Monday, June 29, 2015

Polly Needham wife of James Griffin of Killingworth, Connecticut

James Griffin’s birth is part of a family record found in the Land Registry in Killingworth. It says, ‘James, son of Samuel & Mary b. April 7, 1733.” James married Polly Needham February 24, 1757. The couple had three children, James, Allen and Polly. James and Polly are buried in the Indian River Cemetery in Clinton. The existing cemetery transcripts list them both as dying August 17, 1774 at the age of 36. However evidence suggests that, that date is for Polly as is shown on her headstone. Census records show James still living in 1790.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Asel Griffin and family

These photographs come to us from Tom Griffin with an assist from Ken Griffin. They are of Asel and his wife Ellen and their twins Etta and Ezra. Note the family resemblance among the various Griffin faces we have posted. Asel / Sylvester / Asahel / Samuel / Samuel Griffin of Killingworth.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Albert Bailey Griffin 1809-1896

The following photograph comes to us courtesy of Michael Davis one of Albert's great grandsons. Albert was born in Essex, Vermont in 1809 and died in Kanarraville, Utah in 1896.His family line is Albert / Samuel / Samuel / Samuel Griffin of Killingworth. Note the family resemblance between Albert and and his great uncle Aashel Griffin.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The face of Asahel Griffin

Asahel Griffin was born in Killingworth, Connecticut the son of Samuel Griffin and his second wife Mercy Nettleton. There are a number of spellings used by his extend family. His birth record found in the ledgers of the Killingworth Second Congregational Society spells the name Asahel. In his father's will, published in Essex, Vermont, the name is spelled, Asahel. It was not uncommon in the era to see different spellings used for many names. The portrait that we present here comes to us courtesy of Ken Griffin a great grandson.Ken commissioned an artist by the name of Jacklynn Kelsey to produce this likeness using on old family photograph as a model.The remarkable thing about this image is how many of his features are shared by any number of Griffins scattered down the many family lines.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Griffin Loom

Reference to a loom is woven throughout the family story of Samuel Griffin, 1739-1808. It was part of the family life in Killingworth and was transported to Essex when the family made what was at the time a very arduous journey to a new homestead. It occupies a prominent place in Samuel’s will. There were many tasks that need to be performed to produce the thread that was used in the weaving process. Previously on the Blog we have described the steps that transformed flax into linen thread. The most widely used material was wool. Sheep were very much a part of the farm life in Essex. In my family that tradition of keeping sheep was continued unbroken down to my father. In both Killingworth and in Essex the production of a finished piece of cloth was the sum of a number of smaller tasks. The girls Lois, Polly and Azuba, the boys Joel, Asahel, Worden, Samuel, John, and Dan were all certainly part of the cottage industry of weaving cloth. In the inventories in the wills found in New England records we very often find listed yards of cloth. Cloth was a cash crop for many early American families. While the whole family was involved in preparing the yarn and thread for weaving there was usually only one person who was the weaver. It is my reading of the Griffin family history that the weaver was Samuel a position he passed on to his son John. After all of the preparatory steps were finished the product that came off from the spinning wheel was high quality yarn. This yarn was used much as it is today for knitted items. By adding another attachment, a quill, to the spinning wheel the yarn was spun into the tread that was used to weave cloth. The quill spun the yarn into thread and the resulting thread ended up wound around the quill. In this manner the quill also served in the same role as a bobbin.-------The material that follows was written in Essex by the Castle family On the front of the loom is placed the seat for the weaver, with the bobbin basket at the right to refill the shuttle. To put this loom in motion grandmother (or Samuel Griffin) takes the weaver’s seat, placing her feet on the treadles, in her right hand holding the shuttle, and with the left hand placed on the swing beam that holds the reed. The treadles being attached to the harness, the right foot presses the treadles down; this springs the harness that opens the warp and the shuttle is thrown form the right hand through the warp to the left hand, receiving the shuttle, while in turn the right hand is placed on the swing beam to bring the thread of filling to the proper place that the shuttle left in passing through the warp from the right to the left; the left food then presses the left treadle down, springing the harness attached to the treadles, the first treadle returning to its former place. The left hand then returns the shuttle to the right hand, the left hand on the beam brings the thread to its proper place. Thus grandmother’s feet transmits the power which opens the threads of the warp to receive the shuttle that holds the yarn bobbin for the filling of the warp; her hands swing the beam or lathe that receives and holds the reed that places the filling in its proper place in the warp. ------------- The spooling of the yarn for the shuttle with the old quill wheel and swifts was the work for the grandchildren. The writer has often remained at the old quill wheel and swifts spooling for the loom when the boys of the neighborhood were within hearing having a good time at play. But I had to keep the old thing buzzing until the bobbins were all filled for the shuttle, then grandmother would say: “You are a good boy. I will bake you a nice turnover pie the next time I bake.” And she always remembered her promise. ---------------- Homespun Cloth. The, all wool goods a yard wide, which we so easily purchase to-day meant to the colonial dame or daughter the work of months from the time when the freshly sheared fleeces were first given to her deft hands. The fleeces had to be opened with care, all pitched or tarred locks, brands, dagolocks and feltings had to be cut out these were spun into course yarn to be use as twine. The white locks were carefully tossed, separated, cleaned and tied into net bags with tallies, to be died. Dyeing the wool demanded a process of much skill. Indigo furnished the blue shades; cochineal, madder and logwood the beautiful reds. Domestic dyes of brown and yellow from the bark of the red oak and the hickory nut were universal. Copperas and sassafras also dyed yellow. The flower of the golden-rod set with alum was the foundation color to combine with indigo for a beautiful green. After the wools were dyed the housewife spread them in layers. If a mixed color was desired, the wools were carded again and again. ---------------The wool was slightly greased with rape oil or melted swine or bear’s grease, to be carded a trying process. Finally the wool was carded into small, light, loose rolls about as large around as the little finger, these were then spun into yarn. The yarn was wound as it was spun upon a broach, which was usually simply a stiff roll of paper or corn-husk. When the ball was as large as the broach would hold, the spinner placed pegs in the spokes of the spinning wheel and tied the end of the yarn to a peg, then she held the ball of yarn in her hand and whizzed the big wheel round, winding the yarn on the pegs into hanks or clews. ( A hank is what you are buying when you buy yarn in a store today ) If the yarn was to be woven, the hanks were placed on the reel ( of the spinning wheel) or swifts, a quill was then placed on the spindle of the quill wheel, the yarn wound off the quill cut the exact length of the loom shuttle by which the yarn was to be woven into woolen cloth. When wound full the quill was placed in the shuttle, where it was then ready for the loom.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A pantry in Essex

At the north end of the kitchen was the pantry. On opening the door to the pantry there was to be seen grandmother’s large cupboard, with three shelves well furnished with pewter platters and plates, and the block tin teapot and spoons all polished with great care. On the broad shelf of the cupboard were to be found the table knives and the two fined forks, with wooden handles. On opening the door of this continental cupboard were to be seen the wooden trenches, bowls and plates, while on the lower shelf were placed other table and cooking utensils. This old cupboard still remains at the old homestead in Essex. At the right hand side of the cupboard was placed a long wide table shelf to receive the baking form the brick oven. On the opposite side of the pantry the shelving was arranged after the usual form, under which was placed the maple sugar and dried apple sauce tubs and the brass kettles, etc. ----------The door on the right as you enter the pantry opened to the cellar stairway. On going down to the cellar it was found to be large and roomy, with a platform on the sides near the walls for the purpose of placing the hop and yeast tubs, vinegar and cider barrels, the great hogshead of cider on tap, and many a mug full did I draw for grandfather to dispense to his friends, probably including Samuel Griffin and Samuel Bradley, many of whom were the first settlers in the wilderness of Vermont.----- The potato-bin was well filled with the best of garden truck the farm produced. On the shelving and in the boxes and barrels was placed a large assortment of apples for the winter and spring. A place was prepared for the pork and beef barrels, ( salted pork and beef) the tallow-candle box, and especially the spruce beer tub, for Grandmother Castle was an expert in brewing and manufacturing this most useful and health-giving drink. The writer well remembers the five-pail brass kettle as it hung on the great crane in that great fireplace brewing the materials for the spruce beer that became noted in the Castle family.---- Spruce beer is a beverage flavored with the buds, needles or essence of spruce trees. It can be either alcoholic or non alcoholic. Flavors range from floral, citrusy to cola like. Using evergreen needles to create beverages originated with the Indians who use the drink as a cure for scurvy during the winter months.-------- Material taken from a history written by the Castle family of Essex. The house being described was that of Abel Castle a contemporary of Samuel and Mercy Griffin.----------------------- In the deeds and letters from our Griffin history he find references to apple and cherry trees and maple groves. Apple orchards in particular seem to have been a prized resource. Apples well stored could last most of the winter. They were used in a variety of ways , apple sauces and apple pie probably being the most common. In both Killingworth and Essex we have evidence that the maximum use of the apples was accomplished by turning the excess into cider both soft and hard. Cider was both a source of refreshment and a cash crop. A cider mill was a major economic resource for Azuba Griffin’s family in Killingworth. The apple cider was also the source for vinegar which was an absolute essential in a world that relied heavily on picking for long term food storage.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Fireplace in Essex

The great fireplace with the large brick oven required fully one-half of the kitchen. The fireplace was built on the architectural plan known in those days, to burn four-foot wood. On the right side in the fire jamb was placed the crane with its pot-hooks and trammels, all of sufficient strength to swing a five-pail iron kettle over the fire with other pots and kettles. -----The hearthstone for this fireplace and brick oven was early ten feet long and three feet wide. To furnish this fireplace were required two large andirons, a long-handled shovel, and a pair of tongs. ----The back of the chimney near one side is the opening to receive the ashes when removed to the ashpit, built in the foundation of the chimney. ----The stone mantelpiece to this fireplace is seven feet long, eighteen inches wide and six inches thick, place nearly five feet above the hearthstone. ----- To build a fire required first an enormous back-log rolled into place, on top of which is placed a smaller log, called a back stick. The large andirons where then placed against the back-log, then a fore-stick placed on the andirons. The foundation of the fire being laid, the placing of smaller wood to make the fire required skill and experience; and grandfather was an expert in the use of stick chimneys, with large stone fireplaces; he would make a fire that would light the kitchen without the tallow candle. -------The large brick oven, with its stone mantle and sheet-iron door, must be heated often for the baking of all good things for the table in those early days. This oven was about three feet in diameter, with a concave brick top and the flue near the door. To heat the oven required the best of dry wood, The degree of heat required for baking was tested by the hand and if found correct the coal and ashes were removed, the oven swept with a broom, then the baking was arranged within and the door placed. Thus was completed a very important task for the housewife in those early days.------------ This description is taken from, The History of the Castle family. Abel Castle was a neighbor to Samuel Griffin. In all likelihood Samuel’s house contained a very similar fireplace and oven arraignment. There is a fireplace very similar to this description in the Griffin house in Killingworth. The hearthstone in the house in Killingworth sets flush with the floor. ________ We have added a image of a typical design. Click on images to enlarge.