Monday, November 3, 2014

Chapter 37 - Archibald Campbell and Elizabeth Seely

My 3rd great grandparents Archibald Campbell and Elizabeth Seely were married in Southport in what is now Chemung County, New York in the year of 1806.  Their sixth child of a total of fourteen children was a daughter named Jane Taft Campbell who was born in 1819.  Jane, whose picture is to the left, married Joshua Wyckoff Rappleye. Jane and Joshua were my great, great grandparents. Their daughter Helen Rappleye married Asbury Harpending Baker and they are my great grandparents. In the photograph below we see Helen Rappleye Baker with two of her grandchildren and their mothers.  The little boy on the bottom right is yours truly, your family historian, Charles Asbury Baker Jr. The story of Jane's parents and Helen Rappleye's grandparents and their heritage is the subject of this chapter.

Archibald Campbell is one of the mystery men in our family tree as we know very little about him and most of what we do know for certain we obtained almost entirely from the U.S. Census records.  One of the problems in researching Archibald is that the surname Campbell was a very common name during this time period. Even the proper name of Archibald was fairly common and was used frequently in the numerous Campbell family lines. In a brief research of the Revolutionary War pension records we found upwards of sixty soldiers with the surname of Campbell and incredible as it would seem, we found eight soldiers with the name Archibald Campbell. Furthermore, it appears that the various Archibald Campbells were not closely related as they were scattered among five different states from Connecticut to South Carolina and none of these eight Archibald Campbell soldiers were our ancestor.  And then finally just to make research all that more difficult, in the 1810 US Census in Seneca County, New York where Archibald and Elizabeth moved after their 1806 marriage, we found nine males with the surname of Campbell including our Archibald although as far as we can tell, none of the other eight individuals was related to our 3rd great grandfather. Obviously it is going to be impossible under the circumstances to know the exact details of our great grandfather's early life, although we believe there is enough historical information available to draw a few conclusions.

In many of the family trees on and on other various genealogical websites it lists Archibald Campbell's birth date as 30 June 1770 and his birth location as either Cork County, Ireland or Argyll, Scotland. Despite a rather detailed online search, we have no idea as to the origin of this information although at this point we believe that none of it is accurate. While Archibald clearly had Scottish heritage based on his name alone, we can dismiss the Scotland birth location as wrong simply because Archibald told the 1850 US Census taker that he was born in Ireland.  We also believe that his birth location in Cork County, Ireland is wrong because had he been born almost anywhere in Ireland other than Northern Ireland, referred to then as Ulster, he would have been most likely a Catholic, which he was not. Mass migration of the Catholic Irish to America did not really begin until the middle of the 19th century whereas of the estimated 400 to 500,000 Americans with an Irish heritage living in America as of 1790, approximately two-thirds of them had emigrated from the province of Ulster.  Ulster was originally settled beginning in the early 1600s by Presbyterians most of whom had emigrated from Scotland. In Scottish history, the Clan Campbell goes back three or four thousand years and we believe that it is natural to assume that the Clan's history was all part of Archibald Campbell's heritage. One of his ancestors was probably Sir Neil Campbell who died in 1315 but not before he fought along side Robert the Bruce in the Wars for Scottish Independence.  It is also possible that this Campbell ancestor and possibly other Campbell men supported the legendary William Wallace who was later made famous by literary works of his life such as one written by Sir Walter Scott and by the movie Braveheart starring Mel Gibson. We even found a website that provided us with a detailed but improbable lineage showing that the Campbell family was descended from none other than King Arthur of the Round Table fame. Anyway, as far as Archibald's birth date, we think that we can dismiss the 30 June 1770 date.  His name appears in five different US Census records with three of them clearly showing he was born later than 1770 and one of them, the 1850 Census, shows him to be 76 years old which would place his birth year about 1774.  Also in this 1850 Census we see that his youngest child, Ann Campbell, was only 14 years old.  Archibald was 60 years old when Ann was born which is wonderful that he was still sexually active at the age of 60 particularly considering this was during the first half of the 19th century.  Had he been born four years earlier in 1770, he would have been 63 or 64 when his daughter was conceived which would be even more impressive were it were not so unlikely. But then, we are really digressing.

We know from history that very little immigration occurred from the British Isles to America during the period of the American Revolution. Unless Archibald Campbell was brought over with his parents at the age of only one or two just before the start of the War, we have to assume that he came over alone after the war perhaps sometime in the 1790s and maybe as late as 1800. We do know that in 1798 a large number of the Irish, both Catholic and Protestant, unsuccessfully rebelled against British rule in Ireland and after numerous battles and the loss of thousands of lives over the course of the three months of fighting, the Irish were soundly defeated. Their defeat sent many exiles seeking asylum in America and it is possible that our Archibald Campbell was among this group. It is also possible although less likely that Archibald Campbell arrived with his parents as a baby particularly since we find in the 1810 US Census that an older man was living in the Archibald Campbell household in Lodi in Seneca County who might very well have been Archibald's father. Had Archibald's parents immigrated to America just before the American Revolution and landed in Philadelphia which was a common landing place for Scotch-Irish immigrants from Ulster during this time period, they may have made their way to the Wyoming Valley near Wilkes-Barre, in Central Pennsylvania. We find living in this area around 1776, a number of Campbell men and their families, including a John Campbell.  The name John Campbell peaked our interest because Archibald and Elizabeth Seely Campbell named their first son John. This may be important because during this period it was very common for the early Scotch-Irish families to name their first son after the paternal grandfather.  This is all wild speculation of course, but we do know that many of the early settlers in the Wyoming Valley relocated to the southern tier of Central New York in the area of what is now Elmira in Chemung County, New York following the close of the American Revolution. While Elizabeth Seely's family did not live in Pennsylvania before the war, we do know that after the war they too settled in this Central New York community.  We will discuss this side of our family in subsequent paragraphs.  Whether Archibald Campbell immigrated to America with his parents or not and how and when he got to the Chemung County area we probably will never know.  What we do know is that sometime in the year 1806 he met and married Elizabeth Seely, daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Sayre Seeley.

There is one very unusual coincidence that took place in 1789 that must be mentioned before we move on to describe our Seeley ancestors.  In June of 1789 a man named Archibald Campbell was granted 3,000 acres of land along the Susquehanna River near the present day city of Owego, New York.  In 1790 this same man was granted another 1,200 acres in what was known as the Military Tract. Then sometime later probably after 1793, another record was made this time of the transfer of 1,000 acres to the "heirs of A. Campbell." While this last transfer of land was a little confusing, it was easy for us to assume that our Archibald Campbell had arrived in Chemung County area as early as 1789 and he was successfully purchasing large grants of land.  We were however, somewhat skeptical that this Archibald Campbell was our 3rd great grandfather as it seemed highly unlikely that a young 25-year old single man was being granted such enormous grants of land along a major body of water especially land that cost in excess of 200 dollars. Our further research proved that this man was not our Archibald.  He was a much older man born in 1736 and he lived much of his life near Albany, New York.  He was after the war the Deputy State Surveyor and he had surveyed the "Tioga" area and subsequently either purchased or was granted land in the area.  He died in 1793 which explains why some of the land was passed to his hiers. As it turns out one of his heirs was his son Archibald Campbell but after a brief rise in our heart rate, we quickly realized that his son was not our Archibald Campbell.  Who would have known that the name Archibald Campbell was such a common name.

As we have learned in other chapters in this blog, many of our ancestors on my Grandmother Baker's side of our family immigrated to the Elmira, New York area shortly after the Revolutionary War. Many of the families with names such as Hammond, Sly, Tubbs, Maxwell, Miller, Spaulding, and Wisner became prominent citizens in the Chemung County community and their surnames come up frequently when searching the early public records.  On the other hand, on my Grandfather Baker's side of our family it was only the Seeley family and Archibald Campbell, who immigrated into this area.  The Seeley Family came early however, and they came in force such that the land upon which the family first settled was to be called then as it is today, the Seeley Creek Valley.  On the above map which principally shows the location the Newtown Battlefield, the Seeley Creek appears running off the Chemung River at a point just under the island in the Chemung on the left hand side of the map.  As a point of reference Elmira is located just north of this area and the Susquehanna River to which the Chemung River is a tributary is to the east. In the very early years of the settlement, the Chemung River was called the Tioga River as it is labeled on the map below.  The area on this map where the Seeley family and many others settled is called "Chemung Town."  In the 1790 Census taken in the Chemung area there were 648 males listed over the age of 16 and a total of 2,391 total individuals including 37 members of the Seeley family. Two of the Seeley households owned slaves including our 5th great grandfather Nathaniel Seeley Sr.  Archibald Campbell's future wife, Elizabeth "Betsey" Seeley, was born in December of 1790 shortly after the census taker had visited their Seeley home and therefore she was excluded from the total count.  On this same map located north of Chemung Town is a section labeled "16 Ovid."  It was to Ovid (or specifically the town of Lodi) that Archibald Campball moved with his new wife Elizabeth sometime after their 1806 marriage to raise a family and live their lives.

The patriarch of the Seeley family, at least the part of the Seeley family that emigrated to Chemung County in 1788 or '89, was Nathaniel Seeley Sr. who was born in 1732 in New Canaan, Connecticut. When Nathaniel was in his mid-teens his parents Ebenezer and Mercy Dean Seeley, moved their entire family which included his ten brothers and sisters to Goshen in Orange County located about sixty miles north of New York City and around 16 miles west of the Hudson River. Gradually through the late 1740s through 1761 Nathaniel's brothers and sisters married including Nathaniel who was married in 1757 to Jemima Collins, granddaughter of the pirate Adam Baldridge whom we write about in Chapter 30 of this Blog. The families for the most part remained in the Orange County area at least until the close of the American Revolution and the opening up of the former Indian territories in Central New York in the late 1780s.
In 1775, six of the Seeley brothers, sons of Ebenezer and Mercy, including Nathaniel, plus two of Nathaniel's oldest sons including Nathaniel Jr, our 4th great grandfather, signed in Orange County what was called the "Revolutionary Pledge."  By signing this pledge they were agreeing "to resist and defend themselves against the oppressive acts of the English Parliament" which included taking up arms against the British if necessary. In the end, Nathaniel and his brothers, plus two of his sons, and some of his nephews joined the local militia groups in the Orange County area.  In the case of Nathaniel and his son Nathaniel Jr, we know at the very least that they enlisted in the Westchester County Militia - Fourth Regiment under the command of Col. Thaddeus Crane.  Westchester County is located immediately east of Orange County.Whether or not Nathaniel or his son saw any action during the war is unclear, although they may have been involved to some extent in the Battle of White Plains that was fought in Westchester County in October of 1776. Militia soldiers typically were called out only when needed and usually only served for short periods of time in their local area. George Washington was not a big fan of the local militias as he believed them to be undependable and their typical three month enlistments were too short to allow for proper training. For the most part all men between the ages of 16 and 60 were expected to serve or face possible penalty of fine or even imprisonment. This may in part explain why all of the Seeley men enlisted in one of the local militia regiments and why over 40,000 men in New York State alone are credited with having served during the war.

The following paragraph taken from a journal written by a Lieutenant Erkuries Beatty, one of the soldiers in the General Sullivan Campaign against the British and their Indian allies in 1779 explains in part why so many Americans after the Revolutionary War flocked to the Chemung County area in the southern tier of Central New York.  He writes:

"Monday 30th. Rained a little last night and partly all this day by Showers near half the army out today cutting corn which is in great Abundance here; the party out of our Brigade went up the River [south side of Chemung River], where the corn Chiefly grows, went up the River about 2 miles, then took up a large branch [Seeley Creek] of the River which bears near S.W. one Mile burnt 5 houses [Indian homes] and destroyed all the corn in the way. Our Brigade Destroyed about 150 Acres of the best corn that I Ever saw, some of the Stalks grew 16 feet high besides great Quantities of Beans, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Cucumbers, Squashes & Watermellons, and the Enemy looking at us from the hills but did not fire on us."

Obviously when many of the soldiers in this campaign returned home they spoke of the fertile lands along the Susquehanna and Chemung Rivers and how they had removed the Indians and made the lands available for new settlement. Shortly following the Revolutionary War the new United States government worked out treaties with the six Indian nations whose lands had been confiscated during the war.  The ensuing treaties basically paid the Indians for their lands and forced them to move elsewhere principally to reservations.  The terms of the various treaties were basically dictated to the Indian tribes who had no choice but to accept the terms with the hope that peace would follow and that they would be left alone. History has long ago shown that the Indian lands continued to be taken as white settlement moved westward across the new American states.

It was probably Nathaniel Seeley Sr., the father, who gathered his sons and son-in-laws together to urge them to consider the benefits of moving their families westward into New York State and to the Chemung River Valley.  He would have told them of the large acreages of fertile land that was being offered for sale at a fraction of the cost of the land that could be purchased in Orange County and he undoubtedly would have pointed out that the soil in this new location was much better for growing crops than the hard and rock filled soil found around their present farms. In 1788 when this conversation probably would have taken place, Nathaniel and Jemima Seeley had four married sons, three married daughters, two single sons, and many grandchildren with more on their way. He may have convinced them to move by offering to pay the cost of purchasing the land for in November of 1788 a survey of 2,553 acres of land was recorded for Nathaniel Seeley Jr, James Seeley, Adam Seeley, and two of their brother-in-laws, Abner Hatfield and Samuel Edsall. Two of the other married Seeley brothers, Samuel and Israel, for some reason delayed making a decision although they eventually moved to Chemung County and the youngest Seeley boy, Caleb, who was still living with his parents may have been too young at the time to be included in the initial purchase.  Only the oldest daughter of Nathaniel and Jemina Seeley who was living with her husband in New Jersey at the time did not eventually move with the rest of the family.

It is not clear as to the exact date that the family moved to Chemung County although if the land survey was completed in November of 1788 they may have delayed the move until the Spring of 1789. What is known for certain is that the parents and all but two of the children had relocated by 1790 since their names appear in the 1790 United States Federal Census. If we were to drive from Orange County to Chemung County today we would travel a distance of around 180 miles and it would take us about three hours.  In 1789 there were no roads and few trails and much of the trip would have been by water first down the Susquehanna River and then up the Chemung River and it could have taken as long as two or three months or more to complete.  If the family all traveled together there would have been at least 10 adults and as many as 10 to 12 children and that is assuming that no other families traveled with them. They undoubtedly carried all of their family possessions, clothes and furniture, plus their farm animals and tools and everything else including food and crop seeds that they would need to start a new life in a new community. Since there were probably no boats waiting for them when they reached the Susquehanna River after traveling around 120 miles overland from their former homes in Orange County, they would have had to construct some sort of flatboat which they then would have filled with their supplies and poled the boat down the river. Most likely some members of the family rode horses or walked along the banks of the river following the boats. When they reached the point where the Susquehanna River meets the Chemung River near present day Athens, Pennsylvania they left the Susquehanna and continued westward up the Chemung.  At this point the flatboats were going against the current and the work moving the boats became much harder and much slower. It is difficult to imagine that they could have traveled any more than one mile each day up the river following a long hard day of work.  It is truly amazing when we realize that around 2,400 individuals had already migrated to the Chemung County area within just a few years prior to the taking of the 1790 Census. We have nothing but admiration for our ancestors who took upon themselves such a hardship in the hopes of bettering their lives and the lives of their children.        

If we are correct about the Seeley family departing from Orange County in the Spring of 1789, then the family probably arrived in Chemung County sometime in mid-summer of the same year. They must have all been ecstatic when they first visited the land they had just purchased the prior fall. Their vast acerage of land was situated on both sides of a small creek that ran off the Chemung River and surrounding the creek on both sides were gently rising hills. It must have been an absolutely beautiful sight. The creek as we know was later named Seeley Creek. Much of the land had already been cleared by the Indians who had previously occupied the land for many generations. Here and there were even the remnants of small apple orchards left by the Indians. The family began almost immediately to build their small cabins knowing that soon enough the winter weather would set upon them. Unfortunately they were soon told by their neighbors who had arrived only the previous summer, that in the spring of the current year there had been a late and very severe frost that had killed most of their newly planted crops.  The Seeleys were told that they must not expect help from their neighbors with respect to their providing them with any food for the coming winter. While the Seeley family had maintained some food supplies from their long overland trip knowing that their late plantings would yield little food for the coming winter, they were still forced as were others living in the Chemung Valley area to survive on little else but beans and roots and what livestock they could spare once their supplies ran out. It was not a good start to their new life, although fortunately everything improved in the following spring. History books refer to the winter of 1789 in Chemung County as a winter of great "famine" and "as an event to be remembered with something like horror."  There is nothing in the historical records however, suggesting that any Seeley family members died during the winter of 1789.

The Seeley family name appears a number of times in the Chemung County records over the next decade although most of the records involve the transfer of the title of the land that they original purchased in 1788 plus a later purchase in 1791 of another 1,426 acres.  The land was gradually divided up among the sons and son-in-laws of Nathaniel and Jemima and in a few later records in the early 1800s land transfers were made to some of the grandsons. There are also a few records of the sale of land to other families perhaps for the purpose of raising money or in a few cases to families known to the Seeleys back in Orange County.  It is not surprising considering the huge acreage of land originally purchased by the Seeley family that the area upon which they lived became known as the Seeley Creek Valley. There are a few other interesting historical notes that are worth mentioning such as the fact that Nathaniel and Jemina Seeley are credited with building in 1792 one of the first framed houses in the area and the first framed house in the Seeley Creek Valley.  We also learn that Nathaniel Seeley Jr, my 4th great grandfather, was part of a group of men including his brother James, who helped establish in 1793 the first Masonic Lodge in the area. There is also in the history records some evidence that Nathaniel owned and operated an inn or tavern on what is now Lake Street in Elmira.  When we read this it was not hard to believe as it is known that his father operated a tavern for a period in the early 1780s while the family lived in Sussex County, New Jersey.  It is not clear however, than Nathaniel was living with his parents when they briefly lived in New Jersey.    

My 4th great grandparents, Nathaniel Seeley Jr and Elizabeth Sayre, were married in Orange County in 1785 and they had four children before Nathaniel's early and untimely death in 1796.  He was only 39 years old when he died.  The birth location and  birth year of their second child and their only son whom they named Nathaniel after the child's grandfather, is listed in most Seeley family history accounts and on as being in Chemung County in either October or November of 1788.  We mention this because if this date is correct then our comments about the family arrived in Chemung County in mid-summer of 1789 would not be accurate. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that Nathaniel's mother, Elizabeth Sayre Seeley, would have made the long trek to Chemung in the summer of 1788 while pregnant with her second child and at the same time caring for a two year daughter. Furthermore, if the family did arrive by the summer of 1788, they arrived before their land was granted to them which took place in October of 1788. But then who knows, and we should never be surprised or amazed by the stamina and determination of our early ancestors.  Our 3rd great grandmother and their third child, Elizabeth, whom they quickly nicknamed "Betsey," was born in their log home on Seeley Creek on 19 December 1790.

Not surprisingly, Elizabeth Seeley quickly remarried following Nathaniel's early death.  We know that Nathaniel died sometime in late 1796 as his will was probated in January of 1797.  We also know that Elizabeth and her new husband, Robert Starrett, married shortly following Nathaniel's death since their first child together was born in October of 1797 which meant that they probably married before the probate of Nathaniel's will. In any case, the new marriage between Robert Starrett and Elizabeth Seeley may not have gone as well as my great grandmother might have hoped as there is some evidence to suggest that Robert may have married Nathaniel Seeley's wife for her money or at least for her late husband's assets.  Nathaniel's older brother Samuel was appointed in 1805 to be the guardian of Nathaniel's four young children. Almost immediately following the appointment, Samuel started suing Robert Starrett for using the assets owned by the heirs of Nathaniel Seeley, his children, without paying for the assets.  The case made its way slowly through the court system before finally settling in August of 1807 wherein the property was declared to be seized from Robert Starrett. One of the parcels seized was the one acre parcel containing a tavern which apparently Starrett had used for free without payments to the children. Elizabeth Sayre Seeley Starrett died sometime between 1806 and 1809 after giving birth to four children with Robert Starrett.

We need to mention that the ancestry of our 4th great grandmother Elizabeth Sayre is a total mystery at least with respect to our not knowing the names of her parents.  We have spent literally hours reviewing the Sayre family trees on as well as studing the numerous Sayre family histories including the "Sayre Family: Lineage of Thomas Sayre" published in 1901 without being able to find the name of Elizabeth's parents. There is always the possibility that Elizabeth's maiden name was not Sayre although there was nothing that we could find that suggested this possibility.  One thing that we do know is that the Sayre and Seeley families were close knit families.  For example, Nathaniel Sr's sister Susannah Seeley (1730-1807) married a James Sayre (1720-1788).  Following James' death in 1788, Susannah and most of her children followed her brother Nathaniel and his wife Jemima to Chemung County. Even more interesting is that three of James and Susannah Sayre's children married spouses with the surname of Seeley and six of their nine children moved to Chemung County.  One of the children's name was even Elizabeth Sayre and she was about the same age as our 4th great grandmother, although it is pretty clear that she married a Jonas Seeley and they never moved to Chemung County.  It does seem like a real probability however, that our Elizabeth Sayre was a daughter of one of the five brothers of James Sayre although unfortunately the historical records for each of the brothers is lacking and after a lengthy search we found nothing conclusive. We guess that at this point our Elizabeth Sayre's lineage will have to remain a mystery.

Another mystery of course is when did Archibald Campbell come in contact with the daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Sayre Seeley. Archibald is believed to have been in his early 30s when he married 16-year old Elizabeth Seeley in 1806. If Elizabeth's mother died in 1806 as some believe, than Elizabeth was an orphan when she married and despite her large age difference with her new husband, arranged marriages which this probably was, were not that unusual in the early 1800s. This assumes of course that Archibald was believed to be a man capable of providing for his new and very young wife. We believe that he was more than capable at least financially. The first mention of Archibald Campbell in the history records we found in the Chemung County Historical Society's website where they informed us that Archibald Campbell along with a few other men were among the "prominent early traders" in Newtown (which is now the city of Elmira.) There are numerous documents in their files that mention our Archibald Campbell including bills, bill of ladings, business letters, and various references to "stores" all beginning as early as 5 June 1800 and ending in October of 1805. Apparently in the Chemung County area as far back as 1784 there was a site for a trading post where farmers and hunters could gather to sell or trade their products in exchange for processed goods such as maybe tools or lumber. It appears that one of Archibald Campbell's partners was a man named Stephen Tuttle who lived during that period in Athens, Pennsylvania. Apparently what was transpiring was that Archibald was buying goods from Stephen Tuttle and then hauling the goods up the Susquehanna River and then up the Chemung River for re-sale in Newtown. Their trading business may have ended around 1809 since it is known that around that time Stephen Tuttle relocated to Wilkes-Barre.  We mentioned in one of our earlier paragraphs that we believed that Archibald Campbell may have immigrated from Ireland into this country via the Port of Philadelphia. As many others had done before him, he may have left Philadelphia traveling up the Susquehanna through Wilkes-Barre to Athens where he then met Stephen Tuttle and where they setup their trading business. This probably occurred sometime in early 1800.  All of this seems to tie in with some of the Tax Assessment Records for Chemung County (which was then part of Tioga County) that we found online for the years 1800, 1801 and 1803. In the year 1800 we find Archibald Campbell listed as owning no land and having "personal estate" valued at only 12 dollars. By 1802, his personal estate had skyrocketed to a value of 4,160 dollars which undoubtedly reflected the value of the goods he had in his care for trading. In 1803, his personal estate dropped back to a more modest 1,245 dollars but here again this was probably just a reflection of the current market value of his trading goods.  In each year, Archibald Campbell is shown as owning no land. The tax assessment records for the other years of his business may have been just lost as there is no reason to believe that he ceased doing business, at least not until he moved with his new wife to Lodi in Seneca County which we believe occurred in the year 1809 or early 1810.  The location of the birth of the first child of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Seeley Campbell who was born on 24 December 1807 is shown on all of the family trees on to be in Lodi in Seneca County. We believe this to be false. Their second child, their son Robert, who was born on 3 May 1809 is also shown to have been born in Lodi and it is possible that this birth location is also incorrect. These children may both have been born in Newtown before their parents moved to Lodi.  Lodi was located on the east side of Seneca Lake about 40 miles north of Newtown. If Archibald's trading business closed down simultaneously with Stephen Tuttles relocation to Wilkes-Barre in 1809, then it is reasonable to assume that their move to Lodi would have taken place after this date.  We also know from other records that Archibald Campbell did not purchase land in Seneca County until the year 1810.  

Archibald Campbell certified as part of a lawsuit over the ownership of his land in Seneca County on which his family had lived for over 30 years, that he had purchased his land in 1810 and that he had paid 50 dollars for the land which was one of four parcels within Military Lot 75. His parcel he stated consisted of 76-2/3 acres. It is possible of course that the Campbell family moved to Seneca County by 1807 although it is more likely that they moved in 1810 after Archibald had made this great purchase of farmland at an incredibly low price. The map above shows in much too small detail all of the military tracts of 1797. The Military Lots were located in the center of New York State running from Lake Ontario on the north to almost Pennsylvania on the south. Military Lot 75 is located between the two long thin "Finger" lakes on the left hand side of the map.  Lot 75 is about 1/3 up from the bottom of Seneca Lake which is the lake on the left.  The lot runs down to the shores of the lake.

The US census records identify Archibald Campbell as a "Farmer" as he had undoubtedly abandoned his trading business once the family moved to Lodi.  Having personally spent many summers in the area of their farmland as well well as four years at college in nearby Ithaca, I can attest both to the beauty of the area as well as to the high quality of the farmland.  When General Sullivan marched his army through this area in 1779 during the Revolutionary War chasing out the Native American Indians, they encountered acres of cornfields and apple orchards that had been abandoned by the Indians. Driving north up Hwy 414 from Watkins Glen to the small village of Ovid, we find that even today the countryside is still rich farmland much the same as it was when the Indians occupied the land.  It must have come as quite a shock to Archibald Campbell when he discovered around 1818 that the title on his land might not be worth the paper that it was written on.  The State of New York had initiated a lawsuit to force the Campbell family and the three other farmers who were living on land within the boundary lines of the old Military Lot 75, to vacate the land. Apparently ownership of the 600 acre Military Lot 75 had originally been assigned to a Walter Parks, a New York soldier during the American Revolutionary War.  Walter Parks however, had died during the war therefore he never took possession of the land and he apparently left no heirs to inherit the land. Then sometime after 1791 when the land had originally been patented to Walter Parks, along came a couple of con-artist brothers by the name of Hagaman who presented a forged deed showing that they owned the land and they then proceeded to sell various parcels.  One of these buyers of these parcels, a man named Henry Skiffington, resold in 1810 what he believed was his land to our Archibald Campbell.  The State of New York in 1818 declared that they wanted the four occupants of the land evicted and the land advertised for sale. The litany of actions by the state against Archibald Campbell and the other owners to get them off the land is outlined in a publication titled "Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, Volume 5" which is available online. The report outlining everything that had taken place to get them off the land was written in 1846 so apparently Archibald Campbell had to contend with battling the state and what ultimately appeared to be the State's incompetency from the year 1818 until at least the year 1846, a total of 28 years. Unfortunately, the story is like reading a good book with no ending since we could not determine from the document exactly in the end what happened to Archibald with respect to his land.  Did the State eventually give up or did the Campbell family get evicted, or perhaps did Archibald reach a settlement so that in some way he could stay on his land. In 1846 when the report was written, Archibald was around 72 years old, Elizabeth was 56, and only five of his children were still living at home with the youngest around eleven year old.  In the 1850 Census record, four years after the 1846 report, Archibald is still listed as a farmer in Lodi which suggests that he may still have been on his farm. This is confirmed by an alternate census in Lodi titled the "Schedule of Production of Agriculture" dated 25 July 1850 wherein Archibald Campbell is shown owning 105 acres of land worth 8,000 dollars as well as owning 5 horses, 5 milk cows, 20 sheep, and other animals with a total value of 470 dollars. There is also a listing of bushels of crop including wheat, corn, rye, and oats all of which confirms that Archibald Campbell continued to operate a large farm. Archibald died in 1855 so he is not in the 1860 Census. In 1860 however, we find that 67 year-old Elizabeth was still living in Lodi with one son and three daughters. Her son is listed on the census record as a "Farmer" and so is another young man living with the family who is listed as a "Farm labor".  It would appear to this researcher that the State of New York may have given up trying to take the farm and land away from the family.  

In total, Archibald and Elizabeth Campbell were to have twelve children who lived to adulthood including our 2nd great grandmother, Jane Taft Campbell, their sixth child who was born in 1819.  Archibald it appears despite his years long battle with the State was a successful farmer who lived a long life with his wife and family. He died at the age of around 81 in the year 1855. Elizabeth outlived her husband by 14 years dying at the age of 78 in the year 1869. Jane Taft Campbell married in 1841 to a George Clark Wickham Ely. Together they had one child before George died, supposedly of typhoid fever, in the year 1646.  Jane married for a 2nd time, our 2nd great grandfather, Joshua Wyckoff Rappleye (1814-1888) who himself had lost two wives to early deaths. Jane and Joshua spent their lives in Interlaken, New York (then called Farmer) raising five children including my great grandmother Helen Ely Rappleye (1860-1944) who later married my great grandfather Asbury Harrpending Baker.  The photograph to the left is my 2nd great grandfather Joshua Wyckoff Rappleye, son-in-law to both Archibald Campbell and Elizabeth Seeley Cambell.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Chapter 36 Our Starkweather Ancestors and our "Improbable Tradition"

In the book the "Genealogical History of Robert Starkweather" and his ancestors written by Carlton Lee Starkweather published in 1904, Starkweather uses the expression "improbable tradition" when describing the ancestry of Robert Starkweather's daughter-in-law. At first we thought that the author had conjured up an original and polite way of saying that the tradition regarding her ancestry was totally bogus. However, when we googled the expression, we discovered that it has been used many times in other older books therefore we are unable to give our distant cousin Carlton any credit for this delightful expression.  In any case in this family history story we are going to totally ignore his suggestion that it might have been an improbable tradition that Starkweather's daughter-in-law was the daughter of the famous Indian Chief Metacomet or "King Philip" so named by the New England colonists in 1660. Besides, why not ignore Cousin Carlton's negativity. After all, who would not want to be the 8th great grandson of King Philip the prominent and fearsome war chief and sachem of the Wampanoag Indian Tribe.  But then we getting ahead of ourselves.

What we read about the origins of our 8th great grandfather Robert Starkweather is that he was born in either Scotland, Wales, or possibly on the Isle of Man off the coast of England, and he immigrated to America in 1640.  We suspect that this belief of Robert's origins began with the writings of our cousin Carlton Lee Starkweather in 1904 and as far as we can determine nothing has been uncovered either to support or reject his statement on Robert's birth location.  Unfortunately, or at least statistically, it seems doubtful that our Starkweather progenitor came from either Scotland or Wales. Between the years 1630 and 1640 it is estimated that approximately 20,000 individuals from the British Isles emigrated to America and New England.  It is further estimated that the vast majority of these individuals came from either the eastern counties of England or the coastal counties in southwest England.  We could find nothing in any writings suggesting that any Puritans from Wales or Scotland emigrated to America during this time period.  We further believe that asserting that Robert Starkweather arrived in 1640 is just a guess and it is based solely on the fact that his name was not recorded in any colonial records until the baptism of his first daughter in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1643.

So what do we actually know about our ancestor Robert Starkweather. Since Robert Starkweather and his wife Jennet Roberts did not marry until sometime before 1643, it is probably safe to assume that he was a late immigrant into New England since the Puritans in America during this period strongly encouraged marriage and tended to ostracize single men in their communities. Had he arrived much earlier than 1640, he undoubtedly would have already been married or at the very least been forced out of the community. It is also a probability that he was an unmarried man when he arrived since there is no evidence of other Starkweather children in any records other than those who were born following his marriage to Ms Roberts. Since we know that immigration of Puritans to America came pretty much to a standstill by mid-1640, then we can safely assume that Robert arrived in 1639 or 1640. Furthermore since the average age that Puritan men married is estimated to be around 26 years old (23 for women), we can conclude that Robert Starkweather was around 20 to 24 years old when he arrived in America in the year 1639/40.  We also know that he was a Puritan based on the church records regarding the baptism of his children.  It should also be noted that Robert Starkweather was not a typical early immigrant.  For one thing he was single whereas most of the early Puritans arrived in family groups.  Furthermore, the majority of the Puritans were from the middle class and about two thirds of the adult males were educated at least to the extent that they could sign their own names. There is no evidence that Robert Starkweather had any substantial net worth during his lifetime and since we know that he signed his name with a mark, we have to assume that he was uneducated. We also discovered as we further researched our great grandfather, that he never made much of himself, at least financially, during his lifetime. We can only hope that he was a great husband and a great father to his children and that he was well liked in his community. But then, we digress in our story.

Roxbury, Massachusetts where Robert Starkweather soon settled after his arrival in America, is one of the earliest communities settled after the "Great Migration" from England to America began in 1630.  It was located about two miles southwest of the original settlement of Boston right near the point where the land mass narrowed to an isthmus leading out to what was then almost the island of Boston.  The map above shows the original shape of the landmass which has dramatically changed over the course of 300+ years due to massive land-filling of the body of water surrounding the present day city of Boston.  Robert probably met his then 20-year old future wife Jennet Roberts while at a church service in Roxbury possibly as early as 1641. Based on the birth year of their oldest child they probably married either in late 1641 or early 1642.  Jennet's parents John and Elizabeth Roberts had emigrated from England in 1636 along with their seven children including their third oldest daughter Jennet, and John Roberts' mother referred to in the church records as his "aiged mother" or in another case "Old Moth' Roberts."  This Old Moth', who happens to be my 10th great grandmother was around 94 years old when she arrived in America and she lived until she was around 103 years old finally dying in 1645.

Other than the baptismal records of the four children born to Robert and Jennet Starkweather while they lived in Roxbury, there are no other documents that are known to exist up until 1651 that provide us with any clues about the Starkweather family during this period.  In December of 1651 there is a record of the sale of a house and land in Roxbury by Robert Starkweather.  Apparently when Robert's father-in-law, John Roberts, died earlier in the year he had granted property to his son-in-law and of course his daughter. What we might deduce from this is that Robert and Jennet Starkweather and their children probably had been living in the Roberts' owned house since their marriage and it was natural that when John Roberts was near death that he would gave them the property. What does seem extraordinary however, is that almost immediately after receiving ownership of the house and land, John Starkweather turned around and sold the property and moved his family to Ipswich, Massachusetts located about 35 miles north of Roxbury and Boston.  Perhaps he had concluded that with a little cash in his pocket and a fresh start in a new community, that was all that he needed to get his life back in order. Why they elected to move to Ipswich is unclear although we know that Jennet's older sister Elizabeth and her husband Edward Bragg had moved to Ipswich shortly after their marriage in the 1640s and they may very well have influenced the move.  We need to point out however, that many family historians believe that Edward Bragg's first wife was Elizabeth Whittridge and not Elizabeth Roberts.  This may very well be true although the very strong and unique relationship between the Bragg and Starkweather families suggests that their bond may have been stronger then just friendship.  Carlton Lee Starweather in his book about Robert Starkweather and his descendents suggests that Robert Starkweather in 1673 was "of extreme poverty" and that Edward Bragg was "entertaining of Robert Starkweather and his family."  Entertaining meaning that they were allowing the Starkweather family to stay at their home for longer than the allowed period of time. Puritans in most of New England controlled who lived within their community and how long they visited and apparently Edward Bragg was breaking the rules with respect to his Starkweather guests. Edward apparently satisfied the town officials by posting a bond in the amount of 50 pounds.

What is interesting of course, is the suggestion that Robert Starkweather was in a poor financial position and therefore not a worthy citizen of Ipswich. We do not really know much about the activities of Robert Starkweather from the time he moved to Ispwich in 1651 until his apparent financial problems in 1673. His name appears in the Ipswich Town records only twice, once in 1654 and once in 1655.  On one occasion he was given permission to install a fence and in the other he was given permission to graze cattle on common land as long as took the responsibility for caring for the "common heard of young Cattle for this Towns use . . "  The suggestion here seems to be that Robert Starkweather's occupation was to be the caretaker for farm animals that were owned by others and in return he was allowed to live on the common land and presumably graze his own animals.  Obviously at some point he was no longer in the town's favor as Robert and his family ended up living with the Bragg family.

Robert Starkweather ended up dying in 1674 at the relatively young age of somewhere in his early to mid-50s. Prior to his death however, an opportunity arose that may have changed his fortunes had not his premature death cut the opportunity short.  Located about three miles or so east of the town of Ipswich over on the coastline there was and is a peninsula of hilly land called Great Neck and attached to Great Neck to its south is another very small peninsula that may have been in the 1600s almost a small island perhaps connected to the mainland by only a sand dune.  This small island-like land was called Little Neck.  Great Neck and Little Neck are both shown on the map above. Both of these areas were used during this time period as common grazing lands primarily for sheep herds. In 1660, a William Paine who apparently owned the 27-acre parcel of land known as Little Neck, left the land in his will to the local Ipswich grammar school on the basis that the land must never be sold and that rents collected for the use of the land would be placed into a trust for the benefit of the Ipswich public schools. [Unrelated to this story but nevertheless worth pointing out, is that William Paine was one of our 10th great grandfathers but on a different branch in our family tree then our Starkweather ancestors.] It is fascinating to learn that this land remained in the trust collecting rents for 311 years until the land was finally sold after a long lawsuit in August of 2011 to the owners of 166 cottages who had previously been paying rent on the land under their cottages. The total sale price was a staggeringly low $31.4 million dollars (under $200,000 each for only the land that had probably been used by their families for decades. The current selling price for a small cabin on Little Neck runs in excess of $500,000).  We mention Little Neck and its history for several reasons.  The first reason is that one of the original renters on Little Neck even before William Paine died and set up the trust, was a man named Robert Roberts. Robert Roberts built a home on Little Neck some time in the 1650s and served as a shepherd collecting a fee for taking care of sheep owned by others, and paying rent on the land that he used and lived on. We immediately jumped to the conclusion that Robert Roberts must be related in some way to both Robert Starkweather's wife Jennet Roberts and Jennet's older sister Elizabeth who was married to Edward Bragg.  Robert Roberts' age would have made him only a few years older than Elizabeth and we assumed it possible that he may have left England with the rest of the John Roberts' family but did not remain with them in Roxbury, but had instead moved to Ipswich. Unfortunately, we could not find any connections between Robert Roberts and the John Roberts' family other than the following remarkable coincidence. When Robert Roberts died in 1663 he left his home and lease on the Little Neck land to his wife. His wife Susanna remarried shortly after Roberts' death a man named Thomas Perrin. In 1673, Thomas Perrin with permission from the Ipswich community leaders transferred the lease on the land on Little Neck to none other than our 8th great grandfather, Robert Starkweather.  Robert Starkweather was then to be the new sheepherder on Little Neck. He would be responsible like his possible brother-in-law Robert Roberts before him, for collecting fees for tending the sheep owned by others in the community, a task that would take from dawn to dusk each day, and then from his proceeds he would pay the rent on the land to the Ipswich school. Unfortunately our Robert Starkweather died less than a year later in 1674 after taken on his new responsibility.  The remarkable coincidence that we mentioned above is that Robert Starkweather was given the lease on a home and land on Little Neck that had previously been held by Robert Roberts, who shared the same surname as his wife Jennet.  This coincidence strongly suggests that there was a family relationship between Jennet and Robert Roberts especially when we consider that the total population in all of Colonial New England at the time was probably not more than 40 to 45,000.

An inventory of Robert Starkweather's "goods" following his death taken in November of 1674 gave a total value for everything he owned at only 59 English pounds.  This included only 12 pounds for the house (not the land) on Little Neck and the rest was for the value of a few animals, the furniture, some miscellaneous tools, and even 1 pound for the value of a "sword and beelt." Unfortunately, Robert's debts totaled almost as much as the value of his goods with his largest debt of 28 pound owed to his brother-in-law, Edward Bragg. Jennet Starkweather was for the most part left with nothing including no place to live.  It is therefore not surprising that 52-year old Jennet remarried shortly after her husband's death.  It is known that she outlived her second husband who died in 1684.  We know the names of only four of Robert and Jennet's children although it is possible that there were more. The oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was around 31 years old when her father died and the youngest, Deborah, was around 26.  We assume although could not confirm, that all three daughters were married at the time of their father's death.  Their only known son, John Starkweather, our 7th great grandfather, was married at age 30, two years following his father's death.  This chapter continues below with the story of John Starkweather and the controversial story of his Indian wife Ann.                       

The ancestry of Ann Starkweather is unknown but there are at least two contentious or perhaps "improbable traditions." that attempt to answer this question.  The first theory is that she was the daughter of parents with the surname of Woodbury.  The origins of this theory are unknown, however we did find a copy of a letter written by someone who signed their name only as F.B., published under a column titled "Genealogical" in a November 11, 1896 edition of the "Boston Evening Transcript" that attempted to answer the question. F.B.'s theory was that since John and Ann Starkweather both had a grandson and a great grandson named Woodbury, then the name Woodbury must be a family name, and it was assumed as likely by this writer that Ann Starkweather's maiden name was Woodbury. This was really a stretch but the name Ann Woodbury now appears firmly fixed as John Starkweather's wife in dozens of family trees on and elsewhere.

On the other hand an equally "improbable tradition" is that Ann Starkweather was the daughter of Metacomet, also known as King Philip, a well known and hated Indian leader in Colonial New England. At least in this theory there is a possibility of truth and the family tradition that Ann Starkweather was an Indian has existed for many, many generations within the Starkweather family.  We probably should begin with a brief description of the life of our possible 8th great grandfather, Metacomet, or as he was called by the English, Philip, the sachem of the Wampanoag Indians.

The Wampanoag Indian tribe was located during the 1600s in southeastern Massachusetts and along the very southeastern edge of Rhode Island.  It was these Indians whom the Pilgrims first encountered when they landed at Plymouth in 1620 and it was the Wampanoag Indians and their leader Massasoit who befriended the Pilgrims and who were largely responsible for the Pilgrims surviving their first winter. It also would have been these Indians who shared with the Pilgrims our first Thanksgiving feast.  Massasoit was the father of Metacomet and if we are related to Metacomet, then Massasoit would be our 9th great grandfather. Metacomet was the second son of Massasoit.  Very little is known about him in his early years although it is thought that he was born around 1638 near what is now the City of Warren, Rhode Island located not far from what is identified as Mount Hope on the above map.

The relationship between the Indians and the new white settlers was contentious right from the beginning.  It did not help that the white man's diseases such as measles and chickenpox were running wild through the Indian population and these simple illnesses which rarely caused death to Europeans, were deadly to the Indians. Furthermore, the rapidly increasing population of new immigrants meant that they were requiring more and more land for new settlements and at first, both Massasoit and later his son Metacomet after he assumed the leadership following his father's and his older brother's death in 1662, tried to appease the white settlers by selling them land. Unfortunately, the two cultures started to clash as they both struggled to live near one another and yet maintain their own ways of life.  It did not help that the Puritans placed intense pressure on the Indians to accept the English culture and laws. In 1671 the Puritans who were constantly fearful of an Indian uprising, attempted to force a peace treaty with the Indians but one of the onerous terms of the treaty was that the Indians were to turn over all of their firearms.  These actions and others simply increased the tensions which eventually led to a series of Indian raids in the Spring of 1675 and full scale attacks across the numerous frontier settlements by the summer.  On 9 September 1675 the New England Confederation declared war on the Indians.  Without going into a lot of detail about what is now called "King Philip's War" named after Metacomet, we will only say that the war lasted until around the middle of the summer of 1676 culminating with the death of Metacomet on 12 August 1676. The military force that was credited with the killing of Metacomet was led by Captain Benjamin Church who just happens to be my 8th great grand uncle.  Somewhat ironic.

The seriousness of this war cannot be understated although the war itself is largely forgotten except by historians.  Considering the relatively small numbers of both Indians and English people living in New England at the time, the loss of 3,000 American Indians and around 600 English colonists was enormous and represents a larger percentage loss of the population than caused by any of the subsequent wars fought since that period including the loss of lives during the Civil War.  The hatred of the Indians following the war can best be personified by looking at what they did to the body of King Philip.  He was beheaded and quartered and his head was displayed on a pole at Plymouth for the next 25 years. What we find ironic in hindsight is how many numerous places in the years following his death have been named after him including the names of roads, mountains, trails, schools, parks, lakes, and even a battleship. And even if Metacomet, King Philip, is not my great grandfather, we have to respect his restraint in trying for so many years to accommodate the English settlers and finally his reluctant willingness to fight and give up his life for what he believed were his peoples' rights.

At the end of the war many of the Indians who were captured were sold into slavery mostly in the Caribbean including Metacomet's wife and his nine-year old son. We do not know the number of children born to Metacomet and his wife Wootonakanuska. Metacomet's father was in his early 80s when he died in 1661 which would suggest that Metacomet as his second son was probably somewhere in his mid to late-30s at the time of his father's death or he was born somewhere between the years of 1620 to 1625, far early than the birth year often quoted of 1638. If Metacomet was in his early 40s when his youngest child was born it should not be surprising that he may have had many other other children some of whom might very well have been in their 20s at the time of their father's death. What happened to these children who surely must have existed is unknown although some of them, particularly the older girls, may very well have been absorbed into the Puritan population as wives. Puritan men were known to marry Indian girls although it was not encouraged and it was only accepted under the condition that the girls accept the Puritan way of life and the religion.  Could John Starkweather's wife have been an Indian?  Absolutely.  Could she have been a daughter of Metacomet? Possibly. Now me must examine how this "improbable tradition" might have come about.

At the time of the King Philip's War, John Starkweather was living in Ipswich, Massachusetts and if his future wife Ann (an improbable picture to the left) was the daughter of Metacomet, then she was probably living somewhere near Mount Hope in southeastern Rhode Island around 100 miles south of Ipswich. In 1676 it was unlikely under normal circumstances that they would have met and married. This assumes of course, that John Starkweather was not part of the Massachusetts Militia during the King Philip's War. As it turns out the Massachusetts Militia was commanded by a Col. Samuel Appleton who just happened to live in John Starkweather's hometown of Ipswich. We have also learned from the book by Carlton Lee Starkweather that we previously referenced, that John Starkweather was a tenant on land owned by John Appleton, whom we believe was Samuel Appleton's brother.  Both Appleton brothers were very prominent citizens of Ipswich and as it turns out Samuel Appleton was my 9th great grandfather as well as the son-in-law of previously mentioned William Paine. While we found no evidence that John Starkweather was a soldier in the Massachusetts militia commanded by Samuel Appleton during the King Philip's War, we nevertheless believe that there was a high probability that he did serve as did a large percentage of the male population. If we accept that John Starkweather was engaged in the war then that would certainly increase the possibility that the young and single John Starkweather encountered his future Indian wife in or around Mount Hope or at least somewhere in Rhode Island or southern Massachusetts, and that he returned with her to his home in Ipswich where they were married in 1676. The fact that the year of their marriage coincides with the end of the King Philip's War suggests that this "improbable tradition" of the marriage may indeed have a hint of accuracy. We must also not discount the "long family tradition" that Ann Starkweather was a daughter of Metacomet as being purely without merit. Such traditions do not just spring up from nothing. Furthermore, we must note that Ann's age fits well within the time period when Metacomet had likely fathered children. While it is true that the Puritan soldiers in many cases indiscriminately killed Indians during the war including elderly as well as women and children, this does not mean that everyone in the community condoned that behavior. We believe that there is very real possibly that many of the innocent Indians particularly the women and children might very well have been hidden and then absorbed into the community. Finally, Ann Starkweather did not receive her "full communion" into the Puritan Church until after her husband's death in 1703 and even then her time with the church was somewhat contentious as she was disciplined in 1709 for lying and being obstinate.  She apparently "confesses" and was forgiven by the church in 1711 although her delay in becoming an active member of the church and her somewhat belligerent behavior later towards the church is suggestive that she may not have received a strict Puritan upbringing.  The reason of course, may simply have been because her earlier years were spent living with her parents in an Indian community.  While all of this is not proof of anything, it does seem a little strange that despite all that we know about John and his parents, siblings, and his children, we know absolutely nothing about the background and parents of our 7th great grandmother, Ann Starkweather.  No information in this regard has been uncovered in any of the Ipswich public records nor in the abundant church records.

John and Ann Starkweather lived together in Ipswich from the time of their marriage until around 1694 when they relocated with their family to Preston, Connecticut around 125 miles south of Ipswich. We have pointed out a number of times in this Blog about how our colonial ancestors seem to up and move all the time thinking that each time they moved they were just seeking better opportunities for themselves and their children. While this is undoubtedly true, it occurred to us recently that even our generation is constantly on the move.  My father was born in Elmira, New York but he ended up spending most of his life with my mother in Niagara Falls, New York. My parents had three children all of us born near or in Niagara Falls but all three of us moved: one of us to Florida, one to Boston, MA, and one to Corvalis, Oregon. This habit of relocating seems to be an inherited trait perhaps in all of us.

John and Ann Starkweather had seven children born in Ipswich between the years of 1677 and 1693 including my 6th great grandfather Richard Starkweather, their 5th child, who was born in the year 1686.  We do not know much about the life of John during these years other than it appears he may have continued in his father's trade of raising and grazing farm animals as well as growing crops for food for his family.  He was described in one of the historical documents in Preston as a "husbandman" which was old medieval term meaning a free tenant farmer or a small landowner. This expression confirms what is mentioned elsewhere that John Starkweather was a tenant on land owned in Ipswich by John Appleton.  John Starkweather was around 46-years old when he moved his family to Preston.  Apparently the lure of free land that he was granted in Preston on 26 August 1694 was too much to ignore.  The "plantation" of Preston had been established only a few years earlier in 1686 and clearly the city leaders wanted to encourage new settlers. This move and change in John Starkweather's life seems to have encouraged him, especially now that he was a landowner for the first time, to participate in the management of his community.  In 1698 John was appointed a "List Gatherer, in 1700 he was appointed a "Fence Viewer," and then on 5 January 1698, at age 50, and again on 30 December 1702, he became a "Selectman" in the city of Preston.  The selectmen, there was more than one, were literally selected by the adult males in the community and as a small group they were responsible for running the day to day operations of the city. This honor for John Starkweather was further extended when he want on to represent Preston in the Legislature of Connecticut.  During the years of 1698 until his death on 21 August 1703 he was involved in a number of other civic activities within the community many of which are noted in the town records including mention of him in the documents as "M' Starkweather", Mister as opposed to the lessor title of Goodman.  His rise from the poverty of his parents to becoming a small tenant farmer in Ipswich, to marrying an Indian princess, and then becoming a landowner and town leader in Preston, Connecticut makes for a truly incredible story. The value of his estate at his death was around 200 English pounds which definitely would have placed him in the well-off category.  Ann Starkweather survived her husband by 23 years finally passing away in 1727.  Our 6th great grandfather, Richard Starkweather, was around 18-years old when his father died. His parents are buried side by side in the old Preston City Cemetery.

The next two generations of our Starkweather family include our 6th great grandfather Richard Starkweather (1686-1760) who married Mary Plummer (1698-1786) and our 5th great grandfather Elijah Starkweather (1722-after 1769) who married Esther Gates (1732-?). Both of these generations continued to live in or around Preston City, Connecticut, both appeared to live reasonably prosperous lives, and both raised large families. It was not until the next generation of our Starkweather ancestors beginning with our 4th great grandfather Elijah Starkweather (1756-1847), did the family finally move out of Connecticut following Elijah's service in the American Revolution. He first settled in Vermont where he met and married his wife Anna Johnson in 1807 and had three children before relocating his family sometime before 1830 to Cayuga County near the shoreline of Cayuga Lake in the Central Finger Lakes Region of New York. Their trip to Cayuga County made much easier due to the completion of the Erie County over a decade earlier. Here Elijah remained for the rest of his life until his death at age 91 in 1847. The last of my Starkweather ancestors was the third daughter of Elijah and Anna Starkweather, my 3rd great grandmother Adaline Starkweather (1818-1849) who married John J. Yawger around 1839. Their child Elsie Ann Yawger (1844-1918) who married David Coapman is my mother's great grandmother on her mother's side of our family.  In Chapter 19 of this Blog a brief description of the Yawger and Coapman family histories is told.

So ends the story of our Starkweather ancestors.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Chapter 35 Our Purdy Ancestors

In Chapters 15 and 22 in this Baker Family history blog we identified and discussed in some detail the lives of thirty-six of our ancestors who fought in the American Revolution. While researching our great grandfathers who fought during this war we came across the name of Jotham Purdy, one of our 6th grandfathers. What we discovered about Jotham was that rather than being an American Patriot he chose to remain loyal to the English Crown, and while he technically fought during the American Revolution and even lost his life in 1777, we chose to exclude him from our list simply because he did not fight on the "right side". He was a "Loyalist" and apparently our thinking at the time was that as such, he should not be included in our exclusive listing of our American Revolutionary War ancestors. While we are sure that the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution would whole heartily agreed with our thinking at the time, we have now changed our mind and we have decided to include an entirely separate chapter dealing exclusively with Jotham and our Purdy family ancestors beginning with our 10th great grandfather, Francis Purdy (?-1658) who immigrated to America from England in the 1630s.

Despite the fact that there is frequent mention of Francis Purdy in Purdy Family history books and in the hundreds of family trees on that show Francis Purdy as the progenitor of the Purdy line in America, we know almost nothing about the man.  Differing family trees show his birth year ranging from as early as 1587 to as late as 1627.  Many of these same trees provide exact dates for his arrival in America, his marriage date, and his death date. Unfortunately, none of the dates are known to be accurate.  All that we really know about Francis Purdy is that he married his wife Mary Brundish sometime before August 5, 1642 since on that date Mary was listed by her married name Mary Purdy in her late father's probate document. We also know that Francis Purdy was later living with Mary on land in Fairfield, Connecticut that Mary had probably received  as a dowry or inherited from her father. When Mary's brother John came of age in 1654 and thus was of the age that he could take title to his father's land by inheritance, he quit-claimed part of his inherited property to Mary, that section of the land she had been living on with Francis since their move to Fairfield.  In doing so, John Brundish acknowledged that part of the inherited land belonged to his sister. Finally, we know that Francis Purdy died in 1658 based on the fact that there is recorded an inventory of his estate dated October 20, 1658. Everything else that is written about our 10th great grandfather is pure conjecture.  But, this is our family history Blog therefore we are going to go ahead anyway and try to conjure up a possible story about the short life of our Francis Purdy.

According to Mary Brundish's baptismal record that was uncovered fairly recently, it showed that she was baptized on December 10, 1628 at the St Mary Church on Elm Street in Ipswich in Suffolk County, England, and if we assume that this is the same Mary Brundish who later married Francis Purdy, it means that Mary would have been only 12 or 13 years old when she married Francis in 1642. Considering that Mary's mother Rachel Hubbard Brundish had just lost her husband, Mary's father, a few years earlier it was probably not that usual in early Puritan New England for her mother to support, perhaps even arrange, for her young daughter's "marriage of convenience" especially if the new husband was an older and well established individual in a viable position to lookout for his new and very young thirteen year old bride. If we accept this logic it then supports the case that Francis Purdy might have been much older than his new wife although commonly accepted birth dates for Francis as early as 1587 seem highly unlikely since he would have been 55 years old when he married. The other qualification that the new husband be well established does not seem to hold true in the case of Francis Purdy. There are no surviving records of his becoming a "freeman," requiring his being at least twenty-one years old and a member of the Puritan Church, after he arrived in America nor are there any records showing that he owned land in either the Boston area, Wethersfield, or in Fairfield. In fact, after the marriage of Francis Purdy and Mary Brundish they lived on land that she had inherited from her father.  This seems to contradict any suggestion that Francis Purdy had been a well established individual prior to his marriage.  This being the case, we find it easy to support the suggestion authored by Alec Purdy, a Purdy descendant and family historian, who suggests that Francis Purdy may very well have been a friend of the Purdy family and perhaps even an orphan who had traveled with the family from England. He most likely was only a few years older than Mary and he possibly worked for Mary's father, John Brundish, in the tanning business. If this was true, Francis Purdy clearly was not yet a well established individual. He was likely a young man that Mary's mother trusted, young Mary liked, perhaps loved, and having them get married solved a minor problem for Rachel Brundish who had lost her husband John and was trying to care for four young children in addition to Mary.

If we accept the scenario that Francis Purdy lived with the Brundish family before he married young Mary Brundish, then it follows that what we know about the movements of John Brundish and his family in America would also apply to Francis Purdy. John Brundish and his wife Rachel are of course, my 11th great grandparents. We know that the Brundish family arrived in the Boston area sometime before 1635 and they were living in Watertown just outside Boston when John Brundish joined the local Puritan Church and became a freeman sometime in 1635. It is possible that John and Rachel may have immigrated as early as 1633 on the same ship as Rachel's two brothers, Benjamin and Samuel Hubbard.  Fortunately we know a great deal about the life of Samuel Hubbard thanks in part to his own writings but also as a result of the interest in him as an historical figure as he is recognized as one of the founders of the Seventh Day Baptist Church in America.  Samuel also was made a freeman in Watertown, Massachusetts on 4 March 1634/5 quite possibly at the same time as his brother-in-law John Brundish.  Samuel Hubbard through much of his life was known to be  a "religious agitator" so it is not surprising that he like so many other Puritans in the Boston area who were upset with the church leadership, joined a party of around 100 other Puritans in October of 1635 and marched through the wilderness to settle into several new communities along the Connecticut River, namely Hartford, Windsor and Wethersfield.  Again, it would appear quite likely that John Brundish and his family and possibly Francis Purdy accompanied Samuel Hubbard on the journal although while Samuel originally settled in Windsor, John Brundish likely continued on to the new settlement of Wetherfield, Connecticut located about 12 miles south of Windsor and just below Hartford.  We know that Samuel Hubbard met and married Tacy Cooper in Windsor and in the spring of 1636 they moved to join John Brundish and Samuel's sister Mary and their family in the then remote village of Wethersfield.

Despite the fact that John Brundish did not live long in Wethersfield, for he died sometime near the middle of 1639, he is nevertheless listed as one of the earliest settlers in Wethersfield. As previously mentioned John and Rachel Hubbard Brundish are my 11th great grandparents on my paternal grandmother's line. We find it exciting to discover that a number of other earlier settlers of Wethersfield were also my great grandfathers including two of the original "First Adventurers" who arrived in 1634, Nathaniel Foote (1593-1644), my 10th great grandfather on my maternal grandmother's line, and John Seeley (1602-1667), my 9th great grandfather on my paternal grandfather's line. Several other great grandfathers and their families arrived in 1641 including Samuel Boardman and Josiah Churchill. It is truly amazing that these ancestors and so many others during this period would have left a rather comfortable life in England to travel to an unknown new world and then shortly after their arrival, turn around and march 100 miles through a previously unexplored wilderness to end up settling a new community that they later named Wethersfield.  When they arrived they would find nothing other than a few remote Indian villages although they were blessed that the nearby Connecticut River was teeming with fish and the forest and fields were filled with animals and birds to hunt for food. They also found that the local Indians had previously cleared parts of the forest which immediately provided cleared meadow lands with fertile soil for planting their crops. They were also blessed unfortunately with incredible swarms of insects and the ever present diseases that seemed to follow them everywhere. Almost immediately they had to build shelters and plant their gardens since cold weather was soon to follow. They would have had to work long hard days with the whole family pitching in so as to be prepared to survive the winter.  The original Puritan leaders had been encouraged by the local Wongunk Indians to settle in the area, however these same Wongunks were soon chased out of the area and replaced by the more aggressive Pequots Indian tribe who were not at all happy with the Puritan settler's intrusion on their land.  The "Pequot War" that followed included an attack on Wethersfield on 23 April 1637 which resulted in six men, three women, and twenty cows being killed and two "maids" being taken captive. The war was eventually concluded with the complete defeat of the Indians. Fortunately none of my ancestors were killed during the attack. Unfortunately however, John Brundish, after three years of incredibly hard work building his home, his garden, and his business and surviving an Indian raid, died in mid-1639 probably following a serious illness, a not uncommon occurrence during these times. He was survived by his wife, one son and four daughters including oldest daughter Mary, and probably by Francis Purdy plus a few servants. Fortunately during his life he had accumulated some wealth that he was able to pass along to his wife and children. John Brundish was around 46 years old when he died.

Most references in historical writings on the Purdy family refer to Francis as "Francis Purdy of Fairfield." Fairfield, Connecticut was not founded until 1639 and while he is not listed as far as we can determine as one of Fairfield's earliest settlers and founders, we know that he married Mary Brundish in Fairfield sometime earlier than August of 1642 so he either suddenly just showed up in Fairfield and married 13-year old Mary, or he traveled with the Brundish family when Mary's mother, Rachel Brundish, remarried after her husband's death in 1639 and moved to Fairfield in 1641 with her children and her new husband. When John Brundish died he left his estate to his wife and children under the provision that the children's share of the inheritance would not pass to them until his daughters either turned eighteen or were married, and his son turned twenty-one. At the time of his death all of the children were under sixteen and Mary was the oldest. Since Mary was married at only thirteen, her share of the inheritance was turned over to her in the form of land in Fairfield plus probably a small sum of money.  Her mother was able to purchase the land from the proceeds of the sale of her late husband's considerable land holdings in Wethersfield. There are some who believe that Mary's father had purchased land in Fairfield before his death and a share of this land in Fairfield passed to his daughter Mary when she married. This is possible but considering that Fairfield was not even settled until the year of John Brundish's death, the probability that he purchased land shortly before he died seems unlikely.

Here again, we find support for the suggestion that Francis Purdy was not a man of means when he married, for his home in Fairfield was actually purchased using proceeds from his wife's inheritance. During the entire period that Francis Purdy lived in Fairfield from 1641 until his untimely death in October of 1658, his name is hardly mentioned in any of the Fairfield civil or church records. The 1645 probate document that Francis and Mary signed following their next door neighbor's death and Francis' own badly damaged probate record following his death are the only two surviving records that verify that Francis Purdy ever existed assuming that we ignore that his children survived and passed along his name. Francis Purdy was probably a farmer who worked hard to shelter, feed, and clothe his family but he never achieved any status or wealth in the community. In the 1654 witch trial of Goodwife Knapp, wife of Fairfield resident Roger Knapp, Mary Purdy's name is mentioned as being part of a delegation that went to meet with accused witch Goodwife Knapp in prison.  Mary Purdy is referred to in the writings as "Goodwife Purdy". The reference to Mary as a "goodwife" speaks to her lessor social status rather than referring to her as "Mistress Purdy" which would have implied a more elevated stature. While this alone is hardly proof of Francis Purdy own status in the community, it does seem to go along with our conclusion that he was not a major player in Fairfield, or in any of the other communities where he may have lived prior to his death. The fact that Mary Purdy believed in witches does suggest that the family was religious and likely Puritan although this is hardly surprising in Colonial New England in the mid 1600s.

When Francis Purdy died an early death in 1658 he left his wife with three sons and one daughter who were then without a father and without a bread winner. The oldest son, John Purdy, my 9th great grandfather, was only ten years old when his father died.  His mother Mary Brundish Purdy was just thirty. Mary had lost both of her parents and her only brother John had "run away" from Fairfield shortly after their mother had remarried following their father's death. Mary Purdy did what was expected of her and by 1659 she married for a second time to a man named John Hoyt, himself a widower with two daughters. Not surprisingly considering how our ancestors constantly migrated westerly, John Hoyt with Mary moved from Fairfield in 1664 to a new settlement that is now called Eastchester in southern Westchester County, New York about 10 miles from Rye, New York where they again moved and resettled in March of 1676. Mary Brundish Purdy Hoyt was born in England in 1628. She moved to America and the Boston area (Point A on map above) with her parents in 1633, and then resettled in Wethersfield (Point B) with her parents around 1636, then again relocated with her mother, brother and sisters, and her mother's new husband to Fairfield, Connecticut (Point C) in 1641. Then finally after Francis Purdy's death and her marriage to John Hoyt, she resettled in Rye, Westchester County, New York (Point D) in 1676.  There she lived until her death several years after the death of her second husband or until around 1686.  One thing that we enjoyed discovering is that one of the overseers of John Hoyt's will in 1684 was a man named John Brundig who we determined to be Mary Brundish's younger brother. Obviously John and his older sister had reunited when Mary and John Hoyt had moved to Westchester County in 1664. John Brundig or Brundish was one of the original founders of Rye, New York in 1660. He is also one of my 11th great grandfathers on an entirely different branch in our family tree from his sister although both branches converge in the Elmira, New York area as both Mary and her brother are great grandparents of my paternal grandmother Helen Spaulding.

Our Purdy family history continues with the story of my 9th great grandfather John Purdy, who was born around 1648 in Fairfield, Connecticut.  John was only around 11 years old when his mother remarried. When John Purdy's stepfather, John Hoyt and young John's mother, Mary, moved to Eastchester, New York in 1665, it appears that John, then around 17, moved with them along with his brothers and sister and step-sisters.  It was here in Eastchester where John Purdy met his future wife, Elizabeth Brown, who had probably moved there with her mother and older brothers from nearby Stamford, Ct about that same period of time. One of Elizabeth's older brothers, Hackaliah Brown, married in 1668 the daughter of John Hoyt, Mary Hoyt, who would have been John Purdy's step-sister. Obviously the Browns, Hoyts, and Purdys knew one another. John Purdy married my 9th great grandmother, Elizabeth Brown probably in the year 1668 or 1669 and one year later their first son was born, Thomas Purdy, my 8th great grandfather. Unfortunately, we know very little of the life of John Purdy, for equally unfortunately he too died young in 1678.  He was only around thirty years old when he passed away and one has to wonder whether he may have inherited some type of genetic defect from his father and maternal grandfather, both of whom died young, that lead to his early demise.  There again, the broad spectrum of illnesses that often lead to death that ran rampant in Colonial America, may have been his downfall. A common cold in 1678 may very well have moved quickly into pneumonia and with little to nothing available to cure the illness, an early and unexpected death might very well follow. One of the administrators of John Purdy's estate along with his wife, was his uncle John Brundig, his mother's brother.

Unfortunately, we know very little about the next two generations of our Purdy family line other than their names, birth and death years, and the names of their children.  In the case of Thomas Purdy, our 8th great grandfather and the oldest son of John Purdy, we do not even know the name of his wife other than Mrs Thomas Purdy. We refer to Thomas Purdy as John Purdy's oldest son although there is at least one family history story that gives his birth year as later than his only brother and reports that Thomas Purdy may have died young, apparently without children which would be pretty alarming considering that we believe that we are one of his great grandsons. In the book "ye historie of ye town of Greenwich . ." published in 1857, when writing about the Purdy family, the author completely dismisses our line of the Purdy family by reporting that John Purdy died with "no issue."  Fortunately the author was mistaken as John and Elizabeth Brown Purdy did have at least two sons. Their son Thomas Purdy lived in Westchester County his entire life probably farming on land that he inherited either from his mother or his wife's parents.  He fathered four sons that we know of including his youngest son, our 7th great grandfather Nehemiah Purdy, who was born in 1727. Thomas died at age sixty-six in 1782. His life was somewhat obscure, perhaps to the frustration of future family genealogists, but he was real nevertheless.

Nehemiah Purdy like his parents and grandparents before him spent his entire life in Westchester County, New York.  When he was around twenty-three years old in 1750 he married Mary Golding and together they had at least three sons and one daughter including their first born son, my 6th great grandfather, Jotham Purdy who was born in Westchester County on 10 September 1751.  Here again, we hesitated to state the exact number of children born to Nehemiah and Mary Golding Purdy since the numerous Purdy family trees in books and on report a wide range in the number of children in many of the families, particularly on our own line.  One of the problems for Purdy genealogists is that by the fifth generation down from Francis and Mary there were many dozens of Purdy individuals living in Westchester County many of whom shared the same proper name.  This of course, greatly complicates determining which son or daughter belongs to which set of parents which in turns has led to a great number of errors in the family trees. One thing is certain however, that the fifth generation of Purdys in America and particularly in Westchester County were faced with an important decision what with the onset of the American Revolution.  They had to decide which side they were going to support: the side that would remain loyal to the English Crown or the opposing side that wanted to separate from England and form a new independent American government. It is truly amazing how many brothers, sisters, and close cousins all living in fairly close proximity in Westchester County had such a wide divergence of opinion with respect to their loyalties.

We tend to believe, perhaps we were taught to believe in our high school history class, that most Americans living in the year 1776 supported the fight for independence from England.  If this was indeed the impression presented, it was not even close to the truth. At most only 40 to 45% of Americans supported Congress and their eventually decision to declare independence from England.  On the other hand around 15 to 20% of the 2-1/2 million people living in America at the time of the Revolution or around 500,000, supported remaining with the Crown.  These individuals tended to be an older and better established group who were more cautious and resistant to change. The remaining group, upwards of half of the people living in America at the time, were ambivalent and perhaps to busy in that daily lives to care one way or the other who controlled the governing of the county. Where one lived also had a lot to do with determining ones position.  In the Boston area for example, support for breaking away from England was widely supported whereas in New York City and the surrounding areas the opposite was true although not to the extend shown in the Boston area. Ones religion also helped determine to some extent ones position.  For example, families who were members of the Anglican Church probably favored remaining under British rule, whereas Quakers were not concerned one way or the other but especially would not have favored going to war for any reason.  We also find that ones heritage determined to some extent ones position.  People with Dutch backgrounds generally supported British rule where as people of Germany heritage tended the other way or were indifferent.

The largest block of Francis Purdy's descendants living during the period of the American Revolution resided in or around Westchester County, New York located about 30 miles north of New York City. New York was controlled by the British during most of the Revolutionary War.  It should not be surprising that there was substantial support for remaining under British rule in Westchester County considering its location before and during the war. This was also true within the Purdy family although in the end a majority of the family but not all by any means, came to eventually support the American Cause. According to the history book "Westchester County, New York, During the American Revolution" by Henry Barton Dawson published in 1886, on 13 April, 1775 a vote was taken in White Plains in Westchester on a motion favoring the King and opposing the positions taken by the Congress. The motion read in part, "we meet here to express our honest abhorrence of all unlawful congresses and committees, and that we determined at the hazard of our lives and properties, to support the King and Constitution..." Voting in favor of the motion were 28 members of the Purdy family. While not all Purdy family members who supported the motion eventually fought with the British during the Revolution, at least initially a large group of the family did not favor breaking away from British rule.  It would take an enormous amount of research, if such research were even possible, to determine the population of military age Purdy men living in Westchester County prior to the war.  What we do know according to the history book "New York in the Revolution" by James Arthur Roberts published in 1897 is that at least 28 Purdy men served as soldiers in the War against the British either in the Westchester County militia or in the Continental Army.  We could not determine the number of Purdy men who fought with the British, although they were a sizable group although a smaller number than the 28 men mentioned above. What we do know however, from the book by Henry Dawson, was that at least 15 Purdy families had their homes confiscated for supporting the British before and during the war, including the home of our 6th great grandfather, Jotham Purdy. We also know that a number of Purdy families who remained loyal to the English Crown during the war, emigrated to Canada at the end of the war including Jotham Purdy's brother Archelaus and his family, Jotham's sister Jemima and her husband and family, and at least three of Jotham's first cousins and their families. For reasons that we will discuss in the following paragraph, Jotham who was a Loyalist, did not emigrate to Canada.

Jotham Purdy was 22 years old when he married Margaret van Voorhees.  Margaret's 2nd great grandfather, Stevense Coerte van Voohrees (1600-1684) is the 8th great grandfather of my grandmother Helen Spaulding Baker. What is really interesting here is that this same man is the 9th great grandfather of my grandmother's husband, my grandfather, Charles Schenck Baker. This of course, would make my paternal grandparents distant cousins. Stevense Coert van Voorhees emigrated from Holland to New Amsterdam in 1660 just prior to the English assuming control of the city and the surrounding provinces and renaming the city New York. We wrote in an earlier paragraph that the people of Dutch descent particularly those living in the New York area tended to side with the Loyalists during and prior to the Revolutionary War. While Margaret's leanings as a Dutch descendant would not have been the deciding factor, the fact that Nehemiah Purdy and his sons including Jotham were probably farmers whose customer base likely lived in New York City and the fact that many of these customers were strong supporters of British rule in America, likely played a major role in how our Purdy ancestors felt about independence from English rule. That is, it may have played on their pocketbooks. We also suspect that the Purdy family had long ago dropped their Puritan heritage and based on the fact that it is known that some of the Purdy cousins were of the Anglican faith, I suspect that Nehemiah Purdy and his wife and sons and daughter were also all members of an Anglican Church or what was then called the Church of England.

At what point Jotham Purdy took an active role fighting with the Loyalists in support of the British we do not know. As we suggested, the family was probably opposed to American independence right from the beginning when the troubles began in the Boston area culminating with the Battle of Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775. It is also doubtful that Jotham played any military role when the British landed on Long Island the following summer and pushed Washington's army out of New York.  Nor is it likely that he participated at the Battle of White Plains that took place near his home in Westchester County on 28 October 1776. We suspect that despite our Purdy family's opposition to war against the British they had hoped to remain neutral although it was probably well known by all of their neighbors that they had British sympathies. What soon happened in Westchester and other areas of the country is that neighbors who supported independence from England started harassing their Loyalist neighbors including our Purdy family, perhaps by stealing their farm animals, damaging their crops, physical abuse, actual arrest and imprisonment, and in some cases confiscating and even burning their homes. This was during the period in American history when "tar and feathering" became the rage as many were looking to punish those that did not support the American cause. Whether Jotham Purdy joined the Westchester Chasseurs before or after the patriots burned down his family home, we do not know but either way it is likely that he was forced at some point to defend his beliefs.  The Westchester Chasseurs were led by a Colonel James DeLancey, a young man from a wealthy family in Westchester County who was just a few years older than Jotham. The Chasseurs, also known as the Westchester Light Horse, consisted of a group of Loyalists who rode on horse back and were recognized by the British and in some cases paid by the British for their services. Jotham Purdy's name appears on a list of fifty members of the Westchester Chasseurs who may have been the original subscribers to the group that was organized sometime in the year 1777.  The group became so hated by the patriots especially in Westchester County that they were referred to as the "DeLancey Cow-Boys" based on the fact that their raids on the local towns usually involved stealing food, farm animals, and obviously cows. It appear that their role in the war at least partially was to help gather up food for the numerous British forces in New York. James DeLancey's forces pestered the American troops throughout the entire Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, our ancestor Jotham Purdy's career as a Chasseur ended early as he was killed on 5 October 1777. The story is that he was shot by one of his neighbors who obviously must have been a patriot.  Jotham was only 26 years old when he was killed. He left behind his wife Margaret and two young children, 3-year old Margaret Purdy, and 10-month old Andrew Purdy, my 5th great grandfather.

What happened to the family following Jotham's death we do not know although they probably moved in with either Jotham's parents or with one of his siblings. Margaret Purdy was only 24 years old when Jotham was killed but she never remarried. She moved with her son and daughter following their marriages to Spencer, New York in Tioga County sometime in the late 1790s or early 1800s. She died at the age of 105 in Spencer on 9 November 1857. Margaret Purdy lived to see her granddaughter, Maria Purdy, marry Thomas Maxwell in Spencer on 12 September 1819 and she lived long enough to see all of her great grandchildren born including our 3rd great grandmother Susan C Maxwell who was born in 1823. Incredibly, she was still alive to see the birth of her great, great granddaughter and our 2nd great grandmother, Mary Catherine Sly who was born in 1844.  The story of Thomas Maxwell and his family and our Sly family ancestors is told in Chapter 13 of this Blog.

Jotham Purdy may not have been a "Patriot" but he was willing to fight to defend his family and his beliefs and we are proud of him and pleased to be able to relate this story of our Purdy family ancestors.