Thursday, June 30, 2016

Jerusha Griffin and Asa Landon

Jerusha Griffin was born July 23, 1736 in Killingworth, Middlesex, Connecticut the daughter of Samuel and Mary Griffin. The history of Jerusha Griffin is shaded in more mystery than any of her siblings. Her story is told in two parts. The first part takes place in Killingworth, CT. In Killingworth we find her listed with the rest of her siblings in a concise little entry found among the pages of land deeds. The only other record of her in Killingworth is found in the ledgers of the Congregational Society dated in 1753. The entry records Jerusha being granted Full Communion in the Society. After her father's early death land records indicate that her mother Mary took control of the family property and family fortunes. At some point in time Jerusha became part of her older sister Thankful's household. Thankful had married into the prominent Buell family. The Buell family is chronicled in a number of histories relating to Killingworth. In addition Thankful's son Jeremiah wrote a very good family history. In those histories we find mention of Jerusha as part of Thankful's household. Some mistakenly refer to Jerusha as Thankful's daughter. The point to be made is that we find record of Jerusha growing to young womanhood in Killingworth.---------------The second part of her story takes place in Salisbury, CT and later Ontario, Canada. There is a marriage record for Jerusha Grifface and Asa Landon dated in 1757 in Salisbury, CT. The Salisbury records also contain the birth records for their children. Salisbury was a hot bed for supporters of the English Crown. Asa choose to support the British cause in the Revolutionary War. His actions resulted in his removal to Canada where he and Jerusha lived out their remaining days. Their history in Canada is well documented. Below is a biography that is found in LDS Family Search.----------- The task before us is to connect the two stories together. Almost all of the histories written for Jerusha list her date of birth as May 23, 1736. They also note that she was born in Salisbury, CT. Most of those histories were written by her descendants working backward from Canada. Buried deep within the Landon family traditions was the knowledge that Jerusha was born in Connecticut in about 1736 the daughter of Samuel Griffin and Mary Beckwith. Looking at the family history in Salisbury, CT they referenced the marriage record for Jerusha Grifface and Asa Landon which included the phrase, "both of Salisbury". Using his phrase as evidence her place of birth was thought to be Salisbury. But key to the story is the fact that Asa Landon was born in Lichfield, CT not Salisbury. the phrase "both of Salisbury" in this instance is only an indication that at the time of the marriage both parties were citizens of Salisbury. The Landon family in its search for Jerusha, the daughter of Samuel and Mary, found record of that connection in the Barbour Collection for Killingworth which notes the birth of Jerusah the daughter of Samuel and Mary on May 23, 1736 a date that resonated with Landon family traditions. The problem is that the Barbour Collection is a transcription taken from original town records. The date, May 23, is a transcription error of the original, July 23, 1736. Despite many seeming contradictions a profile has been created for Jerusha that list her birth as May 23, 1736 in Salisbury. Added to that is the little twist of the misspelling of her name as "Grifface" in the marriage record even though it was spelled Griffin everywhere else. Although there is no direct documentary or historical evidence that states the case that the two Jerushas are one and the same person, the deeply embedded Landon family traditions make a positive connection between the Jerusha from Salisbury and Canada and the Jerusha Griffin found in Killingworth, CT.------------ To complete her story let us state that the documentary evidences places Jerusha's date of birth as July 23, 1736 in Killingworth, CT. The evidence points to the fact that Jerusha grew to young womanhood in Killingworth. But how did she get to Salisbury? Salisbury, CT was founded by families mainly from Killingworth. At some point in time Jerusha followed those souls moving to Salisbury where she met and married Asa Landon. Their story is chronicled in the biography printed below.--------------- ASA LANDON was born, 27 July 1736, at Litchfied, Litchfield, Connecticut. He was the third child of James Landon and Sarah Bishop. He married, 20 Oct. 1757, Jerusha Grifface (Griffin or Griffith?). They were married by the Rev. Jonathan Lee, who also baptized the couple’s first four children in Salisbury. Asa’s early life assumed an uneventful pattern. He had sufficient income for some speculation, as he invested in land in Vermont in 1763. In the Landon tradition, there was also a commitment to community service. Asa was commissioned as an Ensign in his father’s militia company in 1769, and promoted lieutenant in 1773. By this time Asa must have been experiencing a growing crisis of conscience. A very real probability was developing that he would be called to active military service against the Crown. After the battle of Bunker Hill, he wanted to get nearer to British territory, perhaps also to keep his options open. His original Vermont holdings had evidently been sold, for Asa bought, from his brother-in-law, Oliver Evert, a 200-acre partially cleared farm south-east of Castleton to which he moved. On this farm he led a bachelor existence, as it seems, his wife and children did not move north with him. Events were polarizing America, and with it the Landon family. Asa’s brother Samuel was ‘in the Secret Service’ spying for the British; another brother, James, was serving, rather lackadaisically, in the American Militia; cousin David Landon was raising volunteers for Washington all up and down Connecticut. Given his background and circumstances, Asa’s struggle within himself inevitably led to the same conclusion common to the great concentration of Tories in upstate New York, which made that colony’s contribution to British military power the largest of all. Burgoyne’s Sweep down from Canada in 1777 resolved Asa’s and many other Loyalist’s problems of conscience. During the summer Burgoyne slowly moved down Lake Champlain past deserted forts, and finally defeating the American forces at Fort Ticonderoga. He then settled down to a Fete Champetre, made merry by the companionship of his commissary’s wife. This lengthy picnic, refreshed with spring-cooled champagne on the long halts, took on a surrealist quality against the mountainous landscape. King George was in a fever of exultation with the news of the capture of Ticonderoga and that General von Riedesel had successfully chased the American rearguard over the mountains at Hubbardton. But, as Burgoyne paused at Skenesborough only 600 loyalists answered the call to arms that ‘Lord’ Philip Skene had promised would raise the whole countryside. Only six men from Castleton met the call: Asa Landon, his three Evert brothers-in-law, and two others. Unfamiliar with British musket drill, Burgoyne’s recruits spent the next six weeks guiding him south towards Bennington, felling trees and clearing roads as they went. For this service, holders of American militia commissions threw them away to hold fast by their “principle of loyalty to the King and his Government and laws.” Ten years later, Asa described how he delivered his good yoke of oxen (never seen again) to Burgoyne’s contractors, carried messages to General ‘Redheazel’ and guided the latter’s German soldiers through Roadless woods. As Burgoyne’s subordinates struggled to maintain fighting sprit in a slow moving disheartened army, encumbered with officer’s wives and children, General Stark began concentrating the Green Mountain Regiment on Bennington arms depot. Already the British troops suspected that Burgoyne’s planned juncture with General Howe, moving up from New York, would never take place. Burgoyne’s troops were defeated at Bennington, 16 Aug 1777 and retreated to Saratoga where they met further disaster. A French observer at Bennington noted that captured Loyalists were executed as traitors. Thus, Burgoyne’s American soldiers started to slip away, among them Asa Landon. He was never to see another Vermont autumn color the hills. Six short weeks had cost him his new farm and his personal belongings and put his life in danger. Asa returned to Connecticut to fetch his family where he hastily wound up affairs and fled to Canada with Jerusha and their five small children. It is possible that he took his father with him as well. He and his family arrived in St. John’s, Quebec, in 1777. The family drew provisions until 1784. Meanwhile, Asa worked first as a Surveyor for the Army engineers, then in the Quartermaster’s Department. While surveying, he and his teammate Sergeant Ward captured a Colonial spy. Asa seems to have felt this was the reason he was put on the ‘traitors’ list in the Vermont Assembly’s 1779 Act to Prevent Return in State of Certain Persons. Though described as “old and infirm” in the Haldimand Papers, Asa was still under 50. His experiences had marked him. In 1785, Asa arrived at Oswegatchie, on the way to take up his Loyalist grant at Augusta. Once settled at Augusta, he served on the grand jury, as arbitrator in a contested will case, and was one of the committee which organized and built the old Blue Church at Prescott. By 1802, he had a farm of 509 acres. Jerusha, who accompanied him to Augusta, survived at least until 1813. Asa so impressed the reporter who took his deposition for the Loyalist Claims Commission that the latter jotted in the margin of his notes “A very good man.” Respected in his community, he died at the ripe age of 78 in 1814. His will was filed for probate 14 Aug 1814. Asa’s material losses from confiscation are rather hard to assess quantitatively. He made no claim for loss of Connecticut property. Since Asa’s eldest child, Lois, remained in America and married James Sellich in 1773 (?) it seems likely that she and her husband settled with Asa for any property he retained in Salisbury. In his claim for compensation for the Castleton farm Asa valued it at 341 Halifax pounds (about $2,728 New York). This farm eventually was appraised by Rutland County Sales Commissioners, who set a value of £350 on the real property alone (at the rate of six shilling to the dollar that came to about $1,167) Children of Asa Landon and Jerusha Griffice: •Lois Landon, born 20 May 1759, Salisbury, Litchfield, Connecticut; married, 17 Jan 1783, James Sellich. •Sarah Landon, born 1 Oct. 1761, Salisbury, Litchfield, Connecticut; •Hannah Landon, born 6 Jan 1764, Salisbury, Litchfield, Connecticut; married about 1780, Caleb Closson, son of Caleb Closson and Elizabeth _____; she died, about 1810, at Augusta, Greenville, Ontario, Canada. •Asa Landon, Jr. born 13 Apr. 1766, Salisbury, Litchfield, Connecticut; married Elizabeth Bissell, daughter of David Bissell; he died in May 1822. He served in the British army from 1781 until the Treaty of Separation. •Herman Landon, born 15 Jul 1768 Salisbury, Litchfield, Connecticut; married in Jul 1789, Dorothy Brown, daughter of Jesse Brown and Hannah Gray; he died 8 Aug 1832 near Trois Rivieres, QC, Canada. He served in the British Army in 1783. •Electra Landon, born 9 Aug 1770, Salisbury, Litchfield, Connecticut; married in Augusta, Leeds, Ont., Daniel Burritt, Jr.; •Ezra Landon, born 22 Feb 1773, Salisbury, Litchfield, Connecticut; died 11 Sep 1776. •Nancy Landon, born 26 Sep 1775, Salisbury, Litchfield, Connecticut; •(A Daughter) Landon, died 15 Sep 1776, Salisbury, Litchfield, Connecticut. Reference: Aline G. Haornaday, “The Landons in Ontario: A Loyalist Family;” Canadian Genealogist, Vol. 1 No. 1. 1979; pp. 4-23.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Samuel Griffin's home lot in Killingworth

When Samuel Griffin left Killingworth for Essex, Vermont he left behind his son Worden. The land records show that Worden purchased several hundred acres adjoining his father’s original home lot. In the land records we also find two deeds between Samuel and Worden in which Worden took possession of his fathers home lot and the surrounding acreage. Given the fact that Worden does not appear in his father’s will it is my assumption that part of the deal included his inheritance. ----------------The value of the two deeds is that they give us a very good description of Samuel’s property and insights into how he made his living. The first deed included Samuel’s home, “My Dwelling House”. The deed covers 20 acres bounded by the burying yard and the highway, Roast Meat Hill Rd.. In addition there are 2 acres on the far side of the highway. On the property we see listed a barn and joiners shop. There is still evidence for the foundations for a corncrib near the original house, which still stands. The second deed is for an additional 20 acres. That property is south of the burying yard. In 1807 we find a deed for another 20 acres sold by Samuel to John Turner.------- The men who lived in North Killingworth were referred to as the “Farmers”. Most of the farms exceeded 100 acres in size. His daughter Azuba and her husband held over 250 acres. What is reveled in the 2 deeds is that Samuel did not own enough land to make a full time living as a farmer. The land described in the first deed is on marginal land. It represented a place to live rather than a farm on which to make a living. I think that Samuel made his living in his joiners shop and at his loom. His loom and joiners tools were primary assets to be divided among his sons in his will. The land he did own was probably sufficient to maintain a kitchen garden and provide forage for what few animals he kept.---------- Killingworth is still home to many homes that could have been worked on by Samuel Griffin. The majority are two story wood frame homes. The interiors are furnished and fitted with fine wood detail work. The original Griffin home has its walls lined with beautifully crafted two-inch bead boards.

Mary Beckwith Griffin wife of Samuel Griffin

There are no records for the death of Mary Griffin. She is referred to as Mary Griffin of Killingworth in her husband Samuel Griffin's probate records. But how long did she survive after the death of her husband? There are hints that her daughter Jerusha was part of the household of her older sister Thankfull probably until the age of 20 or 21. Such an age would have been in 1756/7, Was Mary dead by then? Her two sons, James and Samuel were appointed guardians in the probate records. This means that they inherited assets from their father. We find in the land deeds, listed under James's descendants, references to property previously owned by Samuel or Mary Griffin. The fact that we have deeds that are referenced to Mary is a clear indication that she lived for some time after the death of her husband. My interpretation is that James inherited the majority of his father's property and that Mary probably lived with James until her death in what is now Clinton, CT.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Notebook of Deacon Abraham Pierson, Killingworth

The notebook kept by Deacon Abraham Pierson recording events in the Killingworth Congregational Second Society offers a unique look at the religious life of the Griffin family in Killingworth. The notebook covers the years from 1787 to 1802. As his own personal notebook it remained in his family after his death. It was purchased in a bookstore in Connecticut in the 1980s. The person that made the purchase had the wisdom to recognize its historical value and donated it to the Connecticut State Library. Deacon Pierson’s famous grandfather, Abraham Pierson, was the first rector of Yale. Abraham himself was Yale educated. He served in a number of high ranking positions in local government and as a judge in the courts. Even with all of the prestigious hats that he wore he insisted that he be referred to as Deacon Pierson. Abraham Pierson played a major role in collecting and maintaining the records from Clinton and Killingworth. ---------------------- A Congregational Society had two sides. One was the ecclesiastical side the domain of the Ordained Minister. The other side was the business of running the Society. A primary function of the business side was raising revenue. The revenue was used to pay the Minister, build and maintain the buildings, manage the burying yard, organize and maintain the schools etc. Many Societies had a Deacon’s fund that was used to help the needy. In the minutes kept by the Society we see calls for work details to build, clean, paint and even cut and gather fire wood for both the meeting house and the minister. The two halves of the society came together in the Deacons. The Deacons served as an assistant to the Minister during Communion, baptisms etc. They managed all of the affairs of the Society in those times when the Society was without a Minister. The Deacons took the lead in hiring and dismissing Ministers. Each year a moderator was chosen to chair the Society meetings. Those meeting selected action committees to put in place the decisions of the committee. The Deacons were the first among equals in all of this arraignment. ----------------- You can see Deacon Pierson paternalistic view of the Society reflected in his notebook. He kept track of items that are not included in the official Society ledgers. One of the basic tenants of Congregational belief was that all teaching was to be done directly from the scriptures. One of the items that Abraham recorded in detail was the scriptural texts that served as the basis for each Sunday's sermon. From his list you can read the scriptures that the Griffins were taught on any given Sunday. It is interesting to note that each year he noted the week that Thanksgiving was celebrated. He also notes on occasion, “Sacrament Day”. ----------------- One of the other things that he record was what he termed “acknowledgements”. It is very common in Congregational ledgers to see records of church members being called out over the pulpit for sinful behavior. It is also common to see notes in the church minutes of committees being formed to help wayward members repent and return to good standing. Deacon Pierson’s acknowledgement seem to be in this vein. Of a curious nature the large majority of them are for “Fornication”. A study of the use of that term in colonial America leads you to believe that it had a very different meaning than is attached to it today. It was some behavior very different than adultery. It seems to have not involved third parties however its exact meaning escapes this author. The other common acknowledgement is for intemperance for those who imbibed too much and too often. ---------------- Deacon Pierson also kept record of marriages in the Society including that of Worden Griffin and Rhoda Hull. The notebook traces Worden and Harmon Griffin's families. We find in his baptismal records the baptism of of all of Henry Davis and Azuba Griffin's children he have included the record for their daughter Achsah.

Ledger of the Killingworth Congregational Second Society

The primary documentation for the extended family of Samuel Griffin and Mary Beckwith is found the ledgers kept by the Congregational Societies in Killingworth and Clinton. The ministers and the clerks dutifully entered the baptism, marriage and death records for the Griffin clan. We have decided to present a few of the over two hundred pages found in the original ledger of the newly formed Killingworth Second Congregational Society. The original ledgers for the Killingworth First Society have been lost to history. The information contained in the ledger is a testament to the mindset of the members of the Church of Christ as the Congregationalists called themselves.------------ Religion was a significant part of the fabric of life in early America. In the first several generations in America there was very little distinction between church and state although there were probably more people who came for non-religious reasons than is commonly thought. For an extended period in American history to be a “freeman” to have the right to vote was dependent on being in full membership, Full Communion in a religious society. All citizens were taxed for the support of the church. For most Americans that society was a Congregational Society. The Congregational Society was certainly the leading institution in the Killingworth that witnessed the birth of the children of Samuel Griffin and Mary Beckwith. --------------- As part of the law authorizing the foundation of Killingworth, passed by the legislature of the Colony of Connecticut in 1663, was an article to “Settle an able orthodoxe godly Minister”. The legislature also called for property to be set aside for a chapel and “Burying Yard” as well as a home lot for the minister. --------------- The meetinghouse, built on what is now Main Street in Clinton, became the center of activity in the new community. It served as the headquarters for both church and state. The town constructed a succession of every larger building. In 1731 the town voted to build a new larger meetinghouse. It has been described as being 60 feet long and 38 feet wide. Remember Samuel and Mary’s oldest child Mary was born in 1728. The records of the First Congregational Society in Killingworth, now Clinton, have been lost to history. Some of their content has survived in the town records. When North and South Killingworth divided the leading lights in North Killingworth made a copy of the original town records in order to preserve their own history. It is that copy that has survived. Given this circumstance we do not have record of Samuel and Mary being granted Full Communion in the Congregational Society. Given the subsequent involvement of their children in the Society it seems very plausible that they were active in the church. However it must be remembered that DNA evidence ties Samuel to the family of Edward Griffin of Flushing, NY. a significant part of that extended family were Quakers.------------- The Congregational Societies in Killingworth were led by a succession of Ministers. The clergy, in this part of American history were all graduates from the leading universities. From 1682 to 1691 the minister was James Bayley. As part of his compensation he was granted 62 acres of land. His granddaughter Mercy Bailey married Samuel Griffin Jun. Another of the prominent pastors was Abraham Pierson who was to go on to become the first Rector of Yale. The first classes in the newly formed college were held in Killingworth before moving to their permanent location in New Haven.---------------- The original group of settlers, which included Henry Ffarnam/Farnam another of Mercy Bailey’s grandparents, settled along the costal road now main street in Clinton. Henry Farnam also served as a Deacon in the original Society. As new settlers arrived and sons grew to the age of maturity new lands were granted for settlement progressing ever northward from the coast. By 1730 there was a significant population living it what was referred to as “North Killingworth”. In 1730 it was considered almost unthinkable to not attend Sunday services. That idea was so ingrained in the Congregational mindset that parishioners were actually fined for nonattendance. On cold winter days that journey to the coast to attended church posed a stiff challenge. The people in North Killingworth began to consider the wisdom of having their own Society. In addition to the consideration of distance, North and South Killingworth had slowly become two separate entities with separate and distinct personalities. The South was tied to the sea, shipbuilding, shipping, fishing and a thriving worked stone business for the New York market dominating the economy. The North on the other hand was referred to as the “farmers”.-------------- Given this background it is small wonder that in 1730 the “Farmers in Killingworth” began to petition for the right to form a separate Society. The wording in the petition goes a long way in helping us understand the religious mindset of our forefathers.----------------- “We would humbly Suggest that our best Interests is much exposed for want of it if faith comes by hearing the word Preached then hearing of the word Preached is necessary & if faith be a principal qualification in order to Justification & if faith comes by hearing the word Preached then we hope no good man will Deny our Prayer & if we cannot be a Society we cannot hear the word Preached but seldom & so have not the means in order to Faith which makes our Case Lamentable which makes us Pray for Relief & Pray that a Committee may be Chosen by you to Settle a line as above said & your Memorialists as in Duty bound Shall ever Pray”.---------------------- In 1730 the South was planning a new meetinghouse. They did not want to surrender the financial support of the North. The compromise that was struck required the North to contribute funds for the new building in exchange for an agreement for an eventual separation. By 1734 the Farmers began to petition the General Assembly of the Colony of Connecticut, which held the absolute right to authorize and establish any new Congregational Society, for permission to form their own Society. Their wishes were granted on May 8, 1735.---------------- The Griffin family divided between the two Societies. As the oldest son, James, inherited the major portion of Samuel’s estate. His ancestry maintained a presence around the accessorial home in Clinton for several generations. On the other hand the names of the descendants of Thankful Griffin Buell and Samuel Griffin Jun are found scattered throughout the pages of the records of the Killingworth Second Congregational Society. It is those records that are the focus of his essay.----------------------- The records kept by the Killingworth Second Society are a reflection of the basic tenants of the Church of Christ. The Puritans and Separatists in Massachusetts joined together in 1648 to form the Cambridge Platform, which defined American Congregationalism. The belief was that only adults were capable of experiencing a true conversion to Christ. Only such people who had in addition made a public affirmation of their faith were granted church membership. Church membership brought with it the right to participate in Communion and the right to have your children baptized. The names of those in Full Communion are a prominent part of the church records. Congregationalists based their belief on the idea that Christ was the head of the church and that each congregation is independent and has the authority to make its own decisions free from a church hierarchy. The membership of each of the separate Societies met together to manage the affairs of the Society. Each year a moderator was chosen to chair the meetings of the Society. Each year a committee was elected to manage the affairs of the Society for that year. The Society hired and fired the ministers. Within the Society the appointed minister was in charge of all ecclesiastical affairs while the Society managed the temporal affairs, raising funds, building meetinghouse, managing the burying yard and the schools etc.. ----------------- The church ledger that these records are drawn from covers the first one hundred or so years of the Killingworth Second Society. The first part of the ledger contains Society minutes. The first page starts;--------- “At a Society meeting of ye north or second Society in Killingworth in New London County at ye house of Ebenzer Hull …. September ye 25 day AD 1735. …… At the same meeting it was voted that it was necessary to build a meeting house”. ---------------- The Griffins would have been in attendance at those meetings. We have selected a number of pages from the minutes that covers the next 60 years.------------------ Another section contains the records kept by the Society ministers. The first minster to be called was the twenty five year old William Seward/Seaward. The Reverend Seward served for the unheard of duration of forty-four years. Those forty-four years covered the time frame of the birth of all of the Griffin children and some of the grandchildren. He is buried in the Union Cemetery next to the original Griffin house. In the marriage indexes available for Killingworth you will see the Rev. Steward’s name associated with the marriage of each of the Griffins. The title page for Reverend Steward’s entries reads;-------------------- “The Book of Records of the Second Church of Christ in Killingworth.----------- Which records were begun by William Seaward who was ordained and set apart to the work of the ministry by fasting and praying and with the laying on of hands of the ---upon the 18th Day of January AD 1737/8.”--------------- The ledger starts out with a list of the 50 people then in Full Communion;---------- “Those who were in Full Communion in the North Society in Killingworth at the time of my ordination.”----------- The next page in the ledger contains an obituary for Rev. Seward. The bottom part of the page records the instillation of Henry Ely on September 25, 1782 as the new Minister. It is interesting to note that even though the independence of each Society was a tenant of their belief there is also part of their belief system that any new Society must receive authorization and authority from the body politic of all of the other Societies. Until the 1800’s the Colonial General Assembly held those rights. With the ordinations of Henry Ely we see listed the deputation of ministers sent to officiate. On the next page the independence and the division of authority within the individual Societies is again on display as we see the Reverend Ely being dismissed by the Killingworth Society.------------- “Feb 12th AD 1801------------ The Rev. Henry Ely by mutual agreement between him & the people was regularly dismissed from the Pastoral Care of the Church of Christ in this place.” We then see the records for the ordination of the next minister dated April 21st 1802.---------------- It should come as no surprise that William Seward would begin his records by listing those who were granted Full Communion each year; “The Record of those persons that were brought to full communion by William Sward Pastor of the Second Church of Christ in Killingworth. The year in this record begins in January.”------------ On the page that includes the year 1761 under “April 19” We see” Samuel Griffin” and the next line down “Mary (Marah) ye wife of said Samuel Griffin”. Under July 25 in 1767 we see; “Mercy ( Nettleton) ye wife of Samuel Griffin”------------------- At the very bottom of the page that includes the year 1880 we see listed, “Mercy ( Bailey) wife of Samuel Griffin”.----------- One of the privileges of church membership was the right to have your children baptized. Reverend Seward faithfully recorded the baptism of each of Samuel’s children from his three marriages. The same is true for Azuba and Worden’s children. We have selected a few. Lois, Samuel’s first child, baptized April 12, 1861, Polle, August 15, 1762, Asahel, January 1, 1769. We have teased out an image from the faded page that included the year 1776, “Samuel son of Samuel Griffin. John’s baptism is recorded on May 10, 1778.---------------- The marriage of Samuel and Marah is found in the records that were copied from the original town records of what was the Killingworth First Society. That argues that their marriage occurred in the First Society before they made the move to the home lot on Roast Meat Hill. However the marriage of Samuel Griffin and Mercy Nettleton is recorded on May 15, 1766. The marriage of Samuel Griffin and Mercy Steevens is recorded on March 15, 1770.----------------- The death records are less formally organized. They seem to be more about the Ministers noting the passing of faithful members. Widow Thankful Buell’s death is recorded January 16, 1816. The death of Worden’s daughter Eliza Maria is also found in the death records.--------------- In the back of the ledgers are some membership lists. On one page under the year 1830 we find “Wife of Worden Griffin”.---- Click on images to enlarge

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Griffins at Butler's Corners, Vermont

What was the original township of Essex is now referred to as Essex Center. All of the original town buildings and the first church, the Congregational Chapel, were built in Essex Center. Most of the original homesteads also extended out from the Center crossroads. Over time the wider Essex Township developed within its borders several subdivisions. While still part of the township these separate neighborhoods developed their own identity. One of these neighborhoods was Butler’s Corners. The junction at Butler’s Corners marked the spot on the main road to Essex where you turned off to go the area referred to as the “Lost Nation”. According to the history of Essex Samuel Griffin Jun. was the first to settle in the Lost Nation. Samuel’s property bumped up against the Butler’s Corners intersection. In one of the histories written for Chittenden County is a section on Essex that contains a paragraph on Butler’s Corners. The description holds interest for the Griffin ancestry for several reasons. The first is that the description is for the time frame that Samuel lived in the Lost Nation. The second is the description of the Corners most recognizable citizen George Whitney.--------------- From the history, “At Butler’s Corners, one mile from the Center, the town voted in 1801 to erect a “sign post” and a "pair of stocks.” The first was a place for posting up “notices,” "warrants," etc., and the latter was a device for the punishment of offenders against law and order. These “Corners” were a place of considerable business at one period. For many years there was a store, a tavern, a blacksmith’s shop and a lawyer’s office here, all doing a lucrative business. “--------------- With that description it is a certainty that Samuel stopped at the sign post to read the news and take note of who was in the stocks. I smile at the notion of the Griffin boys being threatened with being take up to the Corners and put in the stocks if they did not change their errant ways. Given the morays of the times I am sure Samuel stopped at the tavern for a pint on occasion. Give the family’s religious bent I can only imagine that it was only on occasion. What were the necessities that made a store successful in a society based on self sufficiency? Did the Griffin women stop there for buttons and tread? Is that were they acquired their nutmeg and other spices. Did they rely on homespun or did a Sunday dress require a niece piece of fabric? Looking at the number of land transaction that Samuel was involved in and the number of mortgages that he held I suspect that the he spent some time at the lawyer’s office. It also poses the question; did he sell his farm surplus at the Corners?-------------- The second reason that the Butler’s Corners story rings true for the Griffin’s is George Whitney. To continue with the history, “The best blacksmith in town was located here, George Whitney, a man of intelligence, mechanical genius, industry and ability, who was honored by his townsmen with several important town offices which he filled with ability. He was a zealous Methodist, and late in life abandoned mechanical pursuits for the itinerant ministry in that church.”-------------------- It is a certainty that Samuel visited the blacksmith shop of George Whitney. Every tool, every piece of farm equipment, every wagon sooner or later needed the blacksmith’s touch to maintain its life. The second reason that George Whitney is of interest to us is that the extended Griffin family left their beloved Congregational Society to join with Mr. Whitney in his Methodist Congregation. There is a collection of letters written by Samuel Griffin Jun’s children, who remained in Essex, to their brother Albert Bailey Griffin who ended up in Utah. The references to the close family friend George Whitney are quite common.------------- In the Congregational records in 1844 we see a notation for each of the Griffin families. “Fellowship withdrawn”. In a world where it was considered to be absolutely unheard of to remain unchurched the Congregationalists were careful to note when a member left for another congregation. One of the more common notations was “Dismissed”. It indicated that the parishioner had left for another Congregational Society. The term, Fellowship Withdrawn, seems to indicate a separation from the Church of Christ as the Congregationalist called themselves. Its tone seems to reflect a somewhat dire judgment. It is also interesting to note that the family matriarch Abigail Bradley Griffin returned to the Congregational Society later in her life. Abigail’s father, Samuel Bradley, served as a Deacon, one of the leading lights in the Society, for thirty years. Apparently those ties were hard for her to let go.---------------- The Congregationalists were very serious about their religion. The Society was very active in trying to help each member lead a righteous life. Sinners were called out over the pulpit. The purpose was not to embarrass or run off the riff raff it was done as an act of love, an attempt to warn the parishioner that their soul was in danger. It was an act of deep concern for their salvation. In the front of most Congregation Society Ledgers you see a title page that identifies the shorthand used in keeping the records. One is the use of “X” which meant that the parishioners had crossed enough of a boundary that demanded their separation from the society. Such people were then excommunicated. My favorite notation is “W”. It stood for “Watch and Care Withdrawn”. That description explains in four words the Congregational mindset. It was the pledged duty, a requirement by their God, a part of the Profession of Faith that each member took, to watch and care for each other. At some point when the Society was at the end of its rope on how to help the unrepentant sinner they, if you will, gave themselves permission to withdraw their watch and care. It was a notation to their God that they had tried but failed. My interpretation is that “Fellowship withdrawn” is a variation on the watch and care sentiment.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Harding Bradley,1776-1819, Guilford to Essex, VT

Harding Bradley is the least studied member of the family of Stephen Bradley and his wife Ruth Meigs. The primary source for Bradley material is the collection of family genealogies produced by Alvan Talcott. Alan Talcott (1804-1891) was a doctor in Guilford, CT. and its environs. His passion was genealogy. In his travels he collected and compiled a genealogy dictionary for the families of Guilford. His highly regard work has been published by the Genealogical Society of Connecticut. It is titled Families of Early Guilford Connecticut. ------------ One of the families he recorded in detail was the Bradley family. In his collection he recorded the family of Stephen Bradley and Ruth Meigs. The oldest child in the family was Samuel. Talcott wrote, ”Samuel Cornwall, b 16 March 1756; died 30 June1834, mar Abigail Brownson.” Of the eighth child in the family he wrote, “Harding, b 5 July 1776; died October 1819, Mar Rebecca Brady.”------------- Talcott included a separate entry for Harding’s family, “Harding Bradley, son of Stephen Bradley and Ruth Meigs, Was born 5 July 1776 and died October 1819. He married Rebecca Brady. Lived in Vermont. Children: Clarissa, Maria, Eben.”------------- Another major source for Harding material comes from the family of his brother, Eber, titled, Eber Bradley (1761-1841) and some of his descendants. The book is available online. Eber detailed the family’s move from Guilford to Sunderland, Vermont on the American frontier. Eber wrote in detail about his older brother Samuel’s exploits in the Revolutionary War. He also records the move by the Bradley brothers to Chittenden County, Vermont where they settled in the communities of Essex and Williston.-------------- We find Harding living in Essex near his brothers, Samuel and Joye, in the 1800 and 1810 census records. His name is also prominent in the ledgers containing the land deeds. But as with his brother Samuel and the other early settlers of Essex there is a very faint documentary trail for the birth of his children. There are no birth, death or marriage records for any of Harding’s children in the surviving records for Essex. In fact the only record for their existence is found in the baptismal records of the Congregational Society. Under the name Harding Bradley be find listed, Rebecca, Clarissa, Mariah, Heber Muzzy, Minerva, Mary. Tradition dictates that the list is based on family chronology. ------------ We have subsequent found a definitive date of birth for Eber and Minerva. Based on those dates and census records we can estimate the date of birth for the other children. The 1800 census notes that the family included two female children. Those hints suggest a birth order, Rebecca 1796, Clarissa 1798, Maria, 1800, Eber July 6, 1802, Minerva January 31, 1806, Mary 1808.---------------- There is a reference to Harding in the, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol 57 page 138 that notes that his wife Rebecca Brady was born in Ireland. That is the only bit of information we have for Rebecca who simply disappears after Harding’s death on 1819. The same is true of his daughter Rebecca.------------- A person identified as Clarissa Bradley, the wife of Duran Huntley, appears in the genealogical websites such as Ancestry.Com. The Huntley family histories record that Clarissa Bradley married Duran Huntley. Duran Huntley was 30 years older than Clarissa. Early documentary evidence suggests that she was his third wife. The family lived in Milton, Chittenden, Vermont. The census data supports the difference in their ages. While there is no direct documentary evidence that identifies Clarissa Huntley as the daughter of Harding Bradley but there are strong hints that such is the case. The first is that Milton is next door to Essex. It was a rich tradition in New England for a wife to give her maiden name to one of her children. Clarissa named a son Bradley Huntley. In the definitive Huntley family history, John Huntley of Boston & Roxbury, Massachusetts and Lyme, Connecticut, 1647-1977 and some of his descendants. The wife of Duran Huntley is listed as Clarissa Bradley. The date and locations for her birth given in the 1850 census records is a match for Harding’s daughter Clarissa. The history places Duran’s date of birth in 1764 in Lyme, CT and his death in 1842 in Milton. All of the Huntley sources places Clarissa’s death on March 14, 1859 in Colchester, VT where she appeared in the 1850 census. Most Huntley histories mistakenly list Clarissa as the mother of most of his children. The birth dates suggest that her children were; Bradley V. , 1827-1908, Edgar Porter, 1830-1909, Mary, 1832, Almeda 1837- after 1870, and Henry 1840-1913.---------------- Maria is listed in the Talcott history. The Congregational records use the old world spelling of Mariah. The last record for her is the 1810 census.----------------- The Congregational records give us the name Heber Muzzy. To those familiar with the spellings used in those ledgers the name was more likely, Eber, a traditional Bradley family name. We have traced an Eber M. Bradley from Vermont to Ohio then on to Iowa ending up in Kansas. He is referred to as Eber M. or E. M. Bradley, whichever the case he always retained the middle initial. Working backward from hints we find the marriage of Eber in Hamilton, Butler, Ohio, “Married on the 30th day of October 1827 by James Crawford esquire a Justice of the Peace in and for the county aforesaid Eber Bradley to Elsea Rynearson.” The 1840 census finds the family in Milford, Butler, Ohio with 7 boys in the family. Using the two names for clues you can trace Eber to a number of towns in Des Moines County, Iowa, Benton in 1852 with 7 sons recorded, Huran in 1856, Yellow Springs in 1860. The couple had a large family, Eber, John, Frank, Fernando, Jacob, Abraham, Garrett, William and Stephen. You can track the family based on the same names appearing in the various census records. In the 1880 Census taken in Arcade, Phillips, Kansas you find Eber M. Bradley, age 77, born in Vermont, listed as “father” in the household of William Bradley whose demographics are a match for the William in the earlier census records. Eber is buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Phillipsburg, Phillips, Kansas along with sons William and Jacob. His headstone includes the dates July 26, 1802 and August 29, 1883. The cemetery records place his birth in Chittenden County, Vermont.---------------------- There are a number of genealogy pages that list the wife of Lyman Matthews Graves as Minerva Bradley. One of the hints that she is Harding Bradley’s daughter is the fact that she named a son Harding Bradley Graves. The census records place her birth in about 1806 in Vermont. The Graves family history places their marriage on December 24, 1829. The family is in Bath, Summit, Ohio in 1850; Lyman age 44, Minerva age 44, Mary, Marcus, Bradley, Susan, William, Cecelia, Charles. Their daughter Electa Ann, 1841-1845 is buried in the Morris Chapel cemetery in Bath. Her headstone notes , “Daughter of Lyman and Minerva Graves”. By 1860 the family is in Royalton, Ohio. The family finally settled in Lorain County, Ohio living in the communities surrounding the town of Oberlin. It is not always easy to document the maiden name for women but in our case we have at least one excellent document. The Ohio Death Record for their son, William Sterling Graves, lists his parents as Lyman M. Graves and Minerva Bradley. The Graves family history includes a date of birth for Minerva on January 31, 1806 and a date of death on February 1, 1856 in Oberlin. We get some confirmation for that death date in a marriage record for Lyman. Lyman married Mary Malvina Ward on December 30, 1857.---------------- The only record we have for Mary is her name in the Congregational records.