Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chapter 28 - My Baker Ancestors - Part III

My 6th great grandfather, Matthes Baker, was born in his parent’s home near the village of Maidenhead, New Jersey in the year 1710. The small rural agricultural community of Maidenhead was founded only a few years earlier in 1697 and while still sparely populated compared with its neighboring communities of Trenton (then called “The Falls of the Delaware”) located about 10 miles to the south and Princeton located about five miles to the northeast, by the time of Matthes’ birth the area had grown significantly since its founding only 13 years earlier. Maidenhead’s location on the “King’s Highway” midway between Philadelphia and New York meant that overland travelers passing between these two major capitals in our country’s early history would have passed through Maidenhead. Despite the town’s location, Maidenhead, that was later renamed Lawrenceville in 1816, still remains to this day a relatively small town and it is generally considered a bedroom community for both Trenton and Princeton. During Matthes Baker’s life, George Washington and his army marched through Maidenhead chasing the British following the Battle of Trenton that was fought on 26 December 1776 and then once again on 2 January 1777 following the Second Battle of Trenton when Washington marched to meet the British at the Battle of Princeton fought on 3 January 1777. Lawrenceville is noted today primarily as the location of the Lawrenceville School, one of the largest, oldest, and most exclusive preparatory schools in the United States. The school was founded in 1816 only six years following the death of Matthes Baker.

Thanks to the efforts of professional genealogist Fred Sisser III who has extensively researched our Baker family in New Jersey, we have a pretty good outline of Matthes Bakers’ life at least with respect to what information is available from the public records such as land purchases, court cases and the like. Matthes was the third born child of Timothy and Susannah Matthews Baker. It is impossible to know whether his name was originally intended to be Matthew after his mother’s maiden name, Matthews, and it was just a misspelling of the name, or the family intended it to be an abbreviation of the name. Whatever the original intent it is known that Matthes himself in later life wrote his name as “Matthes”. Public records on the other hand spelled the name in many variations including Mathias, Mathis, Matthew, Mathes, and Matthis. Spelling was not one of the strengths of our early countrymen as unfortunately they lacked a workable “spell check” system or perhaps a good education.

The young Matthes undoubtedly worked on his family’s farm almost from the day he learned to walk. He also at a young age would have attended school probably during the winter months when his services were not as frequently required on the farm. While clearly he had learned to write as he signed his name on documents instead of making his “mark” as did so many others of his time, it is probable that he was not highly educated. We learned from the public records that his occupation was that of a “Cordwinder” or shoemaker. It was not unusual for fathers during this period of our country’s history to arrange for their sons, particularly their younger sons, an apprenticeship with a local tradesman so that their son could learn a skilled trade. In some cases this meant that the son would actually live with the tradesman during the period of their apprenticeship which we learned was the case with my great grandfather Samuel Harpending who learned the trade of “Hatter” or making hats as I described in this family history blog in Chapter 9. An apprentice was similar in nature to an indentured servant although there was no forced employment contract as was the case of the indentured servant. The tradesman in lieu of not having to pay the apprentice was expected to teach him his trade. The indentured servant was in reality a slave with a predetermined freedom date. The apprentice was an unpaid employee who could leave at any time. While it is likely that Matthes served as an unpaid apprentice for a period, just when he completed his training is unknown although it was undoubtedly completed well before his 28th year when he married Judith Wood on 28 August 1738.

Judith Wood, my 6th great grandmother, is a mystery woman in our Baker family line particularly with respect to her ancestry which is unproven. There is also the mystery as to just how she came about meeting and marrying Matthes Baker. At first glance I thought that it would be relatively easy to uncover Judith’s ancestors. Not only were members of the Wood family numerous and prominent on Long Island in the late 1600s, but Matthes’ grandmother, Susannah Strickland, married a Timothy Wood in 1651 prior to her marrying Matthes’ grandfather, Samuel Matthews, after Timothy Wood’s early death in 1659. Not only that, but Susannah’s sister, Elizabeth Strickland, my 8th great aunt, married Timothy Wood’s older brother Jonas Wood. The Wood brothers’ father was Edmund Wood, a Puritan, who with his three sons and two daughters immigrated to America on the ship James that landed in Boston in August of 1635. The family lived in Massachusetts before moving to Wethersfield, Connecticut in 1637 and later to Stamford, Connecticut in 1641. In 1644 the Wood family with a group of other settlers from Stamford crossed the Long Island Sound to establish a new Presbyterian community on the north shore of Long Island. They named their new community Hempstead. Joining the Wood family in the new community was John Strickland who was to be Matthes Baker’s great grandfather (and my 9th great grandfather) and his family. Despite the close connection between the Strickland family and the Wood family and the marriage of Matthes Baker’s grandmother Susannah Strickland to Timothy Wood, after many hours of research of the descendants of Edmund Wood, I was unable to confirm that Judith Wood was a descendant of Edmund Wood.

Judith Wood is believed to have been born in Newtown, Long Island (later renamed Elmhurst) around 1710. The names of her parents have not been identified although there were many families with the surname of Wood during the time period of her birth who were members of the Presbyterian Church of Newtown. One family stands out as likely parents: a Timothy Wood (who died in 1763) and his wife Judith (who died in 1751). Timothy is a very common name in the family line of Edmund Wood and Judith Wood might very well have been named after her mother Judith. Even if these individuals are Judith Wood’s parents, I still could find no clear connection to Edmund Wood although it is a fact that many of Edmund Wood’s descendants settled in the western Long Island communities of Newtown and Jamaica.

Another Judith Wood mystery has yet to be solved. How did Matthes Baker, a young man living and working in Maidenhead, New Jersey meet and marry the young Judith Wood living in Newtown, Long Island? Even with today’s modern highway system the two communities are 70 miles and 1-1/2 hours apart by car and in 1738 it is unlikely that Matthes would have had any reason to have been in Newtown. Despite the fact that his mother, Susannah Matthews, was born in Jamaica, New York located only a few miles from Newtown, she had moved to Maidenhead when she was still young and it is doubtful that she was still close to any relatives living in Newtown or Jamaica. On the other hand, there were Wood families living in the area of Maidenhead in 1638 and it is possible that they made Matthes’ parents or Matthes himself aware of the availability of Miss Judith Wood in Newtown and a marriage may have been arranged. However Matthes and Judith met, the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown recorded the marriage of Matthes Baker to Judith Wood on 27 August 1738.

There is still however another small mystery. The New York State records show that a marriage license was issued on 24 August 1738 to Matthew Baker of Maidenhead and Judah Wood of Newtown. It would be hard to argue that this is not our family’s marriage license especially since their marriage occurred only three days after the license was issued (although their names were spelled as Matthis and Judith in the church records.) But then in these same New York State records it shows another marriage license issued on 11 October 1738 to a Samuel Gosline and a Judah Wood of Newtown who was listed as born in 1707. Further research revealed that this same Samuel Gosline of Newtown died on 23 December 1738, a little over two months after the issuing of the marriage license between himself and “Judah” Wood. I have no idea if the two Judah Woods were the same Judith Wood although it is hard to believe that there were two Judah Woods about the same age, both living in Newtown at the same time, and both applying for marriage licenses less than two months apart. If they are the same person and I believe that they are, the only explanation that I can offer is that the recorded dates were wrong with respect to the actual date of the application and that a marriage was arranged between Matthes Baker of Maidenhead and Judith Wood of Newtown after her expected marriage to Samuel Gosline feel through. It is possible of course that Samuel had been ill for a long period prior to his death which resulted in his marriage to Judith Wood being delayed and then cancelled. If only we could go back in time and find out what really happened and who arranged the marriage.

Matthes and Judith returned to Maidenhead shortly after their marriage and their first child, a daughter Judith, was born about one year later. It is not known where Matthes and his wife and child were living in Maidenhead when their child was born although it may have been at his parent’s home, not an uncommon practice in this period of history. What is known is that Matthes Baker purchased seven acres of land just south of Maidenhead in 1740 and obtained a mortgage from the “Hunterdon County Loan Office” in Maidenhead Township to cover part of the purchase cost. Unlike mortgages in the present day, mortgages in the early 1700s (and as late as the early 1900s) were usually for a short period of time, typically between five years to ten years, and covered no more than about 50% of the purchase cost. Also unlike today, the amount of the mortgage and the annual payments was determined by the estimated income expected from the property. Since agriculture was the common source of income, what the lender was willing to lend was determined by estimating what the borrower could generate in income from the sale of crops and livestock. With only seven acres Matthes would not have expected to earn much income from agricultural pursuits so it is not surprising to discover that he applied for a license to operate a tavern in May of 1741. He operated the tavern from 1741 until around 1749 at which time he sold his property and probably the tavern business, paid off his mortgage, and with his family moved to Hopewell Township adjacent and to the northwest of his birth home in Maidenhead Township.

Matthes and Judith Wood Baker are known to have had only four children: Judith born in 1739, John born in 1741, my 4th great grandfather, Timothy Baker born in 1742, and William born about 1745. Timothy Baker, Matthes’ father, died in 1747 and per the terms of his last will and testament that he had been written earlier in 1639, he left his son Matthes some of his valuables including money. It was probably his inheritance that allowed Matthes to pay off his mortgage on his land in Maidenhead and purchase 147 acres in Hopewell Township where he moved his family and built a home and farm around the year 1749. Having sold his tavern, Matthes renewed his career as a shoemaker in Hopewell. His name is mentioned at least twice that I could find in the church records of the First Presbyterian Church of Hopewell. In both instances once in 1753 and again in 1769 his name was included in a list of donors to the church fund. It is not surprising to learn that in both instances the amount of his donation was modest but probably very generous when we take into account that his income as a tradesman shoemaker and small farmer was also modest. For example, in the 1769 list we find the name of John Hart who along with other families including Matthes’ parents and the Hunt family had immigrated to West New Jersey from Western Long Island in the 1690s. John Hart was recorded as having donated 15 English pounds to the church in 1769 whereas Matthes Baker donated only one English pound. We are not related to John Hart but we know that Matthes and Judith Wood Baker’s daughter, Judith Baker, married a Robert Lanning whose mother Martha Hart, was the first cousin of John Hart. It seems that the Bakers and the Harts would have known each other. Why is this worth mentioning? John Hart from Hopewell, New Jersey was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and during the Revolutionary War on June 22nd and 23rd in 1778, George Washington and 12,000 of his troops camped on his land.

Matthes Baker was 68 years old in 1778 and therefore it is unlikely that he physically participated with the local militia during the Revolutionary War. Nevertheless he and his family were close to the war activities in New Jersey including the two battles of Trenton and the nearby Battle of Princeton fought in 1777. Furthermore their family was subjected to the almost continuous movements of both British and American troops nearby their home and church throughout much of the war. Matthes Baker is on record as having sold linen and “stockens” to the Hunterdon County Commissioner of Clothing in December of 1777 and offering wheat towards the war effort in April of 1780. The sale of linen and stockings suggests that Matthes’ shoemaker business may have expanded to include other mercantile goods and the offer of wheat obviously suggests that his farm was in operation during the war unlike the farm of his neighbor John Hart whose farm is known to have been burned by the British.

Matthes Baker died in October 1788 at the age of 78. The fact that he died intestate, or without a written will, suggests that he may have died unexpectedly. His wife Judith and his youngest son William were appointed as the administrators of his estate. The list of some of his assets at the time of his death paints an interesting picture of the times. This list includes “Andirons [with] brass tops”, a gun, “Tobacco”, “Cyder & Whiskey, and a “Negro Girl.” As a descendant of Matthes Baker, I certainly hope that there items were not his most treasured possessions. Judith Wood outlived her husband but the date of her death and where she and Matthes are buried is unknown.

My 5th great grandfather Timothy Baker was born at his parent’s home near Maidenhead in Hunterdon County, in Western New Jersey on the 8th day of December in the year 1742. We know nothing about the early life of Timothy although we can assume that he worked on his family’s farm in Hopewell Township when he was young. We also know that he married a local girl when he was around 30 years old in the year 1733 who we know only by the name of Deborah. In an assessment of the Hopewell district taken in 1781 he is listed in the assessment along with his brother William and his father. Based on the list we assume that he was either still living at his parent’s home at the time or was living nearby. We also know that by 1786 following the Revolutionary War, Timothy and his family had moved east to the adjacent County of Somerset and then a few unknown years later probably following the death of his father in 1788, Timothy purchased 126 acres of land in Readington Township located about 30 miles north of his birth home in Maidenhead. There they built a new home and farm and worked and lived for the remainder of their lives. Based on a listing of Timothy’s assets at the time of his death in 1810, mostly farming equipment, crops, and animals, he spent his adult life as a “husbandman”, an old English term that defines the occupation as one of a farmer.

The Revolutionary War had a profound impact on American families beyond just the obvious loss of husbands, sons, and brothers. Before the war, the “West” was considered to be almost everywhere other than the immediate coastal colonies. Central and western New York and Pennsylvania and the future states of Ohio and Michigan were mostly Indian occupied lands or lands loosely controlled by the British military. The Revolutionary War changed everything. Suddenly inexpensive and fertile land became available and by the early 1800s thousands of settlers from all of the colonies flooded west to buy up this new land now considered part of the new United States of America. What this meant to families, families like the New Jersey Bakers, was that sons, daughters, and cousins moved away from where their families had lived for generations. Timothy and Deborah Baker had eight children born between the years of 1776 and 1796 including my 4th great grandfather and their 5th child, Francis Baker who was born in 1787. Of their eight children at least four of them left New Jersey and probably never returned. Their second son John after his wife died moved to Ohio with his son Timothy and then later to Indiana. Their 3rd son Matthes moved to Seneca County for a short period before returning with his family back to New Jersey. Elizabeth Baker, their first daughter moved to Ohio with her husband Cornelius Low. Their 5th child, Francis Baker, my 4th great grandfather, moved to Seneca County, New York with his wife Sarah and their newborn son Elijah. The youngest child of Timothy and Deborah Baker, William, moved to Ohio with his wife and children. This mass migration was happening to families throughout the new United States but fortunately for Timothy Baker, most of his children moved away after his death at the age of 67 in 1810. Timothy is buried in the cemetery behind the Reformed Church of Readington. Deborah Baker who died in 1817 lies in her grave next to her husband.

While Revolutionary War battles took place in all of the original thirteen colonies, the future State of New Jersey had more than its share of battles that totaled by some estimates more than 100. If skirmishes are also counted, the number of war battles and skirmishes would number in the hundreds. Some historians write that one of these many battles in New Jersey was a major turning point in the war. This relatively small encounter known as the Battle of Trenton fought on 26 December 1776 was a major victory for the Americans after a long string of major defeats. American patriots prior to the Battle of Trenton knew only that their General Washington was good at retreating but on the day after Christmas in 1776 everything changed. The prelude to this Battle of Trenton is known to every American school child. George Washington and his army had to cross a cold and icy Delaware River in the late night hours before their early morning surprise attack on the sleeping Hessian soldiers stationed in Trenton. The surprise attack resulted in a decisive victory for the Continental Army. As a result of this victory and Washington’s attacks on the British that followed shortly after the Battle of Trenton both at Maidenhead and the surrounding area and at the Battle of Princeton fought on 3 January 1777, the morale of the American soldiers as well as the local population and later the country, rose dramatically. Before Trenton, Washington was very concerned that many of his men were not going to re-enlist but following the victories everything changed, enlistments increased, and there was new hope in our country of an ultimate American victory.

Washington’s army crossed the Delaware River and landed near the village of Titusville in Hopewell Township located a short distance from the homes of Matthes and Judith Wood Baker and their son and daughter-in-law Timothy and Deborah Baker. While Timothy was in his early 30s at the time of the Battle of Trenton and he might very well have already been training with the Hunterdon militia during that period as were most men his age, it is unlikely that he was involved in any way with the battle at Trenton or any of the battles and skirmishes leading up to the Battle of Princeton on January 3rd. Washington army was composed primarily of men who were not a part of the state militias who Washington and his officers considered mostly untrained, undisciplined, and unreliable as soldiers. We know that some New Jersey militia were present at the important Battle at Monmouth (New Jersey) fought on June 28th in 1778 and even at the Battle of Princeton, but Washington made sure that they were never placed in significant positions that would place his fulltime army at risk. Nevertheless, the New Jersey militia played a major role in the Revolutionary War especially in New Jersey. While Washington’s army fought the battles, it was the men of the New Jersey’s militia who made the British troops’ lives a misery. They were like mosquitoes in the woods. Every time that a group of British soldiers was sent out to forage for food or to find wood for their fires, they were ambushed by small groups of militia soldiers. It was impossible for the British to maintain small outposts within the state for they were constantly harassed by members of the state militia who would strike fast and then depart equally as fast. These were the types of actions that were particularly suited for the “wing-it” style of the state militias who soon became hated by the British but appreciated by George Washington who knew that the local militia were keeping the British constantly on edge thereby lowering the British army’s morale.

Even if we did not have documentation, we could assume that Timothy Baker and his brothers served as militia soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Unless one were a Loyalist or a Quaker which the Bakers were not, it was the absolute duty of every young man to fight for his country against the hated British. They fought not so much against the British Empire since England was their mother country, but against the arrogance of the British in America and in particular the arrogance of the British leadership and military in America.

The only official record of Timothy Baker’s Revolutionary War service was for the period of 4 October 1777 through 31 October 1977 when he served as a Private in the First Regiment of the Hunterdon County Militia under Capt. William Tucker and under Capt Israel’s Troop of Horses that mustered on 6 October 1777. This was enough for the Daughters of the American Revolution to accept Timothy as a Revolutionary War Patriot, their number 501487. It is likely and even probable that he served on other occasions possibly with his brothers and male cousins and he may have even be present at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. Thanks to the recent efforts on the part of Frederick L. Baker III and his late grandfather Frederick Baker (1874-1957), a great, great grandson of Timothy Baker, was I made aware of Timothy Baker’s involvement in the War. Frederick Baker obtained back in 1948 a letter from the State of New Jersey, Department of Defense certifying as to Timothy’s war service in October of 1777 based no doubt on war records on file in their New Jersey office. The full extent of Timothy Baker’s war service may never be known although as purely antidotal evidence I offer this observation. The birth of the first child of Timothy and Deborah was in 1776 (before the Battle of Trenton) and their second child was not born until late 1779. The lag time between the two births could very well suggest that Timothy was preoccupied with matters of the war.

My 4th great grandfather, Francis Baker, was born at his parent’s home in Readington Township, New Jersey in the year 1787. Based on our knowledge that he was a shoemaker as an adult, he was, like his grandfather, probably trained as a shoemaker through the apprenticeship program during his teenager years. Francis at the age of 24 married 18 year old Sarah Bogart, daughter of John M. Bogart and Sarah Ann Schenck, sometime during the year of 1811 and in December of 1812 their first child, Elijah, was born. Elijah, my 3rd great grandfather, was named after his Uncle Elijah, his father’s older brother. The exact year that Francis Baker and his wife and child left Readington Township, New Jersey for a new home in Seneca County, New York is not known although on 11 February 1814, the records of Seneca County show that a mortgage was taken out by Francis Baker for 100 acres of land, Lot 80, in Ovid Township in Seneca County. Obviously the family had arrived into the area sometime earlier, possibly by mid-1813. Seneca County, located in the Finger Lakes Region in Central New York, had been first settled beginning around 1790 and many of its earliest settlers were of Dutch ancestry who had migrated from New Jersey. Clearly Francis was familiar with the opportunities available in this still relatively new community. Land was less expensive than in New Jersey and the need for trained tradesmen like shoemakers was greater. Furthermore Francis was not the only member of his family to recognize the advantages of relocating to Seneca County. Francis’ and Matthes’ older brother John Baker appears in the 1800 Census records in Seneca County and according to the county’s historical records John Baker sold his land in Seneca County to his brother Matthes Baker around 1814 and presumably John immediately returned to New Jersey. It would seem likely that Francis Baker and his wife and child and Matthes Baker and his wife and children moved to Seneca County from Readington in New Jersey together along with Francis’ in-laws and Sarah’s parents, John M. Bogart and Ann Schenck Bogart and all of her brothers and sisters. The Bogart family is listed in the 1820 US Census in Seneca County as are the Francis and Matthes Baker families. For whatever reason and it may have been related to his financial difficulties which hounded with him for most of his life, Matthes Baker sold his land in Seneca County in 1824 and returned to New Jersey.

My 4th great grandmother, Sarah Bogart, was a descendant of many prominent Dutch American families whose lineage could be traced back to early Dutch immigrants who arrived in New Amsterdam in the early to mid-1600s. Sarah’s mother, Ann Schenck, was the great, great granddaughter of Jan Martense Schenck (1631-1687) who arrived in New Amsterdam from the Netherlands in the year 1650 at the age of 19 along with his brother and sister. Jan Martense was granted land in 1660 in Amersfoort on Long Island (later renamed “Flatlands” and now part of Brooklyn, New York). Shortly after his marriage in 1672 to Jannetjie van Voorhees, he purchased land with a crist mill where in 1675 he built a new home for his family. It is this house for which Jan Martense Schenck is most remembered. The land and home remained in the Schenck family until 1784 at which time it was sold by Ann Schenck’s grandfather and my 7th great grandfather, John Schenck (1705-1784). The home remained standing until 1950 at which time the home was scheduled to be demolished to make way for a new school. The Brooklyn Museum recognized the historical significance of this almost 300 year old Schenck House, one of the oldest standing houses in the New York City area, and in 1952 they dismantled the home and later reassembled the original sections of the house on the 4th floor of their museum where it is still exhibited to this day. The 1891 photo of the Schenck House shown above shows a relatively small home particularly when we note that Jan Martense Schenck and his wife raised eight children in this house.

We also find in Sarah Bogart’s and Ann Schenck’s ancestry the names of Joris Janssen Rapalje and his wife, Catalyntje Trico, who arrived on the first ship of new immigrants to New Amsterdam in the year 1624. Chapter 1 of this Baker Family History Blog tells the story of my Rapalje ancestors. What is most interesting about discovering that Sarah Bogart was a descendant of Joris Rapalje and his wife is that I first researched the Rapaljes after learning that my great grandmother, Helen Ely Rappleye, wife of Asbury Harpending Baker, was a descendant of Joris and Catalyntje. What I have now learned is that her husband Asbury, who was the great grandson of Sarah Bogart, was also a descendant of the Rapalje family which would make my great grandparents “kissing” cousins of sorts. I suspect that for many Americans today who have ancestry lines back to early America, overlapping family trees are not that uncommon. Joris Janseen Rapalje and his wife Catalyntje Trico are both my 9th as well as my 10th great grandparents.

The earliest immigrant to arrive in America in my Bogart family line was a Cornelius Corneliszen Bogaert who arrived in New Amsterdam on or before 1640. While there is plenty of genealogical and history websites that cover Cornelius, most of the information furnished on these sites are all over the place and contradictory with respect to the “facts”. For example, his birth year is reported as being as early as 1617 to as late as 1637 and the date and location of his marriage varies considerably. Some family trees have him married in Holland, some in America. Some family histories list his oldest son born in Holland despite the fact that the son was born in the early 1650s well after his reported 1640 immigration date. What these disparities reflect is the terrible recordkeeping on the part of the Dutch authorities as well as the fact that typically the early Dutch immigrants arrived in America without surnames thereby making it more difficult to trace them in the early historical records. We have discussed this situation in other chapters. Unlike the English who very early on in history had adopted the custom of using surnames such that we know that the sons of Timothy Baker were all named Baker, and their sons also carried the name Baker, the Dutch on the other hand used a “last” name that was a variation of the father’s proper name. For example, Cornelius Corneliszen Bogaert was really named Cornelius Corneliszen after his father Cornelius Theuiszen. His grandfather’s name in turn was Teunis Gijsbertiszen after his father Gijsbert, and so forth. This is just an assumption but the name Bogaert was added as a surname after the Dutch immigrant arrived in America and then adopted the English custom of using surnames to identify the family. Often the new Dutch surnames had an historical basis for the family. It is believed for example that Cornelius’ grandfather was called Teunis Gijsbertiszen in Den Boogaertman which literally interpreted from Dutch means Teunis, son of Gijsbert, “Man in the Orchard” which I guess identified where he lived or grew up. Whatever really happened, what we find in history is that numerous new Dutch immigrants into New Amsterdam used the surname Bogaert and many of them had common first names which obviously has lead to trouble when researching our Dutch ancestors. Combine this with the terrible recording keeping, no ship’s passenger lists, and lost church records, it is no wonder why no one knows for certain the actual birth year of Cornelius Bogaert or the date of his arrival. This is all quite in contrast to the English custom of keeping detailed civil and church records beginning in America with the Pilgrims in Plymouth in 1620.

What we do know about Cornelius Corneliszen in den Boogaertman, my 9th great grandfather, is that he eventually settled in what is today Albany, New York where he married and raised a family. His death is clearly established as 25 July 1665. His grandson, Cornelius Bogaert (1682-1728), moved to the area of Readington, New Jersey in the early 1700s with his wife and stepsister, Cornelia Delamater (daughter of his father’s second wife), and their two young children. Cornelius Bogaert, my 7th great grandfather, is included in a list of early church elders and deacons of the Reformed Church of Readington in the years 1719, 1721, 1724, and 1727. He died in 1728 after fathering eleven children including my 6th great grandfather, Jacob Bogaert (1720-1777) who was born in 1720 in Readington, New Jersey. In the History of the Reformed Church at Readington, NJ 1719-1881 three generations of my Bogart ancestors are mentioned, Cornelius as mentioned above, his son Jacob who joined the church in 1774 and was an Elder in 1775, and John Bogart (1752-1836) and his wife Ann Schenck who joined the church in 1794. It would appear that some of the Bogart family trees both on the Web and on Ancestry.com that list both Jacob and John as living in Bucks County, Pennsylvania may be incorrect.

The vast majority of the church members listed in the History of the [Dutch] Reformed Church Readington would appear to be of Dutch heritage and it would not surprise me that the services at least in the early years of the church were in Dutch and most of the members of the church spoke Dutch as their primary language. In the 1930 book “Memories” written by my great grandfather about his ancestors and his own life, he describes his great grandmother as speaking English with an accent that he believed was a German accent. He also thought that his great grandfather’s name was John. We know today that his great grandmother’s name was Sarah and Sarah was the daughter of Ann Schenck and John M. Bogart. My great grandfather, Asbury H. Baker, was probably correct that his great grandmother Sarah Bogart spoke English with an accent although the accent was Dutch and not German. Where Asbury was incorrect was that his great grandfather’s name was Francis and not John although in his defense he may very well have been recalling the name of John because John Bogart was his great, great grandfather.

It was not unheard of or forbidden, but in 1812 it was probably not that common for a Presbyterian man of English descent to marry a Dutch girl whose family were members of a Dutch Reformed Church. That fact that the Bogart and Schenck families had been in America for at least five generations but still spoke Dutch as their primary language strongly suggests that the Dutch in America during this period in American history had not lost their Dutch identity in American. It is unlikely that Francis Baker and Sarah Bogart were introduced to one another by their parents nor did they meet in church. I believe that Francis’ education which consisted mostly of his vocational training in shoemaking as well as their age difference of six years makes it doubtful that they attended school together as youngsters. When and how they met and fell in love is unknown. What we do know is that they were married in late 1811 or early 1812 in Readington Township, New Jersey and they gave birth to their first child, my 3rd great grandfather, Elijah Baker in December of 1812.

Their departure from Readington to their new home in Lodi in Seneca County probably began in the spring or early summer of 1813. They were most likely accompanied by a group of other settlers including Francis Baker’s brother Matthes and his family and Sarah Bogart Baker’s parents, John and Ann Schenck Bogart as well as a guide and other settlers from the Readington area and maybe other towns in New Jersey. The exact path of their travel to upstate New York is subject to speculation but it is very possible that they traveled the same route that General John Sullivan and his army took during the Revolutionary War when he was sent to the area of the Finger Lakes by General Washington to destroy the Indians and their villages centered around Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. These Indians supported by Loyalist troops had been terrorizing the American settlers in north central Pennsylvania and southeastern New York State. Basically the trip was about 300 miles long and followed old Indian trails that began on the Delaware River at Easton, Pennsylvania and traveled westerly to the Wyoming Valley near the present day city of Wilkes-Barre on the Susquehanna River. Their caravan of wagons then followed the Susquehanna River north to its intersection with the Chemung River where they continued west along the Chemung until they arrived at the present day city of Elmira. From Elmira they followed the same trail travelled by General Sullivan and his troops northward along the Catherine Creek until they reached Seneca Lake and their new home on its eastern shore.

What we know about Francis and Sarah Bogart Baker from this point forward is based on a few recorded dates and a lot of conjecture. We know that Francis Baker obtained a mortgage on 11 February 1814 and paid the mortgage off on 4 October 1821. We also know that on 2 April 1820 Francis and Sarah sold a portion of their land that they had purchased in 1814. Presumably they constructed a home on their land, probably a log home, and they were living there when the US Census was taken on 7 August 1820. The census shows that by 1820 they had three young sons under the age of ten. One of these sons was Elijah Baker who we know was born in 1812. Another son we believe was Timothy Baker who was born in 1816 and later moved to Michigan. The only other son who we have identified and who may have been included in the 1820 census is a Schenck Baker. Unfortunately we have no information about Schenck other than his name was mentioned in my great grandfather’s book “Memories” along with a statement in the book that implied that Schenck later moved to Michigan. My great grandfather also wrote that his great grandparents had seven sons but under the circumstances that I will describe below only three of his sons have been identified and really only Elijah Baker is a for-certain child of Francis and Sarah other than a daughter Henrietta who died in infancy and is buried next to her parents. One other possible son has been identified by the name of Claudius Coan Baker who was born in 1822 in Seneca County and was named after a local doctor, Claudius Coan who lived near both Francis Baker and his brother Matthes. It is not clear, but some circumstantial evidence suggests that Claudius Coan Baker may have actually been a son of Matthes and his wife and therefore Francis’ nephew.

Unfortunately Sarah Bogart Baker died on 28 June 1827. She was only 33 years old when she unexpectedly passed away and the cause of her death is unknown. Her oldest child at the time of her death was only 15 years old and if she had seven children, which cannot be confirmed, Francis was left with a household of small children. Obviously he could not manage this situation by himself and still maintain his career as a “travelling shoemaker”. Typically we find under these circumstances that the surviving spouse soon remarries after the death, however despite his relatively young age of 40, there is no evidence that Francis ever remarried. Considering the relatively large size of families in the early 1800s and the fact that Francis was no doubt an established person after13 years in the community, it is surprising that he never remarried. If he were not my ancestor I might want to jump to the conclusion that he had a character flaw, perhaps an alcohol problem, a personality problem, or an appearance problem that might have made him a poor candidate as a husband for a young or recently widowed women. There is however no evidence whatsoever to support this type of conclusion. What we do know or believe is that Francis “farmed out” his children to other families in the community and as a result the names of his children other than Elijah and possibly Timothy have been lost in history. Were it not for the fact that both my grandfather and my 2nd great grandfather were both named Charles Schenck Baker which clearly identified my relationship to Francis’ mother-in-law, Ann Schenck Bogart, plus a recent DNA test that tied me to the Baker line back to Edward Baker, I might not have been able to confirm that Elijah Baker’s parents were Francis and Sarah Bogart Baker.

Hopefully, Francis Baker stayed in touch with his children at least while they continued to live in or near Seneca County. However strange, it appears that he never in his later life moved into the home of one of his children. In the 1850 and the 1860 US Census we find Francis Baker living with the Nevius family in Lodi Township in Seneca County. In the 1840 Census where only the name of the head of the household was identified in the census, we find a man living with the Nevius family who was of Francis’ age and older than both John and Rachael Nevius. This unidentified man was probably my 4th great grandfather, Francis Baker. There appears to be no close family relationship between the Nevius family and Francis Baker although John Nevius and his wife grew up in Readingtown Township in New Jersey and John Nevius who was only a few years younger than Francis may have known Francis or more likely Sarah Bogart when they were both younger. It still seems strange that Francis’ son Elijah Baker, who by 1850 was running a successful mercantile business in the nearby village of Burdett, did not provide a home for his retired father. Again in the 1860 census Francis remained with the Nevius family despite the fact that John Nevius had died and only Rachael was left to take care of the then 73 year old Francis. Honestly, based on the few facts that we have at hand, I must draw the conclusion that there may have been a strained relationship between Elijah and his father. Francis may have never shown much interest in his family after his wife died and most of his sons in their earlier years moved away from Seneca County to find new lives in the “West”. It is interesting however, that despite the possible “strained” relationship between Elijah and his father, Elijah named two of his children after his parents, one Francis and one Sarah.

Francis Baker died on 9 June 1876 and he is buried in the MacNeal Cemetery in Lodi Township alongside his wife Sarah and his in-laws John and Ann Schenck Bogart.

If you are interested in reading more about my Baker ancestors following Francis and Sarah Baker, I invite you to read Chapter 9 of this Baker Family History Blog.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chapter 27 - My Baker Ancestors Part II

My 7th great grandfather Timothy Baker was born in December of 1675 in Northampton, Massachusetts and according to Baker family historian, Nelson M. Baker, who published in 1867 “A Genealogy of the Descendants of Edward Baker,” Timothy Baker, the son of Timothy and Grace Marsh Baker, “died in infancy.” Fortunately for the thousands of living descendants of Timothy Baker including yours truly, Nelson M. Baker was wrong about the early demise of young Timothy. In Nelson Baker’s defense however, we admit that the absence of historical records mentioning our Timothy Baker in Northampton, Massachusetts might very well have led to the conclusion that he must have died at a young age. Since we know virtually nothing about Timothy from the time of his birth until he appears in historical records in New Jersey in 1707, what I am about to relate about his early life is based on pure speculation. It is not fantasy however, as historical facts and logic plus the few facts that we know about his family during this period of his life makes the following account of his early life a realistic possibility.

Timothy Baker was born during a turbulent period in American history. Only a few months before his birth, the Native Americans in New England staged a major rebellion against the white colonists. The Indians of this area had been remarkably peaceful considering that since the landing of the Pilgrims in Plymouth some 55 years earlier the white English settlers had been gradually absorbing their land and the traditional source of their food supplies. This changed however by late 1675, when the Indian tribes under an Indian leader that the settlers were calling King Philips, led a series of surprise attacks against the villages in the Connecticut River valley. Timothy’s father, Ensign Timothy Baker, played a major role during the war, later called by historians the King Philip’s War, not only by his helping to organize the defense of their community of Northampton but also through his leadership role in the militia counterattacks against the Indians villages. Unfortunately, for the first six months of Timothy’s life, his father was rarely home. Equally unfortunate, Timothy’s mother, Grace Marsh Baker died in Timothy’s first year of life. Were it not for Timothy’s grandparents, Joan and Edward Baker, who stepped in as surrogate parents to raise him in the early years of life, Timothy would likely have been “farmed” out to live with another family.

Joan Baker was around 58 years old when her grandson was born. She had seen her own share of hardships as a young woman growing up in New England in the early 1600s. She knew the difficulties of raising children under these hard conditions having raising nine children of her own. For the first three years of Timothy’s life his grandmother’s face was the first one that he saw when he verbally expressed his hunger or other discomforts. Timothy also recognized his grandfather who frequently rocked him to sleep in his grandfather’s favorite chair. Even his grandfather Marsh, his mother’s father, was not too old then in his mid-60s, to occasionally visit his young grandson from his nearby home in Hadley.

All of this changed to some extent when his father remarried in early 1678. Timothy’s new stepmother at first was very attentive towards her new stepson although he remained somewhat unsure at least initially as to her role in the family. Unfortunately for Timothy and for his gradually improving relationship with his new stepmother, when Timothy was four years old, his stepmother gave birth on 3 February 1680 to her first son, John Baker, and out of necessity almost her full attention was redirected to the care of her newborn. Timothy was forced once again to retreat to his grandmother for his daily needs and love and affection. Over the next nine years, Sarah Hollister Baker and Timothy’s father, Timothy Senior, were to have four additional children. Timothy was no doubt well cared for by his father and stepmother during these years but he was older than his stepbrothers and stepsisters which meant that he did not develop a strong bond with any of his siblings. He was four years old when John was born and fourteen years old by the time that his youngest stepsister was born. We have no way of knowing just how close a relationship Timothy maintained with his family, however the fact that Timothy left his home in Northampton and migrated to New Jersey by the time he was thirty, added to the fact that he apparently did not stay in contact with his family and is not mentioned in his father’s will, suggests that the relationship was not strong. Furthermore, none of his stepbrothers and sisters followed Timothy either to the New York or to the New Jersey area. The fact that Timothy appears to have so strongly divorced himself from his family in Northampton when he moved to New Jersey has for many years led family genealogists to conclude that the Timothy Baker who was well established in New Jersey in the early 1700s was not related to the Timothy Baker born in Northampton in 1675. Were it not for the close matching of DNA between descendants of one of the sons of Timothy and Sarah Hollister Baker and some of the descendants of Timothy Baker of New Jersey that showed both were likely descendants of Edward Baker, we would be unable to conclude, as we now have, that the Timothy Baker from Northampton and the Timothy Baker of New Jersey were one and the same individual.

Two special events occurred during Timothy’s early life that may have profoundly influenced his later action of moving away from Northampton. His grandfather, John Marsh, who lived in Hadley, Massachusetts close to Timothy’s home in Northampton, moved to Hartford, Connecticut when Timothy was around twelve. John Marsh who had lost his wife many years earlier and was living alone, at the urging of his daughter, Hannah Marsh Loomis, moved to Hartford to live with his daughter and her family. Timothy was surely saddened when he learned of his grandfather’s death at the end of 1688 and he probably did not understand until later the significance of what his grandfather wrote in his will: “I give to my grandson Baker of Northampton, five pounds, when he shall attayne to the age of one and twenty years.”

An even greater impact on Timothy’s life occurred a few years earlier, when his grandparents Edward and Joan Baker moved away from Timothy’s home in Northampton and returned to their former home in Lynn, Massachusetts. His devotion to his grandparents and in particular his grandmother, must have been enormous and when they left Timothy who was probably no older than ten, he must have been devastated. It was even harder when he learned of his grandfather’s death in 1687. There is no record of his grandfather bequeathing Timothy anything when he died and Timothy is not mentioned in his grandfather’s will. Furthermore when his grandmother died a few years later in Lynn in 1693, there is no record of her leaving Timothy anything in her will. It is my belief however, that before Timothy’s grandparents left Northampton to return to Lynn they left something of value to their grandson Timothy that he would receive at the time he came of age. While neither grandparent Marsh or Baker would have left Timothy a large sum of money, I believe that what he did receive when he reached the age of twenty-one allowed him to leave his home in Northampton and travel south down the Connecticut River towards Long Island and ultimately overland to New Jersey.

It is impossible to know whether religion played any role in Timothy’s decision to move away from Northampton. Timothy’s father became a “freeman” in 1676 at the age of 29 and therefore was recognized as a member in good standing of the local Congregational church. Timothy was no doubt raised as a Puritan and he would have attended church services in the Congregational Church from the time he was an infant in his grandmother’s arms. There are no historical records suggesting that Timothy was a strong proponent of change within his faith that might have compelled him to seek another area more conducive to a freedom to choose how he might worship. It is well known however, that Timothy Baker when he was settled in New Jersey was a member of the Presbyterian Church. How and why he changed churches is a matter of some speculation although I do not think that such a change was “unlikely” as suggested by Richard Herbert Tivey, Governor General of The Society of the Descendants of the Founding Fathers of New England, when he was asked whether or not he believed that the Timothy Baker of Northampton and the Timothy Baker of New Jersey were one and the same person. He concluded that because the two Timothy Bakers were of different faiths it would be dangerous to conclude that they were the same person. Since we now know that they were the same person, it appears that somewhere between Northampton and New Jersey, my 7th great grandfather, Timothy Baker, changed from being a Congregationalist to a Presbyterian.

I cannot purport to be an expert on comparative religions and I acknowledge that when I state that the basic tenets of both the Congregational Church and the Presbyterian Church in the 1600s in America were very similar, I may very well be oversimplifying the facts. Both faiths believed that the word of God was expressed in the bible and that unlike the Church of England and the Catholic Church it was not necessary to have priests, bishops, or popes interpreting the word of God and the manner in which one was to worship. A major difference however, between the Congregational Church and the Presbyterian Church was that the Congregational Church believed in local control and that each church hired its own leaders and determined how it was to manage its own affairs, its forms of worship, and so forth. The Presbyterian Church on the other hand, believed in a more centralized control for the church where church policies were determined by a group of leaders from various Presbyterian churches where a consensus of opinions determined church policy. One of the unfortunate disadvantages of the Congregational Church in early New England particularly in the greater Boston area was that the congregation was often subject to the power of a single theocratic leader whose style of leadership might border on tyranny. One man often under the guise of the word of God and the power he was granted could determine who could join the church and how everyone in the community ran their personal as well as their public lives. The founding of Windsor and Harford in Connecticut, as well as other communities in Rhode Island and on Long Island were all the result at least in part, of groups of Puritans trying to escape instances of the out of control tyranny of theocratic Congregationalism. Other than the area controlled by the Dutch around present day New York City, much of Long Island was settled by Puritans turned Presbyterian beginning as early as 1640 with the founding of Southampton at the east end of the island. Jamaica closer to New York at the west end of the island was founded by Connecticut settlers in 1657. In a history of Long Island it is noted that “Almost all these English settlements were made by Presbyterians and from Jamaica east this was the prevailing denomination.” These early settlers from southern New England who migrated into Long Island were primarily Congregationalists who evolved into Presbyterians. It was not a massive conversion to another faith. It was more of a transformation as to how they wanted to change and manage their faith from an unchecked liberalism to a less radical conservatism. When Richard Herbert Tivey stated that it was unlikely that a Timothy Baker would convert from Congregationalism to Presbyterianism as he moved from Massachusetts to New Jersey, he must have missed the rise of Presbyterianism and the decline of Congregationalism in America beginning in the late 1600s. Whether or not Timothy Baker consciously left the Congregational Church in New Northampton to find a more acceptable church in Long Island or New Jersey we will never know. What we do know is that the transformation appears to have been made without any apparent conflict in his life.

Timothy Baker probably migrated south down the Connecticut River sometime after his twenty-first birthday and after he collected whatever money he inherited from his grandparents or was granted to him by his father when he came of age. His departure if this assumption is correct would have taken place around 1697. Unfortunately, nothing is known about Timothy Baker between the time that he left Northampton until he met and married his wife, Susannah Mathews, in Maidenhead (now Lawrenceville), New Jersey in 1703. We can speculate that his original intentions were to settle on Long Island, possibly in the Jamaica area, where he would have known that many other families from Northampton and from other Connecticut communities had settled beginning in 1657. He may also during this period have spent some time at the home of his Aunt Hannah Marsh Loomis (his mother’s sister) and his Uncle Joseph Loomis in Windsor, Connecticut. His uncle Joseph Loomis was a deacon in the First Church in Windsor, a church that under the guidance of the Rev. Samuel Mather began in the mid-1680s a merger of his Congregational church with another congregation of Presbyterians. The end results of the merger for the combined church meant an increased number of parishioners and more importantly, a more liberal policy going forward for church membership. One of the criticisms of the early Congregation church in New England was that its strict requirements for become a “freeman” that signified membership in the church, also severely limited membership in the church and without a church membership families were unable to have their children baptized. Timothy Baker’s exposure to the First Church in Windsor may very well have encouraged his acceptance of the Presbyterian form of worship at his new home in New Jersey. Another important factor in Timothy’s decision to accept the Presbyterian faith was probably the fact that his future wife and her family were Presbyterians.

Timothy Baker’s future wife and my 7th great grandmother Susannah Mathews was born in Jamaica, New York on Long Island in the year 1679. We know very little about the origins of Susannah’s father, Samuel Mathews, other than he was probably born in England and he was an early immigrant in the Long Island area. His name first appears in historical records in 1655 where he is mentioned in Court Minutes of New Amsterdam. Shortly thereafter in March of 1656, he appears on a list of residents living in Hempstead, Long Island and again in 1656 when his name appears with thirteen other petitioners requesting permission from Governor Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam to settle on land that the petitioners had purchased from the local Indians. Permission was granted and Samuel Mathews with other settlers most of whom had emigrated from Connecticut, settled in what eventually became the town of Jamaica located about 10 miles west of Hempstead. Around 1660, Samuel Mathews married Susannah Strickland, the daughter of John Strickland also living in Hempstead. John Strickland, my 9th great grandfather, was one of the original founders of Hempstead in 1644. Historical records show that he first arrived in America in Salem, Massachusetts from England in 1629 and by 1630 he was one of the earliest settlers in Charlestown where he became a freeman by 1631. The historical records are unclear as to his movements before his arrival in Hempstead in 1644 but what is known is that he brought with him his entire family consisting of one son and seven daughters one of whom was Susannah Strickland who was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts around 1630. Prior to marrying Samuel Mathews, Susannah Strickland was married to Timothy Wood of Hempstead. She married Timothy Wood in 1651 and bore two children with him before he died in 1659. What is interesting here is that Susannah Strickland’s grandson, Matthes Baker (son of Timothy Baker and Susannah Matthews), married a Judith Wood of Jamaica, Long Island and while it seems likely that Timothy Wood and Judith Wood would somehow be related as yet no genealogists including myself have determined their relationship.

Susannah Mathews’ father Samuel Mathews died in early 1695 when Susannah was around 14 years old. Her mother shortly after a brief mourning period for her late husband, married for a third time, a man named Ralph Hunt from nearby Newtown, Long Island. Young Susannah Mathews then accompanied her mother, her new step-father, Ralph Hunt, and possibly her older brother Samuel Mathews Jr. , her sister Mary Mathews as well as some of Ralph Hunt’s brothers and a brother-in-law to a new home in Maidenhead, New Jersey. Ralph Hunt may have planned the move to Maidenhead even before he married Susannah Strickland Wood Mathews as his name appears in public records for land purchases with his brother-in-law, Theophilus Philips, in Maidenhead beginning as early as June of 1694 as well as on numerous other occasions over the course of the next decade. According to the historical narrative “Genealogical and Personal Memorial of Mercer County, NJ” edited by Francis Bazley Lee in 1907, Ralph Hunt was a “Pioneer of Maidenhead”, and a “Prominent man in the community and well known as Captain.” The narrative also portrays that Maidenhead “contained best agricultural land in the state” which if true certainly explains why so many settlers from Long Island as well as Connecticut flocked to the area to buy land from the Quakers who had originally purchased the land in the 1670s. The name “Maidenhead” was given to the area by Quakers but the village that bore the name was later changed to Lawrenceville by the New Jersey legislature in 1816 as apparently they were embarrassed by the suggestive nature of the old English name. I must admit that I spent an inordinate amount of time researching Ralph Hunt primarily because I found it difficult to believe that Ralph Hunt was over twenty years younger than 63 year old Susannah Strickland Mathews when they married. Furthermore there are no records to indicate that he was married prior to marrying Susannah. There seems to be ample evidence that they married despite their age difference. When the husband of Susannah’s daughter, Thomas Smith, died in 1702 he appointed Ralph Hunt, “my father-in-law”, as executor of his estate. Furthermore in a land sale recorded in Maidenhead dated October 16, 1700 there is a notation with respect to the sale: “Ralph Hunt with wife Susanna.” On the other hand, when Ralph Hunt died in 1733 his will referred to his wife Elizabeth and their children. In another record I noted that Ralph Hunt and Elizabeth were married in 1712. In 1712, Susannah would have been around 80 if she were alive which obviously she was not, and Ralph would have been in his late-50s. Ralph apparently had enough spunk left in him to marry a much younger woman after Susannah’s death and father children most of whom were still minors when he died.

We also find in the early land records of Mercer County the names of Joseph and Thomas Smith. While the two Smiths were probably not related, as it is believed that Thomas was born in Bedford Village in the Town of Brooklyn and Joseph in Jamaica, Long Island, they were later to become brother-in-laws. Joseph Smith married Mary Mathews possibly in Jamaica before they moved to Maidenhead. Thomas Smith moved to Maidenhead around 1696 and later married my great grandmother, Susannah Mathews, Mary’s sister, around 1697. They had two children together and she was apparently pregnant with a third when her husband Thomas Smith, “weke of body,” died in November of 1702. Susannah was in her early twenties when she lost her husband. She was not however, left destitute as her young husband had already acquired land and other “Goods and Chattels” in Maidenhead before his death and her older brother Samuel Matthews when he died young in 1700 left his entire estate to his sisters Susannah and Mary. His estate consisted of “three valuable deeds”, 400 acres in Hunterdon County (later Mercer), New Jersey and two parcels totaling 275 acres in Kent County, Delaware. Fortunately for Susannah Mathews Smith, now a widow with infants, along came a nice man from Northampton, Massachusetts named Timothy Baker and they married probably sometime in mid to late 1703.

New Jersey is somewhat unique when compared to the other early American colonies in that the largest portion of its earliest settlers were immigrants from other established colonies instead of newly arrived immigrants from England and Europe. In 1680 the total population of New Jersey is estimated to have been only 3,400 with most of the communities located in New Jersey’s northeast near New York City and Long Island. In the next 20 years New Jersey’s population soared to 14,000 largely made up of Quaker settlers from the Philadelphia area and New England settlers migrating from Connecticut and Long Island. Prior to 1664, New Jersey was claimed by the Dutch although for the most part the land was occupied by Indians. When the English took control of New Amsterdam from the Dutch in 1664, the King of England granted the lands between New England and Maryland which included the future states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, to his brother, the Duke of York who was later to become King James II. The Duke then granted New Jersey to two of his loyal friends and later Pennsylvania to William Penn. New Jersey was then divided into East and West Jersey as shown on the above map. Lord Berkeley who was granted West Jersey, sold almost immediately his western portion of New Jersey to a group of wealthy Quakers in England, one of who happened to be William Penn. These Quakers subdivided and resold the land in large acreages mostly to newly arriving Quakers settlers. The first settlers in the Maidenhead area were Quakers from Buck County, Pennsylvania located just across the Delaware River from West Jersey. They purchased the land in the year 1690.

The economy of the American colonies during this period of our country’s history was based predominately on agricultural. Since family farms in the 17th and 18th centuries required large sections of land and since the population was growing rapidly more as a result of internal growth than immigration, it is not surprising that more and more young families were moving inland in search of available and affordable land. Between 1680 and 1720 the population of the American colonies grew from 151,500 to 466,200. New Jersey during this same period had a population growth from 3,400 to 29,800. It is not surprising that many settlers chose to relocate to, in the words of William Penn, the “good and fruitful land” of the Delaware River Valley. Thanks to the generally peaceful nature of the Native Americans in the region in large part due to William Penn’s magnanimous attitude towards the Indians, the threat of Indian attacks was virtually nonexistent. The climate in New Jersey was more temperate than in New England and less hot and humid in the summers than in the Virginia colony to the south. It matched closely what many of the new settlers remembered of the climate in their English homeland. The Delaware River was wide and deep enough that it allowed large ships to travel upriver from the Atlantic Ocean northward a distance of 200 miles until the river reached an area that they named “The Falls” where further river passage was impossible. The area that they called The Falls soon became a population and commerce center. The name of this early settlement was later changed from The Falls to Trenton. Another attribute of this Delaware River Valley was the large numbers of small river and creek tributaries that laced the land on both sides of the Delaware. These rivers and creeks not only supplied water to the farmers but they were a source of food and transportation. One of these small creeks that meandered northward from the area of “The Falls” (Trenton) was named Shabakunk Creek. It was along a small brook tributary called Little or Lesser Shabakunk Creek near the new community of Maidenhead that Timothy Baker and his new wife Susannah Mathews and her small children eventually settled. Timothy’s first land purchase in 1707 was described as “Lyeing & being between y’ Greater Shabbetunk & y’ Lesser Shabbetunk.” The general location of his land holdings is shown on the map above somewhere in the area between the two Shabakunk creek tributaries in the present day Township of Maidenhead.

While the first land purchases in Maidenhead were made by Quakers from Bucks County in the year 1690, by 1694 large land sales were well underway mostly to new settlers who had followed the old Indians trails from Long Island communities such as Newtown, Jamaica, and Hempstead to this new developing land in West Jersey in the Delaware River Valley. Almost all of these new settlers in Maidenhead were Presbyterians whose parents had originally relocated from New England to Long Island and New York in the mid-1600s. By 1697, Maidenhead with its growing population was officially established and by 1698 there were enough Presbyterian settlers to warrant religious worship and The Presbyterian Church of Maidenhead was organized. It was originally referred to as “The Maidenhead Meetinghouse” as the first structure constructed served both as the church as well as a public meeting place in the same manner that the early Congregational churches in New England served this same dual purpose. The locations of the first two Presbyterian Churches in the area, one in Maidenhead and one in Hopewell are shown on the above map. Timothy Baker and his wife are known to have attended both of these churches.

The fact that Timothy Baker ended up settling in Maidenhead, New Jersey around 1700 or 1701 suggests that he may have lived for a period after he left Northampton, Massachusetts in one of the western Long Island communities, possibly Jamaica. Unfortunately no colonial records have been found that mention Timothy’s name between the year he is mentioned in his grandfather’s will in 1687 and his first land purchase in Maidenhead in 1707. We can only surmise that he left Northampton after his 21st birthday around 1697, spent several years at least in one of the Long Island communities possible living with a family and working as a farm hand, and then around 1700 he relocated to Maidenhead probably following other settlers from Long Island who had chosen to make the journal to this new settlement. There is no evidence that Timothy had the benefit of wealth through inheritance or otherwise which might explain why he was “lost” during this period of history. There is no surviving evidence that he purchased land in either Connecticut or Long Island nor are there any surviving church records that mention a Timothy Baker during this “lost” period of his life. It was not until after he married and thus obtained a certain amount of wealth via his wife’s inheritances from her brother and her late husband that Timothy’s historical presence reemerges in the public records. I suppose we must give credit Timothy for his good marriage.

Beginning with the recording of Timothy Baker’s land purchase in Maidenhead in November of 1707, his name appears in the public or church records almost every year from 1707 until his death at the age of 71 in 1747. We learn primary from his Last Will and Testament that Timothy and Susannah had seven children, four boys and three girls. True to the customs of the day and to the joy of later family genealogists, the couple named their children after their relatives that typically began by naming their first born son and daughter after one of the child’s grandparents. In this case, their first son born in 1704 they named Samuel after Susannah’s father, Samuel Matthews. Their first born daughter born around 1707 they named Grace after Timothy’s mother, Grace Marsh Baker. Baker family historians for many years until DNA testing provided the conclusive answer, had trouble identifying the family origins of Timothy Baker of Maidenhead and his wife Susannah Baker. The clue to their origins as we now know was right in front of them by simply looking at the names of their children. Timothy and Susannah chose for the name of their second son a rather unusual name. They called him Matthes which obviously was a variation or possibly even a mis-spelling of Susannah’s maiden name Matthews. Matthes was born in 1710 and as you will learn in the next chapter, he was my 6th great grandfather. It is interesting to learn that they chose for the name of their third son, the name Thomas in honor of Susannah’s first and late husband, Thomas Smith.

Timothy Baker’s prominence in the Maidenhead community is well reflected in both the public and church records. He is listed over the years in a number of positions including that of Constable, Surveyor of the Highways, Overseer of the Poor, Overseer of the Roads, and Justice of the Peace. He also served in 1719 on the first grand jury held in Maidenhead. He was also a prominent member of the Presbyterian Church in Maidenhead. On several occasions his name is included in a list of church members who helped acquire land for the church and in 1733 he is listed as a church Elder.

The probate date of Timothy Baker’s will was 9 June 1747 which indicated that he died a short time earlier. We know that Susannah survived the death of her husband of 44 years although the year of her death is unknown. Presumably they are buried together but the location of their graves is unknown. It is likely however, that they lie together somewhere in the graveyard of Maidenhead’s Presbyterian Church beneath long lost stones that had marked their graves.

In the next chapter of this blog on our family’s history I will continue with the story of my great grandfather, Matthes Baker.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Chapter 26 - My Baker Ancestors Part 1

My great grandfather, Asbury Harpending Baker, began his book “Memories” which he published in 1930 with a description of what he knew about his great grandfather. He writes:

“My great Grandfather on my father’s side was John Baker whose birthplace or residence I do not know. His occupation was that of traveling shoemaker, which took him from house to house where he would remain as boarder and lodger until the whole family, old and young, were supplied with foot wear for the year. I do not know at what age he died nor where he is buried. He had seven sons of whom I know nothing with the exception of my grandfather whose name was Elijah, and who died at the age of sixty-five, in Seneca County.”

My great grandfather further writes about his ancestors on his father’s side in subsequent paragraphs: “One brother of my grandfather [Elijah Baker], named Schenck, was a powerful man and a noted wrestler”. About his great grandmother he offers us the following: “My great grandmother on my father’s side was of German parentage and spoke English imperfectly.” Obviously Asbury Baker did not know much about his great grandparents other than his great grandfather was named John Baker who worked as a traveling shoemaker and his great grandmother was German, possibly a recent immigrant, and because they named one of their sons Schenck, her maiden name may have been Schenck. All in all, that was not much to go on. One initial thought that I had was that perhaps my Baker ancestry was not English as I had always presumed, but was actually German or even Dutch and the name Baker was an anglicized version of the German Becker or the Dutch Bakker.

The first break that I had in the search to learn more about my Baker ancestry came when I discovered in an 1850 US Census record in Seneca County, New York a man with the name of Francis Baker who listed himself as age 63, born in New Jersey, and working as a “Shoemaker.” While this man was not named John Baker, the shoemaker occupation matched and from other census records I learned that Elijah was born in New Jersey in 1812 which would have made Francis Baker 25 years old when Elijah was born. While these facts were not much to go on to confirm that Francis was the actual father of Elijah, the data suggested that Asbury may have been wrong when he wrote that his great grandfather’s name was a John Baker. During another search of existing family trees on Ancestry.com I found a tree listing a Francis Baker married to a Sarah Bogaert but with no details such as dates and places, however and because of Sarah Bogaert’s Dutch name I preceded very optimistically to list on my family tree that the parents of my 3rd great grandfather Elijah Baker were Francis Baker and Sarah Bogaert. This was in 2007.
My real break came in June 2010 when I received an e-mail from Fred Baker who had seen my family tree on Ancestry.com. Fred had been searching for over a decade for the parents of his Baker ancestor, his 3rd great grandfather Claudius Coan Baker, who he knew had been born in Seneca County in 1822. Fred had reason to believe that the parents of Claudius Coan Baker might be Francis and Sarah (Bogaert) Baker. Whereas I had more or less guessed as to the identity of Elijah Baker’s parents based on very circumstantial evidence, Fred Baker had been researching for many years for his Baker ancestry and he had the benefit of research reports from professional genealogists, area historians, and shared information that he had received from other Baker family members. Furthermore, Fred had a DNA test which confirmed that he was a descendent of Bakers from New Jersey and Massachusetts. Fred sent me copies of the numerous reports that he had obtained over the years and using this information I was able to conclude with an almost certainty that Francis Baker and Sarah Baker were my 4th great grandparents.

The evidence falls in three categories: names, places and dates. In a partial listing of burials in the Mac Neal Dutch Reformed Cemetery in Seneca County (sent to me by Fred Baker) are the names of Sarah and Francis Baker including their birth and death dates. Also on the list and buried nearby the Bakers are the graves of John and Ann Bogart and their death dates and their ages at their death. If Sarah Baker’s maiden name was actually Sarah Bogart then I concluded that John and Ann Bogart might very well be Sarah’s parents. Continuing my research, I located a site on the Web that contained an extensive listing by David Kipp Conover (over 200,000 names) of the descendents of one Wolphert Gerretse Van Kouwenhoven. On the list I found that Ann SCHENCK was the 4th great granddaughter of Wolphert, the wife of John M. Bogart (Bogert), and the mother of five children including Sarah Bogart. The birth and death dates listed for Ann Schenck and her daughter Sarah Bogart matched the dates on their death records at the Mac Neal Dutch Reform Cemetery in Seneca County. As we learned from Asbury’s book “Memories,” his grandfather Elijah had a brother named SCHENCK and Elijah Baker named his first born son Charles SCHENCK Baker. The name Schenck is unusual enough especially to be combined with an English given and surname, as to suggest that it was a family name. In this case, my great, great grandfather Charles SCHENCK Baker was named for his great grandmother, Ann SCHENCK Bogart.

It probably was not a coincidence that Elijah Baker and his wife Susan Osborn Baker named two of their children Francis and Sarah after Elijah’s parents and named another child George after Sarah’s brother George. Furthermore, it is also probably not a coincidence that Elijah Baker was named for his uncle Elijah Baker, Francis Baker’s older brother. Francis Baker and his father-in-law John Bogart both appear in the 1820 US Census records for Seneca County, New York. In these same records, Francis Baker is listed with three young males in his household under the age of ten one of whom was probably Elijah Baker who in 1820 would have been eight years old. It is possible and even likely that Asbury Baker simply mixed up the name of his great grandfather when he referred to him in “Memories” as John Baker. His recollections of the name John may have come from his hearing the name of his great, great grandfather John Bogart. The fact that Francis Baker listed himself in the 1850 US Census as a shoemaker is more evidence to prove that Francis and Sarah Bogart Baker are the most likely parents of my 3rd great grandfather, Elijah Baker.

As I previously stated, in June of 2010 I was contracted by Fred Baker. Fred was hoping that I might have documentation to confirm that his ancestor Claudius Coan Baker was also a son of Francis and Sarah Baker. He went on to tell me that through DNA testing and correspondence with others with the surname Baker, that he has proven that he is a descendant of Bakers in both Colonial New Jersey and Massachusetts. Fred further sent me a report from a genealogist that had been hired to uncover early historical documents relating to three generations of Bakers in New Jersey including three of the sons of a Timothy Baker: John, Matthes, and FRANCIS BAKER, who were known to have lived in Seneca County in the early 1800s. Fred Baker convinced me that I also should take a DNA test. The results of my DNA test proved that I am genetically related to Fred and we share common Baker ancestors in both New Jersey and Massachusetts. What follows is my story of our Baker family that begins with Edward Baker in the early 1600s.

Edward Baker (c. 1610 – 1687)

My 9th great grandfather Edward Baker first appeared in historical records on March 14, 1638 when he was admitted as a “freeman” in Saugus, (later Lynn) Massachusetts. The year of his birth and the year of his arrival in America have never been determined although some family historians write that he arrived with other Puritans under the leadership of Governor John Winthrop who sailed into Massachusetts Bay with a fleet of ships in the spring and summer of 1630. More recently, genealogists have uncovered historical documents of an Edward Baker who was baptized on 2 February 1613 in Staffordshire, England who they believe was the same Edward Baker who immigrated to New England. In fact however, the location of Edward’s birth in England is widely disputed ranging from Staffordshire in central England, to Suffolk County in southeast England, to Devonshire County in southwest England. His estimated birth year is also in dispute. Truth is we have no concrete evidence as to when and where he was born or when he arrived in America. We can only speculate using common sense and logic.

Edward Baker was probably born to a middle class English couple who owned land in southeast England very possibly in Suffolk or Essex County. Many of the earliest Puritans who immigrated to New England in the 1630s were known to have come from Suffolk and Essex Counties including Governor John Winthrop who was born and raised in Essex. Edward’s parents were probably Puritans. Furthermore, Edward was most likely not their oldest son and he would have known that upon the death of his father he would not be inheriting the family land. Edward was undoubtedly a young unmarried man when he immigrated to America, probably in his early or mid-twenties, and as such he was easily incensed (a trait of youth) by the harsh treatment of Puritans in England that began in earnest when King Charles I gained the throne of England in 1625.

The Puritan movement in England actually began in the middle to late 1500s during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. At the time, the Church of England was the only authorized church in England and laws were passed to curtail the rise of other forms of Protestant ministries such as practiced by the Puritans. For example, laws were passed that required all English subjects to attend church on Sundays and the only authorized church they could attend was the Church of England. Fortunately for the Puritans the laws were loosely enforced and in fact during Elizabeth’s reign and later during the reign of her successor King James I, many of the prominent members of the British Parliament were Puritans. All of this dramatically changed when King Charles I ascended to the throne upon the death of James in 1625. While Charles’ efforts to curtail the growth of Puritanism in England was only a small part of his contentious history as King of England which ended abruptly with his execution in 1649 following seven years of civil war in England, it was enough for the future governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, to write “ . . . Evil times are coming when the Church must fly into the wilderness.” The evil times he was referring to was the harsh treatment of the Puritans and the wilderness that Winthrop chose to “fly into” lay on the Charles River and the future City of Boston. In the spring of 1630, Governor John Winthrop set out from England with a fleet of eleven ships and over 700 passengers bound for the New World. The majority of these passengers were Puritans.

Early Baker family historians have asserted that Edward Baker was a passenger on one of the ships traveling with the Winthrop fleet in 1630 although there is no evidence to support this assertion. While no original passenger lists exist from this time period, the more recent lists of likely passengers arriving in 1630 created by historians does not included the name of Edward Baker. Furthermore, no mention of Edward Baker appears in the early colonial records until he became a freeman in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1638. The principle requirement of becoming a freeman in the 1630s is that one had to become a member in good standing of a Congregational church. The vast majority of the earliest Puritan settlers arriving in New England in 1630 became freemen by 1631. The likelihood that Edward Baker arrived in the Boston area in 1630 and then stayed “under the radar” and avoided joining with his fellow Puritans the Congregational church until 1638, is extremely unlikely. More likely is that Edward Baker immigrated to the New World sometime between 1635 and 1637. While there is no way of knowing for certain, it is estimated that the population around Massachusetts Bay and the Charles River in the new towns of Boston, Charlestown Dorchester, Roxbury and Salem to the north was somewhere around 8 to 10,000 by the time that Edward Baker arrived in America. While the area where Edward Baker eventually settled near Saugus, Massachusetts was settled as early as 1629, it is probable that by 1638 when Edward was granted 40 acres of land near Saugus, this area was one of the closest areas to Boston where large plots of land were still available.

We have no way of knowing Edward Baker’s exact date of birth. What we do know is that he had to be at least 21 years old when he became a freeman in 1638. We also know that he is listed in a history of Lynn as one of its earliest settlers which might suggest that he may have settled in that area as early as 1635 and may have been older than 21 by 1638. If we arbitrarily give him an age of 28 in 1638, or born in the year 1610, then he would have been 47 years old when he moved to Northampton, Massachusetts in 1657 and 77 years old when he died in 1687. I believe that assuming that Edward Baker’s year of birth was around 1610 is a realistic assumption.

We know almost nothing about our 9th great grandmother, Edward’s wife, including her name. Early records are conflicting with respect to her name and she is listed in a few documents as either Joan or Jane. Her difference names may simply reflect the writer’s inability to spell the name Jane or Joan. Joan (we will call her Joan) was probably younger than Edward as 28 would have pretty late for her to marry and she was undoubtedly the daughter of a Puritan couple who had immigrated to America after 1630. They married in 1637 and together they had eight children born between the years 1638 and 1657. If Joan was 40 years old when her last child was born, her birth year would have been around 1617. If that is correct she would have been 20 years old when she married 28 year old Edward Baker.
The couple settled on a 40 acre parcel of land located about five miles south of the existing city of Saugus, Massachusetts now located in present day Essex County just north of the City of Boston. Edward’s land was largely on the south side of a hill that rose to an elevation of 180 feet above the nearby Saugus River and the Massachusetts Bay. Edward and Joan’s neighbors called the area of his farm, Baker’s Hill. Quite to my surprise, the name Baker Hill has survived for over 372 years and the site of the original Baker homestead which is still today a residential neighborhood, is identified on MapQuest as Baker Hill. [The photograph to the left was taken by Barbara Baker in the 1980s at the bottom of Baker Hill. Note the street sign identifying Baker Street.] In 1638, their land was probably covered with large pine trees and rock outcroppings. The soil since it was not along the coastline was probably largely clay embedded with numerous rocks and boulders. This was definitely not a land ideally suited for farming but they made it work and they raised their children most of whom survived to adulthood. The fact that Edward was granted only 40 acres of land which is somewhat smaller than the typical grant to an English “gentleman,” was probably a reflection of his stature or lack of stature in the community. While he was undoubtedly a man of some means since there is no record or suggestion that he immigrated to America as a servant and he no doubt paid for his own passage on the ship to America, his young age and his background probably did not make him in any way exceptional. Despite the term “Freeman,” the early Puritans in America did not treat all of their members equally. Grants of land with respect to size and location were determined by ones wealth and status in the community and as the historical records reflect, there was not always agreement among the Puritan settlers with respect to the land distribution. In any case, Edward Baker must have really struggled to make the land work. Nelson M Baker writes in his “Genealogy of the Descendants of Edward Baker” published in 1867 an eloquent description of Edward’s land and his efforts: “The hill to which his name was first given, has known no other, and yet stands, “rock-ribbed and ancient,” an enduring monument to the God-fearing, liberty loving and hard-working pioneer who gave us this godly heritage.”
As it was not uncommon at the time, it should not come as a major surprise to discover that Edward Baker in 1657, then in his late 40s, sold his property on Baker’s Hill and moved with most of his family to Northampton, Massachusetts. While Northampton had been settled only a few years earlier in 1654, the many other settlements located in the beautiful and fertile Connecticut River Valley had long been home to Puritans many of whom had moved from the Boston area as early as 1635. Hartford and Windsor located about 40 and 48 miles to the south of Northampton respectively were both founded in 1635 and Springfield, where the founders of Northampton first called home was first settled in 1636 and was located 20 miles south of the new village of Northampton. Even in the mid-1600s, the Connecticut River made travel between these four cities relatively easy. While Edward’s reasons for leaving his home in Lynn (formerly Saugus) may have been motivated by religious differences with the Puritan leadership in Lynn, as this was one of the major reasons for the founding of both Hartford and Windsor by earlier Puritans, another and maybe more compelling motive for his move may have been to take advantage of the opportunity both for himself and his sons to purchase excellent land in a new growing community for a fraction of the cost that he received when he sold his land in Lynn. In the above map of 1639 settlements in New England, Northampton was located just north of Springfield and just across the Connecticut River from Hadley. Lynn, Massachusetts was located between Boston and Salem on the east coast of Massachusetts.

In Nelson M. Baker’s history of Edward Baker and his descendants and in a history narrative of Northampton written by James Russell Trumbull in 1898 we learn that Timothy Baker was a large landowner in Northampton. By the early 1660s he owned several grants of land that he had received from the town plus several additional lots that he purchased. His estate is identified as being on the south side of Elm Street running westward from the intersection of Elm and Prospects Streets. We also learn that his son, Joseph, owned land that he obtained from his father on both sides of Henshaw Avenue where it too intersects with Elm Street. [The Loomis homestead in the above picture was built around the same period that Edward Baker built his home in Northampton and it probably closely reflects the appearance of the Baker home. Joseph Loomis who owned this home in Hartford, Connecticut was the brother-in-law of Edward’s son Timothy.] Unless one is familiar with Northampton, the location of Edward’s property does not mean much until we realize that today his property forms a large portion of Smith College. Smith College in Northampton is a premier liberal arts college for women where many famous American women including Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan, Julia Child, and Gloria Steinem are listed as alumni. Another bit of interesting history about the early Baker family in Northampton is that they planted a lot of American Elms on their property. One very large elm planted at the intersection of Prospect and Elm Street was for many years referred to as “Baker’s Elm.” There is no doubt that all of the elm trees along the old roadway bordering the Baker land accounted for the street’s name, Elm Street.
Edward Baker is credited with being one of the earliest settlers in Northampton. During the many years that he lived in the village he held numerous important town offices and remained for years a “respected and influential” citizen of the community. Virtually all historians and family genealogists write that sometime before his and his wife’s death, Joan and Edward Baker returned to Lynn, Massachusetts. While this makes absolutely no sense from what we know about the exceptional life that Edward and Joan had made for themselves in Northampton, the fact that his Will was recorded in Lynn on 16 October 1685 and his burial on 17 March 1687, it is pretty hard to refute the fact that they had returned to Lynn. Perhaps his actions before his death will help us to understand why he and Joan returned to Lynn. First, before they left Northampton they made certain that both of their sons, Timothy and Joseph, were well situated and owned their plots of land in Northampton. While there is no record of what Edward provided to his other children still living in Northampton before they departed for Lynn, it is likely that he had transferred other items of value to the other siblings of Timothy and Joseph. Edward and Joan Baker may have returned to Lynn to be with their other children and grandchildren who continued to live in and around the Lynn area. While this is only a guess, what we do know is that Edward’s Will listed only a few of his children and the assumption is that he had provided for most of his other children not mentioned in his will prior to preparing the document. Nelson M. Baker writes in Edward’s biography with respect to Edward’s will: In his will “He exhorts his family to live peaceable and pious lives, and desires for himself a decent funeral, suitable to his rank and quality while living.” Edward Baker was clearly a man who placed a great value in his life on the importance of his family and on his religious beliefs. Joan Baker died on 9 April 1693, six years after her husband. The burial location of Edward and Joan Baker, my 7th great grandparents, is unknown although it is assumed that their remains lie in Lynn, Massachusetts.
Timothy Baker (1647-1729)
My 8th great grandfather Timothy Baker was ten years old when he moved from his home in Lynn, Massachusetts to his new home in Northampton. Timothy was the fifth child born to Edward and Joan Baker and the only home that he had ever known was their large clapboard sided farmhouse on the side of the hill that everyone was calling Baker’s Hill. His father had tried to explain to all of them, his brothers and sisters, why they were moving but Timothy did not understand. The Baker family planned their move for months and Timothy helped his family, although reluctantly, to pack the wagons with their family belongings, farming tools, seeds, and other implements that they would need to begin a new life. Timothy knew nothing about where they were headed. He did not know that they would be traveling with other families and with a guide to show them the way. He did not know about the hardships that they might encounter and he did not know that while the trail that they would follow was well worn by other families that had preceded them, it was a rough road filled with deep ruts, and that sometimes after heavy rains, the trail was virtually impassable. Furthermore, the possibility of encountering Indians or unsavory characters on the trail was omnipresent and required that his father and older brother Joseph carry their firearms at all times. The distance they had to travel was over 100 miles and even if the weather remained dry during the entire journey, the group with their loaded wagons, and their farm animals and young children most of whom walked, would move very slowly. Their guide expected that it could take as long as three exhausting weeks before they would arrive at their new home in the town of Northampton. Fortunately for Timothy once the trip began, the excitement of the trail even in the confusion of the wagons, cattle, horses, and people seemingly everywhere, made him soon forget what he was leaving behind.
By the time Timothy Baker had reached his early twenties he could barely remember leaving his home in Lynn and the hard overland trip to their new home in Northampton. Much had changed since their arrival in Northampton in 1657. With the help of their new neighbors their land had been cleared, crops planted, and their new home built. Timothy’s father had become a prosperous farmer and a well respected member of their church and community. In early 1663, Timothy’s older brother Joseph married Ruth Holton, and Timothy’s father built for his son Joseph a new home located near his parent’s home on Elm Street. Timothy, as was required by all young men in his community joined the Northampton militia and he was quickly elected by his peers to the position of ensign. In the early years of our country local militia leaders were elected rather than appointed. This arrangement usually resulted in either a respected member or a wealthier member of the community being elected. Unfortunately the results of an election did not always end up with the most qualified and knowledgeable person left in charge. Timothy probably had little to no training leading a militia unit especially in a fight against the Indians, however the fact that he was elected reflects that he had become at his early age a respected member of his community.
In January of 1672, Timothy then around 24 years old, married Grace Marsh age 17. Their marriage united two important families in the Northampton area. Grace Marsh was the granddaughter of John Webster one of the original founders of Hartford, Connecticut. John Webster had moved to Hartford in 1636 and he soon became one of its principle leaders serving in many important positions between 1639 and 1659 including being elected governor of the Colony of Connecticut in 1656. In 1659, John Webster following a dispute with the Congregational Church leaders in Hartford, led a group of fellow dissenters who were called “withdrawers” (as they withdrew from the church) to the recently settled town of Northampton, 40 miles upriver from Hartford. John Webster and his wife Agnes Smith are my 7th great grandparents as well as bring ancestors of Noah Webster who is known for having a “way with words”. John Webster later settled in Hadley, Massachusetts located across the Connecticut River from Northampton, where he died in 1661.
Also a member of the “withdrawers” was the Webster’s son-in-law, John Marsh who had married their daughter Ann Webster in 1640. Grace Marsh, their youngest daughter born around 1655, traveled with her parents, siblings, and grandparents in the move to Northampton. John Marsh was also a prominent citizen in Hartford and he is recognized along with his father-in-law as one of the Founders of Hartford. Both of their names are engraved on a monument in downtown Hartford commemorating the founding of the city in 1635 and honoring its original settlers. Incidentally, many of the other names on the “founder’s monument” are also my direct ancestors mostly on my fraternal grandmother’s side of our family.
In would be nice to believe that the young 24 year old Timothy Baker met and fell in love with the lovely 17 year old Grace Marsh and following a whirlwind courtship they married in front of hundreds of friends and relatives in a picturesque white clapboard church in the center of town in Northampton. If Timothy and Grace were members of the Church of England this scenario might have been possible, but they were Puritans and for Puritans getting married was a civil union not a religious one, and marriages were officiated by a town magistrate usually in the home of the bride or groom’s parents. Furthermore, it was not considered an occasion, the marriage, worthy of celebration and as such the wedding was not usually followed by a large gathering of family and friends honoring the new couple. Sadly, it is possible that Timothy and Grace may have hardly known one another before they were married. Their fathers both prominent members of the community may have decided that it was time for their children to wed so they prepared a (marriage) contract between their two families that spelled out important matters such as financial issues between the families and the couple, when and where the wedding was to take place, and so forth. As a matter of tradition the bride was permitted to reject the proposed groom but she rarely exercised this right. The Congregational church unlike the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church did not believe that marriage was a sacred rite administered by the church. Puritans believed that the only holy sacraments were those mentioned in the Bible, baptism and communion, and therefore they believed that marriage despite its importance in Puritan life, was purely a civil function to be performed by the local magistrate. And so they were married on January 16th of 1672.
The next four years for Timothy Baker and his family was pretty much a nightmare filled with disappointments. Timothy and Grace’s new life together began with great hopes for the future. As promised, following the marriage, Timothy’s father, Edward Baker, deeded his home and land over to Timothy with the understanding that the parents would remain living in the home along with the newlyweds. Then in late spring of 1672, Grace announced that she was expecting their first child. In early 1673, a baby daughter who they named Grace after Grace’s grandmother, was born but the baby was not well, maybe born prematurely, and she died on a cold winter’s day in February 1673. The family was devastated but they knew that early childhood deaths were not uncommon and they forced themselves to look to the future. Timothy continued to stay busy both running the farm, serving on various civic committees, and several times a week engaging himself with the other local Northampton men in military training and sentry duties. Finally in early 1675, Grace again announced that she was pregnant with their second child.
The period between 1675 and 1676 was a frightening time for everyone in the southern New England colonies. Many of the Native America tribes finally fed up with their ill treatment by the white colonists who were gradually taking their land and their food supply, waged a fierce rebellion against the English communities across the entire region. The rebellion or war is called by historians the “King Philip’s War” named after the Indian leader who the colonists were calling King Philip. From a statistical standpoint this war that is rarely studied in schools today, was one of the bloodiest and costliest wars in the history of North America. Not only were more than half of New England’s ninety towns including Northampton assaulted by the Indians but of the 52,000 English colonists in the area approximately 800 were killed or about 1.5% of the total English population. The Indians fared even worse in the conflict for they lost about 15% of their estimated population of 20,000 with around 3,000 warriors and their families killed. Northampton and the nearby communities of Hadley across the river, and Hatfield about 5 miles upstream from Northampton were all major targets of the Indians during the approximately 12 to 13 months of fighting. This was not a conflict in the traditional sense of war for both colonists and Indians indiscriminately killed women and children in addition to the male combatants. Numerous English towns and Indian villages were burned and food supplies destroyed. In the end, the English colonists were declared the winners but in reality, no one was the victor and the economy was left in shambles.
Through much of the latter half of 1675, Grace Marsh Baker, pregnant with child, faced weeks at a time not seeing her husband for as an ensign in the militia Timothy was often away. Attacks against the local towns near Northampton began in September of 1675 when the Indians ambushed and killed about 70 militia men near south Deerfield (just north of Northampton) in a conflict now called Bloody Brook. Another battle occurred at Hatfield about six miles from the Baker home on October 19th and it is likely that Timothy was with his militia during this fight. For the Baker family however, the war really hit home when on October 28, 1675 a surprise attack by Indians in Northampton resulted in the brutal slaying of Timothy’s older brother Joseph as well as Joseph’s young son. They were killed while working in the fields by their farmhouse. Joseph was 35 when he was killed, his son was only 9. It is hard to know how often Timothy Baker was home during this period or whether or not he was home when his son, Timothy (my 7th great grandfather), was born just before the end of the year 1675. Unfortunately, the war, the cold weather, the constant threat of an Indian attack, and the shortage of food all took their toll on Grace Baker who, probably already weakened from the birth of her second child, was unable to gain the strength needed for her recovery and she passed away on February 10, 1676. Timothy was no doubt devastated. He was exhausted from the war and the experience of watching his comrades slain, he had lost his daughter, he had lost his brother and his nephew, and now he had lost his wife of only four years. It was much to endure although as history records, Timothy Baker continued to serve in his local militia and serve his community.
Conflicts between the colonists and the Native Americans continued in and around Northampton (as well as other areas within Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) during the entire first half of 1676. Timothy Baker’s name is listed as one of the 150 or so combatants in a battle known as Falls Fight (sometimes called the Turners Falls Massacre) that took place on the morning of May 19, 1676. This particular conflict is one of the low points of the war but it profoundly illustrates the deep hatred that the English colonists felt towards the Indians (and the feeling was no doubt mutual.) In the early morning of May 19, 1676 a contingent of militia from the towns of Northampton, Hadley, and Hatfield surrounded an Indian village near the present day town of Turners Falls, Massachusetts, and in a surprise attack they killed approximately 200 defenseless Indians mostly women and children. There was apparently no attempt at mercy. Following the killings the soldiers then burned the Indian village and destroyed the food supplies. The Indian warriors were not at their village at the time of the attack, however as they learned about what had happened they counterattacked the retreating soldiers and managed to achieve some small amount revenge by killing a few of the fleeing militia. King Philip’s War was finally concluded following the death and beheading of King Philip and the signing of a peace treaty with the Indians in August of 1676. This forgotten war was one of many low points in the relationship between the American settlers and the Native Americans in our county’s early history.
Timothy Baker married his second wife Sarah Hollister Atherton in early 1678. Sarah was the widow of the Rev. Hope Atherton of Hatfield who had died the previous year. It is interesting to discover that Hope Atherton’s name appears along with Timothy Baker’s on the list of soldiers who were present at Falls Fight, especially when I realized that Hope Atherton had the title of Reverend. Apparently for the Puritans the death of an Indian women or child was not considered a sin by the church. Hope Atherton was only 30 years old when he died and one has to wonder if perhaps he died from wounds that he received in the previous year of fighting. Timothy and Sarah were to have five children including their oldest son John who eventually inherited the Baker estate following the death of his father. Timothy Baker continued to serve his community for the remainder of his life. He was eventually elected to the position of lieutenant in the militia, and he served as a “selectman” in the town on a number of occasions as well as serving “often on important committees, both of town and church.” Sarah preceded her husband in death dying in 1691. Lt. Timothy Baker lived to the ripe old age of 82 before finally passing away on 30 August 1729.
This is the end of Part 1. Part 2 begins with the life of Timothy Baker (Jr) (1775-17470