two proprietors as the first governor of New Jersey. Philip Carteret designated Bergen as the first capital of the colony.  However, it became difficult for the two proprietors to collect the quitrents. As a result, on March 18, 1673 Berkeley sold his share of New Jersey to the Quakers.

The following informatio is taken from a series of WordPress blog posts written by Melody Amsel-Arielia (https://amselbird.com/history-of-the-dutch-settlement-of-new-jersey-cont/)

With this sale, New Jersey was divided into East Jersey and West Jersey, two distinct provinces of the proprietary colony.  The political division existed for the 26 years between 1678 and 1712. Determination of an exact location for a border between West Jersey and East Jersey was often a matter of dispute, as was the border with New York.

The original provinces of West and East New Jersey are shown in yellow and green respectively.

Because settlers refused to pay their annual quit-rents, however, Berkeley sold his portion, the western part of the colony to Quakers in 1673. At that point, the colony was divided into East and West Jersey, each with its own governor.

Over time, English, Scotch, and Dutch colonists left the New York area, followed the Hudson River south, whether by boat or on horseback, then established villages along East Jersey’s creeks, brooks, and rivers. From 1681 on, many second and third generation Dutch, seeking land for their sons, reached Somerset County.  Somerset, one of the oldest counties in America and located mid-way between New York and Philadelphia, is watered by the Millstone and Raritan Rivers.

Dutch craftsmen, day laborers, and farmers were among the first to settle along the Raritan. A good many, though they bore names like Ten Eyck, Vroom, and Van Nest, were actually descendants of Huguenots, Protestants who, during the previous century, had fled French persecution for tolerant Amsterdam. There they assimilated completely, learning the language, embracing the Dutch way of life, and marrying within the community. By the time Huguenots and their families re-settled in America, they were considered Dutch rather than French.

As settlement continued, the number of East and West Jersey proprietors grew. In 1702, weary of contending with schemes, confusion, divided interests, and widespread resentment against authority, all of them surrendered to the British Crown. Her Majesty Queen Anne immediately reunited the two halves, proclaiming New Jersey a royal province. Yet opposition and disputes about land rights, continued. This led to riots in 1740.

Because few Somerset County newcomers were trained as builders or architects, most erected their homes with the help of sons and neighbors. Most built with materials at hand, like wood, chips, or rubble, bound by clay reinforced with hogs hair or straw. Some used stone.  Still other colonists built with brick that, supposedly, had served as ballast on Dutch cargo ships.

As there was no indoor plumbing, Dutch farmers dug wells and built outhouses nearby. They also added functional outbuildings, like quarters for livestock, open-slatted cretches for corn storage, and cow barns – which were generally far larger than their homes.

Farming was laborious. Well into the 1700s, reveals Charles Wilson Opdyke, Dutch farmers sowed seeds by hand, furrowed their fields with rude, wooden plows, and harvested their crops with “glittering knife swung …through the golden grain, marking the fields with lines of even swath. Rye, wheat, and buckwheat were cut with the sickle; oats, like grass, fell under the scythe. ”

Wherever the Dutch settled, their culture predominated. They not only continued to speak their mother tongue but, like their countrymen, were known for their honesty, industry, and frugality.

Somerset County Dutch attended either the Dutch Reformed Church in Raritan, or the one in North Branch village, which was organized in 1719. These congregations initially maintained ecclesiastic ties with Holland. Controversies frequently arose, however, regarding liturgical expressions, interpretation of doctrines, and language usage. Only in 1784 did the Rev. Theodorus Frelinghuysen, pastor of several churches in the area, preach “half the [time] in Dutch and half in English, which was the beginning of English preaching in these congregations.” Later, church records were kept in English as well.

In the meantime, anti-British sentiment was spreading throughout all the Thirteen Colonies. In 1775, after Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” speech, the ride of Paul Revere, and the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Provincial Congress of New Jersey responded to the establishment of the Continental Army by ordering formation of ten battalions, each with some 250 men. On July 2, 1776, the colony, officially declared her independence from Great Britain, joining her sister colonies in their fight for their rights and their liberty. Two days later, the Second Continental Congress adopted the United States Declaration of Independence.

New Jersey, which is situated halfway between New York and Philadelphia, was near the center of the newly-proclaimed nation. So British and American troops not only crossed it many times over, but also fought more battles there, large and small, than anywhere else.

Although no pivotal battles were fought in Somerset County, many local landmarks connected with the Revolution have survived. General George Washington, who once described the area as the “Dutch Belt,” spent a considerable amount of time there, sleeping in many of the local homes. Moreover, during the Second Middlebrook Winter Encampment (1778-9), while his troops were encamped all along the Raritan River, Washington established his headquarters at the Dutch-built Wallace House, located today in Somerville, NJ.

My Ancestors in Somerset County

My ancestors who lived in Somerset County fit the description provided above; they had originally settled in New Netherland – either as Dutch or French Huguenots – and moved to Somerset County in the first decade of the 18th century.

My maternal 2nd great-grandfather James Abraham Workman (1827-1887) provides me with the link to my ancestors in Somerset County.  By the time he was born in 1827, his family was two generations removed from the county, but since he can trace his great-grandparents on both his mother’s side (the Bilyeus) and his father’s side (the Workmans) to Somerset County, I want to show that connection.  My grandfather Thomas Calvin Workman Jr. (1898-1973) was his grandson.

I’m going to start with my 6th great-grandfather Abraham Workman (1709-1749), on the top right of this chart.  Abraham was born in Somerset County; I wrote about his parents, Jan Diercksen Woertman (1665-1712) and Anna Mariea Andriessen (1670-1712) in my Week 24 essay on Kings County, New York.   I can’t find information about when Jan and Anna moved to New Jersey; for Abraham to have been born in New Jersey, his parents might be expected to have lived there, but I can’t find the evidence.  Abraham was the 8th of 10 children; several of his siblings were also born in New Jersey.

Abraham married Annetje (Anna) Smith (1706-1782) in Somerset County in 1732; I have not had much luck tracing Anna’s family – the surname “Smith” is a real challenge.  Abraham and Anna had 14 children in Somerset County, including my 5th great-grandfather Jacob Workman (1740-1821), who was their ninth child.   Abraham married Elizabeth Wyckoff (1749-1823) in 1770 in New Jersey, and they moved with many family members to Allegany County, Maryland, in 1779.   I told the story of this family in Maryland in my Week 1 essay.

Elizabeth Wyckoff’s family had been in New Jersey since at least1699, when her grandfather, Nicholas Pieterse Wyckoff (1699-1778) was born in Monmouth County.  Elizabeth’s 2nd great-grandfather, Pieter Claeszen Wyckoff (1620-1694) was an early Dutch inhabitant of Kings County (Brooklyn); I told his story in my Week 24 essay.   Elizabeth’s New Jersey ancestors lived in Hunterdon County; they’re not the direct focus of this essay.  But there is one story connected to them that I want to tell anyway.   Elizabeth’s uncle, Peter Wyckoff (1724-1807), had moved to the Wyoming Valley in northeastern Pennsylvania in about 1774.  An Indian uprising known as the “Wyoming Massacre” occurred there in 1778 (as an aside, the state of Wyoming was named after the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania.).  Peter and his three sons – Joseph, William, and Cornelius – were captured by the Indians.  The rest of the family made it to safety, and all family members were returned safely.  Elizabeth was married and living in Allegany County, Maryland, when these events occurred, but she surely would have heard of them.

At this point, the direct Workman family and many of its extended relatives had moved – first to Maryland and then to Kentucky.  The Bilyeu family was moving in parallel, but my direct line of Workmans doesn’t link up with the Bilyeus until they were in Overton County, Tennessee, in 1826.  I talked about these ancestors in my Week 43 essay on Overton County, but I want to mention it again here.

In 1826, my 3rd great-grandfather James Workman (1806-1884) married Elizabeth Bilyeu (1808-1834) in Overton County.   Elizabeth’s grandfather Peter Bilyeu (1691-after 1752) was born in Staten Island and married there in 1728, but he and his wife were living in Somerset County by the time their first child was born in 1729.  I told the story of Peter’s Bilyeu ancestors in my Week 41 essay on Richmond County (Staten Island), New York.

I have not been able to identify Peter’s wife; one somewhat unreliable source gives her the first name Margrita, but I’m not sure of that.  Peter and his wife had nine children, including my 5th great-grandfather, also named Peter Bilyeu (1731-1808), who was their second child.   Peter 1731 married Margarita Workman (1752-1848) in Somerset county in 1770; the fact that I have verified her name as “Margarita” casts even more doubt on whether his mother’s name was also Margrita.

Another aside:  Margarita Workman (the wife of Peter Bilyeu1731) was the great-granddaughter of Dirck Janse Woertman (16311-1708).  Jacob Workman (1740-1821) was Dirck’s great-grandson, making Margarita Workman a third cousin to Jacob Workman.  Trust me.

Peter 1731 and Margarita 1752 had 10 children; four of them were born in Allegany County, Maryland, while the other six were born in Green County, Kentucky.  Their third child, also named Peter Bilyeu (1777-1863) was born in Allegany County, married Diana Blackwell (1779-1865) in Kentucky in 1793, had children in Kentucky and Tennessee, and lived in Illinois from about 1830 until his death in 1863.

One of their children was my 3rd great-grandmother Elizabeth Bilyeu (1808-1834), who was born in Kentucky.  She moved to Overton County, Tennessee, from Kentucky with her parents sometime before 1826, when she married James Workman there.  They had three children before her death in 1834; their first child, James A. Workman (1827-1887), was my 2nd great-grandfather. 

Just to keep the Bilyeu link going, after Elizabeth died, James married Elizabeth’s sister Lydia Bilyeu (1813-1850), but they had no children.  James married again – to a woman named Elizabeth Rayburn – and they nine more children.

Week 42: Rockingham County, New Hampshire

Source of map: Wikipedia

The area that today is Rockingham County was first settled by Europeans moving north from the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts as early as 1623. The government was linked tightly with Massachusetts until New Hampshire became a separate colony in 1679, but counties were not introduced until 1769.

Rockingham was identified in 1769 as one of five original counties for the colony. It is named for Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, who had been English Prime Minister in 1765-1766. The county was organized in 1771, with its county seat at Exeter. In 1844 its area was reduced by the formation of Belknap County to the northwest. In 1997 the county court facilities were moved to Brentwood, a rural town adjacent to Exeter.

Source of map: FamilySearch.org

This map shows the towns in Rockingham County; most of my ancestors in the county lived in Portsmouth, the port city in the green circle on the right side of the map.  Portsmouth is Rockingham County’s oldest town and only major port. 

Evolution of County Boundaries in New Hampshire (source of maps: https://www.mapofus.org/)

A (Very) Little History

The New Hampshire region was included in a series of grants made by the English crown to Capt. John Mason and others during the 1620s. A fishing and trading settlement was established in 1623, and in 1629 the name New Hampshire, after the English county of Hampshire, was applied to a grant for a region between the Merrimack and Piscataqua rivers. The towns of Dover, Portsmouth, Exeter, and Hampton were the main settlements.

From 1641 to 1679 the region was administered by the colonial government of Massachusetts. Following territorial and religious disputes between Massachusetts and Mason’s heirs, New Hampshire became a separate royal province in 1679. Bitter boundary feuds with Massachusetts and New York over the part of the New Hampshire grant that became Vermont continued almost until the American Revolution. Benning Wentworth held the post of colonial governor from 1741 to 1767, the longest tenure of any royal governor in any of the colonies.

In 1767 the colony took its first census and reported about 52,700 people. By 1772 the state was divided into five counties, to which five others have been added since 1800. New Hampshire soldiers played an active part in the colonial wars between Great Britain and France from 1689 to 1763. By the end of the colonial period the seat of government was at Portsmouth, and there were 147 chartered towns in the province.

My Ancestors in Rockingham County

I have two sets of ancestors in Rockingham County – one from my Arnold line and one from my Ellefritz line.  I’ll talk about them in turn below:

My paternal 5th great-grandfather Nathaniel Meservey (1748-1815), on the left in this chart, provides my link to this part of my tree.  My grandfather, John Cecil Arnold (1895-1957) was his 3rd great-grandson.

Nathaniel Meservey’s roots trace back to early New Hampshire; his great-grandfather (and my 8th great-grandfather), Clement Jean Meservey (1655-1721), came to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from the Isle of Jersey in the Channel Islands in 1673.  Clement’s father had died a few years earlier, which may explain his migration.  Clement was a “joiner” – a carpenter – who lived in Portsmouth.  One source says that his farm was just north of Portsmouth, located on the land currently occupied by the Portsmouth International Airport.

A side note here – the surname “Meservey” is spelled any number of ways, including “Meservé,” “Messerve,” and “Meservey,” and probably others I can’t think of right now.

Clement had three sons who have become identified with several branches of the family.  His son Aaron is linked to the Massachusetts branch of the family, while my 7th great-grandfather, also named Clement Meservey (1678-1746) is associated with the York County, Maine, branch of the family.  A third son, Daniel Meservey, kept his branch of the family in New Hampshire.

Clement 1678 married Elizabeth Jones (1680-1730) in 1702, and they lived on land left to him by his father in Newington, New Hampshire, just west of Portsmouth.  Clement and Elizabeth had 9 children, including my 6th great-grandfather, also named Clement Meservey (1703-1772).  Clement 1703 married Sarah Decker (1709-1752) in Newington, Rockingham County, in 1726, and they had eight children, including my 5th great-grandfather Nathaniel Meservey (1748-1815), who was their last child.  Nathaniel was named after one of his uncles, Nathaniel Meservey (1705-1758), who died of smallpox in Halifax, Nova Scotia, while he was participating in the siege of Louisbourg in 1758.  His oldest son died at the same time of the same disease.

I’m not sure who Nathaniel 1748 married; many researchers say that it was a woman named Rebecca Martin (1743-1812); however, I can’t find evidence of this.   The problem is that this is a line that should be provable; one of the women hanged as a witch in Salem in the 1690s was named Susannah North Martin, and she is posited as Rebecca’s 2nd great-granddaughter.  There is a lot of interest in the lineage of the 19 people who were executed during this episode of mass hysteria in Salem, and their lines have been thoroughly researched.  No one has been able to prove that there was a Rebecca Martin, and certainly not that she was connected to Susannah. 

Whoever Nathaniel 1748 married, they had 11 children, including my 4th great-grandmother Sarah Meservey (1770-1814), who was their fifth child.  All of the children were born in Maine; as I mentioned earlier, Clement 1678 is progenitor of the Maine branch of this family.  Sarah Meservey married Zebediah Pease (1767-1842); I wrote about this family in my essays on Dukes County, Massachusetts (Week 12) and Knox County, Maine (Week 26).

My paternal 7th great-grandmother Mary Carter (1710-1773), on the left in this chart, provides my link to this part of my family tree.  My grandmother Orpha Lydia Ellefritz (1896-1986) was her 5th great-granddaughter.

My 7th great-grandmother Mary Carter (1710-1773) is my link to this set of ancestors.  The most significant part of this tree is the Cotton family, about whom I wrote in Week 44 of this essay series, on Suffolk County, Massachusetts (November 6, 2020).   Just to review:  my 10th great-grandfather John Cotton (1639-1699), on the right on this chart, was the son of Reverend John Cotton (1585-1652), an important cleric (and eventual dissenter) in the early Massachusetts Bay Colony.  John 1639 was also a Puritan minister in Massachusetts, but he moved to South Carolina and died there of yellow fever.

John 1639 married Joanna Rossiter (1642-1702) in New Haven County, Connecticut, in 1660; I wrote about their tenure in New Haven in my Week 33 essay.  John had preached in Connecticut for a while because his views were too radical for the clerical elite in Massachusetts.  John and Joanna had nine children, including my 9th great-grandfather John Cotton (1661-1706), who was their second child. 

I don’t know very much about John 1661.  He married Sarah Hearle (1654-1714) in New Hampshire in 1673, and it appears that all of their children were born in New Hampshire.  I don’t think he went to South Carolina with his father in the 1790s.

John 1661 and Sarah had five children, including my 8th great-grandmother Sarah Cotton (1685-1740), who was their last child.  Sarah married Edward Carter (1675-1722) in Portsmouth in 1708.  I haven’t been able to find out very much about Edward.  His grandfather Richard Carter (1621-1677) came to Massachusetts in the early 1640s, and he married Ann Taylor (1624-1682) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1647.  So far as I can tell, they had only one child, also named Richard Carter (1647-1702).  This gets confusing – the name is variously spelled “Carter” and “Cater,” and I’m not sure whether the records refer to two different people.

Anyway, if I’m correct, Richard 1647 married Mary (Carter?) (1647-1702).  I put the question mark there because I’m not sure if that’s her maiden name or simply the name she used once she married Richard 1647.  Again, if I’m correct, Richard and Mary had a son, Edward Carter (1675-1722), who married Sarah Cotton in Portsmouth in 1708.

It is on this slender reed that I posit the existence of my 7th great-grandmother Mary Carter, with whom I started this story.  Mary married William Enoch Manley Sr (1703-1788) in Massachusetts in 1727, and they appear to have spent their lives together in Connecticut.