|Tuller Family Tree - Click to enlarge|
Obviously without knowing the names of the parents of John Tuller it is next to impossible to know the location and the exact date of his birth. What we do know is that he married my 8th great grandmother, Elizabeth Case (1656-1718), in Windsor, Connecticut on 30 April 1684 and that my grandmother was at the time of her marriage around 28 years old. It was not her first marriage as her first husband had died in 1680. Assuming that John Tuller was a few years older than his wife, it is probably safe to assume that he was born around 1652 (or 32 years old when he married) which is the year often given as his birth year on Ancestry.com and other websites. Admittedly however, a guess. Where John Tuller was born may always be a mystery although we doubt that he was born in the Windsor or Simsbury, Connecticut area where he married and spent much of his life. Frankly, there are pretty good records of the names of the earliest settlers in this area and there is no mention of a Tuller family. What we suspect is that John Tuller immigrated to this area sometime around the period of the King Philip's War, 1675 to 1676, where he eventually met his future wife. But these are all just guesses so let us step back for a minute and describe what we do know about his wife's family, her grandparents and my 10th great grandparents, William and Agnes Harris Spencer.
|King Charles 1|
There is a lot of confusion as to when and with whom William Spencer may have traveled to America. There are some writings that report that he traveled with his brothers possibly with the Winthrop Fleet as early as 1630. There are others that state that he traveled with his wife, Agnes, following their recent marriage in England although this possibility seems unlikely since his future wife lived in Barnstable in County Devon, near the west coast of England and not at all close to William's hometown. All that is really known about William's emigration to America is that that on the 4th of March in 1632 he took the freeman's oath in what would later be the town of Cambridge, Massachusetts implying only that he arrived sometime before that date and probably at the latest just prior to the winter of 1631-2. The exact date of the arrival of my 10th great grandmother Agnes Harris is also unknown for certain although we did take comfort reading an article written by Douglas Richardson in 1988 titled "The English Origin of Agnes Harris, of Hartford, Conn." wherein he goes into a lot of detail describing Agnes' parents Bartholomew Harris (1560-1615) and Elizabeth Collamore (1566-1647). He describes in some detail the life of the Harris family in Barnstable and the political and financial successes of Agnes' father Bartholomew prior to his untimely death in 1615 at the age of 55. Agnes was only around 11 years old when her father died. What is suggested in this biography is that following her father's death in 1615, young Agnes went to live with her possible relatives Matthew and Martha Allyn and that sometime later she traveled with the Allyn family to America as a servant obviously arriving sometime prior to her marriage to William Spencer in 1633. Whether or not her relationship with the Allyn family is accurate, it is interesting that Matthew Allyn is mentioned as "Cosen" (cousin) Matthew Allyn in William's will in 1640 obviously implying a close family relationship. It is known that the Allyn family was also from Agnes' hometown of Barnstable clarifying that it was Agnes and not William who was a possible cousin of Matthew Allyn.
William and Agnes Spencer lived in Cambridge until 1639 at which time they relocated with their family to Hartford, Connecticut. While living in Cambridge, Agnes gave birth to three children including their third child, a daughter named Sarah Spencer (1636-1691), my 9th great grandmother, who was born on 7 March 1636. During William's time living in Cambridge he made quite a name for himself. William was a Deputy representing Cambridge to the General Court of Massachusetts from 1634 until 1637. He was a member of the committee formed to frame a body of fundamental laws for the Colony of Massachusetts. In March 1636, William was appointed Lieutenant of the Military Company of New Town (Cambridge) and also in March of that year he was a founder of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston. Furthermore, he served as the town clerk at Cambridge from 1632 until 1635 and was elected a town selectman in November of 1635. Obviously my 10th great grandfather was a highly respected man in his community which makes it quite interesting to learn that in 1639 he and his family moved to the recently formed and highly rural settlement in Connecticut later to be named Hartford.
|Founders Monument - Hartford|
Following Samuel Spencer's early and unexpected death in 1640, my 10th great grandmother, Agnes Harris Spencer, remarried in December of 1645 a much younger man by the name of William Edwards. Agnes was 41 years old when she married 27 year old William Edwards and somewhat surprisingly considering her age she gave birth to a son in 1647. The exact date of Agnes' eventual death is not known although it is usually given as sometime during or shortly after 1680. Her daughter and my 9th great grandmother Sarah Spencer undoubtedly lived with her mother and her step-father right up until the point that she married John Case, my 9th great grandfather, sometime in early 1656. Unfortunately no records have been found that verify the exact date of their marriage. Sarah was around 21 years old when she married but the age of her new husband is unknown, although numerous sources report his birth year as 1615 which would have made him in his early 40s when they married. Frankly this seems highly unlikely and we have to believe that John Case was likely in his mid to late-20s when they married, although who knows. The best but unlikely story that we found about the origins of my 9th great grandfather, John Case, is that he emigrated to America on the ship "Dorset" in the year 1635 along with his parents and his four brothers. According to some stories, his parents' names were William and Ruth James Case, my 10th great grandparents, both of whom along with their children are believed to have been from Alysham, Norfolk, England. Unfortunately as the story goes, William Case died onboard the ship during the voyage prior to their ultimate landing in New England. He was only around 45 years old at the time of his death. What happened at that point to my great grandmother Ruth James Case, is lost in history. We did however, find a detailed passenger list of those on the "Dorset" in 1635 but the only names in the list that were close to my family's names were a 19 year old boy named William Casse and an 18 year old boy by the name of John Casson. Who knows if this is our John Case and whoever made up this story about his parents and brothers on board the "Dorset" shall have to remain a mystery.
The first actual record of John Case in America was a court record in 1655 in Hartford, Connecticut that mentioned his name. While there are no documents that have been located, it is calculated that he married Sarah Spencer in Hartford in early 1656 and apparently for some unknown reason they may have soon moved to Long Island, New York to an area then known as Maspeth Kill, which as best we can determine was the name of a river in the southwest corner of Long Island (now part of Brooklyn). It is possible of course, that John Case may have been living on Long Island prior his going to Hartford possibly for business or military reasons, but nothing is known about this in any case. What is interesting is that the Maspeth Kill (Creek) area was at the time, largely occupied by Dutch speaking people and was still under the control of the Dutch (until 1664), so it is hard to imagine why John Case may have actually lived there. Could he possibly have been of Dutch descent? Anyway, in August of 1656, John Case wrote a legal document wherein he listed himself as "now inhabiting in Mashpath Kills in new Netherland. . " The document gave authority to his new stepfather-in-law and his attorney, William Edwards, Sarah's stepfather, to go after the collection of the money willed to Sarah by her late father, Samuel Spencer, when he died in 1640. Apparently Sarah now married was also old enough to finally receive the remainder of her father's inheritance. The other verification that Sarah and her new husband John Case were for at least a short period living on Long Island, was that their first child, a daughter named Elizabeth Case (1656-1718), my 8th great grandmother, was baptized on 26 November 1656 at the Reformed Dutch Church in New Amsterdam. If this is indeed an accurate record of the baptized of Elizabeth Case, it is truly amazing considering that John Case is assumed to be Puritan or some variation there of, and having a child baptized in a Dutch Reformed Church makes little to no sense certainly during this period of history. Anyway, who knows what is truly accurate. In any case, Elizabeth Case was my 8th great grandmother.
|Founders Monument - Windsor|
|Map showing Hartford, Windsor, and Simsbury|
|Burning of Simsbury in 1676|
|Gravestone of Sarah Spencer Case (1636-1691)|
Final Resting Place for many members of Case Family
John and Sarah Case's first daughter and my 8th great grandmother was named Elizabeth Case (1656-1718) and she was only 17 years old when she married her first husband Joseph Lewis in Simsbury on 30 April 1674. We know little to nothing about the background of Joseph Lewis. Together however, they had three children before Joseph's untimely early death in 1680. He was at the time of his death only in his early 30s but diseases were very common during this period of history and doctors and medicines were mostly non-existent. For someone to die an early death was not that uncommon. Elizabeth married my 8th great grandfather, John Tuller (1652-1742), in 1684. She was now 28 years old. As we stated at the beginning of this story, we know nothing about the family origins of our great grandfather John Tuller. We believe that he may have arrived in the general area of Hartford just before or during the King Philip's War that took place between 1675 and 1678, but this is just a guess. In any case, Elizabeth and John had six children together including their fourth child and third son and my 7th great grandfather, Jacob Tuller (1694-1746), who was born in May of 1694.
By the year 1700, Simsbury and the other villages in and near Hartford had grown considerably. The effects of the Indian attack and the burning of Simsbury in 1676 were long over and the population had grown considerable to almost 350 people including all men, women and children (but excluding Indians). Incidentally in the year 1700, Connecticut was considered to be the fourth largest "state" with a total population of around 26,000. Surprisingly, the largest "state" at the time was Virginia with an estimated population of 58,600 people followed by Massachusetts with 55,900 and Maryland with 29,600. The area consisted mostly of farmlands although in 1705 copper was discovered in Simsbury and copper mining soon became a big business. It is reported that the first copper coinage in America was initiated in Simsbury in 1737. In 1728, the first steel mill in America is said to have begun in Simsbury. But with that said, as best we can determine John Tuller was primarily a farmer and not a particularly wealthy man. In his final will and testament written prior to his death in 1742, while he left some money and land to his children, he had some debts to pay which required the sale of some of the land that he had left to his sons. What we found interesting while reviewing some of the court records of John Tuller's Will was that Jacob Tuller, my 7th great grandfather, was the Administrator of his father's will despite being his parents' youngest son. Incidentally, John's wife, Elizabeth Case Tuller, had died a number of years earlier than her husband, in 1718, and my great grandfather, married for a second time a year later after his wife's death, to a woman named Hannah Slowman of whom little is known.
|Cousin Don Wayne Tuller|
My 7th great grandfather, Jacob Tuller, married my 7th great grandmother, Mary Moses (1702-1748), in Simsbury on 27 January 1721. Since Mary was only 18 years old when she married 26-year old Jacob, per tradition at least in the 18th century and earlier, Jacob would have had to seek permission from Mary's parents prior to their being allowed to marry. Fortunately for both of them their parents were good friends and both had lived in Simsbury for a number of years. Furthermore, Mary's older brother, John Moses, had married Jacob's older sister, Sarah Tuller, a number of years earlier confirming again that their families were close. Mary Moses' grandfather and my 9th great grandfather, John Moses (Jr) (1626-1683) had in fact moved to Connecticut on or before 1647 originally settling in Windsor and eventually moving to Simsbury.
|Early Colonial ship building|
|Forge and Iron Mill (Recreated)|
John Moses' name occurs several times in the public records of Windsor including his purchase of a house in 1649 which is kind of unusual for the strict Puritan laws of the time forbid a single man from living alone in his own home. What is also unusual is that at the relatively young age of only 23 he would have had the money or even the desire to spend what he might have earned to purchase land and a house. Four years later however, the old Windsor Church records of 18 May 1653 record the wedding of John Moses to a Mary Brown. The origins of my 9th great grandmother Mary Brown have been a great mystery to many of the family historians over the years and for good reason. In 1653, the population of Windsor and the other nearby communities was still relatively small yet in none of the local public records has anyone been uncovered who might be the father or mother of Mary. There has been a lot of wild speculation that Mary Brown may have been a daughter of one of the original Mayflower passengers, a man by the name of Peter Brown, although (unfortunately for me) this relationship has been disproven. It would have been wonderful to have added another of my ancestors on my list of those who arrived in America on the Mayflower.
John and Mary Brown Moses must have had a fairly good life at least based on the number of children that they had and John's apparent wealth and the amount of land that he owned at the time of his death. Together they had around eleven children, seven of whom John mentioned in his will, plus two boys who died early of wounds received in battle, and two other possible sons of which little is known. Their oldest son, John Moses 3 (1626-1683), my 8th great grandfather, was only 29 years old when his father died in 1683. Unfortunately for John and his wife and family, Windsor and the surrounding area was during much of his lifetime, not always a safe place to live as the local Indians greatly outnumbered the white settlers. It is historically a fact, that the new white settlers were slowly "stealing" the land from the local Indians although in many cases, the theft consisted of a land "sale" in which the Indians were paid a small amount of goods to give up their land. Often the Indians had no idea that by accepting whatever they were offered, they had in fact sold their land. Naturally what often followed this misunderstanding, was a war.
In March of 1658, John Moses (Jr.) joined a new troop of soldiers considered to be the first cavalry forces in Connecticut. This military force initially consisted of only thirty-seven soldiers under the command of a Major John Mason of which at least 17 of these part-time soldiers were from Windsor including our John Moses (Jr.). These troops were called into action against the local Indians on numerous occasions over the following years, a fact that was probably very annoying to John Moses' young and growing family. Unfortunately in March of 1675 the largest action against the Indians began in what is now known as the King Philip's War. The leader of the Indian forces was a chief by the name of Metacomb who many years earlier in an attempt to maintain a friendly relationship with the English had adopted the name Philip. Hence the name "King Philip's" War. John Moses (Jr.) and the Connecticut forces were engaged in only a few of the many battles of the war. They were however, part of one of the largest and ugliest engagements that is now known as the Great Swamp Fight which took place in present day Rhode Island. By this point in the war the Connecticut forces had greatly increased in size and John Moses was joined in the battle by his three oldest sons including my 8th great grandfather, John Moses 3. Unfortunately for the Moses' family, two of their older sons, Thomas then age 17 and his brother William age 19, were both wounded during one of the battles of the Great Swamp Fight. They apparently were both hit by poisoned Indian arrows, and they both subsequently died a few years later as a result of their wounds. Overall the Indians took the greatest hit during the war and in the case of the Great Swamp Fight, the English forces out of revenge even attached one of the Indian villages and unmercifully killed around 1,000 Indians who consisted mostly of women, children, and older men. My ancestors were undoubtedly involved in this slaughter. The war ended in late 1676 following of course, the burning and complete destruction of the village of Simsbury in March of 1676. Overall it is estimated that around 1,000 colonists were killed during the war as compared to around 3,000 Indians. At the time, the population of the New England area consisted of around 80,000 English people but only around 10,000 Indians. Obviously the number of deaths during the war had a much greater impact on the Indian population. Indian wars at least in the Windsor, Hartford, and Simsbury area were pretty much over for the remainder of John Moses' lifetime.
Apparently sometime prior to the King Philip's War, John Moses (Jr.) must have acquired land and a home in Simsbury, since according to the records his property was burned by the Indians along with everything else when they attacked Simsbury in March of 1676. This loss apparently did not have a huge impact on John Moses' life, financial or otherwise, for according to his final Will, John owned many parcels of land and other records show that he also owned and operated grist mills, saw mills, and cedar mills. We also find interesting is that one of the mills that he erected near Simsbury was near the site of the Tuller mills that were built around the same time and that we mentioned earlier. This is the business that is currently operated by our distant Cousin Don Wayne Tuller. Great grandfather John Moses (Jr.) died at the age of 57 in 1683. My great grandmother Mary Brown Moses outlived her husband by only a few years finally dying in 1689 at the age of only 56.
|Approximate view of Mount Philip from Moses' property|
Deborah Thrall's grandfather, my 9th great grandfather, William Thrall (1605-1678), arrived in America on the ship "Mary and John" and first came on shore on 30 May 1630 which just happens to be exactly 312 years before the day I was born. Their group first settled in an area now known as Dorchester which is around six miles south of Boston. They remained there for less than five years and for a number of reasons including trying to distance themselves from the strict Puritan leadership in the Boston area, they travelled westward to the Connecticut River Valley where they settled in an area now named Windsor. My 9th great grandfather William Thrall is credited with being one of the original settlers of Windsor. William would have been around 30 years old at that point having been born in England around 1605 and it is probably safe to assume that he was married although nothing is known about the background of his wife nor her name although some report it to be Elizabeth. The above map of Ancient Windsor has on it the name "Wm. Thrall" showing his property at the high end of the little river titled as "Little Meadow." Little Meadow is now named the Farmington River. The larger river on the map, "The Great Meadow," is now called the Connecticut River and it runs south to the Long Island Sound and north all the way to Canada, a distance of 410 miles. It is no wonder that settlers chose areas like Windsor to call their home.
Unfortunately for the new English settlers and before them the Dutch settlers, all of the New England area was first settled by numerous Indian tribes. The English, probably somewhat naively, tried to purchase the land from the Indians, and the Indians even more naively, sold much of their land to the English without realizing that once their land was sold, they had to move. Another serious problem for the Indians were the many deadly diseases brought to America by the English and the Europeans. The end result of all of this were numerous battles between the new settlers and the Indians whose lives were gradually being wiped out. Our William Thrall was among a group of thirty men then living in Windsor who responded in 1637 to a call for arms to join a fight against the Indians later to be called the Pequot War. The Pequot Indian tribe was soundly defeated losing about 700 of their members of their tribe who were killed or captured. The victors including our William Thrall were granted free land as a reward for their services. William and his wife, sometimes referred to as "Goode" Thrall, had somewhere between two and six children, the records are mostly missing, although it is recorded that my 8th great grandfather, Timothy Thrall (1641-1697) was born in Windsor in 1641. It might also be noted that William Thrall in his will mentioned the names of only two children although obviously some children may have already died. William Thrall lived a long life finally dying at the age of 79 years old in 1679. His wife died a few years earlier at the estimated age of 67 years old. Based on his will and what we read about the history of William Thrall, he was a fairly wealthy man during his lifetime. Not only was he a large land owner but he also owned a stone quarry that was granted to him by the Town of Windsor in 1652.
Obviously Timothy Thrall, as the oldest child and only son of William Thrall, was the major beneficiary of his father's will with Timothy's sister Phillipa inheriting mostly money. On the other hand, Phillipa's husband, John Hosford, did inherit land from his father-in-law which is not that unusual and the fact that John Hosford's father, William Hosford had also come to America on the ship "Mary and John" along with William Thrall meant that the two families were probably very close friends. Timothy Thrall at the age of only 18 married 18 year-old Deborah Gunn in Windsor on 10th of November in 1659. Deborah's father and my 9th great grandfather, Thomas Gunn, was also one of the first of the settlers in Windsor and considering the young age of both his daughter and his new son-in-law, we have to believe that the Gunn and Thrall families were also probably very close friends. We know that in 1678, Thomas Gunn moved to Westfield, Massachusetts away from Windsor and having done so he gave his homestead in Windsor to his son-in-law. Clearly Timothy and his then rapidly growing family were well off.
We did read one interesting story about Timothy Thrall and his friend and brother in-law, John Hosford that is worth noting. They were both prominent members of the first and at the time only church in Windsor, and incidentally, this church is now considered to be the oldest Congregational church in Connecticut. However, when their minister died and the church leaders tried to promote their then assistant minister, Nathaniel Chauncy, Timothy and John were among a group of church members who strongly objected. We might point out that Nathaniel Chauncy's father was the Rev. Charles Chauncy, my 9th great grandfather, whose story is told in Chapter 3 of this blog. Anyway, in protest both Timothy and John helped form a new church that they founded in Windsor in 1669. This new church was said to be more Presbyterian than Congregational although a number of years later the two churches eventually merged. Timothy and Deborah Gunn Thrall were to have at least nine children who survived until adulthood including my 8th great grandmother, Deborah Thrall, who was born on the 19th day of August in the year 1660. As we mentioned earlier in this story, Deborah Thrall married John Moses on 14 July 1680. Not surprisingly we suppose considering how small the villages were back in the late 17th century, Deborah's younger brother, John Thrall, married one of John Moses' sisters, a girl by the name of Mindwell Moses.
I believe that enough has been written about the ancestry of my Tuller family. Jacob Tuller and his wife Mary Moses Tuller had around 10 children including their fourth child, Sarah Tuller, my 6th great grandmother, who was born in 1728. Sarah married Phineas Holcomb in 1745 when she was only 17 years old. My family tree from this point down to today is as follows:
6th Great Grandparents: Sarah Tuller m Phineas Holcomb
5th Great Grandparents: Sarah Holcomb m Phineas Spaulding
4th Great Grandparents: Phineas Spaulding m Matilda Tichenor
3rd Great Grandparents: Henry Spaulding m Clara Wisner
2nd Great Grandparents:Charles Spaulding m Mary Catherine Sly
Great Grandparents: Henry Spaulding m Ella M. Reynolds
Grandparents: Helen Spaulding m Charles S. Baker
Parents: Charles A. Baker m Marian Patterson
Living Generation: Charles A. Baker Jr. (1942- )
Anne Baker Fanton (1943- )
Joan Patterson Baker (1950- )
And so ends another story. . . . .