Saturday, February 25, 2017

Chapter 48 - My Churchill Ancestors

Our first Churchill ancestor to arrive in America was a man named Josiah Churchill, my 9th great grandfather, who is believed to have landed in Boston in the year 1635. There has been over the years no shortage of facts as to Josiah's origins in England including where he was born, the names of his parents, and even the exact year of his birth. As far as we could determine however, there is a total lack of evidence to support any of these supposed "facts."  Solely based it would seem on the date of his marriage to Elizabeth Foote in 1638 and her 1616 birth year, it is speculated that Josiah was born between 1611 and 1615. The exact year of his birth however, is really unknown. There is further speculation that Josiah was a brother of John Churchill who immigrated to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1643. John is known to have lived in County Dorsetshire, England and to have been the son of John and Sarah May Churchill. If John Churchill was indeed the brother of our ancestor Josiah Churchill, we then know Josiah's birth location and the names of his parents. Unfortunately, recent DNA testing of John's and Josiah's descendants shows that they were not brothers and were at best only distantly related. Thus it is very unlikely that Josiah was born in Dorsetshire and his parents were not John and Sarah Churchill. One other conjecture that has no real basis in fact is that Josiah (and possibly John as well) was the son of a man named Joseph Churchill who was a shipping merchant in London and who was responsible for shipping supplies to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The speculation expands to suggest that Josiah Churchill was a sailor on one of his father's ships delivering goods to Boston and they he elected to remain in America. Here again this is just pure speculation. Since all these 'facts" are reported in numerous historical writings and many family trees, it took us quite a few hours of study to determine that all of this data was pure fiction. The basic fact is that all we really know about the history of our ancestor Josiah Churchill is that he was born somewhere in England to unknown parents and that he sailed to America sometime before his marriage in 1638.

Josiah Churchill's name does not actually appear in historical records until the birth of his first child with his new wife, Elizabeth Foote, daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Deming Foote, on the 24th of March in 1639 in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Realistically, this would suggest that Josiah Churchill arrived in Wethersfield at the latest in early 1638 and possibly earlier. Wethersfield was first founded back in 1634 by a Puritan group of ten men, the "Ten Adventurers,", three of whom were my great grandfathers, Nathaniel Foote (Josiah's father-in-law), Robert Seeley, and John Strickland. Wethersfield is considered to be the second settlement founded in Connecticut following Windsor Colony established less than one year earlier. Hartford was established shortly following Wethersfield in 1635. One early advantage that Wethersfield had over the other two early communities was that while all three were on the Connecticut River, Wethersfield was further south and thus had better access down the rather shallow river to the Long Island Sound.
It is not at all surprising considering the huge influx of English immigrants into "New England" in the 1630s, that problems would soon arise between the Native American Indians and the new immigrants. The nearby Dutch colonists to the south had actually been doing a fairly decent job integrating with the Native Americans not only because they were not to any great extent moving into and occupying Indian lands but also because they were doing a good job working with the Indians through issues like fur and wampum trading which greatly benefited both parties. The Indians would provide the valuable furs and the Dutch would provide needed items for the tribes such as knives, pots and pans, and so forth. Along with the Hudson River valley, the Connecticut River valley was a particularly valuable area for the Indians as a source of furs and other items to trade with the Dutch. The Pequot Indian tribe was one of the most active of the Indian tribes trading with the Dutch in this area. Unfortunately for both parties, the influx of the British New Englanders into the Connecticut River valley beginning in 1633 caused a major consternation since the British were primarily interested in creating new settlements and occupying what had been the Indian lands. Without going into a lot of detail about the onset of the Pequot War, what is important in our story is that on the 23rd day of April in 1637 a large group of mostly Pequot Tribal Indians attacked the small English settlement of Wethersfield and killed six men and three women, a number of cows and horses, and as they departed they took with them two young captive girls. The attack obviously infuriated the English settlers, and on May 1st they declared war against the Pequots and raised a force of around 90 local men, 18 of whom were residents of Wethersfield and the rest from nearby Hartford and Windsor. This force combined with some Indians from other tribes, attacked on May 26th, a large Pequot Indian settlement near what is today Mystic, Connecticut (about 50 miles southeast of Wethersfield). Here they slaughtered around 400 Pequot men, women, and children, effectively killing most of the Indians who were present in the village at the time. Unfortunately for the English anyway, the warrior Pequot Indians were away from the village at the time of the slaughter, however over the coming months these Pequot warriors were soon hunted down and mostly killed, effectively destroying the entire Pequot Indian tribe. While it is very possible that Josiah was not present at the massacre at Mystic, soon after around 150 men from the Plymouth area joined the Connecticut forces to hunt down the remaining Pequot Indians and Josiah might very well have been in this group. At this point in any case, the English had for the most part assumed total control over the lands along the Connecticut River. This does not mean by any means that all of the other local Indian tribes in New England were destroyed as future Indian wars were later to take place.

What is not known as we previously mentioned, is whether or not our great grandfather Josiah Churchill participated in the Pequot War although most family historians assume that he did. Josiah's name does not appear in an old listing of Wethersfield men who were with the force that attacked the village at "Mistick Fort" although the listing is not necessarily totally accurate and it was admittedly incomplete. What we do believe is that he did participate in some portion of the war against the Pequots and that following the "war" in late 1637, he settled in Wethersfield where he was granted land, and where he soon met his future wife and my 9th great grandmother, Elizabeth Foote.

John Deming's Home in  Wethersfield built in 1667
Elizabeth Foote was around 18 years old when she arrived in the new settlement of Wethersfield in the year 1634 with her parents and her five brothers and sisters all of whom had been born in the small village of Shalford in County Essex, England located northeast of London. Elizabeth's father, Nathaniel Foote had grown up in Shalford and as a young 15-year old boy in the year 1608 following his father's death, he had been apprenticed to learn the trade of a "free burgess" or grocer and wholesale merchant. When he completed his apprenticeship in the year 1616, he married Elizabeth's mother, Elizabeth Deming, and together beginning with young Elizabeth Foote who was born in 1616, they had six children before they decided in the year 1633 to emigrate to America. Their youngest child was only around one when they departed. It is not really clear how then 41-year old Nathaniel Foote had accumulated the necessary wealth to transport his entire family to America and as we learn later, to then become one of the wealthiest landowners in Wethersfield. We just have to assume that some inheritance and a great grocery business which he undoubtedly sold, all worked to the family's benefit. Also traveling with the Foote family was Elizabeth Deming Foote's brother, John Deming and it is entirely possible that Nathaniel also covered the cost of his travel. John Deming, my 10th great uncle, actually traveled with the Foote family in 1634 when they moved to Wethersfield. He later became and is credited with being one of the "fathers of Connecticut," but that is another story that must be told by one of his many great, great grandsons. See the photo of John Deming's home in Wethersfield above.

100 mile trek to Connecticut
The first historical records in existence of Nathaniel Foote in America are when he took the oath of Freeman in Watertown in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in September of 1633 and when he was granted land. The reason that the Foote family and many other families abruptly left Watertown in 1634 is not entirely clear although it was probably a result of a theological dispute with the local Puritan Church leaders, a very common issue in the early Massachusetts Bay settlements, as well as the constant need for more common land to raise their farm animals and grow crops. These departing "First Adventurers" consisting of ten men, many with their families including the Footes, followed an old Indian trail for around two weeks to their final destination on the Connecticut River, a total distance of around 100 miles. Here they founded a village that was soon to be named Wethersfield (in 1637).  The Nathaniel Foote family was to become one of the leading families in this early little Connecticut Colony. Nathaniel became a town magistrate, he served as a Deputy to the General Assembly between 1641 and 1644, he served as a juror on several occasions, and soon became a leading landowner in Wethersfield owning over 400 acres of land. By the time of his early death in 1644 he had become one of the most highly respected individuals in his town of Wethersfield.

Nathaniel Foote Memorial in Wethersfield
At the time of Nathaniel Foote's death in 1644, my 10th great grandmother, Elizabeth, was only 49 years old. Two of her then seven children were married but four of her children were still under the age of twenty. Her youngest child, the only one born in America, was only ten. It is not surprising therefore that Elizabeth soon remarried in 1646 to a man named Thomas Welles from nearby Hartford. The marriage of Elizabeth Deming Foote and Thomas Welles is really a fascinating occurrence in our family's history.  For one thing, Thomas Welles and his first wife Alice Tomes Welles are my 10th great grandparents through my mother's side of our family. On the other hand, Nathaniel and Elizabeth Foote are also my 10th great grandparents but on an entirely different line but also on my mother's side of our family. While Elizabeth Foote and Thomas Welles did not have any children as they were both in their fifties when they married, the fact that both individuals were my great grandparents in different lines is truly remarkable.  Incidentally, the story of the life of Thomas Welles is covered in Chapter 29 of this blog and is worth reading.  Thomas Welles was truly a remarkable person in that he was the only man in Connecticut's history to hold all four top offices: governor, deputy governor, treasurer, and secretary. He was both governor and deputy governor after his marriage to Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was also highly respected in her community considering that she was the executor of Nathaniel's will which for a female was highly unusual in the 1600s, and she was also rather strong willed. One of the conditions of her marriage to her second husband was that Thomas Welles had to move from his home in Hartford, along with his children, down to Wethersfield and move into Elizabeth's home. He did so and considering that he went on in later years to be governor of Connecticut proved that his move did him no harm. Elizabeth Foote Welles out lived her second husband finally dying at the age of 88 in 1683.

Map of early Wethersfield
We found it interesting upon reviewing the Last Will and Testament of Nathaniel Foote that he failed to mention in his Will his oldest daughter, Elizabeth Foote, who only six years earlier in 1638  had married Josiah Churchill and that he also failed to mention his other daughter, Mary Foote, who only two years earlier had also married. These omissions suggest that both daughters had received gifts at the time of their marriages and that Nathaniel had assumed that his daughters were being well cared for by their new husbands. In the case of Elizabeth Foote Churchill, history would show that he was correct in that my 9th great grandfather Josiah Churchill was a good provider, a good husband, and a good father.  It does not appear in the historical records that Josiah ever achieved the wealth of his father-in-law nor for that matter, the wealth of his mother-in-law's second husband, Thomas Welles, however it does seem that he did quite well. Josiah Churchill's first home ownership was on a 12-1/2 acre parcel in Wethersfield adjacent on the west to the "Great Meadow," which in the 1600s was a very fertile and mostly treeless area (thanks to the local Indians who originally cleared the land) and probably ideally suited for growing crops and pasturing animals. Unfortunately, it was also land subject to frequent flooding from the adjacent Connecticut River (See sketch of early Wethersfield above which shows the locations of the homes of both Josiah Churchill and his father-in-law Nathaniel Foote.)  Josiah by the time of his death in 1686 at the age of 75 had accumulated two-hundred and ten acres of land and two home lots. Some family historians note that since he frequently traded land during his lifetime he might be considered to have been in the real estate business had such a business actually formally existed in the 1600s. While my great grandfather may have made good money by buying and selling land, his primary efforts to maintain his and family's lifestyle were undoubtedly spent in farming like most others in the New England area in this era.

Poor Mary Johnson of Wethersfield
Not unexpectedly my great grandfather Josiah Churchill also did public service in his community. I was reading the other day that the average net worth of a United States congressman today is just over $1,000,000. This is unbelievable. Unlike public servants however, in the 1630s, a present-day congressman now is paid a considerable amount of money annually plus who knows what else they each earn in private deals. In contrast, public servants during Josiah's lifespan most likely did not receive compensation and the men who served had their own wealth and other sources of income during their public service. This observation may explain in part why Josiah's level of public service was below in terms of responsibility that of Nathaniel Foote and Thomas Welles. Nevertheless, Josiah Churchill stayed active during his lifetime in his community. Over a period of time between 1643 and 1675 he served as a town constable, a town surveyor, and on numerous occasions he served in the court as a juror. He may have even served as a juror during Wethersfield's notorious witch trial in 1648 which took place four decades before the well known Salem witch trials. Poor Mary Johnson of Wethersfield was found guilty of being a witch and she was hanged. During the period of Josiah Churchill's life the population in the Wethersfield area grew dramatically from around 150 to 200 to almost 1,000. Fortunately for the village and the Churchill family only two more witches were convicted and hanged (in 1651) in Wethersfield prior to Josiah's later death in 1686 and hopefully he also did not serve on the jury of this second witch trial. Certainly never would one of my ancestors do such a horrible thing as convicting a neighbor of being a witch.

Josiah and Elizabeth Foote Churchill were to have eight children born between the years 1639 and 1657 including my 8th great grandfather and their 5th child and first son, Joseph Churchill, who was born in 1649. By the time of Josiah's death in 1686, son Joseph was then 36 years old and married with four children. Fortunately for Joseph, his father's generosity during his father's lifetime resulted in Joseph and his family living in a home in Wethersfield owned and previously occupied by his father. As was the custom at the time of a father's death, Joseph as the oldest son received the largest benefits from his father's Will including the home where he was currently living plus an additional 66 acres. Joseph was also to benefit financially when his mother died 14 years later in the year 1700. There is speculation that both Josiah and Elizabeth Churchill are buried in the Newington Cemetery, Newington being a small community just west of Wethersfield. Apparently in 1659, the Churchills had moved to a new home located near or in the present day village of Newington, which suggests that they would have been buried at the nearby Newington Cemetery. Unfortunately, if this was the case, no records or gravestones still exist to support this speculation.

Their son, Joseph Churchill, at the age of 25, married in Wethersfield on 13 May 1674, a young girl named Mary whose surname has unfortunately been lost in history. (There is no shortage of guesses as to her surname however.) Together my 8th grandparents were to have eight children including my 7th great grandfather, Samuel Churchill, their 5th child and 2nd son, who was born on the 27th day of April in 1688.  It is interesting that as we researched the life of Joseph Churchill we could not help but note that his life was very similar to his father's life except for his early death in 1699 at the young age of only 49. For example, Joseph was only 30 years old when in 1679 he took on the roll like his father before him, of Town Surveyor. Over the coming years he served as a town assessor, constable, and shortly before his death in 1697, he was elected as a "Selectman," a leadership position he held until his early death in 1699.

In most of the narratives about the life of Joseph, they refer to him as "Sergeant" Joseph Churchill implying in most cases that he was a member of the local "Trainband" or the local militia. Typically during this period of history, all young boys beginning at the age of 16 were required to join their local trainband where they were instructed in the art of war and the use of firearms. This did not mean that the boys or the men as they grew older were ever actually sent into battle as a group. It only gave them a somewhat incomplete training of what they might face if they were every placed in a military unit. It would seem that Joseph Churchill must have advanced to a leadership role in this local militia. What we found interesting however, is despite the title of "Sergeant" there was no discussion of Joseph ever going into combat despite the fact that the King Philip's War was fought between June of 1675 and April of 1678 and some Connecticut men were definitely engaged in this war. Joseph was 26-years old at the onset of the King Philip's War and while most of the battles did not take place near Wethersfield, in December of 1675 a fierce battle occurred called the Great Swamp Fight near the present day city of South Kingston, Rhode Island (located about 75 miles southeast of Wethersfield). As a man with the rank of Sergeant it would seem likely that he may have participated. It is known that Connecticut forces were present at this "slaughter" where it is estimated that around 600 local Narragansett Indians were slain during the battle as compared to only 70 men of the English militia. There is however, no record of Joseph Churchill being at the Great Swamp Fight nor any other battle for that matter. In January of 1675 when the Indian killings were taking place, Joseph and Mary Churchill's first child, a daughter named Mary, was only nine months old and perhaps carrying for the welfare of his wife and child was more important to our young great grandfather Joseph then going out and slaughtering some Indians (including men, woman, AND children.)  Unfortunately, we have identified several of our other ancestors who were present at the Great Swamp Fight including my 9th Great Grandfather, Samuel Appleton (1625-1696). His story will have to be another chapter. Here again the King Philip's War ended with the Indians sorely losing and the white men "immigrants" frantically and rapidly gobbling up the now freed-up Indian lands. It is extremely hard for us to be proud of this history.

Joseph's and Mary's son, Samuel Churchill, my 7th great grandfather, was only 10 years old when his father died, although he was 50 years old when his mother died. Mary, his mother, lived to the age of 91. Since she had outlived her oldest son Nathaniel whose home she had probably been living, it is entirely possible that she eventually moved in with her son Samuel and his wife Martha Boardman. Samuel Churchill was 29 years old when he married Martha Boardman in June of 1717.  It would seem unlikely that he was aware of how much had changed in the Village of Wethersfield since his great grandparents had arrived in the area in 1635 over 80 years earlier. The countryside in 1635 was mostly covered with a dense forest. The only cleared land had been the Great Meadow area alongside the Connecticut River that had been cleared by the Wangunk Indians decades earlier. By the time of Samuel's marriage, the Indians were mostly gone from the area or they had been integrated into the population. By 1717, the population in Wethersfield had grown to almost 2,000 and families were gradually moving westward away from the river area. At first there were only a dozen or so primitively constructed wooden homes separated by acres of farm land but as time passed the quality and number of homes gradually increased as did the construction of common buildings such as churches, schools, meeting houses, and structures offering services like blacksmith shops, warehouses, and the like. The forest areas were gradually disappearing and the wood for new homes in some cases had to be hauled in from areas further west. Whereas in the early days Wethersfield was somewhat isolated from the Massachusetts Bay area, by the early 1700s shipping up and down the Connecticut River had greatly expanded allowing the transportation to and from the area of everything from farm food products, livestock, household goods, to even new residents. At the time of the first settlement, the residents were composed entirely of deeply religious Puritans, but as years passed while religion was still of great importance, the tie to the Puritan teachings had greatly diminished.  We find that Samuel Churchill's life had evolved as had his community.  Samuel's occupation was that of a blacksmith and while he undoubtedly was involved in some farming, his livelihood and support of his family was not dependent on the farm. In 1712, prior to his marriage, Samuel, then only 24 years old, had acquired fifty-two acres of land in what later became the parish of Newington located just to the west of Wethersfield. Most likely Samuel delayed building a home and moving to his new property until after his marriage. The Town of Newington was not actually established until 1871 although in 1721 the area was granted the name "Newington" which apparently means, new town in the meadow. His motive for moving was probably based on the lower cost of property outside of the greatly expanded Wethersfield and by the availability of larger parcels of land. Considering the rapid growth of the area it was probably an excellent purchase.

Gravestone Samuel Churchill 1688-1767
Samuel Churchill like his forbearers, engaged himself in public affairs within his community. His name appears frequently in the records of Newington both in the local town records as well as in the local business and school records. Here again like his father, Samuel is often referred to by his local militia title, that of Ensign Samuel Churchill, a title that he was given in 1746.  There is no evidence however, that he ever engaged in any military actions although there was no shortage of wars taking place during his lifetime including the Queen Anne's War (1702-1713) which included some engagements with the French and Indians in New England. Samuel and Martha Boardman were married in 1717 and together they had six children, all sons, including their fourth son named Jesse Churchill, my 6th great grandfather, who was born on 31 August 1726. Samuel lived his entire life in Newington finally dying at the age of 79 in the year 1767.  My great grandmother Martha Boardman Churchill outlived her husband by thirteen years finally dying at the age of 84 in the year 1780. They are both buried in the Newington Parish Cemetery and as shown in the above photograph, their gravestones have survived.  We could not find during our research any copies of the Wills of either Samuel or Martha although we have to believe that they left all of their sons financially in good shape.

Samuel's and Martha's son, Jesse Churchill, was 24 years old when he married on the 8th day of November in 1750 my 19 year old and 6th great grandmother, Jerusha Gaylord, and over the next thirteen years they had seven children including their first born child and my 5th great grandmother, Martha Churchill, who was born in 1751. Unfortunately Jerusha Gaylord Churchill died unexpectedly when she was only 38 years old leaving Jesse with young children ages 6 to 18 to care for. Her early death was not an uncommon occurrence during this period of history what with the hard life of frequent childbirths and constant work. Not unexpectedly, Jesse remarried soon after his wife's death to a widow woman by the name of Sarah Boardman Cade who had lost her husband after only a year of marriage. Jesse and his new wife Sarah went on to have three children together. Jesse Churchill and his family which now consisted of nine children lived in Newington, Connecticut until early 1775, at which time Jesse made the decision along with six of his friends including his older brother Samuel and his new son-in-law, Benajah Boardman (Martha's new husband), to move away from Newington and up into Vermont.

Hubbardton, Western Vermont
Southeast of Fort Ticonderoga 
Jesse Churchill's motives for moving his family in 1775 over 180 miles north from their home in Wethersfield up to a remote area in Vermont called Hubbardton are highly speculative. One motive of course, is that the land in Vermont was cheap and thousands of acres were available. They all agreed that such a location would be ideal in the future especially for their children who as they grew up and married would be able to find new land readily available. Another reason to leave the Wethersfield area may very well have been the proximity of the war with the British that was currently taking place in the Boston area. The British Army's "Siege of Boston" had begun in April of 1775 following the recent battles of Lexington and Concord. Their move to Vermont might very well have been an attempt to get away from any effects of the conflict that would certainly rapidly advance into Connecticut if the British army was successful. Jesse was around 49 years old at the time and some of his family historians state that because he was just too old to fight, the move to Vermont was not motivated by the war and the possibility of his involvement. Yet Jesse at the time was only five years older than George Washington and his old age as an excuse was a myth and had they not moved he might very well have been engaged in the fighting. We strongly believe that his deeply religious nature and his desire to keep his children away from any possibility of seeing death and destruction was the motive for his trying to avoid the war. His friends undoubtedly agreed. In truth there were thousands of American men who avoided serving in either the militia or the regular army during the American Revolution therefore Jesse was not alone. Support for the war was at the best, mixed. It is reported that "for many years" Jesse Churchill was a Deacon in the First Church of Christ, Wethersfield which certainly speaks to his religious nature. Another motive for avoiding the war was the fact that by 1775 Jesse's family consisted of nine children the youngest being only six. His oldest daughter, Martha Churchill, my 5th great grandmother, had recently married and she followed her father to Vermont along with her new husband.

First Church of  Christ  in Wethersfield, Built 1761-1764
Deacon Jesse Church
In 1775, Hubbardton, Vermont was a wilderness area of tree covered rolling hills and numerous picturesque lakes and no dwellers. The traveling group of seven families might very well have followed the Connecticut River north for much of their two or three week trip before heading northwest over to the Hubbardton area located not far from what is today the New York State border. Hubbardston is also located around 30 miles southeast of what was then Fort Ticonderoga that had been constructed around 20 years earlier. It is highly likely that the families had followed the lead of a guide who was familiar with the area.  Once there and the land was divided per their grants with the original owners, they began clearing and then building their primitive log homes obviously primitive as a result of their not having the tools nor the building skills that would have been readily available in their former town. For the next two years in Hubbardton everything went well as the farms and the families grew. Jesse and Sarah had another child as did we believe his daughter Martha, my 5th great grandmother, and her husband. Martha's child we believe died early and the birth was never recorded. The move to Hubbardton would have been the perfect move except for what happened on 5 July, 1777.

Monument at the site of the Battle of Hubbardton 
As we all know the Revolutionary War did not end in Boston in 1775. In May of 1775 the nearby Fort Ticonderoga under the control of British forces was attacked and captured by the Green Mountain Boys under the leadership of Ethan Allen. Control of the fort by the Americans was short lived for only two years later on the 5th of July in 1777 the British forces recaptured the fort. The American forces consisting of around 1,200 men were forced to retreat from the fort and they headed in the direction of Hubbardton. They were quickly followed by an equally sized force of British Troops. Fortunately the families living in Hubbartdon, including Jesse Churchill's family, were warned in advance of the oncoming British troops and they quickly vacated their homes. What soon followed on the 7th of July 1777, was the Battle of Hubbardton, the only Revolutionary War battle fought in the future state of Vermont.  While some of the families later returned to their homes in Hubbardton, Jesse Churchill unexpectedly elected to return to Wethersfield and abandon his new home in Hubbardton. What happened to Jesse and Sarah following their return is mostly unknown. Sarah died a year later in 1778. She was only 38. Jesse again remarried shortly following the death of his second wife although here again his marriage ended only six years later with the death of his third wife in 1794.  Jesse Churchill died twelve years later at the then advanced age of 79 years old in 1806. He is buried in the Wethersfield Village Cemetery. Where my 6th great grandmother is buried is unknown.

Old Constitution House, Birthplace of "Vermont Republic"
Jesse Churchill was present when state constitution was signed.
One final note about Jesse Churchill is worth reporting in that it tells us a lot about the respect that others in his community must have had for him. On the 4th of June in 1777 about a month before the Battle of Hubbardton and before Jesse with his family returned to Connecticut, Jesse was part of a large group of men meeting in the village of Windsor located about 65 miles east of Hubbardton. He was probably selected by his friends in Hubbardton to represent their community at this meeting of the "General Constitutional Convention". This meeting has some historical significance because it was here that the future State of Vermont was first given the name "Vermont". Quite understandably, the Town of Windsor now refers to itself as the "Birthplace of Vermont."

Unlike Jesse Churchill, his daughter Martha and her husband Benajah Boardman did not leave Hubbardton with the approach of the British army and their German and Indian allies in early July in 1777. In fact Benajah joined forces with the Americans and as best we can determined he was engaged with the Green Mountain Boys in the Battle of Hubbardton that took place on 7 July 1777. There is a story which may or may not be true, that when Benajah left to join up with the American military, Martha was left alone in their house along with her young child along with Benajah's child by his first wife who had died shortly after giving birth in 1773. When the British army approached their house she is said to have hidden under a "feather bed on the floor" along with the two young children but they were quickly discovered when the British entered and searched the house.  She was apparently released, however the British retained their home and used it as a temporary hospital for wounded soldiers following the battle. The British and their allies are reported to have had 49 to 60 men killed during the battle and between 141 to 168 men wounded.

Apparently my 5th great grandfather, Benajah Boardman, was not at home during much of the Revolutionary War as he had apparently signed up with the Green Mountain Boys under the leadership of Col. Ira Allen after the battle in Hubbardton and by 1781 military records have him listed as a sergeant. Ira Allen was the brother of Ethan Allen. We note that despite being married in late 1774, Benajah and Martha did not give birth to their second child until a son was born in early 1780 which perhaps suggests that Benajah was not home much of the time during his engagement in the Revolutionary War. In any case, between 1780 and 1788 they had five children including my 4th great grandmother Rebecca Meekins Boardman who was born on 10 June 1783. Without spending a lot of time describing the life of Benajah and Martha Churchill Boardman, it will have to sufficient simply to note that in 1788 they left their home in Vermont and moved with their family to Newtown, New York (Elmira) and then several years later in 1791 they moved to Ovid, New York located between Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake in Central New York State.  Here Benajah Churchill became a large landowner, a successful businessman including being an owner of both a grist mill as well as a public inn, and for awhile a town supervisor in the Town of Fayette.  Three more children were born following their move into New York State. Benajah and Martha both died in early 1813 apparently as a result of an epidemic fever that was introduced into their area by soldiers returning from the War of 1812. Fortunately at the time of their death their youngest child was 20 years old.

The following is my family line to the Churchill family:

Martha Churchill (1751-1813) and Benajah Boardman (1749-1813)
Rebecca Meekins Boardman (1783-1805) and William Burnham Hall (1774-1842)
Elizabeth Boardman Hall (1801-1877) and Mosley Hutchinson (1795-1861)
Mary Rebecca Hutchinson (1825-1901) and David Dewees Ferree (1826-1869)
Eugene Hutchinson Ferree (1866-1952) and Marian E. Coapman (1867-1895)
Florence Adaline Ferree (1891-1938) and Douglas Ross Patterson (1888-1979)
Marian Coapman Patterson (1916-1973) and Charles Asbury Baker (1916-2000)
Charles Asbury Baker Jr (1942- ?) and Kathleen Therese Mahar (1948- ?)

The temporary end of the story of another one of our great ancestral trees.



Sunday, February 5, 2017

Chapter 47 - My Gates Ancestors

My original decision to write this next family history chapter about my Gates ancestors was based on three discoveries, one of which proved eventually to be wrong, and one that was really irrelevant. The irrelevant discovery was that I share my Gates ancestry with my 5th cousin, Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft (of which I have been for many years a stockholder, a fact that is also irrelevant.)  The most exciting discovery which proved to be wrong, was that my 10th great grandfather was Thomas Gates, a very famous historical figure in that he was the first governor of the Virginia Colony at Jamestown from 1611 until 1614. Many family trees on still show him as the father of Stephen Gates, our first known Gates ancestor in America, despite the fact that it has been shown recently that he definitely was not Stephen's father (nor my 10th great grandfather.) Too bad since it sure would have made a great story. Anyway, what we do know for certain is that Stephen Gates and his family were among the early settlers of Hingham, Massachusetts which as we pointed out in our previous chapter is the current home of my sister Anne and her husband John Fanton. The Gates tie to Hingham shall have to serve as a good enough reason to make the Gates family the subject of this next chapter in our family tree. 

St. Andrews Church, Hingham, England

Based primarily on recently discovered baptismal records, it is now believed that the parents of Stephen Gates, our first Gates emigrant to America, were Eustace Gates (1566-1626) and Rose Wright Gates (1566-1635).  The baptismal record was found in the St Mary's parish church records in Coney Weston in County Suffolk, England located about 35 miles southwest of Norwich and around 20 miles south of Hingham, home of many of the original settlers of Hingham, Massachusetts. The date of Stephen's baptism is the 26th day of December in the year 1597. Very little is actually known about the life of Eustace Gates other than he married my great grandmother on 4 March 1592 and according to his last will and testament they had eight surviving children with Stephen being their fourth born. In his will dated 5 June 1626, Eustace refers to himself as a "laborer" which might imply in our present day vernacular that he was a lower income individual, however the fact that he prepared a will and left land to his wife and sons suggests that he was not poor and that he likely maintained a farm and was able to provide for his family. Eustace Gates is believed to be buried in the St Mary's Church cemetery in Coney Weston. His wife Rose after her husband's death apparently moved away from Coney Weston up to Hingham, County Norfolk along with some of her children including my great grandfather Stephen Gates. Rose Wright Gates died and was buried in Hingham, County Norfolk on 25th July 1635. She was around 69 years old at the time of her death. Fortunately for Great Grandma Rose she lived long enough to see at least four of her children marry and to witness and perhaps help in the birth of a number of her grandchildren. Stephen Gates, my 9th great grandfather married my 9th great grandmother Ann Veare, on 5 May 1628 in Hingham and before his mother's death in 1635 they had two children including my 8th great grandfather, who they named Stephen after his father. It is very likely that Rose Gates was buried in the cemetery surrounding St. Andrew's Church in Hingham and that her recently born grandchildren were all baptized within this same church (see photo above).

Stephen Gates lived in an area of England where Puritans were a major force and this was particularly true in the village of Hingham.  Between 1633 and 1639 around two hundred inhabitants of Hingham left for America most if not all of them being Puritans seeking religious freedom. After Stephen and Ann Gates and their three children boarded the ship 'Diligent' in June of 1638 along with about 100 other passengers most of whom had been living in Hingham, they left their former village devastated by its huge population loss. Among the many that abandoned Hingham during this time period was a man named Samuel Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's 3rd great grandfather. It is estimated that during the period of 1620 to 1640 around 80,000 people left England including around 20,000 who emigrated to New England so obviously Stephen Gates and his family were not alone. What we did find a bit surprising after reviewing what we could uncover about the life of our Stephan Gates, is that there was little evidence to suggest that he was a strong or deeply religious Puritan. His delay in joining a church once in Massachusetts and his delay in having his children baptized who were born in American, suggests that perhaps his primary goal in leaving Hingham and England was to just find a better life for himself and his family in America. That is, religious freedom may not have been his primary purpose for leaving as it was for many of the other early immigrants in America. The fact that Stephen Gates was able to afford to travel to America with his family at the age of 40 certainly suggests that he was fairly well off financially in part perhaps from his inheritance from his parents. During our research of the Gates family we were a little surprised that no other members of this immediate Gates family emigrated to America with Stephen which again suggests that the family as a whole may not have been deeply religious Puritans.

The ship 'Diligent' finally arrived in the Boston Harbor on 10 August 1638 after several very unpleasant months at sea on a crowded ship. The ship housed over 100 passengers with around 25% of the passengers being young children. Most of the passengers including the Gates family soon headed across the Boston Harbor to the new community of Hingham, named obviously after their former home in England. Here they expected to meet some of their old friends from Hingham, England who had immigrated to America and settled in Hingham, Massachusetts beginning in the year 1633 when the town was first founded. Early records note that Stephen and his wife arrived in America with two young daughters although it is now believed that also included with the Gates family was their 4-year old son, Stephen Gates Jr., our 8th great grandfather who was born in 1634. The Gates family lived in Hingham until 1652 at which time they moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and then subsequently to Lancaster, Massachusetts. When they first arrived in Hingham, they were granted a three acre lot for their new home on a street that is now named North Street. (Their home was located around 2-1/2 miles north of the current home of my sister Anne and her husband John Fanton.) They were also granted three acres for a "planting lot" plus later another twelve acres probably as an area to graze animals. During the almost fourteen year period that the Gates family lived in Hingham, four more children were born. There are no surviving records during this period that would show that Stephen Gates took any part in helping to manage his community or the local church and the fact that all four of his children born in Hingham were not baptized until 3 May 1646 would tend to indicate that he even delayed joining the local Puritan church until he was probably pressured to do so. Without going into any detail, a study of the early history of Hingham revealed that just prior to the Gates departure from Hingham, a major controversy took place within the leadership of the community, that may very well have caused Stephen Gates to withdraw his family from Hingham. A controversial relationship with the leadership of the local Puritan church may also have contributed in part to his decision to leave the area. We know from our study of our early American ancestors that moving away from home to find better opportunities in less crowded and less controversial areas was very common place.

The Gates family lived in Cambridge for only a short period before relocating to the then rural area of Lancaster, Massachusetts (then called Nashaway) in 1653. There in Lancaster, Stephen Gates' life seems to have found some meaning, at least initially, for he became one of the areas largest landowners, he was admitted as a freeman on 14 May 1656, and he was elected as a constable shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, Stephen's role as a constable was short lived for in 1657 he failed to notify all of the local residents of a town meeting as was his duty and then despite his claim that his failure was due to his being sick, he was subsequently fired. It did not help the family that Ann Gates, Stephen's wife, later mouthed-off about their local minister which was then followed by their daughter Mary speaking up at a public meeting defending her mother's negative comments about the church minister. It was recorded that young Mary Gates had simply inherited her father Stephen's "fiery temper." Like father, like daughter and perhaps like mother.

Perhaps Stephen Gates' unpopularity in Lancaster caused him to eventually return back to Cambridge sometime before 1662 where he leased a farm for his family to live. Unfortunately, on 9 June 1662 while lying in a sick bed at his home in Cambridge he prepared his Last Will and Testament and he died shortly thereafter. According to his final will, Stephen still owned land in the Lancaster area which he willed to his sons and his wife. His former home and its lot was given to his oldest son and my 7th great grandfather Stephen Gates Jr. Ann Gates according to her husband's will was to remain in the leased farm home in Cambridge until the lease was up and she was also granted one third of all the land owned by her late husband. On 18 April 1663, my 8th great grandmother married a man named Richard Woodward although he died shortly thereafter in 1665. Ann Gates lived to the age of 81 finally dying in 1683 in Stow, Massachusetts where she was then living with her son Stephen Jr and his family at the time of her death. One of the biographies that we read about the history of Stephen Gates noted that his children disputed the terms of his will claiming that their father was "not of a disposing mind." We could not find any details of their claims nor the end results of the lawsuit but we guess that considering the somewhat fiery nature of both their father and their mother, it is not surprising to discover that their children may have inherited this trait.

Apparently if there was a lawsuit over their father's last will and testament it was unsuccessful, as the oldest son and our 7th great grandfather, Stephen Gates Jr., not only inherited but moved back from Cambridge to his father's farm in Lancaster with his new bride Sarah around 1664. We find it interesting that Stephen Jr. married in 1664 a young girl named Sarah Woodward who just happened to be the granddaughter of his mother's second husband, Richard Woodward. It is pretty obvious how and when Stephen and Sarah must have met. Their first son Stephen III was born in Lancaster in 1665. For whatever reason, Stephen Gates Jr. must have quickly become dissatisfied with his Lancaster home for in 1667 they apparently sold their home and land and moved back to Cambridge where Stephen Jr. went to work as an assistant to a man named Edward Drinker who was a potter as well as a Baptist preacher. Mr. Drinker must have really liked his new assistant for a 1673 he helped Stephen purchase 300 acres of mostly wilderness land up near what is today Stow, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. The first settlers in the Stow area (then called Pompocitticut after the local Indians) arrived around 1660. Stephen Jr's property must have been truly beautiful as it was located on both sides of a river known as Elizabeth Brook and in part at the foot of a large hill known as Spindle Hill.

Lower Village Cemetery, Stow, Massachusetts
Stephen Gates Jr and his family continued to live at their home in Stow until Stephen's death in 1707. As we mentioned previously, Stephen's mother Ann, moved into her son's home in Stow sometime after the death of her second husband and she remained there until her death in 1683. Stephen's wife Sarah died a year prior to her husband's death and they are both buried side by side in the Lower Village Cemetery in Stow.

Gates Family Home, Stow, Massachusetts
The Gates Home remained in place in Stow until 1913 at which time an accidental fire burned the house to the ground. Stephen Gates Jr. left his home and land in his will equally to all of his sons but his oldest son Stephen Gates III remained in the home he inherited until 1694 at which time he sold his share of the house and land as did his other brothers including Thomas, my 7th great grandfather, to their brother Simon. Simon remained in the house until his death in 1752. Bottom line is that their Stow homestead (see picture above) remained in the Gates family for a total of six generations until it was finally sold out of the family.

George Geer (1621-1726) gravestone
Thomas Gates, my 7th great grandfather, was the third born child of his parents Stephen and Ann Gates. While there is some question as to where Thomas may have been born, his birth location in 1669 was probably in the Cambridge area as the family's move to Stow did not occur until around five years later. It is not entirely clear when Thomas actually moved from Stow, Massachusetts to Preston, Connecticut but we know that he sold his interest in his father's land in Stow in 1694 and he married Margaret Geer in Connecticut in December of 1695. My 7th great grandmother, Margaret Geer was born in 1669 in the New London, Connecticut area, possibly in Ledyard just to the north. Her parents were George Geer (1621-1726) and Sarah Allyn (1642-1723). The history of  the life of George Geer is interesting and while it is digressing a bit from the Gates family history, it is worth briefly telling. George Geer, my 8th great grandfather, was born in 1621 in England to a wealthy family. It is believed that both of his parents died when their two sons were young and George and his brother ended up going to live with their uncle who had then assumed control over George's parents' land and wealth. George and his brother received little to no education and while still young both brothers were shipped alone to America in 1635 apparently because their uncle wanted no claims to be made later over his "inherited" wealth from their father. Once in America George Geer and his brother were alone and no records still exist as to what happened to them until George's move to New London, Connecticut in 1651. There is a Geer family tradition however, that believes that young George Geer fought in the Pequot War between 1637 and 1638 under John Mason although this may be nothing more than a myth. George Geer shortly after arriving in New London, married my 8th great grandmother, Sarah Allyn and together they had around eight children including two children who are my 7th great grandparents, Margaret Geer of course, wife of Thomas Gates, as well as her brother, Jeremiah Geer (1683-1721) who married my 8th great grandmother Esther Hilliard (1685-1721). It was fascinating to uncover the fact that a daughter of Jeremiah Geer, Jerusha Geer (1721-1735) married the son of Thomas Gates and Jeremiah's sister Margaret Geer, a boy and her first cousin named Zebediah Gates (1699-1759).

                      George Geer and Sarah Allyn
daughter Margaret Geer                 son Jeremiah Geer              
husband  Thomas Gates                 wife Esther Hilliard
             |                                                |
Zebadiah Gates              married        Jersuha Geer     

Anyway, George Geer lived to the ripe-old age of 105. In his later years it is recorded that he was totally blind and lived with his daughter Margaret and her husband Thomas Gates at their home in Preston located only a few miles north of the Geer family home in Ledyard. While the photo above is obviously not George Geer's original gravestone, it does mark the location of his burial and gives some honor to his long life. One interesting website that we found online describes the present day Geer Hill Farm located in Ledyard, Connecticut which as best we can determine is the site of the original George Geer home. The original 50 acre plot of land was given to George Geer by his father-in-law, Robert Allyn, following George's marriage to his daughter Sarah. Robert Allyn apparently owned the land immediately to the west of the new Geer property that fronts the Thames River including an area now called "Allyn Point."

We know almost nothing about the life of Thomas Gates and his wife Margaret Geer Gates other than they spent almost their entire married lives in Preston, Connecticut and had at least six children including my 6th great grandfather Zebediah (1699-1752) who was their 2nd child. Apparently Margaret died sometime before her husband since she is not mentioned in his will that was signed on the 20th of August in 1751. Thomas is believed to have died sometime before 26 August 1752 when an inventory of his estate was taken although the exact date of his death is unclear. Both Thomas and Margaret are buried in the Preston City Cemetery. We visited this cemetery in June of 2016 but unfortunately we were not aware at the time that Thomas and Margaret Gates were buried there. Some of the historian/genealogists on the internet refer to Thomas as "Ensign" Thomas Gates implying that he served in the military at some point during his life. We could find however, no evidence that this was the case although almost all of the males in America during this period of history served at some point in their local militias. Battles with the local Indians were not uncommon during the late 1600s and early 1700s although the area of Preston, Connecticut had been purchased from the local Indians in 1686 and for most part there were no local engagements with the Indians during Thomas' lifetime. Thomas would have been a little young to have fought in The King Philip's War which took place between 1675 and 1676 and he had already died by the time of the French and Indian War fought between 1754 and 1763. It is entirely possible that a different Thomas Gates, a very common name, actually carried the ensign title. We suspect that Thomas Gates actually lived a very satisfactory life as a farmer. Preston was primarily a farming community in its early years and still is today for that matter. The crops grown in the area were hauled over to the nearby Thames River, loaded on ships, and then hauled down the river to the Long Island Sound where from there they were sold to customers in other parts of colonial America.

The son of Thomas and Margaret Gates, Zebadiah Gates, married his first cousin Jersuha Geer in Preston, Connecticut on 5 June 1727. The two cousins obviously must have know each other very well and almost from birth. Unfortunately they were married only eight years and had only three children together when Jersuha died unexpectedly at the age of only 33 in the year 1735.  Zebadiah was no doubt devastated with the loss of Jersuha but with three young children to raise including my 5th great grandmother, Esther Gates who was born in 1732, it was not unexpected that in 1637 he married for a second time, a woman named Mehetable Downing. Together Zebadiah and Mehetable had six children, their last child, a son, was born in 1754 only five years before Zebadiah's death in 1659 at the age of only 59.  Almost nothing is known of the details of the life of Zebadiah Gates other than he like his father probably owned a farm, lived his entire married life in Preston, Connecticut, and hopefully was financially successful and a wonderful father and grandfather.

                          Kneeling over the grave of Richard Starkweather, Preston City Cemetery
It is likely that Thomas and Margaret Gates were very familiar with John and Anne Starkweather who moved to Preston in 1694, a year before the Gates married and also moved to Preston. They also undoubtedly were friends of the Starkweather's son Richard Starkweather (1686-1760) and his wife Mary.  The Starkweathers were also our great grandparents and their family history story is told in Chapter 36 of this blog. We mention the Starkweather family because the son of Richard and Mary Starkweather, Elijah Starkweather, married the daughter of Zebadiah and Jersuha Gates, Esther Gates, on 6 February 1764. Together they are my 5th great grandparents. With Esther Gates being the last of my Gates ancestors we shall end this chapter other than to provide this family tree that shows are relationship to our Gates ancestors:

                Esther Gates (1732-?)
                Elijah Starkweather (1756-1847)
                Adaline Starkweather (1818-1849)
                Elsie Ann Yawger (1844-1918)
                Marian E. Coapman (1867-1895)
                Florence Adaline Ferree (1891-1938)
                Marian Coapman Paterson (1916-1973)
                Charles Asbury Baker Jr.,
                Anne Baker Fanton,
                Joan Patterson Baker,
                and all sons and daughters and

Temporarily the end.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Chapter 46 - My Tuthill Ancestors

Considering that it has been around 380 years since my 10th great grandfather, Henry Tuthill, arrived in America around 1637, it is understandable that there is some confusion about his ancestry and about the actual year of his arrival. This confusion seems to have been caused in part by the fact that there were a number of other Tuthill families who arrived in the Boston area during the mid-1630s and it is not entirely clear as to Henry's relationship, if any, with these other Tuthills or whether he may have sailed on the same ship with any of them on their voyage to the New World. There is certainly no lack of speculation by many historians in this regard. As far as we can determine however, Henry Tuthill's name does not appear on any of the passenger lists in the dozens of ships that sailed to New England during the decade of the 1630s although this fact is not uncommon. Anyway, we are getting ahead of ourselves and it is best that we begin our story of our Tuthill ancestors from the begining as we know it.

A= County Norfolkshire, Egland
Henry Tuthill was born in the Parish of Tharston in County Norfolkshire, England in the year 1612. The small rural community of Tharston which even today has a population of under 1,000, is located about ten miles south of Norwich which during this period of English history was probably the second largest city in England behind London. Norwich was noted at the time for its woolen industry and considering the large land holdings of the Tuthill family in rural Tharston, the family was undoubtedly engaged among other things in the raising of sheep and the production of wool. Henry, like his two brothers and two sisters, was baptized in the St. Mary's Church near Thurston which was originally constructed over three centuries earlier and despite years of use and sometimes abuse, it still stands to this day on a hill overlooking the valley of the River Tas.  Henry was named after his father who died in 1618 when Henry was only six and his oldest brother John was only eleven. Their mother's name was Alice Gooch Tuthill. We could not find any record of when she died although she was still alive at the time of Henry Sr's death in 1618 as was her mother. They probably together cared for the children after their father's early death at the age of only 38. Fortunately based on what Henry Sr. left his family in his will, the family was quite well off financially.

There is understandably some controversy among historians about the names of the parents (my 12th great grandparents) of Henry Tuthill (1580-1618). It was afterall a long time ago. A few of the family trees list a Symon Tuttle (died 1630) as Henry's father. This family lived in Ringstead in County Northamptonshire located west of Norfolkshire and about 100 miles from Henry's home in Thurston. This parentage is unlikely not only because of the distance between Ringstread and Tharston but also because Symon Tuttle in his will written in 1630 failed to mention any members of Henry's family and it is hard to imagine that Symon would not have acknowledged any of his grandchildren in his final will. One other confusion worth noting is that Henry and his possible father Symon named some of their sons with the same names. While this would not have been uncommon, some historians have really goofed this up as some list one of the sons of Symon as a William Tuttle who was born in 1607 and died in 1673. On the other hand, some other historians list a William Tuthill as the son of Henry who was also born in 1607 and who also died in 1673.  In both cases these historians claim that the son William Tuthill (Tuttle) emigrated to America in 1635 on the ship "Planter".  The fact that two of Symon's other sons, John and Richard, were also on the ship Planter with their brother William as was their mother Isabel Tuttle, would very strongly suggest that Henry's son William was not the same William onboard the Planter. To make matters even more ridiculous, other historians list Henry Sr's son, Henry Jr (my 10th great grandfather) as also being onboard the Planter with his brother William (who as we just noted was not his brother.). Anyway, bottom line is that Symon Tuttle and his wife Isabel are definitely not the parents of our Henry Tuttle.

St Mary's the Virgin in Saxlingham-Nethergate Parish
A far more likely candidate to be Henry Sr's father and Henry Jr's grandfather (and my 12th great grandfather) was a John Tuthill (1550-1618) who lived and was born in Saxlingham Nethergate in County Norfolkshire located only 6 miles east of Thurston. In researching the Tuthill family in Saxlingham we came across a paragraph in the Saxlingham Nethergate Parish website that mentions our Tuthill family and it is definitely worth repeating:

"During the sixteenth century Saxlingham's 'gentry' seems to have consisted of wealthy yeoman families, one of which was the Tutthills. The Tutthills are mentioned much earlier but by 1550s appear from the records to have been wealthy and charitable."

Click to Enlarge and it will be readable
We really do not know much about our Tuthill ancestors from the 15th and 16th centuries other than they all lived in Saxlingham Nathergate and as far back as historians/genealogists have traced the family line, they were all wealthy landowners. In England during this time period very few families had wealth and since there was almost no middle class, the vast majority of everyone living in England was poor. We know that John Tuthill (1550-1618) married a woman named Elizabeth Woolmer, my 12th great grandmother. John's father, was named John Tuthill (1518-1579) and he married my 13th great grandmother Elizabeth Hodkins (1520-1588). The earliest of the known Tuthills living in Saxlingham Nathergate was my 14th great grandfather who was also named John Tuthill (1485-1543). Other than a few church records very little is known about my 14th great grandfather other than he married a woman named Deliverance Kinge and of course from their church records, we know the dates of their baptisms and their deaths.  Hopefully if the comment made in the Saxlingham Nethergate Parish website that we quoted above is correct, besides being wealthy, my Tuthill ancestors were also "charitable." We do know for certain that at the very least my 11th great grandfather, Henry Tuthill (1580-1618) was charitable, for in his last will and testament he writes "I give to the poore people of Tharston aforesaid fortie shillings of lawfull money of England to be paid within one month after my decease."  We suspect that considering the disparity of income in England during this period of history and the importance of religion, donations by the wealthy to the poor was mandatory if one expected to be admitted into heaven. Makes sense. 

The time period in England in which our 10th great grandfather Henry grew up was tumultuous at the very least. Charles 1 became King of England in 1625 when Henry was 13 years old. King Charles 1 believed in an absolute monarchy and in the "divine right of Kings" and considering that he married a Roman Catholic and strongly believed that the Church of England's past Roman Catholic traditions and manners should not be changed, it is not surprising that in 1629 King Charles I dissolved the British Parliament that was composed in large part of Puritans. The Puritans as we know were strongly advocating changing the church. The issues between the two parties were both domestic as well as religious but the dissolving of Parliament and the subsequent arresting of many of the King's opponents in the following months, plus many other radical and unpopular actions by the King, were so unpopular that eleven years later there was a Civil War in England that eventually resulted is the total dissolving of the British Crown and the subsequent execution of King Henry in 1649. In the meantime of course, our great grandfather Henry Tuthill and thousands of other Puritan families left England for other parts of the world.

East Anglia
The largest concentration of Puritans during this time period in British history was in an area loosely defined as East Anglia which included Henry Tuthill's home area of Norfolkshire (Norfolk). It is not surprising therefore, considering that during Henry's and his family's upbringing that they were surrounded by other Puritans, that he soon realized as he reached adulthood that he had no other option if he did not want to be harassed for his religious beliefs but to leave England. Some historians even believe and so state, that both of Henry's brothers and his two sisters left England around the same time as Henry and in some cases they even state the ships on which they departed. While their departure from England is not an unrealistic possibility, the only one of Henry's siblings that we know for certain left England is his older brother John Tuthill and even in his case when and on what ship he departed is not known for certain.

While the records are unclear, it is believed that Henry Tuthill married Bridget Burton in 1634, probably in the St Mary's Church in Tharston, and in 1635 their son John was born. John Tuthill is my 9th great grandfather. The exact date that Henry, Bridget, and their newborn baby boy John departed from England to America is not known for certain. One of the first dependable written records of Henry Tuthill in America is when he became a Freeman in Hingham, Massachusetts in March of 1638 although some historians write that in 1635 he was granted a "planting lot" off Broad Cove (Road) in Hingham and a house lot in Hingham in 1636. We did find Henry's name in the "History of Hingham" published in 1893 listing him as having received a land grant in Hingham as early as 1635 which if correct means that his son John born in 1635 must have either been a new born when he crossed the Atlantic Ocean or he was actually born in America. Incidentally, Henry's name is listed in this history book as "Henry Tuttil".

As is so typical however, when researching our ancestors we find contradicting information. For example, in the book "Founders of New England" written by Samuel G. Drake and published in 1860, he references the writings of one Daniel Cushing who arrived in Hingham back in 1665 and for years was the Town Clerk and a Magistrate. Apparently Mr. Cushing kept extensive records about the early Hingham settlers and in his records he specifically states that Henry "Tuttil" and his wife arrived in 1637. What he failed to mention in the record was that Henry also arrived with at least one child which was an unusual omission considering that he did mention the number of children arriving with their parents for most of the other early settlers. Bottom line is that it does not really matter whether he arrived in 1635 or 1637. What is important is that he, his wife, and his son were our first direct Tuthill ancestors to emigrate to America.

The early arrival of the Henry Tuthill family in Hingham is very interesting for several reasons. First, the Tuthill family is one of a group of early Hingham settlers who are my great grandparents and secondly, my sister Anne and her husband John Fanton are current residents of Hingham, Massachusetts and they live not far from where Henry and his family lived from around 1637 until 1644. Perhaps we should not be surprised to discover that Hingham, Massachusetts is named after Hingham, England where many of the earliest Hingham settlers originated. Perhaps we should also not be surprised to discovered that Hingham in England is located only around 16 miles west of Tharston, Henry's home in Norfolkshire, England. This proximity might certainly suggest why Henry may have selected Hingham in Massachusetts to be his new home in America. He may very well have personally known in England some of these early immigrants. Traveling across a dangerous ocean with friends makes sense and as some historians have suggested, John Tuthill, Henry's older brother, may very well have been on the same ship. While this is speculative, it would make a lot of sense even if John Tuthill did not end up settling with his brother and his new family in Hingham.

We know very little about Henry's life while living in Hingham other than he was listed as a Constable in 1640 and like other couples during this time period, Henry and Bridget had four more children include a daughter Elizabeth who was born shortly after their arrival in Hingham. It is not clear why Henry elected to leave Hingham in 1644 although he may have been dissatisfied with the Puritan leadership and possibly the poor quality of his farm property, for on the 20th of June 1644 it is recorded that he sold his holdings in Hingham and subsequently moved to Southold. Southold which is located at the northeastern tip of Long Island, was founded only four years earlier. As one of the original founders of this new colony was Henry's brother John Tuthill, it is quite possible that John talked his brother into relocating. Unfortunately, the history of Henry's activities in Southold were never recorded nor was the date of his death nor the actual location of his burial.

Old Burying Ground First Presbyterian
It is estimated that Henry Tuthill died around the year 1650 at the very young age of only 38 and that he is buried in the Old Burying Ground of the First Presbyterian Church in Southold. If there ever was a gravestone it has long ago been lost. Not surprisingly, Bridget Tuthill, now with seven children the youngest being only two years old, remarried shortly after Henry's death. Her new husband was a man named William Wells who himself was one of the original settlers of Southold and undoubtedly a family friend particularly of Bridget's brother-in-law, John Tuthill (her late husband's brother.) Unfortunately, tragedy occurred soon after their marriage, as Bridget died suddenly and unexpectedly leaving William Wells with the legal responsibility of caring for all of his late wife's children. At this point my 9th great grandfather, John Tuthill, was around 20 years old and he was probably or would soon be the beneficiary of his father's will following the recent death of his mother. Frankly, we were astonished to discover that young John Tuthill agreed to give up any claims he had on his parents' estates by passing all ownerships over to William Wells. Admittedly my first thoughts were that William Wells was a devious bastard for stealing the inheritances from the young innocent John Tuthill, but subsequently we have come to realize that William had taken on a huge responsibility having to care for his late wife's family and perhaps receiving some financial benefits from the children's late parents was not unrealistic nor deplorable. We truly softened any further negative thoughts against William Wells when we discovered that William was actually another one of our 9th great grandfathers. In his case the tree passes though two of his daughters, Mehitable Wells and Anna Wells, by William's second wife, Maria Young whom he married less than a year after the death of Bridget Tuthill Wells. The daughter, Mehitable Wells (1666-1742), actually married in 1682 her sort of relative, John Tuthill (1658-1754), son of John Tuthill and Deliverance Kinge.

John Tuthill (1635-1717) married young sixteen year old Deliverance Kinge (1641-1689) on the 17th day of February in 1657. Deliverance, my 9th great grandmother, was born in Salem, Massachusetts. After the death of her father William Kinge in 1650, her mother (who was of course my 10th great grandmother) Dorothy Hayne Kings, moved to Southold where obviously her young daughter met and married John Tuthill. Fortunately for John, now 22-years old, his new mother-in-law had inherited money at the death of her husband and John and his new bride Deliverance were granted when they married  "a lot of commonage" in which to raise their new family. Their family eventually consisted of nine children including their oldest son John whom as we mentioned above married Mehitable Kinge. Apparently John Tuthill despite giving up part or all of his inheritance to his "father-in-law," was a highly successful man both financially as well as publically. The following description of my 9th great grandfather is quoted in multiple sites online and is worth repeating. "John Tuthill was a man of great enterprise, energy and will, controlled and guided by strong common sense, honesty of purpose, and religious principle. No man had, perhaps, to so great an extent, the confidence of the community, as the record trusts of Richard Brown and others, bear ample testimony. Tuthill was a trusted public officer, and a worthy private citizen."

Map showing Orient, Long Island
John and Deliverance sold their home in Southold in 1660 that John had purchased earlier in 1656 and they moved with their family out to a new settlement located just east of Southold that was then named Oyster Ponds (now named Orient but originally called Poquatuck after the local Indians who occupied the area and deeded their land to the original English settlers). Their new home was located about one mile from the very northeastern tip of Long Island, New York. The Tuthills are credited with being one of the first five families that originally settled in this area. Samuel King, Deliverance's brother, was one of the other original families. Another early settler was Richard Brown who married Deliverance's sister Hannah. These three closely related families, the Tuthills, the Kings, and the Browns, are reported to have lived adjacent to one another and bought and sold land together in the Oyster Ponds and Southold area for a number of years adding to the wealth of all three families. It is also reported in historical documents that when Richard Brown died in 1688, he trusted his brother-in-law John Tuthill to such an extent that he "entrusted his family and estate solely in the care of John Tuthill." This trust is magnified by the fact that Richard Brown is credited with having been the wealthiest man in the area.

Unfortunately although not uncommonly, my 9th great grandmother, Deliverance Tuthill, died at the fairly young age of 47 years old in the year 1689.  John with still young children to care for, remarried about one year later a woman named Sarah Frost who had also recently lost her husband, Thomas Youngs, son of the Reverend John Youngs the religious leader of the original Southold founders.  John and Sarah are believed to have had one child whom they named Mary although Mary is believed to have died young. John Tuthill, my 9th great grandfather, died at the age of 82 in the year 1717. He is believed to have been buried in the Brown's Hill Burying Ground in Orient although his gravestone not unexpectedly has long ago vanished. As you can see from the photograph on the right, buried along side my Tuthill ancestors are other members of my family tree including the Kings, the Browns, and undoubtedly others including the Vail family who were also my great grandparents (but that is another story.) Obviously we are very proud of our ancestor and my 9th great grandfather, John Tuthill. One final note about John Tuthill that must be mentioned - he died without leaving a last will and testament. As a result of his generosity during his life, near the time each of his two sons married he gave away portions of his land such that at the time of his death there was little reason to write a will as he had already cared for his family. The two older boys including his son John Tuthill (1658-1754), my 8th great grandfather, were required by their agreement with their father to provide for their younger brother Daniel who at the time was only around 12 years old. The daughters were undoubtedly granted a cash dowry by their father probably at the time of their marriage.

The house in the sketch to the left shows the Old Horton House that was built in 1659 and stood nearby and undoubtedly looked very similar in appearance to the home of John Tuthill Sr. and eventually the home of his oldest son John Tuthill Jr. It is possible that John Tuthill Jr's oldest daughter Mary (1687-1780) may have lived in this house as she married the grandson of the original Horton owner of the home. My 8th great grandfather John Tuthill Jr. (1658-1754) married my 8th great grandmother, Mehitable Wells (1666-1742) around 1682 and together they had eight children including their fourth child and my 7th great grandfather James Tuthill who was born in 1692.  Like her mother-in-law before her, young Mehitable Wells was only sixteen when she married but considering the circumstances during this early part of our country's history, marriage at a young age for women was very common as was having many children. John Tuthill like his father before him was a very successful man in his community. He is credited (not surprisingly) with being a large landowner, a Justice of the Peace, a member of the New York Provincial Assembly (1693-1698), and a sheriff in 1695. He received the nickname of "Chalker John" by his friends when he was hired as a surveyor to help layout and build parts of the "King's Highway" on Long Island which as an early public highway ran from the eastern end of Long Island all the way to the ferry landing in Brooklyn. Parts of this original "highway" obviously followed old Indian trails and undoubtedly John's responsibility with respect to the construction of the King's Highway was limited primarily to the section of the highway that was built on the Orient peninsula. Apparently as a surveyor he commonly carried around chalk and frequently used it, thus earning the name "chalker". We found this note about our great grandfather that was written in the Southold Town Records and is worth repeating: "He was noted for his shrewdness and general business talents, intelligence, and celebrated for his skill in figures and arithmetical calculations."

Old Map of Orient, Long Island
The map above shows the Orient peninsula on Long Island and the various property divisions during the time period in the mid to late 1600s when the Tuthill families lived and owned property in the area. By clicking on the map it will be enlarged, although unfortunately it still remains somewhat difficult to read the various property owners names. The Tuthills apparently lived near the middle northern section of the peninsula although it is apparent based on the map that they also owned other sections of land. The main road down the middle of the peninsula is labeled the King's Highway which is undoubtedly the section of the road surveyed for construction by our 8th great grandfather. John Tuthill grew up during an interesting period of Long Island History. The island was originally divided into two sections with the Dutch controlling the western half and the English controlling the eastern half. In 1664 however, King Charles II of England unilaterally gave all of Long Island to his brother James, the Duke of York, therein ignoring both the Dutch claims to the west as well as the claims of Connecticut over the control of the English area in the eastern half. By 1674, control over all of Long Island was in the English hands. As a result during John Tuthill's life time the population in the area greatly expanded such that the estimated population of Long Island grew to 220,000 by the year 1700 and the Southold area population grew from 180 people in 1650 to 880 by the year 1698. We have to believe that as the population grew so did the value of the land and as a result John Tuthill as well as his friends and neighbors grew very wealthy as they grew older. Older for John Tuthill lasted until his death in 1754 at the age of ninety-six. My 8th great grandmother died a few years earlier in 1742 at the age of seventy-five. We have to believe that based on the standards of the day they both lived wonderful lives.

Small green dot is Brookhaven Hamlet
It should not be surprising to discover that we could find very little about the life of John and Mehitable Tuthill's 4th child and my 7th great grandfather, James Tuthill (1692-1772). He was after all not the main beneficiary of his father's will which typically during these early years primarily benefitted the oldest son who assumed control of both his parents' home and his father's business. In fact, not long after James married Rachel Browne both of whom were around 22-years old, they moved from their home in Orient to a new home in the small hamlet of Brookhaven located down on the south central coast of Long Island about 45 miles southwest of Orient. It was here that James and Rachel lived at their home that sat on a rather long and narrow 15 acre lot south of the Beaver Dam Road (that still exists to this day) and where they raised their eight children born between the years 1715 and 1730 including our 6th great grandfather Daniel Tuthill who was born in the year 1721. We do not know for certain but it is likely that James Tuthill's primary occupation was that of a farmer. My grandmother Rachel Browne apparently died at the age of 45 in 1738 and as far as we could determine her husband James Tuthill never remarried. Then around 1753, James, then 61 years old, followed his sons and their families when they moved from their homes on Long Island to or near the small town of Highland Mills located in what is today Orange County, New York. Their move was a distance of around 110 miles which would have been quite a task in the 1750s. It is not clear why they moved but typically family relocations during this period of American history were common and were often motivated by the need to find available and inexpensive land which was likely quickly disappearing on Long Island. It also appears that the Tuthill families were not alone in their decision to leave Long Island. My 6th great grandfather Daniel Tuthill was in his early 30s, married, and with six children when he followed his father and his siblings to Orange County. His wife's father also left Long Island as did all of Daniel's brothers and their families and their in-laws all of whom moved around the same time and all to Orange County. Their father, James Tuthill, at 61 years old when he moved to Highland Mills lived another twenty years at his new home site. Unfortunately we have learned nothing about his older years. We suspect however, that he may have just retired and just spend the remainder of his life helping out but living under the care of one of his children. Nothing wrong with that and a very common tradition in our country's history.

Orange County, New York
Daniel Tuthill, my 6th great grandfather married Susannah Helme (1722-1803) in 1742 and
together they had seven children including their last child and my 5th great grandmother, Hannah Tuthill who was born in her parent's home in Blooming Grove, Orange County, New York on the 26th day of February in 1759. Unfortunately, Daniel Tuthill died at the relatively young age in the 18th century of 40 years old. His death occurred in the year 1761. We could find nothing significant about his life although he was probably a farmer and lived a relatively simply life. His last will and testament was recorded and saved and lists him as being in the precinct of Goshen in Orange County and leaving everything to his wife as long as she remained unmarried, and then thereafter his land to his two oldest sons and some money to everyone else. My grandmother Hannah who was only around two years when her father died is not mentioned by name in her father's will other than in the phrase "all the rest of my children."  My grandmother Susannah Helme Tuthill apparently never remarried and lived probably under the care of her children until the ripe old age of 81 years old finally dying in Blooming Grove in the year 1803. Surprisingly, we could not locate the burial location of either of our Tuthill 6th great grandparents.

Hannah Tuthill (1759-1818), my 5th great grandmother, married Job Sayre when she was nineteen years old in the year 1779, right during middle of the American Revolution. The Sayre family were also early settlers on Long Island and like the Tuthill family they had emigrated off the island and into Orange County in their case in the late 1740s. Chapter 13 of this Baker Family Tree blog tells the story of my Sayre family ancestors and obviously mentions Hannah Tuthill. Her husband Job Sayre as is noted in Chapter 13 was a soldier during the American Revolution although most of his war activities took place before his and Hannah's marriage. Both Hannah and Job Sayre are buried in Blooming Grove, Orange County, New York. Their son Henry Sayre (1788-1860), my 4th great grandfather, eventually moved to Yates County, New York where a number of generations later my father, Charles A. Baker Sr. was born in an adjacent county in 1916.  The photograph to the right above was taken from a page in an old family bible that was passed down through the generations and ended up in our family's library. Among the names listed is that of Hannah (Tuthill) Sayre and notes her death in the year 1818. And thus ends our story of our wonderful Tuthill ancestors.