Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chapter 41 - Our Cozad/Cossart Ancestors

Hannah Cozad Harpending
This portrait of my 4th great grandmother, Hannah Cozad Harpending, hangs prominently in the Dundee Area Historical Society in Dundee, New York.  I took this photo of her portrait almost a decade ago while we were spending our summers near Dundee and as I was just beginning to study our ancestors and write stories for this blog. Chapter 9 in this blog tells the story of Hannah's husband, Samuel Harpending and our Harpending ancestors. One thing that I did not know at the time was that Hannah and Samuel were actually distant cousins (3rd cousins, once removed) as they shared a common great grandfather, Jacques Cossart (1639-1685) who was the first Cossart to immigrate to America.  With that said, we shall begin in this chapter to tell the story of ours', and Hannah's and Samuel's ancestors, the Cossarts.

There have been many historical writings about our American Cossart family including some that trace their ancestry as far back as the 12th century. While the Cossart family name may have been recorded in ancient records it is still very presumptuous to assume that a 12th century man bearing the surname Cossart automatically must be one of our ancestors.  One of the best known books that traces the various Cossart families was The Early Generations of the DuPont and Allied Families written by Col. Henry Algernon DuPont and published in 1923.  In his extensive book Mr. DuPont uses dozens of pages to describe in detail the various early Cossart families including the wealthy "bourgeoisie" Cossart family line from Rouen, France and the various other early and unrelated Cossart families from Northern France including Picardy, Normandy, and Paris.  Despite his extensive research, Mr. DuPont readily admitted that he was unable to definitively identify any of these families as being the ancestors of our Cossart great grandfather, Jacques Cossart, who immigrated to America in 1662. It is hard not to agree with Mr. DuPont's conclusions, although in lots of subsequent writings about the ancient Cossart origins as well is in many of the Cossart family trees on Ancestry.com, his conclusion that we simply do not know the family's origins, is being ignored. In this chapter of our Blog we are going to begin with the earliest known and documented of our Cossart ancestors, the father of emigrant Jacques Cossart, Jacques Cossart Sr.

It is generally accepted that Jacques Cossart was born around 1595 although there is no evidence to confirm that his birth location was Picardy in France. Many of the writings suggest that he was a French Huguenot, a Protestant, and that his family had left France to escape the persecution of Protestants by the predominant Roman Catholic government and population of France. This may very well be correct although around the time of Jacques' birth, there was somewhat of a lull in attacks on Protestants in France and in 1598 the French King Henry IV actually signed a document known as the Edict of Nantes which essentially restored civil rights back to the Huguenots. Another possibility is that Jacques Cossart's parents were actually French-speaking people living in either the southern or eastern part of Belgium who were Protestants known as Walloons.  The general consensus seems to be that the family lived in Liege in present day Belgium before they moved eastward  into Holland. Whether the family was living in France or in the Spanish controlled Belgium during Jacques's youth, when the French King Henry IV was murdered in 1610, attacks on Protestants in both countries dramatically increased which probably caused the Cossart family to quickly relocate to Amsterdam in Holland where there was a greater degree of religious tolerance.

Leiden around 1620
It is a total mystery as to what happened next to Jacques Cossart's parents.  The next thing that we learn is that somewhere around 1630, then 35-year old Jacques Cossart married Rachelle Gelton, who is believed to have been around 20 years old and from Liege when they married in Amsterdam, Holland. Two years later in 1632 a child was born whom they named Rachelle obviously after her mother. Sometime later the new family relocated to Leiden, then Holland's second largest city after Amsterdam, where in 1639 my 8th great grandfather, Jacques Cossart Jr., was born.  There is a record of his baptism on 29 May 1639.  Leiden was an obvious choice as a place to live during this time period.  Not only was it popular as a home for Protestant refugees from both France and Belgium but earlier Leiden had been home to many of the English "Pilgrims" who later immigrated to America on the Mayflower in 1620.  The city was particularly prosperous as a result of its textile industry which obviously provided jobs for its rapidly increasing population. There are some accounts that report that Jacques Cossart Sr.  prospered while in Leiden or possibly later in nearby Rotterdam and that he died a very prominent citizen. We could unfortunately find no documentation that supported these statements. We also could not find any conclusive records of the death dates of either of my 9th great grandparents, Jacques Sr and Rachelle. 

My 8th great grandfather, Jacques Cossart, married my 8th great grandmother, Lea Villeman on the 14th of August in 1656 in the Walloons Church (Dutch Reformed) in Leiden when he was only 17 and she was around 18. There are some writings, notably author J.A. Cossairt, that claim that their marriage took place in Frankenthal, Germany although one has to be skeptical that at such a young age they would have relocated such a far distance to end up getting married alone and probably without family and friends present.  The argument however, is bolstered by the records that show that their first three children were baptized in Frankenthal: three daughters born in the years 1657, 1658, and 1661.  While in the late 1500s Frankenthal was a prosperous town inhabited largely by Dutch Protestants, in 1621 the Spanish besieged the town during the Thirty Years War followed with subsequent troop occupation by both sides, which resulted in the trade and industry and the town itself pretty much destroyed.  What would have attracted the young newlyweds to relocate over 300 miles into Germany is a complete mystery especially since there were numerous jobs available in Leiden. It is possible that Jacques had gotten into some kind of trouble in Leiden or perhaps their parents were opposed to the marriage and they fled to Germany to get away, or perhaps as some believe, they never when to Frankenthal in the first place.  We do not know.  What is know however, is that the young couple and their family returned to Leiden by around 1661 assuming of course that they had left in the first place. They did not remain in Leiden for long.

New Amsterdam 1660
On the 12th of October in the year 1662, the ship "De Pumerlander Kerch" (Purmerland Church) embarked on a voyage to the new world and the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam.  Onboard the ship were around ninety passengers including my 8th great grandparents, Jacques and Lea Villeman Cossant and their two young daughters. Obviously one of their three daughters had died sometime before the voyage. The voyage to America was not free so obviously Jacques Cossart, then only 23 years old, had been given or earned enough money to pay for the passage for himself and his family as well as enough money to be able to start a new life in America. It is really fascinating to consider what would have motivated a young man with a young family to leave a highly developed and prosperous city like Leiden in Holland to travel for three months on a small and crowded ship across a cold and rough sea to start a new life in a primitive town like New Amsterdam. As far as we can determine his move was not made for religious reasons. Perhaps Jacques Cossart was motivated to move by the Dutch West India Company which controlled the trade in the Dutch lands in the New World and was very actively encouraging immigration to New Netherlands.  Possibly he believed that given the right opportunities he would gain great wealth though his efforts. Whereas Holland was crowded and controlled by wealthy older men, the New Netherlands offered him the real possibility of achieving his goals for himself and his family. 

The population of all of New Netherlands is estimated to have been around 8,000 including men, women and children at the time of the Cossart's arrival in early 1663. The population in New Amsterdam on Manhattan Island would have been somewhat smaller, estimated to be maybe 1,400 residents in total living in around 200 poorly constructed wooden homes in a contained area of less than one square mile. There was a large fort, Fort Amsterdam, on the west and front side of the village which was occupied by the Dutch governor and the Dutch soldiers. Inside the fort was a large church.  Just outside the fort on the water side were several windmills and a large hanging gallows. On the north side of the village was a wooden wall (Wall Street) and on the other sides there was water.  The village was probably not an impressive sight from their ship, especially considering the view of the large hanging gallows, as it sailed into the harbor in January of 1663.

City of New Amsterdam in the year 1660

Jacques Cossart and his fellow emigrants must have been surprised when they first entered the village of New Amsterdam for it would have been totally unlike anything that they had encountered in the past. Besides the rundown condition of the buildings and the muddy streets, the population of the city unlike say Boston during the same time period, was very diverse.  For one thing it is estimated that maybe 20% of the people in the village were black Africans who were mostly slaves. Most of them however, resided in a community just north of the wall. The rest of the population was a mixture of various cultures although most were French and Dutch with a few Germans, Swedish, and even English.  Dutch however, was the predominant language. Incredibly many of the immigration records into New Amsterdam have survived and what we learn from these records is that the population of this small colony was growing rapidly during the time period of the Cossart's arrival.  What is surprising is that they were able to absorb so many new arrivals into their small village.  In March of 1663, Jacques and the other new immigrants petitioned the local Dutch government for grants of land as well as seed grains and provisions to cover a period of six months. It seems that their grants may have been awarded since there is a record of Jacques Cossart and his family living near the south end of present day Broadway Street on a parcel of land now occupied by the Produce Exchange Building which is bordered by present day Whitehall and Marketfield Streets and Bowling Green Park. On the above map, the location of his home was just east of Fort Amsterdam near a street identified as "Het Marckveit" or as later anglicized to Marketfield.  Obviously, the public market in old New Amsterdam was a short walk from the new home of Jacques and Lea Cossart and their family.

Unfortunately from the existing historical records we are able to learn only bits and pieces about the life of Jacques Cossart.  We know that he joined along with his wife, the Reformed Dutch Church in April of 1663. In October of 1664, following the takeover of New Amsterdam by the British in the prior month, he signed an oath of allegiance to England. Shortly thereafter he and his neighbors found themselves living in the newly named community of New York.  There is another record dated the first of January in the year 1666 wherein Jacques Cossart was appointed as a "collector of revenue," or tax collector, in the village to help cover the cost of the clergy and the soldiers. He was to receive a 4% commission on everything that he collected.  It was doubtful that his new position would have enhanced his position in the community.  While still living in their home on Manhattan Island, Jacques and Lea were to have an additional four children born between the years 1665 and 1673 including TWO of my great grandfathers, David Cossart who was born in 1671 and Anthony Cossart who was born in 1673.  While we have found fairly good records about the lives of their four children born in America, what is really strange is the total absence of any records about the two children that came with Jacques and Lea on the ship to America.  They were both daughters and perhaps their early marriages combined with some lost records resulted in their both being lost in history.  

Early towns that were combined to form Brooklyn
Jacques and Lea and their children lived in the lower Manhattan area until around 1674 when they and a number of other residents of the village which by that point had doubled in population, elected to move out of Manhattan and across the East River to Long Island to a village that was known at the time as Boswyck (later anglicized to Bushwick).  Bushwick later became absorbed into the city of Brooklyn. Their move was probably motivated in part by the population growth on Manhattan and by the fact that their neighborhood was starting to deteriorate as the wealthier residents were beginning to move away from the older sections of the village. Combined with the fact that the Dutch had recaptured Manhattan Island in 1673 did not help matters, especially since once the British recaptured the area only 15 months later in 1674 and their distrust of the Dutch citizens led to serious discussions about their forcible removal, which of course would have included our Cossart family. Although they were never forcibly removed, by 1674 the Cossart family had relocated to Bushwick and were soon owners of 40 acres of farm land and a new home.

From this point forward until his death in 1685 at the relatively young age of 46 we know little about the life of Jacques Cossart. It is written that he was a miller by occupation although this fact could not be confirmed.  In 1683 it was recorded that Jacques Cossart paid taxes on his land and personal property in the amount of 114 British Pounds and besides owning 18 acres at the time he also owned 2 horses, 5 cows, and 1 hog.  He was not a wealthy man by any means but he obviously was relatively successful.  A few years after Jacques's death my 8th great grandmother remarried a Frenchman named Charles de Niseau. The exact year of her death and the location of the graves of both Jacques and Lea Cossart is not known although their remains are undoubtedly somewhere buried under the buildings or roads of modern day Brooklyn, New York.

At the beginning of this story about our Cossart/Cozad ancestors we noted that Hannah Cozad and her husband Samuel Harpending, my 4th great grandparents, were distant cousins.  David Cossart (1671-1740), son of Jacques and Lea Villeman Cossart, was the great, great grandfather of Samuel Harpending.  David's daughter, Lea Cossart, married Samuel's great grandfather John Harpending. Information about the Harpending line of our family tree can be found in Chapter 9 of this blog.

Anthony Cossart who was born in 1673 was only 12 years old when his father died and he undoubtedly went to live with his mother and her new husband after their marriage.  The first historical record of Anthony other than his baptism was his marriage in the Dutch Reform Church in Bushwick on 2 August 1696 to a young girl from Schenectady, New York named Elizabeth Tymensen Valentine, my 7th great grandmother. The church record of the marriage stated that besides her being from Schenectady that "beyde woonende alhier" meaning that both newlyweds were living here or presumably they were both living in the Brooklyn area as of 1696. Many of the writings about their marriage state that the marriage took place in Schenectady but this seems to be unlikely especially since Schenectady was pretty much destroyed in February of 1690 when the French and Indians attacked the city, killed many of its inhabitants, and burned most of their wood-constructed homes to the ground.  What is really a mystery (that we failed to resolve) is that Elizabeth's father and my 8th great grandfather, Jan (John) Tymensen Valentine is almost universally listed as having died in Schenectady in 1690 leading one to assume that he must have been killed during the "Schenectady Massacre" which occurred early in the second month of the year. Unfortunately, not only is his name not mentioned in the official listing of those killed during the attack or subsequently kidnapped and removed to Canada, his name also cannot be found in any of the old Schenectady records at least that we reviewed.  Many of the family trees on Ancestry.com also list Jan Valentine as having been born in Schenectady in 1649 which is completely ridiculous since Schenectady was not even settled until 1661.  Here is what we suspect to be true. The Valentine family was Dutch and originally settled in New Amsterdam.  Jan Valentine was a fur trader which led him to live for a time in or near Schenectady with his wife Catherine Tamamizer.  Their daughter Elizabeth was born there around 1675. Since Jan Valentine was not a permanent settler in the Schenectady area his name was never listed as a resident, a homeowner, nor a member of the church. After his death at some unknown date and location, his wife and daughter returned to the Brooklyn area. Here Elizabeth met and married Anthony Cossart. One other interesting possibility about the parents of Elizabeth and Anthony's in-laws, is that Jan did not died and he and Catherine moved to New Jersey with their daughter and son-in-law. A baptismal record of one of the daughters of Anthony and Elizabeth dated 1708 at the Dutch Reformed Church of Raritan (New Jersey) listed as the witnesses of the baptism "Jan Thuenissen and Catherine Tammizer, his wife."  Sure looks like Elizabeth's parents may have been alive and well in 1708.

The next historical record that exists that mentions Anthony Cossart is the 1701 Census of Brooklyn that lists Anthony with his wife, two children, an apprentice, and 10 slaves.  The mention of the slaves and particularly the quantity of slaves came as quite a surprise.  The Dutch were well known as slave owners but the real surprise in Anthony's case was that at only 28 years old he owned 10 slaves.  This quantity would suggest that he was fairly well-off financially as slaves were expensive to both buy and maintain. He must have been quite an entrepreneur at a young age as there is no evidence to suggest that he would have inherited a lot of money from his parents especially considering that he had two older brothers.  Furthermore an earlier census taken in 1698 shows Anthony living with his wife, 1 child, 1 apprentice, and no slaves showing that he must have purchased the slaves between 1698 and 1701. Anthony was a farmer and probably a large farmer, living in a community called Cripplebush or Cripple Creek that was near Bushwick (where his parents had settled) and according to some sources near where the Brooklyn Naval Yards were eventually built. Incidentally, my great grandparents Joris Janseen Rapalje and Catalyntje Trico owned land upon which the Brooklyn Naval Yards were later built and while they died before Anthony Cossart was living in Cripple Creek, it is entirely possible that Anthony may have known the Rapalje sons.  The story of my Rapalje (Rappleye) ancestors is told in Chapter 1 of this blog.

It was a little surprising to learn that in March of 1703 Anthony and Elizabeth decided to sell their home and farm in Cripple Creek and move to New Jersey somewhere in present day Somerset County which was originally founded in 1688. The vast majority of the earliest settlers in this area were people of Dutch ancestry who were moving from the New York City and Long Island areas.  There is some confusion however, as to exactly where Anthony and Elizabeth purchased land probably in the year 1704. Some of the Cossart family historians state that they moved to Piscataway whereas others write that they "migrated to the Raritan area". To some degree these are both correct when one considers the changing boundaries and names changes over the years. The "Raritan area" might be referring to the Raritan River area which runs from west of present day Raritan, through Somerville, Bound Brook, Piscataway, Perth Amboy and on into the Raritan Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. While there is a present day Township of Piscataway, the whole area was once part of the Piscataway Indian lands so to say that they moved to Piscataway may be understandable since the entire area was once referred to as Piscataway. In any case, the distance between the cities of Piscataway and Raritan is only around 12 miles. Based on where some of the Cossart children were baptized at the First Reformed Church of Raritan which is actually now in present day Somerville in north Somerset County, we have to believe that the village of Somerville was near the original location of the Cossart homestead.  Somerville was not called Somerville until around 1800 which might explain why it does not appear on the above Northern Jersey map of 1700. In a description of early Somerville it was noted that it was "originally a sparsely populated farming community." That sounds about right.

There are also two additional records that place Anthony Cossart in Piscataway during the early 1700s. In 1715 he was listed as a militia soldier in the New Jersey militia in Colonel Thomas Farmer's regiment, 4th Company of "Woodbridge and Piscataway".  A more interesting record shows the name of "Anthony Cozar" as a witness to the Will of Edward Doty of Piscataway, Middlesex County dated 18 October 1717.  Here again we see the location as Piscataway but what we do know based again on baptismal records of Edward Doty's children, was that he was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church of Raritan (later Somerville) at least in 1712 and 1714.  It would seem that he may have been a neighbor of our Cossart (Cozad, Cozar) family in an area later to be named Somerville.  Even more interesting is that Edward Doty was the grandson of Edward Doty, one of the passengers on the Mayflower in 1620 and as it turns out my 9th great grandfather on my mother's side of my family.  The Edward Doty who died in 1717 and was a friend of Anthony and Elizabeth Cossart (my father's side of my family) was my 1st cousin, 9 times removed.  Wow. What a coincidence.

Anthony and Elizabeth were to have six children together including my 6th great grandfather and their oldest son, Jacob Cossart, who was born in Cripple Creek (Brooklyn) in 1701. Three of their children were born at their home in Somerville in New Jersey, the oldest being born in 1712.  Unfortunately my 7th great grandmother died at the relatively young age of 46 in the year 1720.  Anthony still a relatively young man at that point married for a second time a woman by the name of Judith Hendricks who was 24 years younger than Anthony and had lost her husband.  Judith and Anthony had three children together. Anthony died at the age of 83 in 1756.  We could not determine where he and his two wives are buried.

Jacob Cossart's life is a little confusing particularly when it comes to where he lived in New Jersey since based on the reported different birth locations of his many children he was on the move quite a bit. It is said that he was a minister during his adult life which if true might help explain his seemly frequent relocations. Whatever the circumstances, here is what we have to offer about the life of my 6th great grandparents.  Jacob Cossart was only 21 years old when he married a young girl of English descent by the name of Hannah Cox on 19 April 1723. Hannah's father and my 7th great grandfather was a man named Phillip Cox who was born in England in 1677 and immigrated to America with his parents at the age of 13 in 1690.  They settled in what was then known as Elizabethtown (now just Elizabeth, New Jersey) which was originally founded back in 1664 by English settlers. At some point in his early life probably around 20 years old, Phillip moved southward around 25 miles to where he met his future wife Hannah Trembly in Woodbridge, New Jersey. They married on the 24th of September in the year 1698. There is some controversy as to the names of Hannah Trembley's parents although it would seem based on her surname that at least her father was of English descent.  We mention this because Hannah Cox was undoubtedly Presbyterian based on her parent's religion. On the other hand her new husband Jacob Cossart had been raised in a Dutch Protestant Church.  This may have been a problem, at least for Hannah's father (her mother had died long before Hannah's marriage) and consequently Jacob Cossart may have agreed to change his religious faith to that of a Presbyterian to appease the family.  This change was a very unusual move especially in the year 1723. What is even more unusual is that Jacob Cossart not only changed churches, but he may have became a Presbyterian minister.  We were unable to confirm this possibility.

Counties of New Jersey
Jacob and Hannah's first child, a son named Jacob was born in 1723/24 probably near Jacob's birth home in Somerset County somewhere in the area of present day Somerville in Bridgewater Township located just west of Bound Brook.  It was here that many of the earliest Dutch had settled including both of Jacob's parents who were still alive and were probably present at the birth of their grandson. We know that shortly following the birth of their son, Jacob and Hannah moved north up into Morris County into an area later know as Succasunna Plains in Roxbury Township.  In the time period of around 1725, Roxbury Township was scarcely populated by mostly white farmers and still a few Indians. While they were mostly English settlers many from Connecticut as opposed to Dutch settlers from New York, there were no churches and probably few if any commercial businesses or any structured government in place.  Land costs were inexpensive and the land was probably still forested so Jacob was undoubtedly faced with a lot of hard work to build his new home, clear his land, and plant the crops. One other interesting feature in early Roxbury and Succasunna Plains was the existence of ore mining that had started in the late 1710s. It is possible that the mining operations and the possible job opportunities may have attracted Jacob Cossart who was still in his mid-20s, although there is no evidence to support that possibility.

Most of the Cossart family trees on Ancestry.com and many of the Cossart family histories report that of their children born between 1727 and 1742, they were all born down in Bound Brook, New Jersey or close by in Somerset County some 30 miles south of Succasunna.  We believe however, that the Anthony Cossart family never left the Succasunna area until at least 1750. We also believe that all of their children with the exception of their first child were born on their family farm in Morris County.  Unfortunately if there were any records of their children's births or baptisms other than the baptism of the last child, a daughter named Leah who was born in 1743, none of the records have survived. In Leah Cossart's case, her baptism is recorded at the First Presbyterian Church at Morristown.  As of 1743 there was no Presbyterian church located in Succasunna. Incidentally, if there were no local churches in the area including the church in Morristown that was not established until 1742, it is kind of hard to see where some family historians credit Jacob Cossart with being a minister.  He definitely was not listed as a minister or pastor at the Morristown church.  Anyway, the additional evidence that the Jacob Cossart family remained in Morris County is that their first five children were all married in Morris County between the years 1742 and 1760.  The marriage of their oldest son Jacob was recorded in Morris County in 1742, one year before his sister Leah was born. It is not clear what motivated Jacob Cossart to move his family back to Somerset County although possibly his father's death in 1756 may have been a factor.  Whether or not Jacob inherited money with his father's death is not known but it is likely and possibly a motivator to relocate. As we have outlined below it is likely that Jacob with his family moved south into what is today part of Warren Township in northeast Somerset County.

Old Presbyterian Graveyard Bound Brook, NJ
Jacob and Hannah Cox Cossart's youngest son, Anthony Cozad, my 5th great grandfather, was born on their family farm in Succasunna, Roxbury Township, Morris County, New Jersey in 1740 and he was in his early teens when his parents moved back to Somerset County.  In 1762, Anthony married my 5th great grandmother, Catherine Coon, who was at the time only 16 years old.  When his father Jacob died in 1772 ten years after their marriage, one of the witnesses on his will was a man named Thomas Coon who was probably an old friend of Jacob's, a neighbor, and the father of his daughter-in-law Catherine Coon Cozad. This would of course make Thomas Coon my 6th great grandfather.  Jacob and Hannah Cossart are buried in graveyard of the old Presbyterian Church in Bound Brook, New Jersey in what we have read was the family plot of the Coon family.  In Jacob Cossart's Last Will and Testament he leaves his modest assets to his wife and family but nothing is left to the church which if he were a minister might seem a little unusual. Another indication that the Coon and Cossart/Cozad families were friends and most likely lived near one another (as described in subsequent paragraphs), is that two of Catherine Coon's younger siblings, a brother and sister, married children of Anthony Cozad's older brother Jacob or put another way, Anthony was their uncle. We will not wonder if they called their older sister, Anthony's wife, their Aunt Catherine. Just kidding. What is also interesting is that Anthony Cozad was an executor on his father-in-law's will written just before Thomas Coon's death in 1785 and even more interesting was that Anthony as well as his father Jacob Cossart were both witnesses on Catherine's grandfather's will in 1761.  His name was also Thomas Coon and the fact that the two Cossart/Cozad were part of the will shows just how close these two families must have been.

Catherine Coon Cozad was only 17 years old when the first of her ten children was born.  She was 41 years old when her last child was born and only 44 years old when her husband Anthony prematurely died in 1790 at the relatively young age of only 50.  His will was written only two weeks before it was "proved" and the inventory of his assets compiled, which would imply that he had not anticipated his early death. He left to his wife Catherine in his will the right to use their home "to bring up my children, until they go to trades," and with four children under the age of ten when he died, Catherine was not about to move from the family home any time soon.  Strangely, Catherine Coon Cozad never remarried and when one her young daughters, 24-year old Hannah Cozad, my 4th great grandmother, married my 4th great grandfather Samuel Harpending in 1806 and then in the Spring of 1807 headed by wagon to central New York, Hannah's mother, Catherine Coon Cozad, went with them.  Catherine died in 1824 at the age of 78 having outliving her husband by 34 years.  She is buried near Dundee, New York in the oldest cemetery in Yates County located behind The Starkey Methodist Church.  Her name on her gravestone noted her as "Katherine Casad." My wife and I visited this cemetery around a decade ago with no idea that my 5th great grandmother was buried there alongside at least 216 other graves. 

There is very little historical documentation about Anthony Cozad and the few times that the name is mentioned we have to wonder if the Anthony Cozad mentioned might actually be his cousin Anthony (1739-1800) who was about the same age as our grandfather but he lived over in Middlesex County as opposed to Somerset County. The mix up may have occurred when the Sons of the American Revolution in 1954 accepted our Anthony Cozad  (1740-1790) as a Revolutionary War soldier and as a result granted membership to his descendant Charles C. Cosad.  Only problem here was that he is listed as having been a Private in the Middlesex County Militia.  One has to suspect that the Middlesex private was actually his cousin Anthony who lived in Middlesex. On the other hand our Anthony's father-in-law, Thomas Coon, was a private in Captain William Moffatt's Company, in Colonel Frederick Frelinghuysen's 1st Regiment of the Somerset County Militia, and if our Anthony Cozad was a soldier during the Revolution, this is likely the regiment in which he served.  Unfortunately we could not find any records to support this belief.  If our Anthony Cozad was in this regiment then he might have seen a lot of action during the American Revolution as there were many battles large and small fought within New Jersey including the nearby Battle of Bound Brook.

Townships in Somerset County, New Jersey
One other unfortunate circumstance is that we could not find any baptismal records for the births of Anthony's and Catherine's children which would normally tell us where the parents were living at the time of the births.  It is extremely unlikely that he was not a member of any church and it is a real possibility that the baptismal records were simply lost. An issue of the Somerset County Historical Quarterly reported that Anthony was a "warm supporter of the Mt. Bethel Church" located in present day Warren Township in Somerset County. What intrigued us about this was that before 1806, Warren Township was actually part of Bernards Township which is the location most often listed for the births of Anthony's and Catherine's children. Furthermore, Bernards Township (or Bernards Town) is listed as the location where Anthony Cozad was living when he prepared his will in 1790.  This might suggest that the family was actually living in present day Warren Township and possibly near Mount Bethel Church as opposed to present day Bernards Township.

Old Mount Bethel Church and Cemetery
Mount Bethel was founded in 1767 so it is possible that the Cozarts were early members but in any case they would have been members of this church long after all of their children had been baptised. We learned after reviewing the website of the "Warren Township Historical Society" that the Coon family was one of the earliest settlers in Warren Township as was a man named David Smalley. Obviously the Coon family was close to Anthony Cozad as he married their daughter but equally important is that David Smalley was not only listed as an executor on Anthony's will but his daughter Rachel Smalley married Samuel Cozad, son of Anthony and Catherine.  Combine this information with the fact that there is a small burg located near Mount Bethel Church named Coontown, convinces us even more that there is ample evidence to show that the Anthony Cozad family lived in Warren Township in Somerset County, near the Mount Bethel Church, near Coontown, and as it turns out only around five miles north of Bound Brook where Anthony Cozad and his parents and many members of the Coon family are buried. The suggestion as some have made that Anthony Cozad died in Bound Brook or in Millstone located just south of Bound Brook appears to be without merit. Anthony's will suggested that he was not well-off when he died as his assets totaled only a little over 160 English pounds. We found this description written about early Warren Township to be quite revealing: "A sparsely-populated region of marginal farmland and rocky hills."  Does not sound like a great place to find a prosperous farm in the late 1700s. That being the case we should not be surprised to learn that a many of the children of Anthony and Catherine left the area after their father's death and after they reached adulthood.  Two of their daughters however, Mary and Catherine, married local men, brothers Reuben and Joshua Compton, and they are all buried in the Mount Bethel Cemetery in Warren Township. Our 4th great grandmother, Hannah Cozad, followed the pattern of many of her brothers and sisters by moving away, in her case with her new husband Samuel Harpending to Central New York not long after the close of the American Revolution.  And so ends our story of our Cossart/Cozad ancestors.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Chapter 40. - Our Hall Family Ancestors

My 5th great grandfather, Benjamin Hall, was born in Cheshire near Wallingford, Connecticut in 1736 and he died at the age of 50 in the year 1786. He was 40 years old when the Declaration of Independence was signed and it should be safe to assume that he was a patriot soldier during our War for Independence. In fact, we listed him as one of my Revolutionary War ancestors in Chapter 15 of this blog although we admitted at the time of writing that it was difficult to find any definitive information about him in the history records other than the mention of his name as a Connecticut soldier. When we decided to write a chapter on my Hall family ancestors, we spent a lot of time focusing on my 5th great grandfather hoping to narrow down his actual experiences during the war.  At first we became excited when we discovered that a Benjamin Hall from Connecticut was present during the Lexington Alarm in Massachusetts in 1775.  We than began to find his name listed multiple times in various regiments over the course of the war.  Our story was just beginning to develop when quite unexpectedly we came across a record of a Benjamin Hall again from Connecticut, who was an avid Tory, a British sympathizer. Could this man have actually been my 5th great grandfather, a Tory? Before we get to far ahead of ourselves and our story of our Hall ancestors, let us return to the beginning.

My 9th great grandfather was a man named John Hall who was born in England around 1605 and emigrated as a young man to America around 1632. Fortunately we find that much has been written about our John Hall although unfortunately at the same time much of what has been written is contradictory. Even in these early years of our country with a small population, the name John Hall was fairly common and perhaps it should not be surprising to discover that two of the earliest settlers of Hartford, Connecticut both were named John Hall and their histories have been somewhat intertwined. That said, what we are about to write is what we believe is the accurate story of our 9th great grandfather, John Hall.

John Hall was 21 years old when he married my 7th great grandmother Mary Lyman on the 8th day of December in the year 1692. Some believe that John Hall sailed from Downs, England on the ship Griffin which arrived in the Boston Harbor on 4 September 1633 carrying around 200 passengers including the well known religious dissenters, Thomas Hooker and John Cotton. The only real hint that John may have been part of this group is that in 1636 he followed Thomas Hooker and a group of around 100 other individuals, mostly Puritan followers of the Rev. Hooker, on a wilderness trip into Connecticut where he and the others helped found the new settlement of Hartford on the Connecticut River. In Chapter 29 of this blog we go into a rather detailed description of the founding of Hartford which we will not repeat in this chapter particularly since it appears that by 1640 John Hall had already sold his land in the new community of Hartford. We suspect that our John Hall may not have been ready to settle down when he first arrived in Hartford in 1636.  His name does not appear on a 1636 lot map listing the original settlers of Hartford and then on a later 1640 map of Hartford his name appears as follows: "John Hall sold (land) to William Spencer."  Apparently he had already sold his land by 1640 and had moved elsewhere.  In 1640 John Hall was around 35 years old and unmarried and perhaps not ready to settle down or at least not settle down in Hartford. There are some historians who believe that our John Hall was part of an early group of explorers led by a man named John Oldham who traveled extensively throughout Connecticut as early as 1633 to trade in furs with the local Indians. This might of course suggest that when John later traveled with the Thomas Hooker group in 1636 he may have been serving as their guide. This is of course, pure speculation but it might help to explain why he did not ultimately settle in Hartford.

We know that in 1637 John Hall served in the militia during the Pequot War probably volunteering and serving with other men from Hartford. Without going into a lot of detail about the war and its causes, it should suffice to say that the Pequot were an Indian tribe who lived in southeastern Connecticut who along with their Dutch partners were in an intense struggle with the English to control the fur and wampum trade.  The first military action against the Pequot Indians followed the killing by the Pequot of John Oldham, trader and possible former partner of our John Hall, in July of 1636.  It was not however, until a large force of Pequot warriors attacked English settlers in Wethersfield on the 23rd day of April 1637 and killed nine men and women that the Colony of Connecticut declared war on the Pequot tribe on May 1st. Ninety soldiers from the towns of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor formed an expedition to attack the major Pequot villages.  Our John Hall was undoubtedly one of these ninety men.  The war from this point ended quickly for on May 26th the English soldiers along with some of their Indian allies attacked a fortified Pequot Indian village known as Mystic Fort and killed around 400 to 600 Pequot old men (the younger men were not there), women, and children which effectively ending the war and the Pequot Indian tribe.  Only two English soldiers were killed in the brief battle. While some tribal members continued to fight in other locations without much success, the war officially ended on the 21st of September in 1637 with the signing of the Hartford Treaty. The Treaty stipulated that the Pequot tribe was to be no more.  No Pequot Indians were present at the signing to protest the terms.

It is not obvious why John Hall decided to leave Hartford in 1640 and move to the new settlement that was to be called New Haven.  If John had been a fur trader as some believe, this would have meant that his job required him to be away from home for long periods and therefore he may have spent little time at his small log cabin home in Hartford. Thus when he had the opportunity to sell his property in Hartford, he took it. Again, if John Hall had been a trader, New Haven's location near the Great Bay (the Long Island Sound) was an excellent choice to relocate since it opened up the possibility of his being able to readily ship his goods to the other colonies and to England. That, plus the original settlers were for the most part newly arrived and well financed merchants from England and not primarily farmers as they had been in Hartford. New Haven it would appear was "founded to be a commercial town." If John Hall was indeed a trader it was probably a good move on his part.

Sketch of early New Haven
Perhaps after his move to New Haven he realized that at the age of around 35 it was about time that he found a wife and start a family. It was in fact somewhat unusual to find a single man in his mid-30s during these early colonial years. We are not certain as to the date of John's marriage to our 9th great grandmother Jeanne Woolen, although we suspect that it was not long after his arrival in New Haven and certainly no later than early 1644 as he is listed as already married in court records in July of 1644. Jeanne Woolen was brought to America in 1633 by William and Abigail(?) Wilkes and it is believed that she was possibly the niece or cousin of Mrs. Wilkes. In exchange for the cost of her passage, my 9th great grandmother agreed to work for the Wilkes for a period of at least five years or possibly longer essentially working as Mrs. Wilkes maid-servant. She was to receive for these services a small annual allowance plus 10 English pounds when she married. They apparently immigrated on the ship Griffin and if this is the case it is possible that Jeanne Woolen had met her future husband, John Hall, during their voyage and they had spent a short time together while both were living in Boston.  The Wilkes family along with Jeanne Woolen moved to the new settlement of New Haven probably in the spring of 1638 along with the other new settlers.  If John Hall and his future wife Jeanne Woolen had met each other previous to John Hall's move to New Haven, that might explain in large part John's motivation to move from Hartford to New Haven in or around 1640.  This is however, but pure speculation.  What is known based on court records is that when John and Jeanne married, William Wilkes refused to give her the 10 pounds that he had promised and then sometime later in 1644, William Wilkes probably for business reasons, returned to England where he is believed to have died.  His wife returned to England in 1646 and she too unfortunately died when her ship was lost at sea. John Hall, very much angered by the Wilkes' failure to pay his wife the 10 pounds she was promised, sued the Wilkes' estate in 1647, and after a long drawn out court battle the Halls were awarded the 10 pounds that they were owed.

John Hall spent thirty years living in New Haven.  Based on the amount of land that he accumulated he was fairly successful at what he did for a living (whatever that was) although he was not by any means a wealthy man.  During their time in New Haven, John and Jeanne Woolen Hall raised seven (7) children, five boys and two girls, including their third child, Samuel Hall, our 8th great grandfather, who was born in 1648. Despite the fact that John Hall's name was found in the historical records on a number of occasions we still have learned very few details about his life. While he did sign the New Haven Planters' covenant, the Fundamental Agreement, that created the new settlement of New Haven on 4 June 1639, he was considered an "after-signer" in that he signed the document at some unknown later date, and consequently we do not really know the exact year that he moved to New Haven.  Another confusing item is that if he married Jeanne Woolen in late 1643 or early 1644 as is generally assumed and their first child John Jr. was born sometime in 1644, why then did John and Jeanne wait until 9 August 1646 to have their first two children, John Jr. and Sarah, baptized in the First Church of Christ. This church was organized six years earlier back in 1639 but the first reference to John Hall as a member in their records was not until the 1646 baptisms. Since being a recognized citizen in the plantation of New Haven and belonging to the church were synonymous and inseparable, either the Halls were not permanently living in New Haven until a few years after their marriage or the church records are simply missing.  Even if there are missing records, this still does not explain the delay in having their children baptized.  We suspect here again, that John Hall continued as an active trader both with the Indians as well as with merchants in the settlements north of New Haven. It is possible that this would have required him to travel a great deal perhaps even with Jeanne, his new wife. It is also a possibility we suppose that he did not permanently settle in New Haven until after the birth of their daughter Sarah, at which time they formally joined the church and then had both of their young children baptized.  This explanation conflicts of course with why he was granted land on Mill River in New Haven on 17 January 1641 and that he took an Oath of Fidelity in July of 1644. Both of these occurrences suggest that he was living in New Haven and was likely a member of the church. Some of the fun of studying the history of our ancestors is that we occasionally encounter these types of mysteries that we know will never be solved no matter how much time we spend looking through the records.

In 1670 John's and Jeanne's three oldest sons, John, Samuel, and Thomas, ages 25, 23 and 21 respectively, moved to the new community of Wallingford located about 14 miles north of New Haven up the Quinnipiac River (then referred to as "the east river.")  Wallingford had just been formed a year earlier and sons John, Samuel, and Thomas undoubtedly eagerly signed their names to the founding covenant.  Moving to a new community such as Wallingford gave the young men a chance to own their own land, build their own homes, start up new businesses, and raise their families without having to share everything with their parents and siblings.  Both John and Samuel were married and their wives moved with them.  Their father and mother were also to moved to Wallingford, only a few years later and even then for a few more years John and Jeanne Hall maintained homes both in New Haven and in Wallingford.  In 1665, John Hall Sr. had turned 60 years old and as a result his obligation to serve in the militia had ceased and we suspect that his business, perhaps at that point as a store owner and merchant, may have either been sold, closed, or turned over to one of his two youngest sons to manage.  It seems apparently in any case, that John Hall Sr had slowed down somewhat since in 1675 in Wallingford he agreed to serve on a committee of thirteen men along with his sons John Jr. and Samuel to formally establish a church. There are no records of John Hall in the past ever finding the time to serve on committees and in fact, in New Haven in 1669 he had actually turned down a request to serve as a constable.  Some of the biographies of John Hall state that he served as one of the 1st deacons of the church in Wallingford and as a Selectman although we believe that it was in fact his son John Jr. who served in these rolls. My 9th great grandfather John Hall died somewhat unexpectedly at the age of 71 in early 1676.  We believe it was unexpected simply because he left only a verbal will and despite his modest wealth he had not anticipated his death. The death was probably caused by illness that took his life rather quickly.  Not unexpectedly, my 9th great grandmother, Jeanne Woolen Hall married, not long after John's death, a widower named John Cooper whom she had known in New Haven.  Jeanne died in 1690.  Some believe that John Cooper's first marriage was to Jeanne Woolen's sister Mary Woolen although we found absolutely no evidence to support this claim.  John Hall was in the end a good man.  He worked hard during his life providing for his family and clearly he had set a good example for his sons for they all were successful in their own lives after their father's death. 

Of the original 38 families who were assigned lots in Wallingford in 1669, three of the eight acre lots were granted to sons of John Hall.  Lot number 5 went to John Hall Jr,; Lot number 15 went to Thomas Hall, and lot number 3 was given to my 8th great grandfather Samuel Hall.  This small acquisition of land by Samuel was only the beginning of his land acquisitions for it is said that by the time of his death in 1725 Samuel had become a large landowner.  His ability to acquire all of this land was obviously a result of his successful business career as a "dishturner." He had constructed in Wallingford on the east river (the Quinnipiac River) a water mill that powered a saw for cutting lumber.  From the cut lumber he manufactured wooden dishes, cups, and possibility furniture which were all in high demand during this period of history when china, copper, and silver dinnerware was not yet readily available nor affordable. My 8th great grandmother's name was Hannah Walker, daughter of John and Grace Walker who are believed to have been good friends of Samuel's parents and settled near them in New Haven.  Hannah and Samuel married in New Haven in the year 1668 shortly before they moved to Wallingford.  Their first child, John Hall (1670-1730), my 7th great grandfather was born shortly after their move to Wallingford in 1670. Obviously Hannah was pregnant while Samuel Hall labored to build them a new home in the wooded wilderness land on the hillside above the Quinnipiac River. In total, Samuel and Hannah were to have seven children.

Samuel Hall was not only a good business and family man but he also played an active role in maintaining his civic responsibilities.  As with most men his age in Colonial America, he was a member of the local militia.  He not only served during the King Philip's War of 1675-1676, but by 1696 he was listed as a lieutenant of his "trainband" (groups of local men who were trained periodically to fight to protect their community) which probably meant he was second in command of the local Wallingford militia, and then by 1704 (during the Queen Anne's War) he was promoted to the rank of captain (first in command of his militia unit) which would have been quite an honor and showed that he was highly respected in the community both for his military training skills as well as for his leadership ability. What is not really clear in any of the history records that we reviewed is whether or not Samuel Hall and his small militia unit ever actually engaged in any direct battles with the Indians. The constant threat of an Indian attacked however, existed during Samuel's entire life and therefore constant military training was an essential and important feature in all early American communities. The threat of Indian attacks continued long after Samuel Hall's death in 1725 for the French and Indian War did not even begin until 1752. Besides his military duties, Samuel Hall also served for many years as a Deputy to the General Court where he and the other selected deputies worked to determine the laws and taxes within the various local towns.

We also know that in 1716 Benjamin Hall was made a Deacon of his church an honor that was immortalized on his gravestone after his death at the age of 76 on 5 March 1725.  There is also a record that Samuel served as one of the "selectman" in his town, a position that basically works with the other selectmen to manage the town's affairs. Samuel Hall's appointments as a captain in the militia, a deacon in his church, and one of the town's selectmen, clearly shows the respect that his friends and neighbors had for my 8th great grandfather. He helped found the settlement of Wallingford in 1670 which began as a community of 38 families consisting of around 100 men, woman and children living in mostly small log homes. By the time of his death in 1725 Wallingford had more than tripled in size and a number of other nearby communities had been organized and were growing rapidly.

As we researched our Hall ancestors it quickly became apparent that most members of the Hall family in these early generations were all hard working and successful individuals and my 7th great grandfather, John Hall, was no exception.  He was born in Wallingford on the 22nd day of December in the year 1670.  His birth home was probably a new log cabin that his father had just finished constructing.  As Christmas was approaching there may have been a roaring fire in their new stone fireplace and quite possibly snow was laying on the ground surrounding their home.  We have to believe that shortly following his birth, his uncles John and Thomas Hall along with Uncle John's wife Mary, and possibly even his grandparents John and Jeanne Hall stopped by the home to welcome the newborn baby and congratulate the new parents. In their house on this 22nd day of December there were three John Halls, a fact that helps explain the confusion that historians have had when researching the life of my 7th great grandfather.  The problem is further compounded when we add another John Hall to the list, a son of Uncle John and wife Mary who was born in 1678 and as it turns out lived in Wallingford during the same time period as his cousin.

John Hall married my 7th great grandmother Mary Lyman on 8 December 1692.  Mary was the daughter of John  and Dorcas (Dorothy) Lyman of Northampton, Massachusetts which immediately begs the question as to how did John Hall of Wallingford meet his future wife Mary Lyman of Northampton. While today these two communities are only about a one hour drive apart, in 1692 the 60 mile trip might take as long as two long days.  While we do not really know how they met, we have a theory.  Mary's older sister by two years, Dorothy Lyman married a man named Jabez Brockett who was an early settler of Wallingford.  Jabez Brockett was born in 1656 and was 35 years old when he married 26 year old Dorothy.  Jabez Brockett was known to be a militia soldier during the King Phillip's War and it is possible that during the war which took place in 1675 and 1676 that he may have met Dorothy and Mary Lyman's father, John Lyman, who was known to be a lieutenant during this Indian war.  Whatever the case, Jabez Brockett and Dorothy Lyman were married in November of 1691 and shortly thereafter she became pregnant.  Since Dorothy knew few people in her new home in Wallingford, we suggest that she may have invited her sister Mary, who was two years her junior, down to Wallingford to help her through her pregnancy. While Mary was in Wallingford she met John Hall and they fell in love.  Her sister's baby was born on 17 September 1692 and John and Mary were married less than three months later on 8 December 1692.  This makes for a great story and it makes sense.

John and Mary Lyman Hall's first child, John Hall, Jr., was born on the 13th day of September 1693 only nine months and five days after his parents' marriage.  Together my 7th great grandparents were to have seven children (who were alive at the time of John's death and mentioned in his will) including my 6th great grandfather Benjamin Hall who was born in 1704.  John Hall's life was eulogized at his funeral in 1730 by the Reverend Samuel Whittlesey, pastor of John's church, who fortunately hand wrote his eulogy on paper so that today we can still see the words he used to describe the life of our great grandfather.  Some of these words tell us quite a story: "Skillful and righteous judge," "Wise and able Counsellor," "Extended foresight," "Truly fitted for government and public service," and finally, "excellent talents." We also see in many of the historical narratives describing John's life where he is referred to as the Honorable John Hall, and based on his civic activities during his life time it is quite easy to see why he was so respected. In his Will it reports that he distributed to his sons almost 1,000 acres of land that he owned so obviously what ever John Hall did for a living in addition to the work that he did in government, he was successful enough to be able to acquire land.  Like his father before him, John Hall was elected to be the Captain in the local militia and while we do not know whether he directly participated in any of the Indian wars, what we do know is that he lived during tumultuous times when the colonies were in a state of constant excitement and alarm and it is therefore probable that he faced on numerous occasions situations where military action was necessary.

My 7th great grandfather, John Hall, was also prominent in public affairs. The early colonial government of Connecticut was very special in our country's history as its "Fundamental Orders of Connecticut" established in 1636 was one of the first written democratic constitutions that established a representative government and it is generally accepted by most historians that it formed the basis of the later United States Constitution. It was modified slightly with the Connecticut Charter of 1662 which merged all of the colonies within Connecticut under one government and perhaps more importantly, the new charter gave the colony a legal basis and the approval of the King of England.  The governmental structure of the colony of Connecticut within which our John Hall participated was organized as follows:  At the head of the government was an elected governor and a deputy governor. Below the governor was another elected group referred to under various names including the Governor's Council or Assistants or the General Court which consisted of a group of elected magistrates to advise the governor, to make the laws, and to act as the justices of the court.  The final group was known as the General Assembly which was composed of elected deputies from each of the towns. Our understanding is that our John Hall served first as one of the town's deputies in the General Assembly and then from 1722 until 1730 he was elected and served on the Governor's Council as an Assistant and as a justice of the Supreme Court of the Colony.  The title of "Honorable" often seen proceeding the name John Hall would certainly be appropriate for a man who served as a judge. John Hall's service in the government of Colonial Connecticut was cut short when he died at the relatively young age of 59 in the year 1730.  One final observation worth mentioning before we explore the life of our 6th great grandfather Benjamin Hall, is that John Hall was the grandfather of a man named Lyman Hall who was the son of John Hall's oldest son John Hall Jr. Lyman Hall was only six years old when his grandfather died. He is important in our country's history not only because he was a governor of Georgia but also because he was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Lyman Hall is my 1st cousin, 7 times removed.

All of the sons of John Hall were successful and prominent in their lives including my 6th great grandfather, Benjamin Hall, who was born on 17 December 1704 in the Town of Wallingford, Connecticut. Benjamin was 22 years old when he married my grandmother Abiah Chauncey. Abiah Chauncey was descended from a very well known and religious family.  Her great grandfather, Charles Chauncy (1592-1672) was an early pastor in Plymouth Colony and he was later elected to be the second president of Harvard College in 1654.  Her grandfather Israel Chauncy (1670-1745) is credited with being one of the founders of Yale in New Haven, Connecticut.  Her father, Charles Chauncey (1668-1714) graduated from Harvard in 1686 and served as a pastor at his church in Stratford, Connecticut for nineteen years.  The story of my Chauncey ancestors is told in Chapter 3 of this blog. Abiah Chauncey's mother's name was Sarah Walcott and they also were descended from a well known, respected, and somewhat wealthy family whose story is told in Chapter 16 of this blog.

Benjamin Hall's father died in 1730 and in his will he left Benjamin and his brothers a lot of land including a large landholding on the Mill River over in Cheshire just west of Wallingford, where Benjamin and Abiah moved along with their three children who had been born prior to the move.  It was undoubtedly due to the fact that Benjamin came from a wealthy family, was a large landowner, and was probably respected for his apparent leadership traits, plus the fact that his older brother Samuel was pastor of the local church, that he was elected in 1733 to be a Representative to the Assembly by the town of Cheshire and then in that same year and even greater honor was bestowed on him when he was commissioned to be not only a Magistrate in the Governor's Council/General Court but also a captain in the local trainband, the militia.  Benjamin was only 29 years old and still a young father when all of this occurred.  Despite being very busy for the next two decades, traveling, serving his legal duties as the local magistrate, and being head of the local militia, Benjamin and Abiah managed to raise nine children including their sixth child and my 5th great grandfather Benjamin Hall Jr. who was born the 27th of September 1736.

Before and after the French and Indian War
The French and Indian War in America which began in 1754 was actually a war between the British and the French with both sides using Indians as allies. The war itself, at least in America, was about throwing the French out of territory claimed by the British, namely the colonies including all land east of the Mississippi including upper New York and Vermont, and even eastern Canada. By this point in his life Benjamin Hall was now a colonel in the militia and he could hardly avoid playing an active role in the war against the French and the Indians. It is estimated that upwards of 16,000 men in the Connecticut militia participated from time to time during the war years of 1754 through 1764.  Although there are not a lot of records that have survived that describe Benjamin Hall's role during the war, we do find his name mentioned on a few occasions. As a colonel in the 10th Regiment we know that his regiment helped to restore and garrison an abandoned French fort at Crown Point on Lake Champlain in 1755.  In 1756, he commanded a regiment that was sent north up to the St Lawrence River but whether they engaged the French or Indians during this campaign we could not determine. In 1757, his regiment was sent to Fort William Henry to help protect the fort against a French attack but their company arrived to late to protect the fort's capture by the French. As late as 1759 there is mention of Col Benjamin Hall's war activities as well as copies of his war correspondence in a history book entitled History of Cheshire, Connecticut written by Joseph Perkins Beach in 1912. The capture of Quebec in 1759 and Montreal in 1760 pretty much ended the war as far as the Connecticut militia was concerned.  Whether Benjamin Hall was present at either of these victories we could not determine although it would appear likely.

Benjamin Hall's active political career continued into the 1760s.  He was not only a judge (magistrate) on the General Court but he served on the House of Assistants under then Governor Thomas Fitch.  Unfortunately Benjamin Hall's political career ended abruptly in May of 1766 as did Governor Fitch's and several other of his Assistants when they all were voted out of office for having supported the notorious Stamp Act.  The Stamp Act, which was essentially a tax assessed against the colonies by the British Parliament to help raise money to pay the cost of British troops in America, angered the majority of Americans and was one of the many causes leading up to the American Revolution. As a result of his vote, Benjamin Hall's career abruptly ended at the age of 62 and for the remaining six and a half years of his life until his death on 1 January 1773 he lived in retirement and obscurity.

Benjamin Hall 1736-1786
This now brings us back to the beginning of our story of our Hall ancestors and Benjamin Hall (1736-1786), son of Benjamin Hall and Abiah Chauncey, and our initial quandary as to whether my 5th great grandfather was a Patriot or a Tory during the American Revolution.  Benjamin Hall was 36 years old when his father died and he must have been very much aware of his father's British sympathies in his support for the hated Stamp Act.  Benjamin Hall graduated third in his class from Yale in 1754 and he obviously was an intelligent and perhaps even a very opinionated individual when considering his minority status as a British sympathizer. My 5th great grandfather married my 5th great grandmother, Hannah Burnham, in 1767 and together they had four children including my 4th great grandfather, William Burnham Hall, who was born in 1774.  Their youngest son who was born in 1784 near the end of the American Revolution, they named Edmund Fanning Hall.  This is very significant for their son Edmund was named after an infamous and hated American named Edmund Fanning who had joined the British Army and fought against the Americans during the War. In 1783 he and other Loyalists moved to Nova Scotia.  The fact that our great grandfather named his son after a well known Loyalist is pretty clear evidence that he did not support the American cause for liberty. At least following the war he did not choose to relocated to Nova Scotia although it is possible that his early death at the age of fifty in 1786 may have prevented an otherwised planned departure.

William Burnham Hall was just under 12 years old when his father died and while we do not know for certain, he probably continued to live with his mother at his parents' home until her death in 1797 when William was only 22.  At that point what we believe is that he like so many others during this same time period moved westward, and eventually settled in Seneca County, New York in the Town of Fayette located between Cayuga Lake on the east and Seneca Lake on the west. Here he met his future wife and my 4th great grandmother, Rebecca Meekins Boardman, and they married sometime around 1797.  Rebecca was only 14 years old when they married.  She was only around five years old when she had left her birth home in Hubbardton, Vermont in 1788 and moved with her parents and two older siblings to central New York State.  Her father, Benajah Boardman, our 5th great grandfather, was a soldier during the American Revolution and he is credited with being a sergeant in a company under the command of Col. Ira Allen, brother of Ethan Allen.  The company under which he fought has been called the Green Mountain Boys.

William and Rebecca were to have only three children before her early death in 1805 at the age of 22. Unfortunately of their three children only one survived beyond childhood and that was my 3rd great grandmother Elizabeth Boardman Hall who was born on the 15th of April 1801.  Unfortunately, we found very little about the life of our great grandfather.  It seems that he remarried a woman named Lucinda shortly after Rebecca's death but his new wife also died in the year 1808 also at the young age of 22.  William was only 34 years old when his second wife died so it is probable that he remarried for a third time. We did find US Census records for the years 1810, 1820, and 1830 for a William B Hall in Fayette which is undoubtedly our great grandfather that would suggest a third marriage and at least one additional son and possibly two additional daughters.  We also found an 1812 voting record for Seneca County giving the results for the election of an assemblyman to the New York State Assemble.  William B Hall was listed as one of the candidates for the position however, he received only one vote out of several thousand which probably reflected the fact that he voted for himself.  Clearly our 4th great grandfather, William Barnham Hall was not as highly regarded as his forbearers.

The only other historical information that we could find about William Hall was that he was one of three purchasers of a large parcel of land in the Town of  Fayette in Seneca County in 1807. The size of William's land was 163.9 acres and what is interesting about the land is that it was part of a larger section of land purchased from the Cayuga Indian tribe in 1795.  What is interesting about this is that the Cayuga Indians have been trying to claim ever since their original sale of their land, including filing a recent lawsuit that began in the 1980s, that they are entitled to be compensated for their land.  Their argument is that the original agreement was never ratified by the US Congress as they claimed was required under the terms of the original sale therefore they still owned the land.  Had the Indians won their suit which they did not, the poor current owner(s) of William B Hall's land would have had a very clouded title to their property. On the map to the right our grandfather's land would have been part of the reservation land immediately to the west of Cayuga Lake. We could not learn the exact date of William's death although he does not appear in the 1840 US Census so he may have died prior to that date.  Some of the family trees on Ancestry.com have William dying in 1842 although we could not find any records to confirm this date.

It appears that Elizabeth Boardman Hall was still living with her father and her father's third wife in 1820 as she is listed as the oldest daughter in the 1820 US Census.  We do know however, that she married Mosely Hutchinson on 22 March 1822. Mosely was originally from Ithaca, New York but he had moved to the Village of Cayuga which was only a few miles from the Hall homestead in the town of Fayette when considering that in the year 1800 a bridge had been built that crossed Cayuga Lake connecting the Village of Cayuga directly to Fayette.  It is not clear how they actually met although in 1822 Mosely Hutchinson, then 26 years old, was already a successful farmer and undoubtedly some of his travels had taken him across the bridge and into Seneca County and the Town of Fayette.

Elizabeth's marriage to Mosely was long and prosperous.  Mosely became an attorney, and for a period a judge and a State Assemblyman. Together they had seven children including my great, great grandmother Mary Rebecca Hutchinson who was born on the 24th of April in 1825.  We are related to the Hutchinson and Hall families through my mother's grandfather, Eugene Hutchinson Ferree, whose grandparents were Mosely and Elizabeth Boardman Hall.  We have visited the graves of my great grandparents Eugene Hutchinson Ferree and his wife Marian Coapman Ferree, and his mother Mary Rebecca Hutchinson Ferree, and his grandparents Mosely Hutchinson and Elizabeth Hall Hutchinson who are all buried near one another in the Lakeview Cemetery in the Village of Cayuga, New York.  The Hall family tree was a wonderful ancestral line to explore and write their story, as once again we have discovered more of our ancestors who played strong roles in our country's history.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Chapter 39 - Our Degraff Family Ancestors

The Huguenot Cross
The powerful influences of religion have played a profound role in the lives of many of our early American ancestors particularly with respect to their decisions to escape religious intolerances and persecutions in their homelands by emigrating to America.  The Pilgrims in the 1620s and the Puritans in the 1630s are perhaps the best known of our early American ancestors who came to America to find religious freedom. Another less well known group of religious freedom seekers were the French Protestants known as Huguenots, who began leaving France for other more religiously tolerant countries beginning in the late 1500s. The exact number of Huguenots who left France between the late 1500s and the mid-1700s is believed to be as high as one-half million including the many thousands who emigrated to America. One of George Washington's 3rd great grandfathers, a man named Nicolas Martiou, was a French Huguenot who arrived in Virginia in 1620.  There are at least eight U.S. Past presidents who are known to have Huguenot ancestors. Paul Rivere's father, Apollos Rivoire, was a French Huguenot who arrived in America in 1716. In Chapter 6 of this blog, we outline the lives of our early Ferree ancestors, who were French Huguenots who escaped religious persecution in France by emigrated to America via England in 1708. In Chapter 1 of this blog we tell the story of our Rappleye ancestors beginning with Joris Rapalje who arrived in America in 1624 and who is recognized by the National Huguenot Society as a French Huguenot. We have a number of other French Huguenot ancestors on our family tree including our 9th great grandfather Jean LeComte who arrived in America in 1674.  This chapter tells the story of Jean LeComte and his family and what he and the thousands of other French Huguenots had to face during this tragic period in French history. 

The progenitor of our DeGraff family in America was a man named Jean LeComte who was born we believe sometime in the late 1630s. His birth location is usually listed as Picardy, France although there is no confirmation that we could find as to its accuracy.  The first actual record that has been located lists Jean LeComte as a member of the Dutch Protestant church in Middelburg in the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands and marrying Marie Laurens on 12 December 1660.  A subsequent church record dated 13 March 1661 records the baptism of their son Moses LeComte.  After that, the only other confirmed record of Jean LeComte and his wife and son is when they landed in New Amsterdam in America in October of 1674. What needs to be examined at this point is why did Jean LeComte leave his French home and move to the Dutch controlled Netherlands, and then why did he subsequently move to America. Unfortunately the most common answer is that his moves were a result of the persecution of the Huguenots by the French authorities, and while this is certainly true, it does oversimplify what actually happened.

Before the year 1500 all of Western Europe and England was Catholic. In the early 1500s however, with the dissentions of Martin Luther in Germany followed by the teachings of John Calvin in France beginning around 1630, the rise of a new form of church government began which ultimately lead to the Protestant faith and church. In 1534 King Henry VIII of England made an abrupt change by declaring himself the head of the church in England effectively throwing the Roman Catholic Church and its hierarchy out of England.  The Protestant Church in France later to be called the Huguenot Church grew rapidly in the early 1500s and by 1560 there were over 2,000 churches and as many as two million members which represented upwards of 10% of the French population. The largest concentrations of Huguenots were in the south and central areas of France. At first, the French government under King Francis I and later his son King Henry II welcomed the Huguenots as many of its members were wealthy nobles who played an active role in the government and its finances. This quickly changed however after the death Henry II in 1559 when clashes between the Roman Catholics and the Huguenots rapidly increased culminating with the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572 that resulted in the death of thousands of Huguenots.  The French Wars of Religion between the French Catholics and the Protestant Huguenots spanned the period of 1562 through 1598. Finally in 1598 the French King Henry IV signed a document known as the Edith of Nantes which essentially restored civil rights back to the Huguenots.

These civil rights initially included political rights, military rights, and religious rights. Unfortunately by the 1620s the French government pretty much destroyed the private armies of the Huguenot nobles and gradually removed any Huguenot influences within the government. While the Huguenots still retained their rights to worship as they pleased, where they worshipped and how many churches they could build was gradually brought under the control of the government. We do not know the exact year that Jean LeComte moved out of France and into the Dutch controlled Netherlands.  We also do not know if he was moved by his parents when he was still young or he moved alone or with friends or relatives around the time he became an adult in his late teens or early twenties. Finally, despite the fact that almost all writings about LeComte state that he left France to escape religious persecution, we do not really know the real motivations behind his relocation.  Frankly, if Jean LeComte moved to the Netherland sometime between 1648, when the Protestant Dutch regained control of the Northern Providences of Netherlands from Spain, and 1660, the wholesale persecution of the French Huguenots was not taking place at least not to the extent that it did during the late 1500s before the Edith of Nantes or after 1685 when King Louis XIV revoked the Edith of Nantes and went after the Huguenots.

Here is what we believe about Jean LeComte's move to Middelburg in the Dutch controlled area of Netherlands. We have to believe that as Jean LeComte reached the age where it was necessary that he support himself,  he may have had difficulty finding a decent job.  He was after all a French Protestant living in an area in France, the northeast, where Huguenots were in the distinct minority. While he undoubtedly faced pressure to convert to Catholicism, he was a fervent Protestant and the option to relocate to better his life was a strong and probably his only real option. Middelburg in the province of Zeeland was an obvious choice to relocate.  First it was the closest Dutch Protestant area to is home in Picardy although to get there he needed to pass through the Spanish controlled Netherlands which is now mostly Belgium. Secondly, many other Huguenots from Picardy had previously settled in this area and more were being welcomed both by the political leaders and by the church.  Most importantly however, there were jobs available for young men of the Protestant faith. One of the largest employers was the Dutch East India Company that was headquartered in Middelburg. We do not know what Jean LeComte did for a living but the fact that he was able to afford to take his family to America certainly implies that he had accumulated money during the 14 year period of his marriage and life in Middelburg.  Jean LeComte most likely moved to Middelburg between 1658 and 1660.

King Louis XIV of France
Jean LeComte as it turns out got out of France at the right time.  While King Louis XIV became King of France at the age of only five in the year 1643, he did not actually begin his personal and absolute control over France until 1661 after the death of his chief minister, Cardinal Mazarin and not long after Jean LeComte had left France for the Protestant Netherlands. Persecution of the Huguenots under Louis XIV began as a mandate that all French Protestants convert to Catholicism and he even agreed to pay those who made the conversion.  When this effort had a limited effect, he continued to make it difficult for Huguenots to get jobs, he closed down their churches, and finally in 1685 he made Protestantism completely illegal.  Besides the outright murder of thousands of Huguenots, hundreds of thousands fled out of France to other European countries, the Americas, and even South Africa. As we have seen however, Jean LeComte had left France before all of these began so why did he leave for England and ultimately to America.

King Louis XIV is noted for many things besides the persecution of the French Huguenots. France during much of Louis reign was the most powerful military nation in the world. One of his actions that was to dramatically effect my 9th great grandfather, Jean LeComte, was when he ordered the French Army in 1672 to invade the Dutch Netherlands (shown on the map as the United Provinces (Dutch). This country is of course where Jean LeComte and many others had moved earlier to get away from the French. Jean LeComte with his wife Marie and his young son Moses made the decision to escape the French by fleeing to England.

As part of this same campaign, Louis XIV ordered in 1673 a portion of his troops to invade Germany including the Palatinate, home to many French Huguenots who had fled to this area and specifically the city of Mannheim in earlier years.  This is significant to this discussion as two families, Nicholas deVaux and his wife Maria Sy, and Maria's father Isaac Sy and his family escaped to England before the invading French army.  Here in England the deVaux family and the Sy family became acquainted with Jean LeComte and his family.  We have seen in writing several times when describing these families that they were all related and while obviously the Sy (sometimes written as See) family and the deVaux family are related by marriage, there is no evidence that Jean LeComte was related to any member of either family. It has also been written that Jean LeComte lived in Mannheim for a period, but here again no one has provided any evidence to support this believe nor does it make any sense.  Why would he have left one Protestant nation where he was able to freely worship, to move to another Protestant nation even further away from his original home.

Exactly how long these families remained in England before they decided to board a ship headed for New Amsterdam in America is not known.  There were many French Huguenot refugees in England at the time and they were for the most part welcomed by their new country. Unfortunately for France, a large portion of the Huguenots who left their home country were literate craftsmen and even in some cases French nobility, so France's loss of some of their country's better citizens was another country's gain. Most historical accounts report that the LeComte, de Vaux, and Sy families came to America on a fleet of ships also carrying the newly appointed English governor of New York, which was until his arrival the Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam. His name was Sir Edmund Andros. The fleet of ships arrived in the New York Harbor on 22 October 1674.

New Amsterdam around 1670
Fortunately for the LeComte family who arrived in New York with few possessions and no friends or relatives to greet them at the dock as they departed their ship, there were many French Huguenots who had arrived earlier and were eager to help new arrivals.  This was particularly important since obviously there were no hotels to welcome the new visitors and empty rental homes were not available. One of the first individuals that the family may have met was a man named Claude Le Maistre who himself was a French Huguenot who had arrived in America more than 20 years earlier back in 1652. Little did Claude LeMaistre know at the time that he was destined to be the future father-in-law of young 13-year old Moses LeComte who was to marry his daughter Hester almost twenty years later.  This of course makes Claude Le Maistre my 9th great grandfather. As a total aside, one of Claude LeMaistre's sons, Johannes Delamater, also is one of my 8th great grandfathers although in his case he is an ancestor of my paternal grandfather as opposed to his sister, Hester, who is my 8th great grandmother on my paternal grandmother's side of my family. One very common occurrence in this still mostly Dutch speaking community of New York was that the spelling of names and their pronunciations were often changed to reflect the Dutch or in some cases the English language.  In the case of the LeComte family, the Dutch locals spelled the name as DeGraaf which means "the Count" in Dutch.  Claude LeMaistre's surname was changed over the course of a generation to the English name Delamater.

Like the early history of my LeComte family, the early history of Claude LeMaistre is also somewhat of a mystery. His birth year is listed as somewhere between 1611 and 1620.  There seems to be a consensus that he was born in the old province of Artois located just north of the province of Picardy in the northwest corner of France and that as a young man he moved possibly with his parents and siblings, to England around the years 1635 or 1636.  They were Protestants and like so many Protestants before and after them they were moving away from the intolerable treatment that they were receiving from the Catholic Church and the government in France. Their move may also have been motivated by the onset of the Franco-Spanish War which began in 1635.  By 1636 the Spanish forces in the Southern Netherlands were conducting raids in northern France where the LeMaistre family and many other Huguenots families lived. Claude was married in 1638 in Canterbury, England to a woman named Louise Quennell who also had come with her parents from France.  Together they had two daughters both of whom died before Claude and Louise subsequently moved to Leiden in the Netherlands around 1643. The English were applying pressure on the Huguenots to join the Church of England which undoubtedly motivated the move. A male son was born to the couple in 1646.  Unfortunately around a year later in 1647, Claude's wife Louise died.  Sometime following his wife's death, Claude moved to nearby Middelburg were he met and married his second wife Jeanne de Lannoy in 1648.  She too died after only two years of marriage in 1650.  Claude LeMaistre married my 9th great grandmother Hester DuBois on 24 April 1652 in the Walloon Church in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Shortly following their marriage Claude and his new 26-year old bride Hester boarded a ship headed for America and the Dutch Colony of New Amsterdam.

Nieuw-Nederland or New Netherland was originally established by the Dutch back in the early 1600s to be a fur trading operation managed by the Dutch West India Company. The earliest settlements were actually not in the New York area but up the Hudson River in what is now the Albany region.  This began around 1613. It was not until 1626 that the first colonists actually began a settlement on what is now known as Manhattan Island and surprisingly the vast majority of these early settlers were not Dutch but Protestant Walloons from the area of the Spanish Netherlands and French Huguenots. At the very south end of the island a fort was constructed that they called Fort Amsterdam and soon after a wall was built along the northern border of this new settlement of New Amsterdam primarily to control the encroachment of the local unpredictable Indians. The location of this wall was along what today is called Wall Street. The original settlement consisted of around 30 families (including my Rapalje ancestors.)  By 1630 the community had grown to around 270 and by the time that Claude LeMaistre and his wife Hester arrived, there were almost 2000 people living in the area of New Netherlands and New Amsterdam.

Claude and Hester LeMaistre originally located in a new settlement called Flatbush (originally named Midwout and now part of Brooklyn) on Long Island where they lived from 1652 until 1662.  During this period they had four children and Claude worked as a carpenter along with operating his farm.  In 1662, they sold their home in Flatbush and moved to a new community in the northeast part of Manhattan Island known as Harlem. Here the couple had two additional children including our great grandmother Hester who was born shortly after the move in 1662. Claude DeMaistre (Delamater) apparently took an active role in his community serving three terms as a magistrate and in 1664 he and Hester joined the Reformed Dutch Church and for a short period Claude services as the Deacon of his church.

It is not really clear how Jean LeComte and his family ended up in Harlem after their ship landed in New Amsterdam in lower Manhattan Island in October of 1674. We have to suspect that since their onboard friends, Nicholas DeVaux and his family and Isaac Sy and his family all moved to Harlem, Jean and Marie LeComte may simply have followed them. It is also possible that DeVaux and Sy may have had old friends that they knew lived in Harlem. One of these friends may have been one David Demarest who while older than both Nicholas and Isaac, he did live in Mannhein, Germany (1651 to 1663) during the same time period as did Nicholas and Isaac. David Demarest also lived in Middelbury between 1642 and 1651 and while we believe that Jean LeComte did not move to Middelburg until the late 1650s, it is possible we suppose, that he did move earlier as a child with his parents and they may have known David Demarest.  Very speculative and therefore very unlikely. Most likely perhaps is that they all believed and were motivated by the opportunities to purchase good farmland in the Harlem area and it was better than in the more crowded New Amsterdam area. Fortunately for my 9th great grandfather Jean LeComte and his family, one of the local Magistrates, David Demarest as it turns out, seeing that the LeComte family had no place to live, took them into his own home until that had a chance to locate or build their own home.  On 13 December 1674 Jean LeComte and his wife joined the Harlem Dutch Reformed Church.  Unfortunately for the LeComte family, Jean LeComte died on 24 May 1675.  He was only in his late-40s and it is quite possible that the illness that killed him may have been easily cured by our modern doctors.  Marie Laurens LeComte was undoubtedly devastated by the unexpected death of her husband.  Unfortunately, although it is not unusual, history has not recorded what happened to my great grandmother after the death of her husband.  Some have recorded that she died in 1687 in Canada however, this is most unlikely.  What is likely is that she remarried and the records of the marriage and her thereafter have been lost. What has been reported if it is accurate is that David Demarest as the local magistrate, presided over the reading of Jean LeComte's will in July of 1675 and that at the court hearing Maria Laurens LeComte, my great grandmother, announced her intentions to marry a Charles Dennison.  She was concerned about her son Moses and his future upbringing. Strangely it would seem, Nicholas DeVaux and Simon Courier were appointed to "care for and educate the child."  What happened to my great grandmother thereafter is unknown.  The lag time between her husband's death and her announcement of her new marriage was less than two months which has to make one wonder if perhaps she was having an affair . . . .

Moses (LeComte) DeGraaf was only 14 years old when his father died. We know nothing about Moses' early life other than he did not live with Nicholas DeVaux or at least he did not move to Hackensack, New Jersey with DeVaux in 1678. We do know that around the age of 18 in 1679/80 he was married in Harlem to a Maria LeBlanck and sometime in 1680 their son Samuel was born. Apparently his wife died as did possibly their son, since in 1683 Moses deGraaf married the daughter of Claude DeMaistre (Delamater), Hester Delameter. We could find nothing more in the historical records about Moses' first wife and their son. Shortly following the marriage of Moses and Hester, they moved to Kingston in the newly formed County of Ulster located about 90 miles north of Harlem.  Presumably they made the voyage to their new home by traveling up the Hudson River.  Hester may have been pregnant when she made the trip or at least became pregnant shortly thereafter since their first child, a daughter, was born in July of 1685.  Over the next nineteen years they were to have eight more children including their second child and first son, Jan, my 7th great grandfather, who was baptized on 6 March 1687.  We could find very little mention about Moses DeGraaf in the historical records. We know that in the years 1685 through 1713 he and Hester are mentioned frequently in the records of the Old Dutch Church in Kingston as witnesses to the baptisms of some of their children, in one case a friend's child, and in 1713 as witness to the baptism of their grandson Moses, son of their son Jan DeGraaf. Moses through his life was undoubtedly a farmer and with his family attended the Old Dutch Church in Kingston and possibly later the Dutch Reformed Church in Marbletown in Ulster County.  We know that Moses may have lived in or near Marbletown in 1715 as he and his 2nd son Abraham are listed as privates in the Foot Company of Militia of Marbletown. Obviously the ever-present threat of Indian attacks were a part of life during this period of history, hence the requirement that all able bodied males must serve in the militia.  Despite having a large family we have to believe that the DeGraaf family lived in a small log cabin, the whole family worked hard maintaining the family farm, and most of their friends whom they socialized with primarily on Sundays were of Dutch and French descent. A very large percentage of the original inhabitants of Ulster County had migrated from other areas of New Amsterdam and were Walloons or Huguenots. Most likely the church records that listed the death of both Moses and Hester have been lost or destroyed.  We do not therefore know the years that my 8th great grandparents passed away or where they are buried.

My 7th great grandfather, Jan DeGraff was born in Kingston County in the year 1687. The spelling of his name in the historical records is interesting in that it was beginning to reflect the trend towards converting the older Dutch names into the English language or at least into the English spellings of the names.  His proper name of Jan was changed not unexpectedly to John.  DeGraff is written in multiple ways from De Graaf as it is spelled in the church records, to De Grave as it is spelled in a 1714 census record, and to De Graeff as it is written in his 1733 Will. Spelling was not a great strength of any of the recording secretaries in the early 1700s but then obviously there probably was no absolute correct spelling of the family surname especially during a time period when most people could neither read nor write.  Jan was around 19 years old when he married Marie Peacock (sometimes spelled Pekok) in 1707 or early 1708.  Together Jan and Marie were to have nine children including their fifth child, Abraham DeGraff, my 6th great grandfather, who was born in 1718.  In 1712 Jan DeGraff is recorded as having purchased land in Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County located near the Hudson River about 20 miles south of his parents' home in Ulster County. Considering that most of my ancestors when they left home moved westward to areas that were less crowded, it is a little unusual to find that Jan and his wife and their three very young children moved closer to New York City and into an area that was already developed.  In 1713 when they actually packed up and moved, Dutchess County had just become its own self-administered County whereas prior to that time, Dutchess had been governed by Ulster County. There is no evidence that this change encouraged Jan DeGraff to move although perhaps the notoriety of the change influenced his decision. In any case in a 1714 census in Dutchess County (their first census), Jan DeGraff (actually scribed as "John De Grave") is listed as living there with six members in the family. It is not clear who the six person was as their fourth child was not yet born by 1714. In 1715, Jan DeGraff is recorded as serving in the Dutchess County Militia. In 1717 there is an historical court record of Jan DeGraff (John De Grave) appearing before the local magistrate apparently for some violation that occurred while he was the owner of a local tavern that sold alcoholic beverages.  He was being fined 5 pounds for something he did wrong, perhaps not paying the proper taxes owed or not charging the required amount for the drinks he served.  The laws governing the sale of alcoholic were very strict and the taxes were high. Fortunately the Magistrate waved the very high fine because he did not think that Jan could afford the fine plus Jan DeGraff was a "great family" man.  His total assets at the time were around 11 British pounds.  Fortunately Jan DeGraf must have been a good business man for his total wealth in 1722 had risen to 30 British pounds and when he prepared his will in 1733, his net worth including the value of the land he owned was even greater.  My 7th great grandfather died in 1735 at the fairly young age of only 48 years old. His son, Abraham, my 6th great grandfather was only 17 when his father died.  My 7th great grandmother Marie remarried shortly after her husband's death but her story thereafter is lost in history.

My 7th great grandfather Abraham Degraff spent his entire life living in or near Poughkeepsie, New York.  On 17 April 1741 he married Marretjen van Wagenen whose great grandfather (my 9th great grandfather) Aert Jacobsen Van Wagenen was born in the Netherlands and emigrated to America around the mid-1600s. Aert is recognized as one of the earliest settlers in Ulster County arriving there in approximately 1661, back when it was still called Esopus.  Abraham and Maria (Marretjen) were to have nine children in total including my 6th great grandfather, Moses, who was born in Poughkeepsie in 1748.  Abraham's occupation was that of a cordwainer or in more modern terms, he was a shoemaker.  He was probably a well liked and respected individual as in 1739 he was listed as being a Deacon of the Dutch Reformed Church in Poughkeepsie.  Abraham died in the year 1775 at the age of 57.  Unfortunately history records have been unkind to women for we do not know what happened to my great grandmother Marretjen after her husband's death.

Researching my 6th great grandfather Moses Degraff proved to be a little confusing in that there were several men named Moses Degraff living in Dutchess County during the same time period. They were understandably all related and all were named after the original Moses LeComte Degraff who immigrated to America with his parents in 1674.  The two men named Moses who caused me the most confusion were actually first cousins.  My Moses Degraff (1748-1828) ancestor was the son of Abraham Degraff (1718-1775) and Marretjen Van Weganen and the grandson of Jan Degraff and Maria Pekok.  The other Moses Degraff (1742-1828) was the son of Abraham's brother, Moses Degraff (1713-1800) and his wife Annetjen Kip, and the grandson again of Jan DeGraff and Marretjen Van Weganen.  There were a few other related Moses Degraffs but these two were the ones who were most often confused.  Incidentally, Moses Degraff, my 6th great grandfather, married my great grandmother Mary Churchill around 1764 and his cousin Moses married his wife Antoinette Van Kleeck two years later in 1766. One has to wonder if they attended each others wedding. Moses and Mary were to have five children including my 5th great grandfather and their second child, Abraham, who was born in 1771.  Unfortunately Mary died when she was around 50 and shortly following her death Moses remarried in 1809 this time to a much younger woman named Elizabeth Tabler and together they had four more children.  Moses was around 60 years old when he married for the second time and we have to hand it to our great grandfather as he undoubtedly must have had a lot of stamina to father four more children after the age of sixty.  He was 80 years old when he died after a long life and nine children. Actually we do not really know much about the life of Moses Degraff.  He was born in Poughkeepsie and sometime during his life he moved to Hyde Park also in Dutchess County, New York where he died and was buried in the
Stoutenburgh Family Burying Grounds along with his second wife. Jacobus Stoutenburgh was one of the original settlers of Hyde Park and his legacy was one of wealth. The fact that our great grandfather Moses Degraff was buried in this family's cemetery speaks highly of his character, stature, and perhaps his wealth in the community.  Based on his last will and Testament it sounds like Moses was financially successful as he left two hundred dollars to each of his children which was a lot of money in 1828 plus he left an annual income to his wife for the rest of her life.  One other very important event in the life of our 6th great grandfather Moses Degraff was that he served in the Dutchess County Militia during the American Revolution.  There are actually two Moses Degraff listed in the Dutchess County Militia records.  In the 2nd Regiment of the Dutchess County Militia we find a Moses Degraff along with a another man, his brother, Simeon Degraff who were both cousins of our Moses Degraff.  Brothers Moses and Simeon were from Fishkill in Dutchess County south of Hyde Park and Poughkeepsie.  In the 6th Regiment of the Dutchess Militia we find the name of our 6th great grandfather Moses Degraff.  Whether or not he saw any action during the War we could not determine and he died in 1828 before the Revolutionary War federal pensions were distributed.

My 5th great grandfather Abraham Degraff was born in 1771 in Hyde Park (which was part of the town of Clinton until 1821) in Dutchess County and he probably spent his entire life living not far from the place where he was born.  He married my 5th great grandmother Elizabeth Tillow sometime in the mid-1790s. As with many of our ancestors living during the earlier years of our country it is not always possible to identify the names of all of the children. Census records prior to 1850 listed only the name of the head of the household and since birth certificates were not issued at this time, and church baptismal records were sometimes lost, we never know for certain the names of all of the children. Based on what records we could find including a review of the later US census records, we believe that the following is correct.  Their first child was John A. Degraff who was born sometime between 1795 to 1798. Their second child was David A. Degraff who was born in 1799. Their third child was Maria Degraff born in 1808 and their fourth child was my 4th great grandmother, Jane Degraff who was born in 1814. Based on the 1820 US Census there may have been another daughter born between the births of David and Maria who may have died young or at least before the 1830 census or she may have married young, left the family home and then been lost to history. Unfortunately, we really know very little about the life of Abraham Degraff although he was undoubtedly a hard working farmer. Abraham died in January of 1832 at the age of 60.  On January 21 of 1832, John A Degraff (Abraham's oldest son) and Jacob Degraff (Abraham's 1st cousin and who was about the same age as his cousin John) petitioned the court to appoint them the administrators of Abraham's estate. Witnessing the petition was Robert Degraff who was Abraham's younger brother. Signing the petition was Abraham's wife Elizabeth and Abraham's son David A. Degraff, and a relative named Abram Degraff whose exact relationship with the family we could not determine. The contents of his will if one did exist, we could not determine although hopefully he left his family and especially his widowed wife with some funds to live comfortably.  Jane was 18 when her father passed away. 

On 20 October 1835 my 4th great grandmother Jane Degraff married William Reynolds in Dutchess County and not long after their marriage they moved to Elmira, New York along with her brother David A. Degraff and his wife and their mother Elizabeth Tillow Degraff who would have been around 60 years old at the time of the move.  Elizabeth, my 5th great grandmother died at the age of 74 and she is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York.  The story of my Reynolds' ancestors beginning with the son of Jane Degraff and William Reynolds, David Degraff Reynolds, is told in the preceding chapter 38.

More and more as I explore the lives of my distant ancestors do I begin to understand why my DNA test results revealed that my ancestral ethnicity is 63% western European. With so many French Huguenot ancestors on both my mother's and my father's side of my family, this high percentage of western European ancestry should not have come as much of a surprise despite the fact that my Baker surname is very English.  But then it would seem that my Baker ancestors easily feel in love with French Huguenot women.  Why else did my great grandfather Baker marry a woman with the surname of Rappleye (Rapalje), or my 2nd great grandfather Baker marry a woman named Hannah Harpending, or my 4th great grandfather Baker marry a woman named Sarah Bogart.