Gov. Andrew Hamilton

Exciting day at the Rodgers home! I’ve been trying to trace Tim’s grandmother’s Hamilton ancestors back to Scotland for as long as we’ve been married, almost 44 years. Taking notes from her father’s autobiography and her mother’s research, the line went back only 4 generations.

Allegra Estelle Hamilton 1900-1992
Charles Amos Hamilton 1866-1943
Charles Munson Hamilton 1815-1891
Benjamin Hamilton 1792-1880
William Hamilton 1756-1824

All we knew of Benjamin was that he came from New Jersey and settled in New York, and that his father, William, fought in the Revolutionary War. Charles Amos became a member of the Sons of the American Revolution as a great-grandson of William, on 4 January 1924.

William participated in the battles of the Narrows on the Susquehanna River and at Tioga Point. He was a member of Capt. Morrison’s Co. 1 Battalion.

No one seemed to know the name of William’s father but it was thought that he was born in Scotland. However, it seems he was actually born in New Jersey. As I was browsing Ancestry.com this morning I stumbled across a picture of a page entitled The Hamilton Family, pg. 291. It’s from the book by J. Percy Crayon, Rockaway Records of Morris County, N. J. Families, (Rockaway, N.J., Rockaway Publishing Co., 1902).

But, much to my delight, one of the Benjamins on the page matched up with Tim’s Benjamin Hamilton. And at long last the mystery is solved! William’s second wife, Phebe Hurt, is the name of Benjamin’s previously unidentified mother. And the line now goes back 3 more generations to the Scottish ancestor.

William Hamilton 1756-1824 (Revolutionary War)
Stephen Hamilton ?-1759 (died in the Battle of Ticonderoga, French & Indian War)
John Hamilton c.1681-1747
Gov. Andrew Hamilton ?-1703 (Governor of colonial New Jersey, Tim’s 7th-great-grandfather)

This afternoon I found the following account of Andrew’s life in Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography (1900) edited by James Grant Wilson & John Fiske. It was all one paragraph but I’m breaking it up to make it easier to read. Enjoy!

HAMILTON, Andrew, governor of New Jersey, b. in Scotland; d. probably in Burlington, N. J., 20 April, 1703. He was engaged in business as a merchant in Edinburgh, and was sent to East Jersey as a special agent for the proprietaries. Having discharged that mission satisfactorily, he was recommended as a man of intelligence and judgment to Lord Neil Campbell, who was sent to that province in 1686 as deputy-governor for two years. He was made a member of the council in consequence, and in March, 1687, became acting governor on the departure of Lord Neil for England, who was called there on business and did not return.

In 1688, East and West Jersey having surrendered their patents, those provinces came under the control of Gov. Edmund Andros, and were annexed to New York and New England. Andros, then residing in Boston, visited New York and the Jerseys, continuing all officers in their places, and making but slight changes in the government. In consequence of the revolution of 1688 in England, Gov. Hamilton visited the mayor of New York as the representative of Andros, that official having been seized by the New-Englanders in April, 1689. He finally sailed for England, in order to consult with the proprietaries, but was captured by the French, and did not reach London until May, 1690. He was still residing there in March, 1692, when he was appointed governor of East Jersey, and also given charge of West Jersey.

Although he administered the affairs of the province to the satisfaction of both the colonists and the proprietaries, he was deposed in 1697, “much against the inclination” of the latter, in obedience to an act of parliament which provided that “no other than a natural-born subject of England could serve in any public post of trust or profit.” Hamilton returned to England in 1698, but so great was the disorder and maladministration under his successor, Jeremiah Basse, that he was reappointed, 19 Aug., 1699. He could not, however, right the wrong that had been already done, or repair the abuses that had crept in. Officers were insulted in the discharge of their duties, and the growth of the province was seriously interfered with.

In 1701 he was appointed by William Penn deputy-governor of Pennsylvania, the latter having been called to England to oppose the machinations of those who were plotting to deprive him of his American possessions. On Penn’s arrival in London everything was done to harass him, factious opposition being made to the confirmation of Gov. Hamilton, who was wrongfully charged with having been engaged in illicit trade. The appointment finally received the royal sanction. In the session of the provincial assembly in Oct., 1702, the representatives of the territories refused to meet those of the province, claiming the privilege of separation under a new charter, and expressing their firm determination to remain apart.

Hamilton strongly urged the advantages of union, and used all his influence to secure this result, but without effect. He also made preparations for the defence of the colony by organizing a military force. He died while on a visit to his family in New Jersey the year following. It was to Andrew Hamilton that the colonies were indebted for the first organization of a postal service, he having obtained a patent from the crown for the purpose in 1694. —

His son, John, acting governor of New Jersey, d. in Perth Amboy, N. J.. in 1746. It is not known whether he was born in East Jersey or in Scotland. He is first heard of in public life as a member of Gov. Hunter’s council in 1713. He retained his seat under Gov. Burnet, Gov. Montgomerie, and Gov. Cosby. In 1735 he was appointed associate judge of the provincial supreme court, but probably did not serve, as he became acting governor on the death of Gov. Cosby, only three weeks after the latter’s accession to office, 31 March, 1736. He continued at the head of affairs until the summer of 1738, when Lewis Morris was appointed governor of New Jersey, “apart from New York.”

Hamilton again became acting governor on the death of the latter in 1746, but he was then quite infirm and died a few months afterward. He is usually credited with having established the first colonial postal service, but the weight of authority seems to favor the belief that it was his father who obtained the patent.

Last Revised: 19 April 2019

The Farm on Keller Hill

Charles & Eliza are Tim’s 2nd-great-grandparents. Years ago we made a research trip to western New York with Tim’s aunt Delorma and were able to see the farm on Keller Hill Road in Hinsdale, and perhaps the cheese factory where their milk was brought. My memory has gotten pretty hazy, we saw so much too fast. We met the Hinsdale town historian and some distant cousins. I’ve never been able to find parents for Eliza, but after this trip was taken I learned that Charles & Eliza buried their 6 year old daughter, Lucy, in Prattsburg, about 75 miles to the east. Lucy died there in 1850 and after that her parents bought the farm in Hinsdale in 1857. So I’m hoping to make a trip to Prattsburg one of these days – perhaps Charles & Eliza were married there and perhaps I can find evidence of Eliza’s parents there.

Charles Munson Hamilton, son of Benjamin J. and Rachel (Gardner) Hamilton, was born 16 August 1815 in New Jersey, and died 12 June 1891. He married (as his first wife) 31 December 1840, Eliza Ann Devoe, who was born 26 January 1819, and died 6 April 1866 in Hinsdale (Cattaraugus) New York.

Charles bought the farm on Keller Hill in Hinsdale, New York on 16 April 1857, when he was 41 years old. Before then Charles & Eliza and their oldest three children lived in Prattsburgh (Steuben) New York. Eliza’s parents remain unknown, but her son was told that she was descended from a French nobleman, a cousin to Louis XVI, and that her ancestry was French, Dutch and Pennsylvania Quaker. I have found many French and Dutch Devoes (with many spelling variations) in New York and Pennsylvania, but cannot thus far establish any connections. [Curiously, Charles’ niece, Eliza Ann VanDeventer married one Elias DeVoe Bryant, who is a great-grandson of a Dutch woman named Lucy Davoe, and Charles and Eliza did name a daughter Lucy.]

Eliza’s obituary in The Cuba True Patriot, Vol IV, No 41, 13, April 1866, was sad and brief:

Sudden death. – A lady named Hamilton, who resided a short distance south of this village, died very suddenly on Friday morning last. She was taken by a fainting fit while sitting at the tea table and died in a short time. She leaves a child three weeks old.

After Eliza died, Charles married (as his second wife) a school teacher, Rachel A. Ferris, 11 March 1868 in Cuba (Allegany) New York, daughter of Cyrus and Miriam (—) Ferris. Rev. William O. Learned performed the ceremony, at the residence of the bride’s father. Rachel was born January 1836 and died 1 April 1875 in Hinsdale.

According to the Cuba Evening Review, twice a widower, Charles and his daughter, Addie, made a trip by train to Chicago in June, 1882. Since 1879 he had been living with Addie and her husband, Joseph D. Witter, who died shortly thereafter. His time spent with Addie must have been a great comfort to him after so many losses in a row. (His 6-year-old daughter Lucy died in 1850, wife Eliza died in 1866, 28-year-old son Elmer died in 1870, newborn daughter Myra died in 1871, wife Rachel died in 1875, and his mother in 1877 and father in 1880.) Charles was a Baptist and a Republican. He died of cystitis and catarrh of the bladder. He and both his wives are buried in Lot #11, Cuba Cemetery, Cuba, New York.

According to his son, Charles A. Hamilton:

My father [Charles Munson] was always kind to me, gave me spending money, took me to the circus, etc., but he was of the stern type, quite hard of hearing, and so much older than I that we were never pals. My memories of father are, on the whole, pleasant. He was stern, puritanical in faith and honest to the half cent. He hated anything low or crooked. I never heard him tell a risqué story, and he never used profanity. His cuss words were limited to “I swanny,” and “By George,” with, on extreme provocation, the expletive reported to have been used by General Cambronne at the Battle of Waterloo. He was hard-working, thrifty and a good manager. While not painfully pious, he was regular in church attendance, always asking the blessing at meals, and conducting family worship during the winter season. Sister Addie and I had a memorial window installed in his memory in the rebuilt Baptist Church at Cuba, which bears this quotation, “The Memory of the Just is Blessed.” His justice and honesty seemed to us his outstanding characteristic. He was afflicted with partial deafness, an affliction which seems hereditary among the descendants of Benjamin Hamilton. We were never close to each other until I became a college student, when he evidently considered me a man, and we discussed at length all sorts of questions. I deeply revere his memory.

The following is from The Patriot, Cuba New York, Thursday, June 18, 1891:

Death of Chas. M. Hamilton

On Friday, June 12, Mr. Charles M. Hamilton, residing south west of the village, departed this life, aged 75 years and 10 months. Mr. Hamilton had been ill for nearly three years, but death, when it came, seemed sudden, as it does under any circumstances.

Deceased was born in New Jersey and came to New York state when a boy, his home being in Chemung county. All his life he followed farming, his highest ambition when young, being to possess a farm of his own. Thirty-eight years ago he located on the place where he died, living there a happy and contented life and bringing into cultivation as fine a farm as can be found in this vicinity. He was twice married, both his companions in life crossing the river before him. Two children mourn the loss of a loved parent, Mrs. C. B. Conklin and Mr. Chas. A. Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton possessed the entire confidence of his neighbors and friends, and his life was one of honest work, uprightness and integrity. The funeral services were held Sunday at the home of his daughter, Rev. Cherryman of Scott’s Corners officiating.

Charles & Eliza were the parents of five children:

1. Elmer Alonzo Hamilton, a farmer, born 12 October 1841, died 20 July 1870 in Hinsdale, when struck by lightning. He is buried in Lot #11 in Cuba Cemetery. The following account of Elmer’s death was written many years later by his little brother, Charles, who was 4 years old at the time:

One of my most vivid recollections of this period is the death by a stroke of lightning on July 20th, 1870, of my only brother, Elmer Alonzo. He was my father’s first born, and had grown up into a strong, lusty farmer. He and father were more like brothers than like father and son. He was very fond of his little brother, and used to romp with me and at times good naturedly teased me. To me, there was no one in the world like Elmer. After dinner, on the day of his death, as he was starting for the hay field, I begged him to take me with him, but, as a thunder storm was looming in the west, he told me I couldn’t go. He went alone to the hay field, cocked hay until the storm came up, and a bolt of lightning ended his activities forever. His body was not discovered until the next forenoon, all covered with hay. His untimely death was a terrible blow to the entire family.

And from the Cuba True Patriot, 22 July 1870, Vol 9, No 4:

Killed by Lightning. On Wednesday last, Mr. Elmer Hamilton, son of Charles Hamilton, residing on Keller Hill, in this town was killed by lightning. The particulars as near as we have been able to learn them, are as follows. Just before the terrible thunder-storm of Wednesday Mr. Hamilton went over to his father’s farm, adjoining his own, and just across the Hinsdale town line, to grind his machine knives and repair his mower. Towards night as he did not return his relatives began to wonder at his long absence, and a search was instituted. They looked in every place where it might be possible he might be found, but failed to find him. A large number of neighbors were informed, who searched diligently for the missing man till about 2 o’clock A. M., when the hunt was given up till morning. Thursday morning the body of Mr. Hamilton was found, partly screened by a haycock. By his side, and protruding from the cock of hay was his pitchfork, with the tine end sticking out. Close by was his hat, which led to his discovery. One side of the head was scorched almost to a crisp, plainly indicating the cause of his death. It is supposed that Mr. Hamilton crept under the hay-cock to protect himself from the severe storm, and that the lightning struck the fork which he held in his hand. Mr. Hamilton was about 21 years of age, and a young man generally esteemed by all who knew him.

2. Lucy D. Hamilton, born 20 January 1844, died 11 November 1850, age 6. Lucy lies buried in the Prattsburgh Old Cemetery, Prattsburgh, New York.

3. Freelove Adelaide “Addie” Hamilton, born 1848, died 9 April 1912. She married (as her first husband) 16 September 1868 in Hinsdale, Joseph D. Witter, who died 6 June 1879. Addie & Joseph were the parents of four children. Addie married (as her second husband) 7 February 1883, Clarence B. Conklin, who was born 1850 and died 30 November 1925. Addie & Clarence had one daughter. Addie died of cancer when she was about 64. She had played quite an important part in her younger brother Charles’ childhood and adolescent period, being both sister and mother to him. Following are Charles’ thoughts about her two husbands:

Joseph Witter was one of the finest men I ever knew. Honest, industrious, a devout Christian, a fine husband and father. He had a wonderful sense of humor, and saw something funny in nearly all situations. My sister told me that, in their eleven years of married life, he never spoke crossly to her but once. He treated me as I had never been treated before. Joe, treated me as a man, made me drive the team, draw the milk to the cheese-factory, and work alone in the fields dragging. He gave me kindly advice and correction when needed.

Clarence was honest and upright, but painfully ‘close’ in money matters. Two months after their marriage, he lost his mind, and was incarcerated for several months in the Buffalo asylum for the insane. His mind was not very clear during his last years.

4. Elizabeth Hamilton, born 28 March 1864, died 1 August 1864, age 4 months.

5. Charles Amos Hamilton (Tim’s great-grandfather), born 19 March 1866 in Hinsdale, died 28 October 1943 in Batavia (Genesee) New York. He married 30 June 1897 in Albion (Orleans) New York, Gertrude Mabel Hubbard, who was born 9 December 1874 in Albion, and died 31 May 1965 in Marlboro (Monmouth) New Jersey, daughter of Delorma Brown and Emma (Pridmore) Hubbard. Charles & Gertrude were the parents of one daughter.

Charles Munson & Rachel were the parents of a daughter:

1. Myra Eliza Hamilton, who lived for only three days in March 1871.

Last Revised:  25 November 2017

strong, lusty farmer

7.11.10 ~ Eastern Point
7.11.10 ~ Eastern Point

As another batch of strong thunderstorms pass through Connecticut this evening I’ve got a bit of time to post another death by lightning account. I know the subject doesn’t match the pictures, but I have no pictures of Elmer, and I have no words for the pictures, except for a caption. The pictures were taken on July 11, a lovely sparkling evening to be near or on the water.

7.11.10 ~ Eastern Point
7.11.10 ~ Eastern Point

When I married Tim I was thrilled to be given a copy of the autobiography of his great-grandfather, Charles Amos Hamilton. Charles was born when his mother was 47 years old, and she died when he was three weeks old. He had an 18-year-old sister, Addie, and a 26-year-old brother, Elmer. The following account of Elmer’s death was written many years later by his little brother, Charles, who was 4 years old when it happened:

One of my most vivid recollections of this period is the death by a stroke of lightning on July 20th, 1870, of my only brother, Elmer Alonzo. He was my father’s first born, and had grown up into a strong, lusty farmer. He and father were more like brothers than like father and son. He was very fond of his little brother, and used to romp with me and at times good naturedly teased me. To me, there was no one in the world like Elmer. After dinner, on the day of his death, as he was starting for the hay field, I begged him to take me with him, but, as a thunder storm was looming in the west, he told me I couldn’t go. He went alone to the hay field, cocked hay until the storm came up, and a bolt of lightning ended his activities forever. His body was not discovered until the next forenoon, all covered with hay. His untimely death was a terrible blow to the entire family.

Several years ago we took a trip to western New York state to do some research on the Hamilton family. I found an article in the archives of a newspaper, Cuba True Patriot, 22 July 1870, Vol 9, No 4. The reporter got his age wrong, Elmer was actually 29 when he died:

Killed by Lightning.  On Wednesday last, Mr. Elmer Hamilton, son of Charles Hamilton, residing on Keller Hill, in this town was killed by lightning. The particulars as near as we have been able to learn them, are as follows. Just before the terrible thunder-storm of Wednesday Mr. Hamilton went over to his father’s farm, adjoining his own, and just across the Hinsdale town line, to grind his machine knives and repair his mower. Towards night as he did not return his relatives began to wonder at his long absence, and a search was instituted. They looked in every place where it might be possible he might be found, but failed to find him. A large number of neighbors were informed, who searched diligently for the missing man till about 2 o’clock A. M., when the hunt was given up till morning. Thursday morning the body of Mr. Hamilton was found, partly screened by a haycock. By his side, and protruding from the cock of hay was his pitchfork, with the tine end sticking out. Close by was his hat, which led to his discovery. One side of the head was scorched almost to a crisp, plainly indicating the cause of his death. It is supposed that Mr. Hamilton crept under the hay-cock to protect himself from the severe storm, and that the lightning struck the fork which he held in his hand. Mr. Hamilton was about 21 years of age, and a young man generally esteemed by all who knew him.

Very sad and very sobering. According to the National Weather Service Lightning Safety website, in the United States, “an average of 58 people are killed each year by lightning. To date, there have been 15 lightning deaths in 2010.” Our local weatherman advises that if you can hear thunder or see lightning, then the storm is close enough for lightning to strike you.

Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod in 1752. Too late to have helped the folks in Marshfield in 1666. Perhaps by 1870 they were on most homes, but I wonder about barns… It’s good to have a healthy respect for thunderstorms and they are exciting to watch and listen to. But let’s all stay indoors or in our cars!

7.11.10 ~ Eastern Point
7.11.10 ~ Eastern Point