|St. Andrews Church, Hingham, England|
Based primarily on recently discovered baptismal records, it is now believed that the parents of Stephen Gates, our first Gates emigrant to America, were Eustace Gates (1566-1626) and Rose Wright Gates (1566-1635). The baptismal record was found in the St Mary's parish church records in Coney Weston in County Suffolk, England located about 35 miles southwest of Norwich and around 20 miles south of Hingham, home of many of the original settlers of Hingham, Massachusetts. The date of Stephen's baptism is the 26th day of December in the year 1597. Very little is actually known about the life of Eustace Gates other than he married my great grandmother on 4 March 1592 and according to his last will and testament they had eight surviving children with Stephen being their fourth born. In his will dated 5 June 1626, Eustace refers to himself as a "laborer" which might imply in our present day vernacular that he was a lower income individual, however the fact that he prepared a will and left land to his wife and sons suggests that he was not poor and that he likely maintained a farm and was able to provide for his family. Eustace Gates is believed to be buried in the St Mary's Church cemetery in Coney Weston. His wife Rose after her husband's death apparently moved away from Coney Weston up to Hingham, County Norfolk along with some of her children including my great grandfather Stephen Gates. Rose Wright Gates died and was buried in Hingham, County Norfolk on 25th July 1635. She was around 69 years old at the time of her death. Fortunately for Great Grandma Rose she lived long enough to see at least four of her children marry and to witness and perhaps help in the birth of a number of her grandchildren. Stephen Gates, my 9th great grandfather married my 9th great grandmother Ann Veare, on 5 May 1628 in Hingham and before his mother's death in 1635 they had two children including my 8th great grandfather, who they named Stephen after his father. It is very likely that Rose Gates was buried in the cemetery surrounding St. Andrew's Church in Hingham and that her recently born grandchildren were all baptized within this same church (see photo above).
The ship 'Diligent' finally arrived in the Boston Harbor on 10 August 1638 after several very unpleasant months at sea on a crowded ship. The ship housed over 100 passengers with around 25% of the passengers being young children. Most of the passengers including the Gates family soon headed across the Boston Harbor to the new community of Hingham, named obviously after their former home in England. Here they expected to meet some of their old friends from Hingham, England who had immigrated to America and settled in Hingham, Massachusetts beginning in the year 1633 when the town was first founded. Early records note that Stephen and his wife arrived in America with two young daughters although it is now believed that also included with the Gates family was their 4-year old son, Stephen Gates Jr., our 8th great grandfather who was born in 1634. The Gates family lived in Hingham until 1652 at which time they moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and then subsequently to Lancaster, Massachusetts. When they first arrived in Hingham, they were granted a three acre lot for their new home on a street that is now named North Street. (Their home was located around 2-1/2 miles north of the current home of my sister Anne and her husband John Fanton.) They were also granted three acres for a "planting lot" plus later another twelve acres probably as an area to graze animals. During the almost fourteen year period that the Gates family lived in Hingham, four more children were born. There are no surviving records during this period that would show that Stephen Gates took any part in helping to manage his community or the local church and the fact that all four of his children born in Hingham were not baptized until 3 May 1646 would tend to indicate that he even delayed joining the local Puritan church until he was probably pressured to do so. Without going into any detail, a study of the early history of Hingham revealed that just prior to the Gates departure from Hingham, a major controversy took place within the leadership of the community, that may very well have caused Stephen Gates to withdraw his family from Hingham. A controversial relationship with the leadership of the local Puritan church may also have contributed in part to his decision to leave the area. We know from our study of our early American ancestors that moving away from home to find better opportunities in less crowded and less controversial areas was very common place.
Perhaps Stephen Gates' unpopularity in Lancaster caused him to eventually return back to Cambridge sometime before 1662 where he leased a farm for his family to live. Unfortunately, on 9 June 1662 while lying in a sick bed at his home in Cambridge he prepared his Last Will and Testament and he died shortly thereafter. According to his final will, Stephen still owned land in the Lancaster area which he willed to his sons and his wife. His former home and its lot was given to his oldest son and my 7th great grandfather Stephen Gates Jr. Ann Gates according to her husband's will was to remain in the leased farm home in Cambridge until the lease was up and she was also granted one third of all the land owned by her late husband. On 18 April 1663, my 8th great grandmother married a man named Richard Woodward although he died shortly thereafter in 1665. Ann Gates lived to the age of 81 finally dying in 1683 in Stow, Massachusetts where she was then living with her son Stephen Jr and his family at the time of her death. One of the biographies that we read about the history of Stephen Gates noted that his children disputed the terms of his will claiming that their father was "not of a disposing mind." We could not find any details of their claims nor the end results of the lawsuit but we guess that considering the somewhat fiery nature of both their father and their mother, it is not surprising to discover that their children may have inherited this trait.
|Lower Village Cemetery, Stow, Massachusetts|
|Gates Family Home, Stow, Massachusetts|
|George Geer (1621-1726) gravestone|
George Geer and Sarah Allyn
daughter Margaret Geer son Jeremiah Geer
husband Thomas Gates wife Esther Hilliard
Zebadiah Gates married Jersuha Geer
Anyway, George Geer lived to the ripe-old age of 105. In his later years it is recorded that he was totally blind and lived with his daughter Margaret and her husband Thomas Gates at their home in Preston located only a few miles north of the Geer family home in Ledyard. While the photo above is obviously not George Geer's original gravestone, it does mark the location of his burial and gives some honor to his long life. One interesting website that we found online describes the present day Geer Hill Farm located in Ledyard, Connecticut which as best we can determine is the site of the original George Geer home. The original 50 acre plot of land was given to George Geer by his father-in-law, Robert Allyn, following George's marriage to his daughter Sarah. Robert Allyn apparently owned the land immediately to the west of the new Geer property that fronts the Thames River including an area now called "Allyn Point."
|Kneeling over the grave of Richard Starkweather, Preston City Cemetery|
Esther Gates (1732-?)
Elijah Starkweather (1756-1847)
Adaline Starkweather (1818-1849)
Elsie Ann Yawger (1844-1918)
Marian E. Coapman (1867-1895)
Florence Adaline Ferree (1891-1938)
Marian Coapman Paterson (1916-1973)
Charles Asbury Baker Jr.,
Anne Baker Fanton,
Joan Patterson Baker,
and all sons and daughters and
Temporarily the end.