Saturday, October 22, 2016

Griffin home in Killingworth, CT

There is a renewed interest in cities like Killingworth in their historical buildings. Over the last few years they have been researching and publishing the history of their historical homes. It is particularly interesting to the Griffin family because many of these homes are from the same age as the original Griffin home on Roast Meat Hill Rd. We have included two homes as an example. We choose them because, both were constructed by members of the Wright family. Benjamin Wright built the oldest in 1710. Benjamin Wright is credited as being the first man to live in the Killingworth area. Benjamin Wright is also Mercy Bailey’s grandfather.---------- With very few exceptions these old homes are wood framed. All of them exhibit detailed woodwork in the window frames, doorframes, shutters, etc. The interiors also exhibit finely detailed woodworking. This use of wood provided a living for Samuel Griffin and his “joiners shop”. In our day men such as Samuel are referred to as cabinetmakers or finish carpenters. In that era such men were real craftsmen with everything being made from scratch using only hand tools. Samuel's large collection of joiners tools were divided among his sons in his will.---------- The typical house is the two story Benjamin Wright house. There are others that are referred to as a Half House. These lacked the full two stories. The Griffin house is a Half House. Even though it does not have the full two stories it does have a small upstairs room.---------- We have also reposted pictures from the original Griffin home lot and house. One picture is from a view in the Union Cemetery. This corner nestled next to the home lot is the oldest part of the cemetery. I think it is a fair assumption that Marah Griffin and Mercy Nettleton, wives of Samuel Griffin, are buried here.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Samuel Griffin, 1757 campaign, French and Indian War

The French and Indian War ran from 1754 to 1763. The pivotal years were from 1757 to 1760. 1757 saw the French make their biggest push into the Colonies. In August of 1757 the French captured Fort William Henry, which gave the French a stranglehold over the Lake Champlain waterway and with it control of much of the region. In 1758 the British tried to retake the lost ground with disastrous results. The 1759 campaign saw the British Colonies retake much of the lost ground including the recapture of William Henry, Fort Ticonderoga and beyond. Samuel and his brother James played a part in the 1759 campaign.---------- But Samuel also served during the 1757 campaign season. The records for the Connecticut Militias that served during the French and Indian War are held in the Connecticut State Library. A print version of those records has been created. The records show that Samuel’s Regiment was commanded by Lieut.-Col Nathan Whiting. Col Whiting also had direct command over the Second Company. Samuel was a member of the Fourteenth Company command by Capt. Andrew Ward with Peleg Redfield serving as First Lieutenant. The Fourteenth Company was made up primarily of men from North Killingworth, CT. The pay roll records record Samuel’s time of enlistment as March 29. The records indicate that he served for 37 weeks and 1 day.---------- The Connecticut General Assembly had called for 1,400 troops for 1757. The main effort was to be concentrated in protecting the traditional route from Montreal, Canada to Albany New York. That route ran down Lake Champlain and then on to the waterway that extended south through Lake George. Fort William Henry sat at the southern end of Lake George. Its position made it a critical prize in the war. There were a series of other forts stretching back to Albany. Most of the 1,400 members of the Connecticut Militia were sent to occupy those forts. The remainder of the militia, about 500 men, were sent to Fort No-4 on the Connecticut River. That force was command by Col. Nathan Whiting. Samuel’s company was part of that command.---------- The area of Fort No-4 is now Charlestown, New Hampshire. In 1757 Fort No-4 marked the absolute margin of the frontier. The Connecticut River flows through Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts and on to the sea in Connecticut. The river and its tributaries served as the main artery to this entire region. With the war escalating the Connecticut River Way also became a major military prize.---------- There is very little that has been published describing the duties of the troops at Fort No-4 beyond noting that they were active in scouting and patrolling the region. There is an illustration of Fort-4 drawn by a contemporary of Samuel’s that has survived. There are however a number of accounts of the nature of the conflict with the Indian tribes. The tribes of the region aligned themselves with the French and pursed an active and savage strategy of raiding in the region. The most famous story to survive has been captured in a book published soon after the war titled, A Narrative of the Captivity of Mrs. Johnson. Mrs. Johnson and her family were captured at Fort No-4 and held in captivity for some time. After her eventual escape she published a personal narrative. The book includes allusions to the savage nature of the ”Indian depredations” common to the age and the area.---------- With so little to go on its left we are left to our imagination for an image of what life was like for Samuel during those 37 weeks. Everything beyond Fort No-4 was untouched wilderness. The first real road was not cut through the area until 1760. What the colonist described as wilderness was home to the Indian tribes. They moved through its vastness with ease. Can we not assume that their opponents, the young Samuel Griffin and his fellow militiamen, were also seasoned frontiersmen also at home in the open spaces? He himself was a weaver while at war did he wear homespun or leather? Did he carry a military issue gun of the Brown Bess model or did he carry one of the hand made long rifles that became the hallmark of the 1776 militiamen? ---------- James Fenimore Cooper was born in 1789 in Cherry Valley, New York an area that had been ravaged in the French and Indian War. He grew up among men, including members of his own family, who survived the events. He is famous for his books set in the French and Indian War time frame. His most famous work, Last of the Mohicans, is a description of the capture of Fort William Henry in 1757. I think it is a fair assumption that he was able to capture a fair amount of the reality of the life and times of the men like Samuel Griffin serving on the American frontier.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Chronology for the life of Samuel Griffin Jun. 1739-1808

Chronology for the life of Samuel Griffin Jun. 1739-1808 --------- For a long time the history of several generations of our line of the Griffin family lay undiscovered in the records of the town of Killingworth, Connecticut. That circumstance however did not prevent Griffin family genealogist using the material that was available from speculating on the, who, what, when and where of the Griffin family tree. If the names, dates and general locations where within acceptable parameters the assumption was made that the line must be correct. (Blog December 2012) Even today you can find multiple interpretations of the family tree of Samuel Griffin of Killingworth. You can also find other lines that have grafted themselves into our line. While we do find enough records in Killingworth to introduce us to the real Samuel Griffin and Mary Beckwith we find a rich collection of records for their children including their son, Samuel Griffin Jun. the subject of this essay. I can still remember the surprised at the realization that my line was not the only line that traced its linage back to Samuel Griffin. It came as a true surprise to discover that he in fact had three families. It is my understanding that the other two families at some point also made the same discovery. ---------- In the early records in many of the towns in New England it is quite common to turn a page and find an entry that lists all of the members of a single family recorded in one concise little entry. Such is the case for the family of Samuel Griffin and Mary Beckwith. There is just such a record in the Killingworth town records, which notes the birth of Mary, Thankfull, Jerusha, James, Samuel and Jeremiah. Each child in turn was identified as the son or daughter of “Samuel and Mary Griffin”. ---------- 1739-----So lets start our chronology with that record from Killingworth which includes the line, “Samuel ye son of Samuel and Mary Griffin was born February ye 10th 1739”. ---------- Samuel Griffin Jun. grew up in what is now Clinton, Connecticut. During his lifetime it became referred to as South Killingworth or the First Society. Deed records indicate that the family lived on the north side of Main St., which then was the Stage Road or Boston Post Road, and the east side of the road traveling to then North Killingworth. References to the property of Samuel or Mary Griffin persisted as a reference point in the land records well into the 1800’s. We have posted one such deed that references Mary Griffin. You can imply from the number of such deeds that the Griffins owned a substantial amount of property. ---------- 1746-----Whatever the amount of property it seemed to have been sufficient to support the family after the untimely death of their father, Samuel Griffin. Housed in the files of the Guilford Probate District in Connecticut is a file for Samuel Griffin “Late of Killingworth”. One of the first documents in the file is addressed to Mary Griffin, “To Mary Griffin of Killingworth …… widow and relict of Samuel Griffin Late of Killingworth”. It is dated “27th Day of November ADom 1746.” ---------- 1755-----Women by themselves did not have the legal standing before the courts in 1746 to manage their own affairs. Benjamin Gale a prominent citizen in Killingworth was charged by the court to assume responsibly for Samuel’s estate. We do not have a description of the size or make up of the estate but we do know that when Samuel Griffin Jun. turned age sixteen the court appointed a guardian to look after his interests. The document is dated May 18, 1755, “Guardian to Samuel Griffin minor Son of Samuel Griffin late of Killingworth”. Nathan Buell, who had married Samuel’s older sister Thankful, was appointed to be Samuel’s guardian. ---------- 1757-----In 1757 a young 18-year-old Samuel Griffin was serving in the Connecticut Militia in the French and Indian War. He was a member of the Fourteenth Company Andrew Ward Capt. ,Peleg Redfield First Lieutenant. According to the military records he enlisted on March 28 and served for 37 weeks and 1 day. -------- 1759-----In the Connecticut State Archives is the pay roll for the Second Regiment, Eighth Company, Peleg Redfield Captain for the year 1759. The list includes Sam Griffin who served from April 10 to December 1. ---------- 1759-----The next document that we find for Samuel is the record of his marriage to “Marah Griffin”. The document is found in the records of the Killingworth Second Society. It is a transcription from the records held in the Killingworth First Society, the original Killingworth records. Those original records were subsequently lost in a fire. It seems that the recently enlisted Samuel took a bit of time to get married before spending the rest of the year fighting with the Militia. The record reads, “Samuel Griffin and Marah Griffin was married May ye 17, 1759”. ---------- There are several things that need to be noted, Marah’s last name was also “Griffin”. As you can see each bride in the list of marriages was referred to by her maiden name. Also note that the marriage for his brother James is part of the same record. Also of note is the fact that the marriage took place in the First Society. We can only surmise as to how the original record was organized. ---------- 1761-----One of the items that was faithfully recorded in the Congregational Societies was the list of those persons who Owned the Covenant. Those persons who after a Profession Of faith were granted full membership in the Society. In the ledgers of the Killingworth Second Society in a section dedicated to recording those that Owned the Covenant. Under the heading “In the year 1761” we find listed on April 19, “Samuel Griffin” and on the next line “Mary ye wife of said Samuel Griffin”. Marah was written as Mary. ---------- 1761-----In the same Congregational ledger we also find the baptism of the first child born to Samuel and Marah Griffin. April 19, 1761, “Lois daughter of Samuel Griffin”. ( Stephen Kelsey ) ---------- 1762-------The baptism of Polly the daughter of Samuel and Marah Griffin is recorded on August 13/15, 1762, “Polle daughter of Samuel Griffin”. The clerk had the habit of replacing the “y” on many names with an “e”. ( Reuben Doud ) ---------- 1762----- On September 13, 1762 Samuel purchased his original piece of property in North Killingworth. He built his home and joiners shop on the two and one-half acres. The location of the property was defined by its boundaries, the Burying Yard and the highway, Roast Meat Hill Road. Over the next several years he purchased a number of properties that adjoined his home lot. ---------- 1765------On April 14, 1765 we find also in the Congregational records the baptism of Azuba Griffin. “Azuba daughter of Samuel Griffin”. ( Henry Davis ) ---------- 1765-----The death of Marah Griffin is found in the transcription of the original Killingworth records that were made by the Second Society when the two towns divided. The record reads, “Marah the wife of Samuel Griffin died August ye 13th 1763”. In transcribing the original record it is obvious that the clerk made a mistake. With Azuba’s birth April 14, 1765 the correct date for Marah’s death is August 13, 1765. ---------- 1766-----With 3 young daughters to take care of it is small wonder that Samuel did not take long to find a new wife. He looked no further than his next-door neighbor Samuel Nettleton. Samuel Griffin married Mercy Nettleton May 15, 1766. ---------- 1767-----On July 26, 1767 “Mercy ye wife of Samuel Griffin” was granted the right to Own the Covenant in the Second Society. ---------- 1767----- On October 4, 1767 Joel the son of Samuel Griffin and Mercy Nettleton was baptized in the Second Society. ---------- 1769-----On January 1, 1769 Asahel “ye son of Samuel Griffin” was baptized. --------- 1770-----We do not have a death record for Mercy Nettleton. What we do have is the record for the marriage of “Samuel Griffin & Mercy Steevens”. It is dated March 15, 1770. Mercy Bailey herself was a young widow having lost her husband James Steevens. ---------- 1770-----The baptism of Molle/Molly Griffin daughter of Samuel Griffin is recorded on December 30, 1770 in the Congregational records. ---------- 1772-----Worden was baptized September 6, 1772. ---------- 1774-----“Mercy the daughter of Samuel Griffin” was baptized March 20, 1774. ( Ithamar Pelton ) ---------- 1776-----1776 marked the birth of the new nation of the United States of America. 1776 also witness the baptism of the third Griffin to carry the name of Samuel. He was born March 17, 1776. ---------- 1778-----John Griffin the son of Samuel Griffin and Mercy Bailey was baptized May 17, 1778. ---------- 1780-----Evidence suggests that the three families of Samuel Griffin were well integrated into the Killingworth Second Society. Each of his first two wives had joined the congregation with him. Full Communion granted you the right to have your children baptized. This being said it is curious that Mercy Bailey was not granted Full Communion until December 17, 1780. ---------- 1781-----Dan ( Daniel Almon ) the son of Samuel Griffin” was baptized September 16, 1781. ---------- 1784-----In December of 1784 Samuel Griffin purchased the “Burying Yard” located next to his home from the town. The idea of a family cemetery was very common in that day. There is a corner in the oldest part of the cemetery that has a number of very old unreadable headstones. I think that it is a fair assumption to think that Marah Griffin, Molle Griffin and Mercy Nettleton are buried in that corner. --------- 1796-----There are two deeds dated January 20, 1796 in the Killingworth records between Samuel Griffin and his son Worden. One deed is for the home lot, which contained “My dwelling house” the barn and Samuel’s joiners shop. The second deed is for the surround twenty acres. The two deed offer a detailed description of the property owned by Samuel and provide insights into the life he led. By 1796 Samuel and his three sons, Samuel, John and Dan along with his daughter then Mercy Pelton are preparing to move or may have already moved to Essex, Vermont. ---------- 1796-----Samuel Griffin was among the earliest settlers of Essex, Vermont. The area had been surveyed by a group of land speculators ten years previously. Samuel purchased lot No. 142 from one of the original proprietors. His sons John and Dan joined him on the property. ---------- 1798-----We find another deed dated October 5, 1798 in which Samuel purchased additional property adjacent to lot No 142. He was to eventually purchase a number of adjoining properties ending up with a large substantial farm in the middle of the most fertile part of the Essex Township. Samuel and his son John worked the property together. ---------- 1802-----The issue of where and when to begin building a meetinghouse had been an ongoing subject in Essex since 1800. From the town history, “In January 1802, the subject was again agitated and David Kellog, Simon Tubbs, Samuel Griffin appointed a committee to “stick the stake and lay out the green whereon to erect said house.” ---------- 1802----We find an entry in, “The History of the town of Essex”, ”At a legal town meeting held at Samuel Griffin’s on the first of April, 1802, the First Ecclesiastical Society was organized according “to the Laws of this State”. “made and provided for the building of meeting houses and settling ministers.” Thirty-six Congregationalists signed. ---------- 1808-----Samuel Griffin’s will is dated May 16, 1808. In the will he names all of his children except Molly, who probable died at a young age and Worden. He names :”my son John”, “My three daughters …..Lois Kelsey, Polly Doud, Azuba Davis”, “My five sons viz Joel, Asahel, Samuel, John, Dan”. He also makes allowances for “my daughter Mercy Pelton”. ---------- 1808------Samuel Griffin died in Essex July 27, 1808, “in his 69th year”. He is buried in the Essex Common Burial Ground. ---------- 1822----- On April 30, 1822 Mercy, “consort of Samuel Griffin’ died “in her 85th year”.