Aunt Jane’s garden

Jane Charlotte Stott (1820-1904)

Five years ago, through a generous cousin, I came across some delightful information about the family of Jonathan Stott. I knew that he and his wife Julia Cooper Bennet had two sons: Charles Henry, our ancestor, and Francis Horatio, who went off to sea on the clipper ship Sea Witch before being recalled to the family business. After Jonathan’s death these two brothers formed the firm of C.H. & F.H. Stott Woolen Mills, and later hired a young bookkeeper named John Magoun Pearson. 

Now I learn that there were also three daughters. Two of them, Mary Elizabeth and Julia Matilda, died within days of each other in 1823. They were 5 and 3 years old, respectively. But the third daughter, Jane Charlotte, lived a long and evidently happy life. She was our grandmother’s great-aunt. She never married; rather, she stayed home, gardened, and had a strong influence on generations and dozens upon dozens of nieces, nephews, grand-nieces & grand-nephews. One of them, Lella Seeley, wrote this lovely piece about her aunt’s garden in Stottville. [...] read more

The first colonial Jews

Dutch Jews in New York

On August 22, 1654, a handful of Ashkenazic Jews arrived in the port of New Amsterdam, the first known Jews to set foot in the Dutch settlement. They had sailed from Holland and had passports issued by the Dutch West India Company.

In September, they were followed by 23 Sephardic Jews, this time without passports, fleeing the Portuguese reconquest of Dutch possessions in Brazil and the Caribbean.

Over the extreme objections of Governor Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch West India Company insisted that the Sephardim be granted permanent residency in New Amsterdam on the basis of “reason and equity.” After much back and forth involving letters and long sea passages, the Jews were granted limited residency in 1655 .[...] read more

The Great Migration, 1620-1642

From 1620 until the English Civil War broke out in 1642, a wave of 20,000 people migrated from England to the northeastern United States. It started with the small Plymouth settlement of Pilgrims, who wanted to separate from the Church of England. It was followed by a much larger wave mostly made up of Puritans, who wanted to “purify” the church, and whose views were unwelcome in England during the reign of Charles I.

Driven primarily by religious conviction, these immigrants arrived in family groups or even as entire transplanted congregations – the highest proportion of families ever to arrive in American immigration history. As a result, New England immediately had a multi-age population with relatively equal numbers of men, women, and children. This contrasts sharply with the case of the southern colonies, which at the outset were populated primarily by single young men.[...] read more

The man who bought Nantucket

Richard Swain (1600-1682)  and his family emigrated to New England in 1635, taking three different ships as a precaution against loss. Richard sailed on the Truelove; his wife Elizabeth (Basselle) and three young children on the Planter; and their two older sons in care of friends on the Rebecca. The family first settled in Rowley, Massachusetts, then followed the charismatic Rev. Stephen Bachiler (a Vail ancestor) to New Hampshire in 1638, where they founded the town of Hampton.

Swain was a leading citizen of Hampton but left twenty years later after a series of difficult events. In 1657 his wife Elizabeth died, and that same year his son William was lost in a tragedy that affected the whole town. The Ghost Ship, newly built and on its maiden voyage to Boston, went down just outside of port and lost everyone aboard. Eight residents of Hampton died. Swain married a neighbor, widowed by the same event, and took in her five children. The following year he was fined and disenfranchised for harboring Quakers. By 1660 he had turned his property over to his daughters and moved with his two remaining sons, his new wife, and stepchildren to Massachusetts, where he and his son John were two of the ten original purchasers of the island of Nantucket from Thomas Mayhew. The purchase price was thirty pounds silver and two beaver hats.[...] read more

Josephs, Wilson, Pearson & Stott immigrants by year

I just added a new page to the history department and am reproducing it here.

Here’s a PDF chart showing every ancestor of our father’s family I can find who came from elsewhere. It shows their dates of arrival but not the ships they came in on; that information can be found here. I separated the immigrants into four lines based on the families of our paternal great-grandparents: Josephs, Wilson, Pearson, and Stott. Altogether I’ve found  228 Josephs forebears who chose to emigrate to this country, and 95% of them got here in the 1600s. Moreover, 85% of them were part of the Great Migration and were here by the 1640s.[...] read more

The Vicar of Tillingham

The Rev. Humphrey Cole (1572-1624) first appears on record as a young man of 21 or 22, enrolled at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. There he came under the influence of the most advanced English learning of his day, as well as the new Puritan movement in the English Church. After graduating, he served nine years in two London parishes before moving to the quiet town of Tillingham, Essex, some forty miles to the northeast and close to the North Sea. And there he served as Vicar of Tillingham Parish the rest of his life.[...] read more

The Mary and John, or, How We Got Dorchester

Maude Pinney Kuhns, “The Mary and John”

The Mary & John left Plymouth, England, in March of 1630 with 140 passengers aboard, recruited by the Rev. John White of Dorchester, Dorset. Nearly all came from the West Country counties of Somerset, Dorset, and Devon. The 400-ton ship had three decks for its passengers, livestock, and cargo, and it was her third trip ferrying emigrants to the New World. This voyage was bound for Charlestown. In May, after 70 days at sea, she arrived at Boston’s outer harbor.

But the ship’s captain, whose name was Squeb or Squibb, refused to sail up the Charles River as planned, because he feared running the ship aground in waters for which he had no charts. Instead he left the passengers stranded on Nantasket Point, near the current-day town of Hull, a desolate locale miles from their intended destination. The settlers were forced to transport 150,000 pounds of livestock, provisions, and equipment 20 miles overland to their final destination.[...] read more

King Philip’s War

Wheeler’s Surprise and the Siege of Brookfield, August 2–4, 1675

King Philip’s War was an armed conflict between the Native Americans of New England and the English colonists that lasted from 1675 to 1678, named after the Wampanoag chief Metacomet, who was known to the English as “King Philip.” It continued in northern New England – primarily Maine – even after Metacomet was killed in 1676, until a treaty was signed at Casco Bay in April of 1678.

Proportionately, it was one of the most devastating wars in the history of North America. More than half of New England’s 90 towns were assaulted by native warriors. For a time in the spring of 1676, it appeared that the entire English population of Massachusetts and Rhode Island might be driven back to a handful of fortified seacoast cities. 1,200 homes were burned, 8,000 cattle lost, and vast stores of foodstuffs destroyed. One in ten soldiers on both sides was injured or killed.[...] read more

Banned in Boston! William Pynchon

Iconoclast William Pynchon

William Pynchon (1590-1662), founder of Roxbury and Springfield, lay theologian, canny trader, friend to Indians, was for a time one of the wealthiest and most important men in Massachusetts. He also wrote the New World’s first banned book, The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption, incensing the Puritans so greatly that they gathered every copy they could and burned them on Boston Common. They missed four. Scandalously, he argued against predestination and in favor of obedience to God as the path to salvation. Then, rather than recant or face ruin, he quietly transferred all his assets to his son and sailed back to England, where he continued to needle the Puritans by writing four more books.[...] read more

Of Quakers & the Devil: John Warren

17th Century Settlements in the New England Colonies, map by American School

John Warren (1585-1667) was born in Nayland, Suffolk, England, and came to Salem in 1630 as part of the Winthrop fleet, traveling on either the Arabella or the Lyon. With him were his wife, Margaret Bayly, and their four children, ages 1 to 8. The family went first to Charlestown and then settled in Watertown, Massachusetts. There Warren served several terms as selectman, a position of high regard, and was appointed to lay out all highways and see that they were repaired.

But he sympathized with the Quakers and found himself at increasing odds with the Puritans. By the 1650s he was in continual trouble with the authorities as can be seen from the records:[...] read more

Rev. Peter Bulkeley  

Rev. Peter Bulkeley, “noted even among Puritans for the superlative stiffness of his Puritanism”

The Rev. Peter Bulkeley (1583–1659) was an influential early Puritan preacher who left England to find greater religious freedom in the American colony of Massachusetts.  He was a founder of Concord, sat in judgment at the trial of Anne Hutchinson, and was named by his descendant Ralph Waldo Emerson in a not very flattering poem about the founders of Concord, Hamatreya.

Born to wealth in Odell, Bedfordshire, Bulkeley was a fellow at St. John’s College in Cambridge before succeeding his father, Edward, as rector at St. Odell, from 1620 to 1635. He also picked up his father’s nonconformist beliefs and got in increasing trouble with Anglican authorities. Finally, when he refused to wear a surplice or use the Sign of the Cross during a visit by the Archbishop, he was kicked out of the church.[...] read more

The fevered swamps of New Hampshire

Site of the Brackett’s Lane Massacre, 1691, Rye, NH

As we head into fall weather, what better time to poke around the fevered swamps of New Hampshire looking for Pearson forebears? Especially when – count them – FOUR of our Pearson ancestors were murdered in said swamps within three years and six miles of each other.

To wit:

In June 1689, Isabella Craddock Holdridge was murdered by “Negro Jack” in the Mast Swamp of Exeter, New Hampshire. Negro Jack was hanged in Boston the following year. There is no explanation put forward for her murder, but Mrs. Holdridge seems to have been less than charming. In 1659, in Salem, she was the principal witness in the first witchcraft trial against John Godfrey of Andover, Massachusetts, who endured three trials in all. It seemed she owed Godfrey money. Two days after Godfrey appeared at their house demanding payment, she testified that she was tormented with shape-changing animals: a bumblebee, a bear, a great horse, a black ox, and a black cat three times as big as an ordinary cat. Clearly he was practicing sorcery. (Godfrey was acquitted.) The Mast Swamp no longer appears on maps, but it was said to lie where “Exeter, Stratham, and Hampton come together.” In a deed of 25 Aug 1710, James Sinkler sold to James Dudley a piece of land in Exeter “nigh a way that formerly went into the Mast Swamp nigh where Goodwife Holdrig was killed.” Isabella Holdridge was our 9G grandmother.  [...] read more

Hartford: blecchh, but still

Seth H. Clark, Emigration of Hooker and his party to Hartford – Connecticut Historical Society

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT, is one of my least favorite metropolises on the East Coast – homely, pinned under two interstates, and full of insurance companies. Moreover, in 1940 they buried their meandering Park River in a crosstown sewer. However, the city is old, important, and plays a critical role in American history. And our family was deeply involved.

The city was founded in 1636 when the Rev. Thomas Hooker broke with the Puritans over the issue of voting and led 100 faithful through the wilderness to a new settlement on the Connecticut River. Because they were outside Massachusetts authority, they wrote up their own constitution establishing what some consider the world’s first democratic, representative government.[...] read more

Stott ancestors, Bronx division

Tippett’s Creek in Spuyten Duyvil, the Bronx. From The Art Journal: Volume 7; Volume 13, 1861, James S. Virtue, London & New York

In this installment we meet some of Grandma’s more colorful English ancestors, some of whom who ended up in the Bronx, then considered part of Westchester. In the 1640s, Westchester was a border zone between two colonies with very different cultures and politics: New Netherlands and New England. The region even had two opposite names. The Dutch called it “Oostdorp” or “East Village,” because it was their easternmost settlement in the area. To the English trickling in from Connecticut and Long Island, it represented a western outpost, and they called it “Westchester.”[...] read more

Schenectady, taproot of American history

(From E. S. Ellis, History of Our Country. Vol. 1 (Indianapolis, IN: J. H. Woolling & Co.) .

Just found a terrific short piece on Schenectady by John Leland at the University of Houston, here. He says:

Schenectady nests in a bend of the Mohawk River at the head of the Mohawk Valley, just west of the confluence of the Mohawk and the Hudson. In the seventeenth century, this is where Indian and Colonial trade goods moved by canoe.

By then, New York was the home of the vast Iroquois Federation of five nations: The Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. The Tuscaroras would soon move up from North Carolina and become the sixth. French, English, Dutch and other colonists were living along the Hudson and Mohawk. The name Schenectady came from a Mohawk phrase for beyond-the-pine-plains — S’quan-ho-hac-ta-de.[...] read more

Samuel Libby: an insider account of the American Revolution

Fort Ticonderoga 1775 by Heppenheimer and Maurer

“Grandfather has been telling of his service in the Revolutionary War,” writes Jonathan Pearson in his diary. 

Samuel Libby (1757-1843) had an eventful service. He was present at the surrender of Fort Ticonderoga, fought under General Horatio Gates, was captured three times while privateering, escaped from a prison ship in Savannah harbor, and told the tale to the Marquis de LaFayette. Here is Pearson’s account: 

Grandfather has been telling of his service in the Revolutionary War. When the battle of Bunker Hill was fought, he was at home in Rye but soon after he enlisted into the war. He was stationed at Fort Ticonderoga when it was given up to the British by Genl. Schuyler, which army retreated to S. Keenesboro in batteaux where they left them and retreated from thence to Fort Ann and to Fort Edward, pursued by the the enemy with whom they had some smart skirmishes. On the retreat he was one of a small party who fought with two battalions of the enemy and repulsed them. He was under the command of Col. Long of this State [NH].[...] read more

Mathers, Woodwards, Pomeroys & Lymans

Elizabeth Mather (1618-1690) was part of perhaps the most important Puritan family in America. She and her brother, the Rev. Richard Mather, arrived from Lancashire in 1635 on the James, which was caught in a terrible hurricane off the coast of Maine. Its companion ship, the Angel Gabriel, went down off Pemaquid Point. The James tried to ride out the storm among the Isles of Shoals on the New Hampshire border but lost all three anchors and was about to be dashed on the rocks. From the journals of Mather’s son, Increase:[...] read more

A few of the later Pearsons & Stotts

Hudson, New York

Grandma was from Hudson. Her father was John Magoun Pearson, and her mother was Kate Stott. John Pearson worked, at least for a time, at C.H. & F.H. Stott Co. in Stottville, where he married the boss’s daughter. I’ve attached a short four-generation tree so you can see the players, but it doesn’t include interesting aunts and uncles. One uncle would have been Dr. Will Pearson, another son of Jonathan Pearson’s. Will Pearson stayed in Schenectady and never married. I have the horsehair lap robe his patients gave him in gratitude and concern, because he went out in all weather to look after them. I think Sarah may have his lantern?[...] read more

John Corish Devereux: the dancing uncle

Note that in the parody engraving on the wall, a cat is teaching a monkey to dance
Grown Ladies Taught to Dance, engraving by John Collett, ca. 1770

When I started this project back in 2010 I spent some puzzled hours wondering how the Devereux name came to be part of the Colt family. It appears nowhere in the direct line. There were murmurings that the name may have come from a friend of the family somewhere along the line. Finally, I found the answer: a dancing uncle! 

The Irish immigrant John Corish Devereux (1774-1848) married Mary Rice Colt, a sister of Roswell Lyman Colt, in 1815. After a colorful start as a dancing master, he eventually became a hugely successful merchant and banker. John and Mary Devereux had no children of their own and eventually left their entire estate to the Colt family. In 1817, Roswell passed on his sister’s name to his fifth child: Mary Devereux Colt,  who would later marry A.K Josephs.  Perhaps he guessed that his sister was not going to have her own family.[...] read more

The Hugh Wilson house

1741 Coliseum, New Orleans

Notes from Johanna:

My recollection from what Dad has told me about Hugh Wilson is that he was a cotton broker.  They had some property outside of town (where they stashed the silver during the war)  as well as the house we all remember from the picture on Coliseum Place in the Lower Garden District.  Dad told me that they had to buy the house back from the Union when the war was over.  (N.O. fell early on and was occupied for most of the war by the Union)  You know that the house was used in the movie A Murder of Crows starring Cuba Gooding Junior and that Mom and Dad visited N.O. to try and learn more.  Dad told me that A.K. was friends/business associates with Hugh Wilson and that is how Alice Wilson was introduced to Lyman.  Alice’s brother, Hugh never married.  Aunt Mary told me (one of the several times we visited her in Balto.) that she loved to go to her grandparents house in N.O.  She said, very proudly, that they always had Irish servants only.  (What?!) Anyway.[...] read more