French In Name Only

A Genealogical Blog about the French and Grace Families

Introducing Annie + John W. Spencer

Part of the joy of conducting genealogical research is the unexpected.  Sometimes that comes from finding a interesting passage in an old book that has been digitized by Google, a blog post that leads you in a new direction or getting a response to an inquiry.

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In one instance, I’d asked a researcher from the Connecticut State Library for information about  my 3rd great grandfather Abiram Spencer (1812-1871).  He passed along some general information and then added, you do know how he died – don’t you?   Like the train that killed Abiram, I did not see that coming.

However, that piece of information does not come remotely close to another discovery that also features Abiram.  Out of the blue, I received a message on this blog that stated, My name is Shelby — , and while looking for information about Abiram Spencer, I landed on your page. I am delighted to learn that you and I share our 2nd great grand-parents, Annie Eggleston and John W. Spencer. 

And here is what blew me away, she added, “I have their original wedding photograph, which I would be overjoyed to share with you.”  Well, here they are, 16 year old Annie Eggleston and 25 year old John W. Spencer. How cool is that!


AJSpencer


© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

1924 Wedding – Gladys May Spencer

IMG_3422On the afternoon of November 15, 1924, my grandparents, Gladys May Spencer (1898-1984) and George Bradley French (1898- 1983) were married at the Blue Hills Baptist Church in Hartford, Connecticut.  Recently, I obtained their marriage certificate and a wedding program containing signatures of those on attendance.  Those signing the guest book included my great grandmothers Minnie Fowler Spencer + Mary McEachern French!  In addition, there was also a small 1923 calendar, where Gladys noted, item-by-item, the costs of her wedding dress, her bridesmaids dresses and other wedding expenses.

Gladys and Walter were divorced prior to 1940.  They had one son together, John Spencer French, born 1931.


Snippet from Gladys’ Wedding Planner

White Dress – Materials $15.80/Shoes $7.75/Garters $1.25

Velvet Dress (dressmaker) – $29.77/Shoes $5.90

Brides Maid Dress – Materials $15.94/ Thread .24c/ Ribbon $2.34

Wedding Expenses – Wedding invitations & announcement $16.00/Postage $3.00/Engraving ring $1.50

$1 in 1924 would calculate to approximately $13.96 in 2016 dollars.

For example, her wedding shoes would cost $108.22 today!


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© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Lord, How They Died

In researching Robert Lord, my 9th great-grandfather who resided in Ipswich, Massachusetts, I came across an account regarding the death of his son Joseph (1638-1677).  The account read, “upon the death of Joseph, son of Robert Lord Sr., of Ipswich, who was killed in the woods about two miles and a half from Ipswich meeting house, that he with others was felling a tree and a limb, as it fell, hit another tree breaking it and it fell upon said Lord killing him.” Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts (p.397)

A remarkable thing about researching New England history is the depth and extent that they recorded their lives and in this case, deaths. The History of Ipswich, Essex, and Hamilton (p. 202-4) records some rather notable deaths:

  • Feb 21st 1787 – Francis a child of William Cogswell of Chebacco (Essex, MA) died by falling into a kettle of boiling chocolate.
  • Oct 16th 1727 – We are informed from Ipswich that on Wednesday night last a young woman pf that place being more merry than wise dressed herself in men’s apparel intending a frolic at a place some distance off but as she was riding through a river or pond her horse in all likelihood threw her into the water where she was taken up the next day drowne.
  • September 1771 – At the Hamlet, a child of Mr Bolles died by drinking scalding water from a tea pot.
  • Jan 5th 1814 – Betsey Telock AE 49 is burnt to death. It has been commonly reported that she came to her end by spontaneous combustion from the inordinate use of ardent spirits. But it is the opinion of the gentleman who first discovered her body soon after the flames in her room were extinguished that she caught her bed clothes on fire with a candle and thus lost her life.

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The History of Ipswich, Essex, and Hamilton also mentioned the Dark Day, a day many New Englanders believed carried prophetic meaning.  The true cause is believed to have been a massive forest fire combined with a thick cloud cover and fog.

May 19th 1780  – Darkness came on like that of an eclipse. By 9 o clock a.m. persons could not see to weave. Candles were lighted to dine by.  As the day began prematurely to put on the appearance of twilight cattle lowed and fowls went to roost. The darkness of the succeeding evening was almost palpable. Many feared and trembled lest the end of all things had come. They alone are truly wise who seek the Lord when the bow of his mercy is over them, as well as, when they hear his thunders and behold his lightnings. (p.202)

General George Washington, who was encamped with his Continental Army in nearby New Jersey, commented on the strange weather in a May 18 diary entry. “Heavy and uncommon kind of clouds,” he wrote, “dark and at the same time a bright and reddish kind of light intermixed with them…” (Remembering New England’s Dark Day)

Additional Stories about the Dark Day:

On the dark day, May 19th, 1780. Library of Congress

The Dark Day – BBC Story

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Lord, How They Lived

Robert Lord Jr., my 9th great-grandfather, was born in Sudbury, Suffolk, England in 1603. Robert arrived in Massachusetts in 1634/5 with his wife Mary Waite and four children. He took the freeman’s oath (example below) at Boston in 1636. Robert lived for 80 years died on August 21, 1683 in Ipswich.

My family relation continues through their daughter Abigail who was born in 1646 and died June 04, 1729. Abigail married Jacob Foster on February 26, 1665/66 in Ipswich. Jacob’s 4th g-granddaughter, Laura Maria Foster, married Horace French.

In September 1636, Robert was appointed Town Clerk and Clerk of the Court of Ipswich and continued to hold that position until his death. His duties included what would now be considered Clerk of Probate and Register of Deeds. As Marshal, he is said to have served more than twenty years in the Indian wars and became so inured to camp life and exposure that he could never afterwards sleep upon a feather bed. He is said to have been below the medium stature, but of powerful mold and one of the most athletic, strong, and fearless men in the Colonial service.

In 1660, Henry KingsbuScreen Shot 2016-07-06 at 8.55.22 PMry sold his home and land on High Street to Robert Lord for “two oxen in hand — 5 pounds to be paid Robert Paine and 40s to Edmund Bridges” (to perhaps settle debts?).  The Henry Kingsbury – Robert Lord House, 52 High Street still stands and was featured in Stories from Ipswich, a fine blog about the history of Ipswich.

Background: Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation, Vol 4


FREEMAN’S NEW OATH (Post 1636)

Being by God’s providence, an Inhabitant, and Freeman, within the Jurisdiction of this Commonwealth; do freely acknowledge my self to be subject to the Government thereof: And do therefore do here swear by the great and dreadful Name of the Ever-living God, that I will be true and faithfull to the same, and will accordingly yield assistance & support thereunto, with my person and estate, as in equity I am bound; and will also truly endeavor to maintain and preserve all the liberties and priveliges thereof, submitting my self to the wholesome Lawes & Orders made and established by the same. And further, that I will not plot or practice any evill against it, or consent to any that shall so do; but will timely discover and reveal the same to lawful Authority now here es- tablished, for the speedy prevention thereof. Moreover, I doe solemnly bind my self in the sight of God, that when I shall be called to give my voyce touching any such matter to this State, in which Freemen are to deal, I will give my vote and suffrage as I shall judge in mine own conscience may best conduce and tend to the public weal of the body. So help me God in the Lord Jesus Christ.

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Stephen Douglas’ Pistol

Once again, Walter French is in the middle of history.  This time a widely distributed newspaper story tells of Walter’s purchase of a derringer, with a inscription of S.A. Douglas on the handle.  Of course, Walter knows who to consult to see if it was once owned by Stephen A. Douglas, the Democratic Party nominee for president in the 1860 election, losing to Republican Abraham Lincoln.  See, Walter happens to know a ‘kinsman’ of Douglas by the name of James Madison Cutts, Jr., the only American to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor three times!

(Biography – Arlington National Cemetery) “Colorful” hardly describes the career of this Union officer. From a prominent family and a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School, Cutts joined the army in 1861 and was awarded a triple Medal of Honor, the only such medal ever issued, for bravery at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Petersburg. However, the medal was not given until 1891, the delay due in part to a string of career-busting events. These include being caught peering over the transom at a married woman while she undressed, refusing a challenge to a duel, three courts-martial, involvement with a pyromaniac army doctor, ripping the chevrons off one soldier’s uniform and hitting another so hard that Cutts broke his own hand, and seizing property owned by an influential carpetbagger.

Stephen_Arnold_Douglas

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Walter’s in the House

Cap1871

U.S. House of Representatives – Mr. Walter H. French, of Boston Mass., who has been appointed Journal Clerk in place of Mr. Smith, who resigned, took his place today. 

May 1, 1876 – Alexandria Gazette (Virginia)

Walter Henry French Jr. was born on December 2, 1837 in Lowell, Massachusetts to Walter and Sarah (Bowers) French.  Walter Jr. is my 1st cousin-4x removed.  His grandfather, Luther French, is my 4th great grandfather.  (Story about Walter Jr.’s father, who died in a train accident – Ticket Punched, the Death of Walter French)

On May 5, 2016, the U.S. House, Office of the Historian, published an article entitled,  An Early Effort by the House of Representatives to Preserve Its Records.   The article noted that in 1899, Walter urged Congress to protect and preserve congressional records, stating “the extreme heat in summer from the iron roof and the dampness in winter from the condensation of hot air coming against the cold iron of the roof renders the place unfit for documents of such value.

Walter Jr. is a genealogists dream, an interesting life in Washington D.C. ripe with political history and well documented.  He was frequently noted for his  extensive collection of scrapbooks full of newspaper and periodical clippings and for his knack for uncovering priceless documents.  To keep this post manageable, I am providing links to newspaper articles in which Walter was referenced.  I believe Walter enjoyed being mentioned in the news and he was even able to document his imminent demise…several times! Click here for the rest of the story!

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 9.01.50 PMIn 1857, Walter moved from New Hampshire to Washington D.C. and worked as a clerk/manager at the National Hotel.  He came to Washington with Franklin Tenney  who “assumed charge” of the National, which had been closed following a “mysterious and fatal sickness that had broken out among its guests.”  Tenny was married to Mehitable Swett Varnum who was a niece of Brigadier General James Varnum of Revolutionary War fame and of Bradley Varnum who was at one time Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.   This political connection appears to have played an important role in Walter’s life.  In 1876, he was appointed as journal clerk for the U.S. House of Representatives.

However, in December 1877, Walter was removed and replaced by Albert Lamar of Georgia.  Lamar was clerk for the Congress of the Confederate States (CCS)  from May 1862 to March 1865 at Richmond, Virginia.  Just how a avowed secessionist and former clerk for the CCS became a clerk for the U.S. House of Representatives twelve years after the end of the Civil War is a mystery?

Following his dismissal, Walter moved to Boston and later New York City where he opened an office on Wall Street, working as a stock broker.  According to his obituary, three times he made and lost his fortune playing the market as a plunger.  To quote P.J. O’Rourke, “Giving assets to a stock market plunger is like giving beer and car keys to teenage boys.” A plunger makes daring emotional investments, risking a large percentage of capital on a single trade.  By the age of 45 he was out of the market and back in Boston were he tried his hand in politics, supporting the Democratic Party.



(Images) 1876 Appointment/1877 Removed from Clerk Post (2)/ 1891 Appointment/ Failed Doorkeeper Vote 1878/ Members All at Horse Races 1904 (Click Image to View Articles)


Walter’s support of Democrats paid off in 1891 when he was appointed file clerk for the U.S. House of Representatives for the 52nd United States Congress.  His dedication to the preservation of legislative records and knowledge of congressional procedure made him a respected staff member and a gifted researcher for drafting legislation.

In a way, he was google before google with Members of Congress referring to him as a human cyclopedia. Walter was a dedicated keeper of scrapbooks (newspaper and periodical clippings) for over 20 years.  He is quoted as saying, “I think all public men should keep scrapbooks, they are a handy reference and when kept in order you can find in a moment the history of any measure o r or question.”  According to news article, Walter was also in possession of autographs and of rare old public documents, or discovered rare documents:



(Images) First Lady Martha Washington’s Letter & Signature/ England Endorsed It/ Mrs. Lincoln’s Pension Petition (Click Image to View News Article)

DW(Image) Daniel Webster’s Pants – When a question arose in 1894 regarding the new statue of Daniel Webster in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol, specifically about the cut of his trousers, they turned to Walter French.   Walter, as was his nature did have an answer, he just happened to know the tailor in Boston who measured and cut Webster’s trousers!

Personating Presidents – Walter happened to resemble (and cultivate his resemblance to) President Grover Cleveland.  In 1899, an article was published, becoming a national sensation, about individuals who were misidentified as being “presidential.” (Sacramento Daily Union – March 22 ,1899)

Dead Almost, Then Dead for Real

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 12.57.47 PMOn several occasions, it was reported in newspapers that Walter was seriously ill and near death, as was his nature he collected and took great pleasure in these articles.  When death did finally come in 1904, Walter was in Wiesbaden, Germany on an European tour that included visits to England, Italy, Greece and France.  Walter was remembered as one of the best liked men in Washington with close friends among members of Congress and those who frequented the building.  Following his death, Congress approved payment for expenses associated with his illness and funeral and a sum equal to six months of his salary ($1,375). The last item to share is a thoughtful, long obituary that sketches Walter’s life and times.

Col. French is Dead(Front Page) Evening Star August 15, 1904.

Payment

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Home Sweet Home

In 1935, the Federal Writers’ Project was created  as part of the United States Work Progress Administration (WPA) to provide employment.  One of these projects in Connecticut was the Architectural Survey, Census of Old Buildings.  According to a description provided by the Connecticut State Library, nearly 5,000 buildings were documented and often illustrated with photographs.  Included in this collection is the home (built by/for) my 5th great-grandparents Samuel Eggleston (1747-1837) and Dorcas (Loomis) Eggleston (1752-1834). How cool is it to see the house, which still stands, that several generations of the Spencer and Eggleston families lived in!

  • Samuel was a farmer and “possessed a character of an old Puritan stamp” (love that description); was a soldier of the Revolution and lived in Bloomfield Connecticut.  Served in Capt. Skinner’s company of light horse in the Revolutionary War. (The History of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut, Vol. 2.)
  • I previously posted a story about Samuel and his petition to obtain a Revolutionary War pension.  You Fought in the American Revolution – Prove It!

S.Eggleston

Architectural Survey Information

Title: Bloomfield historic building 023

Date [built] (Source): 1780 (marker)

Original Owner: Samuel Eggleston

Present Owner [1935-37]: F. L. Putnam; Julia and Frank Spencer

Julia and Frank Spencer were the son and daughter of John W. and Anna Spencer (my 2nd great grandparents), their other daughter, Alma Spencer, was married to Frank L. Putnam. (Who is sitting in the shadows on the porch?)

Location: Faces south on Park Avenue, corner of School Street.

Description [Material]: Wood

Roof: Peak (rather flat)

Chimney Type/No.of: Brick / end / 3, 1 in ell

Height: Two stories and half (small)

Ell:  2 1/2 story rear ell with brick central chimney.

Fenestration: 9 window front; paired; 6/1 sash.

Overhang: None

Foundation:  Brick

Condition – Physical: Good

Authenticity: Remodeled

Exterior: Side porch. Rear additions. Clapboarded walls.

Interior: One fireplace. Original front stairs.

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The Eggleston House in 2015

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Happy 2016 – Pura Vida!

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Pura Vida – Spanish for “Pure Life” and a description of the Tico lifestyle.

A year-end vacation to Costa Rica provided a wonderful way for our family to close out 2015.  Our travels took us into the cloud/rain forests of the northern region near the Arenal volcano and to the Guanacaste region on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast.  We enjoyed amazing hikes, wonderful food, swimming and snorkeling in the warm, salty water of the Pacific and time together. Costa Rica, as a result of its unique geography, has a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including toucans, three-toed sloths, iguanas and lots of hummingbirds.  Pura Vida!

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Sinner, a Hamburger and a Tsarina

This is a story of immigration on a global scale. The starting point for the tale is Helen Maul, the daughter of Henry and Anna Maul.  Her father, Henry or Heinrich, was born in Norka, Russia, a 4th generation Volga-German.  Although Henry represented the 4th generation of Maul’s born in Russia, when he came to America he identified as a German.

Helen was born and raised in Hastings, Nebraska and later married Jack Cronin.  Helen Cronin is my daughter’s maternal great grandmother.

Catherine763.jpg.pagespeed.ic.nKSWQjT8OKIn 1763, Russia’s tsarina Catherine the Great signed a manifesto inviting foreigners to settle in Russia. A German national herself, Catherine’s decree marked the beginning of the journey of the Maul family from Germany to Russia and then America. As we move back through the generations, Maul men married women who were Sinner’s and Hamburger’s. These families moved from Germany to Russian in an effort to escape religious strife and economic hardship. A century after the first Germans settled in Russia, Czar Alexander III revoked many of the privileges promised to them by Catherine the Great and it was time to find another promised land.

Click here to see the rest of the story!

Manifesto2The manifesto promised the immigrants: exemption from military service, self-governance, freedom of language, tax breaks, initial financial aid, 75 acres of land per settler family, and “the free and unrestricted practice of their religion according to the precepts and usage of their Church.”

VolgarivermapBetween 1763 and 1768 more than 25,000 Germans established 104 colonies in Russia. The families highlighted in this story resided in Isenburg, which was a former county located in the German state of Hessen near Frankfurt and settled in Norka, Russia. The trip to the Volga region of Russian (map) was no easy exploit; it was a 1,600-mile trek from the Hesse region to Norka, Russia. It is estimated that 17% of those who attempted this journey did not survive the trip.

Tsar Alexander III in the 1870’s revoked Catherine’s privileges. Rather than face compulsory schooling in the Russian language and five years of service in the Russian Army, many Volga German families decided to emigrate to America.

The Hesse-Norka Families

Maul Family

  • Carl (Karl) Maul b: 1747 in Isenburg, Hesse, Germany d. 1799 in Norka, Russia Married: Anna Margaretha Doerr b: 1749 in Hesse, Germany d. 1798 Norka, Russia.

Original Norka settler, 1st wife Anna Margaretha Dörr, 2nd wife Margaretha Weigandt in 1775, daughter of Konrad Weigandt.  Carl was an apprentice to Konrad Weigandt, a craftsman from Isenburg. Reformed faith church, farmer from Isenburg, arrived in Oranienbaum (not far from St. Petersburg) on Sept. 9, 1766 by the ship Elephant, arrived in Norka colony on Aug. 15, 1767.

  • Johannes Maul b: ABT 1784 in Norka, Balzer, Saratov, Russia d. 1819 Russia. Married: ?
  • Conrad Maul b: 22 Aug 1809 in Norka, Russia d. 1876 in Norka, Russia. Married: Anna Margaretha Gobel b: 26 Jul 1812 in Norka, Russia d. 1851 Russia.
  • Heinrich Maul b: 2 Feb 1835 in Norka, Russia d. 1888 in Norka, Russia. Married: Magdalena Hamburger b: 21 Oct 1835 in Norka, Russi.
  • Heinrich Maul b. 17 Sep 1863 in Norka, Russia. Married: Elisabeth Sinner b: 3 Sep 1862 in Norka, Russia.
  • Heinrich Jacob Maul b. 1 Apr 1886 in Norka, Russia. Married: Anna Schwenninger b: 1887 in Iowa, USA.  Daughter: Helen May (Cronin) b. 1919.

Hamburger Family

Hamburger's

Hamburger Family

  • Johannes Hamburger b: 1744 in Isenburg, Hesse, Germany d. 1821 Norka,Russia. Arrived in Norka colony on 15 Aug 1767. Handicraftsman, Tailor – Reformed Church. Married: Anna Catharina Bauer b: 1747 in Germany.

Johannes brother, Philipp, served in the Hesse-Hanau Regiment of the Crown Prince on the side of the British in the American Revolution. During this time he was captured and ransomed.

  • Philip Hamburger b: 1775 in Norka, Balzer, Saratov, Russia d. 1829 Norka, Russia. Married: Elisabeth Huck b: 23 Nov 1777 in Norka, Russia.
  • Johannes Hamburger b: 15 Mar 1808 in Norka, Russia. Married: Catharina Schreiber b: 2 Feb 1808 in Norka, Russia. ( I believe both are in photo above)
  • Magdalena Hamburger b. 1835 in Norka, Russia.  Married Heinrich Maul.

Sinner Family

  • Johann Sinner b: Abt 1715 in Isenburg, Hesse, Germany Married: Anna Maria ? b: Abt 1720 in Isenburg, Hesse, Germany.
  • Conrad Sinner b: Abt 1747 in Isenburg, Hesse, Germany. Married: Elisabeth ? b: 1752 in Isenburg, Hesse, Germany.
  • Johann Heinrich Sinner b: Abt 1774 in Balzer, Saratov, Russia. Married: Elisabeth Loos b: 25 Sep 1776 in Norka, Russia.
  • Conrad Sinner b: 1 Aug 1798 in Norka, Balzer, Saratov, Russia. Married: Margaretha Koehler b: 22 Jan 1801 in Norka, Russia.
  • Georg Heinrich Sinner b: 11 Oct 1823 in Norka, Russia d. 1885 in Russia. Married: Magdalena Scheidemann b: 19 Dec 1826 in Norka, Russia.
  • Elizabeth Sinner b. 3 Sep 1862 in Norka, Russia. Married: Heinrich Maul Jr. on 5 Feb 1885 in Norka.

Captain Jonathan, Gentleman

JnoDanforthThe following story is about Jonathan Danforth, my 8th great grandfather.  Jonathan was born on February 28, 1627 in Framlingham, England and died at the age of 85 on September 7, 1712 in Billerica, Massachusetts.  By all historical accounts, he was a respected community leader and a gifted surveyor. In the inventory of his estate, he is referred to as “Captain Jonathan, Gentleman.”

Part Two touches on Jonathan’s involvement and response to conflicts between Native Americans and colonists.  The closing part provides a brief story about Jonathan’s brother, Thomas Danforth, who played a role in the Salem witch trials.

Click here to see the rest of the story!

Part One – Early New England Colonist, Gifted Surveyor, Community Leader

When Jonathan was five years old, he came to America with his father, Nicholas Danforth, brothers Thomas and Samuel and his three sisters, Anna, Lydia, and Elizabeth. Jonathan’s mother had died a week before he was a year old.

The Danforth family sailed on the Griffin, departing England on August 1,1634 arriving in Boston on September 18. The Griffin weighed 300 tons and carried about one hundred passengers and cattle for the colonies plantations. It is believed that he spent his youth in New-Towne (later Cambridge) living with his father until his death in 1638 and then lived with an elder, married sister. At the age of twenty, he left Cambridge and was a founding father of Billerica, Massachusetts. He married Elizabeth Poulter in Boston on November 22, 1654 and together they had eleven children.  Elizabeth died on October 7, 1689. Their daughter, Sarah (1676-1747), married William French (my 7th great-grandfather).

Jonathan was a noted land surveyor and his descriptions of this service fill some 200 pages in the first volume of Land Grants. He held many public offices: deputy for the town, town clerk, selectman and he also represented the town at the General Court in 1684/5.Survey of Samuel Nowell Farm by Jno. Danforth, 1679

“He rode the circuit, chain’d great towns and farm, To good behavior, and by well marked stations, He fixed their bounds for many generations.  His art ne’er failed him, though the loadstone faile.  When oft by mines and streams it was assailed.  All this is charming, but there’s something higher.  Gave him the lustre which we most admire.” Poem by his nephew, the Rev. John Danforth of Dorchester.

Part Two – King Philip’s War and the Fate of Indian Children

It was also an especially bloody war—the bloodiest, in terms of the percentage of the population killed, in American history. The figures are inexact, but out of a total New England population of 80,000, counting both Indians and English colonists, some 9,000 were killed—more than 10 percent. Two-thirds of the dead were Indians, many of whom died of starvation. Indians attacked 52 of New England’s 90 towns, pillaging 25 of those and burning 17 to the ground. The English sold thousands of captured Indians into slavery in the West Indies. New England’s tribes would never fully recover. Blood and Betrayal: King Philip’s War

Starting in 1646, colonists began to establish “praying towns” in an effort to convert New England tribes to Christianity.  By the year 1675, there were an estimated 1,100 Praying Indians in Massachusetts located in fourteen Praying Towns. These towns were situated so as to serve as an outlying wall of defense for the colony. Wamesit, a praying town, was located within five miles of Billerica.

Jonathan Danforth served during King Philip’s War under Major Daniel Gookin. The town of Billerica had twelve garrison houses, each was providing a defensive space for four to seven families. The homes of Jonathan Danforth and Jacob French’s (8th great grandfather) house both served in this capacity.  During the war, Daniel Gookin, Jonathan and Thomas Danforth were protective of their neighbors, the Praying Indians, resulting in threats on their lives for interceding….

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Following the war, some Indian children where placed into servitude in the homes of local residents where they “were to be provided religious education and taught to read the english tounge.”  According to published accounts, “a boy of twelve, son to Papa Meck, alias Dauid, late of Warwick or Cowesit, Rhode Island, was apportioned or bound out to Jonathan Danforth.” The boy, later known as John Warrick died on January 15, 1686 at Billerica.

The following extract from the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 1854 (Indian Children Put to Service) provides a listing of the children, the names and status of their parents and to whom they were been placed.

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Part III – Thomas Danforth – Judge not lest ye be judged

Thomas DanforthJonathan’s brother Thomas Danforth (portrait) was the first treasurer for Harvard College and elected president of the province of Maine, then independent of the colony of Massachusetts.  One published account observed, “Perhaps the most intriguing characteristic of Thomas Danforth was his willingness to stand up for his convictions despite opposition.”  Considered a progressive advocate for colonists’ rights, he also was persecuted for his decent treatment of the Praying Indians during King Philip’s War.

Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth traveled to Salem in the early months of 1692 as part of a preliminary inquiry into the matter of witchcraft being practiced.  He was not appointed to serve as one of nine judges name to the Court of Oyer and Terminer (hear and determine) established for the Salem witch trials and was vocal in his distaste for the manner the witchcraft proceedings were conducted.  As a demonstration of his sympathy for those swept up in the hysteria, he provided sanctuary on his own property (Danforth Plantation) for Salem families seeking asylum, including Sarah Cloyes and her husband and children. (Check out this great post – Witch Caves & Salem End Road)

Additional Sources:

History of Framingham, Early Known as Danforth’s Farms 1640-1880; with a Genealogical Register by Temple, Josiah Howard; published Framingham 1887.

The Danforth Family in America – Fifth Meeting; published Boston 1886

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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