During every period of human history there are those who become well known and are long remembered for their role as the leaders and influencers of their day. This is especially true during tumultuous times of major change and civil unrest which tests the metal and resolve not only of these leaders but of the multitudes of their followers as well. Those who follow, for the most part, remain forever below the radar screen of notoriety and are soon forgotten by the masses. However, without the determination and fidelity of these “followers” the future outcome of their lifetimes would have been far different. The story I am going to share with you is about one such family who for nearly 200 years played such a supporting role in the founding of this great nation and its initial movement west.
This story could be repeated hundreds of times for it gathers up the common threads of risk and sacrifice which accompanied the hopes and dreams of those early settlers and pioneers who saw their future in the New World and later its expansion and settling of lands west of the Alleghenies. This story is centered around a man named Joshua, who like the Joshua of old led his people into a land of promise even in the face of great personal risk, deprivation and the riggers of taking possession of their future homeland. For this Joshua and his family it meant clearing their land for a frontier home in the midst of the wilderness known as the Northwest Territory while facing the threats and attacks from the many Indian tribes who claimed the area as their own hunting and fishing grounds. Further the sweat equity required was huge for this Territory was covered with such a dense forest it was said that a squirrel could go from the Ohio River to Lake Erie without ever touching the ground.
This Joshua’s life spanned the years from the pre-revolutionary period in the New England colonies to the first successful settlements in the North-West Territory. The land North and West of the Ohio River reached to the banks of the Mighty Mississippi River. This period in American History represents the first major migration and settlements in the North West Territory by pioneer homesteaders who came from the confines of the eastern seaboard occupied by the original thirteen colonies of the pre-revolutionary period. This Territory west of the Appellation Mountains in the Ohio Company Tract represented an opportunity for the Newly Established Country to compensate the Revolutionary soldiers for their service while offering a much needed avenue for the ever expanding population along the eastern seaboard to migrate into a territory of fertile lands rich in natural resources.
Many members of this family, as well as hundreds of others who accompanied them, played extremely significant roles in the colonization and development of this new Nation and it’s early struggles for liberty and freedom by all who settled here. It should be noted that the North-West Ordinance and the opening of the Ohio Company for “homesteading” which it authorized, played a central role in our nation’s advancement toward becoming one nation under God who’s citizens were understood to be endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This was left to the actions of another son of a pioneer family, President Abraham Lincoln, who nearly 90 years later, described this Declaration as:
“conceived in liberty and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal.”
The early developments surrounding the settlement of this land “so conceived and so dedicated” did not happen in a vacuum. It was undeniably the result of the faith and vision of these early settlers and did not come about apart from the determination and sacrifice of many of those who shared in that vision. As a result of their deep religious convictions along with the social, economic and political issues of their day and time, all helped chart a new course in the arena of national affairs. This process, did not occur apart from the blood, sweat and tears of the many who were passionately engaged at every step along the way.
Needless to say, these patriots did not get everything sorted out with regard to the great social issues of that day. The vexing issue of slavery was not fairly and perfectly resolved to the benefit of “All Men” from the beginning. None-the-less, the guiding values and goals of their social and political endeavors were never totally abandoned for the sake of human expediency. For even in times when it seemed that these principles would be abdicated for the sake of political compromise, these passionately held religious and moral views and values were so deeply embedded in their consciousness that they were left with the realization that though they could not totally achieve these dreams immediately, there was the acknowledgment that there was much more which would eventually have to be done in the forming of “a more perfect Union.” Nevertheless even in those times of imperfect solutions and struggles with moral delinquencies, they never abandoned their bedrock convictions. At the top of this list was the conviction that the freedom and liberty they so passionately sought for themselves must one day be extended to ALL persons.
The acknowledgment of this conviction that all men are entitled to these rights is found in the terms and conditions set forth in the North-West Territory Ordinance which directed that this land and the states which would be developed herein were to be free states and that slavery was forbidden throughout this Territory. This goal could not be attained if all 13 colonies were to be included in this new nation. In this action, they were acknowledging that the government they were establishing and the social order it would ultimately produce, would come not from a monarch or even the institutions of government with its social negotiations but from “their Creator.” Thus, they were acknowledging that the success of this grand experiment in social and civic affairs depended not on the whim and favor of our rulers or elected leaders but from the rights and privileges which were granted to all persons by their Creator.
It is against the background of these social, political, economic and religious factors that the story of Joshua and his family of origin needs to be told. Truly, his heritage, personal faith and commitment to freedom and liberty combined to make him: “The Right Man for His Time.”
It was a mid-September afternoon in 1816, “The Year without a summer.” Joshua and his wife Abigail sat huddled together in front of the large open fireplace in the great room of their son’s pioneer home. They had moved here several months earlier due to his failing health. Thankfully their son’s home, located on the south side of the Muskingum River, was large enough to accommodate them for it was a three-story stone home with open fireplaces on every level to provide warmth for those long cold winter nights so customary in the newly settled territory North-West of the Ohio River. However, this year had been quite unusual from the beginning. In the early spring and continuing through the summer, there had been freezing weather every month of this year. So even though this was late-summer, they sat looking out on a dusting of snow which had covered the lawn and trees lining the riverbank some thirty yards to the north.
This was not that unusual for this year as there had been snow every month of this spring and summer including an abnormal accumulation of 3 to 4 inches of snow in early June accompanied by a brisk wind from the north east which caused considerable drifting. Many in the pioneer communities around Washington County Ohio including Adams and Waterford Townships were beginning to wonder if this highly unusual weather pattern might represent a harbinger of things to come. This recurrence of cold and snowy weather had destroyed most of the crops as well as the fruit, berries and nuts which represented a large part of the diet for those in these early Ohio settlements. Many of these settlers were children of New England Puritans and others who had been influenced by their rigid understanding of right and wrong. Thus the threat of imminent punishment when the rules were disobeyed was always present in the back of their minds. And some even wondered whether these developments were a precursor of the coming judgment of God on a broken and sinful world. This would not have been an unreasonable or unthinkable conclusion for many of these pioneer families for their religious views had been nurtured within that Puritan culture of the early New England Pilgrims who had come to those rocky shores nearly 200 years earlier for religious reasons. Further, the Great Awakenings which had heightened the religious fervor even on the frontier in the late 1700’s had influenced the thinking and attitudes of these pioneers. Even though the real cause of this weather pattern, which was so devastating for the pioneers in the Ohio Country in 1816, had been the catastrophic eruption of the giant volcano, Tambora, in Indonesia, South-East Asia. It would have been hard for them to believe that such a natural occurrence which had taken place over a year earlier on April 15, 1815, could have such disastrous effects on the world’s weather for so long a time as this.
However even though most of these settlers were descendants of those planters who settled along the eastern shores, many like Joshua and his family, were descendants of those who had left the more austere communities along the seashore and had established their pioneer homes in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania where there was a bit more religious freedom than was present in the Puritan settlements. This variance was reflected in the difference between the settlements in the fort at Marietta and that in the outpost Fort Frye in Waterford Township. It was reported that the settlers preferred living in Fort Frye during the Indian Wars where the atmosphere was a bit more relaxed and laid back rather than living in Campus Martius where the discipline was more rigid under the leaders who were more of the old line Puritan heritage.
However, whatever the reason, Joshua knew that there had been other years when the climate had reacted in drastically different ways. In fact he recalled that he had been told as a child that the year he had been born, 1629, had been the hottest summer ever recorded in recent memory and one which had never been equaled to that very day. (In fact that record stood for over 200 years as the hottest summer on record.) Then too, he recalled that there had been other years when the crops had failed whether by unusual weather patterns or the inability of the settlers to get the fields ready and planted in time that first year in the settlement to yield a good harvest. This had been the case the very year this new community was established due to the extensive work required to clear the land and build their pioneer homes so they could move out of the tents which had been their temporary shelter when they first arrived in the spring of 1789. As a result the crops never had time to develop and the Indians had killed all the game in a 20 mile area surrounding these settlements to discourage the pioneers from staying. This left these newly established settlements struggling to survive from the ravages of disease and starvation. Their situation was so severe that unless they had been able to rely on fish from the river and the gathering and cooking of all sorts of plants, which we regard as weeds today, they would not have survived.
On this cold snowy summer afternoon Joshua and his wife Abigail sat in the comfort of this lovely stone house with an afghan across their laps and legs reminiscing about their 66 years together and their 26 years in this frontier community. They recalled having spent several years in Nova Scotia raising their family until they were forced to leave over the issue of freedom and independence from the mother country England. Then there were those years during the Revolutionary War when Abigail had to care for the children while Maj. Joshua was fighting for their freedom. And finally how they had been among the first settlers in the Waterford settlement and had built their pioneer home about four miles further upriver midway between the location of the original landing site at Tuttle’s Run and the fort which he and two of his sons helped to build for their protection during the Indian Wars of the early 1790’s.
He and Abigail were huddled together on a love seat in front of the large open fireplace in the upstairs living room of this three story stone house which his son had built in 1800 from sandstone and lumber which were readily available on his land. The kitchen and fireplace for cooking were on the first floor which opened out onto a front lawn facing the Muskingum River while the living area on the second floor opened onto a large porch in front and out onto a yard in back. There also were two bedrooms on this level. Access to the third floor bedrooms was by way of a narrow and winding stairway which went up beside and behind the fireplace in the living area. There were two main bedrooms on the third floor with open fireplaces in the center of the outside wall in each. This represented a very comfortable accommodation for these two pioneers in their declining years.
In most years the large fireplace in the living area was allowed to burn out in late April or early May. However, this year a second large six foot long “backlog” had been hitched to one of their horses and pulled into the living room and then rolled into the back of the fireplace which would allow for a fire to be kept burning in this fireplace for heat throughout the spring and the many bitterly cold nights during this most unusual summer.
As Joshua peered out at the light dusting of snow which remained on the lawn and trees on this cloudy late summer afternoon, it reminded him of the many cold and difficult days he had experienced throughout his lifetime from the brief stint he had spent with his family in Canada before the Revolutionary War and the years he spent in fighting for his countries freedom while providing for his family’s care. And then there was his enthusiastic participation in the opening of the North West Territory for the settlement on the land owned by the Ohio Company which included many others, neighbors, from his former New England home.
On this cold and blustery day his aches and pains seemed even more acute then usual because of the weather along with what he realized was the results of his declining health. These last few days served only to convince him of the fact that his condition was becoming worse with each passing day. So regardless of the cause of this most aberrant summer in all his 88 years, his deteriorating condition served as a constant reminder that his time on this earth was rapidly coming to a close. However, there was no sense of panic or fear as he contemplated his future for his was a strong personal faith in God which he had received primarily from his grandfather Jonathan back in his boyhood Rhode Island home. It had been this faith which led him to a life well lived not in the pursuit of personal gain but in helping to secure the freedoms for his nation and in the assisting of many other individuals and families in the securing of a homestead in the Ohio country.
But even beyond this, he was confident that just as his generation had met and overcame the challenges they had faced with confidence and determination, so he was assured that those who would follow him, his children and grandchildren – all 163 of them – along with the many faithful and honest settlers in this new land, would be able to meet and overcome the challenges they were facing not only during this very challenging year but for all the challenges they would face in the future as well.
Early English Background
The story of Joshua begins with his grandfather Jonathan who was among the first generation of this family to be born in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the new world. He was the fifth son born to William and Millisaint in the town of Hingham, Mass. Jonathan’s parents were married shortly after coming to New England and soon made their home on the south shore of Boston Bay.
Jonathan’s father William was the youngest son of Edward and Christian who made their home in Upway, Dorchester County, England. William’s paternal family were known throughout the west country of England as Fullers. According to an ancient family legend repeated by a family “cousin” who served as a Lt. Col. attached to General Montgomery’s service during WWII, this family had come to England several decades earlier and had established Fuller Mills in several communities across the west country in Devon, Dorset, and Somerset Counties. Their trade was that of producing woolen yarn and thread for the manufacture of woolen garments and other woolen goods of all kinds. Edward, along with many of his “cousins” established mills for the processing of wool in several communities across the English west country.
Edward was an energetic and ambitious young man who in addition to mastering the Fuller’s Trade, was not reluctant at taking risks in the developing and perfecting of his art. So after completing his apprenticeship in his father’s mill and marrying the young lady of his dreams, he built his Fuller Mill in a location which he recognized to be a prime location for his “state of the art” Water Mill which could be built on the head waters of a very short spring fed river in the midst of a plush rural area well suited to farming and the raising and tending of sheep. Thus, this area was not only well suited for a thriving fuller’s business but it also offered the local farmers the opportunity to share in a robust economy as well.
The ancient Fuller’s trade represented one of the oldest business enterprises practiced by mankind and had been conducted in somewhat the same manner for thousands of years. The time-honored process used in this practice was to soak the wool from the sheep in a vat of water with very strong Fuller’ soap (a strong bleach) to remove all the dirt, stain or discolorations from the wool fibers. The wool fibers would then be trampled by foot much as the grapes were (and sometimes still are) stamped on by foot in the process of extracting the juice for wine. This trampling of the wool was done to break down the course texture of the wool to prepare these fibers to be more easily spun into thread or yearn for use in the production of woolen blankets or cloth for the manufacture of a full range of clothing and accessory articles. The bleaching process prepared the yearn or thread to be died into whatever colors were desired which could then be woven into blankets or clothing with an endless variety of colors, patterns, weaves, etc.
One of the advancements in the operating of a Fuller’s Mill was the use of a water mill in the processing of wool rather than the ancient method of walking or stamping on the fibers by foot. So in his search for a location suitable for building his Fuller’s Water Mill, Edward found what he considered to be a prime location. It was at the head waters of the Wey River just four miles upstream from the costal town of Weymouth on the English Channel. The greatest feature of this location was that the stream was spring fed So the supply of water for use in the mill did not depend on the weather or seasonal rains as the total area which drains into this river was not all that large. Rather, this stream provided an endless supply of water for use by the mill. By building a small dam across the river just a few yards down from the spring, a pool of water was created large enough to supply a constant flow of water for use by the mill. This process calls for the use of water power in lifting and then dropping rather large wooden beams onto the wool fibers thus exerting a much greater force over a larger area than was possible when done by foot. This method of beating the wool fibers in preparation for their use in the making of woolen products produced a much better result in far less time than the old labor intensive method.
In the process of preparing the pool for use by the mill, he also developed a wishing well around the spring which became famous throughout all of England and was visited often by those who would come to drink a bit of the water from the well and then throw the rest over their left shoulder in the hopes of receiving their wish.
The mill was built just a few rods below the pond and wishing well which became a landmark in that small rural village. Edward and Christian built their home just across the stream from the Mill in this small rural village of Upwey which was located on the southwest side of a hill just a few miles from the county town of Dorchester.
Though Edward and Christian were very young when they settled in this place and began to raise their family, they were very successful in this venture and Edward was able to accumulate a considerable amount of wealth as well as community recognition for a man of his age and station in life — a Fuller. As a result he was able to secure a long-term lease which gave a substantial measure of security for the future of this enterprise and his family. During the years his family was growing, he was successful in securing a lease on the property which contained the spring and his Water Mill as well as their family home. The lease on this property was secured not just for his lifetime but for the lifetime of his two oldest sons as well. Due to the laws governing the ownership of land during this time, Edward was not able to purchase this property as a “free holder” but he was able to secure his holdings through the next best arrangements, “A Lease on Three Lives:” that of himself and his two oldest sons.
The reference to this lease is found in Deed #2896 in the Dorchester Records Office dated 12 November 1636. This document records the sale of land from the Haynes of Upway to Matthew Hayne of London and it includes the mention of this lease to Ralph and his brother Edward. It states that Matthew Hayne is to receive the rights to the “said Message of Tenement” “from and immediately after the Decease, and Death of one Ralph Sprague and one Edward Sprague (brother of said Ralph Sprague)” and for 31 years thereafter. The remarkable thing about this agreement was that even though this young tradesman was unable to secure a clear title or “Fee Simple” for the property on which he established his operation, he was able to do the next best thing and secure it for the lifetime of his two oldest sons who were still very young at the time of this transaction. And what is even more remarkable is the fact that this lease arrangement was still being honored more than 20 years after Edward’s death.
Tragically Edward died in June of 1614 at the young age of 39 with all of his children still at home. According to his Will and the inventory of his estate which was valued at 238 Pounds along with the extension of his lease arrangement for the lifetime of his two oldest sons. Thus his family was well provided for should they choose to remain in the community and continue to operate the mill even though his oldest son Ralph was only 15 at the time. Edward’s Will indicates that Ralph had already completed his seven year apprenticeship as a Fuller and would be able to provide for his mother and the other children by continuing to operate the Mill.
Much can be learned about the concerns which confronted this family from the provisions listed in Edward’s Will. It further reveals what influenced their thinking and their future decisions. The first and most significant incident to gain our attention comes from the highly unusual handling which this Will received. It was dated 6 June, 1614 and was “proved before the Arch Bishop of England” in the Prerogative Court at Canterbury on 13 October the same year. The report of the Inventory which accompanied this Will indicate that Edward must have died in June shortly after his Will was made. This handling of his Will leads us to recognize how truly successful Edward of Upway had become and further indicates how special he had come to be regarded throughout the land. It was highly irregular for the Will of a common tradesman in the early 1600’s to be proven before the Arch Bishop’s Court in Canterbury unless he owned land or had holdings in more than one county. It was the usual practice for the wills of common tradesmen to be handled by a local official appointed by the Bishop or by the Dioecian Court in Salisbury. Having a Will processed in Canterbury was unheard of for anyone other than very wealthy, landed gentlemen of that day and time. Thus, at the time of his death Edward was by every standard a highly successful and respected craftsman for his day and time.
In seeking to understand why three of Edward’s sons would turn away from the provisions their father had made for them and join in with the undertakings of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in establishing a new colony in the new world, we must turn our attention to the lives of Edward’s wife and family following his death. The primary source of information in this inquiry comes from Edward’s Will itself. First, Edward and his family were active in the local St. Lawrence Parish Church which had come under the influence of the dissenters who were attempting to bring reform to the newly formed Church of England. However this movement in this small rural Parish had not reached the level of discord which was present in several of the surrounding Parishes. Edward’s devotion to his faith and church are seen in the opening directives of his Will where he granted 10 shillings to the Parish Church of Upway and 10 shillings to the poor of the Parish and directed that his body be buried within the Churchyard.
Further the grants which were made by Edward to each of his children are an expression of his intentions and vision for his daughter and five sons. Even though Alice was his oldest child he lists Ralph first in his bequests and unlike all the others, he does not leave him a financial grant. Rather he is given two pair of shears, the oldest and a lesser pair. The reason for this bequest coming first without any grant of money is found in the closing statements of this Will. Following some further directions in the administration of his Will and the listing of his wife as the “sole Executrix” there is a Memoranda which states that the “living of the aforesaid Edward Sprague” is to fall unto his son Ralph Sprague after his death, and that Ralph agrees to his father’s request that his mother Christian will be allowed to “quietly enjoy the said living” until he shall reach 21 years of age. Thankfully when Edward died he left an estate valued at 238 Pounds and a thriving Fuller’s Mill which could well provide for the family for as long as his sons would chose to remain in this prime location. Ralph, at 15 had finished his apprenticeship of 7 years and was fully able to provide for his mother and younger brothers which he did for the next 9 years.
Edward then directed that his daughter Alice be granted 50 Pounds within one year of his death, a very large sum for that day, even though she was already 18 at the time. Such a dowery would be given in the hope that his daughter, who was of marrying age, would be “well married.” Since this was his desire, it soon accomplished that objective for she was married to Richard Ames of Fordington St George Parish on 5 June, 1615 just one day less than a year from the date of Edward’s Will being signed.
Edward’s second son Edward who was just 13 at the time of his father’s death, was granted the sum of 20 Pounds which also was to be paid within one year of his father’s death. He had completed five years of his apprenticeship and would need this money then to complete the training he would need if he were to take over the operation of the family business at some future time. This, in fact is what he did. We should remember that Edward was the youngest member of the family to hold a claim on this property and he continued to operate the family mill until his death on 15 December, 1633 at the young age of 32.
The three younger sons of Edward were left 20 Pounds each to be paid when they reached the age of 21. For Richard that would be in 1626, for Christopher it would be in 1627, while for the youngest son William that would not come until in October 1630. The fact that these last three sons were not to receive their grants until they were 21 would mean that they had to look elsewhere for their livelihood. Edward’s Fuller’s Mill could provide a great living for one or two families but could not be expected to support five families. So it is little wonder that all the sons of Edward of Upway had moved away from their family home and business or had died by the mid 1630’s
Planters of the Commonwealth
In spite of Edward’s spectacular success as a Fuller and his attempts to secure his mill for the lifetime of his two oldest sons and his provisions for all his family in his will, most of his children ended up looking elsewhere for their livelihood once they reached the age of majority. However, in the years immediately following the death of Edward, Ralph took on the task of operating the mill and in the footsteps of his father was very successful in doing so. This included not only the day to day operation of the mill but the care for his mother and younger brothers until his 21st birthday.
As was stated earlier, his only sister Alice, having received her 50 pounds as a dowery was married to Richard, the son of a prominent family in Fordington St George Parish just on the eastern side of the county town of Dorchester some 4 or 5 miles from her home in Upwey. Her marriage on June 5, 1615 came just one day less than one year from her father’s signing of his will. This was followed some 8 years later by the marriage of Ralph to Joanna the daughter of another prominent family of that parish on August 15, 1623. Having fulfilled the responsibility he had been given by his dying father of operating the mill until he turned 21, Ralph turned over the operation of the mill into the capable hands of his younger brother Edward Jr. the second son in whose name the lease to the land was recorded. Edward by this time would have completed his apprenticeship as had all his brothers for they were all listed as Fullers in the community records. These marriages along with the baptisms of Ralph and Joanna’s two children: John and Jonathan are recorded in the parish records.
Since Ralph along with his sister Alice had moved to Fordington St George Parish on the east side of Dorchester it fell to Edward Jr to provide for his mother and three younger siblings: Richard, Christopher, and William. Since the mill and its surrounding property was held by a lease on the lives of both Ralph and Edward Jr., he could continue to operate the mill so long as he lived.
Thus, Edward Jr and his family became the beneficiaries of his father’s foresight and planning for he was able to become the sole operator of his father’s Fuller business which he operated successfully for several years. Unfortunately, his younger brother Christopher died at the very young age of 19 in 1625 leaving only Richard and William at home.
We can never know for certain the reason why Ralph along with his in-laws and several other families from their Parish came under the influence of Rev White, John Endicot and Mr. Winthrope. They were the leaders of a group from Dorchester who were intending to establish a settlement in the New World at a location near where they already had a commercial fishing enterprise. This location was just a few miles north from where the Pilgrims had established their colony known as Plymouth nearly a decade earlier.
Having learned the lessons from the mistakes of that group, they did not intend to bring their large founding company of settlers to these rocky shores in late summer without the necessary provisions for food and housing. Rather they were intending to send over two advance groups who were to make preparation for the large group which was to follow. Their task was to clear land, plant crops, and build basic shelters for the temporary housing of the large group.
This organization was known as the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It had been organized and promoted in the St Mary’s Church in the center of Dorchester just 2 or 3 miles from the Fordington St. George Parish. We can only speculate on why Ralph along with his two younger brothers Richard and William became interested in this venture of helping to establish a new colony in New England. The temptation is to assume that their interest in this venture was motivated by concern for religious freedom as it was with the Pilgrims some 10 years earlier. However, there is no indication that this group of settlers had faced the kind of discrimination and persecution which was the case with the Pilgrims. This is not to say that there were no issues within the Church of England at the time or that the pastors and parishioners in these communities had no issues with the changes which the church was experiencing during these days. However, it does not appear that this was a major issue or concern for these settlers. The only other factor which seems to have motivated many of the other settlers to take part in this migration to the New World would have been the economic conditions which faced all of England in the early 1600’s. Some saw this as an opportunity for a profitable investment while others felt their personal livelihood and that of their families would be best assured by seeking their future in the new world. These organizers made it appear to be a very attractive venture indeed.
So far as Ralph and his two younger brothers, Richard and William, were concerned, the provision their father had made for them was certainly a factor to consider in regard to this question. With the Mill being run by Edward’s second son Edward Jr and the two youngest brothers scheduled to receive their inheritance of 20 Pounds at age 21, they were faced with deciding about their future livelihood. Their grant could not give them long-term support and the Mill could not be expected to provide for the future support of the three brothers and their future families. So it would appear that these two brothers, Richard and William, decided to follow their older brother’s lead and join the ranks of those who were willing to invest their limited resources in seeking their fortunes in the New World.
Ralph, along with his in-laws, made the decision to join in this venture even though he was married and had three children. And he was willing to take his two younger brothers with him even though this would require added responsibilities in looking after these single brothers, one of whom was not yet 21 at the time. So they approached the leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and arranged to join this expedition paying for their own passage as well as working for the Colony in coming as part of an advance group who would spend the first year or two making preparation for the larger group which would follow in 1630..
It was first thought that since they would be joining an advance team under the direction of Gov. Endicot, that they would be part of his first team on the ship “Abigail” which made their passage in 1628. However, when the roster for this first team was compiled it was discovered that there were too many for that trip. Since most of them were in the employ of the Colony, it was decided that this first group should include only those who were in the employ of the Colony organizers. So Ralph, his wife and family, along with his brothers Richard and William were scheduled to cross over with the second group which would be sailing from England the following year. They came on the “Lyon’s Whelp” under the command of John Gibbs, Master which along with the ship “Talbot”sailed from England on April 25, and landed at Naumkeig (later became known as Salem, Mass) on July 24, 1629. This group included about forty planters out of the counties of Dorset and Somerset and were under the care of a Mr. Higginson who kept a diary during this crossing. Listed on the “Lyon’s Whelp” records were Ralph, William and Richard (brothers) together with Ralph’s wife, Joanna and their three children. They came in the interests of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, to prepare for the much larger group which would come the following year. It should be noted that they came one full year before the arrival of Gov. Winthrope and the large group which established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. It was reported that “none but honest and Godly men should come over to settle.”
Upon the arrival of these three brothers they, along with the company of three or four more, were employed by Gov. Edicott to explore the territory to the west of Salem and locate an area suitable for a settlement. If such a place were found they were to take possession of it in preparation for the larger group who were to arrive the following summer. They traveled through the woods to a location about 12 miles to the west from Salem which they thought would be an excellent location. They arrived at a place situated on the north side of the Charles River and to the east of the Mystic River. They very likely followed an old Indian trail and along the way encountered an Indian tribe known as the Aberginians with whom they made peace. Their old Sachem having died, his son whom the English called John Sagamore was their chief. He was a man of gentle and friendly disposition and granted them his consent to settle about a hill in a place the natives called Mishawum. There is no doubt but that these brothers were the first English men ever to walk this trail and that they found this valley pleasant and attractive due to its varied scenery and its adaptability as a place for a settlement. They wintered there in tents and helped establish a town which they called Charlestown. The three brothers along with their associates, set about to erect a great house
in this location in which to welcome Gov. Winthrope and his friends on July 8, 1630 at which time they observed a day of Thanksgiving – the first to be observed in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Over the next 9 years these brothers moved from Salem to Charlestown with Ralph and Richard owning a large tract of land near Ell Pond which covered a large part of what is now the westerly part of town. They settled in this place and when the list of the first inhabitants of this town was written some years later, these three brothers are first on the list. Ralph had about ninety acres near the pond and Richard held nearly sixty acres bounded on one side by his brother’s land, on the northwest by the pond, and on the southeast by the Commons. The evidence for this rests in a history of the area written in 1664 which records that these brothers were among the first settlers in Charlestown. It indicates that Ralph and Richard were among the founders of the Church as well as prominent in its Civil affairs serving as members of the General Court and as Selectmen for several years. Ralph became a Lieutenant and Richard a Captain in the local Militia. They made this their permanent home and were buried here. When Ralph died at age fifty, 31 years later, he left his widow Joanna with four sons and one daughter. Richard never married and left no descendants.
In an oration by the famous Edward Everett commerating the arrival of Winthrop at Charleston said of these brothers that “They are the foundation of the settlement in this place and were persons of character, substance and enterprise; excellent citizens, generous public benefactors and heads of a very large and respected family
Seeds of Independence
Charlestown was not the final location which William chose as a site for his pioneer home. Being the youngest and under the authority of his brother Ralph who was responsible for him until he reached the age of majority, William just felt the need to separate from his older brothers and settle someplace where he could stand on his own – be his own man. So from the very first he decided to explore the area more fully before deciding on the location for his permanent pioneer home. So, within the first few months he crossed the Bay by boat and landed on the east side of what was called Bare Cove. He must have been impressed with this area for he would return to this location some years later to establish his permanent home. However, for the first few years he stayed in Charlestown and his name appears in all the town meetings as a citizen of that community. During these years others came from the Dorchester area in England to join this venture of settling a new land. Among those who came to Charlestown in mid 1632 was Anthony Eames and family. Anthony was church warden of Fordington St George Parish from 1622 to 1631 and well acquainted with the brothers who came from the same parish three years earlier. He and his wife were admitted into the Charlestown church on 13, September 1635.
Not long after their arrival, William met and fell in love with Anthony’s daughter, Millicent and they were married in Charlestown Church. She was admitted into the church in 1635 and their first son, Anthony, was baptized on May 23, 1636. It was not long after this date that William and his father-in-law Anthony received grants of land in the area which had been known as Bare Cove but which had been renamed Hingham on September 2, 1635.
The town was named Hingham after a village in the East Anglia county of Norfolk in England from which most of the colonists who settled in this town came. This town was founded due to their religious dissent in their homeland. They were forced to leave their native village in England along with their Vicars, Peter Hobart and Robert Peck, both of whom were dissenters from the strict doctrines of the Anglican Church. Peck was noted for his “violent schismatical spirit.” He lowered the chancel rail in accord with the Puritan sentiment that the church of that day was too distant from the congregation. He further antagonized the ecclesiastical authorities with other deviations from the rituals and order of the accepted practices of the Anglican Church. Hobart, who was born in Hingham, England was, as was Peck, a graduate of Magdalene College, Cambridge. He too was a dissenter from the prevailing discipline of the high church and joined the ranks of the Puritans with whom he found shelter and fellowship. The cost to those who immigrated was very high. They had to sell their homes for half their expected value just in order to make this move. It was also costly for the place they left for Hingham, England was forced to petition Parliament for aid for they claimed that the departure of their most well-to-do citizens had left them strapped for funds to run the town.
Even though most of the settlers of Hingham, Massachusetts came from Hingham in East Anglia and other nearby villages in England, a few of the early settlers such as William and Anthony came from the west country of Dorchester, England by way of the Massachusetts Bay Company and Charlestown. These had come under the guidance of the Rev. John White of Dorchester, England. The early records of Hingham indicate that there was some record of friction which arose between these two groups right from the state even though they all arrived on the south shore of Boston Bay at nearly the same time.
William and Anthony arrived by boat on the east side of the cove in the summer of 1635 and landed on a plot of ground which was later granted to William by the town fathers. He is listed as one of the planters of the community and his house lot on Union Street over the river was said to be the “pleasantest” lot in Hingham. It was about two miles north of the Patent Line which separated the Old Mass. Bay Colony from the earlier Plymouth Colony. This lot stands at the corner of the commons which was used by the militia for their training. Other lots were also granted him for planting purposes from 1636 to 1694.
Anthony was also granted land in Hingham and in 1636 owned a house lot on the lower plain and was one of the foremost citizens of Hingham. He was admitted as a freeman on March 9, 1636 and represented the town in the general court for several years from 1637 through 1644. He assisted in laying out the boundary between Mass. Bay and Plymouth and was Lieutenant of the military. He was also granted permission by the town, along with others, to establish a corn mill for the community. It later was to be operated by Thomas Lincoln, ancestor to Abraham Lincoln. But when he was chosen to serve as Captain in 1545 some of the settlers supported Anthony while other supported one of their number who was an ally of Hobart and who had come with the group from East Anglia. The prominent Puritans like Hobart and those who immigrated with him were used to getting their own way in the matters of governance and the controversy became so heated that John Winthrop was drawn into the fray. It came to the place where Hobart threatened to excommunicate Anthony from the church. This controversy continued on for so many years that Anthony, who had served the town as its first Militia Captain, finally threw in the towel and moved to nearby Marshfield in Plymouth Colony where he again served as Deputy to the Court several years from 1653 to 1661and emerged as a leading citizen there regardless of his encounter with the powers that ruled Hingham.
In spite of the problems which developed between his father-in-law and the ruling leaders in the Hingham community, it did not effect William’s relationship with those leaders. He was selected in 1645, the year Anthony’s difficulties began, as one of the Selectmen who were commissioned with ordering the political affairs of the town. It is obvious that William, as one of the “Planters” of the Hingham community, became one of its foremost leaders in ordering its political, religious, and social affairs and in 1661 he became the town Constable and collector of the town rates (taxes).
During those years he was granted many other parcels of land and meadows which are recorded in the”Old Grant Book” which was said to indicate the esteem in which he was held by his fellow townsmen. Then on March 28, 1651 William purchased another town “Planter’s” dwelling house and five acres adjoining his own homestead along with the other lands in the vicinity and twenty acres on the opposite side of the river next to the end of his homestead lot. He certainly came to be regarded as one of the communities leading voices as well as a major landowner who played a major role in the formation and expression of its religious, moral and ethical values. His influence on this community lasted long beyond his lifetime through his descendants as a listing of all the families which were related to him will clearly show. This laid the foundation for a community which became a hotbed for individual and religious freedom in the century to come. Any listing of William and Millicent’s children and their marriages will immediately reveal the broad influence this family and their aligned families had on the development of the early settlements in this region.
Of special interest is the fact that Hingham first church was not a typical Puritan congregation from the very beginning. In addition to the independent thinking of its first Vickers, this congregation remained open to non-traditional leadership over the next 80 years. In spite of the fact that this building, known as “Old Ship Church,” still has preserved the old numbered pews which were assigned to the various families, and its worship may not have been much different from that of other “Dissenting” congregations of that period, still it was here that later pastors kept testing the limits of even their Puritan doctrines and beliefs. It should be noted that even though the first members of this congregation were Puritans, they began an evolution toward more freedom and independent thought which culminated during the years when Ebenezer Gay served as their minister.
Ebenezer Gay was an important early exponent of Arminianism, the eighteenth-century form of religious liberalism in America. He graduated from Harvard in 1714 and began ministry at the church in Hingham, Massachusetts, in 1717, where he remained until his death in 1787-a ministry of nearly seventy years. He was an important exponent of “supernatural rationalism,” which insisted that the revealed religion of the Bible and the natural religion of rational speculation and scientific observation were in no sense incompatible. In the years following his death this congregation was the first to embraced Unitarianism in the nation. His ministry covered the pre-revolutionary period in our nation’s history and provide the backdrop of rationalism which helped spawn the intense spirit of independence and freedom which was present in the communities all across the south shore of Boston Bay.
It should also be noted that another prominent family who helped in the planting of this settlement were the Lincolns who settled here in 1637 and were the ancestor’s to possibly our most prominent President, Abraham Lincoln. It was his own fathers whom he was referencing in the opening lines of his famous Gettysburg Address when he said –
“Four score and seven year ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the principle that all men are created equal…..”
And it should not go unnoticed that just the next town west of Hingham is Quincy, Mass. the home town of the Adams Family which produced one of the most outspoken and fervent advocates in the cause of independence and freedom which lead up to the call for separation from the burdens and demands of their ties with the British Empire and its King. John Adams, along with many others all around the Bay area spawned a tradition and hotbed in the cause of independence and freedom not equaled by any others.
William remained a valued member of the Hingham community until his death in 1675 at the young age of 65 when compared with the life spans of many of his descendants. However, given the life expectancy for that time and the history of his family, his was a full and fruitful life. Much can be learned about this planter from a review of his will dated October 19 just seven days before his death on October 26, 1675. First there is the moving expression of his strong and very personal nature of his Christian faith expressed in the opening statements of this document. As compared with others of that period these sentiments have the ring of authenticity, of having been dictated by William and not just the standard routine introduction used by so many. This text can be found in the Probate Court of Suffolk Co. Mass. And begins:
“I Wm Sr of Hingham in New England being sick in body but yet of perfect memory, praised be Almighty God doe make and declare this my last will and testament…..First and principally I commit and commend my soul into the hands of Almighty God……hoping of salvation both of Soul and Body by the mercyes of God in the merits of my Saviour Jesus Christ.”
It is apparent from this expression of his faith in Jesus Christ and his hope of salvation by the mercies of Almighty God that for him the liberty and freedoms he sought in this new world did not replace his true source of freedom and liberty found only in professing the Deity and Lordship of Jesus Christ. Whatever the reason for his purchase of land in the township of Providence, it was not long before that part of Rhode Island under the leadership of Roger Williams rejected the religious restraints and limitations placed on the Puritan settlers in many of the early communities in New England. This leads us to ask why did William invest in this new expansion in the Township of Providence?
We are left to wonder whether William himself may have considered moving to this newly opened territory where his personal views of individual religious freedom were more reflective of his own beliefs. In any case, it is apparent that he did not see his strong personal profession of faith in Christ as his personal Saviour and Lord as being in conflict with his devotion to the principles of religious freedom and the cause of individual liberty found in the stated purposes required of those choosing to settle in this non-conforming Puritan community. However, we will never know his original intent for the purchase of this land for he did not live long enough to fulfill his purpose.
A second observation of his strong personal ties with his family is seen in the respect he had for his brother and the items he had received after his death. The listing of the items which he either grants them or lists the items which he had granted them earlier without any attempt to justify these grants as being of equal value. One is reminded of Jacob’s giving his blessings to each of his sons in the Genesis account where the grant was according to need and abilities without any attempt to see that all grants were of equal value. In several instances William concludes his listing of a grant with the affirmation, “I judge a sufficient portion for him.”
In this regard, the only listing in his bequest to his fifth son Jonathan was his “best cloth suit of apparel” along with the “threescore acres of land” in Providence which William had just “lately purchased of John Dexter, of the said Providence.” One would almost surmise that if William had not intended to move into Rhode Island himself, along with several others, seeking more religious freedom than was permitted in the Puritan colonies. The only other motivation would have been to purchase it for a son who was of very strong religious beliefs and convictions and who would find greater freedom for those expressions under the influence and leading of Roger Williams who had purchased this Province for just that purpose. In any case, the move of Joshua’s grandfather to the township of Province in New England, later to become part of the new state of Rhode Island, would have a greater influence on the future decedents in this branch of the family than they could ever have perceived.
As was evident from the events which took place in Hingham during these early years, there were many factors which influenced the development of these New England settlements. Apart from the tensions and divisions which were present throughout the settlements similar to those already listed, there were many more dynamics at play during these early years than usually recorded in the typical histories of this period. It is widely reported that much of the motivation for many of the settlers who came to these shores in those early years was for religious freedom. And as has been reported in the details of the founding of Hingham, there were often those who were not just Puritans within the usual definition of that movement but who were also dissenters within that movement. Possibly the best example of this can be seen in the life and influence of one who more than any other exemplifies these conflicts in the early to mid 1600’s, Roger Williams, and the founding of Rhode Island.
Born into an Anglican family in London in 1603, Roger Williams became a Puritan at the age of 11 contrary to his father’s wishes. He was educated at Charterhouse and Pembroke College, Cambridge where he received a B.A. in 1627. Having become a dissenter by that time and despite being offered several positions in England he chose to seek in the new world the freedom of religious and political thought which was denied him at home. Upon arriving in New England he was offered the position of pastor in the Boston church of the Massachusetts Bay Colony which he refused as it was not a “separated church.” He began almost immediately to expound on his major views: 1) that the civil authorities should not be permitted to exact punishment for religious infractions and 2) that all people should be permitted total freedom of thought on religious matters which he called “soul-liberty.” He is credited with being the first to use the phrase “wall of separation” in this matter – a phrase which Thomas Jefferson apparently picked up in support of his own views and which were included in his letter to the Danbury Baptist Assembly nearly 200 years later.
The next several years of Williams’ life and ministry reflects just how divided the Church of England was over these issues even within the New England Colonies. The Salem congregation in relationship with the Plymouth Colony adopted a Separatist position and invited Williams to become its pastor but was prevented from doing so by leaders from the Boston community. He then was received with open arms by the Plymouth Colony where he remained for two years until his views became the source of conflict within that community as well. He then was hired as the unofficial assistant pastor in the Salem church until the death of its pastor in 1634 at which time he became its acting pastor. Almost immediately he engaged in controversy with the New England authorities and was banned by the Salem Court for advancing “diverse, new and dangerous opinions” which questioned the authority of the church. He then began conducting services within his own home.
He had purchased some land from the Indians and with the support of a dozen loving friends and neighbors along with some who followed him from the Bay area, he established a settlement based on the principle of equality for all residents. Any who would join them had to promise obedience to the majority but only in civil matters while being determined to hold to the principle of liberty of conscience. Thus by 1640 a settlement expressly providing for religious liberty and the separation between the civil and ecclesiastical authority was established in the Colony of Providence – later to become part of the State of Rhode Island.
At this time it would be hard to suggest that William along with his family were not fully aware about these developments not only with regard to what was happening in the neighboring settlements all around them but within their own communities as well. One would be hard pressed to suggest that they did not have more than a passing interest in these developments considering William’s purchase of land within the Providence Colony and his granting of it to Jonathan, his fifth son, at the time of his death. Further, the fact that Jonathan made this his permanent home suggests that he was in full agreement with these views and was willing to make this commitment to these policies and pledge his support to these principles. But these were troubling times in New England and Jonathan’s move to Providence had to be temporarily put on hold until these problems were resolved.
King Phillip’s War
One further development which affected the entire Boston Bay area and which has received very little attention over the years was the clash between the settlers and the native Americans who had occupied the New England region unrestrained prior to the coming of the Colonists in 1620. This does not mean that the several tribes who lived within this territory were always friendly with each other or that they never had differences or conflicts between these tribes. But the arrival of the first settlers to the area added many further dimensions to their lives and futures.
We have heard much about how the Indian Chief Massasoit extended his hospitality and that of his tribe to the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony which enabled them to survive their first winter and beyond. In fact we have read repeatedly the glowing reports about the cordial and friendly relationship between the settlers and the Indians and how they celebrated this relationship with a grand feast after their first harvest – the beginning of our annual Thanksgiving Festival. Further, much has been made of the fact that the settlers who came to make preparation for the large group of new settlers who arrived with the Massachusetts Bay Colony met the native Americans in the immediate area and made peace with them and were granted permission to settle in the area which later became known as Charlestown. However, as more settlers arrived and they began spreading their settlements further south and west, they began running into other tribes and other Chiefs who were not at all receptive to their occupation of the lands they considered to be their Tribal territories.
In spite of the fact that we all have known and acknowledged that these issues were present from the very early days of these settlements, little has been reported on the extent of this conflict and the near catastrophic consequences which occurred just a little more than 50 years after the settlement of the Plymouth Colony. As the English settlers began to prosper and multiply with the growth of their families with children who were not immigrants who came to this territory from England but were residence of these New World settlements, they began extending their settlements into the territories surrounding the Boston Bay area and westward. This began to infringe on the territories which the native Americans considered their tribal lands. With this expansion of the colonial communities into these territories, the tension between the settlers and the Indians increased until it spilled over into open conflict.
Following the death of William Bradford and Chief Massasoit, both of whom died before 1660, Metacom became the leader of the Pokanokets, a tribe within the Wampanoag Federation. During his youth he had been given the nickname King Phillip by the settlers because of his haughty spirit and attitude. The ironic twist to this story is that Phillip was the son of Massasoit and with the first generation of leaders gone so was the trust and goodwill which had reigned for over 50 years. But in 1675 the year William of Hingham died and left his 60 acres of land in Providence to Jonathan his son, the tension between the second generation of settlers and Philip reached its breaking point.
The war actually started when some Indian warriors killed some settler’s cows which were near their tribal headquarters which resulted in a settler retaliating by killing an Indian and all out war broke out with Phillip as the leader of the Indians. He had gone on record as saying “I am determined not to live until I have no country.” So what has been referred to as King Phillip’s War began and over the next several months there followed the most bloody and intense warfare in our nation’s history when judged by the size of the population of both Indians and settlers with one out of 10 on each side being killed.
Whole towns like Brookfield, the first to be attacked, was burned never to be rebuilt and mass killings occurred on both sides. In the fall of 1675 the Indians concentrated on the area known as Pioneer Valley and when the English attempted to retrieve their grain and other produce from this area the Indians prepared an ambush at a point where the trail crossed a brook and 71 soldiers were killed at what came to be known as “Bloody Brook.” This has been called “the saddest day that ever befell New England.” The Indians continued to strike at towns just west of Boston, their ultimate goal. The English were left in such disarray that many concluded that the war was the result of God’s punishment of the Puritans for not abiding by their strict religious codes. For the next few months life was not as settled and tranquil as one might be led to believe based on the common perception of life within the New England communities during these critical days of transition of leadership from the Pilgrim leaders to those who were born on these shores.
There were some who suggested that they should just abandon their settlements and return to England but the resolve of the militia and its leaders was to carry the warfare to the Indian camps. Following the first such attack in which over 500 natives were killed, several more of the English settlements were attacked and burned. But the final blow came when they launched a surprise raid on the main Indian war camp on the Connecticut River in May 1676. Many were killed as they fled their wigwams and the back of the Indian resistance was broken and the Indian alliance soon collapsed. Only Phillip and a few loyal warriors continued to carry out hit and run raids on isolated farms but Benjamin Church using friendly Indian scouts tracked him until they caught up with him and before Church could act one of his scouts shot and killed Phillip. With his death the war was essentially over but not before Phillip had made good on his pledge “not to live until I have no country.”
Freewill Baptist Movement
Jonathan, fifth son of William and Millisaint, was born in Hingham, Massachusetts, on May 28, 1648. He was born just 10 months after the death of their fourth son, also named Jonathan, who died on July 4, 1647 at age 5. So their next child, who was also a son, was given the same name. He grew up amid all the turmoil and strife of his grandfather being denied his commission as Captain of the Militia and the struggles for leadership between those who had settled this town from the Hingham area in England and those who came to Hingham by way of Dorchester, England and Charlestown, Mass. Even though his father was able to remain within the noted leadership of the village, his grandfather finally moved to the next adjoining town to escape the bitterness and threats coming from their pastors. Since Hingham was settled by pastors and lay persons who came to these shores as a result of their disagreements over doctrinal and ecclesiastical differences even within the dissenting movement in England, it should not surprise us that they would carry that contentious spirit with them to the new community. Quite an odd set of circumstances for a Puritan congregation who valued or professed to value an independent spirit in matters of belief and practice. But apparently that freedom did not extend to matters of civic life.
Jonathan had grown up among these people who cherished their religious freedom and it was obvious that he was of a decidedly religious nature and one who was deeply devoted to his faith which was in substantial agreement with Roger Williams’ views on religious freedom. Yet in the midst of this turbulent storm of division which remained for many years within the Hingham community, Jonathan was able to rise above the storms of dissension and turmoil and come to a vital and personal faith which set the course for a lifetime of faithful leadership and service within his family and community. Possibly this was a testimony to the way his grandfather Anthony had handled his treatment and persecution. Through it all Jonathan grew to be a deeply spiritual and committed young man albeit a person with highly independent thinking in matters of faith and practice which would be revealed later in his life.
Jonathan visited his brother John and grandfather in Mendon where he met and fell in love with Mahitable Holbrook, daughter of William and Elizabeth Pitts Holbrook. William Holbrook was the son of Thomas and grandson of Sir Thomas Holbrook, Knight of Broadway Dorset, England. Jonathan and Mahitable were married in Mendon on July 20, 1670. Jonathan was 22 and Mahitable was 21. Their home in Mendon was near his brother and father-in-law and he was chosen as recorder for Mendon in 1675 the year his father died and the outbreak of King Philip’s War.
The conditions of his father’s grant of 60 acres of land in Providence were rather unusual indeed. It was for the term of Jonathan’s natural life and upon his death it was to go either to his “lawfully begotten or to be begotten” heirs and should there be no heirs of Jonathan, these 60 acres were to go to the next heir of the family descended from William. The terms of this grant remind us of the arrangement which William’s father Edward had in England where there was a lease on three lives. William must have treasured this grant highly wanting to see that this land stayed in the family for at least two generations.
Jonathan had already moved to Mendon and married Mahitable before his father’s illness and death or his learning of the grant of land his father would leave him. However, he and Mahitable did not move there immediately for they were already settled in Mendon and due to the uncertainty and insecurity which King Philip’s War brought throughout the entire New England community. There was the real threat that should the native tribes be able to come together and acquire the necessary arms needed for such a united effort, the concern would be for the survival of many of the settlements and for the future for the entire region. However, once the threat of an Indian takeover of the land was past, they and many other second generation settlers could once again move forward with their plans. So Jonathan and Mehitable made their plans to move to their Providence land and establish that as their permanent home. They were settled there by July 16, 1680 and on May 3, 1681 he was made a freeman of Providence Colony.
Jonathan was a man of strong character and became one of the most prominent and influential citizens in his community. As a result he was ask to serve often in public office: as a member of the House of Deputies for 16 years between 1695 and 1714; as Speaker of the House in 1703; as member of the Town Council 8 years from 1703 to 1712; and Clerk of the Assembly in 1707. In 1703 he with 2 others, were appointed to draw up the rules and proceedings for the Court of Common Please as a result of his having severed as Justice of the Peace from 1701 to 1703.
He was also a prominent leader in the religious affairs of the community being a strong proponent of the Baptist faith and a defender of independent thinking and the free expression of the faith in keeping with one’s own conscience. His willingness to accept the consequences for a dissenting stance dictated by his conscience was seen when on December 13, 1687 he was fined 6 shilling, 8 pence for refusing to take an oath as a member of a Grand Jury. He let it be known that Jesus admonition to not take an oath but rather let your yes be yes and nos be no. This was more to him than an object lesson. It should be noted that it was following this that he held the office of Justice of the Peace and along with two others was appointed to draw up new methods and procedures for the operation of the Courts.
A review of the history of the Greenville Baptist Church in Rhode Island, will reveal the fact that it traces its beginnings to the Free Will Baptist Church which was founded by Jonathan as its first pastor. The “Story of the First Freewill Baptist Church of Smithfield in Greenville, Rhode Island” states:
In 1701 Pardon Tillinghast was persuaded by Joshua Winsor II, a grandson of the founder of Smithville, to travel to the Outlands of the town of Providence, as Smithfield was then known, to preach to the few inhabitants of Greenville who embraced the Baptist faith. Thus, began a religious movement which lasted for over a hundred years.
A Meeting House was erected in 1706 on the old Woonsocket Road, now known as Pleasant View Avenue, midway between the present villages of Greenville and Spragueville. It was a small wooden building, and although burned down twice and blown over once by a wind storm, it was rebuilt each time and reached its zenith after the great Revival (1768)…..The first settled pastor was Jonathan _______.
This meeting house was built by Jonathan, his son William and others on land owned by William and later deeded to the church for a place of meeting. This church was the first “Six Principle Baptist Church” which launched the Free Will Baptist movement that began in New England based on the six principles found in the sixth chapter of Hebrews: Repentance, Faith, Baptism, Laying on of Hands, Resurrection, and Eternal Judgement. This story is confirmed by the Deed dated October 7, 1738 from William to this congregation. It states:
To all people to whom these presents and shall Come Greeting Knowledge That I William _______ of Smithfield in the County of Providence in the Colony of Rhode Island and providence plantations in New England Yeoman, for and in Consideration of a Meeting House and by my Leave and consent being already created and built for the worship of God by my Honored Father Jonathan ________, James Walling, Richard ________ together with the help of Myself and Some others, therefore I have given granted alined conveyed and Confirmed and by these presents do for myself, my heirs Executors and administrators absolutely give grant aline convey and Confirm unto them the said Jonathan ________, James Belloue, James Walling, and Richard _______ all of Said Smithfield Baptist by Profection (called the Seprate Baptists who ho1d the worship of God according and aggreeable to what is headed on or set forth as doctrine in the Sixth Chapter of the Hebrews: called the six principles) and to their Successors and survivors in the same faith and order as afore said a Certain peace of parcel of land where on the above said meetings house now Standeth.
Jonathan and Mehitable had six children: Jonathan, Patience, Joanna, Persis, William and Mary. It is worthy of note that each of these children enjoyed unusually long lives with the youngest being 73 years and the oldest being 96.
With the passing years and the declining health of his wife, Jonathan stepped aside from his activities in the public affairs of Providence in which he had played a major role for nearly 40 years. However, even after his wife’s death on October 29, 1719, he continued to remain active in the affairs of the church he helped to found as well as the religious concerns of Providence County. The extent of that influence and involvement can be seen by the long and emphatic letter he wrote in February 1722 – 23 to three prominent Presbyterian ministers in Massachusetts, namely John Danforth, Peter Thacher, and Joseph Belcher in answer to a letter from them. They had addressed their letter to him in which they inquired into the establishment of a Presbyterian church in the county of Providence. In his reply he informed them that he and his fellow Baptists failed to see the necessity of such an establishment in their county. He further presented his views in very vigorous and unmistakable terms. It was the opinion of all who knew him that Elder Jonathan was a very zealous advocate for the Separate Baptist movement which became known as the Free Will Baptist Church of which he was an unmistakable leader both by his influence and his physical labor in helping to built the house of worship for his congregation, an effort which is still bearing fruit today through the Free Will Baptist Churches all across the country.
With the declining health of his wife and her death on October 29, 1719, Jonathan began disposing of his property which included a single grant of land to his four sons-in-law who had married his daughters. He deeded over to them his house and all other lands provided they agree to provide for his care as long as he lived. This included maintaining his horse and 6 pounds each year and the payment of 25 pounds to such persons as he would direct at the time of his death. Further it was to be his right to chose which son-in-law he would live with. This turned out to be a very good arrangement for that day and time as he lived an additional 22 years after his wife’s death and he died in September of 1741 in the 94th year of his age.
Captain William the sixth child of Jonathan and Mehitable was born in Smithfield, Providence County, Rhode Island on February 2, 1691. The town of Smithfield was part of Providence until 1730 at which time this territory was set apart and the town of Smithfield incorporated. His father Jonathan was 43 at the time of his birth and very active in both religious and civil affairs. So William grew up steeped in the tradition of being involved in the affairs of both church and state. His father’s heavy participation in the issues of civic government and his arduous devotion to the issues which required careful thought and consideration in the establishing of a separate and independent church had a great influence on young William during his childhood and teen years. So he let it be known at an early age that he too would commit his life and possessions to the affairs of both community and the fledgling new Free Will Baptist Church which became known as the Six Principle Baptist Church.
During his teen years he met and was attracted to a young lady who was very charming and whose family was also very active in community affairs as well as supporters of his father’s church. However, he did not feel at liberty to pursue this relationship until he had established himself in the community and could support a wife and family. He also felt the need to see if she would support his involvement in the matters of both the church and community affairs. So over the next few years he began to court Miss Ellis (Alice) Brown and when he was assured of her affection and her support of his values and activities, he ask her father for her hand in marriage. They were married on September 16, 1714.
As a wedding gift to this young son and his new bride, Jonathan granted them the Homestead property which he had received from his father William which had been granted to him on the basis that if Jonathan had no hairs or none were expected, this property would then resort to the next member of grandfather William’s family. From a legal as well as a practical point of view, for this grant of the land originally purchased by the immigrant William and given to his son Jonathan on which he had established his homestead in the Colony of Providence, to be given to his son William was a wise and expedient thing to do for it assured that this land was transferred to a third generation member of this family thus satisfying the conditions of this original grant.
From every indication, William became a very successful farmer and land speculator for he acquired large parcels of land in a relatively brief period of time. This is confirmed by the court records which record a large number of land transactions between William and members of his family as well as many outside the family connections. Further, beyond these records of land transactions there are many references to Williams involvement and participation in the civil matters of the community giving rise to the remarks by historians who state that “for upwards of a century, (William and his father Jonathan) were prominent actors in the religious and political history of old Smithfield.”
In this regard there are these activities of special interest:
William was made a Freeman from the Providence Colony in 1720 and was named Lieutenant in the Providence Colony Militia in 1728 and elected Captain in the 1st Company Smithfield 2nd Regiment of the Providence Colonial Militia in 1732 a rank he carried the rest of his life. It was shortly after this that he deeded land over to persons for a Baptist Meeting House which had been erected by his father, himself and many others. This was when he was 47 years of age and his father was already 90 years of age.
Captain William and Alice had six children: Nehemiah, Ellis (Alice), Sarah, Samuel, Peter (of whom it was said “he followed the sea”), and Joshua. Among the many land transactions which Capt William participated in, both in purchasing and selling, were the following grants made to his children:
He granted to his oldest son Nehemiah 100 acres of land on the occasion of his 21st birthday; and 11 1/3 acres to Sarah and Stephen Sly on the occasion of their marriage when she was 18 years of age. Finally he deeded over to his youngest son Joshua 300 acres on the occasion of his reaching the age of majority in 1750. These gifts of land were given in the attempt to help each of these children get established in the community and begin their adult life as landed and responsible members of the colony. That this was his intention is seen in the wording of his deed to Joshua which reads:
To all people to whom these presents shall come greeting. Know ye that I William ______ of Smithfield in the County of Providence in the Colony of Rhode Island located in New England Yeoman for and in Consideration of the sole good will and fatherly affection which I have and do bear toward my dutiful and obedient son Joshua ——— of Smithfield afore said yeoman: and for his settlement and well being in this world have given granted aligned enfeoffed Conveyed and Confirmed and do by these Presents freely fully and absolutely Lands that I am now seized of lying and being in Smithfield afore said and in Cumberland in the County aforesaid the afore mentioned lands contain in the whole about three hundred acres, I also give as above said to my said son Joshua ——— his heirs and aseigns for ever that Dwelling house standing on the easterly part of my homestead farm and on the Entervail and near Patucket River and on the westerly side of said River together with the one Equal half part of my barn standing on my homestead farm aforesaid
The notion that a young man and his wife could begin their adult life as a landed man would have been unthinkable for their ancestors in the English communities from which their grandfather had come.
It is of interest to note that just 12 years after his grant of 300 acres of land to Joshua in 1750, Capt. William bought it back for $1250.00. Further, this land, which he describes as part of his homestead, is part of the land granted to his grandsons Elias and Nehemiah in 1768 for his Honorable Maintenance. Even though he was just 77 at the time, he, like his father before him, made arrangements for his care during his declining years. Even though he was in failing health during those years, he lived another 10 years and saw the opening months of the Revolutionary War which would forever change the future course for his children and grandchildren.
The sixth child born to Capt. William and Alice was a son whom they named Joshua. This may have been prophetic in that this Joshua, like the one of old, would lead many of his family into a land of promise and great hope for the years ahead. But that part of his story will be very far ahead and he would have many mountains of tragedy, sadness, disappointment and hardship to encounter before those days of hope and promise would become a reality.
Joshua was born on July 3, 1729 when his father was 40 years of age and his honored grandfather was already 81.both of whom were seen as major actors in the religious and civic affairs in the early development of Providence Colony and the town of Smithfield, Rhode Island. As the grandson of one of the first settlers and the founding pastor of the First Separate Baptist Church in their community as well as son of the one who gave the land and helped build a church for the worship of God in keeping with their convictions and the dictates of their own conscience, which was exactly within the vision and policies set forth by Roger Williams whose influence and presence were still very prominent in this community. He had a lot to deal with and live up to. All of these men had a profound influence on the young Joshua who was just 10 years old when his father deeded over the church to the congregation and he was but twelve when his honored grandfather, who had given such outstanding leadership to his family for over 60 years died.
The impact these men had on Joshua helped to instill in him a faith and determination to extend himself in service to others which would remain with him for the remainder of his life. This would be the source of inner strength and mental toughness which would see him through the many difficult days which lay just ahead.
Joshua, following the lead of his father became a member of the Rhode Island Militia where he received his military training and advanced rather quickly to the rank of Major, which title remained with him throughout the remainder of his life. This early military training would prove to be of greater importance later in his life than he could ever have deemed possible at this stage of his life.
At the young age of 19 Joshua met and fell deeply in love with a beautiful and delightful young lady from Smithfield named Amy Darling who was just one year older than he. They were married on January 2, 1748 and planned to settle down in the Smithfield community where they both grew up and fully expected to raise their family along with so many of their family and friends. However, those plans were to be cut short by the tragic developments of the following months. Several weeks following their marriage Amy became in the family way (pregnant) and they were so extremely happy as they made preparations for the birth of their first child. But the dreams of which fairy tails are made suddenly turned into the worst nightmare of their young lives. There seemed to be signs that all was not well and there might be trouble ahead. Yet they brushed their concerns and doubts aside and felt confident that whatever those problems might be, they would not only be able to face them with confidence but to over come them especially with God’s help.
But when the delivery, which was attended by the most experienced mid-wives in the area, began to go bad, there did not seem to be anything any of them were able to do either for the baby or for the mother. The baby girl was just too large for a speedy and normal delivery and consequently, she remained far too long in the birth canal and as a result she was stillborn. And when Amy, after a lengthy and exhausting delivery began to hemorrhage there did not seem to be any way any of them could stop the bleeding. What had been a highly anticipated event with great excitement and joy was now the most tragic event Joshua and these families had faced in years. What had seemed to be such a natural and routine event now was seen as a process fraught with such peril. The name Amy was given to the baby and she with her mother were buried in the local cemetery in May 1749.
Joshua was devastated by these events, as any young husband and expectant father would be. It seemed his whole world had just been turned upside down and the bright future he and Amy had been planning to live a long and comfortable life raising their children within this safe and secure community of family and friends was not going to happen. What could have been an occasion for an angry and bitter response toward those who could not prevent these deaths or even hatred toward the God of his father and grandfather for allowing this terrible thing to happen would be understandable. Certainly this has been the response for many thousands both then and now. Neither did he respond as many others in that rather harsh and stoic culture often did by keeping all their emotions bottled up inside while on the outside keeping a stiff upper lip so as not to show or display his true feelings. Then of course there were a few even within this tough and devoted culture who simply could not contain the rush of emotional rebellion and who would simply run wild for a time until these emotions were drained out through pure physical exhaustion. But none of these were Joshua’s response.
The remarkable thing was that he found he was not alone in his loss and sadness. He found himself in the center of the love and devotion which came around him almost immediately. As a result he was able to walk through his time of deep disappointment and grief at losing both his wife, whom he loved so dearly and his first child, a baby girl he would never come to know and love as she would grow throughout the coming years. It was only within that strong devoted Christian family and community of faith which his grandfather and father had done so much to establish and nurture all those years, that he was able to receive the support and love which allowed him to grieve and heal from this tragic and bitter loss.
During the year which followed, Joshua met a young lady by the name of Abigail Wilbur the daughter of Daniel and Sarah Fish Wilbur of Smithfield and members of his father’s church. At first they were just casual friends who traveled in the same circles in the community. She was certainly conscious of Joshua’s plight and her family were among those who gave him support and encouragement. But as the days and months passed, he began to notice her as she took part in the church and community activities and as his pain and sorrow began to lesson he found himself strongly attracted to her. She was born on November 17, 1731 making her almost 2 ½ years older then him. In the following months he began to show a special interest in her and discovered that she was very receptive to his attention so it was not long before they fell deeply in love and were seen spending much time together. Joshua never thought he could ever love someone as much as he had loved Amy but Abigail was so radiant and enthusiastic about life that she always seemed to lift his spirits when they were together.
Abigail was rather tall and of a straight build which complemented Joshua’s build which was just over 6 foot and a man of stout build and one with greater than average strength. He stood out even more in his day as the average man was about 5ft 7in in height and of average build and strength. He was so strongly attracted to her that he proposed and they were married the following April 22, 1750 despite the fact that this was one month less than a year since the death of his wife and child. However their marriage was met with the immediate approval and support of the community among whom they stood out as such an attractive young couple with Joshua being of light complection and Abigail standing tall beside him with her long black hair reaching down below her shoulders. The whole Smithfield community rejoiced with them and extended to them their support and best wishes for a long and happy life together.
That winter on December 20, 1750 Capt William granted to his “dutiful and obedient son” Joshua 300 acres with the Homestead house and half the barn on the occasion of his becoming 21 and just newly married “for his settlement and well being.” Joshua and Abigail lived here for the next 12 years during which time their first six children were born: Elijah, Nancy, Meribah, William, James, and a twin which died at birth. During these years with large families being the norm and the territories being held by the original settlers being divided and then being subdivided among their grandchildren, families simply could not continue to provide for all their extended families needs without expanding their land holdings. As a result the younger children were always looking for new opportunities in other or newly developed settlements which were being established beyond the territory which was settled by the original founders. So these younger children were always eager to learn of new opportunities for themselves and their families. It was during these years that the settlers in New England began hearing about the developments which were taking place and opportunities offered for new settlers in the Canadian Provinces.
A Disappointing Adventure
Word was spreading fast that there was going to be fertile land available for any settler who would be willing to relocate to Nova Scotia, Canada. The word was that any large family would be granted a 750 acre tract for a homestead. Joshua and many others from Rhode Island decided it was worth checking out.
The reason behind this offer of land for English settlers in New England who would resettle in Canada began in the early 1700’s when France relinquished what was known as Acadia which would later be named Nova Scotia under English control. The French settlers who had settled in this area were ask to sign a loyalty oath of allegiance to the British Crown but with the stipulation that they would not be required to take up arms for the Crown. However, in 1754 the British Government was no longer willing to honor this neutrality previously granted the French settlers. Rather they were now demanding that they take an oath of absolute allegiance to the British Crown which could include taking up arms in the cause of England should that be requested. The Acadians refused to take this new oath as this might require that they take up arms against other French settlers who were living in British Territories which could include their own families and friends.
As a result, Colonel Charles Lawrence ordered the mass deportation of the Acadians from Nova Scotia. This action, known as the “Great Expulsion” involved the removal of over 14,000 Acadians from their homes which were burned and their lands confiscated. Families were often divided and this population was disbursed throughout North America with a good number ending up in the Louisiana Territory where they managed to create for themselves a French-American Cajun population and culture.
Following this action the second element in the Colonel Lawrence plan of replacing the French settlers with British immigrants was ready to be carried out. So the Legislature was convened in Halifax in 1758 and over 200,000 acres of French vacated lands were ordered to be advertized for settlement. Townships were set off and immigrants were guaranteed liberty of conscience and freedom of worship realizing that many in New England cherished these values which were central themes in the Providence and Rhode Island territories. The following year a committee from Connecticut and surrounding areas arrived in Halifax with a proposal to settle this land and in 1761 a committee of persons which Joshua helped lead, was established to admit persons into the township of Sackville, Nova Scotia. As a result, two years later in 1763 there were 65 families who had settled in this land.
In order for Joshua and his family to follow this tide of immigration into Nova Scotia, Canada he had to dispose of the part of the original homestead property his father had given him some 12 years earlier. So he approached his father to see if he would purchase back this land which would allow them to make this move. He agreed and Capt William bought back that land, house and ½ the barn for $1,250.00.
There were 25 families from Rhode Island who arrived by boat to settle on this vacated French land. Each family of six or more were to be granted 750 acres and in just a few years there were 349 residence in this Township with all but six having come from New England. In 1772 the Township elected a representative to the Assembly at Halifax and on July 20, 1762 a committee for the Township of Sackville was formed and Joshua was among the first named.
Joshua and Abigail, with their five children, took up a homestead of over 700 acres in the Township of Sackville which was located on the fertile Tantamar marshes which is known as “The Granary” of Nova Scotia. All seemed to be going quite well for the land was much richer and well suited to producing good crops than the land in New England and the location of their homestead was exceptional as they were among the first to settle in this area and had their choice of properties to chose from. So they lived here and were very pleased with their decision of making this move for nearly 15 years during which time there were six more children added to their family: Frederick, Amy, Joshua Jr., Jonathan, Nehemiah, and Samuel. However, their comfortable and peaceful lives were soon to come to an unexpected and violent end.
As news of the rebellion of their relatives and friends in New England against the King which resulted in the hostilities which lead into open revolution against the Crown were taking place, many of those who had immigrated from New England and had family and friends there, expressed sympathy for their cause and they attempted to encourage others in Nova Scotia to join in the struggle for freedom from the Crown. Thus with the beginning of the Revolutionary War in the Colonies and the open expression of support for those in revolt throughout the Colonies but especially among those in the New England Colonies, the local Canadian population and government were concerned that they might be drawn into this rebellion. As a result, the feelings of the Canadians against the former New England immigrants became so strong that they determined to drive those who sympathized with the Revolution from their land. So once again the residence of this land were driven from their land and their homes and barns burned as had been done to the Acadians twenty years earlier. They later admitted that they should have known that since the Canadian officials had expelled the Acadians in this way for failing to pledge total loyalty to the Crown, they would very likely receive the same treatment for their expression of sympathy with their “brothers” in revolt against the King. They later recalled that given the history of this land they should have foreseen that the same fate would come to them if and when their views would ever become unpopular in spite of the promise of freedom of conscience and worship if public sentiment were ever to run counter to the views and desires of those in authority. Some years later Joshua expressed his regrets that he had ever taken a leading role in this tide of immigration into Nova Scotia. He lamented that he had taken a peck of silver dollars with him in this move and had lost it and all their possessions in this venture gone wrong.
It must have been very difficult for Joshua to swallow his pride and return back to Smithfield with his very large family to the “homestead” which he had sold back to his father. He acknowledged that this move into Canada was the worst mistake he had ever made in his life for he had a wheelbarrow full of silver dollars when he went and nothing to show for it. And when he returned he had lost everything including his home and barn which the Canadians had burned to the ground.
They discovered much had changed in those 15 years since they had left. His father was now 86 years old and he had granted the land he had purchased to his grandsons for his care. Also, this was the year 1776 and they were in the midst of the Revolutionary War with major battles being fought in and around the Boston area as well as in Baltimore and down along the seaboard. They remained for a few months relying on the generosity of family and friends but they recognized the need to find a more permanent home. Yet the losses sustained by these refugees from Nova Scotia only increased their resolve to join in the struggles for freedom from the tyranny being waged on the colonialists by the King and those loyal to the English Crown. So Joshua at the age of 48 joined again the Rhode Island militia. At the end of those first few months Joshua removed his family from the Smithfield area to what was then East Hoosac in western Massachusetts in the Berkshire area near Bennington, Vermont. The reason for Joshua’s selection of East Hoosac as the location for his family to live during the war years and for some years to follow seems to have been a natural one as his wife’s brother Jeremiah of Smithfield as well as a large group of Quakers from that community had moved here earlier. It is also of interest that two sons of his brother Nehemiah, Elias and Nehemiah Jr were both members of this Society of Friends, and even though neither of them moved with the congregation it shows there were many connections between the residence of Smithfield and East Hoosac, Mass. As it turned out, this could not have been a better move so far as Joshua’s being at the right place to help in the struggle for freedom in the days ahead..
Joshua’s War Record
With the early hostilities of the Revolution well underway by the time Joshua and his family were back in Smithfield, Rhode Island he being an enthusiast in the cause of freedom even at the age of 48 immediately enlisted as a private in Col. Archibald Crary’s Regiment of Rhode Island. With his previous rank of Major in the Rhode Island Militia this seems a bit irregular. However, due to his being gone for nearly 15 years and his advanced age at this time, he was willing to serve in any capacity to advance the cause of liberty. But due to his inability to find suitable housing for his rather large family, he followed the lead of others from this area to relocate in the East Hoosac area of Berkshire Co. Mass. Upon arriving here, Joshua immediately joined Col. Joab Stafford’s (Independent) Company of Volunteers as a Major. For a person of 48 years of age and such a supporter of the cause of freedom and liberty this could not have been a better or more opportune move for it placed him at the very center of possibly the singular most important battle of the Revolution up to that date if not of the entire war, the battle of Bennington, Vermont.
The battle of Bennington, Vermont took place on August 16, 1777 some five miles west of Bennington in the state of New York. The importance of this battle arose from the strategic nature of what the British had intended to accomplish which, if successful, would have altered the very nature of this conflict yet in its early stages and thus the outcome of the war. The British plan was to divide the colonies of New England from the rest of the country to the south and west for they thought that the more radical elements calling for independence rested in New England and that the rest of the colonies in the south tended to be more loyal to the Crown. So their plan was to divide the colonies by having Gen. Burgoyne’s forces invade New York from the north and capture Albany and then meet up with Gen.
Howe’s troops who would be coming up the Hudson River Valley thus dividing the colonial forces. If successful they felt this would shorten the war and achieve a victory for the King.
However, after several weeks into the campaign Gen. Burgoyne’s progress had practically stalled due to the difficult nature of the land they were attempting to cross and the length of his supply lines extending from Canada which were much less secure than desirable. As a result they were unable to provide the support needed for the size of his army including their horses. So Burgoyne’s situation became such that they were unable to advance more than two or three miles a day. At this point they heard that the Colonial Army had a storehouse at Bennington which was poorly defended so he ordered that Lieutenant Colonel Fredrick Baum with his German forces attack Bennington and capture those stores. So Baum’s troops marched some 40 miles to within five miles of Bennington by August 16, 1777.
However, their intelligence was incorrect for the Vermont Council of Safety was aware of this plan and of Baum’s approach from the west. So they sent out an alarm calling for help. In response to this alarm call 1500 troops under John Stark and a smaller number of Vermont Militia known as the Green Mountain Boys under the leadership of Seth Warner and Ethan Allen were near Bennington by the time Baum’s forces were getting ready to attach. They took their stand on the high ground awaiting any colonial response. It is reported that Gen. Stark rallied his troops for battle saying, “There are your enemies, the Red Coats and the Tories. They are ours or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow.” With this the Militia melted into the woods causing Baum to assume they were retreating or redeploying.
In truth, Stark had recognized that Baum’s forces were really very thin and ordered his men to envelop them on both sides while a third group would approach them head on. The morning of the 16th brought rain and poor visibility but by 3:00 in the afternoon, the weather cleared and the attack began. Many of the Canadians and Indians either fled from the battle or surrendered after the first volley was fired. But the Hessians held their positions fighting off the attackers in hand to hand combat. The battle lasted but two hours with the British and German losses recorded at 207 dead including Gen. Baum and 700 captured while only 40 Colonials died and 30 wounded. Stark’s decision to intercept and defeat this raiding party was critical in defeating the British plan to divide the colonies for Gen Burgoyne failed to obtain his needed supplies and his army as a result was weakened in its battle with the Continental forces at Saratoga and after two unsuccessful battles he surrendered on October 17, 1777. This victory greatly lifted the American morale.
Whether General Howe heard of General Burgoyn’s difficulties in advancing down toward Albany or not. In any case he decided not to move up the Hudson valley to connect with Burgoune but to attack Philadelphia instead. Thus the great plan to divide the colonies and hopefully turn the war in their favor failed and may have been an early turning point in the cause of freedom for the Colonists though there were many long and difficult months ahead in the battle for Independence. Joshua served in the alarm service during the battle for Bennington where he defended the supplies and reported how grateful he was for this first major victory in the War for Independence.
In spite of this major victory in New York, Gen. Howe was able to drive the main American Army of 10,500 men back toward Philadelphia and by Sept 26, 1777 he was able to occupy the city while congress relocated to York, Pennsylvania. That winter Gen Washington set up winter quarters at Valley Forge and his army suffered the worst winter of the war resulting in poor morale due to the cold, hunger, disease, and low supplies; and a high desertion rate. In hearing this news, Joshua with many others of the New England Militia marched to Fish Kill, New York where they joined Colonel Diamond’s Regiment on June 6, 1778 but at the age of 49 he was discharged 9 months later as being unfit for service. However, this did not dampen his spirit of determination to serve where ever he could in the ongoing fight for freedom. So when an Alarm Call was sounded for recruits to reinforce the northern army, he, along with many others, enlisted as a private in Captain Asa Barnes’ 1st Company, Colonel Israel Chapen’s 3rd Regiment where they served for one month and 9 days being discharged on November 21, 1779 at the age of 50. Again Maj. Joshua like many others was more than willing to serve where ever he felt he was needed even as a private in the cause of Freedom and he remained active in the local militia throughout the remainder of the war until General Cornwallis surrendered to Gen Washington at Yorktown on October 17, 1782 nearly 2 years later and some five years after the battle of Bennington, Vermont.
Following the war, Joshua at the age of 53 and his two sons, William and Jonathan, worked as carpenters and acquired a large collection of wood working tools for use in their trade. During these years he began hearing about an effort by one of the Revolutionary War Generals and others who were strong advocates of granting lands in the western territories to veterans of the Revolution in payment for their service. That General was Rufus Putnam who immediately upon hearing of the “shot heard around the world” on Lexington Green enlisted on April 19, 1775. Later he enlisted in the Continental Army as a Lieutenant Colonel under David Brewer’s Regiment. His knowledge and skill were essential in the construction of Fortifications which were indispensable for their defense and instrumental in securing several victories in a number of battles throughout New England.
As a result of this success General Washington appointed him as Chief Engineer of the Works of New York. He was then promoted to engineer with the rank of Colonel but resigned when his proposal for establishing a Corp of Engineers was rejected in 1776. He then reenlisted in the Northern Army and served under Major General Horatio Gates where he commanded two regiments in the battle of Saratoga. In 1779 he served under Major General Anthony Wayne and later was commissioned as a Brigadier General. Thus, he was a well known figure not only in his own home town area but throughout all the northern colonies and his proposal of providing land grants for military service stirred much interest in the New England Colonies.
After the war, Putnam returned to a confiscated farm he had purchased in 1780 and to the task of surveyor in the North East section of Massachusetts which later became the state of Maine. However, his continued advocacy for land grants caused him to help establish the Ohio Company of Associates for the purchase and settlement of western lands. This company was formed on March 3, 1786 led by General Rufus Putnam, Benjamin Tupper, Samuel Holden Parsons and Manasseh Cutler who met in Boston, Mass. to discuss the settlement of lands beyond the Ohio River. Cutler was sent to the U. S. Congress to help this Company secure a claim for the land they wished to use for this purpose.
During the months when Manassah Cutler was pressing for the newly formed Ohio Company to purchase land north and west of the Ohio River, the Continental Congress passed an Ordinance for the governing of Territory North-west of the Ohio River also known as the “Freedom Ordinance.” This Ordinance which passed unanimously on July 13, 1787 over two years before the U. S. Constitution was adopted. It accomplished two things worthy of great note:
First, it defined the North-West Territory as land below (south) of the great lakes, north and west of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River.. This established the precedent by which the United States would expand through the admission of new states rather than by the expansion of existing states.
The second result of this Ordinance was to establish this territory as free from slavery which was a critical political question which would not be settled by the Constitutional Congress for the entire nation.
Even though this Ordinance was affirmed and adopted by the United States Congress on August 7, 1789, long before a Constitution was written, this at least was an acknowledgment that slavery was an evil which should have been abolished with the Constitution. The total support for this Ordinance was an admission along with the realization that this issue would have to be addressed and resolved at some point in the country’s near future.
After the creation of the North-West Territory, Cutler suggested that General Arthur St. Clair who was president of the Congress, be appointed as the Governor over this area. Once this was accomplished, two new contracts were signed on October 27, 1787 between St. Clair, Cutler, and Major Winthrop Sargent, Secretary of the Oho Company. First was the absolute purchase for the Ohio Company of 1,500,000 acres of land at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers at the present cite of Marietta, down stream to a cite nearly opposite the present city of Hunington, W Va. This purchase was for the sum of $1,000,000 in Government Securities which were then valued at approximately 12 cents to the dollar or about $120,000. Second was the option to purchase the land between the western boundary of the Ohio Company and the Scioto River north to the 10th Township from the Ohio River. This second tract was purchased by the Scioto Company made up of Cutler, Sargent and associates. This was for speculation only and lapsed before any land was purchased.
Once the Ohio Company purchase was accomplished, Putnam began making final plans to lead a group of veterans to establish a settlement in this land. While Cutler was busy in negotiating the purchase of this land by the Ohio Company, Putnam was busy assembling an outstanding group of Revolutionary Soldiers and Ohio Company Associates for the purpose of establishing a settlement at the mouth of the Muskingum River. This group of early American pioneers, often referred to as “The First Forty-eight” along with many others who followed shortly there after were “The Founders of Ohio.” These first 48 were carefully chosen and vetted by Rufus Putnam and other co-founders to ensure that only men of high character, bravery, and proven skills necessary in the building of a settlement in the wilderness of the Ohio Country were selected .
Under the guidance of Rufus Putnam two groups of these pioneers were to leave New England at the close of 1787, one from Ipswich Mass. On December 3, 1787 just 37 days after the land purchase was completed and the second group was to leave Hartford, Conn. On January 1, 1788. Their plans were to meet at Simrell’s Ferry (the present day West Newton, Pa.) on the Youghiogheny River some 30 miles upstream from Ft. Pitt (present day Pittsburgh, Pa.) Here they were planning to form a flotilla and continue their treck by boat down the Youghiogheny River to the Monohgahela River then down the Ohio River to the Mouth of the Muskingum River where their plans were to establish their settlement on the ceremonial grounds left by Native Americans several centuries earlier.
Word of these developments and the plans which were underway for soldiers who had served in the Revolution to be paid for their service with possible land grants in the Ohio Territory spread quickly throughout the New England Colonies especially among those who had served during the war. Further, there was news of Gen. Putnam’s plan to open a trail across the mountains to Simeral’s Ferry so future settlers could follow and would be able to embark on the river route to the Ohio Company settlement. These plans were being prepared well in advance of the actual purchase of this land by the Ohio Company giving those who wished to consider this pioneer venture ample time to make the necessary arrangements for embarking on such a major change in their lives.
Joshua and his sons heard about these plans and knew Gen. Putnam from his participation in the battle of Saratoga and had confidence in his leadership of this venture. However, after having been a leading figure in the failed venture to Nova Scotia, Joshua and his sons were not sure they were ready for such a risky venture once again. But Joshua did see an opportunity for a business venture with a bright future. His plans were for he and his two sons, William and Jonathan, to go ahead of this expedition where they could be employed as carpenters building boats to be used by the many groups of settlers who would be moving west from New England to the newly opened North-West Territory. So they loaded their carpenters’ tool chest onto a two wheeled cart and set out overland for Simrell’s Ferry where they intended to remain as carpenters employed in the building of river boats for as long as the traffic lasted. However, the remainder of his family remained in East Hoosac for the time being as he did not envision that they would take part in this venture at least for the foreseeable future.
As Joshua had suspected when the requests came for river boats of major sizes to be built to accommodate such a large group of settlers, there was more than enough work for the carpenters in this area. So Joshua and his sons were there in time to assist with the building of the boats used by “The First Forty-eight.” During that bitterly cold winter two flatboats were built, a forty-five ton “Adventure Galley:” which they named the “Mayflower” in honor of their Pilgrim ancestors and a three-ton boat, the “Adelphia.” Three additional log canoes were also built. This small fleet of River Boats carried the first Pioneers down the rivers to their final destination, the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers where they arrived on April 7, 1788. Rufus Putman being a surveyor in his pre-war years, laid out the plans for the town which they named Marietta in honor of Marie Antonette of France for their help in winning the Revolutionary War. His first task was to oversee the building of a fort for the comfort and protection of these settlers. Using the materials abundantly available in the surrounding territory the carpenters and skilled workers set about the task of building living quarters so families could move from their tents as rapidly as possible.
Joshua’s original intension of settling in western Pennsylvania and continuing to build boats to be used by a constant flow of pioneers who after hearing about the opening of the North-West Territory for settling, would just sell out, pack their most valuable belongings and head west. The demand for boats would be great for the pioneers would not be limited to settling only in the Marietta and immediate areas but all up and down the shores of the Ohio Company land. However, Joshua and his sons remained here only just a few short weeks building only a couple more boats for the second group of pioneers associated with the Ohio Company. During these few short weeks, word came back from the settlement requesting for additional carpenters to come in order for them to meet the need for housing and fortification if these needs were to be met before the coming fall and winter.
As a result Joshua and his sons were persuaded to join the second company of settlers headed for Marietta. So they loaded their two-wheeled cart and tools onto one of the boats they had just completed and arrived in Marietta just 6 and ½ weeks later arriving on June 22, 1788. They came as carpenters to assist in establishing this new settlement in whatever way was most needed. They were ask if they would be able to build one of the corner block houses which would be part of the fort which would be used not only for fortification but for temporary housing as well. So they took a contract from Rufus Putnam for $100 plus food and housing for this work. The fort was to be named “Campus Martius” and was to stand on one of the earth work platforms facing the Muskingum River about 2 miles upstream from the Ohio River.
The Fort was built not only for temporary housing as families were moving from tents to the homes which each family were attempting to build for themselves but as a facility where the entire community could stay during times of attack or threats from the Indian tribes in the area should that be necessary. Of course they assisted each other in this process in order to make this transition move more quickly. Because of the need for a secure fortress during times of attack, the outside walls of the blockhouses at each corner of the fort, and the outside walls of the row houses which connected the blockhouses were constructed out of solid planks 4 inches thick. Further, there was a palisades of tall posts (poles) with pointed ends on top as added protection from possible assault with the Indians trying to climb over them. So the Fort was designed for the temporary protection of everyone in the Ohio Company.
The construction of the Fort was a slow going process and required men of unusual strength and determination for the large beans at the top of the second story of the blockhouses as well as the ridge timbers which topped the roof rafters were over 30 ft in length and extremely heavy. They had to be hoisted into place with ropes and pulleys which formed a windless and a gin pole which required both great skill and just raw strength. In looking at the result which is still standing today, everyone wonders how they did it without the aid of modern motorized cranes.
When Joshua and his sons were finished with their responsibilities to the Ohio Company, Joshua, having looked around the settlement and scouting out possible outposts as places agreeable for later pioneers to settle as well, he decided to return home to East Hoosac and report on what was happening in the North-West Territory. But his two sons, William and Jonathan, decided to remain and assist others in the building of their homes in preparation for the coming winter season.
A Final Exodus
Upon returning home in East Hoosac, Mass., Joshua began sharing with both family and friends about the opportunities which he felt were available to all who would be willing to take advantage of what was being offered them by the Ohio Company. He had seen the rich river valleys along the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers and the fertile river bottons for growing their gardens and grazing their animals. He had seen the two areas which were being looked at as possible locations for establishing outlying settlements and liked what he had seen especially in the one about 20 miles upriver from Marietta which included a fairly large plane which had been cleared in past years apparently by some Indian tribes for planting. It was his intention to encourage as many of his family and community members as he could to dispose of their holdings, pack up their prize possessions and join him in moving into this new territory. On the basis of his dealings with Gen. Putnam and the other leaders of the Ohio Company and in appreciation for what they were attempting to do for the veterans of the Revolution and their families, Joshua was willing to pack up his family one more time and settle in this newly opened Ohio Territory.
So in the winter of 1789, at the age of 60, Joshua led a group of settlers from western Mass. out to the Ohio country. They included his wife Abigail and family, the wife and children of his son William, the wife and family of his son Jonathan, and two children of his chronically ill son Elijah and several others. There were 20 families in all who accompanied Joshua on this his final venture in securing for himself and his family a fair and beautiful land with great promise for a happy and delightful future.
As he had expected, in the spring of 1789 two new settlements were established in the Ohio Territory. The first was settled by several families who traveled a little further down the Ohio River to a location near the present town of Belpre – originally named Bell-Prairie or Beautiful Meadow. The second one was founded on April 20, 1789 shortly after Joshua and his group arrived in Marietta. There were 19 families who packed their belongings onto a river boat and traveled up the Muskingum River about 20 miles to a location where a small tributary called Tuttle’s Run empties into the river which was just a mile down stream from the cleared field and the location of the present town of Beverly. Here a temporary camp was set up until land could be cleared for building cabins and the field cleared for planting. This settlement was initially named “Plainfield“ due to this cleared area in the midst of a virtual forest of trees. In just a few days a second group of 20 families followed and settled at the mouth of Wolf Creek just to the west of this village. Both of these temporary settlements were in what was named Waterford Township due to the fact that for most of the year horse drawn wagons and buggies could ford the river just upstream from this settlement.
The list of those first settlers who made camp at Tuttle’s Run include: Joshua and family, William (30) with family, Jonathan (22) with family, and Wilbur (12) single. This first group of pioneers began building log cabins about 300 yards upriver from their temporary campsite near the cleared area. This was land which would be granted to them by the Ohio Company a couple of years later. The plan which was developed would grant each family 100 acres which required that the land be laid out in a different plan from that of the usual Township with quarter, half and full sections for those tracts could not yield 100 acre plots. Further, since the area being settled was made up of river bottom, as well as rolling hills and valleys, the land was surveyed into smaller divisions so that those selecting their allotment of 100 acres would be required to select several plots of land from different locations within the township for the total of 100 acres to be achieved.
One of the main attractions in the Waterford Township was the clearing on the north side of the river which appeared to have been cleared of large trees and was overgrown by dry weeds and small shrubs. This clearing provided the settlers with a fairly large area immediately for planting. This was the feature which was reflected by the name “Plainfield.” So one spring afternoon not long after this group of settlers arrived at Tuttle’s Run, aided by a brisk westerly wind, they set fire to the western edge of this field and in just a few minutes they had a cleared field ready for cultivating and planting. This clearing was a major reason why these settlers chose this area for their settlement and as one would expect, it was surveyed into rather long and narrow sections which were numbered along with house lots that had been laid out on a peninsula formed by the Muskingum River on the north and Wolf Creek on the south and west. So when the settlers selected a house lot they were granted the corresponding section of the clearing with the same number.
Their original intention was to establish a New England type town on this peninsula with one street running north and south through the middle with a second street running across the center at 90% east and west and a third street running around the outside along the river banks. However, it was not long until they discovered that this plan would not work out due to the yearly flooding of most of this land each spring. Because of this fact the town which grew up in the center of Waterford Township was located further to the east on higher ground which was above the flood plain.
The second group to arrive set up their temporary camp on the south side of the river near the mouth of Wold Creek. The reason for their selecting this location was the fact that they had brought with them a floating mill for grinding grain as well as a working sawmill. In their search for a location where the current would be strong enough year around to operate this mill they found none until they reached the rapids just above Wolf Creek. This was also where the river could be forded for much of the year. Since this was the major concern of those who made up this settlement, they named it Millburg. However, due to the great variation in the water level and flow of the river they ventured up Wolf Creek until they found a location where a wooden dam could be built to provide a constant source of waterpower for turning the stones to grind their grain as well as running a sawmill to provide the lumber for their building needs. So the settlers soon began clearing the area around this location for their cabins at Millburg in this location.
The Indian Wars
When the first settlers of the Ohio Company landed at the mouth of the Muskingum River they were greeted by Captain Piper, a principal chief of the Delaware Nation. He and about 70 of his tribe: men, women, and children, were camped at the mouth of the river. They had come to trade their furs with the residents of Fort Harmar. They received the new comers graciously shaking hands and welcoming the settlers to the shores of the Muskingum the headwater of which was the location of their tribal home.
Over the first several months many Indians from the various tribes who lived on land north and west of the Ohio River and of the land purchased by the Ohio Company were continuously present in and around these settlements selling their produce and trading items such as jewelry, furs, etc. This allowed them to keep track of the activities of the settlers without raising any suspicion as to their concerns or growing unhappiness with what was taking place. It became obvious that these settlers were beginning to establish their pioneer homes at the mouth of the river as well as the two major outposts of Bell-Prairie (Belpre) further down the Ohio River; and Waterford some twenty miles further up the Muskingum River.
During these months, there were two developments among the activities of these new neighbors which greatly raised the level of distress among the several Indian tribes in the area. First they were greatly concerned with the number of new settlers which kept coming on nearly a weekly basis to join the first pioneers in clearing the land and building homes – establishing this area as their new permanent homes. And secondly, even more disturbing to them was the work of the surveying crews who were measuring off large areas of land as well as laying out streets and home lots for permanent homes at the base settlements. In response to these activities which represented a real threat to their land, the survey crews were attacked on a regular basis which presented a real concern to the Officials of the Ohio Company. And shortly after the two outpost settlements were established a settler by the name of King was killed near Bell-Prairie (Belpre).
Finally, these officers called for a meeting with several of the tribes in the area and agreed to a meet them some sixty miles upriver at the falls of the Muskingum. This location was requested by the Indian leaders who said this was closer to their homes and a well known area which was not under the influence of a military post – Ft. Harmar. So in the later part of June, 1789 Lieutenant McDowell of Fort Harmar and a party of 30 men were ordered by Col. Harmar to go up to the falls with the provisions and goods needed in preparation for this meeting. They were to erect a Council House as well as build several huts for the comfort of the men and the security of the provisions from possible thieves as well as their protection from the weather. Among the tribes which were invited to attend were the Delawares, Shawnees, Miamis, Chippewas, Senecas, etc. under leaders known as Blue Jacket, Little Turtle, Cornstock, and Silverheals. Among those who began gathering were several renegades from the various tribes. There were about 20 in all who on July 12, 1789 began firing on the sentries killing two of them. Their intent was to plunder the goods and supplies.
This action awakened the rest of the guard who fired on the Indians killing one and wounding another. The following day the Delaware representatives declared that those who attacked the sentries and killed Major Duncan’s Aid were Chippewas and they seized six from that tribe who they tied up and turned over to the soldiers. They in turn took them down to Ft. Harmar where they were kept under guard for a short period of time after which they either escaped or were let go. The location of this raid was later named Duncan Falls. This unfortunate event caused the development of a possible treaty to be postponed for several months even though the following day the Delawares came into the camp with their women and children as a display of their good-faith support for negotiating such a Treaty.
The Indians continued to mingle in and around the areas of the settlements while their hunting and scouting parties set about to destroy all the deer and wild game within 20 miles of the settlements stripping off the skins and leaving the meat to rot. When questioned about this action they said it was to keep the white settlers from using this meat as the game belonged to the Indians and was not the property of the white settlers. A not too subtle way of letting the white settlers know they did not belong here.
At an Indian Council meeting held at Duncan Falls after the earlier affair, the Ottawas and Chippawas were strongly against entering into any treaty with the whites and wanted to declare war unless the Whites agreed to stay south of the Ohio River. However, the Delawares and the Six Nation Tribes would not join them and indicated that if they entered into war with the settlers, they would have to fight them alone. To show their support for entering into a treaty with the settlers, thirteen of their Chiefs came to Marietta and entered into the Garrison on horseback under the flag of the United States. During these days several Indian Chiefs and leaders were invited by Gen. Putnam to join him for a banquet and in September Cornplanter, Chief of the Seneca tribe, led a group of 40 Indians into the area. It was hoped by the Territory officials that he would be influential in bringing about a treaty for during these days of uncertainty many new settlers passed by the Muskingum settlements deciding to settle at locations further down river which seemed less threatening at this time.
Later that year in November, Gov. St. Clair received a request from about 200 warriors who were at Duncan Falls and who wanting to enter into a treaty at this location. The Governor rejected this request in firm but gentle language and on December 13, about 200 representatives from the various tribes arrived at the garrison and were escorted into the Fort with great fanfare which pleased the Indian Chiefs greatly. They were in deliberation for over three weeks before the terms of this Treaty could be arrived at. Finally the terms were agreed to and signed on January 9, 1790. It appeared that the peace they all hoped for would finally be realized.
The months following the Treaty being signed were viewed as a time for the settlers to continue the task of establishing their homesteads in the outpost communities. The officers of the Ohio Company saw this treaty as the needed instrument which allowed the pioneers to get settled into their new homes as well as an agreement which would allow them to attract new settlers who would remain in this area. The outposts which were being developed served two purposes. First they represented rich river bottom soil for growing the produce to supply the residence with fresh fruits and vegetables so necessary during the first few years until the new settlers could clear the land and plant crops of their own. Second, these out post settlements served as buffers for the protection of the residences in the base settlement who could sound the alarm should there be any Indian raiding parties made up of those who continued to show their displeasure with the Treaty which had been signed.
But, in spite of the ever-present concern for possible attacks from those tribes who had called for war, there seemed to be a prevailing sense of peace and freedom to move around the areas in working the land and building their homes. This sense of false security and safety led to decisions and conditions which resulted in the outbreak of an Indian War which followed all too quickly. The first of these was the decision to re-deploy most of the soldiers who were stationed at Ft Harmar to other posts down river leaving only a very small company at Marietta. With the building of Campus Martius Fort a couple of miles from the mouth of the river and the establishing of a military type of conduct governing its residence and the Treaty having been signed, the army felt the need for these troops was greater further down river at Ft Washington – the sight of the present city of Cincinnati. There is little doubt but that the Indians took note of this development.
The second effect of this sense of false peace is seen in the carefree manor in which the settlers approached their activities. Rather than build solid block houses as required in each settlement which could be defended should an attack come, they put more effort
into clearing their land and building personal log homes in which they were living with little regard to their vulnerability should such an event take place.
Other Issues Demanded Their Attention
During the spring and summer of 1790 there were two added crises which arose and diverted their attention away from the fragile nature of their relationship with the Indian population. The first was an outbreak of Small Pox which was of major concern to all within these settlements. In January that year a boat headed for Kentucky stopped and put a sick man and his family ashore. It was determined that he had the dreaded disease of Small Pox which in that era was an extremely deadly disease. A separate house was built for them and the first woman to settle in the North-West Territory volunteered to care for them. She contracted the disease from the direct contact she had with him but fortunately she recovered. However, many others who contacted the disease in this way did not survive. Very early on it was determined that the entire group in the Marietta vicinity be vaccinated and special houses be built to house the sick. As a result, of those who received the vaccination only two died. So a major epidemic was averted.
The second issue which faced the settlers that year was the failure of the crops and the famine which that produced. The weather late in 1789 and during the spring of 1790 was much colder than expected. Due to the need for the settlers to clear the land in preparation for the fall planting, those plantings were later than usual and due to a heavy frost on October 1, followed by a cold spring all their crops failed. Further, they experienced the lack of meat which resulted from the Indians slaughtering the game or driving them away from the settlements, they faced these shortages until the spring thaw which permitted catching fish from the rivers. Faced with these shortages, the pioneers learned of necessity what vegetation and roots could be used for food and what could not such as the use of sassafras roots in brewing a drinkable tea in place of coffee or tea. One saving feature was their location and the abundant supply of fish which could be caught once the ice melted. And a further saving factor was their mutual care and support displayed in their unselfish spirit and willingness to share freely with one another. Fortunately the crops that summer was an abundant one and brought an end to the “starving year” as it became known.
Thus their being forced to deal with sickness and famine left little time for them to deal with the ongoing reports of Indian activities in the area which under normal circumstances would have been their first concern. Throughout this year Indian attacks and raiding parties continued on the surveying crews and rangers who continued to serve as scouts for Indian activity as well as hunters attempting to provide meat for the settlers. In response to these attacks Col Harmar led a small group of soldiers into the Indian villages located in the western area of the Ohio country with the intention of sending them a message to stop these raids and attacks. However, Harmar’s troops were confronted with a large gathering of Indians and experienced a major defeat. This defeat served only to embolden the Indians in their attempts to drive the white settlers from the lands north of the Ohio river.
As 1790 came to a close the settlers throughout the region were poorly prepared for what the future might hold. The report of the scouts who daily were looking for signs of hostile Indians in the area reported nothing and the settlers were lax in building the blockhouses which they had been instructed to do. Rather they were spending their days clearing their lands and sleeping in their own log homes which were located all up and down the river banks. They were trusting in the Treaty which had been made hoping that this would preserve the peace with the various Indian tribes in the region the majority of which had signed the agreement.
War Declared By Indians
Throughout the year Indians had spent much time in and around the three settlements of the Ohio Company. They saw the lack of preparation within each settlement for the protection of their families who were living scattered throughout the settlements. They took notice of the very limited personnel in Fort Harmar and the expansion of the settlements with surveying crews spreading out over a greater area in preparation for the new settlers who were still coming to the area due to the prevailing mood and confidence that the worst was behind them.
With many new settlers arriving throughout the year and given the prevailing attitude that the Treaty had established an extended period of calm and peace with the Indians, several of them began to express an interest in forming an association with the purpose of establishing a new settlement some 30 miles from the mouth of the river. They assigned to several of their group the task of locating such a sight for this settlement. They came back with the recommendation that this settlement be located along the river where there was a very large area of bottom land that stretched several miles along the river and about ½ mile back to the hills. They called this location Big Bottom. There were some 36 men who joined in this venture and in the fall of 1790 they set about clearing this land and building a cabin along with a roughly constructed block house near where there already existed an older log cabin from some earlier time.
These men were discouraged by many from establishing such a settlement so far removed from the other major areas and they even had been visited by some from the Waterford area just before New Years who told them how unprepared they would be should they be faced with an attack by disgruntled Indians.
On Sunday January 2, 1791 the unthinkable happened. That day an Indian raiding party was on their way to attack the mill and Waterford settlements knowing just how defenseless those living in their own homes would be. As they were following the main trail which led to Millburg and Belpre they saw this new settlement at Big Bottom which was in clear view from across the river. It was late afternoon and the river was frozen so they crossed the river and then divided into two parties. One force was to attack the new log house and take its residence captive before they could warn those in the second building which was a small blockhouse which had been hastily built but without filling the space between the logs with stucco. So the raiders were able to see who was in the house and what they were doing. They saw that they were preparing their evening meal with no sentries on duty and even the dogs did not sound an alarm that Indians were in the area so they immediately attacked. The largest Indian in the group stepped into the doorway and the rest walked right into the house. The settlers reacted to these intruders by offering them some of their food and the leader of the raiders accepted some of the food being prepared before they attacked and killed 11 men, one woman, and two children and took the two in the smaller house captives.
The commotion which followed alerted the two brothers who were in the older house some distance away. They immediately grabbed their rifles and made their escape into the woods without being seen. They set out to alert the residence at Millburg and Waterford and report what had happened. They in turn sent runners to Belpre and Marietta with the tragic news. The residence at the mill and those at Waterford gathered into the larger homes and a couple of block houses located near the mouth of Wolf Creek. The news arrived in Marietta on Monday morning just as the winter session of the court was about to convene. As many of those with cases before the court were from the outlying settlements, the court was immediately adjourned to permit these men to return home to protect their families as they faced this danger confronting all the settlements.
By the time the Indian raiders moved on toward the mill and Waterford which they had originally planned to attack the following morning they found the pioneers gathered in the larger houses and on the alert so they turned back to their villages rather than to attempt an attack at this time. They had lost the advantage of a surprise attack on the three vulnerable settlements in the Ohio Territory. In spite of the fact that these Pioneers had escaped what could have been a very devastating attack, when a burial detail arrived at Big Bottom the next day they were shocked to find an Indian tomahawk buried in the front door of a burned out cabin as a clear symbol declaring that an Indian War with the settlers had officially begun.
Following the withdrawal of the Indians from the area the settlers from Millburg and Waterford held an emergency meeting to discuss how they were going to respond to this major change in their relationship with these hostile Indians. Some stated their intension to return to their homes in New England while others decided to move back to Marietta and live within Campus Martius Fort until the danger from future attacks could be removed. However, the majority of those at both the Belpre and Waterford settlements voted to remain in their areas and build fortifications adequate for the protection of their settlers. In Belpre a rectangular fortress was erected which was named “Farmers Castle” while at Waterford a three sided Fort was built along the riverbank close to the area which had been cleared for use in raising their crops. The Fort. which was built was of a rather unusual design. It consisted of three two-story blockhouses connected by a palisades forming an irregular triangle with its base of about 200 feet running along the river bank. A blacksmith shop was located in the center of the fortress and at least two wells were dug to supply the Fort with ample water for its inhabitants. In all, the total area enclosed by the fort was less than one acre. However, it seemed adequate for serving the needs of these early settlers during those troubled years. They lived in the Fort from its completion in 1791 to the fall of 1795 or the spring of 1796 and it was reported by some that living at Fort Frye was more enjoyable than life in Campus Martius where life was regimented more in a military fashion.
Joshua and his sons Jonathan and William, being carpenters who helped in the building of Campus Martius, helped in the construction of this fort as well and are listed as being among its first occupants. This fortress was named Fort Frye in honor of Lieutenant Joseph Frye, one of the settlers who had served as the drummer boy at the battle of Bunker Hill and who had conceived the idea of building the fort and had drawn up the plans for its construction. The speed with which theses fortifications were completed was remarkable as the history of the Indian Wars reveals.
Largest Indian Attack Foiled
Toward the end of February 1791following the massacre at Big Bottom the Delawares and Wyandots formed the largest war party of the conflict with plans for a major attack on the settlements of Duck Creek and Waterford which their raiding party had been unable to carry out in January due to the defensive actions of the settlers who had been warned by the survivors from this earlier raid. This was the first time a major war party was assembled to carry out a major attack on the main settlements in the Ohio Company. They were encouraged by the fact that the attack on their villages by Harmar’s make-shift army was so easily defeated. His settler’s militia was totally uninformed about Indian life and their determination to defend their villages and were ill-prepared for what lie ahead. So at the first sign of major resistance by the Indian warriors Harmar’s men began to withdraw and the Indian forces recorded an easy victory over this settlers’ “army.” Therefore, apart from the failure of their earlier raiding party to carry out their planned objectives they still felt there was the possibility that a major war party could register a real victory against these settlers who they thought to be totally un-prepared to deal with such a major force. In fact, had their earlier raiding party continued to press their advantage in spite of the fact that the major settlements had received an advance warning of their activities, they could have done great harm to the settlers of the Ohio Company and their pioneer homes scattered across the country side.
So In spite of their failure to press their advantage in early January, by the middle of February they were still buoyed by their easy victory over the settlers in battle and they concluded that if they could mount a surprise attack before the settlers would be able to construct adequate defenses they would be able to force the settlers to leave their villages and return south and east of the Ohio River.
Therefore, they set about assembling a large force of warriors at the location at the foot of Duncan Falls from which to mount a surprise attack on Waterford and Duck Creek. Fortunately for the settlers an Indian named John Miller from the tribe of King Phillip in Rhode Island learned of their intended action and decided to join their war party to learn of their plans. John had spent the summer of 1790 with the settlers in Waterford and had helped provide wild meat for them. He was well known by Joshua and his sons as well as many others of the Waterford community with whom he had become very good friends. He intended to return to warn his friends at Waterford of what was being planned. So he succeeded in gaining their consent to join these warriors in their war dance over the objection of an old warrior who knew of his friendship with the whites. It was his advice that they put him to death since he knew of their plans. When they assembled at the foot of Duncan Falls in early March as a staging area for their attack, the old warrior reported that he had dreamed that John would betray them and warn the settlers of their attack. Knowing this concern John deliberately cut his foot with a hatchet so he would be unable to accompany the war party on their raid. Rather than kill John as the old warrior advised, they tied him securely to a tree with just enough freedom to eat some food and drink some water which were left within his reach. The next morning the war party left on their mission while leaving John and a large amount of equipment and ammunition behind which they planned to use in the coming days of their warfare.
It took John most of the day to work free from his bonds and after he threw much of these supplies into the river, he made a make-shift raft out of drift wood and vines and set out into the river in the hopes of warning his friends at Waterford of the coming attack. Early the following morning he floated past the Indian camp while lying very still hoping that if any of the warriors should see the raft they would think it was just some drift wood and nothing more. Later that morning he rounded the bend just below the mouth of Wold Creek and saw for the first time the Fort which his friends had built. He found the Fort nearly completed with the exception of hanging the
two main gates which needed to be completed and hung. This task was completed in two days so that by March 11 just a few days over 2 months, the Fort was completed and stood ready to protect the settlers from both Millburg and Waterford against any Indian attacks.
John landed his crude raft several rods above the Fort and approached the gate very carefully so they would not mistake him for a hostile warrior seeking to gain some information helpful for an attack. The settlers were reluctant to welcome him in being suspicious of his reason for asking to enter the garrison. However, he told them of the planned Indian attack and then ask for a canoe for his planned trip to Marietta and from their back to Rhode Island knowing that if he remained and were captured by the War Party he would surely be put to death. Some still wondered if he were serving as a scout to check out the defenses of the Fort. But it seemed to them that he was genuine in bringing this warning to his friends and in his plans to return to his home in New England.
The Indians had originally planned to attack the Waterford settlements first and then go to Duck Creek to destroy that settlement as well. But for some reason they decided to attack Duck Creek and its mill first and were very surprised to find all the cabins empty and the mill shut down. They took out their anger by killing any cattle or other livestock before turning their attention on the Waterford settlements. When they arrived at the settlement on the evening of March 10, two days after John’s arrival, they found Millburg deserted and all the families who had been living along the river in their own homes now living in the Fort. Finding the residence safe and protected from attack they stationed warriors around the edge of the woods awaiting for the time when the settlers would come out to tend their crops, feed their livestock or milk their cows.
On March 11, 1791, just two months after the massacre at Big Bottom, Joshua’s son Wilbur, who was only 13 at the time, went out very early before daylight to milk a cow on their property some 80 to 100 rods down river from the fort. Having finished his chores, he was
returning to the fort when he was fired upon by Indians. As he ran toward the fort, he was hit in the hip and nearly disabled. However, he was still able to run to within a few rods of the gate where he fell behind a large tree stump for cover. At this point his brothers, Nehemiah and Jonathan rushed out of the fort amid a shower of Indian bullets which struck the walls and gate of the fort as well as the ground around them. But, they were able to bring Wilbur back inside the fort with none of them receiving any further injury.
That same morning Samuel and William brothers of Wilbur, thinking there were no Indians in the immediate area had just gotten into their canoe headed for Marietta when they heard the shooting and commotion at the Fort. They remembered what John had told them and which the settlers questioned to be true, turned around and staying close to the shore entered the fort by way of the water gate.
When the Indians found that the settlers were well protected within the garrison and their warriors were fired upon from within the Fort whenever they showed themselves at the edge of the clearing, they again turned their anger on the settler’s cattle shooting 25 to 30 head and driving away two yoke of oxen and several cattle. Thinking that they were well beyond the range of the settlers hunting rifles, they continued to dance around making obscene gestures at the men who were posted at defensive locations around the fort defying them to shoot at them possibly to goad them into leaving the fort in an attempt to chase them away from the area. But, Judge Devol had an extra long barreled, large bore old hunting rifle which he used for long distance shots. He elevated this gun from one of the upper loop holes in the wall of the fort and fired into the midst of a group aiming at the one who was the most noisy and animated of the lot. The group scattered at the crack of the rifle which was much more noisy than other guns.- that is except for the one who was the target of the shot. He moved much more slowly than the others and limped away as thou he were shot in the hip which was confirmed following the peace. Throughout the entire war this was the only time this Fort was ever attacked by a large war party since it was so well constructed and its residence safe from even surprise attacks. Throughout the rest of the war years the Indians only sent out small raiding groups to harass the settlers or catch them in small groups outside the walls of the garrison. So the settlers remained in the Fort except for small work groups who never ventured out alone and then only under the protection of armed guards.
A further incident occurred on the forenoon of April 29 that same year. A rainy day had altered the usual work schedule for the men in the fort with the result being that several of the boys wanted to use this opportunity to go out and cut down a tree to make a hoop for a new drum. After discussing it with several of the men and thinking that there was no immediate danger from the Indians, four boys – Jonathan, Nehemiah, and a Danial, all well armed, along with another lad, Daniel of 15 – who went out to chop down a tree suitable for their purpose. They had to go only a few yards from the fort before they were able to find just such a tree. So, Jonathan, being the ax man, handed his coat and gun to Daniel and started to work. Nehemiah and the otherDaniel were each posted a few yards away as guards. With the work just begun, nine Indians rose up not more than 40 yards from where the boys were and fired a volley of shots. Fortunately, no one was wounded by this first volley, though one ball passed through Jonathan’s shirt and waistcoat barely grazing the skin but without drawing blood. It was reported later that this near-miss left seven holes in Jonathan’s clothes for his wife to mend and that one of the Indians who had taken part in this raid stated that he “would have killed that Johathan if he had not been so flat chested.“
In the excitement which followed, and inexperienced in fighting Indians, these boys all began to run for the fort instead of taking cover and returning the fire which would have held the Indians at bay until reinforcements could have arrived from the fort. As they ran, the Indians chased and captured the young lad who had returned Jonathan his gun leaving the young Daniel the only boy without a weapon.
The Indians then made their escape with Daniel as their prisoner and headed for their village in northern Ohio at the mouth of the Portage River on Sandusky Bay. From there they took him to Detroit, an Indian trading post, where he made good his escape and traveled by water across the lakes, Erie and Ontario, to Montreal, Canada, then to Castleton, Vermont and finally back to Connecticut before he was able to return to Marietta, almost three years later in February 1794. Thus, all four boys escaped from this experience without any bodily harm and upon his return to Fort Frye, Daniel reported that to his great surprise the excellent treatment which he had received from the Indians both on the trail and in their village.
The Ohio Company’s Decisive Response
Following this outbreak of violence by the Indians who had not joined in the treaty, Gov. St. Clair set about to raise an Army which could be used in putting down this uprising should that become necessary. He had a threefold plan for restoring the peace:
1) Send a messenger to the western Indians with an offer of a peaceable resolution to their concerns;
2) At the same time prepare an expedition force to be sent into the enemies country if the peace offer was rejected; and
3) To organize an overwhelming army to take possession of the land and build forts to hold the territory north west of the Ohio – which was his real intention from the beginning.
In April St. Clair was in Pittsburgh recruiting volunteers and arranging for the necessary provisions, arms and equipment for an army to march into the territory occupied by the Indians. On May 15 he reached Ft. Washington where he assembled an army of 2300 strong in preparation for a fall offensive into the area north from Cincinnati. He began his march north toward the stronghold of the Indians in early October building Forts at various locations as they continued their march forward until they were confronted by a very large allied Indian force where they suffered a worse defeat than Harmar had before. As a result of this victory, rather than being deterred in their desire to drive the white settlers from the land north and west of the Ohio, they were elated with their victory and greatly encouraged in their endeavor.
The Board of Directors of the Ohio Company met on the 29th of March until the 11th of April in Philadelphia for the purpose of closing their purchase of land in the Ohio Territory and arrange for the Trustees to make grants of 100 acres of land to each male person over 18 years of age for the purpose of encouraging settlers to remain within the settlement. At that meeting General Putnam was appointed a brigadier general to serve as a commissioner in the attempt to make peace with the Indians living on the Wabash river. He left Marietta on the 26th of June and reached Fort Washington on the 2nd of July where he expected to meet with the Indians. But as they lived nearly 200 miles from this Fort, they requested that he meet them in Vincennes. The time agreed upon was the 20th of September.
This was the first treaty attempted with the Wabash tribes and after difficult negotiations with seven different tribes a treaty was completed. A letter was then sent to the hostile Indians inviting them to come to the Muskingum location or Marietta to make a new treaty but they would not entertain any overture for they preferred to remain at war rather than seek peace after their two stunning victories over Harmar and St. Clair.
The treaty was singed by thirty Indian Chiefs and leaders and on the 17th of November fourteen chiefs representing their many tribes reached Marietta escorted by an officer of the Army. Then on the 18th a public dinner was given for them in the garrison after they were welcomed with military music and a 14 gun salute.. The following day they continued on their way for a personal meeting with the President of the United States in Philadelphia. An eye witness of this feast reported that it seemed a bit strange being shut up in the garrison shaking hands with our Indian guests all the while being at war with other tribes whose desire was to drive us out of the Ohio Country.
It would appear that the tactics employed by the Indians in the prosecution of this war were changed by this treaty for there were no further large-scale attacks made against any of the settlements after this. Once they found that all the settlements had made the necessary effort to construct strong forts and garrisons which were more than adequate for the protection of the settlers there was little incentive for them to expend this endeavor when there was no bounty or provisions to be gained from this effort. So the following weeks and months of this war consisted of small raiding parties who hoped to find settlers either working on their land or traveling from one settlement to another without adequate armed protection. So even though the occasional attacks were of a limited nature, there was always the threat which required that the settlers be always alert and on their guard for the dense woods which surrounded their homes and gardens served as good cover for small raiding parties to lay in wait to kill and plunder wherever possible.
Following the defeat of both Harmar and St. Clair, the officials of the Ohio Company and by now the newly formed Federal Government as well knew that unless the Indians were dealt a decisive blow this stalemate would only continue and settlers would either go back to their former homes in the east or move on to less dangerous locations. So president Washington replaced St. Clair from the position of Commander over the Ohio Militia and appointed Anthony Wayne in his place. Wayne then spent the next several months assembling an army adequately equipped and trained to defeat the Indian forces who were still determined to drive the settlers from the Ohio Company settlements. Thus, in the fall of 1794 General Wayne began his march north from Fort Washington past the forts which had been built by the earlier failed campaigns until they engaged the Indian War Parties in the battle of Fallen Timbers just south of the present city of Toledo on August 20, 1794. So for all practical purposes this campaign of Gen. Anthony Wayne brought a conclusion of the Indian troubles which resulted in the signing of the Greenville Treaty on August 3, 1795. Even though there were occasional conflicts between the settlers and the Indian population, those like Joshua and his family along with the other settlers who had been living in the Fort for the past four years were able to move out of the fort and back onto the lands they had come to settle.
Land Grants to Pioneer Settlers
One of the surprising developments during the Indian War years came on April 21, 1792, during the first spring that the settlers at Waterford were living in Fort Frye. On that date Congress passed an act which authorized President Washington to grant and convey to Rufus Putnam and others a tract of 100,000 acres situated in Washington and Morgan Counties. This tract lies immediately south of “Israel Ludlow’s Survey Line” in what is known as “The Donation Tract.” It was to be subdivided into 100 acre tracts to be conveyed to each male person not less than 18 years of age as a bounty and free from expense if they would settle on the land at the time of conveyance. Any land not thus conveyed to actual settlers within five years was to revert back to the United States Government. Thus, this land has the distinction of being the first land which the government authorized to be “Homesteaded” much in the same way that land west of the Mississippi was settled following the Homestead Act of 1862.
The officers of the Ohio Company were to administer these grants and they determined that this land should be used as a military bounty for the protection of the new settlements. They, therefore required that each donee had to supply arms and ammunition and maintain a man able to bear arms on their land for a five year period or the land would revert back to the Ohio Company. Several of the men including Joshua’s son Jonathan signed a petition protesting this additional requirement imposed by the officers of the Ohio Company. They stated that it was virtually impossible for any man to maintain an armed man on the land granted them because of the constant threat of Indian raids. They were willing to remain in the fort and work the land by day under armed guard but they would not move onto their land until the threat from the Indians was over. Apparently this satisfied the Ohio Company officials who wanted to provide the main settlement of Marietta with an outpost defense and warning system against possible Indian attacks. At least they did not persist in their demand that these men move onto their grants until it was safe to do so and neither were any of the grants which had been made revoked.
Since this land was to be divided into 100 acre lots for each settler, the division of this area into townships and sections in a usual manner would not work out. So, another method was needed to meet the requirements of this Congressional Act. Further, since immediate settlement of this land was desired before the entire tract could be subdivided upon a general plan, the tract was surveyed by settlements or “A11otments.” In cases where lots were smaller than the 100 acres provided by law, a settler could select two or more parcels to make up his legal amount of land.
Within this Donation Tract, the Waterford Allotment reaches along the Muskingum River from just below Coal Run to just north of Beverly and south along Wolf Creek including land within the immediate vicinity of the old Wolf Creek Mill which was located on the site of the present Grange Hall about one mile south of Waterford. These allotments were laid off in rather irregular lots, most of which were less than 100 acres in size, as an original survey map of this township will clearly reveal.
The “Peninsula” formed by the Muskingum River and Wolf Creek at Waterford was laid off in house lots on the plan of a New England Village with one street through the middle, another at right angles to it through the center, and a third around the outside. Also, beginning near Center Street in Beverly and extending about one mile down river, the land was laid off in a number of 10 to 15 acre lots which were long and narrow in shape. The large cleared area used by the settlers for planting their first crops was divided into these lots as can easily be seen on an original survey map. Thus, the house lot number which was drawn by the owners included a corresponding lot number of land in this cleared area. This arrangement allowed each settler to share in this previously cleared area for a garden until they could clear their own lands.
Regardless of the reason for the division of this allotment as it was originally laid out, it is obvious that it was not long until this area was developed along quite different lines. Even a casual review of the early court records reveals that these settlers attempted to consolidate their holdings. Furthermore, the town of Waterford did not develop on the peninsula as originally planned. They soon realized that most of this land was flooded seasonally by the Muskingum River and its tributaries. Thus, the settlers began building their pioneer homes further to the east on higher ground without any pattern or plan and with no concentration of homes.
Consequently, by the end of the third decade there had not been any consolidated town or village established in this allotment, and with the arrival of river travel such a town would be essential for the development of the entire area. So, John Dodge Jr., son of one of the original settlers Capt. John Dodge, established the present town of Beverly having it laid out on land originally granted to his father. He then applied to the State of Ohio in the early 1830s for a charter as a consolidated village. This charter was received some ten years later in the 1840’s. In his writings concerning the founding of the town of Beverly John Dodge said:
I, John Dodge, now intending to establish on a spot (before selected by my father Capt. John Dodge as an exceptional site) a town for the further convenience and advancement of this region we chose as our pioneer home, am of the firm intention to name the town Beverly for three reasons; in that I have a reverence for the name as that of my birthplace in the mother state of Mass., also that many who came to the North-West Territory with our Company were from that pilgrim coast where that Beverly stands and would thus feel an affection for the name, again that I trust in the providence of God it will be an augur for the protection of the new village as Beverly in old England escaped the destroying army of the Normans because of the sanctity of her great prelate, John of Beverly, so I trust those here may be spared all future disaster thru our integrity in the keeping of God’s laws.
The suitability of this “exceptional site” for the location of a village is evident by the fact that Beverly became the center of this new settlement and soon became the second largest town outside Marietta in Washington Co., and remains so today.
As a result of the arrangement of the plots in the original survey of the Waterford allotment, many of the settlers were granted several lots before reaching their 100 acre limit. In the case of Joshua and his sons they each held five separate lots which were scattered across the length and breadth of the settlement.
On May 10, 1792 grants were made to Joshua and his sons William, Jonathan, and Nehemiah who had joined them at the Waterford Settlement. Nehemiah the twelveth child of Joshua and Abigail was born in 1770 in Sackville, Nova Scotia and was only six 6 years old when his parents moved back to Rhode Island and then on to Adams, Massachusetts where he lived during the Revolutionary war years.
In 1788, at the age of 18, Nehemiah remained behind in Adams, Mass. as the oldest son living at home to help with his mother’s care and that of his two younger brothers. He also remained behind to settle their families affairs before joining his parents and family in the Waterford settlement in Ohio. With that accomplished, he came to Ohio the following year and is mentioned in Rufus Putnam’s list of arrivals in the year 1790. So he joined his family at the Waterford Settlement and assisted in the building of Fort Frye. His name appears among those who lived in this settlement after 1790 and he is mentioned in several accounts involving those who lived in the fort during the time of the Indian troubles.
The plots of land granted to Joshua and his family were located throughout the allotment with none of them holding more than 53 acres in any one location. However, they did select some adjoining lots so that their holdings, taken together, were concentrated in four main areas in the settlement apart from their house lots #18, #27, #29, & #30 which they held on the peninsula.
William and Nehemiah owned about 70 acres of the bottom land across the Muskingum River from Coal Run in what would become Adams Township – the present site of Jonathan’s stone house and two family cemeteries.
Joshua and Jonathan owned about 20 acres of the bottom land from the river north to the hilltop about one-half mile down river from Fort Frye. It was here that Joshua built his pioneer log home in 1789and where he and Abigail intended to remain as long as health permitted. So in 1803 Jonathan deeded his holdings here to his father leaving Joshua with the entire 20 acres.
The Sunset Years
As the cold winds continued to blow in this coldest of years since the pioneers had staked out their claims, cleared the lands and built their cabins on lands granted them from the Government, Joshua and Abigail continued to reminisce about the events which they and their family had experienced since coming to this spacious and fertile land in the North-West Territory. In those early years, they lived in the Fort for protection from the many Indian tribes who wanted to force them from these lands. However, the conclusion of the Indian troubles was brought to an end by the campaign of Gen. Anthony Wayne in the battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794. This victory resulted in the signing of the Greenville Treaty on August 3, 1795. So after four years of living in the Fort, Joshua and Abigail, along with many others, were thrilled to move back to the homes they had built prior to the Indian war. Even though three of their sons had acquired lands about five miles down river from their frontier home, they chose to remain here in the center of Waterford Township to watch the developments which were taking place all around them almost on a daily basis. It also allowed them to keep in contact with their ever growing family in so far as possible given the limitations of travel and correspondence in that day and time. So Joshua and Abigail remained in this location in Waterford Township where they lived for nearly 20 more years until 1813 when for health reasons they went to live with their son Jonathan in Adams Township.
The breadth and scope of their family’s location in the ever increasing territories which were being opened up almost weekly during these years can only be realized by a brief review of where their children and grandchildren chose to settle for their homestead. The record shows that their descendants were located from Canada to New England, from Waterford Township to Iowa and on west. The record shows that Joshua had at least 163 descendants at the time of his death – and counting.
They thought often of the many locations where they had lived throughout their long and picturesque married lives during the years between 1780 and 1816 including their childbearing years. They, like most loving and caring parents thought often of their many children and the lives most of them had faced with their emigration into Canada and return, the Revolutionary War years, their exodus to the Ohio Country, and lastly the threats posed by the Indian raids. Finally, the last two decades seemed to offer them a time to enjoy the fruits of their labors in this new and vast territory which offered them the opportunity to make a fresh start with a bright future in this land of promise not only for them but for all their extended family should they be so inclined and physically capable of doing so. The record of that family tells a diverse and very interesting story:
Their thoughts were often directed toward their oldest child who was born in 1750 before his parents migrated north into Canada and returned with them to Massachusetts at the beginning of the Revolution. He met and married Avis Mitchell on August 4, 1776, the year the Revolutionary War began. They had one child the following year named Avis who was born two months early and represented a very difficult delivery with many complications. As a result, Elijah’s wife died four days later from these medical problems but the child Avis survived and lived in Rhode Island until her death on September 14, 1859 some 82 years later. Elijah then married a second wife Anna and they had three children: Henry born in 1782, Zerviah born in 1786, and George. born in 1788. When his father and many other family members were selling out and moving to the Ohio Territory, Elijah chose to remain in New England to care for his young family as well as deal with his own physical illness which ultimately ended with his early death. So when his father returned from the North-West Territory to lead his family members and several of his neighbors and friends who wished to join him on his return to the Ohio Territory in early 1789, Elijah was in such poor health that he ask his father if they would take his three young children with them. They agreed. However, Henry being seven at the time requested to stay with his parents and help his mother care for his father. So the other two: Zerviah being three and George being just an infant came west under the care of their grandparents. Upon the death of Elijah, Anna was appointed Guardian of these children, two of whom were teenagers by this time and living in Ohio.
Zerviah remained in the Waterford Settlement where she married David Ross and they raised five children: Jonathan, Narcissus, George, Sarah, and Henry. She died on January 23, 1852 at the age of 66.
George also remained in Washington County where he married Jane Mason on August 25, 1813; they had 4 children: a daughter, John, Avis, and Electa. He also married second: Lydia Hunter, a young woman 17 years his junior on July 21, 1831 and they had four children: Sophia, George, Elijah Jr and Louisa.
These two grandchildren who came to Ohio as young children were raised by their grandparents in Waterford Township and were given special care as a favor to their ailing son Elijah who died on June 20, 1800 in Rhode Island.
Nancy #2 & Meribah #3
Joshua and Abigail’s next two children were girls born in Smithfield, Rhode Island. Nancy was born on October 23, 1753 and Meribah was born on December 17, 1754. They were 8 and 7 nears old when their family moved to Canada and were 22 and 21 upon their arrival back in New England. They, like their older brother, decided to remain in Rhode Island even when most of their younger siblings chose to move to the Ohio Country in 1789 when their father returned to lead a rather large group of family and friends to Waterford Township, Nancy 36 and Maribah 35 at that time were neither one interested in beginning a new life one more time or in leaving their older brother who was in need of their support and care. As it turned out this may have been the better decision given the difficult circumstances which their family members would have to deal with over the next four or five years.
William # 4
The forth child of Joshua and Abigail was a son whom they named William after his Grandfather. He was 5 when his family migrated to Canada and 25 when he returned to Rhode Island where he married Experience Buck. They remained here where he worked as a carpenter until at the age of 32 he joined his father and younger brother on their move to the Ohio country. William and his family are listed among those who lived in the Fort during the Indian War.
His older children William and Sophia were born in Massachusetts and Sarah was born in Ohio before the Indian uprising. His next two daughters, Susanna and Ruby were born during the years their family lived in the Fort. When the land grants were issued to those men 18 and older who agreed to settle in the Donation Tract and defend it against the Indians, William received a total of five parcels of land scattered across the Township. He sold four of these and retained the largest one which was grant #4 situated on the south side of the river just down stream across from Coal Run. It was there that his final child was born, a daughter they named Lucena. With such a large family to care for it was to his good fortune that he was able to select this grant which had the resources for building such a large family home compared with most of the other frontier log houses which were erected during these early years of the settlement. William was able to build an 8 room brick home with a saltbox kitchen and dining area attached to the back. All was built with materials found on the property. The woodwork was of fine walnut and the brick was from clay fired here on the grounds. This house was still standing in the early 1970s as an example of the hard work, skills and resourcefulness of these early pioneer settlers. All but two of his children remained in the local Township while Susannah and Lucina migrated to Boone County Illinois. William resided in this his pioneer home until his death on September 1, 1826 and was one of the highly respected citizens in the Waterford community.
Pvt. James # 5
The fifth child of Joshua and Abigail, was a twin born in 1761 at Smithfield, R. I. His twin, Child # 6, did not survive due to complications at birth. James went with his parents to Canada and returned with them to Smithfield when he was 15 years of age. He enlisted as a private on November 1, 1776 and served three years in Col. Meigs Regt. After his service he married Mary Spooner and they settled in Adams, Massachusetts where he labored as a farmer. In 1794, upon receiving news that the Indian uprising had been brought to an end, James and his wife Mary along with their five children departed from their home in New England for Ohio. By the time they reached Bedford, Pennsylvania, the weather was so severe that they decided to wait until spring to continue their trip. However, Mary became quite ill and she died here. So James decided to remain here for a time but his oldest daughter, Lydia who had married here, decided to continue on with her four siblings to continue on to the Ohio country. Phebe lived with them until her marriage in Ohio. The record shows that these siblings settled in rapidly developing areas of Ohio both in south-east and central Ohio and further down the Ohio River. The way this family fanned out in the Ohio Territory to claim their pioneer settlements is seen by where they lived and contributed to the success and well being of this Fair and beautiful land, as they established their residence as follows: Lydia, died in Ostego, Ohio; Anson, died in Truro, Ohio; Ralph; Phebe, died in Middleport, Ohio; and Mary, died in Silver Run Landing, below Pomeroy on the Ohio River.
Pvt. James married Susanna Rice in 1795 and they were residence of Bedford until 1800 where they had two children, Samuel and Jonathan. Their remaining 9 children: Elijah, Elizabeth, Elias, Lucinda, Rosanna, Levina, James, Ralph, and William, were all born in Ohio. In 1807 James with his sons Samuel, Jonathan and Elijah opened up a road to the abandoned Indian village of Otsego where he settled and lived until his death on July 29, 1845at 84 years of age. But the majority of these children did not settle in the Waterford Allotment where most of them were born. Rather, they migrated to other communities within central Ohio and territories further west: Samuel helped establish the settlement of Otsego, Ohio; Jonathan died in Beacon, Iowa; Elijah helped settling Otsego while Elizabeth did remain in Adams Township; Elias settled in Otsego; Lucinda moved to Shelburn, Indiana; Rosanna migrated to Terre Haute, Indiana; Lavina chose Otsego as her home; James chose Annapolis, in Park Co. Indiana as his home; Ralph also moved to Rockville in Park Co. Indiana; and finally William settled in Washington Co. Ohio.
On May 25, 1818, James made application for a pension for service during the Revolutionary War, which was allowed. He was also to receive a grant of bounty land located in the Refugee tract which was a narrow strip of land containing about 58,000 acres reaching from the Scioto River at Columbus eastward into Muskingum Co. near Zanesville. This grant came from the western end of the Refugee Tract which was set aside by the Congress on Feb. 18, 1801 to be donated to:
“Our friends from Canada and Nova Scotia who lost their property because they sympathized with our American Revolution”
James and Susanna never moved to this area but their son Anson moved here and was the father of a line of Medical Doctors which continued to practice in the 1970’s. One of these doctors spent a lifetime researching this family and authored the most extensive history of his family ever published in 1913.
Frederick # 7
The seventh child of Joshua and Abigail was Frederick who was born on October 17, 1762. He was 15 when his family returned to New England at the start of the Revolutionary War and he enlisted at New Milford, CT as private in March of 1779 when he was just 17 years of age. He served until December 1779, under Captain Doan and Col. Meigs, in the Connecticut line in the Revolutionary War. He enlisted again on July 18, 1781, and served 3 months, 21 days as private under Capt. Clark and Co. Willett in the service up the Mohawk River. He fought in the battles of Stony Point and Johnstown.
After the war he married Rebecca Nichols and settled as a farmer in Genessee County, NY. However the post-war times were difficult in this new nation and Canada was again offering a free homestead to any settlers who wished to come. So having grown up in Canada he with several others formed a small colony and emigrated to Lake Simcoe, Ontario where they began building their homes in the midst of what was described as a wilderness. Never dreaming that there would ever again be a war with England in the colonies, they felt they could keep a low profile and never be brought into such a conflict should this occure. But when the War of 1812 began, the government of Canada again ordered that anyone who would not take up arms against the United States must leave the Dominion by a date to be set. Frederick was too patriotic and loyal to take up arms against the government he had fought to establish. But living where he did in such a wilderness, he thought it would be easy for he and his sons to just evade the British officers. But, on one occasion he was arrested for speaking against the British government. His reply was that he did not speak out against the government, rather, he only spoke out against one of its officers. However he was put under bond not to speak against the Government or any of its officials in the future. After the war was over Frederick sold his claims in Ontario to his son-in-law, William Crittenden, and moved again to the States. He resided in Chautauqua County until September 3, 1818, when with his family and others he crossed Lake Chautauqua in a boat and floated down the Alleghany and Ohio rivers to Marietta, and then up the Muskingum to Waterford, where they lived for the next two years. While living in Chautauqua County, New York, he applied on May 6, 1818 for a small military pension and it was granted. Frederick and his family did not arrive in Ohio until the year after the death of his father Joshua. However, his mother lived for 8 more years until her death on December 6, 1826.
In 1820, after residing two years in Washington County, Frederick and family moved to a Franklin County farm of 218 acres in the Refugee Tract, which he purchased from his brother Jonathan for four dollars per acre, to be paid for in eight years without interest. On this farm, located near the present towns of Brice and Truro, Franklin County, Ohio, he spent the remainder of his life.
Frederick and Rebecca had a total of 16 children with 11 who lived to adulthood and 5 dying as infants. Four were born in Mass, five in New York, and four in Canada.
Daniel: born in Adams, Ma, died in Ontario, Canada
Nancy: born in Adams, Ma, died in Des Moines, Iowa
Ellis: born in Adams, Ma, died Franklin Co. Ohio
Rebecca: born Adams, Ma, died Ontario, Canada
Joshua: born, Oneida, NY, died Jacksonville, Ill
John: born 1793, died 1795
Catherine: born Utica, NY, died Coshocton, Co. Ohio
Abigail: born Feb. 1997, died July 1997
Infant 1: died
Infant 2: died
Jacob: born June 1, 1801; died March 1855,Wapello, Iowa
Infant 3: died
Austin: born Aug. 3, 1803, died Jan 1830
Sidney: born Apr 29, 1806; died Lake Simcoe, Canada
Mary: born Sept 3, 1808; died Mar 7, 1905, Brice, Ohio
Frederick: born Sept 11, 1810; died 1848 on board a boat on the Mississippi River
Frederick urged his children to secure as much education as the times afforded in those pioneer settlements. He also paid the tuition of poor children who otherwise could not have obtained an education.
Amey # 8 & Joshua Jr # 9
Jonathan # 10
The 10th child born to Joshua and Abigail was born in Sackville Halifax County Canada. He was a farmer and millwright who at the age of twenty-one came to Marietta and with his father and brother took a contract for building one corner blockhouse of Campus Martius Garrison. He was tall, broad shouldered and strong, and was at the Waterford Garrison which he also helped to build. Several members of his family lived here during the Indian War. The Indians would often stalk around the fort and frequently shot at the men while they were outside the fort gardening or doing other chores. On one occasion Jonathan was out in the woods with others, when shot at, and the bullet grazing his chest leaving seven holes through his shirts. On another occasion Indians drove off the cows of the settlers and Jonathan located them at an Indian village near a creek emptying into the Muskingum river just two miles below Zanesville. The fort authorized a company led by Jonathan to attack the village. They pushed a large scow up to the creek and proceeded on foot to the village which was empty except for a few old men and squaws. So they burned the village, tied the Indians to trees and then loaded the cows onto the scow. They had just pushed out into the river when the Indian scouts came to the bank but were afraid to attack. The creek is called Jonathan Creek to this day.
Jonathan, along with his family and friends, was granted 5 parcels of land in as many locations across the Waterford allotment and after several transactions he too located in Adams Twp. on the bottom opposite Coal Run. While still living in Fort Frye, he married Sabra Seamans who also was born in Canada on April 30, 1767 and their first son was born in the Garrison. Sabra, was a lady of fine accomplishments and of unusual vitality and devotion. After the peace was secured, Jonathan moved onto his land and began in 1800 to built his stone mansion which he occupied the remaining forty years of his life. Five additional children were born by Sabra until her death in 1815. They were, Anthony Wayne, Cynthia, Mariba, Jonathan Jr., and Gilbert. He married his second wife, Susannah Owen on Feb. 11, 1816. She was the daughter of the first white woman to arrive in Marietta. They were parents of five additional children: Worden, Elijah, Ann, Seamans, and Benjamin Owen.
Jonathan also engaged in many land transactions however, he finally established his home in Adams Township just down river from Coal Run on land originally belonging to his brother Nehemiah. It is of sandstone construction and features walnut woodwork. This house, which was three years in construction, (1800-1803) still stands about one-half mile south of Coal Run on the southwest side of the river. It was here that Joshua and Abigail lived out the last years of their lives.
In addition to the stone house which he completed in 1803, he built a mill that same year which was known as the Island Mill. He, and his son after him, operated this mill for many years both as a sawmill and a grist mill. Here much of the lumber for the early settlement of this area was milled including the lumber used in the building of the House on Blannerhassett Island in the Ohio River. This mill was located just down river from Jonathan’s house on a small island which has since been filled in with sediment.
In 1803, with the completion of his stone home, he built the famed Island Mill with a wing built out into the river to secure the water power needed to operate these grist and saw mills. The mill was operated by Jonathan until his death and his descendants for over 100 years. Although this mill was washed away in the 1913 flood, the saw mill turned out the lumber which was used by many of the settlers in their homes and barns and was used in the construction of the famous Blennerhassett house, on an Island, in the Ohio River just across from Belpre.
Nehemiah. # 11
The eleventh child born to Joshua and Abigail was He was born in 1770 in Sackville, Nova Scotia and was only six (6) years old when his parents moved back to Rhode Island and then on to Adams, Massachusetts where he lived during the war years
In 1788, at the age of 18, Nehemiah remained in Adams, Mass. to care for his mother and younger brothers while his father and older brothers went to Simrell’s Ferry and then on to Marietta where they helped establish this new settlement. Nehemiah remained behind to care for their families’ business. He did not even accompany his family the following year when his father led a group of settlers to Ohio. He was not mentioned in the group that arrived at Marietta in the spring of 1789, nor in the group that settled at Tuttle’s Run in April that year.
However, after completing their family affairs, he come to Ohio the following year and is mentioned in Rufus Putnam’s list of arrivals in the year 1790. He joined his family at Waterford and assisted in the building of Fort Frye and his name appears among those who lived in this settlement after 1790. He is also listed among those who lived in the fort during the time of the Indian troubles. It should also be noted that Nehemiah was living in the Waterford community at the time each male over the age of 18 was granted 100 acres of land within the Waterford allotment. His grants, like those of his father and brothers were located all across the allotment.
On March 11, 1791, just two months after the massacre at Big Bottom, Nehemiah’s youngest brother Wilbur, who was 13 at the time, went out early before daylight and having finished his chores on their property some 80 to 100 rods down river from the fort, was fired upon by Indians. As he ran toward the Fort, he was hit in the hip and nearly disabled so he fell behind a large tree stump for cover. Nehemiah who had served on the burial detail at Big Bottom and his brother Jonathan rushed out of the fort amid a shower of Indian bullets which struck the walls and gate as well as the ground around them. Yet, they were able to bring Wilbur back inside the fort with none of them receiving any further injury. Later that year he along with several others went out to cut down a tree and even though they were well armed, when they were fired upon, rather than fire back and wait for help, they ran for the Fort and a young lad who was not armed, was captured and taken finally to Detroit where he managed to gain his freedom and eventually was able to return to Waterford.
Nehemiah was married twice. His first marriage was to Mary Lowe sometime before 1795. This was just following the conclusion of the Indian wars when everyone was able to return to their lands from the Fort. They had five children: Isaac, Sarah, Fredrick, Jefferson, and Abigail.. Following the death of Mary Lowe in 1804, Nehemiah’s second marriage was to Mary Mason on June 26, 1805. There were three children born to this marriage: Rebecca, Missouri, and Nehemiah, b on June 8, 1811, 4 months after his father’s death.
Of Nehemiah’s eight children, four remained in the area of Waterford throughout their lives, while Isaac moved to Lebeck, Mo. By the way of Athens Co. Ohio; Sarah moved to Turuo, Franklin Co., Ohio; Rebecca migrated to Richland, Iowa; Thomas settled in Marshall, Indiana; and Nehemiah Jr moved to Hillsboro, Ky.
On Jan. 7, 1800, Nehemiah purchased a total of 105 acres which was located just north of Wolf Creek and extended north along the river to land owned by his father. At the time of this transaction, Nehemiah and his father Joshua owned the entire bottom land on the west side of the Muskingum river north of town. But after his father sold his holdings in this location, Nehemiah sold this same 105. With this transaction, Nehemiah disposed of his holdings in the Waterford area and moved to Adams Township where he established his home along with that of his other brothers.
Nehemiah was a farmer in Adams Township and owned a farm, which was known in the early 1900s as the Ridgeway Farm. It was not far removed from Jonathan’s and William’s houses across from Coal Run. So Nehemiah, like his brothers settled on bottom land across from Coal Run on land originally granted to him by Rufus Putnam plus an additional lot which he had acquired from its original owner.
Nehemiah died on February 2, 1811, at the young age of 41 and is buried in a family cemetery. Nehemiah’s brothers William and Wilbur and their wives and families are all buried here as well.
A family story handed down through the years concerning the death of Nehemiah says that during the winter of 1810-1811 a young boy traveling along the river came to the home of Nehemiah very critically ill. It was determined that he had smallpox so Nehemiah cared for the young man by himself until his death to prevent others in the family from coming in contact with this dread disease. He buried the boy immediately following his death, in the hope of checking the further spread of this dread disease. However, Nehemiah had already contracted smallpox himself and died shortly thereafter. It should be noted that Nehemiah’s untimely death is reflected by the epitaph which is found on his gravestone. It simply reads: Behold, I come as a thief, watch therefore!
As an expression of Joshua’s concern for the future well-being of his family, especially those who were facing difficult times to come can be seen in his expression of concern for his grandson Isaac who had lost both his mother and father at an early age.
The first child born to Nehemiah and Mary Lowe was a son, Isaac who was born on March 1, 1797. He was less than 8 years old when his mother died and only 14 years old when his father died. Mary Mason remained unmarried for nearly 5 years before she married John Starlin on Nov. 12, 1815. Those must have been difficult years for Mary and her family of three children. Isaac remained in Coal Run for a few years after his father’s death and records show that Joshua deeded “80 acres, 144 perches more or less, located in the refugee tract in Franklin Co.” to his grandson Isaac on October 14, 1812 the year following the death of his father. This represented about 1/8 of the land granted to him the previous July by the U.S. government as payment to:“Our friends from Canada and Nova Scotia who lost their property because they sympathized with our American Revolution.” Isaac was only 15 when this land was given to him as an attempt on the part of an elderly grandfather to give his fatherless grandson a start in life. Joshua was 84 at the time of this transaction and fond of his grandson Isaac. This deed as recorded in the Franklin Co. court house reads:
Know all men by these presents, That I Joshua _______ of Waterford in the county of Washington and State of Ohio for and in consideration of the love and good will and especially the sum of one dollar United States Money to me in hand paid by Isaac _______ my grandson of Adams in the County and State aforesaid the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge have given bargained sold aligned and confirmed unto the said Isaac and to his heirs and assigns forever all my right title claim and demand in and unto lot numbered one being one fourth part of west half of section number twenty four in township number twelve and range number twenty one of the lands set apart and reserved for the purpose of satisfying the claims of refugees said to contain three hundred and twenty three acres and ninety six perches as patent from the President of the United States to me dated 22nd day of July 1812, and recorded in the office of the secretary of state of Washington City the said grantees premises is situated and lies in the N. W. corner of said half section…..
This deed was dated the 18th day of October, 1812, and was not recorded in Franklin Co. Court until the 8th day of September 1814.
Due to advanced years and failing health, Joshua never visited this parcel of land which was located in the western end of the Refugee Tract along Brice Road near Truro in Franklin Co. However, Isaac sold this land to Michael Stacy and Gilbert Olney, his brother-in-law, who was married to his sister Abigail, on June 14, 1819.
Isaac moved to Morgan Co. shortly after he sold this property and among those listed for Manchester Twp. were Isaac and William along with his cousins Samuel, William Aaron , and Jonathan all of whom were residents of Manchester Twp. who voted there on August 3, 1822. These were the sons of James except that Aaron is often listed as Anson. However, each of them moved shortly after this so, they were residents of Morgan Co. for only a brief time.
Isaac, however, made his home in Morgan Co. for the next 20 years. It was here that he married and raised his family. Isaac is named in a deed which settled the estate of John Heddon, and shortly after, his marriage to John’s Widow, Phoebe Jane (Tylor) Heddon.was recorded. This marriage took place on December 28, 1823. Isaac and Phoebe moved to McConnelsville and their oldest son was born in this village the following year, 1824. They had four children, all boys, born in McConnelsville: Enos, Fredrick, Harmon, and Joseph. The 1830 census for Morgan Twp., Morgan Co., Ohio lists Isaac, his wife and three children along with three children between the ages of 10 and 15, Phoebe ‘s children from her previous marriage.
Isaac lived in McConnelsville where he tended the ferry until 1840 when he moved to Athens County where he remained for several years. It is known that he was living in Canaan Twp., Athens Co., Ohio in August 1850 for the census taken that year lists Isaac as 52 and his wife Phoebe as 59. Additional information contained in this census states that Isaac was born in Ohio, and Phoebe was born in New York.
Samuel # 12
The twelfth (12) child born to Joshua and Abigail was a son who was born in Sackville, Halifax Co. Nova Scotia, Canada on January 13, 1774. He was only two years old when his family moved back to Rhode Island and later to Adams, Massachusetts. He lived here with his family until his father returned from Marietta, Ohio to Massachusetts late in 1788 and led a large group of settlers to the Ohio Country in early 1789, many of whom helped to establish the settlement in the Waterford Allotment. He lived with his family in the Garrison from 1792 to 1794. During his time in the fort, he met and was very attracted to a young lady who was living in the fort as well. She was Hannah Delong who was born in 1772 in Pennsylvania and was two years older than Samuel. They decided that once the Indian Wars were over they would be married. So as soon as possible, they were married on May 15th, 1795. Samuel was 25 and Hannah was 27 at the time.
He was too young to qualify for the land grants which were being awarded to many who were living in Fort Frye. So they had to depend on their families for support until they could find work in the settlement by farming or helping with the building of homes. Since so many of these families were looking for assistance in getting established in their homes there was no lack of work for those who were willing to work in assisting in these efforts. This was true not only for those who were establishing their frontier homes within the Waterford Allotment but for those who were uniting with other recent settlers who were beginning to stake out land in what would become settlements outside of the Waterford Allotment. This was certainly true for Samuel and Hannah who were looking for a suitable location for their Pioneer Home. It was not long before they found such a place which was not too far removed from their families and a pleasant and workable location in which to raise their family.
They had 11 children over the next 25 years:
The first was Nancy who was born on May 1, 1796 in Washington Co., Ohio; died at Renrock, Noble Co., Ohio
Their second was Aaron who was born on May 26, 1798 in Noble Twp., Morgan, Co., Ohio;
Their third was William, born on October 12, 1800, in Meigs Creek, Morgan, Co., Ohio;
The forth was Solomon, who was born February 26, 1804 in Meigs Creek, Morgan Co., Ohio;
The fifth child was Phebe born on April 21, 1806 in Meigs Creek, Morgan, Co., Ohio;
Their sixth child was Samuel who was born on October 12, 1808 in Meigs Creek, Morgan Co., Ohio;
Their seventh child was Hannah, born on April 5, 1811, in Meigs Creek, Morgan Co., Ohio;
Their eighth child was Joshua who was born on May 1815, in Meigs Creek, Morgan Co., Ohio;
The ninth child was Henry born on June 20, 1816, in Meigs Creek, Morgan Co., Ohio; died in 1897at Lonoke Co. Arkansas
The tenth child was named Nehemiah, born on January 15, 1819, Meigs Creek, in Morgan, Co., Ohio; died in Paulding Co. Ohio
Their eleventh child was Mary, born on December 14, 1820, Meigs Creek, in Morgan, County, Ohio: died on June 3, 1902 Argenta Arkansas
Wilber # 13
The thirteenth child and final son born to Joshua and Abigail was who was born in Adams, Berkshire Co., Mass after his family moved back to New England and after the Revolutionary War had begun. He was 11 when his father and brothers removed to western Penn and then on to Marietta to help build the Garrison and he was 12 the following year of 1789 when his father led a sizable group to the Ohio Territory and then on to settle in the Waterford Allotment. He lived with his parents in the Fort he had helped build for protection from the Indians. He along with his brother Samuel served on the burial detail in burring those who were massacred at Big Bottom that cold January morning. Further he was the one who was almost disabled for the rest of his life by a rifle shot to his hip from some Indians who were hiding near Fort Frye one morning as Wilbur was returning from doing his chores at their home some 80 to 100 rods down river from the Fort.
Wilbur and Gertrude had 15 children between April 1797 and August 1819. The location of their birth reveals the many places where Wilbur lived before settling into any permanent location and the place of death reveals where they moved to over the years. They were:
Luna born Apr. 22, 1797, Waterford, Ohio; d. Knox Co. Ohio
Mary, born Oct, 14, 1798, Waterford, Ohio;
Nancy, born Nov 26, 1799, Lowell, Ohio;
James, born Sept Sept 22, 1801, Lowell, Washington Co. Ohio; died June 30, 1852, Hartford City, Indiana
Deborah, born Sept 22, 1801, Lowell, Washington, Co. Ohio; died June 4, 1887, Lowell, Ohio
Amy, born Feb 7, 1804 Beverly, Washington, Co. Ohio; June 11, 1881, Lowell, Ohio
William, born May 2, 1805 Beverly, Washington, Co. Ohio; died Sept 15,1850, Marion Co., Ohio
Viletta born June 28, 1807 Waterford, Washington, Co., Ohio; died March 2, 1894, Hartford City, Indiana
Minerva, born June 15, 1810, Waterford, Washington Co., Ohio; died June 1, 1835, Lowell, Ohio
Nancy Abigail, born June 11, 1813, Meigs Co. Ohio; died Sept. 30, 1885, Adams, Twp., Washington Co.,
Wilbur, born Meigs Co., Ohio, died 1824;
Samantha, born Meigs Co., Oho, died as an infant
Elizabeth, born June 24, 1818, Keith,(Keithtown) Noble Co., Ohio; died May 24, 1845, South Olive, Noble Co., Ohio
John Bowen, born June 25, 1818, Keith (Keithtown) Noble Co., Ohio; died Feb. 27, 1909, Keith, Noble Co., Ohio
Diana born, Aug 29, 1819 Keith, (Keithtown) Noble Co., Ohio; died May 23, 1897, Chester, Meigs Co., Ohio
As noted by the records of their children’s births, they did not settle down on their farm until 1814 when Wilbur established his home in Olive Green Twp., Washington Co.
Abigail # 14
Joshua died on October 1, 1816 at the age of 87 leaving 163 living descendants while recognizing that this number did include a large number of his grandchildren along with dozens of his great-grand children who were yet to be born in 1816. Of his nine sons, William settled and lived in Adams Township where he built a red brick home which was still standing in 2012 across the river from Coal Run; James moved to Muskingum Co.; Samuel settled on Meigs Creek; Wilbur lived in Keith, Noble Co.; Fredrick moved to his father’s land near Columbus; Nehemiah remained in Adams Township and preceded his father in death; and Jonathan, the head of the family who were living in Adams Township in the 1860’s when the “History of Washington County” was published, settled on the bottom near Coal Run as already stated.
Jonathan had 10 children, 8 boys and 2 girls. Neither girl, Cynthia nor Mariba, lived to have children and two of his sons, Gilbert and Warden, died in infancy. His other 6 sons were: Joshua, who was a farmer and settled in Adams Twp. near the mill where he died in 1828; Anthony Wayne, who also lived on a farm in Adams Twp. where he operated a grist mill and distillery until his death in 1848; Jonathan Jr., who settled in the valley near the homestead and operated the Island Mill following his father’s death, was Justice of the Peace for three years and a faithful member of the Baptist Church in Lowell for 47 years; Elijah, who occupied the old house following his father’s death; Seaman, who moved to Illinois then to Missouri and finally back to Pike Co., Ohio where he remained till his death; and Benjamin who lived on a farm between Coal Run and Beverly on what is known as Round Bottom until his death on Dec. 24, 1858
A long time resident of Beverly said she recalled an old log cabin which was located in the general area down river from the Fort and was identified as being the pioneer home of one of the original settlers – the very home of Joshua and Abigail.
Joshua and his wife Abigail, who died on December 6, 1828 at the age of 95, are buried in the Family Cemetery which is located just a few hundred feet from the old stone house A second Family Cemetery is located further upriver just a few hundred feet from William’s old house.