Briggs Family of America


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Came across this article published in the newspaper. Various spellings Brigges, Brigs, Bridges, Brug, and Brygges. Sharing with Group New England Genealogy and History Group.




archivesofbriggs00brig_0008Further Reading Briggs Family of America by Samuel Briggs published 1880 Also check out Briggs Genealogy Page

Hot Tidbit: The Sting Operation of Pierce, Colby, Sargent, & Fitts that Ended 17 Year Reign of Newburyport’s “Firebug Choate”


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Newburyport had an infamous arsonist whose flair for fire blazing brought pyromania to a whole new level.  The incendiary, Leonard Choate, aka “Firebug Choate” burned over 150 homes, barns, and buildings.  He orchestrated each inferno carefully and spared nothing sacred. The houses of worship and family properties were among his hottest hits. He stayed off the suspect list for seventeen-years until Mayor Nathaniel Pierce and Newburyport Herald Editor E L Colby executed a sting operation to end his fiery reign.  When authorities bagged the bug the word spread like wildfire, but the story behind his capture is the true scorcher!

What prompted Choate’s mania for fire starting still remains a mystery. It was rumored that he “laughed with a horrid glee” when the fire bells rang and “leaped from rafter to rafter.”  His wife confessed to officials he was overly excited and humored by the tragic blazes and often commented with such statements as: “Don’t they wish they knew who was doing all this”?  or “I wonder if they will ever catch the rascal.”

Leonard Choate (1835-1914) was the son of True Burnham Choate and Mary Pillsbury, both respectable, prominent members in the community. The Choate family were known for ship building, civil leadership, and charitable causes.  Leonard grew up on 3 Oakland Street and when he married he moved to Tying Street with his wife Emmeline Cook and fathered four children.

True Burnham Choate was son of Benjamin Choate (1770 – 1856) and Janne True (1774 – 1854). Mary Pillsbury was the daughter of Stephen Pillsbury and Sally Moody. Benjamin Choate was son of Simeon Choate and Ruth Thompson. Another cousin, Ebenezer Chaote (1748-1801) son of Ebenezer Choate and Elizabeth Greenleaf married Anna Pillsbury (1760-1904), daughter of Enoch Pillsbury and Apphia Currier. (More Genealogy listed after story)

Leonard was a Private in Company A of the Cushing Guards, Massachusetts 8th Regiment and served garrison duty at Fort Parke, Roanoke Island, North Carolina from December 4, 1862 to July 12, 1863. He was discharged on August 7th, 1863. Read More on Choate family members serving in the American Civil War Newburyport and the Civil War  by William Hallett and The City of Newburyport in the Civil War from 1861 to 1865: With the Individual Records of the Soldiers and Sailors who Served to Its Credit, Also the War Records of Many Natives and Residents of the City, Credited to Other Places by George William Creasey

Right around the time Leonard’s combustible paws began lighting up the Port the city hosted a July 4th celebration (1854) to honor the Sons of the Revolution.  America’s Independence was remembered with a grand procession led by Chief Marshall, Elisha Storey.  Three hundred Merrimack ship-joiners, the “sturdy strong, sturdy, vigorous noble men—the real bone and sinew” were there—-Chase, Moody, Townsend, Westcott, Cheever, Burrill, Emery, Pearson Lunt, and others worthy to claim: “We only arrange and combine the ancient elements of all things.”

The Choate brothers, True and Ezekiel, known as Messrs. T. & E. Choate at Currier’s shipyard displayed a magnificent exhibit to define the master ship builders. A miniature cabin to mimic a stately room filled with joiners lodged up high on a wagon drawn by a splendid pair of horses.  Their banner was in the shape of a topsail with a motto in bold letters reading: “Ship Joiners—Excelsior.” The cabin labels reflected their dedication to the trade: “Industry is life,” “No pains, no gains,” “Hope is a workman’s dream,” and “Play not with edge tools.”

Ironically, among these participants, spectators, and patriotic daughters of the Belleville parish none would have imagined that is was a Choate who was torching their fine city.  In the case of “Firebug Choate” guilty by association never applied.  It was assumed that he “was so largely interested in the welfare of the place he could be guilty of destroying it.” (Springfield Republican)

It was widely known Leonard inherited the families’ unique craft for wood carving, but once he was exposed the annuals excluded him on the list of “self-ennobled mechanics.”  Instead, he is featured as public enemy number one and grand pyre.

In fact, Leonard used his familial talent of wood shaping to set himself far above all arsonist. What the newspapers around the country noted was that his malicious acts were “a perfect art form.”  Although the fire bug mystique gained serious momentum, Leonard’s crafty custom built boxes used to the fires would inevitably provide the evidence to quell his pyro tendencies.

When choosing his victims Leonard never discriminated. His malevolent nature was beyond ruthless. No one was spared from his touch offs which made him even more appealing to curious minds.

On the afternoon of February 17, 1853 Leonard set fire to the store room owned by his grandparents Benjamin Choate and Jane True located on 233-235 Merrimack Street.  The work shed was filled with seasoned lumber and the flames devoured the entire structure.  The sparks ignited the Choate’s home and spread to their neighbors, Benjamin Pickett.  The damage was accessed at 5,000 and although Leonard was due to inherit these proprieties, his need to seethe overtook him.

Additionally, Leonard’s brother, George Albert Choate suffered severe damage to the lungs from the smoke inhalation coupled with the severe frigid cold air he was exposed to while trying to put out the fire. He never recovered and died a few years later of ill health at the age of 25.

From January 1861 to November 29, 1867 Choate was fingered for setting over forty-one fires and the destruction and expense was overwhelming. There are several others he is suspected for setting.  Although he favored hot flame, he fancied blistering snow storms to carry out his pyro passion.  On March 21, 1861 the Old North Congregational Church was targeted during one of the worst blizzards recorded. Joe Callahan, local historian and columnist for the Newburyport News wrote an account entitled “The burning of the North Church 150 years ago” published in the Daily News in 2011.  Callahan noted the difficulty the firemen of Neptune 8 had due to the severe weather conditions. Francis Lunt and Henry Goodwin were on duty that night and lost their lives.

The Lowell Citizen reported that the church had only $5,000 insurance coverage, but the damages totaled between $15,000 to $18,000.  Several relics were lost including a 1795 church bell cast by John Warner the church purchased from Paul Revere.

He burned the Belleville meeting house (January 8, 1867) the First Parish Church of Newbury (January 25, 1868) and attempts were reported on Harris Street and Congress Street churches. The confident fire imp was a bit brazen too. He sent anonymous letter to the fire marshal.  He bragged about the fires he set and taunted him with playful hints on how he was fresh out of boxes, but assured him he would be back in action once he replenished his supplies.

Fires broke out through the city as “Firebug Choate” spread terror and grief. His mania resulted in loss of lives. Fed up with massive destruction and his citizens living in fear, Mayor Nathaniel Pierce decided to launch a full scale war on the firebug. The initial reward the city offered totaled over $10,500, but “no one could get on the “Bugs” tracks. So Mayor Pierce and his buddy Colby formed a committee and commenced one of the biggest sting operations ever. They hired savvy private detectives and doubled the police force.

The main bosses were Detective Moses Sargent, former Boston Police Chief and his right hand guy William H Fitts, City Marshall of Newbury. The crew members were assigned individual wards and ordered that all citizens be canvassed.  The job was tedious and no stone was to be left un-turned.  Detective Sargent assumed a fake name and was put up in a private apartment.

When it was Leonard’s time to get a comb through the committee asserted that he was clean, but the tenacious Detective Sargent had a few snarls to work out.  Following a hunch Detective Sargent had put Leonard on his suspect list because he was a carpenter and the boxes kept turning up at each scene. But, what really aroused his suspicion were the closed blinds and the locked doors at his shop.

The fires that “failed” left behind some clues that alarmed Detective Sargent. First, a box was recovered at the Harris Street church by Joseph W. Hardy on December 18, 1868 determined that the fire starter was indeed a person that possessed all the “skill, opportunity, tools, and materials,” to produce the fireboxes. The marks left on the boxes were made by a nicked tool which matched with “Leonard’s tools nicked in just a manner as to make a positive identification.”

Also the mahogany shavings which were placed inside the boxes to spark the fires could only be found in one place in Newburyport. Leonard had them in his inventory and it was concluded he used them for incendiary purposes, and no other.

Leonard felt the heat and on Friday, January 22, 1869 he packed up the family and headed out west.  The court records show that his move to Minnesota was deliberate in order to avoid the authorities.  It states he left “secretly and covertly,” but the committee would get a hotter tip that would lead to them right to Leonard’s door.

Within a few weeks of Leonard’s departure another box was recovered from an old factory building. This one was wrapped in a St Paul newspaper. Detective Sargent placed inquiries with the Minnesota post master who informed him that the only subscriber to this particular paper in his area was Mr. Leonard Choate.

Captain Fitts received a letter postmarked “January 11, 1869,” it was from Leonard:

” It was lucky for the city that that old building, corner of Russia and Kent Streets, was torn down recently. Capt. Fitts, we are all out of boxes, but we expect a supply soon from Boston, then look out. Our motive is this–we want some business done here or none at all. Two of us concerned in this business. In firing the old town church we worked five nights in succession, before we got her agoing. The last night we put three gallons of kerosene on the floor; that done the business. No bell rope cut, nothing of the kind; rope was burnt off. We crawled underneath the church. A large hole was found on the stone work on the backside sufficient to let a man crawl under. In setting the Bellville Hotel afire we used two gallons kerosene oil, which accounts for the rapid spread of the flames. When the boxes come, look out. Pro Bono Publico.’

Without delay Detective Sargent and Captain Fitts secured passage to Minnesota and met with J P Mellrath, Chief of Police of St Paul and D. A. Day, Chief of Police Minneapolis. With the cooperation of city and state officials the officers set out to find “FireBug” Choate and take him back home.  It took then four hours of searching before they arrived at a secluded log cabin where Leonard was residing with this family.

When they arrested Leonard on February 26, 1869 all he said to the officials was, “you say so, next thing is for you to prove it.”

However, after he was in custody he lit up and fired off names, dates, times, and locations of fires, stating, “deaths by the rascal who has set those fires.”

On March 8 1869 Police Justice Currier examined hundreds of witnesses and interviewed wood specialist, which most appeared to testify at the trials.

At his sentencing the reports noted Leonhard was unmoved and detached. Judge Ezra Wilkinson presided over Choate’s trial at Lawrence District Court. The attorneys Alfred A. Abbott and Stephen B. Ives appeared for on Lenard’s behalf. The court records investigators noted they searched Leonard’s shed and shop on Tying Street and found materials that “matched the charred remains of what was contended to have been a box by means of which the fire was set, about six inches square on the bottom and about twelve inches high, containing a block of wood perforated with an auger hole of the size of a candle.”

One of the victims, Joseph Ackerman, who lost his slaughter house and barn in 1869 testified against Leonard and the prosecutors stated that the box recovered from the fire up at Ackerman’s property had been “lined with zinc and nailed with three kinds of tacks.”  The pine and mahogany shavings and cedar chips were also found with the box, which, with some burnt pieces of old carpet, an old shoe, and the pieces of a broken stone bottle, found at the same place the next morning, were also produced and put in evidence.

The District Attorney and prosecutor, Edgar Jay Sherman wrote in his personal memoirs said he received a letter from the mayor of Newburyport thanking him in behalf of the people for the “splendid manner” in which he had conducted the prosecution.  Sherman said it was one of the most interesting and important cases tried as most of the conviction was based on more circumstantial evidence than hard core.

“Firebug Choate” faced a multitude of charges in many counts.  The Port pyro spent his remaining days locked up. The census show he was an inmate in the Concord State Prison in 1880 and according to John J Currier Leonard was transferred to Bridgewater State Farm in 1900 due to his advanced age and mental state. His wife Emmeline is listed as a widow in a 1910 Census, but Choate passed in 1914.  She passed in 1925 and both are buried at Oak Hill Cemetery.

A big Thanks to Cheryl Follansbee of Newburyport Genealogy Group, the Newburyport Archival Center and the Peabody Essex Museum for research.


The Merchant-Choate House Ipswich, Massachusetts See Stories From Ipswich blog “Rich in its history, the main section of the house was built in the 1760s for Abraham Choate. He purchased the lot for his home in 1757, in the center of Ipswich, then a busy center of maritime commerce. Choate, a gentleman merchant attached part of an older structure, built about 1710, to his new house. The new home provided enough room for Choate’s eight children.” Featured Smithsonian Tells 200 Years of History Through One House


Home of Choate Family in Newburyport on 3 Oakland Street built by Timothy Osgood Referenced in The North End Papers page available at the Newburyport Archival Center and Read History 3_oakland_street-newburyport-choate-house


Sampler Choate, Mary 1801 Newburyport, MA US Teacher Inscriptions: NewburyPort / 1802 / (Starting at the center): Each pleasing art lends softness to our minds / And with our studies, are our lives refin’d / It is the business of education to lop off some little, luxuriant / boughs from the tree of nature, but not to constrain it, that it / cannot vegetate or give to every branch, an unnatural direction. I should prefer the plain, honest awkwardness of a mere, country / girl , to overacted refinement . November 9th / Lest sense be ever in your view, / Nothing is beautiful. that is not true; / The true alone is lovely. / Mary Choate / /From American Samplers Bolton & CO. 1921


 Sarah Choate Sampler 1786 Newburyport MA: Rare Large-Scale Needlework Sampler, Sold at Sotheby’s




Choate Family Graves Oak Hill Cemetery Newburyport, Essex County Massachusetts Find A Grave Photo

Benjamin Choate son of Simeon and Ruth (Thompson) Choate. was born Dec. 30, 1770, in Salisbury, N. H. He married, April 23, Jane True, daughter of Dudley and Sarah (Evans) True. She was born Oct. 2, 1774, in Salisbury, Mass. They resided in Newburyport, Mass. Mr. Choate died Sept. 15, 1854. Mrs. Choate died Dec. 16, 1856.

Ruth b. Jan. 25, 1797; m. Aug. 16, 1S15, Nicholas Blaisdell d. Aug. I, 1833. He was son of Joseph and Nancy Blaisdell
Jane Evans, b. .March 24, 1799; m. April 3, 1822, Ephraim Goodwin : 2nd m. Stephen N. Sargent
Benjamin Evans, b. June 29 1801 m, Harriet Crane: d. Aug. 28, 1858 daughter of Hezekiah and Prudence (Lake) Crane
Dudley, b. Oct. 18, 1803. lie died in infancy, June 4, 1804.
True Burnham, b. June 16, 1805; m. Jan. 27, 1831, Mary Pillsbury daughter of Stephen and Sally (Moody) Pillsbury. She was born Dec. 11, 1809, in Newbury, Mass. They resided at No. 3 Oakland Street, Newburyport, Mass. Mr. Choate died March 2, 1867. Mrs. Choate died Feb. 23, 1889.

George A., b. July 23, 1832: m. Aug. 14, 1853, Harriet K. Tilton: d. April 16, 1867.
Leonard, b. March 29, 1835;  m. on July 29, 1857, Emmeline Marshall Cook.
Calvin b. Dec. 21, 1836; m. Nov. 23, 1887, Sarah Lizzie Knox daughter of George J. and Susan G. Farnham
Sarah Ann, b. July 5, 1807; m. Dec. 31, 1827, William Teel ; d. Feb. 26, 1874 son of John Teel and Sarah Chase
Ezekiel True, b. Dec. 4, 1809; m. May 11, 1837, Catherine Mace, daughter of William and Catherine Mace d. Nov. 29, 1864
Thomas, b. Nov 14, 1811; m. July 28, 1833, Martha I. Whittier, daughter of Ezekiel and Sally Brown
Mary, b. Jan. 16, 1814. She died in infancy, May 29, 1814.
James, b. May 29, 1815; m. Oct. 25, 1843 Ruth L Babson daughter of Abraham and Lydia Babson, widow of Abraham Somerby
William, b. Sept. 4, 1817; m. April 28, 1839, Mary Hickok daughter of William and Susan Wescott
Stephen Pillsbury, b. Feb. 28, 1820; m Mahala K. Dockum daughter of John and Phebe Kaime


From Vital Records Book Newburyport Births, Deaths, Marriages recorded Choate/Choat Family


Death Record Town of Newburyport Emeline M Cook Choate 1925



  • Cook Descendants – Inlaws and Outlaws Patricia Lumsden.
  • “Important Arrest: An Incendiary caught-A Manis for Arson.” February 1869 Wisconsin Ledger
  • Commonwealth vs. Leonard Choate November 1870 Essex County Court
  • North End Papers 1618-1880, Newburyport, Massachusetts: Development of the North End of the City Oliver B. Merrill & Margaret Peckham Motes Genealogical Publishing Com, 2007.
  • Newburyport Town Records Peabody Essex Museum
  • Sons of Liberty New York Henry B Dawson
  • “The Newburyport Incendiary. Arraignment of Leonard Choate for Arson-Fifteen Separate Charges Against Him-His Mode of Operations” New York Tribune March 3, 1869
  • “Conviction of the Newburyport Firebug” Boston Herald November 1869
  • A Report of the Proceedings on the Occasion, of the Reception of the Sons of Newburyport Resident Aboard, July 4th, 1854, by the City Authorities and the Citizens of Newburyport. Daniel Dana, M H Sargent 1854.
  • History of Newburyport John J Currier
  • The Pillsbury family: being a history of William and Dorothy Pillsbury (or Pilsbery) of Newbury in New England, and their descendants to the eleventh generation David Brainard Pillsbury and Emily A Getchell 1898
  • The Choate Bridge–what a bargain!
  • Choate Island and Rufus Choate
  • Benjamin Choate Inn as mentioned in the New York Times 1986 Article “A MASSACHUSETTS TOWN WHERE HISTORY PREVAILED” See Some Old Inns at Newburyport
  • Annual Obituary Notices of Eminent Persons who Have Died in the United States: For 1857-[1858]. Philip Sampson
  • The Choates in America. 1643-1896 E.O. Jameson


Daring Lasses, Brave Lads & Courtship during the American Revolution with a dash of Israel Putnam.


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 William Tyron (1729-1788) royal governor of North Carolina and New York,  born in Surrey, England, to Charles Tryon and the former Lady Mary Shirley. From Dictionary of North Carolina Biography

Tyron’s Raid—General William Tyron April 27-28, 1777 in Connecticut —In depositions given almost three weeks later, several women described the events of those two days following the landing of the British. Their testimonies are quoted in Royal R. Hinman’s A Historical Collection.


yearbookofconne189799sons_0037Map from History of Redding from Fairfield Museum Great Seal from “The Yearbook of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.” Organized 1892

Connecticut Nutmegger DAR.jpg Published in The Connecticut Nutmegger Volume 2 1969 page 111 American Ancestors 

A Connecticut Historian, Mille Anderson published an article in The Bridgeport Post on September 7, 1975 and her research shows that women were not home baking bread and spinning cloth as depicted in 18th century paintings. After some digging into the town records and executing some intense investigating Anderson discovered a completely different portrait of these Connecticut women. Anderson asserts women used courage, wiles, and ingenuity to outsmart the enemy and strengthen the cause.

Many women had already asserted their power by boycotting Tory and British imports. They drank brewed Raspberry leaves in place of tea and worked zestfully at their spinning wheels making their own cloth. Like in Boston, they formed sewing circles in the name of Liberty. See The Kinsfolk of Anna Green Winslow taught her how to Spin Liberty!

The Sanford wives were among the most industrious dames in the village, according to Anderson. Elizabeth Mix (1715-1777), daughter of  to John Mix and Elizabeth Bostwick, wife of Ephraim Sanford (1708-1761) son of  Ezekiel Sanford and Rebecca Gregory ran her own business during the war. Her husband was a large land owner, as is shown by numerous deeds now in possession of his descendants, some dated as early as 1733. He was engaged in mercantile business, his first store being in Redding. He was very successful in all his ventures, and left an unusually large estate for his day. To his wife he left nine hundred and sixty-seven pounds; to each of his four sons, seven hundred and sixty pounds; to each of his seven daughters, two hundred and fifty-three pounds. The division was made May 26, 1763. Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911) Lineage Book Supplemental, Volume 1 Daughters of the American Colonists 1946

Widow Sanford held an important town official role from November 23 1761-1776 as key keeper of the pound as voted in by the elders. She was respected and the only woman to hold such as position. Town records reveal she did an efficient job and was known to be a shrewd business women. She also ventured in the real estate market. She bought and sold property. The Masonic archives and Ancient & Honorable Society of Free Masons record: “Those desiring to become members meeting held at Widow Sanfords home February 15 1779 for instillation.”

Lydia Lockwood (1757-1852), daughter of Nathaniel Lockwood and Mary Patch, wife of Zachariah Sanford (1765 – 1851) son to Joseph Sanford and Hepsibah Griffith sat at the family loom weaving ten yards of cloth a day. She would sit for hours singing while spinning linen from the flax on the distaff with both hands, as her wheel carried two spool filings at the same time, thus allowing her to do two days work in one. “Her hands,” Anderson noted, ” were like many of her Revolutionary War sisters-never idle.”

At the time of her death Lydia had 13 of her 15 grandchildren still living and 157 grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was married for 66 years.

Ironically, the Sanford family would earn quite a reputation through out Connecticut for their spinning.  Newton’s Isaac Sanford, a wheel. wright and wood turner had a son Elias B. Sanford (1791-1881) who also took up the trade and soon became proficient in the manufacturing of spinning wheels for wool flax. The spinning wheel was a leading industry in those days, when the power loom and factory spinner were scarcely known. Commemorative Biographical Record of Fairfield County, Connecticut: Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, and of Many of the Early Settled Families–Higginson Book Company, 1899.


Another real estate tycoon lass was Ruth Read Hunn, daughter of John Read and Ruth Talcott, wife of Rev Nathaniel Hunn, Ruth was noted for her high spirited energy and sharp business sense. A snippet from Anderson’s article on Mrs Hunn.


Anderson note that women were not without fear during the Revolution, in fact, many were terror stricken! They were alone and vulnerable and most of their husbands were off fighting the Redcoats. The event can only be “compared with the emotion felt in the hearts of Judean mothers during the reign of King Herod.”

The women of Redding were well versed in what the fates could deliver—they heard the tales of how other women were assaulted and young boys were consigned to the horrible prison ships where they would be held hostage and after time “would very soon grow into rebels.”

So the daring dames of this community mustered courage they did not even realize they had. It was a mix of survival instincts and undaunted courage that armed the ladies of Connecticut.

The first mission for each lass of loyalty was to secure the safety of the young males (13 years and under).  According to Anderson, the boys were taken to a secret location, known as the Devil’s Den and mothers of the minute men hustled in provisions cooked at home or anywhere that was safe to tend the kettles. Other sources note that other citizens, such as the elderly and young girls took shelter at Devil’s Den as well.

devilsden11.jpgThe Devil’s Den from Journal of the American Revolution “Taking to Devils Den” Catherine J Price July 11, 2013. Price states, “despite the stormy weather,” the group  stayed there until the evening of April 27.

According to Anderson the boys were placed under the charge of Greshom Barlow, son of Nathaniel Barlow and Jane Bradley.* Gershom Barlow was a student at Yale and President Daggett sent the students on recess when the Brits landed a force of 1,800 that April. (Joel Barlow: American Citizen in a Revolutionary World Richard Buel Jr.) *Nathaniel Barlow was son of Samuel Barlow and Esther Hull. Jane Bradley was daughter of Gershom Bradley and Jane Dimon.


historyofredding00toddc_0058 Barlow house.jpg

Families of Old Fairfield, Connecticut 1.jpg

On receiving intelligence of the landing of 28 vessels and over 1,500 troops British troops at Compo Beach Captain Zalmon Read mustered his company of militia, and forthwith marched to intercept the invaders. The British were assisted by an added 300 or so Loyalist militia, “Browne’s Provincial Corps”)

At a place called Couch’s Rock, in Weston, Read’s company came suddenly upon the entire force of the enemy and were taken prisoners.

Daniel Bartram, son of David Bartram and Mabel/Mehitable Johnson, joined at the burning of Danbury in April, 1777. Daniel, a tanner by trade was working in his mill putting up hides when he heard of the invasion. Hides are stretched on frames and immersed for days in vats of increasing concentrations of tannin. He could not wait around, despite the high value of the hides. He took up arms and joined the militia.

Ann Merchant, daughter of Gurdon Merchant and Elinor Chauncey married Daniel Merchant in the Congregational Church, Redding, Fairfield County Connecticut October 10 1769. Ann was home with a newborn of seven months and three other young tots under the age of seven when Daniel sent word to get someone to tend to the hides—no men were to be found as they were all tending to the same errand, “get them Brits.”

Ann had already started taking precautions and like many wives and mothers during the revolution responded to threat of what may happen to her family. She packed up all the household valuables that would fit in her large brass kettle and sank the kettle in the bottom of the well.  She retrieved when the danger was over.

The tenacious Ann knew the hides needed to be tended to as they would feed the mouth of her babes. According to accounts, Ann “being a woman of energy,” was determined to perform the task herself. She left the children “to amuse one another, caught her horse, hitched it to the bark mill, ground her bark, took the hides out, turned and repacked them,” and still managed to get her family dinner on the table!

Apparently Daniel was granted a quick leave–perhaps he sensed that Ann would not find a suitable worker to finish off the job and he showed up just as Ann was sitting down eat. See Lineage Book – National Society of the Daughters of the American, Volume 23. When General Tyron invaded Mrs Sarah Couch, wife of Thomas Couch, who was away fighting took what grain, furniture, and possession she could fit in the ox cart drawn by two yoke of oxen and set out for Redding where she owned land in her own right. She followed the wagon on horseback carrying two of her children in her arms. At the end of the war her husband Thomas reunited with his family and they remained in Redding. Thomas Couch, son of Thomas Couch and Elizabeth Rose Jessup married Sarah Nash, daughter of Jonathan Nash and Sarah Andrews April 2 1772 at Fairfield by Rev Hezekiah Ripley at Green Farms. See Couch Genealogy Site and Frost/Couch Family

couch 1.jpgFrom Heritage Collector’s Society American Revolution Documents  Ebenezer Couch (1709-1797) Revolutionary War soldier, Captain in the Connecticut Line. Once a prosperous merchant, he sacrificed everything he had for the Revolution. His long service in the Continental Army, with his son Ebenezer, Jr., in tow, led to the collapse of his several businesses, and resulted in him ending his days living on leased land in New York with no estate to pass on to his heirs. Manuscript pay order authorizing £163.18.8 to be paid to Captain Couch. Revolutionary War-dated September 10, 1779, and signed by Samuel Wyllys, the Secretary of State for Connecticut, among others. Signed on the reverse “Ebenzr. Couch Capt.”

Thomas Couch served as clerk at the Lexington Alarm, as sergeant in Captain David Dimon‘s company in the first call for troops, and as quartermaster’s sergeant, 1777. Thomas’s brother Simon Couch married Sarah’s sister Eleanor Nash.

U.S. Pensioners, 1818-1872

Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
Broadside Soliciting Recruits for the Continental Army, ca. 1775
– Connecticut Historical Society and Connecticut History Online – See more at: From Representative Men and Old Families of Southeastern Massachusetts: containing historical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families. 3 Volumes. Beers & Chicago. 1912. To Read more see At Redding Historical Society’s meeting: Sanford talks about local men who served during the Civil War
Dakius Nash Couch, son of Jonathan Couch and Betsey (Penney) Couch, was born July 23, 1822, in the southeast part of Putnam county, N. Y. Grandson of Thomas and Sarah.

Mrs. Thankful Bradley, living in Weston, near the Redding line, was milking by the roadside when the troops surprised her. An officer told her to remain quiet, and they would not molest her. She followed his advice and continued milking while the entire army filed by.  See An Account of Tryon’s Raid on Danbury in April, 1777,  Also the Battle of Ridgefield and the Career of Gen. David Wooster 1927

See Barlow Family Records Record of the Descendants of Samuel Barlow of Redding Connecticut, and Esther Hull, daughter of Nathaniel Hull, of the same town, last wife of Samuel Barlow and  The Burning of Fairfield during the American Revolution


Photo of Sybil Ludington (1761-1839) from National Women’s History Museum Also see Ludington’s Ride

One 16 year old lass, Sibyl/Sybil Ludington (1761-1839) would preform a daring  patriotic duty for the town of Danbury, Connecticut equal to what Paul Revere of Boston did two years earlier for Dr. Joseph Warren.  She was the daughter of Colonel Henry Ludington and Abigail Ludington, daughter of Elisha Ludington of Branford, Connecticut (Henry married his first cousin May 1, 1760).

There are many accounts of the famous 40 mile ride to rouse the country side of the Brit invaders. A colorful account in 1960 hit every newspaper in the country. It was entitled, “At 16 she Outdid Paul Revere’s Ride,” by Paul Hindman, one It was April 25, 1777. The British troops were targeting the town of Danbury and Colonel Ludington needed a brave soul to muster up his troops, but bold men were scare and the Brits had a big bounty out for him. He hesitatingly agreed to let his youngest daughter to his bidding, but she convinced him she could make the journey through the Red Coat infested territory.

It should be noted Sybil knew how to fire and her father had placed her, along with other daughters in the windows sporting heavy rifles and keeping a close watch hours into the night. So when Daddy Ludington was his deepest hour of need Sybil rose to the challenge and mounted her horse, Starr and set out to make history.

After the battle at Danbury, George Washington went to the Ludington home to personally thank Sybil for her help. Sybil married Catskill lawyer Edmond Ogden (1755-1799) son of Humphrey Ogden and Hannah Bennett. “Early Connecticut Marriages as Found on Ancient Church Records Prior to 1800,” Frederic William Bailey. Also see Sybils Story and  Heroine of 1777 Still All in a Revolutionary Lather MICHAEL POLLAK Published: October 22, 1995


Beekman Patent, The Settlers of, [Dutchess Co., NY]



Sybil’s father was also aide to General George Washington. You can read more on Captain Ludington in “The Connecticut Magazine: An Illustrated Monthly, Volume 11” by Harry Clemons

Henry Ludington was the oldest son of William Ludington and Mary Knowles of Branford, Connecticut, born May 25, 1739. His ancestor, William Ludington and his wife Ellen were of English origin and settled in Charlestown, Massachusetts, about 1632, afterwards removing to New Haven about 1660, and it is recorded that he died at the East Haven Iron Works in 1663. His grandfather, William Ludington, was “a prominent and an influential man among the New Haven colonists, both in church and political affairs. His parents were of the intelligent farmers of the New Haven Colony.”

Mary Knowles, daughter of  Nathaniel Knowles and Mary Hunt. Nathaniel Knowles son of Samuel Knowles and Mercy Freeman, daughter of John Freeman Sr and Mercy Prence. Mary Prence was daughter of Thomas Prence Jr. and Patience Brewster (daughter Elder William Brewster). Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to N.E. 1620-1633, Vols. I-III Samuel Knowles son of Richard Knowles and Ruth Bower.




6537343_1461976936Photos from Find A Grave 1907 Grave Marker Photo Abigail Ludington and Colonel Henry Ludington—From—Colonel Henry Ludington: A Memoir: his grandchildren, L.E. Ludington and C.H. Ludington, 1907 by Willis Fletcher Johnson, Dutchess County, New York. Henry operated a grist mill and store in Luddington (now Kent), NY and is buried nearby in a large cemetery at Patterson, NY of NYS 311. He was a member of the legislature from 1771-1781 and from 1786-87 and was a trustee of the Presbyterian Church.”








286px-harrison_ludingtonHarrison Ludington (July 30, 1812 – June 17, 1891) was an American Republican politician who served as the 13th Governor of Wisconsin and a mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.



52262113_127361330922Photo from Find A Grave Maj Edmund Augustus Ogden, grandson of Sybil Ludington and Edmond Ogdem.  He was the son of Henry Ogden and Died, Aug. 3, 1855, at Fort Riley of cholera Aged 44. Buried, St. Matthews Cemetery, Unadilla, NY. From “The Expeditions of Zebulon Montgomery Pike, to Headwaters of the Mississippi River, Through Louisiana Territory, and in New Spain, During the Years 1805-6-7: A New Ed., Now First Reprinted in Full from the Original of 1810, with Copious Critical Commentary, Memoir of Pike and Complete Index, Volume 2″ 1895. From the article on Sybil’s ride mentions her children and descendants…..




Bonus Tidbit Redding Spy Ring From “A Glimpse of Old Redding Homes by Florence H. Whiting” published in The Redding Times Feb. 25, 1960

Opposite Christ Episcopal Church is a weathered, twin-chimneyed Colonial, now owned by the Dysons, circa 1746, and built by Stephen Betts as a tavern for coach stops. During the American Revolution, Captain Betts with William Heron, a neighbor, and General Parsons, who lived there during the troops’ stay at Putnam Park, together formed a unique spy ring for General George Washington. This spy ring proved so successful that General Tryon of the British army tried to capture Captain Betts, who escaped by a concealed staircase to the cellar of his home and on horseback sped through the “Hollow” to Newtown. Later he was captured and imprisoned in New York.


 putnams_fireplace_redding.jpgFireplace from Putnam’s Headquarters at Redding, Connecticut Now in the possession of George F. Ives, Danbury, Connecticut.

General Putnam’s Redding encampment is now known as Putnam Park. A few huts have been rebuilt to show how they were in the old days Below Photo From the Bridgeport Post 1975 Article by Millie Anderson


Despite the conflict of war, love still ruled–both legal and illicit. Revolutionary war historians have noted that war ushered in an era of debauchery and promiscuity. For the brave men fighting there were  many “camp followers” who were able to provide a few moments of delight—take the soldiers mind off the war. However, the same pleasure and activity was happening back at the home front for many men and women. Also, lots of wedding bells rang…..

The intrigue rose to high alert for Redding Congregational church members and this is pre-Tyron raid. According to church records, Zalmon Read, son of Captain Zalmom Read found in Deacon Burr’s barn with Sarah Moorehouse, a “woman of infamous character,” as noted by the church elders. Sarah was daughter of Solomon Morehouse and Miriam Couch.

An investigation was called for and the church organized a committee to look into the matter. John Couch, Joseph Banks, and Abraham Fairchild were responsible for investigating  and found that Zalmon’s roll in the hay left no substantial evidence to make a serious claim. Read was not banned from the congregation and

In Revolutionary War Records of Fairfield Read is listed as Ensign 4th Connecticut June 19 1779 retired November 1781.

Below Bartlett, Daniel and Esther, House National Register  On the property a late eighteenth-century barn, which was moved intact to this site in 1980 from its original location about a half-mile north of the Bartlett House. It is believed to have been built c.1760 for Captain Zalmon Read, Esther Read Bartlett‘s uncle. It is a good, well-preserved example of an English-style barn, with central doors and threshing floor and box lofts to the sides. Roof boards and floor joists show marks of an up-and-down saw and are believed to be original, while the barn’s siding is a century old or more


Jonathan Bartlett, Clerk of Congregational Church records marriage of Aaron Barlow, son of Samuel Barlow and Esther Hull Barlow, was born at Redding, Connecticut, February 11, 1750 and Rebecca Sandford, daughter of Elnathan Sandford, and Deborah White.  December 17, 1772. From Revolutionary War Records of Fairfield Conn. Spelling varies for Sandford/Sanford.

Rev Nathaniel Bartlet, minister and “consistently a firebrand for the Colonial cause, as were many Congregational ministers who thundered anti-British tirades from their pulpits week after week during the conflict. So outspoken was the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett in his views, that the local Tories who were numerous in western Connecticut threatened to hang him if they could catch him. Due to these frequent and very real threats to his life, the Rev. Nathaniel was obligated to make his parochial rounds with a loaded musket in hand, as well as his Bible. He permitted gunpowder to be stored in a bin he constructed in the attic of his house, (discovered years later by his son the Rev. Jonathan Bartlett), which was quite dangerous- both politically and otherwise” (History of Redding and from records of descendant Gary Bartlett of Michigan)  Below is from Early Connecticut Marriages as Found on Ancient Church Records Prior to 1800


And ones recorded in journal of Rev Nathaniel Bartlett as cited in article by Millie Anderson: “amid the horrors of war sly cupid found a chance to inflict his wounds”. They are given as entered by the Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett:

“I joined together: James Gibbons, a soldier in Putnam’s division and Ann Sullivan February 7 1779 John Lines and Mary Hendrick March 18, 1779, Daniel Evarles and Mary Rowland April 15, 1779, Isaac Olmstead ans Mary Parsons. Jesse Belknap and Eunice Hall April 28, 1779, William Little, steward to General Parsons and Phebe Merchant May 4 1779, Giles Gilbert and Deborah Hall May 23, 1779, William Darrow  and Ruth Bartram March 9, 1780.”


See 5 courtship rituals from colonial America by Therese Oneill…….Now for the Dowry……and an Infamous Love Story….



Gen. Israel Putnam Chapter – Daughters of the American Revolution hold Meetings


Below Marker: 1777 British Raid on Danbury, Connecitcut :: Redding, Connecticut (CT) On receiving intelligence of the landing at Compo, Captain Zalmon Read mustered his company of militia, and forthwith marched to intercept the invaders. At a place called Couch’s Rock, in Weston, Connecticut, they came suddenly upon a British flanking company and were taken as prisoners. Town selectman, James Rogers, Timothy Parsons, Russell Bartlett and 13 year old, Jacob Patchen were among the prisoners.

Timothy Parsons, one of the militiamen, had a fine musket which he particularly valued; this a grenadier took, and dashed to pieces on the stones, saying it should waste no more rebel bullets.
From History of Redding Site Stone dedicated in 2002 reads: “In memory of the Redding citizens captured nearby April 26, 1777 & imprisoned in New York for ransom by British General William Tryon & his invading army.” At the bottom center you will see the text: “And Ned” That is the same Ned as in the novel My Brother Sam is Dead.
The_Journal_News_Fri__Feb_13__2009_ SL1.jpg
      More Sources: New York State Library Barlow-Olmstead Family Papers, 1782-1958; bulk, 1850-1900
    • Revolutionary War Records of Fairfield, Connecticut Donald Lines Jacobus, Kate S. Curry The Nash Family: Or, Records of the Descendants of Thomas Nash, of New Haven, Connecticut, 1640  Case, Tiffany, 1853 
    • Lineage Book – National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Volume 17
    • A Historical Collection from Official Records, Files, &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, During the War of the Revolution: With an Appendix, Containing Important Letters, Depositions, &c., Written During the War Royal Ralph Hinman
    • Historic Barnes of Connecticut
    • Beardsley Genealogy The Family Of William Beardsley One Of The First Settlers Of Stratford Connecticut By Nellie Beardsley Holt
    • Tryon’s Danbury Raid from Walking the Berkshires
    • Connecticut Historical Society Recruits Photo
    • The American Heritage Book of the American Revolution
    • Don Higginbotham, The War of American Independence
    • Joseph Hoyt, The Connecticut Story
    • Old Cemetery Records Town of Redding Conn
    • Early Connecticut Marriages as Found on Ancient Church Records Prior to 1800 Frederic William Bailey
    • Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783 Francis Bernard Heitman Genealogical Publishing Com, 1982
    • Charles Burr Todd, The History of Redding, Connecticut
    • Albert Van Dusen, Connecticut
    • Glory, Passion, and Principle: The Story of Eight Remarkable Women at the Core of the American Revolution Melissa Lukeman Bohrer
    • Christopher Ward, The War of the Revolution
    • The Women of the American Revolution, Volume 2 Elizabeth Fries Ellet
    • The Ancestry of Lorenzo Ackley & His Wife Emma Arabella Bosworth Donald Lines Jacobus
    • The Real Redding Ridge-CONN American Revolution Power Point Presentation
    • Women Heroes of the American Revolution: 20 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Defiance, and Rescue. Susan Casey 2015
    • Revolutionary War Raids & Skirmishes in 1777


General Richard Stoddert Ewell


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Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell; oil on canvas by John P. Walker (1855-1932). Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia. He was AKA “Old Bald Head” 

Richard Ewell (1817-1872) son of  Dr. Thomas Bealle Ewell and Elizabeth Stoddert (both descended from early Maryland settlers). Richard Ewell married Lyzinka McKay Campbell (1820-1872), widow of James Percy Brown, daughter of George Washington Campbell and Harriett Stoddert. George Washington Campbell was a U.S. senator, secretary of the treasury, ambassador to Russia, and U.S. district court judge of Tennessee. He was born in Scotland, the son of physician Archibald Campbell and Elizabeth Mackay, and migrated with his family to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, in 1772. He married Harriet Stoddert, sister of Elizabeth Stoddert, Richard’s mother. Daughters of  (1st Secretary of the Navy) and Rebecca Lowndes, daughter of Christopher Lowndes and Elizabeth Tasker, Hon. Benjamin Tasker and Ann Bladden.  Article Below from Boston Globe May 28 1915



History of the Ewell’s as recorded in Makers of America: Biographies of Leading Men of Thought and Action, the Men who Constitute the Bone and Sinew of American Prosperity and Life, Volume 3  B.F. Johnson, 1917
Continue reading

Mary Baker Eddy, Founder of Christian Science Friendship with Amesbury’s Bagley sisters and Patriot Pedigrees


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Sisters Mary Fowler Bagley (1816-1854) & Sarah Osgood Bagley (1820-1905) Daguerreotype Longyear Museum .

Sarah Osgood Bagley was one of Mary Baker Glover Eddy‘s first students. She was known as a Magnetic Healer (note her death certificate listed Mental Healer).

In July 1868 Sarah Bagley and Mary Baker Eddy made a house call to Amesbury’s poet  John Greenleaf Whittier who had been suffering from various ailments–the main issue he complained of was incipient pulmonary consumption which Whittier noted, “If Jesus Christ was in Amesbury, he would have to have brass-lined lungs to live here.” The Pulpit and Press Volume 54.

Eddy spoke with him for some time, “in the line of Science,” and by the end of their conversation he seemed much improved. As she left, Whittier called to her and said, “I thank you, Mary, for your call; it has done me much good.” Reports received the following day he was spotted in the village and in much better health and spirits. See Mary Baker Eddy and John Greenleaf Whittier

Mary and Sarah Bagley daughters of Lowell Bagley and Sarah/Sally Osgood, daughter of  Samuel Osgood and Anna Hoyt d. of  Joseph Hoyt and Lydia Jewell. Samuel Osgood son of Samuel Osgood and Anna Barnard. They also had a sister Emeline Bagley (1812-1892) married James Whittier, son of James Whittier and Mary Sargent.

Lowell Bagley was son of Isaac Bagley, (s. of  Timothy Bagley and Mary Thompson) and Mehitable Bartlett (d. of Capt. Stephen Bartlett and Ruth Currier). Stephen s. of Deacon Stephen Bartlett (s. of Richard Barlett and Hannah Emery) and Hannah Webster (d. of John Webster and Bridget Huggins).  Deacon Stephen’s brother was Governor Josiah Bartlett, first signer of the Deceleration of Independence who studied medicine in Amesbury, Massachusetts with Doctor Ordway. See Ordway Family and Colby, Osgood, Gove, Morrill, Jameson, & Other New England Old Names Genealogy and Grave Photos from from Ronald Colby data base Colby Family & Others

In Salisbury Vital Records there is a intention to marry: OSSGOOD (see also Osgood), Sally, and Lowell Bagley [of Amesbury. int.], Nov. 26, 1811. And From Massachusetts Town Records

record-image_3QS7-9979-993Q-S ma.jpg

Mary and Sarah Bagley maintained a dressmaking and millinary business until Mary’s passing in 1864, and Sarah continued the business to support herself and her mother until sometime after 1868.  From Longyear Museum Digital Collection









Photos from the Longyear Museum site of the Bayley home 277 Main Street in Amesbury, Massachusetts where Mary Baker Eddy stayed on two different occasions. The house has been maintained by the museum, along with seven other historic houses in their collection that trace Mary Baker Eddy’s footsteps as Discoverer, Founder, and Leader of Christian Science.

I Sarah O. Bagley do hereby agree to pay Mary M Glover for instruction given me twenty five percent on the monies or income arising from my practicing or teaching that which she has taught me so long as I may practice or teach this her mode of doctoring the sick. I hold myself to this agreement. This has been changed to ten per cent for the past two years. Mrs. G offered to reduce it one half after the year 1872, after that reduced it to ten percent being the percent the others paid. It stands now in 1875 at ten percent. Have paid over two hundred dollars on the within, and she has refused to receive any more percentage on my practice…..Original transcript Agreement between Sarah O. Bagley and Mary Baker Eddy, April 23, 1870



Mrs. Longyear’s daughter Judith with her sons and a friend in the yard at the Amesbury house. From the scrapbook collection of Longyear Museum


For a full account of Mary’s story see and The Mary Baker Eddy Museum  The Life of Mary Baker Eddy

 Mary A Morse Baker (1821-1910) d. of Mark Baker and Abigail Bernard Ambrose and a direct descendant of Thomas Baker who immigrated from Kent County, England to Roxbury, Massachusetts. Mark Baker married Mrs. Elizabeth Patterson Duncan in 1850.
Mark Baker was son of Joseph Baker and Marion Moore McNeil daughter of John McNeil and Marion Moore. Joseph son of Joseph Baker and Hannah Lovell/Lovewell, daughter of Captain John Lovell/Lovewell and Hannah Smith.  Joseph son Thomas Baker and Sarah Pike, daughter of Rev John Pike and Sarah Moody, Daughter of Rev Joshua Moody and Martha Collins.
Mary Baker married 1st George Washington Glover (builder) and 2nd Daniel Patterson (dentist and homeopath) and 3rd Asa Gilbert Eddy. Also John Harriman Bartlett betrothed, but he dies in 1849. Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots about Joseph Baker.
Descendants Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage Book 1918 Volume 46

MRS. ELLEN CLEAVELAND PILSBURY PHILBROOK. 45057 Born in Wethersfield, Conn. Wife of Edwin Philbrook. Descendant of Eliphalet Pilsbury, Joseph Baker, and Joseph Baker, Jr.
Daughter of Luther Calvin Pilsbury and Martha Smith Baker, his wife.
Granddaughter of Moses Cross Pilsbury and Lois Cleaveland, his wife; Mark Baker and Abigail Ambrose, his wife. Gr-granddaughter of Eliphalet Pilsbury and Elizabeth Cross, his wife:  Joseph Baker, Jr., and Marion Moore, his wife. Gr-gr-granddaughter of Joseph Baker and Hannah Lovewell, his 1st wife, m. 1739.  Eliphalet Pilsbury (1751-1824) was placed on the pension roll of Rockingham Co., N. H., 1818, for service as private, Mass. Continental line. He was born in Newbury, Mass.; died in Chester, N. H.  Also Nos. 16085, 40437. Joseph Baker (1714-90) was a member of the Committee of Safety of Pembroke. He was born in Roxbury, Mass.;died in Pembroke, N. H. Joseph Baker, Jr. (1740-1816), served as a soldier in a New Hampshire regiment at Fort Washington 1779. He was born in Pembroke; died in Bow, N. H. Also No. 1423.






Sampler made by Sarah Osgood Bailey that is part of the Longyear Museum collection. When Mary Beecher Longyear purchased this house in 1922, it still held furnishings and personal memorabilia from the Bagley family. See “The History of a House: (built by Squire Bagley, in Amesbury, Massachusetts) Its Founder, Family and Guests.” by Mary Beecher Longyear.

  • Warren NH Lodge Site for more on Amesbury Familes including Bagley,
  • The Captain’s Well in Amesbury
  • Sarah Alice Huntington of Amesbury MA
  • Women and Spirituality in the Writing of More, Wollstonecraft, Stanton, and Eddy  A. Ingham
  • The Life of Mary Baker Eddy Sibyl Wilbur
  • The History of a House: (built by Squire Bagley, in Amesbury, Massachusetts) Its Founder, Family and Guests Mary Beecher Longyear
  • Marriages And Baptisms At South Hampton, N.H. 1743-1804.From A Ms. Copy Of The Church Record Published For Private Distribution By Geo. A. Gordon.
    South Hampton (N.H.) Church Records. Transcribed by Dave Swerdfeger
  • The Life of Mary Baker Eddy and the History of Christian Science. by Georgine Milmine

Descendant of Starbuck Clan Rules Out Infamous First Tea Party of Nantucket and Romance Letter of Ruth Starbuck Wentworth


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Abe Books copy of Nantucket’s First Tea published by The Inquirer and Mirror Press, Nantucket, 1907 (Authors Ruth Starbuck Wentworth and Roland B Hussey)

The above book along with a letter depicting a romance of a young girl and her suitor Captain Norris of Boston. The letter, allegedly written on September 20, 1747 by a direct descendant of the Nantucket Starbuck settlers, Ruth Starbuck Wentworth was published in almost every newspaper and magazine around the country. On bottom of this post is the full letter from 1920 The Denver Post—you can also read An Idyl from Nantucket This is an example how Genealogy and family tradition can be misinterpreted, as one descendant, Alexander Starbuck will point out in his attempt to sort through fact and fiction.

The contents of the letter mention a cousin, Nathaniel Starbuck, JR returning to Boston from a voyage to China. According to The Literary Digest Rebecca represents her grandfather as walking “restlessly up and down the yard” looking for the returning wanderer, and Uncle Nathaniel Starbuck Sr. remarking with pride, “The boy will have many stories to tell.”

The Boston Transcript published this story under the heading of “The First Afternoon Tea-Party on Nantucket Isle,” and THE DIGEST (issue of December 27) quoted from it under the heading of “Early American Love-Story Retold in an Old Letter.” Alexander Starbuck, of Waltham, Mass, a direct descendant, in the seventh generation, of the Nathaniel Starbuck referred to in the story that as a piece of fiction he has no objection to it. “But when it poses as history,” he adds, “as it has in a hundred publications from Maine to California, I object.” He forwards also a letter which appears under his name in The Inquirer and Mirror, of Nantucket, in which he presents the following details, as showing the story’s present stage of development: “Grandma” is knitting some stockings for Nathaniel, Jr., “to take on his next voyage.” She writes of “Aunt Content” and “Aunt Esther,” “Uncle Edward Starbuck’s’ family,” “Lieutenant Macy,” and “Lydia Ann IvIacy,” all of whom are to partake of cups of tea brewed from a part of the contents of a large box of the herb procured by Cousin “Nat” in China.

Aunt Content hung a five-gallon bellnietal kettle with a plentiful supply of water on the crane over the fire and dumped in two bowlfuls of tea, to which Aunt Esther added another bowlful for good measure. This mixture was “boiled down to about a gallon.”

When the company, of which there seems to have been a dozen or more, all provided with silver porringers belonging to “grandpa,” had gathered to partake of this new refreshment, Cousin Nathaniel inspected it and told her that “a spoonful of this beverage would nearly kill any of us here at the table.”

They were then shown how properly to brew the tea and all went on happily ever after. The letter is dated from “Starbuck Plantation, near Madaket.” and the party is assembled on December 31. “to sit the old year out and the new year in.”

Now if this story were only given out as pure fiction it is amusingly interesting,_lmt it is usually invested with a historical halo which is certainly misapplied. I have received many inquiries from time to time regarding it from parties who evidently believed it true. I have received already five letters regarding this particular article, which is only a reprint of what has traveled the rounds of the American press several times in the past thirty-five or forty years.

As a matter of fact, there is little (very little) truth about it, and it is as full of anachronisms as a sieve is full of holes. When Mr. Starbuck first became acquainted with the story, he writes, “it was a modest little affair, occupying the space of perhaps four inches, and published in the Nantucket Mirror of nearly fifty years ago.”

Since then it has grown to such size that it has appeared in book form, “a very elaborate edition, really a work of art, largely in Old English text, and brilliantly illustrated in a manner that would assuredly have scandalized Nathaniel and Mary Starbuck and their descendants, nearly all of whom for a century wore the modest garb of Quakers.” The writer continues: It is quite noteworthy that some versions of the story give its date as September 20, 1735, and others September 20, 1747, the most of them following the latter date. There was no “Starbuck Plantation” on Nantucket. The Ruth Starbuck Wentworth, the alleged writer, calls Nathaniel Starbuck, Sr., her uncle, so that it would naturally follow that she was a daughter of one of his sisters. He had three sisters: Dorcas Starbuck, who married William Gayer; Sarah Starbuck, who married Benjamin Austin; and Abigail Starbuck, who married (1) Peter Coffin and (2) Humphry Varney; so that no immediate niece of Nathaniel Starbuck, Sr., and cousin of Nathaniel Starbuck, Jr., could have been named Wentworth.

“Aunt Content” and “Aunt Esther” seem also to be unknown quantities in that generation, nor was there any “ Lieu tenant” Macy. Furthermore, no native of Nantucket or resident there was dignified or burdened or distinguished by a middle name for some years after that date.

It will be noticed, too, that this party assembled on December 31, “to sit the old year out and the new year in,” but at that time December was, as its name implies, the tenth month and the new year did not begin until after the middle of March.

Ruth dates her letter September 20, 1747. She is, by her own account, so young that her relatives think her hardly old enough to marry and there were not a few early marriages in those days. Indeed she writes that her cousin mentions her as the “little dumpling of a cousin that he used to toss in the air when he was last at home.”

Assuming, however, that she was nineteen, it is interesting to see where the story leaves us. She would have been ‘ born in 1728. The grandfather (Edward Starbuck), of whom she writes that he “walks restlessly up and down the yard,” died in 1690, or thirty-eight years before she could have been born.

“Grandma” died many years prior to that, as nearly as I can determine prior to 1665. “Uncle Edward Starbuck” was a myth. The Uncle Nathaniel, who says “The boy will have many stories to tell,” died in 1719, or nine years before ‘the voluble and imaginative Ruth saw the light of day, and twenty-eight years before the date of the letter.

Another interesting reference to this letter is posted an Ancestry.COM board by Elaine Coffin Rebori stating it was found in the papers of Leroy Franklin Dick after his death. It was copied by Mr. Dick who asserted it was written by Ruth Starbuck Wentworth who had left that Island for a New Settlement. This letter has been handed down from generation to generation until it has reached J.C. Starbuck of Carmel, Indiana.

Jim Starbuck responded to Rebori: “Since no one had a middle name or initial that early in our history, the J.C. is patently fictitious, and the New York Public Library long ago exposed this piece as fiction written by Robert Collyer.”

Here is the family line: Nathaniel Starbuck, Sr., (1634-1719) was son of Edward Starbuck and Katharine Reynolds. He married Mary Coffin, daughter of Tristam Coffin and Dionis Stevens. Nathaniel, Sr. siblings  See full Records  Starbuck Genealogy Papers











Rev rom8


Sources and Further Reading to check out

  • Edward Starbuck Minor Descent
  • The Literary Digest, Volume 64 Edward Jewitt Wheeler, Isaac Kaufman Funk, William Seaver Woods

  • Nathaniel Starbuck Lambert M Surhone, Mariam T Tennoe, Susan F Henssonow Betascript Publishing, May 17, 2011
  • Early Settlers of Nantucket: Their Associates and Descendants
  • Keeping History “So you say your great-great-great grandfather is Tristam Coffin”:
    Using the Barney Genealogical Record Georgen Gilliam Charnes
  • Photo from Find A Grave contributor Bob Kenney, FIND A GRAVE MEMORIAL. Memorial to the founding mothers of Nantucket Island, erected in 2009 on Cliff Road in Nantucket, Nantucket, Massachusetts USA.
  • Historic Nantucket vol. 47, no. 1 (Winter 1998) The Eliza Starbuck Barney Genealogical Record Joan Elrick Clarke
  • 1296.-Edward-Starbuck
  • Starbuck Family by Bill Putnam
  • Nantucket Historical Association






Salem Witches? Puritans Thought So


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From October 1991

Asbury_Park_Press_Sun__Oct_27__1991_p1Asbury_Park_Press_Sun__Oct_27__1991_ 2Trask October 1991 1Asbury_Park_Press_Sun__Oct_27__1991_ trask 2

Check out these Sources:

Emerson Baker A Storm of Witchcraft





Fiske Family Genealogy and Photo Collection


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From my Blog Click Fiske Family Genealogy and Photo Collection

Eva Fiske, Caroline Walsh, Amos Fiske, Lewis Fiske, Mehitable Knowlton, William Walsh, Lucy Ball, Portsmouth NH, Lowell MA, Civil War, 7th Massachusetts Regiment, Rev Daniel McClenning, Eunice Parker Fiske. Cheshire NH, Parker Fiske, Mary Priest, Daniel McClenning, Thirza Gilbert, Elizabeth Richardson, Abijah Richardson, Mary Richardson, Dublin NH, Asa Fisk, Elisha Mann, Nathan Mann, Wrentham MA, Cynthia Mann, Samuel Fiske, Groton MA, Leonard Rabone, Moody Rabone, Moriah Mason Lodge, Sarah Waterman, Albert L Fiske, Luther Reynolds, Mahala Arnold, Frank H Fiske, Margaret Fisher, Harry Libby Fiske, David Brainard Fiske, Jane Libby, Nashua NH, Maggie Kilillea, Daniel Fiske, Ruth Chain, Sallie Robie, Josiah Libby, Ralph Fiske, Hazen Fiske, Polly Abbott Walker, Martha Ann Chase, Aaron Fiske, Tabitha Metcalf, Moses Eaton, Esther Ware, Esther Eaton, Daniel Fiske, Dublin NH, John Johnson, Lorenzo Johnson, Sophia Abbott, Adeline Fiske, David Sargent, Jenney Eastman, Amesbury MA, Nathan Johnson, John Johnson, Hannah Sargent, Alice Fiske, Frederick Fiske, Sarah Clark. Albert Stevens, Lancaster NH, Ohio, Clara T Fiske, James Fiske, Eunice Gleason, George Murdock, Maria Nichols, William Fiske,

Source: Fiske Family Genealogy and Photo Collection

Witch Will It BE: Salem Ancestors of 1692 Witch Trials


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swtI came across this article researching Carolyn Hart Wood’s line that is a direct link to Mary Towne Estey/Esty. It was published in 1993 in The News Journal Wilmington Delaware

Witch Estey

A letter from Robert Pike to Judge Curwin Salem Witch Trials 1692

In 1892 John Nurse, a descendant of Rebecca Nurse who was executed for witchcraft in the Salem Witch Hysteria 1692 gave an address on the Salem Witchcraft Trials to the Nurse Family Association. Rebecca Nurse was the  daughter of William Towne and Joanna Blessing of Topsfield, Massachusetts.Rebecca’s tow sisters, Mary Towne Esty and Sarah Towne Cloyse were also tried and executed for witchcraft in 1692.

nurse1885.jpgNurse Family Association, dedication of the Rebecca Nurse Memorial, erected July, 1885. The tall granite memorial is located in the cemetery of Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers, Massachusetts. Photograph housed at Danvers Public Library part of the Archive Collection.

Pike Roger.jpg

One topic which John Nurse spoke on was the letter written in August of 1692 to Judge Jonathan Curwin (Photo below) singed with the initials “R P” which is agreed by most scholars to be Robert Pike, of Salisbury, Massachusetts. (Some believe this letter was written by Robert Payne).


I was intrigued by this article* published in The Springfield Republican 1879 entitled Our Boston Literary Letter. Puritans, Witches and Quakers The Life of Robert Pike

The letter delivered to Judge Curwin was dated in Salisbury, Massachusetts and in the handwriting of Captain Thomas Bradbury, Recorder of old Norfolk County. Bradbury’s wife, Mary Perkins Bradbury, was arrested for witchcraft and was jailed at the time as Rebecca Nurse.

Charles Wentworth Upham in his book Salem witchcraft; with an account of Salem Village, and a history of opinions on witchcraft and kindred subjects, Volume I and II provides a copy of the letter and is available on line University of Virginia site.

Pike was speaking for the victims, although many examples he refers to are his defense was gearing toward Mary Perkins Bradbury is probably correct. Pike was close with her family and he served in many civil positions with her husband Captain Bradbury.

It is certain that Justice Curwin took great stock in this letter as James Shepherd Pike points out,”the fact that Jonathan Curwin preserved this document, and placed it in the lilies of his family papers, is pretty good proof that he appreciated the weight of its arguments. It is not improbable that he expressed himself to that effect to his brethren on the bench, and perhaps to others.”

What is important to note is that Pike was extremely progressive and was under constant scrutiny despite his high position. (with exception of Rev Dane in Andover and Rev Hale in Beverly) he was a voice of reason and logic. Pike advocated for many including Thomas Macy, James Peaslee, and the three Quaker women of Dover made famous by John Greenleaf Whittier.

In a well written letter Pike brings into question the conduct of the judges, the validity of the hearings, and “controverts and demolishes the principles on which the Court was proceeding in reference to the “spectral evidence,” and the credibility of the “afflicted children” generally.

However, Rebecca Nurse’s case was definitely of interest. Her brother Joseph Towne married Phebe Perkins, daughter of Deacon Thomas Perkins and Pheobe Gould. Thomas was the sister of Mary Perkins Bradbury.

One of the motivations to target Rebecca was her connection with Quaker families. Douglas Bowerman, a direct descendant utilized the research Margo Burns compiled to trace his family line. The archival records  from Burns work reveal  that on April 26 1677 “a guardianship decision by the court allowing John Southwick to chose Frances Nurse (husband to Rebecca Nurse) to be guardian of his son Samuel and Thomas Fuller to be Guardian to his son John.”

Lawrence Southwick and his wife Cassandra were banished from Salem for their Quaker beliefs see Nutfield Genealogy Surname Southwick

Emerson Baker in A Storm of Witchcraft proposes that, “Suspicion may even have fallen on respected Puritan saint Rebecca Nurse because of Quaker ties,” when she assumed guardianship role for the Southwick children. In his earlier book, The Devil of Great Island: Witchcraft and Conflict in Early New England, Baker also notes that many scholars have uncovered evidence that several accused of witchcraft in the Salem 1692 Witch trials were associated with Quakers. Bakers asserts, household members, neighbors, , that were Quakers.”

There were connections and definite conflicts with families that were tied to Quakers.  I have published two articles in Genealogy Magazine on the PERKINS line. The first is “The Witchcraft Trial of Mary Perkins Bradbury” and second, her relative Lydia Perkins Wardwell, daughter of Issac Perkins, brother of Jacob Perkin, Mary’s father. Lydia suffered from the Quaker persecutions and was targeted by families who provided testimony that lead to her conviction. Lydia’s story  “Seventeenth Century Quaker Sought Redress by Undressing” describes the ordeal. I plan to publish a third article on how these families lines continue to intertwine. Most of the feuds can be traced back to early settlements all through New England.




Documents from The Salem Witch Trial Rebecca Nurse  The Petition Friends of Rebecca Nurse writing a letter on her behalf that all charges be dismissed against her, and Examination Document, 1692









  • The New Puritan: New England Two Hundred Years Ago: Some Account of the Life of Robert Pike, the Puritan who Defended the Quakers James Shepherd Pike
  • “Our Boston Literary Letter. Puritans, Witches and Quakers. The Life of Robert Pike – New Hampshire”  Springfield Rebublican Massachusetts Wednesday April 23, 1879
  • The Trial of Rebbeca Nurse History of Massachusetts
  • The Corwin genealogy : (Curwin, Curwen, Corwine) in the United States Edward Tanjore Corwin, 1834-1914
  • Letter of Robert Pike, 1692 written at Salisbury, Mass., August 9, 1692 Peabody Essex Museum
  • Full Account with transcribed documents Murder in Salem
  • “Our Boston Literary Letter. Puritans, Witches and Quakers. The Life of Robert Pike” article published
  • “The Broomstick Trail” Sarah Comstock Harper’s Magazine Volume 40
  • The Petition for Rebecca Nurse  History of Massachusetts
  • “Old Nurse House to be Bought by Historical Society ” December 11, 1905
  • A Storm of Witchcraft Emerson Baker