The first of our known Reynolds ancestors is our 7th great grandfather Electious Reynolds who is believed to have been born around 1653 in Massachusetts although there are no birth records to substantiate his birth year and birth location nor have the names of his parents been determined. The year of his birth was estimated based on later public records as well as his death record which lists his age as 85 in 1738. It is possible that he actually may have been born in England and come to Massachusetts at a young age with his parents as his name does not appear in any records until he was listed as a resident of Manchester, Massachusetts in 1674 around the age of twenty-one. There were a few Reynolds families living in the Massachusetts area during this time period, however no one has been able to definitively connect any of them to our Electious.
The fact that Electious Reynolds was impressed into the Essex County militia in December of 1675 at the onset of the King Philip's War suggests that he was probably not a landowner, probably poor, possibly unemployed, and we know that he was not married or at least there is no record of a marriage until he married Mary Pease in July of 1686. From an article in The New England Quarterly published in 1999 concerning the Essex County Militia during the King Philip's War period, they describe the typical soldier as "The worst men, poachers, thieves, and drunkards . . " or as described in a subsequent paragraph probably more accurately, as "marginal men" meaning men that if they were killed fighting their loss would have a lesser impact on their community. Apparently as it would seem our great grandfather fell somewhere in these categories. Fortunately for our family, Electious survived the war and the battle known as Narragansett Fort where upwards of 300 Indian women and children were known to have been massacred. We find him next in the public records this time in Salem, Massachusetts in 1678 where he is credited as having signed an Oath of Allegiance.
For the next eight years Electious Reynolds' name appears occasionally in the public records in Salem including one document that listed him in the tax rolls. There have been no records discovered however, that show that he purchased or owned land during this period. We might therefor assume that Electious may have been just a farmhand or perhaps he may have managed his own farm on land that he leased from others. It was not until he was around thirty-three years old that he met and married Mary Pease, daughter of Robert and Sarah Pease, our 8th great grandparents. Their wedding was recorded in Salem on 16 July 1686. Mary was around nineteen years old at the time of their marriage. Their first child, a son James, was born on 15 Jan 1687. Sometime between October of 1689 and 1691 the Reynolds family left behind Salem and Essex County and moved around 60 miles southeast of Boston to the community of Middleborough in Plymouth County. We do not know what motivated the family to move although relocation was a common occurrence during this period and it is likely that Electious hoped that opportunities existed in Plymouth Colony that were not available elsewhere. For a farmer like Electious Reynolds such opportunities most likely consisted of less expensive and more fertile farm lands. There are some family historians who believe that Electious' father was a William Reynolds of Plymouth Colony and that Electious was actually born in or near Middleborough. If this is true although there are no documents supporting this heritage, it might help explain why Electious and Mary moved to Middleborough not long after their marriage.
It is worthwhile at this point to digress for a moment to briefly discuss the parents of our Mary Pease Reynolds for they in a small and brief moment played a role in our country's history. Our 8th great grandfather Robert Pease was only four years old when he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from England to America on the ship Francis in 1634 with his father Robert and his Uncle John. His mother Marie and his brothers and sisters followed on a later ship and the family united finally in the village of Salem. Unfortunately Robert's father died when Robert was only 15 and his mother not sure of what to do with her young son apprenticed him to a man named Thomas Root for a period of five years. During this period Robert was trained to raise sheep and weave their wool. Robert married our great grandmother Sarah (maiden name unknown) sometime around 1658 and together they had around eight children including of course our 7th great grandmother Mary Pease who was born in 1666. Robert and Sarah lived a rather quiet but typical life in Salem with Sarah raising her children, keeping their home, and managing their small family garden and Robert other than spending some time in the militia in 1675/76 during the King Philips War, operating his small business as a weaver. It was not until 1692 when all Hell broke loose in the Pease family as the result
There is no way of knowing when Mary Pease Reynolds learned of her mother's imprisonment although the news of the witch trials in Salem must have spread rapidly through the New England Colony and Mary must have learned about her mother's predicament within a month if not within a few weeks. Whether Mary or Mary and Electious returned to Salem to see if they could help we do not know although in mid-1692 Mary was taking care of three young children including her youngest, a three year old son named Charles, our 6th great grandfather who was born in Essex County in 1689 not long before the family moved to Middleborough. We suspect that what with family commitments and the financial cost of leaving there was no way that Mary and Electious could have returned to Salem. In November of 1692 while her mother was still in prison, Mary became pregnant with her fourth child who was born the following August. In total, Electious and Mary were to have eight children. Their last child whom they named Electious after his father was born in 1706.
We know very little about the lives of Electious Reynolds and his family after their move to Middlebourgh. We can assume that his primary source of income was farming although we did find it interesting to learn of the number of land purchases and sales that he made according to public records during his later life beginning in 1703. Between 1703 and 1731 he made at least a dozen purchases and sales of land which makes us wonder if he was a land speculator. Some of the land he purchased was occupied by his sons and according to the public records four of his sons inherited land from their father after Electious's death on 19 June 1738. He was 85 years old when he died. Mary's death date is unknown although there is some evidence that she was still alive in April of 1730. Besides land records and records of the birth of a few of his children, the only other mention of Electious Reynolds was that his name appeared in a list of the founding members in 1725 of the Congregational Church in the West Precinct of Middleborough. It is written in the church records that the original founders of the church spent three days per week each helping to build the church. Electious was 72 years old when the church was built and if he helped construct the church he must have been in pretty good physical shape for a relatively old man in the early 1700s. While Electious Reynolds was clearly not an important historical figure in our country's history, we see him as a honest, hard working, and religious man who did his very best to help his family and for these reasons alone we think of him as another one of our important ancestors.
In contrast to his father, we know very little about the life of his third son, our 6th great grandfather, Charles Reynolds. Charles was born in 1689 in Essex County shortly before his parents moved to Middleborough. In 1714 he married his wife Sarah Smith and together they bore seven children including their 6th child, a son Jacob, our 5th great grandfather, who was born in Middleborough on 8 May 1731. Charles Reynolds died in Middleborough at the age of 76 in 1765. We did find in a publication of Massachusetts Vital Records for Middleborough County researched by Jack Mack Holbrook and published in 1992, the names and birth dates of the first five of Charles' and Sarah's children although the fact that Jacob as their 6th child was not in the list was disappointing since it would have positively confirmed that he was one of their children. With respect to the life of Charles Reynolds we learned very little. His name was included several times in some hand written records for Middleborough County beginning first in 1737 where he was included in a list of qualified jurors and then again in 1741, 1743, and in 1744 where his name is mentioned as a Surveyor of Highways. Of all of the public offices available to male citizens of colonial New England it would seem that the position of Surveyor of Highways might have been the least desirable. The individual, Charles Reynolds in our case, was responsible for checking out the condition of the roadways in the community and when they required repair he was responsible for calling out all of the able men in the community to work on the repairs for free under the terms of the colonial law that made such compulsory labor mandatory. As one might imagine very few of the men in the community looked favorably on a law that forced them to furnish free labor for one or more days per year, and they no doubt also did not look too favorably on the man who called them out and supervised their labor. Whether or not our Charles Reynolds performed other public services we could not determine. I believe however, that we can assume that he was primarily a farmer who provided well for his family and lived a long and reasonably successful and satisfactory life.
While we could find no undisputable proof that Jacob Reynolds was the son of Charles and Sarah Reynolds most of the family trees, but not all, on Ancestry.com show him as their child. There are a few trees however, that show Jacob as the son of a possible brother of Charles' who was also named Jacob. This brother Jacob (1692-1755) lived his adult life in New Bedford, Massachusetts where apparently his son Jacob was born. While we have doubts as to whether Charles had a brother named Jacob, we have little doubt despite only circumstantial evidence, that our Jacob, our 5th great grandfather, was the son of Charles and not a Jacob. For one thing, if Jacob was from New Bedford why did he post his intentions to marry his future wife Martha Padelford in Middleborough where we know that Charles and Sarah lived but not in New Bedford? Martha Padelford was in fact from nearby Taunton and her future husband our Jacob, as the son of Charles and Sarah Reynolds was from Middleborough. Furthermore, it is generally believed that Jacob had a younger sister named Rachel Reynolds (1732-1804). While Rachel's birth location has not been definitely established, what is known is that Rachel married Zachariah Padelford, the brother of Jacob's wife Martha Padelford, in Taunton. If our 5th great grandfather was born and lived in New Bedford as some have shown, it would have been odd that he and his sister would have announced their intentions to marry in Middleborough and then married spouses from nearby Taunton. We believe that this clearly shows that Jacob Reynolds was from Middleborough and not New Bedford, and that he was obviously the son of Middleborough residents, Charles and Sarah Reynolds.
It should not come as a surprise considering how little we know about the birth of Jacob Reynolds, to learn that we also know very little about his life. What we do know is that he was born in 1731 in Middleborough, Massachusetts (Mark A on the above map), that he moved to Taunton, Massachusetts (Mark B) after his marriage in 1751 to Martha Padelford, and he later moved with his family to Killingly, Connecticut (Mark C) sometime after the birth of their 7th child in 1767, and finally Jacob died in East Killingly in 1786 at the relatively young age of 55. The value of everything he owned at the time of his death according to his will was only a modest 105 English pounds which in American dollars equaled around $511. The inventory value of his will would have included everything that he owned including land, his home, all of the furnishings, farm animals, crops, and any cash and considering that the total value amounted to only 105 English pounds was certainly reflective of the fact that Jacob was not a wealthy man. Jacob Reynolds undoubtedly lived a quiet and somewhat obscure life which would explain why we find so little about Jacob in the public records. According to his will Jacob and Martha had ten surviving children at the time of his death including their youngest child, our 4th great grandfather Sullivan Reynolds who was born on 25 June 1777 and was around nine years old when his father died. Our 5th great grandmother, Martha Padelford Reynolds remarried a man named Phineas Greene not long after Jacob's death and Sullivan may have gone to live with his mother and her new husband. The marriage was short lived however, as Phineas died in Killingly in 1794. One other thing worth mentioning about the Jacob Reynolds' family is to note that the family's life spanned the years of the American Revolution. Four of the sons of Jacob and Martha are credited with serving in the war and their names each come up during a search of the records of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Although Jacob was only in his mid-40s at the beginning of the war and certainly many men his age either served in one of the State militias or they enlisted in the Continental army, we could find no record that he served in any capacity. That is not to say that he did not serve in his local militia for a short period although it is probably a safe assumption that he was never participated in battle. It is also possible of course that Jacob may have had a physical impairment in some capacity that would have prevented him from serving. Our 4th great grandfather Sullivan Reynolds, born in 1777, obviously did not serve in the American Revolution.
On a website titled the "History of the Old Mill" we are informed that "Authentic records reveal that Sullivan Reynolds, in 1791 moved his family by ox cart from what was then Sidney Plains into the Unadilla Valley. He was the second white man to settle there . . . " In a history of the Town of Guilford in Chenango County we are also informed that Sullivan Reynolds built the first store and the first mill on the Unadilla River in Chenango County in the year 1791. The only problem with both of these histories which probably originated from the same source, is that in the year 1791 our 4th great grandfather Sullivan Reynolds was at the most only 14 years old. We suspect that either the date is wrong or more likely Sullivan was living with his older brother Jacob who helped him with the new store and mill and our historians simply overlooked this fact. Here is what we believe is correct.
It would seem that at some point after their father's death Sullivan went to live with his brother Jacob who was 20 years older than his younger brother and then the two of them possibly with Jacob's wife moved west to settle the land along the Unadilla River valley in south central New York State that had recently opened up to settlement following the close of the Revolutionary War. Jacob had served three years in the Continental Army on one of the Connecticut lines and he had probably heard repeatedly from his fellow ex-soldiers about the new lands opening up in New York. Prior to the Revolution all of the land that was roughly west of the Unadilla River and north of the Susquehanna River was by a 1768 treaty (see the above map) Indian territory but since the majority of the tribes in this region had supported the British during the war and in 1779 been chased off their lands by American troops, the tribes had no choice after the war but to accept treaties permanently removing them from their ancestral homes. In the case of the land in what later became Chenango County, the Oneida Indians were forced to sell their land to the government under the terms of a treaty that was signed in 1785. Settlers began to move into the area almost immediately after hearing about the treaty and the now available and inexpensive land.
While a Chenango County history story informs us that Sullivan Reynolds arrived in this new territory as early as 1791, the first mention of Sullivan in the public records that we could find did not occur until the year 1799 where his name appears in the Tax Assessment Rolls. These records show that Sullivan did not as of 1799 own any real estate and the small amount of tax that he owed was based only on the value of his "Personal Estates" that was valued at only 42 dollars. Jacob Reynolds on the other hand in 1799 on the Tax Assessment Rolls had real estate valued at $500 and personal property valued at $60 dollars. By 1799 Sullivan Reynolds was a full adult as he was around 22 years old in that year and the tax records certainly did not reflect that he was the owner of a store and grist mill that he built back in the year 1791. Since there is no doubt that Sullivan Reynolds owned and operated a store and a grist mill on the Unadilla River and that the mill was later operated by one of his sons after Sullivan's death, we can only assume at this point that in the early years of his life his brother Jacob was his guardian and helped his brother financially. One interesting thing that we did not mention earlier was that in his father's will Sullivan was left 1/3 of his father's real estate. He would not have received any money from the estate until he turned twenty-one and therefore it is conceivable that Jacob was helping out his brother until he received his inheritance.
www.oldmill-mtupton.com includes a link to the history of the old mill wherein it provides historical references to our Sullivan Reynolds.
Sullivan and his wife Margery were married sometime in the year 1800 although the commonly accepted birthdate of their first child Sally Reynolds, reported to be 28 July 1800, would suggest a marriage in the year 1799. This would of course conflict with our belief that Sullivan was single and living with Jacob and his wife at the time of the 1800 US census. We could not verify Sally's actual birth date and at this point we believe it is probably incorrect at least with respect to the month. Sullivan and Margery were to have eight children in total between the years 1800 and 1821 including their 3rd child and our 3rd great grandfather William Reynolds who was born in November of 1805. Sullivan was probably delighted that five of his children were sons whom he could put to work in the grist mill as soon as they were old enough to be useful in the mill. The grist mill was undoubtedly very popular in the local neighborhood where the local farmers could bring their corn and wheat to the mill where large stones turned by paddle wheels in the flowing waters of the Unadilla River would grind the corn or wheat into a flour. The farmers in turn would pay the Sullivan Reynolds family either with cash or other services that probably allowed our Sullivan Reynolds family ancestors to enjoy a rather comfortable life style. Perhaps as a result of increased competition or simply new innovations, at some point the grist mill was no longer profitable and following its later purchase by the Rockwell family, the original mill was converted and vastly enlarged into a highly successful woolen mill. Unfortunately, even the woolen mill at some point succumbed to changing conditions and it was forced to close in 1907. Today on the land originally settled by our great grandparents Sullivan and Margery Reynolds we have a restaurant. We hope that the Old Mill Restaurant offers great food, will continue to honor our Sullivan Reynolds family, and continue to be highly successful for many years into the future.
In the 1860 US Census records we find our 3rd great grandfather, William Reynolds, living in Elmira, New York with his family. His profession or occupation was listed in the census as a "Gentleman" and his age was listed as a relatively young 54 years old. Since the occupation of Gentleman is probably not a paid profession, we must assume that William was unemployed at least in 1860. In fact, a review of the other census records where we could find his name and the few other history accounts where we found him mentioned, it is unclear whether or not he ever worked in a paid position unless we count his profession as a "landlord" as mentioned in the 1850 census as an actual job. We found in Wikipedia a definition of the term Gentleman at least in modern usage as follows: ". . that a man has sufficient wealth and free time to pursue an area of interest without depending on it for his livelihood." That is, our William Reynolds had wealth, money, so there was no need for him to be employed or even manage his own business. If this is true we are completely confused since there is no evidence that he inherited money nor is there any evidence that he earned sufficient money in his younger years so that he could retire early. Unfortunately, there are a number of years before William Reynolds moved to Elmira for which we have little information about his life. Here however, is what we do know.
According to the 1830 US Census records it appears that neither William Reynolds nor his older brother John were living at home with their parents. Furthermore we could not find our William Reynolds in any of the 1830 census records although the name was so common that we did find at least 29 other William Reynolds listed as living in New York State. Unfortunately none of these men matched what we know about our William with respect to age and marital status. What we do know about our great grandfather William Reynolds, thanks again to research by cousin Liz Dubois, is that sometime before 1835 he moved about 100 miles east of his parents' home in Chenango County to the town of Ellenville in Ulster County and from there he moved again another 40 or so miles east to Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County where he met and later married Jane DeGroff on 20 October 1835. The only other information that we know about the life of William Reynolds in Poughkeepsie was that he and Jane had a son born there on 22 July 1836 whom they named David DeGroff Reynolds after Jane's older brother David DeGroff. Why exactly William Reynolds moved to Poughkeepsie and exactly what he did for a living for about a decade before he moved his family to the Elmira area in Chemung County just before 1840, we do not know. In fact, despite spending a lot of wasted time on research we failed to discover exactly what William did for a living for his entire life. We did find a William Reynolds living in Poughkeepsie during the 1830s who was in the pottery business but if this William was our William, his pottery business was essentially a failure. There was also another William Reynolds in Poughkeepsie during this time period who later became quite wealthy in the shipping business, however this William was clearly identified as the son of a James Reynolds, no relationship as far as we know to our Reynolds ancestors. Both William and his wife Jane Degroff likely inherited some money from their fathers who died shortly before William and Jane were married, however it seems unlikely that their inheritances would have amounted to much.
Since we find our William and Jane and one young child listed as living in the village of Veterans in Chemung County in the 1840 US Census, we know that they moved west sometime after the birth of their son David in 1836. Incidentally, this census lists their child as a girl under 5 years old but knowing how notoriously inaccurate many of the census takers were with the records, it seems likely that the census taker looked at the small child running around the room, assumed the child was a girl, and checked the box accordingly. In fact if we were to rely on census records as our sole source of facts we would be in trouble. For example, William's age according to multiple census takers was very much in dispute. According to the 1850 census William was born around 1810. In the 1860 census he was born around 1806, and in the 1865 New York State census they listed him as born about 1807. Finally in the 1870 census they got the year correctly, listing him born about 1805. There is one other census record error that as it turned out, was somewhat revealing. In the 1850 US records we find William and his wife Jane living with their two young children in Elmira, New York along with a 72-year old woman named Elizabeth Reynolds who if we did not know better would have been William Reynolds' mother. In reality, the woman was actually Jane's mother, Elizabeth Tillow DeGraff, who obviously had followed her daughter from Poughkeepsie to their new home in Chemung County sometime after her husband's death in 1832. Jane's father was Abraham DeGraff (1771-1832). During further research on Jane's side of the family we learned that Jane's older brother David DeGraff (1799-1868) had also moved to Chemung County sometime before the 1840 US Census was taken which strongly suggested to us that William and Jane and their young son David moved to Chemung County along with Jane's brother and young David's uncle David DeGraff and his wife Hannah.
In the 1850 US Census records in Elmira, Chemung County, New York, we find David DeGroff and William Reynolds living in separate homes however they are both listed as "Landlords" and in David's case he and his wife are living with sixteen other unrelated individuals all of whom are young adults and they are all undoubtedly renting rooms from David. While William and his family live nearby, there are no renters living in their household. William's home is valued at $600 whereas the building that David is living in is valued at $3,000. Since both William and David are neighbors and both list themselves as landlords the suggestion is that the two brother-in-laws were partners. We might also draw the conclusion since David's and Jane's mother was living with the Reynold's family as of 1850 that more money may have been inherited from Abraham DeGraff than we had originally assumed. On the other hand, we find in other Elmira public records where David DeGroff is listed as a "merchant" which might suggest that his primary source of income was a business other that just being a landlord. In William's case, we did not find any records that might indicate he had other employment although he was appointed in Horseheads in Chemung County in 1844 to be the Postmaster and in 1854 also in Horseheads he was appointed as one of two Overseers of the Poor. In both cases William undoubtedly served with little or no pay.
David's and Ellen's daughter Ella McBlain Reynolds, my great grandmother was born in Elmira, New York on the 22nd day of December in 1863. She married at the age of 22 the son of a wealthy lumber dealer in Elmira by the name of Charles Henry Spaulding (1841-1875) who was undoubtedly well known by Ella's parents. The son was my great grandfather Henry Charles Spaulding. A brief history of my Spaulding ancestors is told in Chapter 4 of this Blog.
Ella McBlain Reynolds and Charles Henry Spaulding had two daughters, Helen Mary and Henrietta, before Charles early death in 1889 at the young age of only 25. Helen Mary Spaulding (1887-1937), my grandmother married my grandfather Charles Schenck Baker (1885-1952) in 1915. One year later on 26 June 1916 my father Charles Asbury Baker was born.
And thus we end another chapter on the lives of our early ancestors.