Sunday, February 24, 2019

Major John Thornton (1753-1819) Schenectady, New York

early life
John Thornton is my 4x great uncle. Born in Schenectady, in the Colony of New York to my great grandfather William Thornton and his first wife Dorcas Little Thornton. Shortly after the families arrival in New York the last of the French and Indian Wars broke out. As they had left their home in Dublin, New Hampshire on account of the Indian troubles, I'm sure they were wondering what they had gotten themselves into. Fort William Henry, made famous by the book and movie, Last of the Mohicans,  was only about 100 or so away from their home.

After the war ended, the Thornton's get on with the business of life. William purchased land in Curriesbush, now called Princetown. John's mother Dorcas died there in 1763. William purchased additional land in 1771. Life seemed to be on track, until a small event called the American Revolution began to pick up steam. At some point before 1773 William and his new wife, Eleanor and their small children, Dorcas and Samuel, returned to New Hampshire to settle in the new town, named by his brother Matthew; Thornton, New Hampshire. Two of his older children returned with them, William and Matthew. Four of his children stayed behind, James, John, Thomas and Mary. 

war years
James, the eldest of the sons to stay in New York was 29 years old in 1773 and married to a wife of Dutch descent. He had a young family. I suspect that he took over William's farm in Curriesbush. Thomas and John were nearing maturity and chose to stay as well. I'm surprised that Mary Thornton, a young lady of 19, also stayed behind. The Thornton's had a large extended family in the area, there were numerous Wasson and Little cousins, perhaps they were well settled and did not want to leave. For whatever the reason, the family split in two. 

The Mohawk Valley saw some of the most brutal fighting during the long eight years of the war. Bands of Tories and their Indian allies swept through the Valley wreaking havoc as they passed. John's oldest brother James served several times with the local militia as did his Wasson cousins. John did not enlist until 1781, two years from the end of the war. He joined the 9 month levies raised by Colonel Marinus Willett. In 1782 he signed on for three years. The war was winding down, but the fighting continued in New York. In 1783, now promoted to Major, John Thornton took command of Fort Stanwix in far western New York. He remained in command until May of 1784. 

The highlight of his career, in my opinion, was the tour of the Mohawk Valley with General George Washington and General Clinton. Major Thornton escorted them from Fort Plain, commanded by his future father-in-law, Lt. Colonel Samuel Clyde, to Cherry Valley and Ostego Lake. Washington was interested in the future of the valley, he saw it had great potential and John was his guide. 

civilian life 
In July of 1784 John traveled to Philadelphia to be officially discharged from the army and to seek payment in arrears. In 1786 he purchased a 100 acre farm in Curriesbush, home to his brother James and his cousins. He married cousin Anna Clyde on 9 March 1789 in the Dutch Reformed church in Fonda, he was 36 years old.  

In 1790 John is listed in the census, living in Schenectady. 1810 he is recorded as living in Schenectady Ward 2. Ann, his widow lived in Schenectady Ward 1 in 1820. It seems in 1800 he lived in Albany and is recorded on the census there. 

John and Anna had five children. 

1. John Clyde Thornton b. 28 July 1793 b. 27 Feb. 1818 age 25 unmarried
2. Adelia b. 28 Aug 1797 d. 1897 age 100,  m. Volney Freeman
3. William Anderson Thornton b. 29 Aug 1802, d. 6 April 1866 Governor's Island, NY.
4. George J. C. Thornton, b. 1810 d. 1825, age 15.
5. Catherine Agnes b. 31 October 1806 d. Unmarried 17 November 1880. 

John Thornton applied for and received a pension for his service in during the American Revolution in 1818. He died the following year. Anna filed to receive his pension and was successful. She died in 1841. John, Ann, their sons John Clyde and George, and daughter Catherine Agnes are all buried together in Vale Cemetery in Schenectady. Their daughter Adelia is buried nearby with her husband and two infant children. I had the pleasure of standing beside their burial place. I have not been able to find a will or probate for John or Ann. 

John is featured in my book BLOOD IN THE VALLEY. The story of his first cousin and  mother-in-law Catherine Wasson Clyde and her family. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Joshua Thornton of Uxbridge, Massachusetts and Plymouth, New Hampshire; Fifer in the American Revolution

Joshua Thornton was a young boy from Uxbridge, Massachusetts who joined in the fight against England during the American Revolution at the tender age of eleven. He was a fifer. Uxbridge is near the Rhode Island border so it is possible that he belonged to the Rhode Island Thorntons. He does not appear to be related James Thornton of Londonderry, New Hampshire, although he ended up a neighbor of some of his descendants. He was adopted as a baby by Jonathan Penniman and his wife. 

April 1775
Immediately following the battles of Lexington and Concord, young Joshua Thornton enlisted with a group of Minutemen under Captain Wyman and Colonel Patterson. They marched to Charlestown, where he was present during the Battle of Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775. His unit did not participate in the fight but were guarding a redoubt between the hill and the river. 

Joshua was part of the Music Levies, the Fife and Drum Corp. The fife is an instrument similar to a piccolo. Fifers were noncombatants and ranged in age from 10 to 18. Along with the regimental drummers the fifers played musical signals to direct soldiers before, during and after battle.  Still, Joshua was just a child, what was his mother thinking!

At the end of eight months Joshua returned home to Uxbridge. He states that in December 1776 or January 1776 he left Massachusetts and settled in Moultonborough, New Hampshire with the Adna Penniman Family. 

March 1777
In March of 1777 Joshua reenlisted, again as a Fifer under Lieutenant Adna Penniman, his brother. He was still very young, only about 13 years of age. His company marched to Fort Ticonderoga in New York. Ticonderoga was soon evacuated in the face of General Burgoyne who was on the march from Canada. Joshua was in Skenesborough on guard duty, protecting vital stores when his company was forced to evacuated to Fort Ann, then Fort Edward and finally Fort Edward.  They were pushed as far as Cohoes Falls before General Gates ordered them into battle against Burgoyne at the Battle of Bemis Hills. 

Valley Forge
Immediately after the Battle of Bemis Heights Joshua's regiment marched to Valley Forge to join General George Washington. He and his fellow soldiers endured a terrible winter under exacting circumstances. During this time he was promoted to Fife Major. 

Sullivan Campaign
The 3rd New Hampshire returned to New York in support of General Sullivans expedition against the Indians of Western New York. Joshua was present at the Battle of Newtown and other skirmishes with the Indians and their Tory allies. In 1780, after three years of battle, Joshua returned home to Moultonsborough. What tales he must have told. The Penniman Family left Moultonsborough and Joshua with them, to settle in Plymouth, New Hampshire where he lived until 1805.

Joshua married in Plymouth on 24 November 1790, Hannah Nevins. They had four children, including two sons; Adna and William. She died in 1828 in Lyman. Joshua remarried a much younger Sarah Converse in 1830. She was 36, he was 66.  He was very successful, served as Justice of the Peace, Selectman and other civic positions. 

Following an act of Congress, men who could prove they fought during the American Revolution were awarded a pension. Joshua, applied on 14 August 1832, now an old man, 68, living in Lyman, New Hampshire with his wife Sarah Converse Thornton. For his service he was awarded $88.00 per year. 

Sarah continued to draw a pension after Joshua's death in 1843. 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

William Smith Bryan: A lesson in Fantastic 17th Century English/Irish Genealogy Sources

Sir Francis Bryan by Hans Holbien
I have been researching a man named William Smith Bryan, supposedly born in 1599 in Ireland who was deported by Cromwell in the mid-1600s during the Irish Rebellion. He is said to have been dropped off on the coast of Virginia with his family, belongings and the first horses in Virginia. His death is reported as sometime in 1667. Along the way I have been introduced to some 'new to me' sources for researching this period of time in England and Ireland. I thought I'd share them with you.

William Smith Bryan, (WSB) to be the son of Sir Francis Bryan #2, supposed son of the Sir Francis Bryan (1490-1550) English courtier and diplomat whose second wife was Joan Fitzgerald, widow and Irish heiress. They married in 1548 and he died under mysterious circumstances two years later. There is said to be little love lost between the pair whose marriage was one of strategic politics and had little to do with affairs of the heart. 

Houses of Parliament Online [1]
The William Smith Bryan ancestry claims that his father was a son of Sir Francis Bryan and possibly Joan Fitzgerald. Sir Francis Bryan married twice, his first wife was Penelope, daughter of Humphrey Spice. She died apparently childless sometime before Francis' marriage to Joan. According to his biography on the History of Parliament Online, Sir Francis Bryan was succeeded only by an unnamed illegitimate child. So here is our first great source on 17th century, and more important English personages. Here is their blurb about themselves:
This site contains all of the biographical, constituency and introductory survey articles published in The History of Parliament series. Work is still underway on checking and cleaning the data that has been transferred into the website from a number of sources, and the current version of the site is still provisional. In order to find out more about the articles produced by the History, click on the links in the 'Research' section above. Additional material - explanatory articles, and images of Members, Parliaments and elections - have been produced specially for the website, and can be found through the 'Explore' and 'Gallery' sections above. For more information on the History, see the About us section, follow us on Facebook and Twitter or read the HistoryOfParliament, Director and VictorianCommons blogs.
The History of Parliament online version is not yet finished, it covers members of Parliament from the year 1386 until modern times. The bios are brief but chock full of information.

What does this source tell us about Sir Francis Bryan #1 and his possible relationship to the father of Sir Francis Bryan of Ireland? Not much, it confirms that Sir Francis had a son, but he was illegitimate and unnamed.

Old Journal articles: Unpublished Geraldine Documents: The Earls of Desmond [2][3]
This is a small book, published in the 1800s, comprised of letters and other documents related to the Desmond Family. Included in this manuscript is a transcribed letter from Sir John Allen, Lord Chancellor to Ireland, to his brother, Thomas Allen. He sent instructions concerning the widow Joan Fitzgerald to the English Government. The letter describes a deathbed conversation between himself and Sir Francis Bryan. He claims Sir Francis said, "when he bade me farewell, he desired me to have him commended to all his friends in England, and especially he said to My Lord Privy Seal (Lord Cromwell), my Lord of Warwick and Mr. Herbert, and pray them to be good to my son, the poor boy, which my charge I commit to you to do, if you can attend to their presence to declare it." 

It seems clear that Sir Francis had a son. However, the need to recommend him to English nobles seems to confirm that he was not a legitimate son as he would inherit the estates of Sir Francis. To my mind this reads like the son would need the patronage of important men to help his career as his social standing based on birth was limited. 

Books in other languages: Odet de Selve [4]
Odet de Selve was a French politician/statesman who served in England 1546-1549 as Ambassador. he kept a journal which has been published. It is, of course, written in French. Thank goodness for Google Translator,  He wrote in September 1548:
Stratham, September 16th. - Selve received three days ago the dispatch that the admiral sent to him by the son of Sir Francis Bryan, who arrived safe and sound with and except with one of the people of Selve in London, from where he departed to go find his father. Earl of Bryant has for a short time been marrying an Irish citizen named the Comtesse de Ouarmont and is going to Ireland to party to see the good of his wife, but chiefly as I am sorry for the affairs of this king. 
Lesson learned, never overlook books in other languages! What this particular books tells us is that Sir Francis appears to have had a grown son, unnamed by Odet in 1548. He would likely to have been at least 21, so he could not have been a son of Joan Fitzgerald.

Wills, Probates, IPM [5][6]
Wills, probate records, and IPMs, (Inquisition Post Mortem) can add a lot to the genealogical record. The only problem with most of these 17th century wills is that they are either written in latin or if written in English they can be very difficult to read. No will has been found for Sir Francis Bryan and the disbursement of his land is unknown. I have seen mention made of Joan's will but have not seen the actual document or a transcription. This is a shame as it might have settle this dispute immediately or perhaps it would never had occurred in the first place. The one will I could find was for Margaret Brian, the mother of Sir Francis Bryan.

This will is written in English, but 17th century script is difficult to decipher, it's fun to try though, like putting a puzzle together. Margaret outlived all her children. She does not mention any grandchildren, not even a poor son of Francis.

A Wee bit O' Irish History
According to the story of WSB his father was Sir Francis Bryan #2. I have been unable to find any proof that this man was the son of Sir Francis #1, but that doesn't mean that he didn't exist. Let's look a litter closer at his story. According to his profile on both Wikitree and Geni, he was born in 1549 in County Clare in Ireland. Both websites agree he died in County Clare in 1640. Before I go on I have to same something about all these dates for births and deaths in the Bryan family. Did you notice, as I did, that everyone is born and dies on the 1st of June? This is a bright red flag that tells me someone is 'making this shit up', pardon my French.

Anyway, back to County Clare. Sir Francis #1 lived with his reluctant wife in Clonmel in Tipperary in the Province of Munster, a seat of power of the Earls of Ormond. Joan Fitzgerald's first husband was James Butler, 9th Earl of Ormond and her son Piers was his heir. After the death of Sir Francis, Joan married her powerful cousin, Gerald Fitzgerald, the 15th Earl of Desmond. The Desmond family also controlled a huge swath of Munster. Joan's father was the 10th Earl of Desmond. Joan's life was firmly planted int the Desmond/Ormond lands of her father and her son.

County Clare, despite it's Norman name, was part of the Kingdom of Thomond and home to the powerful Irish family the O'Briens.  No child of Sir Francis Bryan #1 would have been born in County Clare. He would not have inherited land in County Clare as his mother would not have inherited land in what was if not enemy territory certainly adversarial.

Knighthood [7]
According to his bio Francis father of WSB was a knight. This claim should be pretty easy to sort out. I reference a set of book called The knights of England : a complete record from the earliest time to the present day of the knights of all the orders of chivalry in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of knights bachelors, and guess what, there is no Sir Francis Bryan other than Sir Francis Bryan #1.

Land Owners of County Clare [8] [9]
From the story of WSB we are told that he was a land holder in County Clare. He married Catherine Morgan and had a large family at the time of Cromwell's invasion in 1641. County Clare has an amazing library which has a significant amount of content available online. One of the database which is searchable is the Book of Forfeitures and Distributions. Here is an explanation of this database:
The Books of Survey and Distribution were compiled by the English government at the end of the 17th century to establish a reliable record of landowners in Ireland for the purpose of imposing rent (the Quit Rent). The Books incorporate information collected during earlier surveys – the Strafford, Civil and Down Surveys – detailing the names of proprietors who forfeited their land under the Cromwellian Settlement of 1641 and the amount and quality of land they held. The names of those to whom this land was granted, under various Acts between 1662 and 1703, is also given. 
Guess whose name is not found on this survey of land owners whose lands were confiscated by Cromwell. There is no Sir Francis Bryan and there is no William Smith Bryan or just plain William Bryan. If WSB held extensive land in County Clare in 1641 his name would be on this survey.

There is also a book called The Irish And Anglo-Irish Landed Gentry, When Cromwell Came to Ireland: Or, a Supplement to Irish Pedigrees. Surely if WSB held land in Ireland which he lost when Cromwell busted him to Virginia, his name would appear somewhere in the 792 pages of this books, alas he is not to be found.

No WSB can be found on The Down Survey for Ireland., nor is he mentioned in the 1641 Depositions. 

Reclaiming forfeited land [10]
Francis Bryan, son of WSB returned to Ireland to reclaim his fathers hereditary titles and lands. So far we have seen no such land but there are books and data on those who did make a claim to recover their confiscated estates. There is a book aptly named Lists of the Claims as they are Entered With the Trustees at Chichester House on College Green Dublin On or Before the 10th of August 1700. This is a list of over 3100 claimants to lost land. There is no William Smith or Francis Bryan on this list.

What's the big deal with Denmark?
WSB married Catherine Morgan in Denmark. Why? What was he doing in Denmark, what was she doing in Denmark? This is so weird.

Francis Bryan #3, son of WSB goes to Ireland to reclaim his father's land. Somehow he ends up in Denmark where he marries Sarah Brinker. FB#3 dies in Belfast? Does no one else think this is crazy?
I think the Denmark references are an attempt to make a connection to Morgan Bryan whose grandfather was Danish as per his son's American Revolution Pension Application.

WSB in Virginia
So, WSB is sent by Cromwell to Virginia. The Prince of Ireland is dropped off and that's it. No record of this man in Virginia exists. Why? I believe it's because he did not exist in the first place.


[1] Houses of Parliament Online

[2] Daniel MacCarthy, "Unpublished Geraldine Documents", The Journal of the Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland, Third Series, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1869), pp. 499-559, 570, 1-2 (86 pages).

[3]  Hans C. Hamilton, editor, Calendar of the State Papers Relating to Ireland, of the Reigns of Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary, and Elisabeth: Preserved in the Public Department of Her Majesty's Public Record Office. 1509 - 1573, Volume 1, (London: Longman, Green, Longman & Roberts, 1860) 106.

[4] Odet de Selve, Correspondance politique de Odet de Selve, ambassadeur de France en Angleterre (1546-1549) (Paris: F. Alcan, 1888).

[5] London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section, Clerkenwell, London, England; Reference Number: MS 9172/2A; Will Number: 49

[6] John Kennedy,  A History of the Parish of Leyton, Essex, (London: Phelp Brothers, 1894) p.344; transcription of her will.

[7] William Arthur Shaw, George Dames Burtchaell, The knights of England : a complete record from the earliest time to the present day of the knights of all the orders of chivalry in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of knights bachelors, Vol 2, (London, 1906).

[8] James Frost, The History and Topography of County Clare, (Dublin: Sealy, Byers and Walker, 1893.

[9] John O'Hart, The Irish And Anglo-Irish Landed Gentry, When Cromwell Came to Ireland: Or, a Supplement to Irish Pedigrees,(Dublin: James Duffy, 1892).

[10] Great Britain. Trustees for the Sale of the Forfeited Estates in Ireland, Patrick Campbell, and Joseph Ray. A List of the Claims As They Are Entred With the Trustees: At Chichester-House On College-Green Dublin, On Or Before the Tenth of August, 1700. Dublin:: Printed by Joseph Ray, and are to be sold by, 1701.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Descendants of William Thornton (1713-1790) and his two wives Dorcas Little Thornton and Eleanor Unknown Thornton

This is a work in progress if you have any information to share please contact me. Thanks!
William Thornton m. first Dorcas Little and had:
 1. James 1744-1815
 2. William 1745-1814
 3. Matthew  1746-1824
 4. Thomas 1751-1819
 5. John  1753-1819
 6. Mary 1755

with Eleanor:
 7. Samuel  1775-1866
 8. Dorcas  1779-1857
 9. Eleanor  1784-1825 no descendants
10. Abraham  1785 unable to trace
11. Catherine  1787-1860 - no descendants
12. Sarah  1789 unable to trace

1. James Thornton, son of William and Dorcas Thornton, born 1744 in Pelham, Massachusetts, married Antje Schermerhorn in Schenectady, New York a few years before the American Revolution. He recorded his children and their births in a bible, a page of which use used as evidence in his widow's pension application. The couple had 13 children, two were a set of twins. I have tried to trace the children, some with more success than others. [the source for this info is his bible page, found on Fold3]

 1. Dorcas Thornton Wright bp. 2 June  1770 [1]
 2. Abraham S. Thornton b. 1772
 3. Catherine b. 1773
 4. Samuel b. 1776
 5. William 1778-1779 - no descendants
 6. Margaret 1778-1778 - no descendants
 7. Elizabeth b. 1780
 8. Matthew b. 1782-22 Sept 1863
 9. William b. 1783-died young - no descendants
10. Mary b. 1784
11. James b. 1790
12. William b. 1792
13. Margaret b. 1795


1. Dorcas married Edmund Wright b. 1773-1794 [2] Schenectady. The couple moved to Philadelphia
    2. James Thornton Wright b. 1794 Schenectady [3]
    2. Antje Thornton Wright b. 1796 [4]
    2. Fisher Wright b. 1798 Schenectady [5]

I could not trace this family any further.

1. Abraham S. Thornton b. 12 January 1772 m. Margaret Peek b. 1775 [6] on 9 October 1796. He is likely the Abram Thornton enumerated on the 1800 census as living in Schenectady Ward 1, with a woman and two young male children. [7] and in 1810 living in Ward 3. [8] In 1830 he was enumerated in Rotterdam, just south of the town of Schenectady.  [9] Four children have been traced, they were baptized in the Church of the Woestina, Glenville, Schenectady County, NY.

    2. James (Jacobus) Thornton b. 1797 Schenectady [10] m. Barbary Cornell. James died before the 1860 census, Barbary is is the city directory as a widow in 1864. James and Barbary had at least four children:
        3. Catherine Maria bp. 1 December 1818, supposedly married John Kane [11]{citation needed}
        3. James bp. 29 February 1822 not traced
        3. Abraham bp. 17 July 1824  this may the man who went by 'Alvin' Thornton
        3. Elizabeth Wasson bp. 1 June 1825

    2.  Aarent/Aaron Thornton b. 17 December, baptized in Schenectady. [12] m. Annatje (Nancy) Van Sice who died in 1826, leaving one child Abraham b. 1824. Aaron then married Harriet Lansing on 11 Dec 1827. {citation needed} [13]
         3. Abraham b. 1824 this is probably the man who married Margaret Van Dyck
Two Abrahams born 1824-who is who? Both men, born the same year lived, married and started families in Schenectady. Can we tell who their parents were? Neither are found in a census living with a parent so we have only circumstantial evidence to connect them. 

Abraham Thornton b. 1824 married Mary Page. 


    2. Rebecca Ann Thornton, bp. 10 Oct 1802 [14] m. John B. Van Zandt, [15]{citation need} lived in Seneca Falls, died 1898.

    2.   Abraham Schermerhorn Thornton b. 5 Dec 1804 [16] m. Ann Jane Corker around 1827 in New Jersey. The family lived for a few years in Connecticut. [17]Abraham was a painter by trade; he lived in the city of Albany. He died at age 59 of pneumonia in a Civil War hospital near Washington D.C. Jane had his body removed to Albany. According to his war records he was born in Schenectady.  He joined in October 1862. He had blue eyes, brown hair, was light-skinned at stood 5'10" tall. Records confirm he was a painter. [18] His children are all listed in various census from 1850 to 1865.

        3. Edward A. Thornton 1828-1862, born in Norwalk, Connecticut, [19], he had blue eyes, brown hair, light complexion and was about 5'7" worked as a cigar maker, enlisted in the 177th NY on 8 October 1862, died 11 December 1862. - no descendants. [20]

        3. George Egbert Thornton 1829-1898, born in Connecticut, m. Margaret Gaynor, in 1855 NY census in Schenectady a cigar maker, after that he seems to have moved to Colorado 1860-1870 census, cigar and cigarette retailer and then to Utah, 1880 census Brickmaker. (both 1870-1880 census say he was born in Connecticut). Possibly the George E. Thornton buried in Denver 1898. Had children:
                  4. John M. b. 1853
                  4. Mary Jane b. 1855
                  4. George E. Junior b. 1860 possibly moved to South Dakota and Wyoming
                  4. Charles b. 1869 possibly the Charley Thornton son of George d. 1903 in SLC, Utah
                  4. Margaret b. 1872 m. John Phillip Lawson Salt Lake City (DAR application)

        3. Joseph E. Thornton 1832, m. in 1865 to Sarah Unknown, one daughter Maria, worked as a printer cannot find after 1866 directory. Is he the Joseph and Sarah Thornton in New York working as a compositor(type setter) in 1870?

        3. Charles H. Thornton 1837-1905 enlisted 18 October 1862, 177th, mustered out. m. Mary J. Murphy and had four daughters, Jennie, Mary, Sophie Thornton Allen and Charlotte Thornton Haller. Charles d. 28 Jan 1905. His wife d. 25 November 1919.

        3. Sophia J. Thornton Sibley Kane 1840-1911, m. Charles H. Sibley, Charles enlisted 7 Oct 1862, KIA 21 June 1863, in Louisiana. They had one child Jane A. born 1860. Sophia m. John Kane, she died 15 April 1911 from burns covering her entire body. She is buried in her mother's burial plot.

        3. Francis L. Thornton 1845-1918 also joined the 177th, mustered out 1863. d. 6 April 1918, acute indigestion, probably a heart attack; he is buried in his mother's burial plot.

        3. Mary b. 1847

1. Catherine b. 13 November 1773 m. Samuel Wright b. 1770, found in the 1820 census in Duanesburg

1. Samuel  b. 1776 m. Engeltje Peek 8 July 1798 lived in Glenville Schenectady in the 1820 census

1. Matthew b. 1781 d. 22 Sept 1863 m. Anne Buyce  who d. 1879, Matthew was buried but his grave was moved in 1930 from Denton's Corner to section L.
     2. Abram b. 1822, m. Lovinia had three daughters, all died in 1864 of Scarlet Fever

          3. Harriet Ann
          3. Mary Jane
          3. L?


[1] U.S., Dutch Reformed Church Records from Selected States, 1660-1926
[2] Holland Society of New York; New York, New York; Schenectady Baptisms, Vol 4, Book 44
[3] Holland Society of New York; New York, New York; Schenectady Baptisms, Vol 4, Book 44
[4] Holland Society of New York; New York, New York; Schenectady Baptisms, Vol 4, Book 44
[5] Holland Society of New York; New York, New York; Schenectady Baptisms, Vol 4, Book 44
[6] Holland Society of New York; New York, New York; Schenectady Marriages, Vol 5, Book 45
[7] United States Census, 1800," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 February 2019), Abraham Thornton, Schenectady Ward 1, Albany, New York, United States; citing p. 4, NARA microfilm publication M32, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 22; FHL microfilm 193,710.
[8]"United States Census, 1810," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 February 2019), Abraham Thornton, Schenectady Ward 3, Schenectady, New York, United States; citing p. 959, NARA microfilm publication M252 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 37; FHL microfilm 181,391.
[9] 1830; Census Place: Rotterdam, Schenectady, New York; Series: M19; Roll: 116; Page: 246; Family History Library Film: 0017176
[10] Holland Society of New York; New York, New York; Schenectady Baptisms, Vol 4, Book 44
[11] citation needed
[12]Holland Society of New York; New York, New York; Schenectady Baptisms, Vol 4, Book 44
[13] citation needed
[14] Church of the Woestina need proper citation
[15] [citation needed]
[16] Church of the Woestina
[17] 1830; Census Place: Darien, Fairfield, Connecticut; Series: M19; Roll: 6; Page: 332; Family History Library Film: 0002799
[18] New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts found on Fold3
[19] New York, Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts, 1861-1900 found on Fold3
[20] New York, Registers of Officers and Enlisted Men Mustered into Federal Service, 1861-1865, found on

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Colonel Samuel Campbell 1738-1824 Londonderry, NH to Cherry Valley, NY

In a recent blog post I wrote about finding sources in hidden places, the archives. I continue to find more such sources, from indirect angles of inquiry. While researching Samuel Clyde of Cherry Valley, I took a look at his contemporary, neighbor and fellow soldier; Colonel Samuel Campbell. I was able to locate the archives of his family in the New York Historical Society Museum and Library. The archive contains many items, including deeds, debts, indentures, notes, and bills of sale. It is entirely possible that within this archive there might be a reference to the Clyde family. 

Here is what I found out about Colonel Samuel Campbell and his connection to Samuel Clyde and my Thornton family. 

Irish ancestry
Like my Thornton ancestors, it appears that the Campbell Family came to Boston from the North of Ireland, part of the Scots-Irish migration. The Campbells are believed to have come from Ballymoney in the Bann Valley, near Londonderry. The Thorntons, possibly from the Foyle Valley in County Tyrone, left in 1718, settled first in Maine, Worcester, Pelham and then Londonderry. Some of the Thornton children eventually settled in Schenectady, NY and then Cherry Valley by 1761.

James Campbell, b. 1690, arrived in Boston in 1728 with his wife and five children. He removed to Londonderry by 1738 and finally settled in Cherry Valley in 1741. [1] He married (1) Jane Humphrey and (2) Sarah Simpson Thompson, 1694-1773 in 1734. He died in Cherry Valley in 1770.

Cherry Valley
Cherry Valley was patented in 1738 by three men of Albany;  Lendert Gansevoort, Jacob Roseboom and  Sybrant Yan Schaick. Their associate was Scot-Irishman John Lindsey who moved with his family to settle in the beautiful valley in 1739. [2] Lindsey enticed the Reverend Samuel Dunlop, alumnus of Trinity College, Dublin, to settle and minister to the town. He was responsible for the bringing families from Londonderry, including John Campbell. The families departed by boat and sailed from the New Hampshire port around Cape Cod and Long Island before heading up the Hudson River. I imagine they transferred to the Mohawk River and sailed inland into the Mohawk Valley. The valley remained sparsely inhabited, the majority of the settlers were of Scots-Irish descent. Originally called Lindsey's Bush, Reverend Dunlop renamed it Cherry Valley. 

James Campbell Family [3][4]
1. Esther
2. John b. 1716 m. Eleanor Ramsey in Cherry Valley d. 1810
3. Jane m. Williams Dunlop related to Samuel Dunlop  d. Cherry Valley
4. William
5. James b. 1728 m. Mary McCollum d. Unknown
6 . Elizabeth b. 1730 Boston  m. William Dickson, died in the Cherry Valley Massacre 11 November 1778.
7. Robert b. 20 August 1735 m. 1765 Margaret Shannon,  d. Battle or Oriskany August 6, 1777
8. Samuel b. 25 April 1738 m. Jane Cannon 1768 d. 12 September 1824

Samuel Campbell
Samuel and his brothers grew to manhood in a turbulent age. He served in the militia during the French and Indian Wars and put what he learned as a young soldier to good use during the American Revolution.  Samuel married Jane Cannon in 1768, she died 23 Feb. 1836 at the great old age of 93.
Samuel was commissioned in 1772 as a 2nd Lt. in the militia. He was a member of the Tryon County Committee of Safety, He fought in the battle of Oriskany in which his brother Robert was killed. He eventually reached the rank of Colonel. During the Cherry Valley Massacre on 11 November 1778 his wife and children were taken captive and carried away to Canada. He would not see them for two years. 

After the war Samuel served in the New York Legislature until his death. His son James attended Union College in Schenectady and became a noted lawyer and Judge. 

Cherry Valley Massacre
On the morning of 11 November 1778 a combined force of Tories and Native American warriors under the leadership of Walter Butler and Joseph Brant attacked the unsuspecting town of Cherry Valley. The results were devastating. Many of the inhabitants were slaughtered including Samuel's sister Elizabeth Dickson along with several of her children. The lucky, like Jane Campbell and her children were taken captive. Jane's father tried to protect the family as Samuel was away, but to no avail. Surprisingly the Native warriors let the old man live unharmed, but took his wife captive. When she was deemed to feeble to make the trek north, she was killed, her body left where it fell. 

Because of his position in the militia, Jane and her children were consider valuable. In a cruel move, Jane was sent to an Indian village in far western New York, her children went straight to Canada. She lived for almost a year with a Seneca family before being brought to Fort Niagara and reunited with her children. They were eventually traded in exchange for the family of a loyalist, John Butler, father of Walter Butler. [5]

In her absence the settlement was burnt to the ground, any attempt to rebuild met with the torch as successive waves of Tory raiders swept through the valley. She may have been released, but she could not go home. After the massacre Samuel made his home in Niskayuna, outside of Schenectady. Following the declaration of peace, the inhabitants of Cherry Valley returned to rebuild their homes and their lives. In 1783, on a tour of the Mohawk, General George Washington stopped in Cherry Valley, her family relates that she met both General Washington and Governor George Clinton. [6]

Family of Samuel and Jane Campbell

Eleanor b. 1770  m. Samuel Dickson

William b, 1768 m. Sabrina Crafts, d. 1844

James S. b. 1772 m. Sarah Elderkin 1799, d. 1870.

Matthew b. 1775 m. Deborah Putnam d. 1845

Robert b. 1781  a lawyer in Cooperstown, said to be the youngest son, married Rachel Pomeroy 1897 d. 1844


[1] New York Historical Society Museum and Library, "Guide to the Campbell-Mumford Papers, 1719-1980 (Bulk 1793-1892) MS 98", Biographical Note for the Campbell Family, ( : accessed 29 December 2018). 

[2] Henry U. Swinnerton, “The Story of Cherry Valley,” Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, vol. 7, 1907, pp. 74–93, ( JSTOR, JSTOR, : accessed 29 December 2018).

[3] Pickett, Angelo Campbell,  First Four Generations: The First James Campbell of Cherry Valley, New York And Some of His Descendants. (Riverside, Calif., 1942).

[4] CAMPBELL, COLIN D. "They Beckoned and We Came: The Settlement of Cherry Valley." New York History 79, no. 3 (1998): 215-32.


[6] Greene, N. (1925). History of the Mohawk Valley, gateway to the West, 1614-1925: covering the six counties of Schenectady, Schoharie, Montgomery, Fulton, Herkimer, and Oneida. Chicago: S.J. Clarke.

Read about Samuel and Jane Campbell in my new book: BLOOD IN THE VALLEY, out now on

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