Sunday, April 7, 2013

Benjamin Blanchard and Mary Abbott of Andover MA and Hollis NH

Benjamin Blanchard was the son of Jonathan and Anne Lovejoy Blanchard of Andover, MA. He was born on 14 Feb. 1692/3.  I doubt the Puritans would have been celebrating St. Valentine's Day, so this would have been a day  like any other. On Dec 29, 1718 he married Mary Abbott, daughter of Nathaniel and Dorcas Hibbert Abbott, also from Andover.  

October 1739 a bad year 
After their marriage the family steadily grew as did most good puritan families, adding a child every two years or so. Altogether they would have 12 children, all born in Andover.  Their 10th child, Abiel, was born in September 1737. On October 13, 1739 Benjamin and Mary's nine year old daughter Dorcas died, Abiel died two days later on the 15th. The next day eleven year old Jonathan died and finally on the 19th, seven year old David passed away. Four children dead in six days. 

The children all died of Scarlatina, a form of Scarlet Fever, which they called a "throat distemper". The disease began ravaging New England families in 1735. It was not uncommon for families to be decimated by the disease. In Andover four families lost a combined 14 children in 72 hours. In an age without antibiotics there was nothing the family could do other than try to comfort the sick children. 

Mary was pregnant at the time of the epidemic and gave birth to a son, who they called David, in February of the next year. David died two months later.  It was very common for parents at that time to "recycle" a name, Benjamin and Mary did this twice.  They would have one last child, called Abiel, born in 1741, tragically he would die before his second birthday.

new beginnings
By 1742, at the age of 50, Benjamin left Andover for West Dunstable with what was left of his family. Although West Dunstable was in Massachusetts in 1741, when the border between Massachusetts and New Hampshire was redrawn, the residents found themselves living in New Hampshire. The name Benjamin Blanchard appears in the early town records beginning in 1743. (There was a second Blanchard family living in Hollis at the same time. They are thought to have been descended from the original Thomas Blanchard who immigrated to the Bay Colony.)

The move was a new beginning for his children as well as Benjamin, each married and began their families in Hollis. Benjamin Jr. eventually left Hollis and moved north to Canterbury, NH.  Benjamin Sr. is said to have gone with him and died there around 1770, but there does not seem to be any evidence of this. There is no record for his wife Mary after the birth of her last child. 

The first town meeting of Hollis was called in 1746, Benjamin was elected fence viewer. He or his son Benjamin Jr. held various post until they left Hollis for Canterbury. 

children of Benjamin and Mary:

Mary b. 10 Nov 1719 m. Edward Taylor, they lived in Hollis and had five children between 1749 and 1757

Benjamin Jr. b. 13 March 1720/21  my ancestor

Anne b. 1722 m. Jonathan Danforth of Billerica in 1743, sadly he died in 1747 in Hollis
their children lived in Hollis. Jonathan was one of the first to recieve land in Hollis before 1741. He was a surveyor and laid out town boundaries for the new town.

Jacob b. 11 May 1723 m. Rebecca Lawrence of Dunstable in 1745 d. unknown, has at least two children, both boys named Jacob the second born in 1753

Joshua b. 28 May 1726 m. Sarah Burge in Hollis in 1747 they had at least six children born in Hollis between 1748 and 1760

Jonathan b. 7 Feb 1727/8 d. 16 Oct 1739
Dorcas b. 28 March 1729/30 d. 13 Oct 1739
David b. 14 Feb 1731 d. 19 Oct 1739
Elizabeth b. b. 17 May 1733/4 no further info
Abiel b. 25 Sept 1737 d. 19 Oct 1739
David b. 19 Feb 1739/40 d. April 1740
Abiel b. 20 Oct 1741 d. 28 Jan 1743

Vital Records of Andover     Vital Records of Andover on the Web

"History of the Town of Hollis, New Hampshire from its first settlement until the year 1789", A. Williams and Company, Boston, 1889

James Otis Lyford, "History of the Town of Canterbury, New Hampshire,1727-1912", Rumford, 1912

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Thomas Hastings and Sarah White of Littleton, MA

Thomas Hastings, son of John and Abigail Hammond Hastings, was born in Watertown, MA on 26 September 1697. He married Sarah White, daughter of Andrew and Sarah Sanderson White, also of Watertown.  Thomas and Sarah left Watertown for Lexington, MA, a mere 5 miles away, where he worked as a cordwainer, now known as a shoemaker.  Thomas and Sarah probably married in 1717 as their first child was born in January of 1718. Most of their children were born and baptized  in Lexington, Abigail, born in 1736 seems to have been the first one born in Littleton. Littleton was first settled by in 1686 and incorporated in 1714, so it was a fairly new settlement when the Hasting family arrived.  

Children of Thomas and Sarah:
Hephzibah b. Jan 11, 1718 m. Thomas Powers 1741 in Littleton, d. 1789 Monson, NH
Elizabeth b. March 31, 1720
Thaddeus b. Feb. 21, 1722 died the next Sept.
Keziah b. July 7, 1723 m. Benjamin Blanchard   my ancestor
Josiah b. July 26, 1724 m. Mary Hartwell in 1757 in Littleton
Thomas Jr. b. Sept. 25, 1725 d. Sept 14, 1746
Submit b. Oct 15, 1729 (not sure if this is a boy or girl)
Sarah b. Dec 3, 1731
Ester b. June 3, 1733 d. May 8 1756 age 22
Abigail b. April 5, 1736 in Littleton m. John Warren
Andrew b. July 15, 1738 d. 1749 Chesterfield, NH m. Sarah Stone in 1761 in Littleton
Ruhamah b. Dec 5, 1740 m. Jospeh Craigin Dec 8, 1761

Thomas died in Littleton on 14 May 1747.  Sarah his widow was granted administration of his estate.  There is no record of the death of Sarah his wife, she did not die in July 1723 as so many trees and other sites show.  

Related Posts:

Hardwood, Smith, "Records of Littleton, MA", Concord, MA, 1900
Wright & Potter, " Records of Births, Marriages and Deaths to January 1, 1898, Lexington, MA, 1898

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Friday, April 5, 2013

John Hastings and Abigail Hammond Hastings of Watertown

John Hastings was born on 1 March 1654 to Deacon Thomas and Margaret Cheney Hastings in Watertown, Massachusetts. On June 18 1679 he married Abigail, daughter of Lt. John and Abigail Hammond also of Watertown. They had at least two things in common. First, they were both first generation American-Europeans and second, their fathers were two of the most important men in their hometown of Watertown.  

"a true maide"
Although the Puritans had taken religion out of the marriage ceremony, which was conducted by a magistrate rather than a minister, they keep a close eye on the bride, or at least her belly, to ensure that no impropriety or amoral behavior escaped punishment. Abigail found herself under scrutiny when she gave birth to her first child only 26 weeks after her marriage to John. In court she, her mother and other local women testified that they baby was very small and sickly when born and Abigail swore that she went to her marriage bed "a true maide".  There is no record of the courts decision, they were probably influenced by the grandfather's high standing in society.  I doubt that a 26 week preemie stood much of a chance of survival in 1679, so I would wager a guess that Miss Abigail was telling a fib to the court. 

This was the second time one of Thomas Hastings sons had been in court for premarital problems.  His eldest son was accused of fathering an illegitimate child which dragged through the courts for some considerable time. This must have been quite an embarrassment to a man who was a Deacon of his church. 

daily life
The Hastings made their home in Watertown, the area where they lived eventually became part of a new town, Waltham when it was incorporated in 1738.   
Not much is known about them.  His father, Thomas, died in 1685 and hers, John, died in 1690.  Presumably they both inherited a substantial amount from their successful parents.  John and Abigail were buried in a joint grave, their headstone remains today, one of the tangibles of their lives.  John died in March 1718/19 and Abigail ten days later in April. 

Headstone of John and Abigail Hastings

Children of John and Abigail
Abigail b. December 8, 1669, m. John Warren, d. 1710 aged 31, left 5 children
John b. not recorded
Samuel b. 1695
William b. not recorded
Hepsibah b. not recorded
Elizabeth b. not recorded
Thomas b. September 26, 1697, m. Sarah White,  d. 14 May 1747 Littleton, MA
Joseph b. abt. July 1699, bp. 10 July 1699, d. March 23, 1783

for my dad
Thomas Hastings married Sarah White = Kesiah Hastings married Benjamin Blanchard= Jonathan Blanchard married Phebe Carter = Chloe Blanchard married Samuel Thornton= John C. Thornton

Related Posts:
Thomas Hastings
Thomas and Sarah White Hastings
Andrew White

Lydia Nelson Hastings Buckminster, The Hastings Memorial, A Genealogical Account of the Descendants of Thomas Hastings of Watertown, Massachusetts in 1634 to 1864. 1866

M. Michelle Jarrett Morris, Under Household Government,Sex and Family in Puritan Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 2012, p. 163 

Thompson, Roger, Divided We Stand'; Watertown Massachusetts

Monday, April 1, 2013

Chasing Samuel Thornton My Elusive Ancestor, Or Is He?

First off I have to admit I have come no closer to finding my elusive ancestor, Samuel Thornton. That said, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that he is NOT my ancestor. I am sure you are shaking you head saying that I am wrong, because our ancestry is all documented in that great book by Charles Thornton Adams. So let me start with the book.

the book
Printed in New York in 1905, the book is entitled "The Family of James Thornton, Father of Hon. Matthew Thornton". The author attempts to trace all the descendants of James Thornton, who with his family immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1720 from Londonderry, Ireland.  Charles Adams seems to have done a great job of rooting out the families of James' children, each having a fairly comprehensive bio of their life and their descendants down to those living in the year the book was published.  This included my great grandfather John Clark Thornton. John it is said is a descendant of Samuel Thornton, brother of Hon. Matthew Thornton, signer of the Declaration of Independence for the state of New Hampshire.  For the history lovers in my family, myself included, this connection to a historical figure is not only fascinating but a point of pride.

samuel #1
I have always been very disappointed in Samuel's bio in the Adams book.  He has only one page to his name, while all the sibling have much more comprehensive bios.  Even the sisters have much more written about them.  So for those unfamiliar with the Adams manuscript, here is what he has to say about Samuel:
Samuel Thornton, brother of Hon. Matthew Thornton, lived at Campton, N. H. and later at Hatley and Stanstead, Quebec, Canada.  He is said to have married twice and had 22 children, eleven by each wife.  By the second wife he had the following children:  1. Samuel b. 1775   2. Reuben   3. Sarah   4. Abram    5. Catherine   6. Dorcas b. 1779   7. Eleanor         8. William  9. Sumner  10. Hannah   11. ? 
I put the words "he is said" in bold to emphasize how little of this bio is based on documented facts.  In truth the only facts in that paragraph are that his son Samuel was born in 1775 and daughter Dorcas was born in 1779. There is nothing to prove or disprove for that matter that Samuel lived either in Campton or Hatley.  There is absolutely no records that I can find that give any hint of who he was or where he lived. And, how does a man have 22 children and yet only two of them are even remotely traceable? Even with a high infant and child mortality rate you would think that at least a third of them would have survived.

samuel #2
The Adams manuscript next addresses Samuel 2, son of Samuel 1, and this is what he says of him:
Samuel 2, married (1802) Catherine Baker, of Campton, N.H.  She is said to have been related to Lord Chatham of England.  Their children, born between 1805 and 1819, were:  1. David.  2. Hannah.  3.  William.  4. Chester.  5. Sally.  6.  Matthew  7. Samuel.  8.  John
Samuel 2, when 17 years of age, went to London, England.  He adopted a system of coking which gave him great success among the iron masters near London. He returned to America and settled in Wheelock, Vt.
Let me start by saying that if Catherine Baker was related to Lord Chatham, AKA William Pitt the Prime Minister of England, I cannot find the connection. Her ancestors were almost all in the colonies by the mid 1600's, so I am pretty sure that tidbit is fiction.   I also have a problem with the part about Samuel going to London at age 17, and wooing the Iron Masters of London with his mastery of a coking system.  Why would a farm boy of 17 go to London in 1792, where I'm sure Americans were not too popular.  He then amazes the Iron makers in London and by age 23 returns to New Hampshire and once again becomes a farmer. Nothing in that makes any sense to me.

records and facts
In 1797 Samuel's name appeared on a tax list for Campton, NH.  He was not a resident of the town but he did own some land there.  In 1799 and 1800 his name was listed as a tax payer in Thornton and a land owner in Campton.    In 1801 he was listed as a land owner and resident of Campton. In 1802 he married Catherine Baker of Campton.  The records for the Thornton tax list jump from 1800 to 1816 so I don't know if he still owned land there.  Also on the tax list for Campton in 1800 was John Durgin who would marry Samuel's sister Dorcas in 1802.  Samuel remained on the Campton tax list until 1806 when his name was gone.  In 1808 his second child, a son named David, was born in Hatley, Quebec, where the family remained for many years.

putting it together
So who does this sound like: lived at Campton and later Hatley,Quebec?  It sounds like the bio for Samuel 1. Samuel 2 was in the 1825 census for Hatley, after that he is next found in the 1840 census for Wheelock, Vermont. He was then 65 years old.  This can hardly be described as "he returned from London and settled in Wheelock".  I think that Adams took the info he had on Samuel 2 and mistakenly applied it to Samuel 1.  
So who do I think was the father of Samuel 2. I think it was William Thornton, also a brother of the Hon. Matthew.

William married Dorcas Little by 1744, together they had six children that lived to adulthood. Dorcas died in 1763 when the family lived in New York.  William left NY and returned to New Hampshire in 1774. He was in Thornton, NH by 1775. He married for a second time, either in NY or NH to a woman named Elinor.  William died in 1790.  At the time of his death he left three children under the age of 7: Abram, Sarah and Catherine.  His will was finally probated in 1798 and Elinor, who had already remarried, received her dower land.  This second wife and second set of children are completely left out of the Adams manuscript. Could William be the man with two wives and 22 children?

If William were the father of Samuel and Dorcas then the list of his second set of children looks like this:
1. Samuel  2. Dorcas 3. Abram  4. Catherine  5. Sarah. Throw in a wife named Elinor and it starts to look a  lot like the names of the children of Samuel 1.  

If William was not the father of Samuel and Dorcas, how did they get to Thornton, where did they live, who did they live with?  Their sister Catherine Thornton, who never married, also lived in Thornton.  She is in the 1830 census and later lives with Dorcas' family.  To my mind, given the total lack of info on Samuel speaks more to the possibility that he died young without children than the idea that he ran off to Quebec during the American Revolution.
What do you think?


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