Saturday, February 25, 2017

Chapter 48 - My Churchill Ancestors

Our first Churchill ancestor to arrive in America was a man named Josiah Churchill, my 9th great grandfather, who is believed to have landed in Boston in the year 1635. There has been over the years no shortage of facts as to Josiah's origins in England including where he was born, the names of his parents, and even the exact year of his birth. As far as we could determine however, there is a total lack of evidence to support any of these supposed "facts."  Solely based it would seem on the date of his marriage to Elizabeth Foote in 1638 and her 1616 birth year, it is speculated that Josiah was born between 1611 and 1615. The exact year of his birth however, is really unknown. There is further speculation that Josiah was a brother of John Churchill who immigrated to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1643. John is known to have lived in County Dorsetshire, England and to have been the son of John and Sarah May Churchill. If John Churchill was indeed the brother of our ancestor Josiah Churchill, we then know Josiah's birth location and the names of his parents. Unfortunately, recent DNA testing of John's and Josiah's descendants shows that they were not brothers and were at best only distantly related. Thus it is very unlikely that Josiah was born in Dorsetshire and his parents were not John and Sarah Churchill. One other conjecture that has no real basis in fact is that Josiah (and possibly John as well) was the son of a man named Joseph Churchill who was a shipping merchant in London and who was responsible for shipping supplies to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The speculation expands to suggest that Josiah Churchill was a sailor on one of his father's ships delivering goods to Boston and they he elected to remain in America. Here again this is just pure speculation. Since all these 'facts" are reported in numerous historical writings and many family trees, it took us quite a few hours of study to determine that all of this data was pure fiction. The basic fact is that all we really know about the history of our ancestor Josiah Churchill is that he was born somewhere in England to unknown parents and that he sailed to America sometime before his marriage in 1638.

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.
It is not at all surprising considering the huge influx of English immigrants into "New England" in the 1630s, that problems would soon arise between the Native American Indians and the new immigrants. The nearby Dutch colonists to the south had actually been doing a fairly decent job integrating with the Native Americans not only because they were not to any great extent moving into and occupying Indian lands but also because they were doing a good job working with the Indians through issues like fur and wampum trading which greatly benefited both parties. The Indians would provide the valuable furs and the Dutch would provide needed items for the tribes such as knives, pots and pans, and so forth. Along with the Hudson River valley, the Connecticut River valley was a particularly valuable area for the Indians as a source of furs and other items to trade with the Dutch. The Pequot Indian tribe was one of the most active of the Indian tribes trading with the Dutch in this area. Unfortunately for both parties, the influx of the British New Englanders into the Connecticut River valley beginning in 1633 caused a major consternation since the British were primarily interested in creating new settlements and occupying what had been the Indian lands. Without going into a lot of detail about the onset of the Pequot War, what is important in our story is that on the 23rd day of April in 1637 a large group of mostly Pequot Tribal Indians attacked the small English settlement of Wethersfield and killed six men and three women, a number of cows and horses, and as they departed they took with them two young captive girls. The attack obviously infuriated the English settlers, and on May 1st they declared war against the Pequots and raised a force of around 90 local men, 18 of whom were residents of Wethersfield and the rest from nearby Hartford and Windsor. This force combined with some Indians from other tribes, attacked on May 26th, a large Pequot Indian settlement near what is today Mystic, Connecticut (about 50 miles southeast of Wethersfield). Here they slaughtered around 400 Pequot men, women, and children, effectively killing most of the Indians who were present in the village at the time. Unfortunately for the English anyway, the warrior Pequot Indians were away from the village at the time of the slaughter, however over the coming months these Pequot warriors were soon hunted down and mostly killed, effectively destroying the entire Pequot Indian tribe. While it is very possible that Josiah was not present at the massacre at Mystic, soon after around 150 men from the Plymouth area joined the Connecticut forces to hunt down the remaining Pequot Indians and Josiah might very well have been in this group. At this point in any case, the English had for the most part assumed total control over the lands along the Connecticut River. This does not mean by any means that all of the other local Indian tribes in New England were destroyed as future Indian wars were later to take place.

What is not known as we previously mentioned, is whether or not our great grandfather Josiah Churchill participated in the Pequot War although most family historians assume that he did. Josiah's name does not appear in an old listing of Wethersfield men who were with the force that attacked the village at "Mistick Fort" although the listing is not necessarily totally accurate and it was admittedly incomplete. What we do believe is that he did participate in some portion of the war against the Pequots and that following the "war" in late 1637, he settled in Wethersfield where he was granted land, and where he soon met his future wife and my 9th great grandmother, Elizabeth Foote.

John Deming's Home in  Wethersfield built in 1667
Elizabeth Foote was around 18 years old when she arrived in the new settlement of Wethersfield in the year 1634 with her parents and her five brothers and sisters all of whom had been born in the small village of Shalford in County Essex, England located northeast of London. Elizabeth's father, Nathaniel Foote had grown up in Shalford and as a young 15-year old boy in the year 1608 following his father's death, he had been apprenticed to learn the trade of a "free burgess" or grocer and wholesale merchant. When he completed his apprenticeship in the year 1616, he married Elizabeth's mother, Elizabeth Deming, and together beginning with young Elizabeth Foote who was born in 1616, they had six children before they decided in the year 1633 to emigrate to America. Their youngest child was only around one when they departed. It is not really clear how then 41-year old Nathaniel Foote had accumulated the necessary wealth to transport his entire family to America and as we learn later, to then become one of the wealthiest landowners in Wethersfield. We just have to assume that some inheritance and a great grocery business which he undoubtedly sold, all worked to the family's benefit. Also traveling with the Foote family was Elizabeth Deming Foote's brother, John Deming and it is entirely possible that Nathaniel also covered the cost of his travel. John Deming, my 10th great uncle, actually traveled with the Foote family in 1634 when they moved to Wethersfield. He later became and is credited with being one of the "fathers of Connecticut," but that is another story that must be told by one of his many great, great grandsons. See the photo of John Deming's home in Wethersfield above.

100 mile trek to Connecticut
The first historical records in existence of Nathaniel Foote in America are when he took the oath of Freeman in Watertown in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in September of 1633 and when he was granted land. The reason that the Foote family and many other families abruptly left Watertown in 1634 is not entirely clear although it was probably a result of a theological dispute with the local Puritan Church leaders, a very common issue in the early Massachusetts Bay settlements, as well as the constant need for more common land to raise their farm animals and grow crops. These departing "First Adventurers" consisting of ten men, many with their families including the Footes, followed an old Indian trail for around two weeks to their final destination on the Connecticut River, a total distance of around 100 miles. Here they founded a village that was soon to be named Wethersfield (in 1637).  The Nathaniel Foote family was to become one of the leading families in this early little Connecticut Colony. Nathaniel became a town magistrate, he served as a Deputy to the General Assembly between 1641 and 1644, he served as a juror on several occasions, and soon became a leading landowner in Wethersfield owning over 400 acres of land. By the time of his early death in 1644 he had become one of the most highly respected individuals in his town of Wethersfield.

Nathaniel Foote Memorial in Wethersfield
At the time of Nathaniel Foote's death in 1644, my 10th great grandmother, Elizabeth, was only 49 years old. Two of her then seven children were married but four of her children were still under the age of twenty. Her youngest child, the only one born in America, was only ten. It is not surprising therefore that Elizabeth soon remarried in 1646 to a man named Thomas Welles from nearby Hartford. The marriage of Elizabeth Deming Foote and Thomas Welles is really a fascinating occurrence in our family's history.  For one thing, Thomas Welles and his first wife Alice Tomes Welles are my 10th great grandparents through my mother's side of our family. On the other hand, Nathaniel and Elizabeth Foote are also my 10th great grandparents but on an entirely different line but also on my mother's side of our family. While Elizabeth Foote and Thomas Welles did not have any children as they were both in their fifties when they married, the fact that both individuals were my great grandparents in different lines is truly remarkable.  Incidentally, the story of the life of Thomas Welles is covered in Chapter 29 of this blog and is worth reading.  Thomas Welles was truly a remarkable person in that he was the only man in Connecticut's history to hold all four top offices: governor, deputy governor, treasurer, and secretary. He was both governor and deputy governor after his marriage to Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was also highly respected in her community considering that she was the executor of Nathaniel's will which for a female was highly unusual in the 1600s, and she was also rather strong willed. One of the conditions of her marriage to her second husband was that Thomas Welles had to move from his home in Hartford, along with his children, down to Wethersfield and move into Elizabeth's home. He did so and considering that he went on in later years to be governor of Connecticut proved that his move did him no harm. Elizabeth Foote Welles out lived her second husband finally dying at the age of 88 in 1683.

Map of early Wethersfield
We found it interesting upon reviewing the Last Will and Testament of Nathaniel Foote that he failed to mention in his Will his oldest daughter, Elizabeth Foote, who only six years earlier in 1638  had married Josiah Churchill and that he also failed to mention his other daughter, Mary Foote, who only two years earlier had also married. These omissions suggest that both daughters had received gifts at the time of their marriages and that Nathaniel had assumed that his daughters were being well cared for by their new husbands. In the case of Elizabeth Foote Churchill, history would show that he was correct in that my 9th great grandfather Josiah Churchill was a good provider, a good husband, and a good father.  It does not appear in the historical records that Josiah ever achieved the wealth of his father-in-law nor for that matter, the wealth of his mother-in-law's second husband, Thomas Welles, however it does seem that he did quite well. Josiah Churchill's first home ownership was on a 12-1/2 acre parcel in Wethersfield adjacent on the west to the "Great Meadow," which in the 1600s was a very fertile and mostly treeless area (thanks to the local Indians who originally cleared the land) and probably ideally suited for growing crops and pasturing animals. Unfortunately, it was also land subject to frequent flooding from the adjacent Connecticut River (See sketch of early Wethersfield above which shows the locations of the homes of both Josiah Churchill and his father-in-law Nathaniel Foote.)  Josiah by the time of his death in 1686 at the age of 75 had accumulated two-hundred and ten acres of land and two home lots. Some family historians note that since he frequently traded land during his lifetime he might be considered to have been in the real estate business had such a business actually formally existed in the 1600s. While my great grandfather may have made good money by buying and selling land, his primary efforts to maintain his and family's lifestyle were undoubtedly spent in farming like most others in the New England area in this era.

Poor Mary Johnson of Wethersfield
Not unexpectedly my great grandfather Josiah Churchill also did public service in his community. I was reading the other day that the average net worth of a United States congressman today is just over $1,000,000. This is unbelievable. Unlike public servants however, in the 1630s, a present-day congressman now is paid a considerable amount of money annually plus who knows what else they each earn in private deals. In contrast, public servants during Josiah's lifespan most likely did not receive compensation and the men who served had their own wealth and other sources of income during their public service. This observation may explain in part why Josiah's level of public service was below in terms of responsibility that of Nathaniel Foote and Thomas Welles. Nevertheless, Josiah Churchill stayed active during his lifetime in his community. Over a period of time between 1643 and 1675 he served as a town constable, a town surveyor, and on numerous occasions he served in the court as a juror. He may have even served as a juror during Wethersfield's notorious witch trial in 1648 which took place four decades before the well known Salem witch trials. Poor Mary Johnson of Wethersfield was found guilty of being a witch and she was hanged. During the period of Josiah Churchill's life the population in the Wethersfield area grew dramatically from around 150 to 200 to almost 1,000. Fortunately for the village and the Churchill family only two more witches were convicted and hanged (in 1651) in Wethersfield prior to Josiah's later death in 1686 and hopefully he also did not serve on the jury of this second witch trial. Certainly never would one of my ancestors do such a horrible thing as convicting a neighbor of being a witch.

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.

In most of the narratives about the life of Joseph, they refer to him as "Sergeant" Joseph Churchill implying in most cases that he was a member of the local "Trainband" or the local militia. Typically during this period of history, all young boys beginning at the age of 16 were required to join their local trainband where they were instructed in the art of war and the use of firearms. This did not mean that the boys or the men as they grew older were ever actually sent into battle as a group. It only gave them a somewhat incomplete training of what they might face if they were every placed in a military unit. It would seem that Joseph Churchill must have advanced to a leadership role in this local militia. What we found interesting however, is despite the title of "Sergeant" there was no discussion of Joseph ever going into combat despite the fact that the King Philip's War was fought between June of 1675 and April of 1678 and some Connecticut men were definitely engaged in this war. Joseph was 26-years old at the onset of the King Philip's War and while most of the battles did not take place near Wethersfield, in December of 1675 a fierce battle occurred called the Great Swamp Fight near the present day city of South Kingston, Rhode Island (located about 75 miles southeast of Wethersfield). As a man with the rank of Sergeant it would seem likely that he may have participated. It is known that Connecticut forces were present at this "slaughter" where it is estimated that around 600 local Narragansett Indians were slain during the battle as compared to only 70 men of the English militia. There is however, no record of Joseph Churchill being at the Great Swamp Fight nor any other battle for that matter. In January of 1675 when the Indian killings were taking place, Joseph and Mary Churchill's first child, a daughter named Mary, was only nine months old and perhaps carrying for the welfare of his wife and child was more important to our young great grandfather Joseph then going out and slaughtering some Indians (including men, woman, AND children.)  Unfortunately, we have identified several of our other ancestors who were present at the Great Swamp Fight including my 9th Great Grandfather, Samuel Appleton (1625-1696). His story will have to be another chapter. Here again the King Philip's War ended with the Indians sorely losing and the white men "immigrants" frantically and rapidly gobbling up the now freed-up Indian lands. It is extremely hard for us to be proud of this history.

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 Churchill like his forbearers, engaged himself in public affairs within his community. His name appears frequently in the records of Newington both in the local town records as well as in the local business and school records. Here again like his father, Samuel is often referred to by his local militia title, that of Ensign Samuel Churchill, a title that he was given in 1746.  There is no evidence however, that he ever engaged in any military actions although there was no shortage of wars taking place during his lifetime including the Queen Anne's War (1702-1713) which included some engagements with the French and Indians in New England. Samuel and Martha Boardman were married in 1717 and together they had six children, all sons, including their fourth son named Jesse Churchill, my 6th great grandfather, who was born on 31 August 1726. Samuel lived his entire life in Newington finally dying at the age of 79 in the year 1767.  My great grandmother Martha Boardman Churchill outlived her husband by thirteen years finally dying at the age of 84 in the year 1780. They are both buried in the Newington Parish Cemetery and as shown in the above photograph, their gravestones have survived.  We could not find during our research any copies of the Wills of either Samuel or Martha although we have to believe that they left all of their sons financially in good shape.

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 
Jesse Churchill's motives for moving his family in 1775 over 180 miles north from their home in Wethersfield up to a remote area in Vermont called Hubbardton are highly speculative. One motive of course, is that the land in Vermont was cheap and thousands of acres were available. They all agreed that such a location would be ideal in the future especially for their children who as they grew up and married would be able to find new land readily available. Another reason to leave the Wethersfield area may very well have been the proximity of the war with the British that was currently taking place in the Boston area. The British Army's "Siege of Boston" had begun in April of 1775 following the recent battles of Lexington and Concord. Their move to Vermont might very well have been an attempt to get away from any effects of the conflict that would certainly rapidly advance into Connecticut if the British army was successful. Jesse was around 49 years old at the time and some of his family historians state that because he was just too old to fight, the move to Vermont was not motivated by the war and the possibility of his involvement. Yet Jesse at the time was only five years older than George Washington and his old age as an excuse was a myth and had they not moved he might very well have been engaged in the fighting. We strongly believe that his deeply religious nature and his desire to keep his children away from any possibility of seeing death and destruction was the motive for his trying to avoid the war. His friends undoubtedly agreed. In truth there were thousands of American men who avoided serving in either the militia or the regular army during the American Revolution therefore Jesse was not alone. Support for the war was at the best, mixed. It is reported that "for many years" Jesse Churchill was a Deacon in the First Church of Christ, Wethersfield which certainly speaks to his religious nature. Another motive for avoiding the war was the fact that by 1775 Jesse's family consisted of nine children the youngest being only six. His oldest daughter, Martha Churchill, my 5th great grandmother, had recently married and she followed her father to Vermont along with her new husband.

First Church of  Christ  in Wethersfield, Built 1761-1764
Deacon Jesse Church
In 1775, Hubbardton, Vermont was a wilderness area of tree covered rolling hills and numerous picturesque lakes and no dwellers. The traveling group of seven families might very well have followed the Connecticut River north for much of their two or three week trip before heading northwest over to the Hubbardton area located not far from what is today the New York State border. Hubbardston is also located around 30 miles southeast of what was then Fort Ticonderoga that had been constructed around 20 years earlier. It is highly likely that the families had followed the lead of a guide who was familiar with the area.  Once there and the land was divided per their grants with the original owners, they began clearing and then building their primitive log homes obviously primitive as a result of their not having the tools nor the building skills that would have been readily available in their former town. For the next two years in Hubbardton everything went well as the farms and the families grew. Jesse and Sarah had another child as did we believe his daughter Martha, my 5th great grandmother, and her husband. Martha's child we believe died early and the birth was never recorded. The move to Hubbardton would have been the perfect move except for what happened on 5 July, 1777.

Monument at the site of the Battle of Hubbardton 
As we all know the Revolutionary War did not end in Boston in 1775. In May of 1775 the nearby Fort Ticonderoga under the control of British forces was attacked and captured by the Green Mountain Boys under the leadership of Ethan Allen. Control of the fort by the Americans was short lived for only two years later on the 5th of July in 1777 the British forces recaptured the fort. The American forces consisting of around 1,200 men were forced to retreat from the fort and they headed in the direction of Hubbardton. They were quickly followed by an equally sized force of British Troops. Fortunately the families living in Hubbartdon, including Jesse Churchill's family, were warned in advance of the oncoming British troops and they quickly vacated their homes. What soon followed on the 7th of July 1777, was the Battle of Hubbardton, the only Revolutionary War battle fought in the future state of Vermont.  While some of the families later returned to their homes in Hubbardton, Jesse Churchill unexpectedly elected to return to Wethersfield and abandon his new home in Hubbardton. What happened to Jesse and Sarah following their return is mostly unknown. Sarah died a year later in 1778. She was only 38. Jesse again remarried shortly following the death of his second wife although here again his marriage ended only six years later with the death of his third wife in 1794.  Jesse Churchill died twelve years later at the then advanced age of 79 years old in 1806. He is buried in the Wethersfield Village Cemetery. Where my 6th great grandmother is buried is unknown.

Old Constitution House, Birthplace of "Vermont Republic"
Jesse Churchill was present when state constitution was signed.
One final note about Jesse Churchill is worth reporting in that it tells us a lot about the respect that others in his community must have had for him. On the 4th of June in 1777 about a month before the Battle of Hubbardton and before Jesse with his family returned to Connecticut, Jesse was part of a large group of men meeting in the village of Windsor located about 65 miles east of Hubbardton. He was probably selected by his friends in Hubbardton to represent their community at this meeting of the "General Constitutional Convention". This meeting has some historical significance because it was here that the future State of Vermont was first given the name "Vermont". Quite understandably, the Town of Windsor now refers to itself as the "Birthplace of Vermont."

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.

Apparently my 5th great grandfather, Benajah Boardman, was not at home during much of the Revolutionary War as he had apparently signed up with the Green Mountain Boys under the leadership of Col. Ira Allen after the battle in Hubbardton and by 1781 military records have him listed as a sergeant. Ira Allen was the brother of Ethan Allen. We note that despite being married in late 1774, Benajah and Martha did not give birth to their second child until a son was born in early 1780 which perhaps suggests that Benajah was not home much of the time during his engagement in the Revolutionary War. In any case, between 1780 and 1788 they had five children including my 4th great grandmother Rebecca Meekins Boardman who was born on 10 June 1783. Without spending a lot of time describing the life of Benajah and Martha Churchill Boardman, it will have to sufficient simply to note that in 1788 they left their home in Vermont and moved with their family to Newtown, New York (Elmira) and then several years later in 1791 they moved to Ovid, New York located between Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake in Central New York State.  Here Benajah Churchill became a large landowner, a successful businessman including being an owner of both a grist mill as well as a public inn, and for awhile a town supervisor in the Town of Fayette.  Three more children were born following their move into New York State. Benajah and Martha both died in early 1813 apparently as a result of an epidemic fever that was introduced into their area by soldiers returning from the War of 1812. Fortunately at the time of their death their youngest child was 20 years old.

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.



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