Friday, December 6, 2013
We thought it would be useful to organize the documentary history for Samuel Griffin, the son of Samuel and Mary Beckwith Griffin, in one posting. Samuel was married three times. His wives were Marah Griffin, Mercy Nettleton and Mercy Baily. We have posted the history of their children throughout the Blog. To put Samuel’s history in its correct perspective we need to start with an overview of the history of Killingworth. The Boston Post Road ran along the coast of Connecticut. Each of the communities along the Post Road was responsible for the maintenance of the section of road running through their community and its environs. Between the established communities of Saybrook and Guilford lay a stretch of unsettled land. To meet the need for maintenance of the Post Road through this section the Connecticut General Assembly established a new land grant hoping to attract settlers to the area. In the 1660’s a group of men took advantage of the generous terms offered by the General Assembly and established a new community, which came to be called Killingworth. The grant included the land that makes up present day Clinton and Killingworth. The original group of settlers selected lots along what is now the main street in Clinton. For the next 30 years the community was centered on the land along the coastal portion of the land grant. As the costal plain became settled the pressure to expand northward began. Starting at the turn of the century and reaching full steam by 1715 the city fathers on a yearly basis organized a distribution of additional unsettled property from the original land grant. For the cost of a land survey additional property was granted to the original settlers as well as new immigrants and the newly married young men of the community seeking a place for their own home lot. Once granted the property was bought, sold and inherited as settlers sought to expand or consolidate their holdings. We have not been able to find record of the original deed for the property held by Samuel’s parents Samuel and Mary Beckwith Griffin. What we have found is a number of references in the land deeds where the location of a lot was identified by its relationship to the property previously associated with Samuel or Mary Griffin. The original home lot, which is described in these deeds, is located near the intersection of Main Street Clinton and the road running north to Killingworth. The property stayed in the family for at least the next four generations passed down through the family of the eldest son James, Samuel Jun.’s brother. So our documentary history for Samuel Griffin Jun. son of Samuel Griffin and Mary Beckwith starts on main street Clinton in the Killingworth First Ecclesiastical Society. The 18-year-old Samuel Jun. was numbered among the young men who joined the local militia unit and went off to fight in the French and Indian War. The muster roll of the 2nd Connecticut Regiment, led by Capt. Peleg Redfield, is found in “The History of Middlesex County”. South Killingworth/Clinton is also where the young Samuel met and married Marah Griffin on May 17, 1759. The marriage of Samuel and Marah was recorded in the town records and probably in the ledger of the First Society. In September of 1762 Samuel and Marah purchased their original home lot from Benjamin Turner in North Killingworth. Benjamin’s father held the original land grant for the property from the city. Although the early history for the Griffin family was centered in the First Society from 1762 onward the documentary history for Samuel Griffin Jun. is found in North Killingworth within the boundaries of the Killingworth Second Ecclesiastical Society, which had been established in 1735. Starting with the 1762 purchase Samuel made a number of additional purchases that we have recently posted on the Blog. With our historical background established we can begin our presentation of the documentary history for Samuel Griffin Jun. In Killingworth there was a tradition that at some point in time the head of the house or the town clerk or a combination of the two would assemble the birth records for a family and record it as a single entry usually in the land deed ledgers. The first document is just such a record for the family of Samuel Griffin Sen. and his wife Mary Beckwith. It is found in Volume two of the land deed ledgers. It records the birth of their son Samuel Griffin (Jun.) February 10th, 1739. The second document is a marriage record. It notes the marriage of Samuel Griffin (Jun.) and Marah Griffin May ye 17, 1759. The marriage is part of a list of marriages found in the pages of a land deed ledger. As the two ecclesiastical societies evolved into two separate communities the Second Society in North Killingworth undertook a project in the late 1700’s to transcribe the earliest Killingworth records, that had been maintained in the First Society, into there own separate set of records. The marriage record that we see is from this transcription. Since it is part of the transcribed records we can draw the conclusion that the original was found in the earliest town records held in the First Society. Even though the two separate ecclesiastical societies kept separate ledgers the town records continued on at city hall in South Killingworth/Clinton. A second conclusion concerns the maiden name for Marah. As you can see on the list of marriages the maiden name of each of the brides is included in the case of Marah the last name was Griffin. This record is also the source for the spelling of her name, Marah. But what about a record of the marriage from the ledgers of the First Ecclesiastical Society? The early town records and the ecclesiastical records from the First Society have been lost. The only early Killingworth records that have survived were from the town records that had been transcribed by the Second Society. These records had been kept separately from the church records. With the purchase of the home lot in North Killingworth Samuel and Marah became part of the Second Ecclesiastical Society. On April 19, 1761 the young couple, on their Profession of Faith, came to Own the Covenant, in the Second Society. In that record Marah’s name is listed as Mary. In the Second Society ledgers we find the baptismal records for their three daughters. Lois on April 19, 1761, Polly August 15, 1762 and Azubah April 9, 1765. In the town records we have also found the birth record for the three girls. Unluckily for us at some point in time part of it was covered with an ink smear. If you are looking at the original you can still make out all of the information. The listed dates are Lois, November 21, 1760, Polly, August 13, 1762 and Azubah, April 9, 1765 the children of Samuel and Marah Griffin. In an interesting twist by the time Polly’s name was washed through the process that produced the Barbour records her name had become Robe. Polly had become the Phebe that was found listed on the line next to hers in the church records. A poorly written Phebe was then misread as Robe. In every original record it is clearly Polly. Lois married Stephen Kelsey. They raised their family in Killingworth and nearby Madison. Polly married Reuben Doud. Their children were born in Guilford. Polly and Reuben later moved their family to Cortland, New York. Azubah married Henry Davis. They raised their family in Killingworth. We have documented the family histories of their children on the Blog. Marah did not live to see her girls grow up. We find her death recorded in the transcribed town records again using the spelling “Marah”, “Marah the wife of Samuel Griffin died August ye 13th 1763. The date 1763 is obviously a transcription error. The date was 1765 Azubah having been born in April of 1765. ________________Dated May 15, 1766 we find in the Congregational records a marriage record for Samuel Griffin and Mercy Nettleton. Samuel had married for the second time marrying the daughter of his neighbor Samuel Nettleton. Mercy Nettleton Griffin made her Profession of Faith on July 26, 1767 joining Samuel in the Second Society. The Society records also contain the baptismal records for their two sons. Joel, baptized October 4, 1767 “son of Samuel Griffin”. Asahel was baptized January 29, 1769. These are the only two records found for the boys in Killingworth. Joel and Asahel were part of the wave of young men from Connecticut and Massachusetts that sought their fortune in the unsettled lands in Vermont. They are part of the 1790 census for New Haven, Addison County, Vermont. Joel later moved to Swanton, Vermont. At about the time of their father’s death in 1808 the two brothers moved to Franklin, County, New York. Joel settled in Bangor and Asahel in nearby Moira. Asahel had married Polly Loyal in New Haven. They are buried in Moira. Joel married Submit Alvord. The couple followed their sons further west. They are buried in Rushford, Allegany County, New York. _________________Samuel was to suffer the loss of a second young wife on the early death of Mercy Nettleton. We do not have a death record for Mercy Nettleton but we do find the record of his marriage to a young widow, Mercy Bailey, who had been married to James Steevens. The marriage date for Samuel and Mercy Steevens was registered in the Congregational records on March 15, 1770. The Barbour Collection notes the marriage of Mercy Bailey to James Steevens 3rd Mar 20, 1760. Mercy did not make her Profession of Faith until 1780. The baptismal records for Mercy and Samuel’s six children are also part of the Second Society records. Molle, December 30, 1770, Worden, September 6, 1772, Mercy, April 3, 1774. The record for their son Samuel 3rd is very faded. It is listed under the heading for the year 1776. John’s date of birth is recorded on May 10, 1778 and Dan’s on September 16, 1781. Following the Congregational tradition of baptizing children as soon as practical the dates of birth are probably quite close to the baptismal dates. The baptismal record is the only record that exists for Molle/Molly. Worden married Rhoda Hull. Worden purchased the home lot from his father and raised his family in Killingworth. Worden and Rhoda are buried next door to the Griffin house in the burying yard, Union Cemetery. Mercy married Ithamar Pelton in Killingworth. They lived for a short time in nearby Madison until they followed her father to Essex, Vermont. Mercy and Ithamar then followed the migration to the western reserve ending up in Gustauvs, Trumbull County, Ohio. Samuel 3rd made the move to Vermont with his father where he established his own farm. His brothers John and Dan lived with their father. In Essex he married first Zilpha Buell. After Zilpha’s early death he married Sylvia Bradley. We have Samuel 3rd’s signature from a mortgage deed. Samuel named a son Albert Bailey Griffin using his mother’s maiden name. Albert documented his family genealogy and passed it down to his ancestry. Much of the information is found in a collection of letters that have survived. Samuel 3rd and Sylvia are buried in The Essex Common Burial Ground near his father surrounded in a family plot by their children and grandchildren. John was also part of the move to Vermont. John and his father worked a farm together. The farm included his father’s original purchase plus a number of additional parcels that bordered on the original lot. John married Mary Tyler. John is buried next to his father in The Essex Common Burial Ground. Dan had also made the move to Essex living with his father. After his marriage to Catherine Meriam Dan moved to the nearby community of Westford where he raised his family. Family history suggests his full name was Daniel Almon Griffin. __________We will present Samuel’s will and probate in a separate post. In his will Samuel names all of his children except Molly, who had passed away, and Worden who had already received his portion from his father. The will mentions “My three daughters “Lois Kelsey, Patty Dowd, Azuba Davis. In his will Samuel also recognizes his sons, “My five sons” Joel, Asahel, Samuel, John, Dan. He also provides the name of his daughter Mercy Pelton and his wife Mercy (Bailey) Griffin _________________ Samuel Griffin had raised his family in Killingworth but in his 50’s Samuel followed the America mood of trading a small farm in the original colonies for more space on the frontier. I am sure that a large part of his decision was to provide a better opportunity for his son’s to obtain their own farmland. Joel and Asahel were already in Vermont by 1790. John was probably the trailblazer for the move to Essex being part of the company that surveyed the land for development in Chittenden County, Vermont. As was the pattern in new land grants a group of investors, usually describe as the proprietors, made the original purchase of the land. This group would then survey and advertise the property for sale. Many of proprietors never occupied any property within the land grant. In the vernacular of today they would be referred to as land developers. In the first subdivision of the Essex grant we find Samuel and his son Samuel 3rd buying lots, Samuel, Lot 142, and his son Samuel 3rd, Lot 81. To distinguish between the two they were referred to as Samuel and Samuel Jun. Settlement in Essex had begun in earnest in about 1784 and by the late 1790’s the Griffins were fully established in their new home having made a number of additional land purchases. In the volume, The History of The Town of Essex edited by Frank R. Bent, we find this brief notation. “At the legal town meeting held at Sam Griffin’s on the first of April, 1802, the First Ecclesiastical Society was organized according to the laws of this State made and providing for the building of meeting houses and settling ministers. Thirty-six Congregationalists signed the organization and 16 townspeople of other faiths signed.” We find reference to Samuel scattered throughout the town records as he was chosen to serve on a number of town boards and in a number of positions. Samuel and Mercy Bailey are buried in The Essex Common Burial Ground. The burial ground is located at the crossroads that marks the Essex city center. His headstone reads, Samuel Griffen-died July 27th 1808-In his 69th year- Death is a debt-That’s natur’s due.-Which I have paid.-And so must you. Next to him is the headstone for his wife Mercy. Mercy-Consort of-Samuel Griffin-died April 30, 1822- In her 85th year.
Held in the archives of the State of Vermont are two sets of records for Samuel Griffin. One is his probate file. Among the documents it contains is Samuel’s original will. The file also contains a document in which a group of witnesses testify that the will so presented was the valid will of Samuel Griffin “Signed sealed published and declared by the above named Samuel Griffin to be his last will and testament in presents of us who hereunto subscribe our names in witness in the presents of the testator.” The document contains the signature of Samuel Griffin the effect of a hard life having reduced his signature to a scrawl. The courts usually assigned a group to conduct an audit of the remaining assets. One of the documents is their “warrant” to “faithfully discharge the trust.” The final document is a surety bond signed by Mercy Bailey Griffin and her son John in which they promise to execute the provisions of Samuel’s will. In the will Samuel leaves his furniture to his “beloved wife”. The bulk of his estate goes to his son John. John and his father had been partners for the last twenty years of his life. The will stipulates that John is required to use the assets to provide for his mother during her remaining days. Mercy lived another 14 years. Samuel recognizes “my three daughters” that he shared with Marah. Lois Kelsey, Patty Dowd and Azuba Davis. He left each of them $20.00. Remember an acre of land was valued at $6.00. His collection of tools was to be equally divided between his “five sons” which he listed chronologically Joel, Asahel, Samuel, John and Dan. If there had been only a few tools I imagine that they would have been simply given away the call for an equal division seems to suggest a larger collection. Samuel’s daughter Mercy Pelton was to inherit her mother Mercy Bailey’s wearing apparel. The second file is from the Probate Court. The Probate Court had the specific task of transferring the deeds to the property. The document starts “Samuel Griffin estate—Be it remembered that on the 20th day of August 1808 the following will was presented.” The document includes a transcription of Samuel’s will and the list of his assets. The list of assets provides a few hints to Samuel Griffin’s life. He held in his own name 34 acres and buildings probably his home and out buildings. “half yoke of Oxen”. He probably only need one ox to do whatever plowing he was still doing or to pull the cart listed among his assets. “2 cows’ milk for butter and cheese. “1 swine” every home butchered a pig every year cured pork and sausage were a staple in every diet. “7 sheep” he must have been still weaving with wool yarn. Just enough animals to meet the basic needs. It’s interesting to note the quantity of linens listed among his assets. Also on the list are his ”carpenter & joiners tools” and his loom, which had played such a major part in his life. Click on images to enlarge.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Prominent on the list of items in Samuel Griffin’s will are his carpenter and joiners tools along with his loom. To live on the American frontier required that a man became a jack-of-all-trades. He had to have the skills to manage a farm. Those skills ranged from the large-scale crops to the vegetable garden. There is a whole set of skills involved in food preservation. He had to be skilled at animal husbandry; horses, oxen, cows, sheep, pigs. A home, barns and outbuilding all demanded that he be an adequate carpenter and handy man. While the large majority of colonial men made their living as farmers the size of Samuel’s farm seems to indicate that farming was not his primary occupation thus the prominence of his tools in his list of assets. Listed in the deed records for his property in Killingworth was a wood working shop. The presence of such a shop seems to indicate that Samuel devoted a portion of his time to working as a carpenter. Such a shop also implies that it contained the tools of the wood working trade. We get a hint of his skills from the history written for Essex, Vermont. In 1802 a number of citizens met to establish an ecclesiastical society. The group met in the home of Sam Griffin. The history of Essex describes a community effort at managing a sawmill. So by 1802 we find the carpenter Samuel Griffin with access to a ready supply of lumber and with the tools and necessary skill set constructing a home large enough to host a meeting of probably a representative body of the heads of all the households in Essex. Samuel’s will lists both carpenters’ tools and joiners tools two different sets of tools. Carpenters tools included large saws, hammers, squares, plum bobs etc. Joiner’s tools are a separate category of tools intended for more precise applications. There are carpenters then there are finish carpenters. Finish carpenters make cabinets, furniture, window and doorframes, molding and ornamentation. The hallmark of a “joiner” was their ability to craft a mortice-tenon joint. Take a look at the legs of any wooden chair or a wooden drawer where the pieces are fit together one piece inserted into another then imagine the skill it take to do that by hand. The house in Killingworth is lined by carefully worked two-inch bead board. The list of joiner’s tools includes wood planes both large and small, chisels, gouges, squares, gauges, a brace and bit, and delicate saws. The shop of a joiner has a purpose built table with build in clamps that enable a craftsman to hold and manage the material he is working on. Such was probably the world for Samuel Griffin. In the wintertime he apparently turned to his loom. The clothes you wore were produced on your loom although indications are that not every household had its own loom. Weaving took a good deal of skill. Present day weavers are considered to be artisans. Cloth was also a source of income. From the history of Killingworth we draw this description “They first sowed the flax, and when ripe pulled it by hand, rotted it, broke, dressed, hatchelled, spun, and wove it before a (linen) shirt could be had. The sheep must grow, the wool be sheared, picked, carded, spun, woven, and the cloth cut and made up before a coat could be had.” Most colonial looms were a four-post design they were a large piece of furniture. Ownership of a loom represented a real asset. click to enlarge.
Charles was the grandson of Asahel Griffin.He married twice first to Helen Drew then Abigail Smith. He and Helen had two children James and Minnie. He was survived in death by his son James and a granddaughter Pearl. He left behind this simple straight forward will. Charles / Lester / Asahel / Samuel / Samuel.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Lester Griffin was born in New Haven, Vermont the son of Asahel Griffin and Polly Loyal. Asahel moved his family to Moira, Franklin County , New York where Lester grew to manhood. Lester raised his family in Moira we present here his will. Lester Griffin dated his will May 14, 1875 his death is recorded on June 10, 1875 in Moira, New York. Most of his life he went by the name Lester but his given name was Leicester. Lester married Emily Austin together they had a family of nine children including a son Peleg Austin Griffin named after his maternal grandfather. After Emily’s death Lester married a women named Margaret. At the time of his death he was married to Philomena Clark who he names in his will. In his will Lester names his children leaving each of them a cash sum. He names his sons Stillman, Charles, David and Peleg. He identifies his daughters using their married name, Clarissa Spencer, Exey ( Achsah) Whiley, Sarah Foster and Abigail Ford. He leaves the bulk of his property to his son Lester Jun. __________ For the history of Asahel Griffin review post from Sept 2012._________Lester / Asahel / Samuel-Mercy Nettleton / Samuel Griffin. Click to enlarge.