Josiah Churchill's name does not actually appear in historical records until the birth of his first child with his new wife, Elizabeth Foote, daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Deming Foote, on the 24th of March in 1639 in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Realistically, this would suggest that Josiah Churchill arrived in Wethersfield at the latest in early 1638 and possibly earlier. Wethersfield was first founded back in 1634 by a Puritan group of ten men, the "Ten Adventurers,", three of whom were my great grandfathers, Nathaniel Foote (Josiah's father-in-law), Robert Seeley, and John Strickland. Wethersfield is considered to be the second settlement founded in Connecticut following Windsor Colony established less than one year earlier. Hartford was established shortly following Wethersfield in 1635. One early advantage that Wethersfield had over the other two early communities was that while all three were on the Connecticut River, Wethersfield was further south and thus had better access down the rather shallow river to the Long Island Sound.
|John Deming's Home in Wethersfield built in 1667|
|100 mile trek to Connecticut|
|Nathaniel Foote Memorial in Wethersfield|
|Map of early Wethersfield|
|Poor Mary Johnson of Wethersfield|
Josiah and Elizabeth Foote Churchill were to have eight children born between the years 1639 and 1657 including my 8th great grandfather and their 5th child and first son, Joseph Churchill, who was born in 1649. By the time of Josiah's death in 1686, son Joseph was then 36 years old and married with four children. Fortunately for Joseph, his father's generosity during his father's lifetime resulted in Joseph and his family living in a home in Wethersfield owned and previously occupied by his father. As was the custom at the time of a father's death, Joseph as the oldest son received the largest benefits from his father's Will including the home where he was currently living plus an additional 66 acres. Joseph was also to benefit financially when his mother died 14 years later in the year 1700. There is speculation that both Josiah and Elizabeth Churchill are buried in the Newington Cemetery, Newington being a small community just west of Wethersfield. Apparently in 1659, the Churchills had moved to a new home located near or in the present day village of Newington, which suggests that they would have been buried at the nearby Newington Cemetery. Unfortunately, if this was the case, no records or gravestones still exist to support this speculation.
Their son, Joseph Churchill, at the age of 25, married in Wethersfield on 13 May 1674, a young girl named Mary whose surname has unfortunately been lost in history. (There is no shortage of guesses as to her surname however.) Together my 8th grandparents were to have eight children including my 7th great grandfather, Samuel Churchill, their 5th child and 2nd son, who was born on the 27th day of April in 1688. It is interesting that as we researched the life of Joseph Churchill we could not help but note that his life was very similar to his father's life except for his early death in 1699 at the young age of only 49. For example, Joseph was only 30 years old when in 1679 he took on the roll like his father before him, of Town Surveyor. Over the coming years he served as a town assessor, constable, and shortly before his death in 1697, he was elected as a "Selectman," a leadership position he held until his early death in 1699.
Joseph's and Mary's son, Samuel Churchill, my 7th great grandfather, was only 10 years old when his father died, although he was 50 years old when his mother died. Mary, his mother, lived to the age of 91. Since she had outlived her oldest son Nathaniel whose home she had probably been living, it is entirely possible that she eventually moved in with her son Samuel and his wife Martha Boardman. Samuel Churchill was 29 years old when he married Martha Boardman in June of 1717. It would seem unlikely that he was aware of how much had changed in the Village of Wethersfield since his great grandparents had arrived in the area in 1635 over 80 years earlier. The countryside in 1635 was mostly covered with a dense forest. The only cleared land had been the Great Meadow area alongside the Connecticut River that had been cleared by the Wangunk Indians decades earlier. By the time of Samuel's marriage, the Indians were mostly gone from the area or they had been integrated into the population. By 1717, the population in Wethersfield had grown to almost 2,000 and families were gradually moving westward away from the river area. At first there were only a dozen or so primitively constructed wooden homes separated by acres of farm land but as time passed the quality and number of homes gradually increased as did the construction of common buildings such as churches, schools, meeting houses, and structures offering services like blacksmith shops, warehouses, and the like. The forest areas were gradually disappearing and the wood for new homes in some cases had to be hauled in from areas further west. Whereas in the early days Wethersfield was somewhat isolated from the Massachusetts Bay area, by the early 1700s shipping up and down the Connecticut River had greatly expanded allowing the transportation to and from the area of everything from farm food products, livestock, household goods, to even new residents. At the time of the first settlement, the residents were composed entirely of deeply religious Puritans, but as years passed while religion was still of great importance, the tie to the Puritan teachings had greatly diminished. We find that Samuel Churchill's life had evolved as had his community. Samuel's occupation was that of a blacksmith and while he undoubtedly was involved in some farming, his livelihood and support of his family was not dependent on the farm. In 1712, prior to his marriage, Samuel, then only 24 years old, had acquired fifty-two acres of land in what later became the parish of Newington located just to the west of Wethersfield. Most likely Samuel delayed building a home and moving to his new property until after his marriage. The Town of Newington was not actually established until 1871 although in 1721 the area was granted the name "Newington" which apparently means, new town in the meadow. His motive for moving was probably based on the lower cost of property outside of the greatly expanded Wethersfield and by the availability of larger parcels of land. Considering the rapid growth of the area it was probably an excellent purchase.
|Gravestone Samuel Churchill 1688-1767|
Samuel's and Martha's son, Jesse Churchill, was 24 years old when he married on the 8th day of November in 1750 my 19 year old and 6th great grandmother, Jerusha Gaylord, and over the next thirteen years they had seven children including their first born child and my 5th great grandmother, Martha Churchill, who was born in 1751. Unfortunately Jerusha Gaylord Churchill died unexpectedly when she was only 38 years old leaving Jesse with young children ages 6 to 18 to care for. Her early death was not an uncommon occurrence during this period of history what with the hard life of frequent childbirths and constant work. Not unexpectedly, Jesse remarried soon after his wife's death to a widow woman by the name of Sarah Boardman Cade who had lost her husband after only a year of marriage. Jesse and his new wife Sarah went on to have three children together. Jesse Churchill and his family which now consisted of nine children lived in Newington, Connecticut until early 1775, at which time Jesse made the decision along with six of his friends including his older brother Samuel and his new son-in-law, Benajah Boardman (Martha's new husband), to move away from Newington and up into Vermont.
Hubbardton, Western Vermont
Southeast of Fort Ticonderoga
First Church of Christ in Wethersfield, Built 1761-1764
Deacon Jesse Church
|Monument at the site of the Battle of Hubbardton|
Old Constitution House, Birthplace of "Vermont Republic"
Jesse Churchill was present when state constitution was signed.
Unlike Jesse Churchill, his daughter Martha and her husband Benajah Boardman did not leave Hubbardton with the approach of the British army and their German and Indian allies in early July in 1777. In fact Benajah joined forces with the Americans and as best we can determined he was engaged with the Green Mountain Boys in the Battle of Hubbardton that took place on 7 July 1777. There is a story which may or may not be true, that when Benajah left to join up with the American military, Martha was left alone in their house along with her young child along with Benajah's child by his first wife who had died shortly after giving birth in 1773. When the British army approached their house she is said to have hidden under a "feather bed on the floor" along with the two young children but they were quickly discovered when the British entered and searched the house. She was apparently released, however the British retained their home and used it as a temporary hospital for wounded soldiers following the battle. The British and their allies are reported to have had 49 to 60 men killed during the battle and between 141 to 168 men wounded.
The following is my family line to the Churchill family:
Martha Churchill (1751-1813) and Benajah Boardman (1749-1813)
Rebecca Meekins Boardman (1783-1805) and William Burnham Hall (1774-1842)
Elizabeth Boardman Hall (1801-1877) and Mosley Hutchinson (1795-1861)
Mary Rebecca Hutchinson (1825-1901) and David Dewees Ferree (1826-1869)
Eugene Hutchinson Ferree (1866-1952) and Marian E. Coapman (1867-1895)
Florence Adaline Ferree (1891-1938) and Douglas Ross Patterson (1888-1979)
Marian Coapman Patterson (1916-1973) and Charles Asbury Baker (1916-2000)
Charles Asbury Baker Jr (1942- ?) and Kathleen Therese Mahar (1948- ?)
The temporary end of the story of another one of our great ancestral trees.