Sometimes all we can find about our ancestors is the date of their birth and death, if we are lucky. Several hundred years ago, these dates were not as important as they are today and so may have gone unrecorded. Benjamin Kimball was the youngest son of Richard and Ursula Kimball of Ipswich, MA. A cursory search of the internet will tell you that he was born on 12 May 1637. A check of ancestry.com show hundreds of family trees that include Benjamin and his birth is listed as 12 May 1637. So how do they know this, where does this date come from and more importantly is it correct?
Ursula gave birth to three more children, Caleb, Benjamin and Elizabeth. They were born either in Watertown or Ipswich and their births went unrecorded. Since most women of child bearing age gave birth about every two years, the birth years of these children are estimated as 1635, 1637 and 1639. Where did May 12th come from? I think I know, but we''ll get to that later.
Henry, first born child of Richard and Ursula was a married man when Benjamin was 3. He was born in 1615 and died in 1676 age 60. He remained in Watertown when his parents left for Ipswich, but he followed them some years later, eventually settling in Wenham. His father left him 90 pounds in his will.
Richard Kimball Jr. was born in 1622 he died in 1676, age 54. Richard also settled in Wenham and at one time was the wealthiest man in town, paying the largest tax rate. Richard received a bequeath of 40 pounds.
John was born in 1631 he died in 1698 age 67. He lived and farmed in Ipswich, but bought and sold land in adjacent towns including Salem. He inherited 25 pounds from his father.
Thomas was born in 1633 he was killed by Indians in 1676, he was 43 years old. He had first settled in Wenham but eventually moved to Bradford. He also had purchased a 1/4 interest in a sawmill on Oyster River in Hampton, New Hampshire in 1653. he lived there for some years before moving to Rowley in 1660. He also seems to have been the first of the Kimballs to venture into New Hampshire. Hampton is only about 20 miles to the north. He received 25 pounds from his father. It is interesting to note that Thomas' father Richard married the Widow Margaret Dow of Hampton in 1661, did Thomas introduce them?
Caleb was born in 1635 in Ipswich, he died in 1682 age 47. He was a prosperous farmer and lived in Ipswich. He too bought and sold land including his older brother Richard's house and land in Ipswich. Caleb was the only son to actually receive land from his father.
Benjamin last son, born in 1637, he chose to settle in Bradford where he died in 1696 age 59. He received 25 pounds from his father plus two oxen which he had received prior to Richard's death.
Only one of the six brothers lived past his 60th year, Benjamin made it to 59 and the only brother to outlive him was his older brother John who died two years after him. Three of his brothers died in the same year 1676 only a year after the passing of their father.
Benjamin made his living working as a carpenter. I have read that he lived briefly in Exeter, NH but I cannot find any proof or documentation of this. He lived in Salisbury for a few years but settled in the section of Rowley, known as Merrimac, that eventually became the town of Bradford. Some of the land he owned in Bradbury butted up to the Merimack River and his father in law, Robert Hazeltine was a neighbor. So, how did he come to own the land. Every bio of Benjamin includes the statement that he bought land on 12 May 1663 from Elizabeth Starrett of Haverhill. Is this where the date attributed to his date of birth of comes from? Hum, might be. Benjamin is also said to have bought some of his brother Thomas' land in 1667. I cannot find these deeds. The location of some of his land is described in an Essex County Court recording of a 1664 deed of land bought by Abraham Perkins. This deed was not recorded in the Essex Deed Book either. If anyone knows where these deeds are recorded Please let me know.
In 1669 Benjamin and Mercy sold 40 acres of their land back to the town of Bradford. This land was intended to support the new town minister. Judging by the deeds registered by his sons, after his and Mercy's deaths, Benjamin had quite a bit of land in Haverhill, Bradford and Amesbury.
random weird court case involving benjamin
In 1659 Benjamin and his brother Thomas were deponents in a lengthy court case involving Henry Green of Hampton and William Edmonds of Lynn. Henry it seems had a daughter Mary who had a nasty sore on her lower leg. Henry had taken her to see Mr. Charles Starre, a doctor in Charlestown. He was unable to heal the wound. Henry then took her to the home of William and Ann Edmonds. Ann said that she could cure the sore and Henry agreed to pay them with a colt. Mary stayed with the Edmonds in Lynn for about one year. The cure for her leg, which Ann said suffered from "the King's evil", which was thought to be a tuberculosis infection of the bone, include removing about 5 inches of her leg bone. From the sound of it, it's amazing that she survived the treatment, but Ann Edmonds was by all accounts a competent care giver and ran a quasi-hospital out of the tavern she ran with her husband.
When Mary was deemed as cured as they could get her, Willliam Edmonds asked for his colt. He got one, but not the one he wanted. All this played out over several years in court. Thomas and Benjamin testified on multiple occasions about what they had seen or heard. When William finally got the colt he asked Benjamin, who lived in Salisbury to keep it for him. He apparently really like it, because in 1662, William Edmonds took Benjamin to court to try to get the colt back.
marriage and children
Okay, back on track here. In 1660 Benjamin's brother Caleb married Anna Hazeltine of Rowley. In 1661 Benjamin married her sister, Mercy. They were the daughters of Robert and Ann Hazeltine. Mercy was born 16 August 1642 in Rowley. Benjamin and Mercy settled in the area of Rowley that would become Bradford. Some of Benjamin's land bordered that of her father's. Thomas Kimball also lived in Rowley. Life was hard, but at least Benjamin and Mercy had family nearby.
Benjamin and Mercy had 11 children, 10 of whom lived to adulthood. Two died relatively young, Abraham age 29 and Ebenezer age 30. Their brother Richard, who was very active in Bradford died age 46, Anna lived the longest, dying at age 83. The births of children whose names are starred are recorded in either Salisbury or Bradford town records. Richard's date of birth is up for grabs, I have seen two different dates.
*Anna b. 23 Dec 1661 in Salisbury d. 1 Jan 1743/44 age 83, m. Richard Barker
Mercy b. 3 Dec 1663 d. in Feb 1663/4 infant
Richard b. 30 Dec 1665 or 3 Dec 1664 d. 10 Jan 1711 age 46, m. Mehitable Day
*Elizabeth b. 24 July 1669 d. 24 Aug 1727 age 58 m. Edward Carleton of Haverhill
*David b. 26 Jul 1671 d. 1743 age 71 in Bradford, m. Elizabeth Gage
*Jonathan b. 26 Nov 1673 d. 30 Sep 1749 age 75 in Bradford, m. Lydia Day
*Robert b. 6 Mar 1676 d. 24 Feb 1744 age 67
*Abraham b. 24 Mar 1677/8, d. 25 Feb 1708 age 29 m. Mary Green
*Samuel 28 Mar 1680 d. 1739 age 58,
*Ebenezer 20 June 1684 d. 23 Jan 1715 age 30 in Bradford, m. Ruth Eaton
*Abigail 8 Sept 1686 d. 29 April 1738 age 52, m. Moses Day
the kimball tavern
Still standing today, in the heart of what was Bradford, is the Kimball Tavern. Built by Benjamin in about 1690, it was in the family for at least 200 years. Today it is an antiques store but it is wonderful to see it has been preserved. As early as 1680, Benjamin had been "licensed to keep a public house of entertainment for strangers and others and to draw beer and cider".
The tavern was on a key road that went from Portland, Maine down to Boston. It would have been an ideal stopping place before crossing the Merrimack River. Today the area once known as Bradford is part of the City of Haverhill, and the Tavern is quite close to the river on Salem St. at it's junction with Main St. It is said to be haunted by members of the Kimball family.
The town of Bradford had hired a Mr. Symms to preach in 1669, but he was not an ordained minister, and it seems for this reason they were not officially a church. On 31 Oct. 1682 a group of local ministers, from Salem, Ipswich, Rowley an elsewhere came together in Bradford to determine whether or not Mr. Symms was up to snuff. They advised the community that they thought he was an acceptable candidate and the community agreed by unanimous vote on 28 November. On 27 Dec 1682 the church was officially organized and Benjamin Kimball was one of the first male members to sign the covenant. Mr. Symms was ordained the same day. In January of 1682/83 the first women of the town were made full members including Mercy Kimball. Benjamin took his freeman's oath, which was dependent of full church membership, on 25 March 1683.
Benjamin died on 11 June 1696. He was buried in the Bradford Burying Ground. He was 59 years old, young by today's standards. He was lucky he only buried one child, the infant Mercy. His wife, died some eleven years later on 5 Jan 1708. Her son Abraham, my ancestor died the next month at the very young age of 29. They too are buried in the Bradford cemetery.
Benjamin died a fairly well off man, but he doesn't seem to have written a will. His estate was inventoried on 3 July 1696 and the land was divided between his widow and his children. The estate was valued at over 1000 pounds. After Mercy's death the rest of the land was divided. If his grandfather Richard Kimball had remained in England, his grandson Benjamin would never had been able to accrue such a large amount of land and wealth. But the riches came at a great cost. The very real fear of Indian attacks, disease and other calamities were an every day part of life. Death lurked around every tree and bend in the road.
my kimball ancestry
Richard Kimball and Ursula Scott
Benjamin Kimball - Mercy Hazeltine
Abraham Kimball - Mary Green
Mary Kimball - Edmund Chadwick
James Chadwick - Mary Thurston
Hannah Chadwick - Jonathan Blanchard
James Blanchard - Phebe Carter
Chloe Blanchard - Samuel Thornton
John C. Thornton - Jennie Clover Rowell
Gage, Thomas, "The History of Rowley Anciently Including Bradford, Boxford and Georgetown, from the year 1639 to the present time", Boston, 1840.
Zwicker, Roxie, J., Haunted Pubs of New England: Raising Spirits of the Past, The History Press, 2007, p. 44
familyseach - Essex County Land Deeds
americanancestors.com - Essex County Probate Records