Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Chapter 55 - My Loomis Ancestry

My closest Loomis ancestor is my 8th great grandmother, Elizabeth Loomis, who died in November of 1717, a long time ago. In this chapter we are going to approach our family history story a little bit differently than most of our other family histories. Our plan is to broaden our scope and explore as best we can all sides of Elizabeth's ancestry including both her mother's and her father's parents, grandparents, great grandparents and where possible even her great, great grandparents. Elizabeth Loomis's family tree is shown above. We are going to begin our Loomis tale with what we have learned about her great, great grandparents, John and Kyrsten Loomis, who are my 12th great grandparents on my mother's side of our family.

Thaxted, Sussex County, England
Home of early Loomis Family
One of the common problems when researching our ancestors is that their surnames are often not spelled the same as they are today which then makes it a lot more difficult to do the research. This is especially true in the case of our Loomis ancestors. It is not so much that they changed their last names or it's spelling. The problem was that back in the 17th century and earlier almost no one could read or write. This meant that anyone recording a person's name in the public or church records had to guess as to how their surname was spelled. The end results were multiple guesses as to the spelling. A good example is the spelling of John Loomis's surname in his last will and testament that was written on 19 February 1567. Not only was his name written as "John Lomesse" but almost every other word in the document is spelled incorrectly or at least differently than it is today. His will begins "Fyrst, I bequeve my sowle into the hands off allmyghty god . . ."  It is therefore no surprise that we see my great grandparents' last name spelled in many different ways: Lomas, Lummy, Lummys, Loomys, Lummis, Lomesse, and more.

Church of St. John the Baptist, Thaxted
We really do not know much about my 12th great grandparents, John and Kyrsten (or Christine) Loomis. John was born around 1536 and he and his wife lived their entire lives in Thaxted, County Essex, England located about 70 miles northeast of London. In John's case his life was very short as he was only around 31 years old when he died in 1567 undoubtedly, as was common back in those days, due to the effects of some sort of epidemic. Such an epidemic might be as simple as a run of measles or chickenpox for which there was no immunity and no cure. All that we really know about John Loomis is that he was a carpenter and apparently according to his will he owned his own home "with a garden plotte" which seems to imply that he was during his short life reasonably financially successful. From what we learned about the small village of Thaxted it was a flourishing community during this time period and it was well known for its cutlery and weaving industries which employed a large number of the population. Unfortunately, we know virtually nothing about my great grandmother Kyrsten including for certain her last name and when she was born or died. Her surname is often written however, as Pasfield or Jackson and her death year as 1567 although her dying in the same year as her husband may be unlikely. Although their gravestones have long been lost, it is generally accepted that they were both buried alongside the Church of St. John the Baptist in Thaxted that has been described as a "magnificent medieval church," a fact that clearly shows to be accurate in the above photograph. John and Kyrsten are thought to have a number of children before John's early death including my 11th great grandfather, John Loomis (Jr.) who was born in Thaxted around 1562. John's will simply mentions "all my chyldre" and unfortunately the names of his children other than his son John have never been positively identified other than possibly another son named Edward.

Tailor business in merry old England
If both of John Loomis's parents died in 1567 when he was only five he was probably then raised by another Loomis family member, possibly an aunt or an uncle, but the names of whomever may have raised John and his siblings is unknown. Perhaps it was his lack of an intimate family relationship that motivated his move away from Thaxted at a young age to the nearby village of Braintree, located around 18 miles southeast of Thaxted. Another possible and stronger motive for moving to Braintree was that Braintree was larger in population and thus the opportunity for obtaining employment was far greater. John was 22 years old when he married in Braintree on the 30th of June in 1589 my 11th great grandmother, Agnes Lingwood, who was then around 18 years old. Agnes' father is believed to have been a man named John Lingwood (or Lyngwood) who was known to be a "woolen-draper" (wool cloth merchant) and it is very possible that John Loomis went to work for John Lingwood after he moved to Braintree where he not only learned the "tailor" business but he also meet his future wife Agnes, daughter of John and Jane Marlar Lingwood. John Lingwood is believed by some historians to have died in 1592 [some historians say 1594 or even 1597 which is the date often given for his last will and testament] possibly as a result of the plague. There is no way to confirm this as a fact but it is known that in December of 1592 a plague hit nearby London and over a twelve month period it caused around 17,000 deaths. In any case, his death may have made it possible for John Loomis to continue and expand his father-in-laws business. As best that can be determined, our great grandfather John Loomis did quite well in his business, became a rather large landholder in Braintree, and he was a highly respected man in his church and in his community. Together John and Agnes had five children including my 10th great grandfather, their only son, Joseph Loomis, who was born on 24 August 1590. When John Loomis prepared his final will and testament on 14 April 1619 he mentions only his son Joseph and his four married daughters and he died soon after and was buried in the churchyard of St. Michael's Church in Braintree on 29 May 1619. He was 57 years old. My great grandmother Agnes is listed in most records as having died on the day that her husband wrote his will and the fact that the manner that she is mentioned in his final will would suggest that she probably died sometime shortly after her husband. Undoubtedly she too is buried by the St. Michael's Church.  Here again, the fact that they may have died so close in time to each other might suggest that they were each infected with one of the many diseases that were constantly passing through England during this time period.

St. Andrew's Parish Church - Shalford, Essex
My 10th great grandfather, Joseph Loomis was around 23 years old when he married my great grandmother Mary White on the 30th day of June in 1614 probably at the St. Andrew's Parish Church in Shalford where she and her parents were living. Shalford was and is today a small community located about 5 miles north of Braintree. It is likely that Joseph's and Mary's parents as well as all of Joseph's and Mary's siblings attended the wedding. Joseph's new father-in-law, Robert White (1561-1617), was a man of considerable means for the times and his wealth was undoubtedly a great benefit to young Joseph. Joseph's new business was the purchasing and then the reselling of cloth that he acquired from the many small weavers who had flocked in recent years to the greater Braintree area of Essex County. It is not entirely clear how my great grandfather Robert White had achieved his wealth although it may have been through an inheritance. While he apparently was not a member of the English nobility, he was considered a yeoman and he did own a moderate amount of land. This ownership of land was very unusual during a time period when most of the land in England was either controlled by a small number of noble families who essentially "rented" the land to other less affluent people, or the land was owned by the English church.  Robert White's wealth was pretty much reflected in his last will and testament that he had written near his death in May of 1617 only three years following his daughter's wedding to Joseph Loomis. Robert White not only left his land and goods to his wife and children but the fact that he was wealthy was reflected by his bequeathing money both to "the poore people of Messinge. . " as well to two local church ministers. Messing was a small village east of Braintree where the White family lived at the time of Robert's death in 1617. Unfortunately nothing is known about the ancestry of my 11th great grandfather Robert White. On the other hand, the family history of Robert's wife and my 11th great grandmother, Bridget (Brydgette) Allgar (1562-1605), goes back by tradition a number of generations to my alleged 17th great grandfather, a Sir John Algor (1333?-1398?), who was a member of the English nobility and who lived in what was then called the Manor of Lindsell. Today Lindsell is a small village located near Shalford and Braintree. Sir John was then known as the Lord of Castle Brazen (Brason) Head although from what we read, Castle Brazen was probably just a large farm house. Whether or not all of this is accurate, it is quite apparent that our Loomis ancestry goes back for many, many generations in Essex County, England.

We do not know for certain what motivated Joseph Loomis to move with his wife Mary White Loomis and their children to America in 1638. At the time he was around 48 or 49 years old which was relatively old for this period in history. Besides his wife Mary, they had eight children who travelled with them ranging in age from 10 years old to 23 years old including my 9th great grandfather, Nathaniel Loomis, who was 12.  Joseph was fairly well-off financially. He had an excellent business in Braintree which included a large woolen drapery store that he had developed over many years. Many weavers from Flanders in Holland had settled in Braintree in the 1500s and the village had quickly become a center of cloth manufacturing in England. The family undoubtedly lived in a nice home, were a well respected family, as well as respected members of the local church in Braintree. Furthermore the cost of taking the trip to America was undoubtedly expensive especially for a family of 10. There is no question that Joseph Loomis would have had Puritan leanings although there are no suggestions in historical records that he was an avid and outspoken critic of the Church of England and/or the current King of England, King Charles I. Certainly during this period of English history the country was in turmoil over religious issues as well as King Charles' quarrels with the British Parliament, the public distrust that they had for him, and the threats and the realities of war and higher taxes. We really believe that Joseph Loomis was thinking of his children and their future when he elected to emigrate to America. In America, unlike in England, he believed that there would be religious and political freedoms as well as the right to own land, all liberties that were not offered in their homeland. These beliefs made for him the decision to board the ship "Susan and Ellen" in London with his entire family on 11 April 1638. Not surprisingly one of Mary's sisters and her husband and family as well as one of her brothers had already left for America in 1632.  Mary's sister Anna and her husband John Porter travelled with Mary and Joseph and their family onboard the "Susan and Ellen" when it finally left the shores of England headed for America. After almost three months at sea the ship finally arrived in Boston on July 17th.

After a year living in Dorchester located just south of Boston, Joseph decided in mid-1639 to leave the area and relocate to a new community in Connecticut by the name of Windsor. He was undoubtedly aware and attracted to the fact that in early 1639 the new settlements of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor had issued a written constitution that offered liberality to its citizens and a unified government for these new colonies. A trading post had been established on the future site of Windsor in the year 1633 followed by the group of original settlers of Windsor consisting of around 30 people who arrived in 1634. They were followed the following year by another 60 new emigrants. Most of these original settlers had traveled from Dorchester so it probably should not be surprising that Joseph and his family selected Windsor to be their new home. It is estimated that by the year 1636 there were around 160 families or 800 people living in the townships of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor. Despite the Loomis family's later arrival in Windsor, Joseph Loomis is universally listed as one of the village's original founders. According to some early town records of Windsor, Joseph was granted in February of 1640, 21 acres of land adjoining the Farmington River near its junction with the west bank of the Connecticut River (noted as the Great River on the adjacent map). Windsor is located around 8 miles north of Hartford and this home village of our Joseph Loomis is usually accepted as the earliest of all English settlements in all of Connecticut.
Loomis Family Home, Windsor, Connecticut

Joseph Loomis at first constructed what has been called a "dugout cabin" on his new land followed sometime before the year 1652 with the construction of a small timber-framed house. Following Joseph's death in 1658, their original home was greatly expanded by one of his sons during the years 1688 to 1690 and what is really wonderful is that the original home as expanded still stands to this day as shown in this old photograph above. The home today has been somewhat modernized since this older picture was taken. The Loomis home today is considered to be one of the oldest timber-framed houses still standing in America.

Monument to Joseph Loomis and Family
Joseph Loomis lived for almost 19 years in Windsor before his death on 25 November 1658 at the age of around 68 years old. Mary, my 10th great grandmother, died at the age of 61 in the year 1652. Joseph lived long enough to attend the marriage of all eight of his children including my 9th great grandfather Nathaniel Loomis, their youngest son, who married Elizabeth Moore in Windsor on 24 November 1654. Joseph and Mary had lived a good life in Windsor. They lived next door to Mary's sister Anna and her husband John Porter. Also living nearby them were another of my 10th great grandparents, Henry and Elizabeth Saunders Wolcott whose family history is told in Chapter 16 on this blog (www.Bakerfamilytree.blogspot.com). While Joseph Loomis was not a young man when he moved to America, he still was able to remain active in his new community. In October of 1640 he joined the local Windsor church. In 1643 and 1644 he served as a Deputy to the Assembly which would have been quite an honor in colonial Connecticut during this time period. There are also several records of him serving on a jury in 1644 as well as in 1652 including once with Nathaniel Foote from Hartford who was another one of my 10th great grandfathers. Joseph Loomis may have died unexpectedly in 1658 for he died without writing a last will and testament. His estate fortunately was settled without any disagreements by his sons and daughters.

Style of Furniture made by Moore Family
John Moore, the father of Nathaniel Loomis' wife Elizabeth Moore, is believed to have been born in Southwold in Suffolk County, England sometime between 1603 and 1614 (who knows) and possibly with his brother Thomas (some say that Thomas was his father) sailed to America in 1630 on the ship "Mary and John". If John Moore sailed alone to America as typically reported, it would seem unlikely that he was born as late as 1614 which would have meant that he was traveling alone to America at the age of only 16. John initially settled in Dorchester but like so many other early Dorchester settlers he eventually moved to Windsor around 1639 (possibly earlier). There is some question as to the name of John Moore's wife and my 10th great grandmother. Some believe that her name was Abigail although the name has never been confirmed in historical records. Furthermore, John Moore's oldest daughter was named Abigail and some believe that some historians may simply have confused the two individuals.  Perhaps the most interesting thing about John Moore was his occupation. My great grandfather was an extraordinarily skilled maker of wood furniture. The furniture, some of which still survives to this day (see photograph as to style) was typically decorated with vines and blossoms carved into the wood, furniture if sold today, would be almost priceless. Thanks to his training, John Moore's sons and two of his son-in-laws continued the business following John's death and it is said that "Windsor became the region's premier woodworking site throughout the mid-1700s", obviously thanks to my great grandfather's influence. John Moore was also a large farmer, a house carpenter, a joiner, a wheelwright, a turner, and a maker of boats as well as paddles and oars. Obviously he was a busy man.

Moore House as it appears today
Besides his occupation, John Moore was a very active patriarch in his community of Windsor. He was not only elected as one of Windsor's five "selectmen," he was ordained as a deacon in Windsor's First Congregation Church in 1651 and he was elected by Windsor as a Deputy to the Connecticut General Court, a position that he served for a least 21 years. He also became a large property owner as well as being credited as being generous via donations to the poor. What is also interesting is that like his son-in-law's father, Joseph Loomis, the home that John Moore had built in Windsor in 1664 still survives in part to this day although like the original Loomis house, it too was later attached to a larger home that subsequently in 1897 was moved to a new location. John Moore and his wife had two sons and four daughters all of whom are believed to have been born in Windsor. My 9th great grandmother, Elizabeth Moore, was born on the 23rd day of July in 1638. She was only 16 years old when she married Nathaniel Loomis on 27 November 1654 who was by then 28 years old. Her father, John Moore, died on 18 September 1677.

King Philip's War, Windsor Troop of Horse
Unlike his father and his father-in-law there is little evidence to show that Nathaniel Loomis was active in his community unless one counts the fact that during the period of his marriage he and his wife had twelve children including my 8th great grandmother, Elizabeth Loomis, who was born on 7 August 1655. Historical records show that Nathaniel's occupation was primarily that of a farmer. He was made a freeman in 1654 and he and his wife were admitted to the local church in 1663. What is somewhat surprising is that only four years after his marriage Nathaniel was listed as a member of the Connecticut Calvary (a/k/a Windsor Troop of Horse) under the command of Major John Mason (also another early Windsor settler).  He undoubtedly maintained his part-time position within this cavalry through much of his life which was probably compulsory, for he is listed again in 1676 as being with this same group during the King Philip's War. At 50 years old at the start of this war, it is hard to imagine that Nathaniel actually engaged in any large battles with the Indians. The population of New England during this time period was around 60,000 people and with around 110 towns with militias and with as many as 16,000 men of military age all of whom would have been required to join their local militias, it would seem Nathaniel Loomis' role may have been primarily to maintain a defensive force around his own town. There are no records that suggest that Nathaniel was at any time an officer in his local militia. Sometime after the King Philip's War, Nathaniel Loomis purchased a large section of land on the east side of the "Great River", now the Connecticut River, showing that during his lifetime he may have gained a certain amount of wealth. Nathaniel died in 1688 at the age of 62 and he is buried in the Palisado Cemetery in Windsor. My 9th great grandmother, Elizabeth Moore Loomis, was only 50 years old when her husband died and not surprisingly, three years following her husband's death, she married a man by the name of John Case. Here again, my great grandmother outlived her second husband, finally dying at the age of 89 on the 23rd of January in 1728. Elizabeth is buried alongside her first husband Nathaniel in the Palisado Cemetery in Windsor. At the time of the arrival of the Loomis family to Connecticut in 1639 the total population was a little under 1,500. Around the time of Nathaniel and Elizabeth's deaths the population had grown to around 17,000 and was starting to increase rapidly such that by the end of the 18th century, the Connecticut population had expanded to around 250,000 people.  When people like our Nathaniel and Elizabeth Loomis have 12 children, it is no wonder that the population would expand dramatically.

Their daughter and my 8th great grandmother, Elizabeth Loomis, obviously named after her mother, was only 33 years old when her father died. Her mother on the other hand outlived her by 11 years.  Elizabeth married my 8th great grandfather, William Burnham, in 1671 when she was only 15 years old and William was 19. They, like Elizabeth's parents, had many children and lived a good and seemly prosperous life. My ancestry from Elizabeth Loomis and William Burnham down until today is listed below: 

8th Great Grandparents: Elizabeth Loomis and William Burnham
                                        (1655-1717)                (1652-1730)
7th Great Grandparents: William Burnham and Hannah Wolcott
                                       (1684-1750)                 (1684-1748)
6th Great Grandparents: Josiah Burnham and Ruth Norton
                                     (1710-1800)               (1724-1762)
5th Great Grandparents: Hannah Burnham and Benjamin Hall
                                    (1746-1797)                 (1736-1786)
4th Great Grandparents: William B. Hall and Rebecca Boardman
                                      (1774-1842)             (1783-1805)
3rd Great Grandparents: Elizabeth B. Hall and Mosely Hutchinson
                                     (1801-1877)             (1795-1861)
2nd Great Grandparents: Mary R. Hutchinson and David Ferree
                                     (1825-1901)                 (1826-1869)
Great Grandparents:     Eugene H. Ferree and Marian Coapman
                                     (1866-1952)                 (1867-1895)
Grandparents:          Florence A. Ferree and Douglas Patterson           
                                (1891-1938)                   (1888-1979)
Parents:                   Marian C. Patterson and Charles A. Baker
                                 (1916-1973)                     (1916-2000)
Living Generation:      Charles Baker (1942- )
                                Anne Baker Fanton (1943- )
                                Joan Baker (1950- )

And so ends another family history story . . . .

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