John Bacheller of Reading, Massachusetts (1745-1817)

I have to go back to the American Revolutionary War to find the Bacheller name in my family tree. That was my 5th great-grandmother, Margaret “Peggy” Bacheller, who married Revolutionary War veteran, John Norton. Peggy was the oldest child of Capt. John Bacheller, also a veteran of the Revolutionary War.

The Bachellers came to America during the period of the Great Migration (1630s), as related in the Batchelder Genealogy, beginning with the noted clergyman, Stephen Bachiler. The name appeared under a variety of permutations down the years, but as my 6th great-grandfather is primarily found in the historical record as Bacheller, that’s the version I’m sticking with.

John Bacheller was the 2nd son of the Rev. Samuel Bacheller (1707-1776). Samuel was a graduate of Harvard, the first person from the town of Reading, MA, to obtain a college degree. Samuel served variously as a school master, church pastor and representative to the General Court. He married Hannah Boutwell in 1734. Hannah gave birth to 5 children, all born in Haverhill, MA. Only 4 of the children survived: Hannah, (b. 1741), Samuel (b. 1744), John (b. 1745) and William (b. 1749).

The Rev. Samuel stirred up some controversy while serving as the first minister of the West Parish Congregational Church in Haverhill. In 1758, the church authorized the printing of a pamphlet defending him against 20 charges of heresy. It seems some members of the community vehemently argued against Rev. Samuel’s saying that Christ’s “work of Redemption was finished when Christ uttered the words, ‘It is finished.'” (The Congressional Quarterly, Vol. 6) One source recounts the controversy which eventually led to his removal from the West Parish (A Historical Sketch of Haverhill, in the County of Essex).

It was a whole lot of drama and in reading the account I cannot help but imagine the Bacheller household during this trial, and how the children, including the teen-aged John, may have been affected. What did the impressionable youth think of his father’s  doctrinal stand, so at odds with others in the community? Did John face repudiation from his peers? How did he respond? Was he proud of his father and defend him, or was he embarrassed and ashamed by the notoriety?

I love to ponder these things because they help me form a character portrait of my ancestors. My own conclusion is that father and son were simpatico. Like his father, John became a leader among men. After the death of his wife Hannah in 1779, Samuel left his home in Haverhill and moved to Royalston, where John had taken his family at the outbreak of the War.

In researching the Rev. Samuel, I came across an unsavory item: apparently, he was a slave holder. In the book, History of Essex County, Massachusetts, I discovered that “in 1761 Rev. Samuel Bacheller and Joseph Haynes, of the West Parish [Haverhill], bitter and life-long opponents, owned slaves.” Joseph Haynes was the guy who filed heresy charges against Samuel and led the cause for his removal.

Rev. Samuel Bacheller saw to the education of his children, especially his sons. His youngest son, William Bacheller (1750-1823) became a doctor and served as a surgeon during the Revolutionary War. I haven’t uncovered what John Bacheller did to support himself and his family, but in census records and elsewhere he obtained the honorific “Esq.” This may have been due in part to his War service, or because of his civil service as selectman and assessor in Royalston. But whether he held a profession or trade, or supported his family through farming (like most men of that time), has yet to be uncovered.

In 1767, John Bacheller married Margaret Swain in Reading, MA. Margaret was the daughter of Dr. Thomas and Hannah Appleton Swain. In family genealogies, a rather big deal is made of the fact that Margaret descended from the Appletons of Ipswich, who were noted hemophiliacs. It is written that two of Margaret’s brothers died of the affliction and  three of John and Margaret’s sons inherited the disease – Thomas and Benjamin are named. The third may have been Samuel and he may have died as a result, since no record of him can be found other than his birth.

John and Margaret remained in Reading (just north of Boston) through 1775-1776. Town records show that their first four children were born in Reading: Margaret “Peggy” (b. 1767), Samuel (b. 1769), John (b. 1771), Thomas (b. 1773), and Hannah (b. 1775, d. 1777 in Royalston). Hannah was born in Reading in September of 1775, which is important in establishing the location of the family home in that critical year marking the beginning of the American Revolution.

The “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, called forth John Bacheller to march against the British, as noted in Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War (Vol. 1, p. 400).

There are numerous men named John Bacheller/Batchelor/Batchelder/Batchellor/etc. listed in MA Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, but this entry is the only one listing him with the correct name spelling and place of residence. That John held the rank of captain at the outbreak of the War evidences that he was already a member of the militia. Before the War, local militias defended against Native Americans, the French, and other opponents.

By 1777, the War still on, John Bacheller moved his family to Royalston, some 75 miles west of Reading. (Read about my impressions of Royalston in this post.) Being farther away from the Boston area at that time was a prudent measure, as the British threatened to destroy the city. Town record books show his 2 year old daughter, Hannah, died in Sep. 1777. Two months later, John and Margaret welcomed another daughter into the family and named her Hannah. (Here’s a bit of family weirdness: John’s mother had also given birth to a daughter, Hannah, who died in infancy, and then named her next born daughter Hannah.) Other children born in Royalston in that period were Sally (b. 1779) and Benjamin Brown (b. 1782).

In 1779, John was appointed the town tax assessor. He went on to hold various offices in the town, including selectman and town clerk. He also served as a member of the school board.

For unknown reasons, John took his family from Royalston to Albany, NY, in 1784. His eldest daughter, Peggy, was wed to John Norton in Albany on Oct. 14, 1784. While in Albany, Margaret gave birth to William (b. 1785) and Polly (b. 1786). Sadly, little William died barely before reaching the age of 2 months.

By 1789, the Bacheller family was back in Royalston, where the youngest child, Lucy, was born in October. By that time, Margaret was 42 years old.

In 1790, John was appointed town clerk. The family is shown on the 1790 Census;  John Bacheller Esq is the last entry in the snippet below. Note that his son-in-law, John Norton, is listed directly above, by that time father to two daughters, Peggy and Polly.

In April 1795, John and Margaret lost their two youngest children, Polly and Lucy, when the town of Royalston, MA, suffered an outbreak of diphtheria. It took the lives of 66 people in the small town of about 1130 inhabitants. Polly was only 8 years old and Lucy was just 5 years old. Of the 11 children Margaret gave birth to, she saw 4 of them die in childhood. Her granddaughter, 8 year old Peggy Norton, was also lost in that terrible Spring of 1795. While I have been able to trace some John and Margaret’s children after their birth, others have eluded me. It’s possible that their son Samuel (b. 1769) and daughter Sally (b. 1779) also died young, perhaps even due to hemophilia (as mentioned above).

The following year, 1796, the Rev. Samuel passed away in Royalston. John was administrator of the estate. The image below, from the probate papers, bears John’s signature (and preferred spelling of his surname).

John and Margaret continued to live in Royalston, watching their surviving children grow to marry and begin families of their own. Some moved away from Royalston to lead lives elsewhere.

In 1810, Margaret passed away. John Norton, town clerk, recorded her death in the town record book.

The Batchelder Genealogy states that after his wife’s death, John went to live with his son, Thomas, in Warwick, Franklin County, located about 11 miles west of Royalston, and died there in 1817 at the age of 72.

Unlike some of the ancestors I’ve researched, I don’t have a real feel for who John Bacheller was. Some questions about him remain unanswered, like his use of the title “Esquire,” his reasons for taking his family to Albany for a brief period during the War. The best picture I can develop of his character is that he was a strong military leader and very civic minded. The Batchelder Genealogy claims he was a deacon of the church and a prominent citizen. Though I have not been able to locate an obituary, or probate record, or any newspaper item naming him, I will continue to look for new records which may reveal more about Capt. John Bacheller, Esq.

 

Posted in Revolutionary War Patriots | Leave a comment

Sibling Saturday: Sarah, Louisa and Luthera Tidd

I’ve wanted to write about these sisters since I first looked into their lives, as these women seemed to have had a very close relationship. The bonds they shared extended beyond their childhood years in ways not common in our times. One of them far outlived the others. Sadly, she also suffered the sudden and tragic loss of her two children and her husband of over 40 years.

girlsSarah, Louisa and Luthera Tidd were the daughters of William & Luthera (Bond) Tidd. They were the younger sisters of my maternal 3rd great-grandfather, Squires Tidd and granddaughters of Jonathan Tidd, Jr., veteran of the American Revolution.

The girls were born in Woburn, MA: Sarah in March 1832, Louisa in July 1834 and Luthera in November 1836. The girls had five older brothers: William, Charles, Henry, Squires and Horace. Being so close in age, one can picture the girls as playmates and close confidantes throughout their youth.

The 1850 U.S. Census shows the teenage girls at home with their parents and brother, Horace. The value of the home, $5000, shows that William Tidd provided a very comfortable life for his family. The hash-marks in the column to the right indicates that the girls were all in school.

1850-census-snip

The first of the girls to marry was Sarah. Two days before Christmas of 1852, Sarah was wed to George Henry Morrill.

1852-marriage-sarah-and-george-cropped

Like the Tidds, the Morrill family traced their roots back to The Great Migration, with the first Morrill arriving in Massachusetts Colony in 1632. Sarah’s marriage to George not only changed the course of her life, but that of her sisters as well.

George was the heir to his father’s ink manufacturing business in Andover, MA. When they first married, George and Sarah lived with the Morrill family in Andover. Eventually, George relocated his growing family to Dedham, MA.

Following her marriage, it seems Sarah was in a constant state of pregnancy. Within 6 years, she gave birth to five children:

  • Emma Louisa, b. 1853 (m. Edmund S. Shattuck in 1877)
  • George Henry, b. 1855 (m. Mary Elizabeth Gilbert in 1878)
  • Frank Tidd, b. 1857 (m. Annie Rosa French in 1878)
  • Alice Hannah, b. 1859 (m. Lewis H. Plimpton* in 1886)
  • Grace L., b. 1862 (m. Howard E. Plimpton* in 1889)

* Lewis and Howard Plimpton were brothers, the sons of Calvin G. Plimpton & Priscilla Lewis of Walpole, MA.
Howard Plimpton was a publisher.
Lewis H. Plimpton was a doctor.

The 1860 Census reveals that Sarah brought her younger sister, Luthera, to live with the family at the Dedham home — presumably to assist with the houseful of young children. A few years later, tragedy occurred.

1860-census-snipped

On March 20, 1864, Sarah passed away just days before her 32nd birthday. The cause of death was listed as metritis. Most likely, her death was a complication of being yet again pregnant.

Ten months later, on Jan. 15, 1865, George H. Morrill married Sarah’s younger sister, Louisa.

1865-marriage-louisa-and-george-snipped

That summer, the Massachusetts State Census listed George and Louisa at the Dedham home with the five children and a live-in domestic.

1865-massachusetts-census-cropped

The family remained in Dedham for the next several years and, unlike her sister Sarah, Louisa didn’t not immediately add to the number of children in the home. The 1870 Census shows that, again, younger sister Luthera had been brought to live with the family.

1870-census-george-and-louisa-morrill-family

Over the years, George grew the company into the “largest printed ink works in the world,” making him a very wealthy man indeed. By 1872, the family had relocated to the town of Norwood in Norfolk County, MA, where George had built a stately mansion for his family. It was there that Louisa gave birth to her daughter, Sarah Bond Morrill, touchingly named after the beloved sister who had died eight years before.

morrill-mansion

Two and a half years later, a son was born to George and Louisa: Sheldon Collins Morrill. Tragically, in June 1877, little Sheldon died at age two. The cause of death is listed as “congestion of the brain,” which in late 19th Century medicine was mostly what we now know as meningitis. (1)

By the time of the 1880 Census, the older Morrill children had married and started families of their own. George’s father had died. The family consolidated around George Morrill’s estate, maintaining homes very nearby. Thus, Emma and her husband Edmund Shattuck are found nearby. Living in the Shattuck home were their two daughters and three servants. Living with George and Louisa are their daughters, Luthera Tidd and a servant. Sadly, Luthera was noted as being an invalid (tumor).

When George Morrill’s oldest son, Samuel, came of age at 18, he changed his name to George Henry Morrill, Jr. Thus, we find him living next-door to his father, with his wife and son. Also living nearby was George Sr.’s elderly mother, Hannah.

1880-census-clipped

The Morrill family of Norwood enjoyed their affluence and a newspaper article of the time describes a magnificent party hosted by George H. Morrill Jr., while another article provides an interview with George H. Morrill Sr. which recounts the building of the company.

But there were troubles and sad times, too. Luthera died in the spring of 1882. In May 1883, a fire broke out at the Morrill’s store in Boston. And, most tragic of all, George and Louisa suffered the sudden and untimely death of their daughter, Sarah. At age 22, Sarah died of typhoid while on vacation in Florida.

sara-b-morrill-funeral-boston-herald-march-13-1895

To honor their beloved daughter, George and Louisa had a beautiful public library built and dedicated in her name to the town of Norwood. On the event of its opening, the Boston Herald published an article describing the event. (Morrill Memorial Library) Portraits of George H. Morrill and his daughter, Sarah Bond Morrill, hang in the library.

mml-and-church-postcard

George H. Morrill traveled often for business purposes to many places in the United States and elsewhere. It was while on a trip to Jamaica in 1909 that he died of enteritis (inflammation of the intestine, most often caused by eating or drinking things that are contaminated with bacteria or viruses). Numerous death notices and obituaries, both long and short (below) announced his passing.

1909-april-3-g-h-morrill-obit-ny-times

George H. Morrill left behind a fortune worth $2,000,000 when he died, an amount valued at over $50.5 million dollars in 2016. (Wow!!)

1909-boston-herald-ghm-probate

Details of his will can be read here, here and here.

When George died, Louisa was 75 years old. By that time, she had lost her parents, all of her siblings and her two children. She continued on for another three years before passing away in February 1912 while vacationing in Los Angeles, CA. Bequests made in her will caught the attention of the local papers.

1912-louisa-j-morrill-leaves-coachman-5000-in-her-will

The Morrill family is interred at Highland Cemetery in Norfolk, where a large stone memorial is inscribed with their names.

morrill-stone-memorialGeorge H. Morrill (1829-1909)

Sarah Bond Tidd Morrill (1832-1864)

Louisa J. Tidd Morrill (1834-1912)

Sheldon Collins Morrill (1875-1877)

Sarah Bond Morrill (1872-1895)

Because the Morrill family and their descendants were notable society figures, I’ve found a great deal of additional information about them.

But the person who captures my attention in this family history is Louisa. I imagine she was a very strong, caring and generous woman. She stepped in to raise her sister’s children when they had lost their mother. She took in her invalid sister and, no doubt, saw to her nursing. She outlived everyone and kept going. Finally, she rewarded a dutiful servant, Charles W. Gibson, and sought to raise up Gibson and his family through a gift valued over $120,000 in 2016 dollars.

Posted in Women Ancestors | 1 Comment

Ancestral Homes

For the past few years, I have made twice-yearly trips (summer & fall) from my home in Missouri to Western New York State to visit family. While visiting NY, I always try to get in a little genealogy research and it’s been my goal to visit some ancestral homes.

Last month (October 2016), I also visited my brother and his family in New Hampshire. This gave me the opportunity to visit three ancestral homes — all built by veterans of the Revolutionary War. While I did not go inside these homes, simply passing through the geographic settings in which they lived was an impacting experience. In the course of my genealogical research and preparing DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) application papers on each of them, I’ve studied their lives. So much so that, on a certain level, I feel like I know them.

Fall 2016 road trip

Fall 2016 road trip

Places convey a feel. They have an energy about them which comes from the land, the flora and fauna. We’ve all felt that. Walking on a sandy beach feels different than hiking the leeward side of a forested mountain. The ocean pulses with loud, rhythmic power. It’s moody. A mountain side can be lush, quiet and damp. Place is affecting. In visiting the homes of John Norton, Joel Marsh and Jonathan Tidd, I  hoped to have something like a personal “encounter” with these ancestors.

john-norton-house

Sgt. John Norton house – built 1810

My first stop was the home of John Norton in Royalston, MA. Royalston is located in the hilly northwestern part of central Massachusetts. There are no interstates or other highways passing through town. There are no gas stations, no stores of any kind, no restaurants. Per the 2000 Census, there were a little over 1250 people residing in the town. This is about 200 less people (per the 1810 Census) than at the time John Norton built his home. Because very, very little has changed in Royalston in the past 200 years, if I imagined away the pavement and the power lines, I could easily see John Norton inhabiting that place.

First Congregational Church

First Congregational Church

After the War, John Norton married and raised his family as a simple farmer in Royalston. On Sundays, he walked a few hundred yards to the town commons where the family attended services at the First Congregational Church (built in 1766 and still standing). Like modern-day residents of Royalston, if he needed anything that wasn’t produced on his own farm, he had to travel to another town.

Visiting Royalston on a sunny, fall day left me with a feeling of pastoral simplicity. A peaceful sense of the days, months and years of life rolling out at a slow and steady pace. After serving eight wearying years as a soldier in the American Revolution, marching on foot hundreds miles over that time, seeing death and destruction, I can fully appreciate the appeal of this place to John Norton. I see it as a place that provided him the rest and peace he no doubt needed after his long and bitter war years. John’s own hometown of Ipswich, MA, was far more populous and bustling.


While visiting my brother in NH, we drove south to Woburn, MA, to see the home of Lt. Jonathan Tidd. I’ve written about the Tidd family of Woburn in this post. The city of Woburn would be unrecognizable to Jonathan Tidd. While he lived there, the population was about 1700; today over 37,000 people live in Woburn.

img_0146

Lt. Jonathan Tidd home, built 1809

The Tidd house today, very much expanded and modernized, serves as a residential care facility. At one time, the house was run as a hotel for stage-coach passengers traveling the main route from Boston to Lowell and Nashua, NH. The Tidds provided hearty meals and occasional overnight lodging.

Because the home sits in what is now a modern residential area, with strip malls and other commercial areas very nearby, my imagination was too limited to get a “feel” for what it may have been to walk this area in Jonathan Tidd’s time. So, alas, there was no lasting takeaway from this visit. But, I’m still happy that I went.


img_0154

Col. Joel Marsh home, built 1807

Returning to Western NY, I made my way from Manchester, NH, to Bethel, VT, to see the home of Col. Joel Marsh. After the war, Col. Marsh was given a 450 acre mill lot in Bethel to build a saw mill and a grist mill to assist settlers in the area with building and sustaining themselves in the area.

It was a cool and foggy morning as I drove the winding mountain roads into Bethel. The area is “characterized by steep craggy hillsides covered with lush deciduous/coniferous forest and transected by narrow valleys.” (Bethel’s History)

Logging in Bethel

Logging in Bethel

When Joel Marsh lived in Bethel, the town population was about 1000; today there are about twice that many. That’s not much of an increase in 200 years. Thus, similar to what I encountered in Royalston, the minimal growth and change to the place made it possible for me to picture Joel living in this place. And working. Because the saw mill that Joel built and operated is still running.

The craggy hillsides, the shallow White River strewn with rocks and boulders and the laboring loggers and millers I viewed all conveyed a far different style of living from that of John Norton’s quiet little retreat in Royalston. Bethel is vigorous and hard-scrabble. Man is subduing the surrounding wilderness rather than peacefully nurturing the land for provision.

Can visiting ancestral homes tell us anything about the character of the people who lived there? Perhaps so. Perhaps not. As with us, some of our ancestors (John Norton) deliberately chose where to settle. Others stayed where they were born (Jonathan Tidd) or took advantage of an opportunity to increase their fortunes (Joel Marsh).

I am incredibly fortunate that these ancestral homes still stand for me to visit. As another family history blogger states: “Having walked around places where my ancestors farmed, went to church, did business, and carried on their lives, I have a richer picture of what their lives might have been like.”

Posted in Revolutionary War Patriots | Tagged | 1 Comment

Tombstone Tuesday : Amos Chaffee (1744-1815)

amos-chaffee-d-1815-headstone-dar-marker

Photo credit: Debra A Glogover, Findagrave Memorial #62923055

As a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), it’s exciting to find that an ancestor’s service in the American Revolution has been officially honored by the DAR. Amos Chaffee received this honor on October 3, 1975.

Amos Chaffee was a 4th great-grandfather on my father’s side:

  • Amos Chaffee m. Anna Brown
  • Leonard Brown “Leon” Chaffee m. Azubah Chaffee
  • Azubah “Zelia” Chaffee m. Benjamin Hunton
  • Charles Mason Hunton m. Helen Luthera Martin
  • Nellie Tryphena Hunton m. Fred Verras Marsh
  • Merle Leroy Marsh m. Florence Mary Garrison (my paternal grandparents)

Below is a biography of Amos Chaffee taken from: The Chaffee Genealogy, (The Grafton Press, New York) 1909, pp. 121-122)


Amos Chaffee (John,* John, 8 Joseph, 3 Thomas *) was born in Woodstock, Conn., August 9, 1744, and died in Rochester, Vt., February 3, 1815. He married in Stafford, Conn., about 1769, Anna Brown of Windsor, Conn., their intention being published in South Wilbraham, where he then lived, November 5, 1769. She died February 22, 1831, and was buried in Rochester.

Amos Chaffee was baptized in the First Congregational Church of Woodstock, October 7, 1744. He was stout, broad-shouldered, five feet, ten inches in height, with a sandy complexion and blue eyes.

He was a farmer.

A list of those occupying seats in the Congregational church in Wilbraham dated July 3, 1770, shows that Amos Chaffee and his wife, with seven other persons, occupied pew number seventeen.

He was chosen Deer Reeve in Wilbraham, March 15, 1774, and July 21, 1774, sold to Simeon, his brother, sixty-eight acres of land in that place for £20. This year also his signature is found attached to the agreement not to buy English-made goods, signed by one hundred and twenty-five men of South Wilbraham. August 5, 1775, he bought of Abner Badger land in Wilbraham for £120, and August 12, 1776, he sold to the same man land there for £100.

He served in the Revolution as follows:

“Chaffee, Amos. Private, Capt. Daniel Cadwell’s co. Col. Timothy Robinson’s
detachment of Hampshire Co. militia; enlisted Dec. 25, 1776; discharged April
2, 1777; service, 3 mos. 9 days at Ticonderoga; enlistment to expire March 25, 1777; roll dated Springfield.” [Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution.]

The powder horn and gun which Amos Chaffee carried in the war are preserved by his descendants. The former is inscribed, “Amos Chaffee’s Horn, made at Woodstock, Conn. April 17, 1761.” On it is traced a map of North and South America.

February 23, 1778, he bought sixty acres of land in Stafford, to which place he removed the following spring. May 31, 1779, he added to this purchase seventy acres more.

December 13, 1779, he took the oath in Stafford. A list of the members of the Second Congregational Church, dated March 13, 1791, contains the name of Amos Chaffee.

In 1797 he moved with his family to Athens, Vt. He and his wife were granted letters to the church there August 19, 1798. In 1806 they moved to Rochester, where they spent the remainder of their lives.

Children, the first three born in South Wilbraham, the last two in Stafford:

• Eleanor Chaffee, born May 17, 1771; died November 22, 1848; married James Thresher.
• Amos Chaffee, Jr., born May 13, 1773; married (1) Betsey Harwood; (2) Rachel Gubtil; (3) Mrs. Lydia (Beckwith) Richardson.
• Lucy Chaffee, born April 30, 1776; died November 18, 1826; married Elias Richmond.
• John Chaffee, born September 3, 1778; married Sally Evans.
• Leonard Brown Chaffee, born September 2, 1780; married Azubah Chaffee.

Posted in Revolutionary War Patriots | Tagged | Leave a comment

Tombstone Tuesday: Abijah Thompson (1739-1811)

Photo credit: PupDawg, Findagrave Memorial #78714014

Photo credit: PupDawg, Findagrave Memorial #78714014

This month, I’ll be submitting application papers to the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution tracing the lineage to my 6th great-grandfather, ABIJAH THOMPSON.

Abijah Thompson was the father-in-law of another patriot ancestor, Jonathan Tidd Jr., who married Abijah’s eldest child, Rhoda.

The following biographical sketch comes from: Memorial of James Thompson, of Charlestown, Mass., 1630-1642, and Woburn, Mass., 1642-1682: And of Eight Generations of His Descendants, by Leander Thompson (Press of L. Barta & Company, 1887)


Abijah Thompson was born in Woburn, April II, 1739. He was the first to bear a name which has since been given to at least ten of his descendants, all except two bearing also, as their family name, that of Thompson. At the opening of the Revolutionary war, he was thirty-six years old and had a family, his two children being then respectively in their twelfth and seventh years.

Having served with his older brother, Samuel, in the old French war in 1858, he was not without some experience in military life. When, therefore, the startling news came, on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775, that the British troops were on their way to Concord, he lost no time in putting both his military knowledge and his patriotism to the test. With his brothers, Samuel and Daniel, he hurried away to the scene of danger, and took an active part in the conflict in which Daniel was killed, and subsequently served in the Revolutionary army, for some time as armorer, but later as adjutant of militia.

Many years after the war he wrote and, apparently by invitation of his fellow citizens, delivered a public address in which, among other highly patriotic passages, he describes, in thrilling words, the scenes of that fearful day, his brother’s death, and the sad duty devolved on him of carrying and breaking the dreadful news to his widowed wife and three orphan children.

After the war, he built a new house, much larger than the one he at first built, both being in his native village, and on the principal (now Elm) street. Here he kept a hotel which, being then on the great thoroughfare from Boston through Woburn to the more northerly towns of Chelmsford, Andover, Haverhill, Exeter, N. H., etc., was widely known and much frequented by travelers in the days when railroads were unknown. Beside the cares of this business, he was, for from twenty to thirty years, widely known as deputy sheriff, doing, till near the time of his death in 1811, a large amount of business in this office. During seven or eight years, in the meantime, he was on the board of selectmen, and, like his brother Samuel, was almost continually on important committees of town, parish, or church.

His business as sheriff and as keeper of a public house brought him into contact with many people from far and near, and like his brother Samuel, who was also widely known as a public surveyor, as well as town, parish, and church officer, he was enthusiastic in embracing these opportunities for making known and spreading abroad the newly discovered apple then known as the Pecker, and now as the Baldwin apple. Of a large number of trees of this popular fruit which he grafted near his home, noted for many years as the “second generation,” from the original tree in Wilmington, the last one in bearing condition was blown down in 1869, in an autumn gale, and though probably eighty-five years old, even as a grafted tree, was full of fine apples at the time.

Abijah Thompson united with the First Congregational Church when a young man in his 22d year, and remained a much respected member till his sudden death by paralysis, Jan. 11, 1811, in the 72d year of his age. His death occurred in the second house which he built, after his return from the war, probably in 1778 or early in 1779. The house is now owned and occupied by the heirs of the late Oliver Fisher.

Sheriff Thompson or “Sheriff Abijah,” as he was for many years called in Woburn, was, like his brother Samuel, three times married. Dec. 13, 1759, he m. 1, Esther Snow of Woburn, who d. without children, Jan. 3, 1761.

He m. 2, in 1762, Abigail, daughter of Zebediah and Abigail ( Pierce ) Wyman of Woburn. Of this marriage there were two children :

1. Rhoda,6 b. Nov. 5, 1763; m. Jonathan Tidd, Oct. 19, 1780, and had :
i. Jonathan,7 b. Dec. 5, 1781 ; m. Cynthia,7 Eames.
ii. Nabby,7 b. June 16, 1787.
iii. William,7 b. April 12, 1792; m. I, Rosanna Buck man, 2, Luthera Bond.
iv. Franklin,7 b. 1795, and d. Dec. 26, 1796.
v. Mary Thompson,7 b. Feb. 17, 1806; m. Joseph Eaton.
2. Abijah,6 b. Oct. 24, 1768; m. 1, Lydia Mead, 2, Lydia Bradford.

His second wife, Abigail, dying in 1778, “Sheriff Abijah” m. 3, Widow Sarah Burtt, maiden name Stanley, of Wilmington, probably in 1779. She survived him eleven years, and d. March 22, 1821, in her 67th year. Their children were :
1. Charles,6 b. Nov. 25, 1780; m. Mary Wyman, Jan. 19, 1802.
2. Alpha,6 b. June 11, 1785; m. Mary Scottow, Jan. 4, 1810.
3. Sally,6 b. Jan. 23, 1787; m. William Bond, Aug. 21, 1808.
4. Nancy,6 b. 1788, and d. aged two years, Jan. 15, 1790.
5. Nancy,6 b. June 3, 1790; m. Christopher P. Hosmer, Feb. 27, 1812.

Posted in Revolutionary War Patriots | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Travels of Abiathar M. Harris: South into Vermont

Abiathar was working at the Montreal Herald in late summer 1822. His final entries for the year are these:

Original in the University of Rochester Library

Original in the University of Rochester Library

Thomas A. Turner was a Scot from Aberdeenshire. In addition to publishing a newspaper, he was at one time the vice-president of the Bank of Montreal and, later, president of the Bank of Canada. He owned the Gazette for only a brief period, from 1822-1827.

Abiathar’s diary picks up again 8 months later. In company with a fellow by the name of Brown, Abiathar left Montreal, traveling by steamboat southward on the Richelieu River.

1824 Richelieu River steamboat“1823  On the 27th I left this place for Burlington, Vermont, in company with Mr. Brown – we arrived in St. John’s on the 28th – put up at E. Mott’s – I staid in this place a number of days. The village is very small and very muddy, but considerable business is done in the transportation line, it being the first Port of entry after crossing the lines.”

The place Abiathar refers to as St Johns is the site of the historic Fort Saint-Jean, first built in 1666. In looking for something about Mott’s Inn, I came across this excerpt from a traveler who took the same route about 20 years later:

Biog of W H Merritt

Google Books: Biography of the Hon. W. H. Merritt, M. P. 1875

Abiathar and companion Mr. Brown, continued their journey along the waterways of the Canada-U.S. border in early summer 1823:

Original in the University of Rochester Library

Major Josephus Vaughan (b. 1766) was a Loyalist who took his family from Connecticut to settle in the town of Noyan, Quebec. In 1804, he established the first ferry across the Richelieu River.

Capt. Sydney Smith had distinguished himself (in an unfavorable way) as a lieutenant of the American Navy in the War of 1812  at the Battle of Plattsburgh. His poor judgement resulted in two American sails being captured. Purportedly, the men did fight bravely for over 4 hours before surrendering to the British.

Maj. Wilson may have served in the Revolutionary War. I’ve spent a few hours trying to identify him but haven’t come up with anything definite.

When Abiathar arrived in Chazy, he may have encountered my 4th great grandfather, Asa Stearns, who was a veteran of the Revolutionary War. Asa had settled in Chazy after the War.

More of Abiathar’s adventures in the towns surrounding Lake Champlain and beyond next time!

Posted in Ancestral Writings | Leave a comment

The Poetry of Helen A. Harris Deming: The Old Farm House

Small-Blue-RGB-National-Poetry-Month-Logo_0April is National Poetry Month, so in celebration I want to get out there the Helen A. Harris Deming‘s poetry that I’ve found published in newspaper archives in order to acknowledge the amazing woman that she was.

Helen composed this poem to honor the early settlers of her adopted city, Cleveland. This clipping came from Cleveland Daily Leader, July 16, 1858.

Cleveland Daily Leader. Cleveland, Ohio. Friday- July 16 1858 - Page 1

Posted in Ancestral Writings, Women Ancestors | Tagged | Leave a comment