Friday, December 21, 2007

Chapter 16 - Our Wolcott Ancestors

Our Wolcott Family Ancestors
I spent a few minutes on the internet during my research of the Wolcotts hoping to learn the derivation of the surname “Wolcott”. After opening more than two dozen websites on the subject, I gave up having learned almost nothing. Most the websites were trying to sell books on the subject of etymology, or the subject of the origin of names and surnames. I did learn that the use of surnames did not come into use in England until around the year 1000 or about the time of the Norman conquest of England in 1066. Many English surnames have obvious derivations. For example, occupational names were adopted such as Baker, Carpenter or Farmer, or places of residence were selected such as Hill, Brook, or Cornwell after an area in south-west England. Robert of (de) Cornwell became Robert Cornwell. Even animal references such as Fox, Wolfe, or Byrd, or titles such as King, Abbott or Prince, and even color such as White, Brown, or Black were commonly adopted as last names. Other surnames such as Long and Short describing a person’s physical attributes or Poor or Wise describing a person’s status in the community were put to use as surnames. Most likely one’s neighbors initiated the use of a surname to more accurately identify a person or a family such as referring to your neighbor down the road as John the Baker which eventually became shortened to simply John Baker. Unfortunately these rather simple and obvious derivations did not help me much to understand the surname Wolcott. I did learn from the internet that +cot at the end of a name meant cottage or shelter. From my research of the Wolcott family in 16th century England I knew that they were all in the woolen industry. I immediately reached the obvious conclusion that the combination of “wool” and “cottage” yielded the old English name of Wolcott or Woolcott. In Medieval England the weaving of cloth was a “cottage industry” meaning that all members of a family living in a small cottage combined their efforts to spin and weave wool to produce cloth. Unfortunately the Oxford Dictionary of Surnames which I found at our public library did not agree with my “obvious” conclusion. According to these experts the name Woolcot (and Wolcott) originated in the County of Somerset, England (home of our ancestors) and was derived from the Middle English word “woll” meaning spring or stream. Our ancestor Thomas Wolcott would have been called in Medieval England as our neighbor “Thomas at the cottage by the stream.” Frankly I liked my explanation better and as a matter of fact the production of woolen cloth as it developed in early English history usually took place alongside a stream or river since water was necessary to power the “fulling” mills used to produce the finished product. I will discuss this in more detail in subsequent paragraphs.

Before I narrate the story of our Wolcott ancestors I need to relate where the Wolcott family fits into our family tree. My great grandfather on my mother’s side was Eugene Hutchinson Ferree (1866-1952). His grandmother on his mother’s side was Elizabeth Boardman Hall (1801-1877). Her great grandmother on her father’s side was Abiah Chauncy (Hall) (1699-1700). Abiah Chauncy’s mother was Sarah Wolcott (Chauncy), the first of our Wolcott ancestors. In other words, Sarah Wolcott is my great (x7) grandmother and she was born in 1675 in Fairfield, Connecticut. The Wolcott family has been traced back to Thomas Wolcott who was born in the Parish of Tolland in the County of Somerset, England around the year 1500. Thomas was Sarah Wolcott’s great (x4) grandfather and my great (x13) grandfather. Incidentally, Sarah Wolcott married Charles Chauncy, the grandson of Charles Chauncy, the second president of Harvard and the subject of Chapter 3 in our Family’s history.

According to old church records, Thomas Wolcott’s occupation was that of a “tucker.” Tucking which is also called “fulling” or “walking” is a step in woolen cloth manufacturing which involves the cleansing of wool cloth to get rid of the natural sheep oils, dirt, and other impurities, and then milling the wool to thicken it or fulling it which matts the wool fibers together to give it strength. In the early 1500s when our Thomas Wolcott was a tucker he operated a water powered fulling mill in the Parish of Tolland in the County of Somerset in south-west England. In the fulling mill the cloth was beaten with wooden hammers known as fulling stocks, that were powered by a water mill and soaked in water and a clay material containing hydrous aluminum silicate that both thickened and cleansed the fibers. It is extremely likely that Thomas Wolcott’s ancestors had been in the wool industry for many generations.

It is believed that sheep were first introduced to Britain from the Continent as early as 5,000 B.C. The sheep initially were a source of food and their skins were used as clothing. However, it is known that by the year 1,900 B.C., the start of the Bronze Age, that the inhabitants of Britain had discovered that that when the sheep shed their fleece it could be spun and woven to make cloth. The Romans when they invaded the isles in 55 B.C. found a well developed wool industry and it is said that “Roman emperors cherished British woolen cloth.” By the time, that the Normans had invaded England in the late 11nd century water mills had been invented and were in common use and cloth making was widespread. Fulling mills came into use in the 13th century and while the exporting of raw wool far outnumbered the export of the finished cloth material, the cloth industry was growing rapidly. In Medieval times from the 10th through the mid-14th century the wool industry was pretty much a local industry with each small village consisting of only 100 to 150 inhabitants, producing their own cloth. Typically entire families (fathers, mothers, and children) like the Wolcotts were engaged in the production of cloth. Before the invention of the fulling mills their cottages were located along streams where the wool cloth could be beaten on the rocks and washed in the water (and in urine believe it or not) to clean and thicken the wool. The social structure in the middle ages was not really conducive to the mass production of woolen cloth which helps to explain why the shipment of the raw wool to Flemish and Italian textile industries was more common. In Medieval England all of the land was owned by the Norman nobility or by the Church. Everyone else was dependant on the landowner for their survival. The land was farmed by either serfs which acted almost in the capacity of the landowner’s slaves, or by freemen who leased the land from the nobility or the Church and owed either labor or produce as their rent payments. Even the villages were not owned by the common people and the merchants such as the Wolcotts were required to pay a portion of their earnings or a portion of their final product back to the landowner. Before the mid-1300s most of the land was reserved for agriculture and not for the raising of sheep. In any case, the sheep were owned by the landowners and what fleece was removed was sold to families like the Wolcotts for the weaving of the cloth. When the fulling mills were constructed in the 13th century they were mostly owned by the nobility or the Church and the cloth makers were compelled to use only the landowner’s mill to produce their finish product, again at a cost. There was almost no private industry as we know it today and almost everyone except for the privileged few and the clergy lived in poverty. This was not an environment conductive to the growth of a large woolen industry. Despite this environment, the British crown in 1258 ordered that the country’s wool should be worked in England and not sold for processing abroad. Again in 1326, the King, Edward II in this case, ordered that “. . no cloth which was manufactured outside England could be bought in this country.” Neither of these royal edicts accomplished the goal as did the event that followed in the year 1338.

Everything changed, albeit slowly, following the arrival in England of the Black Plaque in 1338 which killed upwards of 30-50% of the population before it finally abated. What resulted was a drastically reduced workforce. Many of the serfs or farmers that had worked the land occupied by generations of their ancestors, abandoned their homes and went to work for other landowners who were forced to pay higher wages in a vain attempt to solve their labor shortage problems. While driving up wages, this did not solve the labor shortage problem and much of the agricultural land was left uncultivated. The solution ultimately was that more land was set aside for the raising of sheep which was not a labor intensive operation. More sheep and the invention of the fulling mills in the 1400s stimulated more cloth production and more international trade of the finished cloth product. The Kings of England always in need of money particularly to pay for their endless wars, quickly learned that taxing the woolen industry was an easy way to raise capital. The cloth industry as well as other industries during this period exploded in growth resulting in the rise for the first time in English history of a wealthy middle class of merchants. This was the scene in England when our Thomas Wolcott first appeared in the church records of Tolland Parish in the County of Somerset in the year 1525.

Generation #1: Thomas Wolcott (Abt 1500-1525)

The County of Somerset where Thomas Wolcott was born was ideally suited for the woolen industry. This was also true of the other counties in southwest England, Devonshire and Cornwell, as well as the area known as the Cotswolds located northeast of Somerset. The temperate and moist climate in these areas of England was conducive to growth of green pastured lands suitable for the raising of sheep. Even better was the abundance of fast moving streams of “soft” water that were needed to run the mills that processed the cloth. It is no wonder that England became in the 15th and 16th centuries a major manufacturer and exporter of cloth and by the end of the 16th century England was “largely a nation of sheep farmers and cloth manufacturers.” Fortunately, Thomas Wolcott “the Tucker” was born in the right place and at the right time which enabled Thomas and his family to gain wealth in the industry of the day.

Before 1539 all of the land surrounding the birthplace of Thomas Wolcott in the Parish of Tolland in the County of Somerset in south-west England was owned by the Catholic Church and was known as the Priory of Taunton named after the Village of Taunton located about nine miles from the Village of Tolland. The Priory owned the land, all of the estates and manors, and all of the fulling mills including the one in which Thomas worked at the Manor of Gauldon. In 1539, King Henry VIII expelled the Catholic Church from England ostensibly so that he could divorce his wife, and by doing so the Priory of Taunton (and all other monasteries in England) was forced to surrender to the Crown all of their lands, including the Manor of Gauldon, and the fulling mill where Thomas Wolcott was employed. King Henry VIII had made himself head of the new Church of England which in turn gave him ownership of all of the huge Church estates. Eventually this land was subdivided and privately sold and a portion of the land of the former Priory of Taunton was leased to a John Selleck who in turn subleased the fulling mill and the adjacent house and property to Thomas Wolcott. Exactly what year Thomas first leased the mill and his home is not known although it is believed that Thomas’ sons, grandsons, and possibly some of his great grandsons were born on the property. The family for the next three generations was to build a dynasty in the wool industry. Photographs of Thomas’ home which still exists today, can be viewed (as of December 2007) on the Web at address The exact date of Thomas’ birth is not known although it is believed to be approximately 1500. He married Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) around 1524 and together they had four sons Thomas, John, Henry, and Roger. Their second son, John who was born around 1528, is our great (x12) grandfather. Elizabeth died in 1565 following the death of her husband Thomas, who died in 1555 at the age of 55. Thomas no doubt willed to his sons, substantial wealth and a successful business.

Generation #2: John Wolcott (Sr.) (after 1525-Abt 1571)

We do know much about the life of Thomas Wolcott’s second son, John. His birth date is unclear although it would be after the birth of his older brother who was born in 1525 and his death date based on his will appears to be in December of 1571. His occupation was listed as a miller so he clearly continued with his brothers to operate his father’s cloth business. Church records show he married Agnes Butler in Tolland around 1547 and together they had at least one son, John our great (x11) grandfather, and two daughters Alice and Mary. Agnes died in 1606 and both husband and wife are buried in Tolland.

Under the stewardship of John Wolcott and his brother’s Thomas, Henry, and Roger the woolen business expanded greatly. It was no longer just the operation of a fulling mill. During this second generation more land was purchased for raising families and sheep. The spinning and weaving operations were probably farmed out to small family run operations in the area. The Wolcott family no doubt supplied the raw wool and agreed to buy the cloth material back from the smaller spinning and weaving businesses that they had helped get established. New fulling mills were built and the cloth was processed and dyed. Finally, the full service “clothier” business was established as factories were built to manufacture and sell finished products such as clothes and blankets. As English woolen goods became famous worldwide, small fortunes were being made and the Wolcotts were part of this new wealth.

Generation #3: John Wolcott (Jr.) (1547-Aft 1623)

One of the genealogical sites I reviewed on the Internet made reference to John Wolcott (Jr.) as Sir John Wolcott. I doubt that John Wolcott, our great (x10) grandfather, was ever knighted although his wealth and the worth of his property probably equaled that of many of the noble families in England. The coat of arms that appears at the beginning of this chapter may not in fact be a coat of arms of our branch of the Wolcott family. It is common practice for Americans to want to be related to English nobility although it is pure fantasy to believe that every English, Irish, and Scottish surname has a coat of arms. Stores that sell coat of arms are preying on our weakness to want to be related to aristocracy. Perhaps, if we considered the wealth of the entire Wolcott family in the late 16th century including all of the brothers, sisters, and cousins, they may have been more like a Walton family of the County of Somerset than like a land-poor noble family with its own coat of arms.

John Wolcott (Jr.) was born in 1547 in Tolland Parish in the County of Somerset probably in the home originally owned by his grandfather, Thomas Wolcott. John married Agnes Crosse in 1578 and to the best of our knowledge they had three sons, Henry, our great (x9) grandfather who was born in 1578, John who was born in 1580, and Christopher who was born in 1583. Both Agnes and John (Jr.) died in 1623 only one month apart. John was 76 when he died. During the period of John’s life the family continued to prosper in the woolen industry.

Generation #4: Henry Wolcott (1578-1655)

Henry Wolcott is perhaps our most important Wolcott ancestor for it was Henry who moved his family to America in the year 1630. Were it not for Henry, my Wolcott genes might today be riding around in a body on a sheep farm in southern England rather than in my present body here in a condo in warm and sunny Florida. For moving Henry, I thank you.

There is a little confusion as to the location of Henry’s birth. It is generally believed that he was born at his father and mother’s home in Tolland. What is confusing is that he was baptized in a church in Lydiard St. Lawrence, a parish adjacent to Tolland Parish which has led some historians to conclude that he was born in the village he was baptized. This I believe is incorrect. When Henry was 17 years old, his great uncle, Henry Wolcott, a wealthy clothier, died and left Henry his estate in the Manor of Brompton Ralph located a few miles to the west of Tolland. Henry moved into the home that he inherited when he turned twenty-one, when he “came of age.” Henry married Elizabeth Saunders in a small church in Lydiard St. Lawrence in 1606. All of their children consisting of four boys and two girls were born between 1607 and 1628, two years before the family departed for America in 1630. Henry’s second son, Henry Wolcott (Jr.), our great (x8) grandfather, was born in 1610. The children, like their parents, were baptized in the church in Lydiard St. Lawrence although they were all probably born at their parents’ home in the Manor of Brompton Ralph. Incidentally, the spelling of Lydiard has changed through the years and on current maps of England it is spelled as Lydeard St Lawrence.

Henry’s name appears in the Parish records along with his brother John and their father several times after 1603 and we assume that Henry, who was listed as a “Miller,” continued to help his father and brother operate the Tolland Mill. In 1623 or shortly thereafter, Henry’s father John died and apparently Henry as the oldest son inherited his father’s land and the Tolland mill. As you will learn later, this property remained in our branch of the Wolcott family until it was finally sold at the death of Henry Wolcott (III) in 1709, six generations after the land and the mill were occupied by Thomas Wolcott in the early 1500s.

Henry Wolcott was not totally satisfied with his life as a miller and a cloth merchant. As he became deeply involved in the Puritan movement and “impelled by religious motives” he determined that in order to achieve the religious freedom he so desired he had to give up his easy life on his estate and emigrate to America. In 1630 he sold his home and turned over the management of his business in Tolland to an overseer named Simon Venn. Simon was the brother of John Venn of London one of the partners in the Massachusetts Bay Company and the sponsor of the new colony in America. John Venn was probably responsible for arranging for Henry Walcott and his family to embark on the first ship to the new colony, the ship Mary and John which departed England on March 20, 1630. This ship and its passengers were to begin the major population growth period in New England referred to by historians as “The Great Migration.”

Henry and Elizabeth travelled on the Mary and John with only three of their seven two children, Henry, George, and Christopher. Their two young daughters, Anna and Mary, along with their youngest son Simon who would have been only five years old when the ship sailed, sailed on a later ship sometime after 1631. The Wolcotts settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts where Henry was registered on the first list of freemen dated October 19, 1630. In 1636 the family moved to Windsor, Connecticut. Henry was one of the first twelve men elected to the lower house of Connecticut’s first General Assembly in 1637, and in 1643, he was elected to the Magistrates, the upper house of that assembly where he was a member until his death on May 30, 1665 (or 277 years to the day before I was born). One other interesting side note is that in 1639, nine years after their arrival in America, Henry Wolcott inherited from his younger brother Christopher his large estate back in England valued according to records at 8,000 pounds sterling, an absolute fortune in the mid-1600s. While life in America was certainly not to the comfort level that Henry might have enjoyed had he stayed in England, the proceeds from the sale of his own estate which he deposed of before he left England, plus his inheritance from his brother, must have left Henry and his family in a relatively comfortable position in America for the remainder of their lives. There is one other fact that might be of interest. The youngest son of Henry and Elizabeth was Simon Wolcott (1625-1687). Simon’s son Roger Wolcott, was a governor of the Colony of Connecticut (and is listed as a “clothier” when he was younger), and Simon’s grandson, Oliver Wolcott, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, a Brigadier General during the American Revolution, a member of the first Continental Congress, and a governor of the State of Connecticut. This famous Wolcott is my second cousin, 9x removed.

Generation #5: Henry Wolcott (Jr.) (1610-1680)

Henry Wolcott (Jr.) was born at his parent’s home in Lydeard, St. Lawrence, Somerset, England in 1610 and at the age of 20 he emigrated with his parents to America. Incidentally, Henry’s older brother John is the only son of Henry (Sr) and Elizabeth that chose not to come to America. He was only 23 when his family left and he died at an early age of 48. There is some indication that Henry (Jr.) who was in the importing business in America returned to England on business in the spring of 1654 and he probably visited his brother John while in England. This may be the only time that John saw a member of his immediate family since their emigration to America 50 years earlier. John died one year after his brother’s visit.
We know that Henry Wolcott (Jr.) was actively engaged in public life while continuing to operate his own business. He was one of the nineteen gentlemen prominent in the Colony who were named in the Charter of Connecticut. He was elected a member of the House of Deputies in 1660 and to the House of Magistrates in 1662 and successively after that until his death in 1680.
Henry Wolcott (Jr.) married Sarah Newberry in 1641 in Windsor, Connecticut and together they had eight children including their oldest son, Henry Wolcott (III), our great (x7 ) grandfather.

Generation #6: Henry Wolcott (III) (1642-1709)

Henry Wolcott (III) was born in 1643 in Windsor, in Hartford County, Connecticut in 1643. He married Abiah Goffe in 1664 and together they had seven children including their sixth child, Sarah, our great (x6) grandmother. Henry was elected a member of the House of Deputies in 1668 and subsequently he was for many years the Town Clerk of Windsor. Here is something interesting. When Henry (III)’s father died he had left Henry his real estate holdings in the County of Somerset, England that he had inherited from his father, Henry (Sr.). This is the property that John Wolcott had owned and willed to his son Henry (Sr.) who later emigrated to America in 1630. While Henry Wolcott (Sr.) had sold his estate in Lydeard, St Lawrence before he emigrated and he later sold the estate that he inherited from his brother Christopher, he had never sold the estate that he inherited from his father that undoubted continued to generate income each year. According to English law, the oldest surviving son in each generation inherits their father’s property. Also according to English law, if there are no surviving sons, then the estate is left to the daughters or their female heirs. When Henry (III) died, he had no surviving sons, therefore by English law, the daughters or their female heirs would inherit. As is often the case, even today, when a large sum of money is involved, the heirs of Henry’s sons sued on the basis that old English law should not govern and they should be allowed to share in the estate of their grandfather. The value of the estate was 850 pounds sterling which was a huge sum of money in the early 1700s. In this case the son’s heirs lost their lawsuit and Elizabeth Wolcott, Henry’s (III) and Abiah’s daughter, and Abiah Chauncey, their granddaughter (her mother had died) split the value of the estate. Here is an early example of the importance of keeping a will up-to-date for it seems unlikely that Henry (III) would not have wanted his son’s heirs to equally share in the inheritance.

Generation #7: Sarah Wolcott (1676-1703)

Sarah Wolcott, the second youngest child of Henry (III) and Abiah Wolcott was born in 1676. She married Charles Chauncy, grandson of Charles Chauncy (the second President of Harvard) in 1698. Together they had three children. Unfortunately, a few days following the birth of her third child she died. This was in the year 1703 and Sarah was only 27 years old. Abiah Chauncy, their daughter and our great (x6) grandmother, was only four years old when her mother died.

Sarah Wolcott was the last of the Wolcotts in our family tree. It was an interesting family and it gave me a lot of pleasure researching their history. Anyone interested in learning more about the Wolcott Family can join “The Wolcott Family Society”, an organization of Wolcott descendants that has been in existence since 1906. Every year the society holds an annual reunion which this year (2007) was held in August in Dallas Texas. The current membership fee is $30.00 per year.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Chapter 15 - Our Revolutionary War Ancestors

In 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed, it is estimated that the population of the American colonies was 2,500,000 people. It is further estimated that upwards of 10% of the population participated in one way or another in the Revolutionary War effort. Considering that approximately 65% of the population were women, children and elderly, plus 10% of the total male population were Loyalists (supporters of the British), or pacifist Quakers, one would have to conclude that almost every available man not falling in one of the above categories was either a soldier, a political leader, or a supplier of food and materials to the army during all or a part of the war that lasted from 1775 to 1783. This was quite a commitment. In actual practice there were never more than 90,000 soldiers either regulars or militiamen fighting at any given time and General Washington at no point during the war commanded more than 17,000 men. If we are to accept that upwards of 250,000 men were engaged at one time or another during the eight year war, then we must conclude that the turnover of soldiers was enormous and many of the participants must have served for short periods. The role of the militia or “citizen-soldiers” in the war which we will discuss in subsequent paragraphs, helps us understand how so many of our American ancestors are credited with service during the American War for Independence.
For the most part it was my great (x5) grandfathers who were of an appropriate age between 1775 and 1783 for service in the military during the American Revolution. That assumes of course that they were not Loyalists, Quakers, or citizens of another country. I have a total of 64 great (x5) grandfathers and of the 64 grandfathers I have identified 24 of them who lived in America during the period of the American Revolution. In some cases these 24 grandfathers were either too old or too young to be soldiers but in most instances either their sons or their fathers were of an appropriate fighting age. In several cases both the father and the son were soldiers. My research to date has discovered 26 of our grandfathers from several generations who served during the American Revolution, as well as one grandfather who was a Loyalist and was killed at the start of the war by one of his “Patriot” neighbors at the front door of his home (and his parents and siblings escaped in a British ship to Nova Scotia), and one grandfather who was a Quaker. I am still missing information on 39 of my great (x5) grandfathers although 32 of these 39 grandfathers were not living in our country at the time of the War. The bottom line is that more than 75% of my grandfathers living in this country during the American Revolution served as soldiers for some period during the war. Since such a large percentage of eligible men served in the defense of their country, upwards of 250,000, it is likely that most Americans claiming ancestors back to the Revolutionary War will find that they are descendents of Revolutionary War soldiers. There are a number of historical societies focusing on soldiers of the American Revolution including the two large ones, The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) and The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (NSSAR). To be a member of these societies you have to prove that you are a descendent of a Patriot (soldier) during the War. Both of these societies have a listing of approximately 100,000 Patriots. If the figure of 250,000 is correct then there are many Patriots yet to be discovered. Of the 26 Revolutionary War Patriots in our family that I have identified to date, at least 10 of them are not found on either the DAR or the SAR lists. Of the ten not found on the list, I have found adequate evidence to prove that they served in the War or were killed as a result of the War. Apparently the descendents of these ten grandfathers have not yet come forward and made the effort to have them included in the DAR and SAR listings.
Before I begin the biographies of our Revolutionary War ancestors, I think that it is necessary to discuss the important differences between the Continental soldiers (“Continentals”) and the Militia. The militia existed long before the colonists decided to fight for their independence from England. Typically the men in the militia were recruited by towns and were lead by prominent individuals in the locality or the state. For the most part it was required that all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 to 50 must participate in military service in the defense of their community and/or their state. The militia in our country began at our earliest colonization as a defense against Indian attacks. Militias also participated alongside the British during the French and Indian Wars. In general practice militiamen lived at home, mustered for regular drills, typically had only muskets without bayonets, did not wear uniforms, did not sign up for long periods of military service (only served on as-needed basis), and agreed to fight only within the confines of their state or near their state in cases where their state was threatened. It is not unusual to find when studying the State Militia payroll records during the Revolutionary War, that men served on multiple occasions with each period of service being anywhere from a few days to a month or more. Each service would have a specific goal such as marching to an area where a conflict was expected or to relieve other militiamen stationed at a military post. At any given time during the War the total quantity of men in the militia greatly outnumber the men in the regular army under General Washington. Since each state could field their own military forces as militia units, their widespread presence and high mobility inhibited the British military forces from marching freely through the colonies unless accomplished with a very large force. While the State militias were not always well trained or organized, and often quickly retreated in battle, the war probably could not have been won solely by the Continental Army under General Washington. Most of our Revolutionary War ancestors fought in their state’s militia although in a few cases, and it is not always clear in the history records, they also signed up for service for a longer period of time in the Continental Army. The first fighting in the Revolutionary War began at Lexington and Concord and at Bunker Hill. It was the militia, also called Minutemen or citizen-soldiers, who united in their outrage against the British to begin our long eight year war for independence. The importance of the militia and the right for states to raise and arm militias is forever preserved by the Second Amendment of our United States Constitution.
The Continental army on the other hand was a creation of the Continental Congress and was formed shortly after the Battle of Bunker Hill in mid-1775. While the regiments that were formed to serve in the Continental Army were named for the states in which the soldiers were recruited (i.e. the “New York Line”,) the officers (major and above) were appointed by the Continental Congress and the soldier’s pay, equipment and food were provided by the Continental Congress. At first the period of enlistment was for a few months or a year although eventually the soldiers were required to enlist for a period of three months or for the duration of the war. The Continental soldier was on full-time duty, trained daily, usually wore a uniform, and often lived in camps outside their home state for months or years. The Continental Army was the best of our country’s military during the war. Unfortunately, I have not been able to confirm that any of my ancestors were in the Continental Army although it is likely there were a few. I will point out in the biographies below which individuals may have served in the Continental Army.
The listing of our Revolutionary War ancestors has been divided into three groups: the ancestors of my grandmother, Helen Spaulding Baker, the ancestors of my grandmother (on my mother’s side) Florence Ferree Patterson, and the ancestors of my grandfather, Charles Schenck Baker. In each group I will begin with the highest ranking individual.
Ancestors of my grandmother, Helen Spaulding Baker.

Patriot #1: Lt. Col. Henry Wisner (1742-1812) Henry Wisner enlisted as a Captain in the Fourth Regiment of the Orange County (New York) Militia on September 22, 1775 about three months following the Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston. In February of 1776 he was promoted to a major and in 1778 he was again promoted this time to Lieutenant Colonel. While I never actually confirmed where Lt. Col. Wisner fought, it is likely that he participated in the battles on Long Island in August, 1776 following the British invasion of New York and he was probably present at the Battle of Harlem Heights on September 16, 1776 and again at the Battle of White Plains in October of 1776. We know that the Fourth Regiment of the Orange County Militia was present at the Battle of White Plains as well as General George Washington and his troops. Based on the length of Henry’s service, he may have eventually joined one of the New York Regiments of the Continental Army. In the mid-1780s following the war, Lt. Col. Wisner was granted for his services 400 acres of land on the south side of the Chemung River, near Elmira, New York on one of several military lots granted to soldier of the Revolution. [Based on information that I received from John Sly in March of 2009, I learned that Henry Wisner was present at the Battle of Newtown (near Elmira, New York) as part of General Sullivan's campaign against the Indians. I also learned during a related search that Henry Wisner was present at the Battle of Minisink in Orange County. He was obviously a busy man.]

Patriot #2: Capt. Peter Bertholf (1746-1801) Capt. Peter Bertholf is the father-in-law of Henry Wisner’s son John. He also served under Lt. Col. Wisner in the Fourth Regiment of the Orange County Militia and he undoubtedly fought in the same battles around New York City area as Henry Wisner. Both Bertholf and Wisner lived in Warwick, New York located just north of the City of New York during the period of the Revolution.

Patriot #3: Capt. John Wisner (1718-1778) Captain John Wisner is the father of Lt. Col. Henry Wisner. The first record of John Wisner’s involvement in the Colonial forces was in 1756 during the French and Indian Wars where is listed as holding the rank of Captain in the militia of Orange County. He is also listed as being a Captain in the Orange County “Minute Men” in March of 1776 despite his age of 58 (George Washington was only 44 in 1776) and he likely participated in some of the battles around New York City between August and September of 1776. We know that he was engaged in the Battle of Montresor’s Island on September 10, 1776 wherein the Colonial forces attacked the British on the island located just off the east shore of Manhattan. Their goal was to expel the British from the island to prevent them from making an amphibious assault on Manhattan. Three boat loads of American troops were involved. After the first boatload of men disembarked on the island they discovered that their attack was not a secret and they were ambushed. The other two boats immediately withdrew rather than come to the aid of their fellow soldiers. Following their return, the two boat loads of “delinquents” were arrested and held for court-martial. Unfortunately, our Capt. John Wisner was onboard one of the two boats. Whether or not he was found guilty in the court-martial I could not determine. Several undocumented sources indicate that Capt. Wisner died in service in December of 1778. While he may have been wounded during an engagement and died subsequently as a result of his wounds, he definitely did not die on the battlefield. In his will written in September 1778 be wrote his condition as “being weak in body.” He died several months later in late December, 1776.

Patriot #4: Lt. Lebbeus Tubbs (1730-1796): Lt. Lebbeus Tubbs and his family including his daughter and her husband (Lebbeus Hammond) and family were all present at the Battle of Wyoming and at the subsequent Indian massacre that took place on July 3rd and 4th of 1778. He served in the 1st Alarm Company under Captain James Bidlack, Sr. This Company was part of the 24th Regiment of Connecticut Militia. The story of these families and the Battle of Wyoming is the subject of Chapter 8 of the Baker Family History. Lt. Tubbs was 48 years old when the battle occurred. He had previously served as a private during the French and Indian Wars. The Battle/Massacre of Wyoming was a tragic chapter in the history of the American Revolution. Of the 375 American military personnel engaged in the battle only 174 survived. Following the short battle the Indians tortured and killed not only captured soldiers but many of the women, children, and elderly that they could find in the settlement. I debated labeling Lebbeus’ father, Samuel Tubbs (1699-1778), a Patriot and a soldier of the Revolution since he died during the Battle/Massacre of Wyoming, however he was 79 years old when the battle occurred and it is unlikely that he actually shouldered a gun on the battlefield. Lt Lebbeus Tubbs continued to serve in the militia following the Battle of Wyoming. Revolutionary War payroll records dated in 1780 document that he fought in Col. John Franklin’s Regiment. John Franklin in late 1779 was Captain of a regiment of Wyoming County Militia that was part of Sullivan’s Expedition to remove the Indians from Western New York State. I believe there is little doubt that Lt. Lebbeus Tubbs participated in this campaign. Both the Tubbs and the Hammond families moved to Southport (near Elmira, NY) following the War. The families settled not far from the site of the only battle fought during the Sullivan Expedition, the Battle of Newtown.

Patriot #5: Private Amariah Hammond (1719-1778): Private Amariah Hammond was 59 years old when he was killed fighting at the Battle of Wyoming in Western Pennsylvania. He had previously served in 1762 while still living in Litchfield County, Connecticut, in the 3rd Regiment of the 3rd Company of the Connecticut Militia under Captain Zebulon Butler. Captain Butler, later Colonel Butler, led the Wyoming County Militia at the Battle of Wyoming.

Patriot #6: Private Lebbeus Hammond (1754-1826) Private Lebbeus Hammond fought at the Battle of Wyoming. He was captured by Indians during the battle but fortunately escaped his capturers before he was killed. Lebbeus also fought under Col. John Franklin after 1778 as did his father-in-law, Lebbeus Tubbs, and he probably participated in General Sullivan’s Campaign in September and August 1779 to chase the Indians out of Western New York. One source reported that Lebbeus Hammond held the rank of lieutenant during the War although I was unable to find any evidence of to support that statement.

Patriot #7: Private Michael Sly (1748- 1808): Michael Sly was a resident of Lower Smithfield Township in Northampton County, PA where he is credited as signing the Oath of Allegiance and enlisting in the Northampton County Militia on September 29, 1777. Michael’s name is further recorded on the General Muster Record for May 14, 1778 as being in the Eighth Company of the 6th Battalion of the Northampton County Militia. I could not learn where his Battalion fought during the Revolutionary War but in late 1777 and in 1778 the following battles occurred near his home: Battle of Germantown on October 4, 1777, The Siege of Philadelphia in October and December of 1777, and the Battle of Monmouth in June of 1778. It is also possible that Michael Sly was with the Sullivan Expedition in 1779. Michael moved his family to the Elmira area after the War. Once source credits Michael as holding the rank of 2nd Lieutenant during the Revolutionary War, however this fact, if correct, could not be confirmed.

Patriot #8: John Sly (1767-1799) It is hard to imagine that John Sly was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. If the date of his birth is correct, then he was only 10 years old in 1776. The 1850 US Census in Chemung County lists John Sly as 84 years old which more or less confirms his young age at the time of the War. In an historical document written about the early inhabitants of Elmira it states that John Sly was 24 when he arrived to the Elmira area in 1788 which would make John 12 years old in 1776, still an unlikely age to have participated in the Revolutionary War. Notwithstanding this logic, on the Chemung County website they list John Sly as one of the veterans of the Revolutionary War buried in the County. Furthermore, from what I can determine, both the DAR and the SAR bear credence to the belief that John Sly was a soldier, albeit a young one. More research is necessary.

Patriot #9: Phineas Spaulding (1720-1784) I could not find any information relating to Phineas Spaulding’s involving in the military during the Revolutionary War although he is included in the DAR listing of “Patriots”. He moved with his family to Panton, Vermont in 1767. Panton is located on the shores of Lake George not far north of Fort Ticonderoga and during the war the Panton area was a hot bed of war activity. It is therefore likely despite his being 56 years in 1776 that he participated in the local militia. His inclusion on the DAR list may also have been a result of his capture with eleven others by British forces in October 1777 wherein they were made prisoners on board a vessel in the vicinity. Fortunately, Phineas was able to escape his captures by stealing a small boat. When his escape was discovered by the British, fearing that he was too easy a target in the boat, he dove overboard and swam safely ashore amid the bullets of the British. In the fall of 1778 a British force again invaded the area and burned most of the homes in the area including the home of Phineas Spaulding. At that point Phineas moved to Rutland, Vermont where he remained for the rest of his life.

Patriot #10: Phineas Spaulding Jr. (1749-1825) Phineas Jr. and his family moved away from the Panton area in late 1776 to the relative safety of Rutland where Phineas joined the local militia. It is interesting that the militia he joined was a part of the a Massachusetts State brigade rather than the militia group known as the Green Mountain Boys under the command of Ethan Allen. Phineas was to serve a total of four separate enlistments spanning from December 1776 through October 1781. Based on the military payroll records of Capt. Asa Lawrence’s Company of Volunteers serving under Col. Jonathan Reid’s Regiment, I believe that Phineas Spaulding Jr. was present at the Battle of Bemis Heights on October 7, 1777 and again at Burgoyne’s surrender of British forces at Saratoga a few days later. The defeat of the British forces at Saratoga is often thought to be a turning point in the American War for Independence. Phineas and his family returned to Panton in 1785 and he died there in 1825.

Patriot #11: Phineas Holcomb (1726-1781) The Holcomb family moved to Panton, Vermont in 1774 and they were neighbors of the Spauldings. Phineas Holcomb’s daughter, Sarah, was the second wife of Phineas Spaulding Jr. It is unknown whether Phineas Holcomb was ever a volunteer in his local militia, although at 50 years old in 1776 he would have been expected to serve. Notwithstanding, he deserves to be considered a Patriot. On the morning of November 11, 1778, Phineas Holcomb and four of his sons were surrounded by Indians at their home in Panton; their home was burned, and the prisoners were taken by the Indians who were being assisted by Tories [Loyalists], to a vessel on Lake George, and hence to a British prison in Quebec, Canada. Conditions at the prison were deplorable. Two of Phineas Holcomb’s sons died in the summer of 1781 and Phineas died in prison in September 1781. The other two sons were eventually exchanged. Fortunately, Phineas’s wife and other children escaped capture. There was a Phineas Holcomb on the Payroll records in the Connecticut militia in Simsbury, CT dated October 8, 1777 but it is unclear if this is the same Phineas Holcomb.

Ancestors of my grandmother, Florence Ferree Patterson

Patriot #12: Lt. Col. Thomas Bull (1744-1837) Thomas Bull may be one of the most documented of our Revolutionary War ancestors. Prior to enlisting in the military in 1776, Thomas Bull was the manager of the Warwick Furnace in Chester County, Pennsylvania, which produced cannons and shot for the Continental army. He first served as an officer in the Chester County Battalion of the “Flying Camp” under Col. William Montgomery where their battalion found action in the New York City area following the British invasion of Long Island. When General Washington found it necessary to evacuate New York City to avoid being surrounded and defeated by the British Army under General William Howe, he made the ill fated decision to leave 2,800 troops at Fort Washington located at the northern end of Manhattan Island in hopes of delaying the British forces leaving Manhattan in their chase of Washington’s retreating Continental Army. This plan did not succeed and on November 16, 1776 Fort Washington was surrounded and the Americans were forced to capitulate. The 2,800 men in Fort Washington including Thomas Bull, were captured and sent to the infamous prison ships in the Brooklyn harbor. Thomas Bull was said to have remained a British prisoner under absolutely shameful conditions for a period of twenty-one months at which time he was released in a prisoner exchange. He immediately rejoined the army in 1779 serving as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Chester County (PA) Militia until 1781. After his retirement from the military, Thomas Bull returned to the “pig-iron” business in Warwick. Later Lt. Col. Bull was a member of the Pennsylvania Convention which helped frame and ratify the American Constitution in the early 1790s. Photo to the left is the Thomas Bull House.

Patriot #13: Lt. Col. William Dewees (1739-1809) Despite spending a great deal of time researching Lt. Col. William Dewees, I was able to learn very little about his military career other than he was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Pennsylvania militia and the DAR and the SAR both recognize him as a Revolutionary War Patriot. He is perhaps best known as the owner or co-owner of the Valley Forge Iron Works, the site where General George Washington and his Continental Army spent the winter of 1777-78. The Dewees home is on the site of Valley Forge (and still exists to this day and shown in the photo)) and history has recorded that during that memorable winter of ‘77-78, Colonel Dewees and his family and General Washington and his wife had frequent social intercourse. Unfortunately in late 1777, British troops burned his iron factory and saw mill and then the American troop encampment during the winter destroyed his land by cutting down his trees, destroying his crops, killing his farm animals, and burning his wood fencing for fuel. William Dewees never fully recovered financially after the war and he spent many years fighting the new American government to get them to pay for the damage to his land. As far as I know, he failed in that endeavor. Lt. Col. William Dewees’ son, Waters, married Lt. Col. Thomas Bull’s daughter, Ann Bull. I believe that Thomas Bull managed the factory owned by William Dewees and his partner Isaac Potts.

Patriot #14: Capt. Eleazer Hutchinson (1735-1813) Capt. Eleazer Hutchinson is recognized by both the DAR and the SAR as a Patriot having fought during the Revolutionary War as a captain in the 12th Connecticut Regiment under Col. Obadiah Hosford. The only military record I could find mentioning Eleazer stated that his company marched “to East Chester to join General Washington’s Army.” I assume from this that East Chester was the village located just northeast of New York City and Hutchinson’s regiment was probably part of the Connecticut Militia fighting with the Continental Army during the battle for New York. In late October, 1776, 750 Americans under Colonel John Glover faced off against 4,000 British troops at Eastchester, NY. I believe that Captain Hutchinson was present with his Company at this point in Eastchester. The British troops were chasing Washington’s army as they evacuated New York. The skirmish that followed was brief and the Americans retreated leaving more British casualties than they had suffered. The 750 American troops with Captain Hutchinson eventually joined Washington’s army in White Plains where on October 28, 1776 the two armies of around 14,000 men each, met in battle. The battle was pretty much a draw and Washington’s troops again were forced to retreat. It is unlikely that the Connecticut militia followed Washington’s Continental Army as they made their way south into New Jersey. They returned to their homes and the British had finally captured New York.

Patriot #15: Silas Hutchinson (1758-1836) Silas Hutchinson, son of Eleazer Hutchinson, is listed in the DAR records as being a drummer boy in his father’s Company in the 12th Regiment of the Connecticut Militia. He was not quite 18 years old when his Regiment engaged the British at Eastchester and later at the Battle of White Plains. It is unlikely that as a drummer boy he would have been placed in a position of direct enemy fire. Silas’s older brother was also a drummer boy in the same regiment as his father and younger brother.

Patriot #16: Captain Ephraim Buell (1742-1820) Captain Ephraim Buell enlisted in the Vermont militia before May 1775. One interesting trivia about Vermont is that it was not one of the original thirteen colonies. The area that is now Vermont was claimed by both the Colony of New York and the Colony of New Hampshire. Many of the settlers in Vermont at the time of the Revolutionary War were from Connecticut and Massachusetts so when the war broke out they joined militia units that were part of Regiments in their home states. We have previously seen for example, that Phineas Spaulding Jr. who lived in Panton, Vermont joined a Company composed of local Vermont men but their Company was part of a Regiment of the Massachusetts’ Militia. Captain Ephraim on the other hand joined a militia unit that was affiliated with no other state militias. They called themselves the Green Mountain Boys and their leader was Colonel (later General) Ethan Allen. The most famous exploit of the Green Mountain Boys was the capture of Fort Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775. There is no evidence that Captain Buell was present at the capture of Fort Ticonderoga but there is historical documentation that he was part of a committee to consider the “advisability of taking Fort Ticonderoga.” Furthermore, on July 5, 1775 the Continental Congress passed a resolution that directed a Regiment be raised “out of officers who served in Canada” and we find Captain Ephraim Buell is on the list as well the then promoted Brigadier General Ethan Allen. Following the capture of Fort Ticonderoga the Green Mountain Boys when on to fight at the Battle of Fort St. Jean in Quebec, Canada. Apparently Capt. Buell was engaged in these subsequent battles. We find Ephraim Buell’s name in “Pay Roll” records on at least three occasions, in June 1777, December 1779, and October 1781. His pay rate as Captain was 8 pence per month (worth today about one sip of Starbuck coffee.)

Patriot #17: Sergt. Benajah Boardman (1749-1813) Sergeant Benajah Boardman is another Vermont settler who emigrated from Connecticut before the Revolutionary War. Their family arrived in Hubbarton, Vermont in 1775. Benajah like so many other Vermont settlers joined the Green Mountain Boys probably as early as 1775 although his early involvement in the war is unknown. He no doubt played a role in The Battle of Hubbarton which took place near his home on July 7, 1777 and we know from Vermont Payroll records that he served as a sergeant in Capt. Elijah Galusha’s Company in August, October, and December of 1781 “in the defense of the frontiers of the State of Vermont.”

Patriot #18: Sergt. Benjamin Hall (1735-1786) Benjamin Hall needs to be mentioned in this chapter since based on his age and the location of his home he was likely to have fought in the American Revolution. Unfortunately, I could not find enough positive documentation to say for certain that he was a Patriot. There was one source that stated that a Benjamin Hall fought in Talcott’s Regiment of the Connecticut Militia. I discovered that there were two Elizur Talcotts commanding Connecticut militias during the Revolutionary War. One was the son and one was the father. The father commanded a militia early in the war, 1774-5, and then retired. The son commanded a militia that fought in the battle for New York in March and April of 1776 and it is possible that our Benjamin Hall was in his regiment. We also found a Benjamin Hall who served in Lt. Col. Isaac Sherman’s 5th Regiment of the Connecticut Militia. Their Regiment gathered with Washington’s Continentals and a French Regiment at White Plains, NY on July 6, 1781 in anticipation of recapturing New York City from the British. Washington concluded that retaking New York was almost impossible so he moved his forces southward to eventually defeat Cornwallis at Yorktown in October 1781. The Connecticut militia left White Plains and returned home. I believe that these Benjamin Halls mentioned in the Connecticut Revolutionary War Military Lists are our ancestor, Benjamin Hall.

Patriot #19: Private Philip Yawger (1753-1830) When I first started researching Philip Yawger I thought that it would easy to write his biography because he was added to the DAR listing of Patriots by his great granddaughter and she outlined the name of his regiment and his commander in her submission to the DAR. According to her submission, Philip Yawger (Yager) served as a private in Capt. Joseph Elliot’s company in Col. Morris Graham’s 10th Regiment of the Albany County Militia. I double checked this and found there was a Philip Yager listed in this Albany County Regiment. His Regiment participated in the battles leading up to British General John Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga in October of 1777, a rather significant event in the American Revolution. I also double checked to make sure that Mrs. Anna Yawger Congdon, who submitted Philip Yawger’s name to the DAR in her membership application, was related to the same Philip Yawger of our family and I determined that beyond a doubt that Anna Yawger was one of my distant cousins. Unfortunately, I believe that her submission to the DAR made in the early 1900s was made in error. First of all, Philip Yawger never lived in Albany County, New York. He was married in New Jersey in 1774 and all of his children were born in New Jersey including three children born during the War. He moved to Owego, New York in 1800 and then to Cayuga County, New York in the Finger Lakes in 1802. One of Philip Yawger’s granddaughters wrote a history of the Yawger family in the 1800s and she never mentioned that her grandfather fought in the American Revolution. Since Philip Yawger was only 23 years old in 1776 and living in New Jersey it is almost impossible to believe that he was not in the New Jersey militia and served his country during the war. However, the Philip Yager that is included in the DAR listing is probably not our Philip Yawger. Clearly more research on this matter is necessary.

Ancestors of my grandfather, Charles Schenck Baker

Patriot #20: Ensign Abraham Covert (1738-1815) It is well documented that Ensign Abraham Covert served in the 3rd Regiment of the Hunterdon County (NJ) Militia under Capt. John Schenck during the American Revolution. What battles or skirmishes he participated in or how long he served is unknown. What is known is that Capt. Schenck and the 3rd Regiment indirectly participated in the Battle of Trenton (Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware) and the 3rd regiment was present at the Battles of Princeton and Germantown in 1777 and Monmouth in 1778. General speaking the New Jersey Militia did not fight on the front battle lines but “in large numbers, [they] delayed and harassed the British . . “ Every movement of the British in New Jersey was watched and the British troops were fired on at every opportunity by the militia. No doubt our Abraham participated in this harassment activity.

Patriot #21: Anthony Cosart (1740-1790) The spelling of Anthony’s surname has caused some research problems as the spelling has changed numerous times in the historical documents through the generations. Various spellings include Cossart, Cosart, Cozad, Corsat, and Corsort. I was not able to find any absolute proof that our Anthony was a solder in the Revolutionary War. The SAR listing of graves of Revolutionary War soldiers includes a listing for an Anthony Cosart, buried in New Jersey. Another source on states that Anthony was a Revolutionary soldier and his name was spelled Corsat and Corsort in the “archives.” I did find an Anthony Corsat listed in the “Official Registry of the Officers and Man of New Jersey” however there is no real evidence that this is our Anthony especially since Anthony Corsat fought in the Middlesex County militia and our Anthony Cosart was from Somerset County. Anthony Cosart was of an age and in a location, New Jersey, where one would have expected him to have enlisted in the militia. Once again, additional research is necessary.

Patriot #22: Peter Harpending (1744-1840) It seems somewhat surprising that none of the descendents of Peter Harpending have sought membership in either the SAR or the DAR using Peter as their Revolutionary War Patriot ancestor. It is well documented that he was a strong proponent for independence from Britain and he served in the New Jersey militia. On his gravestone located in the Harpending Cemetery in Dundee, New York it reads: “Peter J Harpending, CPL Regt NJ Militia, 1744-1840.” New Jersey records state that Peter Harpending served in the Somerset County Militia in Capt. Jacob Ten Eyck’s Company. Peter no doubt was involved at least indirectly in the Battle of Bound Brook on April 13, 1777 which occurred near his Bound Brook home and tavern. Furthermore, the New Jersey militia played a major role at the battle at Monmouth on June 28, 1778 and Peter was no doubt present at the battle with his Company. While the New Jersey militia was noted primarily for their brief skirmishes with small British forces, at the Battle at Monmouth they actually lined up as units alongside Washington’s regular Continental Army and from their flanking positions they fired into the British lines. However, it was Peter Harpending’s activities before war broke out in New Jersey, for which he is most noted in American history. His name appears frequently in the History of Bound Brook, New Jersey. He was one of the leaders of a group within the congregation of the Bound Brook Presbyterian Church who were called the “Radicals” because they were outspoken in their insistence of complete freedom from British rule. Like the Sons of Liberty in Boston, the Radicals held meetings in a tavern owned by Peter Harpending named the “Frelinghuysen House.” The location of Peter’s tavern in Bound Brook is identified today with a roadside historical marker. In the history of Bound Brook, it identifies Peter as “a staunch patriot and one of the men of Somerset whom the Howes [British General William Howe and his brother] stigmatized as “arch-traitors,” and excepted from the general amnesty offered in 1776.” This was quite an honor at the time. In another section of the history, it goes on to say that Peter “was a trusted and unwavering friend of American Liberty.” Shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, Hendrik Fisher, a friend of Peter’s and the elected President of the Provincial Congress “ read the Declaration of Independence from the steps of the Frelinghuysen House [Peter’s tavern] while the bell (Kell’s Hall) tolled from the steps of the Presbyterian Church.” It brings tears to my eyes.

Patriot #23: Jacobus Rappleye (1742-1827) My great grandmother, Helen E. Rappleye Baker, joined the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution probably in the 1920s using her great grandfather Jacobus Rappleye’s service in the American revolution to qualify her for the membership. It is somewhat ironic that Helen and her husband, Asbury Baker, are buried in the Harpending Cemetery within a few yards of the grave of Asbury’s great, great grandfather, Peter Harpending, our Patriot #22. Helen identified her great grandfather as serving as a private in the Middlesex County, New Jersey Militia. This fact is confirmed as Jacobus’s name is included on page 729 of the “Official Register of the Officers and Men of New Jersey” although on this list his last name is spelled Rappleyea, a common alternate spelling of the Rappleye surname.

Patriot #24: Job Sayre (1758-1845) Job Sayre is included on the DAR listing of Revolutionary War soldiers and his great, great granddaughter submitted him as having served as a private under Captains Moffat and Denton on the New York Line. Serving on the New York Lines means that Job Sayre was a Continental soldier as opposed to a militiaman. I was unable to find out anything about Captain Moffat but I did find a Captain Daniel Denton who served in the Third Regiment of the New York Line, who was from Orange County as was Job Sayre, and his Regiment fought at the Battle of Saratoga. The problem is that I could not confirm that Job Sayre was ever in this regiment and his name is not included in a muster listing of the Third Regiment dated July 22, 1775. It is possible of course that he could have joined a Continental Regiment later. On the other hand, there is a great deal of evidence that Job Sayre was a private in the Third Regiment of the Orange County Militia under Company Captain Seth Marvin and Colonel John Hathorn. This happens to be the same Regiment that both Lieut. Col. Henry Wisner (Patriot #1) and Capt. Peter Bertholf (Patriot #2) served. The War lasted many years and it is entirely possible and probably a common occurrence, to find men who first served in their local militia and later joined their State Line of the Continental Army. In any case, long after the war ended in 1831, Job Sayre was granted a pension from the State of New York for his services in the “New York Militia.”

Patriot #25 & #26: Nathaniel Seeley (Seely) (1732-1799) and Nathaniel Seeley Jr. (1757-1810) The two Seeleys are combined together in this biography because they were father and son and because they both served during the Revolutionary War in the Fourth Regiment of the Westchester County (NY) Militia under Colonel Thaddeus Crane. This Regiment is known to have fought in the Battle of White Plains on October 28, 1776 and possibly at some of the other battles or skirmishes that occurred around the New York area during Washington’s failed efforts to save New York City from the British invasion forces from August thru October of 1776.
At least for now, this last biography ends the story of our Revolutionary War ancestors. This chapter may be updated as additional research yield new facts and new ancestor soldiers.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Chapter 14 - From the Pilgrims to Today

From the Pilgrims to Today
Our Family Tree

In a recent conversation with an acquaintance on the subject of our ancestors, I casually mentioned that I was a direct descendent of five of the passengers on the Mayflower. My friend after hearing my ancestral claim paused for a moment and then continued telling me about her own ancestors, ignoring my comment about my Mayflower connections. Either she thought that I was just bragging or she simply did not believe me. In either case, she did not want to hear more on that particular subject. I suppose that it may come across as snobbery when one claims to be a direct descendent of a Mayflower passenger.
The truth is that millions of living Americans and Canadians today are direct descendents of Mayflower passengers although the vast majority of us are ignorant of this fact.

It is also interesting just how many famous Americans both living and dead can claim to be descendents of Mayflower passengers. For example, one of the most famous Mayflower passengers was my great (x10) grandfather, Governor William Bradford, pictured above. His descendents include besides our family, such notables as Noah Webster, actor Clint Eastwood, George Eastman, one of the founders of Eastman-Kodak, George McClellen, Commander of Union forces during the Civil War, and Hugh Hefner. Richard Warren, also one of the Mayflower passengers and my great (x10) grandfather [his granddaughter married one of William Bradford’s grandsons] has as famous descendents General and President Ulysses S. Grant, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Alan Shepard, fifth man to walk on the moon, actor Richard Gere, Walt Disney, Katherine Hepburn, John Wayne, and many others. Finally, Isaac Allerton and his wife Mary, also my great (x10) grandparents sailed on the Mayflower with their daughter, Mary, my great (x9) grandmother and have as descendents many famous people including President Zackary Taylor, actor Jimmy Stewart, and former First Lady, “Lady Bird” Johnson. We are as great grandchildren of these Mayflower passengers in good company with many other famous and not so famous Americans.

Most Americans are familiar with the Mayflower and its landing on Plymouth Rock in 1620. They are less familiar with the ships that followed shortly after the Mayflower including the ship “Fortune” that arrived in 1621, and the ships “Anne” and the “Little James” that arrived in 1623. On board the Mayflower were five of our direct ancestors: William Bradford, Richard Warren, Isaac Allerton, his wife Mary (Norris) Allerton, and their daughter, Mary Allerton. On board the Fortune in 1621 were two more of our ancestors, Robert Cushman and his son, Thomas Cushman. On board the Anne or the Little James were eleven more of our direct ancestors: Robert Bartlett, John Faunce, George Morton with his wife Juliana and their five children including our direct ancestor, their daughter, Patience Morton who later married John Faunce, Alice Carpenter (later to marry William Bradford), Elizabeth Warren, wife of Richard Warren who sailed on the Mayflower, and their five daughters including our direct ancestor Mary Warren, and finally Frances Sprague and his two daughters Anna and our direct ancestor, Mercy. The Sprague family members were the only passengers on the first four ships to Plymouth who were direct ancestors on my father’s side of the family. Also arriving on the Mayflower was one George Soule, whom I believe is one of my great (x10) grand uncles on my father’s side. In total on these first four ships to Plymouth arriving between 1620 and 1623 there were at least twenty-nine of my known relatives on board including great grandparents, great grand aunts and great grand uncles.

The purpose of this chapter in our family’s history is neither to write extensive biographies on our Mayflower ancestors nor to write a history of the Plymouth Colony. There is no shortage of information in books and on the web on the lives and the history of the early Pilgrims therefore to duplicate those efforts would be pointless. I have chosen rather to focus on our family tree and our descendents including brief details only of the individuals and their accomplishments, their families, and where and when they lived. This family history begins with William Bradford. To help in understanding our family’s history, the following family tree has been included.

William Bradford m. Alice Carpenter
(1589 – 1657) (1590 – 1670)

William Bradford (Jr) m. Alice Richards
(1624 – 1703) (1627 – 167

John Bradford m. Mercy Warren
(1653 – 1736) (1653 – 1746)

Mercy Bradford m. Isaac Cushman
(1681 – 1738) (1676 – 1727)

Priscilla Cushman m. Israel Holmes
(1719 - ?) (1720 - ?)

Priscilla Holmes m. Ephraim Buell
(1745 – ?) (1742 – 1820)

Elizabeth Buell m. Silas Hutchinson
(1774 – 1825) (1758 – 1836)

Mosley Hutchinson m. Elizabeth Boardman Hall
(1795 – 1861) (1801 – 1877)

Mary Hutchinson m. David Ferree
(1825 – 1901) (1826 - ?)

Eugene Ferree m. Marian Coapman
(1866 – 1952) (1867 – 1895)

Florence Ferree m. Douglas Patterson
(1891 – 1938) (1888 – 1979)

Marian Patterson m. Charles Baker
(1916 – 1973) (1916 – 2000)

Charles Baker Jr m. Kathleen Mahar
(very much alive in 2007)

Generation 1: William Bradford and his wife Alice Carpenter
The most notable of the original Pilgrim Fathers was probably William Bradford for a number of reasons. He was one of the original 125 English separatists, later known as the Pilgrims, who in 1608 sought religious sanctuary in Holland. He assumed the major responsibility and the leadership role for arranging the details of their emigration to America on the ship “Mayflower.” In April of 1621 after the death of Plymouth Colony’s first governor, William Bradford was unanimously elected to replace him as governor and he was annually reelected 30 times. However, it was Bradford’s “History of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647 published in 1856 long after his death for which he earned his place in history. It was from this minor classic and from the hundreds of his other surviving documents that we have been able to learn the details of the early years of Plymouth Colony and its inhabitants. Without this knowledge gained from the writings of William Bradford a huge portion of our American heritage would be missing. It was in Bradford’s writings that the term “Pilgrims” was first used to describe their small group and it was from Bradford’s description of their feast with the native American Indians in 1622 that we drew our tradition of celebrating a “Thanksgiving” dinner each year.

Bradford was born in Yorkshire, England in 1590. In 1613 in Holland he married Dorothy May and together they bore a son John in 1615. In 1620, William and Dorothy without their only son, departed on the Mayflower for their voyage to America. Unfortunately, shortly after their arrival in America, Dorothy fell overboard and was drowned. William married our great (x10) grandmother, Alice Carpenter, in 1623 shortly after her arrival to Plymouth on the ship “Anne.” Together they had three children including their first borne child our great (x9) grandfather, William Bradford Jr. who was born in Plymouth in June of the year 1624. William Bradford died at the age of 67 in the year 1657 and he is buried in Burial Hill in Plymouth. Alice died in 1670 at the age of 79. He was a great leader in very hard times and I am glad to call him my relative.

Generation 2: William Bradford Jr and his wife Alice Richards:
William Bradford Jr. married our great (x9) grandmother Alice Richards in 1650. Alice in the year 1633 at the age of six emigrated with her parents to America. She was twenty-two when she married William and together they had ten children. She died in 1671, the same year as the birth of her tenth child. William married twice more and fathered another five children before he died at the age of 79 in the year 1704. He was no doubt exhausted from raising 15 children but there is no evidence that it contributed to his passing. Just kidding. His youngest child was born when he was 61. William and Alice’s first born child was John Bradford, our great (x8) grandfather who was born in 1652.

William Bradford Jr. is most noted in history as the commander in chief of the Plymouth military forces during the King Philip’s War fought between the Indian inhabitants of southern New England and the English colonists and their Indian allies. The war lasted from 1675 to 1676. “King Philip” is the Anglo name given by the English to the main leader on the Indian side. This war while not well known by most Americans was one of the bloodiest and costly wars in the history of America. Overall of those engaged in this short war nearly one in twenty persons among Indians and English were wounded or killed. The bloodiest battle of the war was fought at an Indian fort in the middle of a frozen swamp in a bitter cold December in 1675 near South Kingstown, Rhode Island. The battle has been named the Great Swamp Fight. It is estimated that during this battle the English suffered a 20 percent casualty rate which was double the casualty rate of American soldiers at D-Day. It was here that our great grandfather William Bradford Jr. received a horrible musket ball wound to his head at his eye. While fortunately he was not killed, he did carry the musket ball and a large scar on his face for the rest of his life. William held the military rank of Major and in 1687 he was named Deputy Governor of the colony. Also in 1687 he moved to Kingston, MA, a community located on Plymouth Bay just north of Plymouth. William Jr. is buried near his father in Burial Hill, Plymouth.

Generation 3: John Bradford and his wife Mercy Warren and her family:
John Bradford and Mercy Warren, both 21, married on January 6, 1674 and shortly after their wedding the construction of their new home was completed in Kingston, Massachusetts. Fortunately for preservationists the Bradford home is still standing today (albeit expanded from its original size) and is currently in use as a museum as well as the home of The Jones River Village Historical Society. For our family, one of the most notable things that John did was to marry Mercy Warren, granddaughter of Richard Warren, another of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower. Great (x10) grandfather Warren’s wife and our great (x10) grandmother, Elizabeth Walker Warren and their five daughters (our great aunts) arrived on the third ship, the “Anne,” to Plymouth Colony in 1623. Unfortunately, from a family history standpoint, Richard Warren is one of the least documented of the original Mayflower passengers. It is known that he was not one of the Separatists (”Pilgrims”) emigrating from Holland. He is believed to be a London merchant who boarded the Mayflower in London. Warren no doubt believed that opportunities for an improved life for his family were greater in America than they were in overpopulated, crime infested, and disease ridden London in the early 1600s. The hardships in America were too much for Richard Warren however, for he died in 1628 less than eight years after his arrival in the New World. Richard and Elizabeth had two additional children born in Plymouth including our great (x9) grandfather, Joseph Warren, their last child who was born in 1627. It must be mentioned in our family’s history story that Elizabeth Warren was a remarkable woman. After a three year separation from her husband, she traveled unescorted with her five young daughters in a small ship across the great Atlanta Ocean never knowing whether she would find her husband alive upon their arrival. After Richard’s death only five years later in 1628, she never remarried and by herself she raised her seven children. This is remarkable considering the patriarchal conventions of the 17th century. Unlike the majority of Plymouth Colony women, Elizabeth Warren’s name appears regularly in the Colony records during the long period of her widowhood. She died in 1673 at the age of 90. The final Colonial record of her death was the well-earned tribute of a eulogy: “Mistress Elizabeth Warren, an aged widow, aged above 90 years, deceased on the second of October, 1673. Who, having lived a godly life, came to her grave as a shock of corn fully ripe.”

Mercy Warren’s family tree is as follows:

Richard Warren m. Elizabeth Walker
(1580-1628) (1583-1673)

Joseph Warren m. Priscilla Faunce
(1627-1689) (1634-1691)

Mercy Warren m. John Bradford
(1653-1746) (1652-1736)

Almost everything that I have read about John Bradford, which is not much, refers to him as Major John Bradford. Since he was in his early twenties at the time of King Philip’s War and his father was the commander of the Plymouth forces, I assume he participated in the war although I did not find any confirmation in that regard. The first child of John and Mercy was born in December 1675 about the same time that the child’s grandfather was seriously wounded fighting in the Great Swamp Fight. Hopefully, the newborn’s father was at home for the birth and not off fighting Indians.

In total, John and Mercy were to have seven children born between the years 1675 and 1688. John was later to serve as the first deputy from Plymouth to the General Court, in 1687; deputy to the General Court 1689-91, Selectman in 1708, and Representative to the General Assembly at Boston in 1719. Historians note that John inherited from his grandfather, William Bradford, the original and only manuscript of Bradford’s The History of Plymouth Plantation. He foolishly loaned the manuscript to a friend who never returned it and it was lost for many years. It was eventually located in England of all places in the mid-1800s and as we previously mentioned was published. John and Mercy’s fourth child, Mercy Bradford, our great (x7) grandmother, was born in 1681. John Bradford died in 1736. Mercy Warren Bradford, his wife, died in 1747. They are buried together in the Old Burying Ground, at First Church, in Kingston, Massachusetts.

Generation 4: Mercy Bradford and her Husband Isaac Cushman
Mercy Bradford had four children with her first husband before he died in 1714. Mercy was 33 when her husband died. Three years later she married our great (x7) grandfather, Isaac Cushman, who had lost his first wife after she had given birth to eight children. Isaac and Mercy together had an additional four children including our great (x6) grandmother Priscilla Cushman who was born in Plympton in 1719. Isaac Cushman is important in our family’s history as three of his ancestors arrived on the Mayflower, including his grandmother, Mary Allerton, who was only four years old when the Mayflower landed, and her parents, Isaac Allerton and Mary Norris Allerton. I am including the following family tree to help in understanding Isaac’s family tree.

Isaac Allerton m. Mary Norris

Mary Allerton m. Thomas Cushman
1616-1699) (1608-1691)

Isaac Cushman m Rebecca Harlow
(1648-1732) (1655- )

Isaac Cushman m Mercy Bradford
(1676-1727) (1681-1738)

It is obvious that there are millions of living Americans today that can claim ancestors on the Mayflower. However, that number is significantly reduced when you calculate, if that were possible, how many living Americans are directly descended from five of the Mayflower passengers. We fall in that group. Our Mayflower ancestors include William Bradford, Richard Warren, Isaac Allerton, his wife Mary Allerton, and there daughter, Mary Allerton. We can also claim as relatives on the Mayflower, two additional great aunts on my mother’s side and one great uncle on my father’s side. Also it is likely that John Allerton, another Mayflower passenger, was a relative of Isaac therefore one of our great grand uncles. Now that is some family tree.

Isaac Allerton and his wife Mary Norris were married in Leiden, Holland in 1611. Isaac had been a long-time member of the Pilgrim’s church in Leiden and it was recorded that he had been a tailor in London prior to moving to Holland. When the family embarked on the Mayflower for the trip to America, their children, Bartholomew, Remember, and Mary, our great (x9) grandmother, were ages 8, 6, and 4 respectively. Furthermore, Isaac’s wife, Mary was pregnant with their fourth child. As everyone knows, the Pilgrims encountered terrible winter conditions at Plymouth before their first shelters were constructed. While still on board the Mayflower in December of 1620, Mary lost her baby, a still born son, and then in February 1621 she lost her own life.

While it is easy to feel sympathy at this point for Isaac and for his young family, Isaac’s behavior in the Plymouth Colony in later years erases any empathy we may have felt for him in 1621. Isaac Allerton was one of the most active and prominent members of early Plymouth and he was elected as Governor Bradford’s assistant in 1621 and continued in that role until the 1630s. In 1627 he was sent to England to negotiate with the colony’s investors. While there and during several subsequent trips to England paid for by the Colony, he engaged in a number of trading schemes to make private gains by purchasing goods in England and them reselling them at a profit in the Massachusetts Bay colonies. These actions were an obvious conflict of interest and when his trading schemes ultimately failed and he was discovered he was asked to leave Plymouth. This took place in the late 1630s. We hold our head in shame, for Isaac was not an honorable and trustworthy man in times of great need.

Isaac’s daughter, Mary Allerton, married Thomas Cushman, our great (x9) grandfather, in 1636. Thomas was born in Canterbury, England in 1608. Thomas moved with his father, Robert Cushman, to Holland with the other Leiden Pilgrims and there Thomas’ father, Robert became the agent for the Pilgrims and very instrumental in making the arrangements for their passage to America. Robert with his young son were originally scheduled to make the initial crossing in 1620, however one of the ships that was to cross with the Mayflower was found not to be seaworthy, and because of space limitations on the Mayflower Robert and Thomas elected to stay behind. In 1621, less than a year after the landing of the Mayflower, the Cushman’s disembarked from the ship “Fortune” onto the shores of America at Plymouth. After meetings with William Bradford and the other administrators of the colony, it was decided that because of the urgent needs of the colony, Robert needed return to England as soon as possible to continue his negotiations with the “Investors” to arrange for additional supplies to be sent to the Colony. He left the Plymouth shortly thereafter when the ship Fortune departed for its return trip to England. Robert left his son Thomas in the care of William Bradford until his return to the colony. Unfortunately, Robert died in London in 1625, supposedly as a victim of the bubonic plague, leaving William Bradford to raise young Thomas who was 13 when his father returned to England.

Thomas was 29 when he married 20 year old Mary Allerton. Together they raised eight children including their fourth child, Isaac Cushman, our great (8) grandfather, who was born in 1648. Thomas was very active in Plymouth Colony serving for several years as assistant to the governor as well as making five trips to London in the interest of the colony. In 1649 he was appointed Elder of the Church, a position he held for 42 years until his death in 1691. Mary outlived her husband by eight years dying in the year 1699. Just before her death, Mary was the oldest surviving person of the original Mayflower passengers. Mary and Thomas Cushman are buried together in the Old Burial Hill Cemetery in Plymouth.

Isaac Cushman and his wife Mercy were members of the church in Plympton of which his father Thomas was the pastor. Isaac was for many years a lieutenant in the town militia. He served frequently as one of the town’s selectmen and assessors, he held the office of Town Clerk for more than 16 years, and it is recorded that he was a “distinguished land surveyor.” Isaac died at age 51 in the year 1727. Mercy died at the age of 57 in 1738. They are both buried at the Plympton Burying Ground Cemetery. Plympton was a small farming community founded in the 1650s located west of Plymouth Colony.

Generation 5: Priscilla Cushman and her husband Israel Holmes:
Without question I spent more time researching our great (x6) grandparents, Israel Holmes and Priscilla Cushman, than any of the other descendents of our Mayflower ancestors. This was not due to any special interest in this couple but merely because there was very little information about them in the historical records and every little bit of information I gathered encouraged me to dig deeper. It is not even clear as to the exact year of Israel’s birth although most of the records point to the year 1720. Israel’s father is believed to be the Rev. Isaac Holmes of Plympton. There is no established family tree for Isaac Holmes although I believe that his great grandfather was one William Holmes who emigrated from England in 1635. This conclusion is based solely on the dating and the frequent use of the names Israel and Isaac in the families of William’s descendents.

It is worth noting that Israel and Priscilla Holmes are the first of the Mayflower descendents in our family to move away from the Plymouth area. They were married in 1739 in Plympton and their first two children were born in Plympton including our great (x5) grandmother Priscilla Holmes who was born in 1744. Their fourth child however, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1752 as were the remainder of their children. It is not surprising to find the later generations of our family beginning to locate to the west. Most of the families during this period were farmers and with the ever increasing population in the Massachusetts Bay area it is not surprising that the need to find land would drive them west. Litchfield is located on the western side of Connecticut. The community was founded in the 1720s. As previously stated, there is not a lot of historical information on Israel Holmes. One source lists his occupation as a Cordwainer, a maker of shoes and other soft leather goods. While this is possibly correct, it also seems unlikely. We know that his first two daughters married in Litchfield in 1760 and 1764 and sometime, probably in the late 1760s the two daughters and their husbands moved to Castleton, Vermont located near the Hudson River in the southwestern corner of Vermont. It appears that Isaac Cushman relocated with his family at this time although there is no real evidence to support this belief other than we know he was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Burlington, Vermont in 1808. I could find nothing more about Priscilla Holmes including the date of her death. I suspect that she died before 1760, possibly at the birth of her last child, and she maybe buried in Litchfield. At least one of Isaac’s son-in-laws fought with the Vermont militia during the American Revolution and it is entirely possible that Isaac only in his mid-40s during the War, may have participated in the war as well.

Generation 6: Priscilla Holmes and her husband Ephraim Buell:
In 1764 in Litchfield, Connecticut, Priscilla Holmes married Ephraim Buell. Four years earlier Priscilla’s sister Sarah married Samuel Buell, Ephraim’s older brother. The two couples and perhaps others in the family moved to Castleton, Vermont sometime during the late 1760s. There is some confusion in the records as to whether the family actually lived in Castleton, Vermont or Fort Edward, New York since most of their children are listed in most historical documents as having been born in Fort Edward. In “The Buell Family in England and America” an extensive genealogy of the Buell Family written in 1881, it lists all of the children of both Samuel and Ephraim born between the years 1763 and 1783 as having been born in Fort Edward. In any case, MapQuest tells us that by highway Castleton is only 36 miles west of Fort Edward. The fact that Ephraim Buell was a Captain in the Vermont militia during the American Revolution would lead us to believe that his home at least at some point, was actually in what is now the State of Vermont. Vermont of course was not in existence on paper anyway, prior to the Revolution and the fact that Ephraim actually lived in what is now part of New York State would not have precluded him from commanding a militia based in Castleton, Vermont. Furthermore, he was a member of Vermont’s “Green Mountain Boys” under the command of Brigadier General Ethan Allen during the Revolutionary War. Ethan Allen was a resident of Litchfield, Connecticut prior to the war and may have been acquainted with Ephraim or at least the Buell family. Castleton played an eventful part in the American Revolution in that in May of 1775, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold planned their attack on Fort Ticonderoga in Castleton. Fort Ticonderoga was only 30 miles to the west or just to the north of Fort Edward. Ephraim Buell is referenced in “Wikipedia” as being part of a committee to consider the “advisability of taking Fort Ticonderoga.” According to the few Revolutionary War payroll records I reviewed, Ephraim served in the Vermont militia from at least 1775 until 1780. The role of Ephraim’s regiment was listed in one source as “scouting for security of the frontiers.” It is worth noted that one source listed an Ephraim Buell as a Connecticut soldier in 1761 during the French and Indian Wars.

In total Ephraim and Priscilla bore nine children including our great (x4) grandmother, Elizabeth “Betsy” Buell who was born in Fort Edward in the year 1774. Fort Edward incidentally, was a British fort during the French and Indian Wars, however after 1766 the fort was abandoned and was pretty much in ruins during the American Revolution and played no role in the War. After the British left the fort the area was quickly inhabited by American settlers including the Buell family. Sometime after the War probably in the mid-1780s the family moved again this time to the recently opened up settlement areas in New York’s Finger Lakes region. The Buells settled near the present day city of Ithaca. Their last two children were born at their new home. It was interesting to discover that the travels of Ephraim and Priscilla Buell did not end in Ithaca for some time in the early 1800s they moved again, this time to Ohio. They are recorded as having died only a day apart in January of 1820 in Hamilton County, Ohio. There is no explanation in the records as to why the Buells then in their late 70s were living in the wildernesses of western Ohio. But then, maybe no explanation is necessary. They were just of strong stock our family ancestors.

Generation 7: Elizabeth “Betsy” Buell and her husband Silas Hutchinson
Silas Hutchinson, our great (x4) grandfather, was born in Tolland County, Connecticut in 1758 the son of Eleazer Hutchinson and Ruth Long. Silas’s father was a Captain in the Connecticut militia during the American Revolution and his older brother by one year was a drummer in his father’s company. There is no record that Silas was a soldier in the War although he was of an age, 18 in 1776, when his enlistment would not have been unusual. By 1788 we find that Silas had moved to Ithaca, New York and in the local historical records he is reported as being one of the original settlers in the area. In June of 1790, Silas married Betsy Buell and between the years 1792 and 1810 that had at least seven children including our great (x3) grandfather, Mosely Hutchinson who was born in 1795. It is interesting to note that when Silas and Betsy were married in 1790 he was 32 years old and she was only 16. This is quite an age difference even in the 1700s although I doubt that Silas had a lot of women to chose from in 1790, and Betsy probably saw her prospective husband as a prosperous landowner, a respected doctor, and a good choice as a husband. Who knows; he might even have been good looking. There is not a lot of information we could find on Silas Hutchinson, we even checked the Tompkins County history books in the Ithaca Public Library, although we did learn that he served as Justice of the Peace for a few of years, and was credited with being one of the earliest doctors in this wilderness community. Silas and Betsy were to have 12 children together including their tenth born child, our great (x3) grandfather, Mosley Hutchinson. Despite their age difference, Mosely outlived his wife by eleven years. Betsy died in 1825 at the young age of 41. We are still searching for the site of her grave. Silas died in 1836 and he is buried in a small cemetery near Besemer Hamlet in Tompkins County. His headstone is missing and according to the cemetery records “someone in Slaterville is using this headstone for a back step.” If only I could get my hands on that person. . . . .

Generation 8: Mosely Hutchinson and his wife Elizabeth Boardman Hall
“One fine day Miss Elizabeth Boardman Hall was out on the Academy’s lawn, watching something on the lake, when John Davis, a prospector from Pennsylvania, passed the school in his search to buy up new land. He saw Miss Hall there on the lawn of the Academy, fell in love with her at first sight, and later married her. He bought two tracks of land (four hundred acres) from Colonel John Harris, south of the village on the lake front and erected a house . . . “ This passage was written in the “History of Cayuga” and the time period discussed was the year 1817. Miss Hall was only seventeen years old at the time. John Davis who was smitten by the beauty of Miss Hall, our great (x3) grandmother, married her in 1818 and unfortunately for Mr. Davis but fortunately for our family, John Davis fell off the Cayuga Lake bridge in 1819 and drowned. Miss Hall was a widow before the age of twenty and the owner of 200 acres of land on the banks of Cayuga Lake in the Village of Cayuga at the northeast corner of Cayuga Lake. Sounds like a good choice for a wife.

Mosely Hutchinson, son of an Ithaca doctor and our great (x3) grandfather, met the young widow and married her in October of 1822. Together they expanded the small house that John Davis had started in 1816, eventually building a much large home which historians refer to as the “Hutchinson Homestead”. Today there is an historical marker on the site identifying the former location of the “Hutchinson Homestead” noting that the original house built by Mosely and Elizabeth had burned in 1910. The Hutchinsons were primarily farmers which was the typical occupation of landowners in the 1800s although Mosely Hutchinson was also an attorney, served as an Associate Judge, and for a period was elected to the State Assembly.

Elizabeth and Mosely were to have at least six children that we are aware of including their third born child and our great (2) grandmother, Mary Rebecca Hutchinson who was born in their home in Cayuga in the year 1825. Mosely died at the age of 66 in the year 1861. Elizabeth ran the homestead for another 16 years finally passing away at the age of 76 in the year 1877. They are both buried in the Lakeview Cemetery near their home in the Village of Cayuga surrounded by many of the children and their grandchildren including my great grandfather, Eugene Ferree, who died when I was ten years old.

Generation 8: Mary Rebecca Hutchinson and her husband David Dewees Ferree
Oddly, since it is relatively recent in our family’s history, we know very little about David Dewees Ferree, my great (x2) grandfather. We know his family’s history, we know he was born in 1825 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and we know what he looked like since a photograph has been passed down, but that is about all that we know. His wife is buried in Lakeview Cemetery near her parents and on her gravestone it is inscribed that she was the wife of David Dewees Ferree, who was born in 1625. No death date is legible. There is no separate gravestone for David nor any other indications that he was buried in Cayuga. I assume that David met his wife in Cayuga since it is more likely that he traveled to New York rather than Mary Rebecca having traveled to Pennsylvania. They probably meet after 1850 since Mary Rebecca was still living with her parents at home according to the 1850 US Census. We can also assume that they married sometime before the birth of their first child in 1860. Mary Rebecca and David were both around 35 when their first son was born and around 40 years old at the birth of my great grandfather, Eugene Hutchinson Ferree in 1866. Family tradition has it that great grandfather Ferree was born in Lancaster, PA. In the 1880 US Census, Mary Rebecca and her children were back living at the Hutchinson Homestead. David was not on the Census list and therefore we might conclude that he died sometime between 1867 and 1880 at which time Mary Rebecca and her children moved back to her family home. My great, great grandmother, Mary Rebecca died on March 11, 1901. My great grandfather Eugene Ferree, whose story is covered in another Family History Chapter, was 35 when his mother died. It was a sad time for Eugene as he had lost his own wife only six years earlier and was left alone without a mother or a wife to help him raise his three young children.

It is unlikely that great grandfather Ferree was aware that he was a direct descendent of five of the Mayflower passengers. In the past, it was very difficult to do extensive genealogy work. What information that was available in written records in libraries, museums and other public buildings was scattered all over the country. The internet however has changed all of this and made it possible for amateur genealogists to stay at home and search websites containing millions of pieces of historical data about people, places, and things. These search sites also allow genealogists to share information about their own family trees with others. This family history chapter could not have been written without the help of internet at least not by yours truly. There is only one question remaining to be answered. Did I inherit my propensity to be slightly overweight from the Pilgrims? After all, it is all in the genes.