Stern Patriotism

Tim’s 6th-great-grandfather was a veteran of the War for Independence, taking part in the Lexington Alarm battle, when he was 33 years old.

The first battle of the Revolutionary War, fought in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775. British troops had moved from Boston toward Lexington and Concord to seize the colonists’ military supplies and arrest revolutionaries. In Concord, advancing British troops met resistance from the Minutemen, and American volunteers harassed the retreating British troops along the Concord-Lexington Road. Paul Revere, on his famous ride, had first alerted the Americans to the British movement.
The Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut website

Capt. Lemuel Roberts, son of Lemuel and Abigail (Beaman) Roberts, was born 2 October 1742 in Simsbury (Hartford) Connecticut, and died there 19 December 1789. He married there 8 December 1763, Ruth Woodford, who was born 4 November 1744 in Farmington (Hartford) Connecticut, and died about 1800 in Bloomfield (Hartford) Connecticut, daughter of Samuel and Mary (Thompson) Woodford.

original headstone

Lemuel lies buried in the Old Wintonbury Cemetery (formerly Old North Cemetery) in Bloomfield, Connecticut.

The following account is from Lester A. Roberts, Esq., “Descendants of John Roberts of Simsbury, CT and Bloomfield, CT,” The New England Historical & Genealogical Register, Vol 42, July 1888: 246:

[Lemuel’s] stern patriotism made him some enemies, and in 1787 a protest was made to the General Assembly against his reappointment as Justice of the Peace, but without avail. He was found dead one morning at the foot of stone steps from a house in which he had held a court the evening before. Being lame, he was the last to leave, and if he fell or was thrown down the steps was never known. On his grave-stone in the Bloomfield burial-ground, under the usual inscription, are the following lines:

No Cordial to revive his heart,
No one to hold his head,
No friend to close his dying eyes;
The ground was his death bed.

Lemuel & Ruth were the parents of eight children:

1. Lemuel Roberts (Tim’s 5th-great-grandfather), born 17 April 1766, died 2 July 1829 in Bloomfield. He married 5 October 1786, Roxy Gillett, who was born before 19 March 1769 and died 6 September 1848 in Bloomfield, daughter of Amos and Susanna (Webster) Gillett. Lemuel & Roxy were the parents of six children.

2. Ruth Roberts, born 24 January 1768 in Simsbury, died 31 May 1847 in Worthington (Franklin) Ohio. She married in 1789, Ezra Griswold, who was born 6 December 1767 and died 22 October 1822 in Worthington, son of Elisha and Eunice (Viets) Griswold. Ruth & Ezra were the parents of two sons.

3. Hannah Roberts, born 15 March 1770, died 15 March 1829. She married Augustus Filley who was born before 31 August 1766 and died 5 March 1812 in Otis (Berkshire) Massachusetts, son of Jonathan Filley.

4. Samuel Roberts, born 20 March 1772 in Simsbury, died 9 October 1846 in Sharon (Litchfield) Connecticut. He married (as his first wife) in 1793, Eleanor “Elethea” Calkins, who was born about 1733 and died 24 January 1813 in Sharon. Samuel & Eleanor were the parents of four children, possibly more. Samuel married (as his second wife) in 1815, Pamela Patchin. Samuel & Pamela were the parents of a daughter.

5. Eunice Roberts, (twin), born 22 August 1774 in Simsbury, died 13 August 1825 in Hartford (Hartford) Connecticut. She married 3 March 1799 in Bloomfield, James Goodwin, who was born 27 December 1777 in Hartford, and died there 13 September 1844, son of Jonathan and Eunice (Olcott) Goodwin.

6. Lois Roberts, (twin), born 22 August 1774 in Simsbury, died 7 November 1847 in Indiana. She married Zopher Topping, who was born 17 June 1773 in Granby (Hartford) Connecticut and died 7 September 1814 in Worthington.

7. Hezekiah Roberts, born 5 June 1776, died 6 June 1776 in Bloomfield, age 0.

8. Hezekiah Roberts, born before 26 August 1781. He married Harriet King. Hezekiah & Harriet were the parents of three children, possibly more.

Lt. Francis Shurtleff & Mary Shaw

Sometimes when doing research in a family history book we might find a biographical sketch about an ancestor. I was delighted to learn so much about my 5th-great-grandfather but also a little sad that Mary, his wife, my 5th-great-grandmother, was barely mentioned.

Lt. Francis Shurtleff, son of Barnabas and Jemima (Adams) Shurtleff, was born 8 April 1738 in Plympton (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 14 August 1794 in Carver (Plymouth) Massachusetts. He married on 7 August 1760 in Plympton, Mary Shaw, who was born 4 March 1742, and died 1 March 1816 in Carver, daughter of Nathaniel and Hannah (Perkins) Shaw.

The following is from Descendants of William Shurtleff of Plymouth and Marshfield, Massachusetts, Vol I:

He was an ensign in Capt. Nathaniel Shaw’s second Plympton company, Col. George Watson’s first Plymouth Co. regiment; commissioned 1762, and Aug., 1771; also second lieutenant, Capt. Nathaniel Shaw’s company, Col. James Warren’s regiment, which marched on the alarm of Apr. 19, 1775, from Plympton to Marshfield; service, 2 days; also first lieutenant, Capt. Nathaniel Shaw’s seventh Plymouth company, Col. Gamaliel Bradford, Jr.’s, first Plymouth Co. regiment; commissioned June 6, 1776; also lieutenant, Col. Thomas Lothrop’s regiment; marched Dec. 11, 1776, on an alarm to Bristol, R. I.; service, 14 days; also first lieutenant, Capt. Nathaniel Shaw’s seventh company, Col. Theophilus Cotton’s first Plymouth Co. regiment; commissioned Oct. 28, 1778. On July 1, 1781, he was commissioned captain of the North Company of the local militia in Carver. He was one of the delegates sent from Plympton to the state convention to act on the constitution of the United states and voted against it, and was representative from Plympton to the first session of the General Court, May 26, 1784.

The following reminiscences of Mr. Shurtleff were written by his great-granddaughter, Olivia Holmes.

Since most people are not so familiar with the lives of their great-grandparents, I imagine Olivia taking these notes (as I have often done) as she listened to her elders reminiscing about her great-grandfather. I was amused that Francis was “in the habit of pulling teeth and usually carried instruments for that purpose in his pocket.”

When the first town meeting was held at Carver on July 5, 1790, Mr. Shurtleff was chosen as moderator. He was also the first town treasurer of Carver and their first representative to General Court. He was clerk of the Popes Point Furnace Company, but today we would probably call him an agent. This furnace ran only in the winter and then night and day; and during that season Mr. Shurtleff and wife lived in a house nearby, so they could board the men who were employed there. He was a justice of the peace (appointed Apr 16, 1790), a deacon of the church, and a dentist; at least, he was in the habit of pulling teeth and usually carried instruments for that purpose in his pocket. Afflicted people sometimes met him at the meeting house, sat down upon the steps and had the decayed member removed right there. It was an act of mercy, and quite proper for the Sabbath. When the Squire went to Boston to attend the General Court he rode horseback, and carried his linen in one end of his saddlebag and some provender to bait his horse on the way in the other end. Arrived at the city he put his horse out to pasture until such time as he might need him again. Once when he went to seek the animal, he was not to be found; thorough search did not discover him; so the Squire took his luggage over his shoulder and walked home to Carver. By aid of a connection who was supposed to deal with rogues, he recovered the horse, but the animal had been used rather hard. Mr. Shurtleff had several children and sometimes more than one wanted to ride at a time; then they used a pillion and rode double-jaded. In this manner he sometimes took his wife or daughters to Plymouth, shopping. He was indulgent to his children, and when one day his daughter (Olivia) expressed a liking for a certain piece of goods which she thought too dear for her to purchase, he bought her a dress from it, although it was English calico and one dollar a yard. His wife’s maiden name was Shaw and among her descendants are some tiny teaspoons marked M. S. in her honor; the younger members of this family ask whether the letters stand for Mary Shaw, Shurtleff or Savery. Mr. Shurtleff was interested in educational work and the school of his district was sometimes kept in his house in a bedroom. He named one of his children for the beautiful daughter of the ‘Vicar of Wakefield.’ His pastor, the Rev. Calvin Howland, suggested this to him and named one of his own children Sophia for the other one, but the Esquire had the first choice and called his Olivia.

Francis & Mary were the parents of eleven children, but only five of them survived to adulthood:

1. Zilpha Shurtleff, born 22 October 1761 in Plympton, died in infancy there on 7 March 1762.

2. Caleb Shurtleff, born 27 February 1763 in Plympton, died in infancy there in 1763.

3. Francis Shurtleff, born 3 August 1765 in Plympton, died 3 December 1852 in Middleborough (Plymouth) Massachusetts. He married 22 December 1785 in Middleborough, his second cousin, once removed, Elisabeth Shaw, who was born there in 1762 and died 6 August 1819 in Carver, daughter of Elkanah and Elisabeth (Atwood) Shaw, my 6th-great-grandparents.

4. Caleb Shurtleff, born and died in 1767 in Plympton.

5. Olivia Shurtleff, born 8 November 1769 in Plympton, and died 14 November 1848 in Carver. She married 19 March 1801 in Carver, James Savery, who was born 29 August 1777 in Plymouth (Plymouth) Massachusetts, and died 11 January 1860 in Carver, son of James and Mercy (Burbank) Savery.

6. Lothrop Shurtleff, born 10 March 1772 in Plympton, died in 1832 in Middleborough. He married 22 September 1796 in Carver, Betsey White, who was born 4 January 1777 in Plympton and died 30 June 1815 in Carver, daughter of Benjamin White.

7. William Shurtleff, born 14 February 1775 in Plympton, died there 12 November 1778, age 3.

8. Nathaniel Shurtleff, born 16 September 1776 in Plympton, died there 18 November 1778, age 2.

9. Mary “Polly” Shurtleff, born 25 December 1779 in Plympton, died 25 January 1859 in Middleborough. She married 30 July 1797 in Carver, her fourth cousin, Silas Thomas, who was born 1766 in Middleborough, and died there 26 January 1858, son of Jeremiah and Susanna (Thomas) Thomas. Mary & Silas were the parents of two daughters.

10. Zilpha Shurtleff (my 4th-great-grandmother), born 21 July 1782 in Plympton, died 28 August 1838 in Middleborough. She married 1 February 1806 in Carver, Nathaniel Atwood, who was born 28 April 1782 in Middleborough and died there 26 January 1858, son of Ichabod and Hannah (Shaw) Atwood. Zilpha & Nathaniel were the parents of five children.

11. Susanna Shurtleff, born 26 April 1785 in Plympton, died 5 September 1791 in Carver, age 6.

Elm Grove Cemetery

williamwhite-portrait
William Martin White

Located just a few miles from where we live, Elm Grove Cemetery (197 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, Connecticut) is where at least eight of my ancestors lie buried. The most recent gravestone belongs to my 2nd-great-grandfather, William Martin White, and his second wife, Martha Bennett. I didn’t grow up in this area and it’s a bit of synchronicity that without knowing it, not long after I married, we moved to the area where so many of my ancestors lived and died.

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William Martin White, son of Austin and Lucy Ann (Thompson) White, was born 15 November 1836 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut, and died 18 November 1925 in Fairhaven (Bristol) Massachusetts. He married (as his first wife) 30 October 1860 in Methodist Episcopal Church, Mystic (New London) Connecticut, his first cousin, Ellen C. Hill, who was probably born about 1844 in Stonington, daughter of Rufus and Lydia (White) Hill. William and Ellen were divorced on 26 September 1876.

William worked both as a sailor and a farmer. For most of his life he lived at what is now 347 New London Turnpike in Old Mystic. It used to be called Old Turnpike Rd. William married his cousin, Ellen, who had also been living in the same household with her parents, his aunt and uncle, in 1860. Ellen was living with her parents by 1860, when she was about 16 years old. However, she was not living with her parents in 1850, according to the census, when she was 6 years old.

The marriage was apparently troubled. In August 1865 the following item appeared in The Stonington Chronology 1649-1949:

A scandalous month-while Wm M White of Wolf Neck, Stonington, was on a fishing voyage, his wife eloped with a gay deceiver named Pendleton who is also a deserter from the regular army. She left 2 children, one 6 mos. old, and took with her $500.

It seems that the couple reconciled for a while, and had three more sons together, but finally were divorced after almost 16 years of marriage. William had custody of the boys and the youngest, Samuel, was told that his mother had died. However, on the 1880 census, Ellen, age 38, was residing in the Poor House of Stonington, identified as a “widow,” and had with her two young illegitimate children, born after she was divorced from William. Their birth records contain statements from William denying paternity.

Sadly, I have no idea what became of my 2nd-great-grandmother Ellen.

After the divorce, William married (as his second wife) Martha Bennett, born 27 July 1849 and died 16 April 1921, daughter of Henry and Caroline (—) Bennett. William’s last residence was 67 Pleasant St. in Fairhaven (Bristol) Massachusetts, and he died there of arteriosclerosis with senility. Perhaps he was living with a son.

In the summer of 1999, my grandfather, John White, and I visited the house of his grandfather, William White, at 347 New London Turnpike in Stonington, then owned by Millicent House Goodman, who very kindly showed us around. Grandfather had only seen it one time when he was a boy. He remembered coming to Mystic by train with his father and two brothers, and then taking the trolley to Old Mystic and then walking “a great stretch” to the house. He slept in the attic with his brothers and saw a sextant there. The next day they went clam digging. They were instructed to call Martha, “Aunt Martha.”

A history of the house William & Martha lived in is recorded in the book, A History of Old Mystic:

In 1717 Samuel Turner purchased land from Ephraim Fellows. He probably had this house built around 1725 when he was courting Rebecca Davison. This house is located on Rt. 184 about ½ mile east of Rt. 201. They were married on March 4, 1727/28. They raised 5 children here and it stayed in their family until 1765. In the Historic Resources Inventory done in 1981 by Blanche Higgins Schroer, she describes the interior as ‘having a large fireplace (brick with granite sides, wooden mantle) East parlor with deep sills and delicate Federal corner cupboard.’ In 1788 it was purchased by Joshua Brown and his wife Joanna Rogers Brown. This couple raised 10 children here and it stayed in the family for 100 years. In 1802 according to an old newspaper “to settle protracted dispute over highway from the Borough to Old Mystic, the country court appointed Benjamin Coit, John Hillhouse and Joshua Huntington to determine its course (the present route) but Joshua Brown’s claim for re-assessment of his land delayed construction and there was much opposition from the people in the northern part of the township since the route by-passed the Road District which was still the center of town.” In 1818 when the Post Road was established with the toll houses, the road went right past their front door. This home has had many owners and in 1981 it was purchased by Mrs. Millicent House. Soon after the ell on the back burned along with part of the house. Mrs. House rebuilt the ell enlarging it yet maintaining its colonial character, at this time she also added height to the upstairs rooms.

Ellen & William were the parents of five sons, all born in Stonington:

1. William Henry White, born 8 February 1862, married Mary Ellen Toomey. William & Mary were the parents of four children.

cemjameswhite062. James Courtland White, born 15 May 1864, died 1879, about age 15. He lies buried near his father in Elm Grove Cemetery.

3. Walter Price White, born about 1866.

4. Rufus Burton White, born about 1870.

5. Samuel Minor White (my great-grandfather), born 7 July 1873 and died 2 July 1949 in Abington, Massachusetts. He married Emma Flora Atwood, daughter of Reuel Gardner and Louisa Jane (Atwood) Atwood. Samuel & Emma Flora were the parents of three sons.

Ellen was also the mother of two more children:

1. Lydia F. White, born about 1876.

2. John F. White, born about September 1879.

William’s parents, my 3rd-great-grandparents, Austin White (1806-1882) & Lucy Ann (Thompson) White (1808-1852) lie buried together in this plot, too.

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Austin White, son of Oliver and Lydia (—) White, was born 20 August 1806 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut, and died 29 June 1882 in Preston (New London) Connecticut. He married (as his first wife), 19 September 1830 in Groton (New London) Connecticut, Lucy Ann Thompson, who was born 20 August 1808 in North Stonington (New London) Connecticut, and died 29 December 1852 in Stonington, daughter of Elias and Elizabeth “Betsey” (Davis) Thompson.

Austin was a farmer. His marriage to Lucy Ann was performed by Ralph Hurlbutt, Justice-of-the-Peace. Austin married (as his second wife), 31 March 1854 in Stonington, Melissa S. Cole. He married (as his third wife), sometime before the 1880 census, Lydia (—).

Austin & Lucy Ann were the parents of three children:

1. Lydia A. White, born 1833, died 1843.

2. William Martin White (my 2nd-great-grandfather – see above), born 15 November 1836, died 18 November 1925.

3. Rufus C. White, born 6 June 1839, died 16 May 1864, age 24, at Drewry’s Bluff, Virginia. Rufus served as a private in the Union Army, Company E, 21st Infantry Regiment, Connecticut and was killed at the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff. In the 1860 census, Rufus was recorded as a farmer with a personal estate of $100.

Tim & I visited the battle site in May 2000, after reading about the battle, and as a stop on a trip to Florida. The following is from “Stonington’s Forgotten Heroes of 1861-65” by James Boylan:

The second large Stonington unit was Company E of the 21st Infantry Regiment, which was recruited in the summer of 1862 from eastern Connecticut. About seventy Stonington men served in Company E, under Captain Charles T. Stanton, Jr., of Stonington. Like Company G of the Eighth, this company became involved in the fogbound battle of Drewry’s Bluff, in which Stanton was severely wounded, and the siege of Petersburg, where Captain Henry R. Jennings of Stonington was wounded. Partly because its term of service was shorter, it suffered fewer casualties.

My 4th-great-grandparents, Oliver & Lydia (—) White are also buried here.

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Oliver White (c. 1764 -1822)
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Lydia (—) White (c. 1772-1833)

Oliver White, was born about 1764, and died 22 September 1822. He married, Lydia, who was born about 1772, and died 9 February 1833 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut.

It is possible that Oliver was the one born in Salisbury (Litchfield) Connecticut, 25 July 1765, and was perhaps the son of Lawrence and Elizabeth (Vallens) White, but further research is needed to establish a link, if there is one. An Oliver White served in the Revolutionary War, was listed in Zebulon Butler’s 4th Regt. Continental Lines, but there is no probate record for him in Sharon or deeds found in Salisbury.

Lydia & Oliver were the parents of five children:

1. Lydia White (my 3rd-great-grandmother – see below), born about 1798 in Stonington, died there 3 July 1877. She married Rufus Hill, son of Robinson and Lydia (Briggs) Hill, on 24 December 1826. Lydia & Rufus were the parents of at least two children.

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Abby (White) Bennett (1800-1873)

2. Abby White, born 1800, died 27 April 1873. She married Ephraim T. Bennett, who was born 1797 and died 6 March 1876, son of Elisha and Esther (Davis) Bennett. Abby & Ephraim lied buried in the White plot at Elm Grove Cemetery, along with her parents and a brother and sister.

3. Oliver White, born about 1802 in Quenebaugh (Windham) Connecticut. He married 3 January 1830, Eliza Miner, who was born 25 October 1806 in Stonington, daughter of Jesse and Sarah (Hilliard) Miner.

4. Austin White (my 3rd-great-grandfather – see above), born 20 August 1806 in Stonington, and died 29 June 1882. He married Lucy Ann Thompson, daughter of Elias and Elizabeth “Betsey” (Davis) Thompson, on 19 September 1830. Austin & Lucy were the parents of three children.

5. Samuel Minor White, born 12 May 1808, died 11 August 1894 in Sandusky (Erie) Ohio. He married 10 June 1832 in Sandusky, Damaris Pendleton, who was born 5 March 1800 near Westerly (Washington) Rhode Island, and died 6 October 1872 in Sandusky, daughter of Abel Pendleton.

Oliver & Lydia were the parents of another of my 3rd-great-grandparents, Lydia (White) Hill (1798-1877), who is buried here. I don’t know where her husband Rufus (my 3rd great-grandfather) is buried, however, though his wife and parents are all buried here.

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LYDIA,
Wife of
Rufus Hill,
Died July 3, 1877.
Aged 79 Years 2 Mo.
& 11 Ds.
———-
The memory of the just is blessed.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,
do it with thy might for there is no work,
no device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom,
in the grave whither thou goest.

Rufus Hill, son of Robinson and Lydia (Briggs) Hill, was born about 1799 in Connecticut, and died 10 March 1881 in Stonington (New London) Connecticut. He married 24 December 1826 in Stonington, Lydia White, who was born abut 1798 in Stonington, and died there 3 July 1877, daughter of Oliver and Lydia (—) White.

Lydia & Rufus were the parents of two children:

1. Rufus Hill, born about 1839.

2. Ellen C. Hill (my 2nd-great-grandmother), born about 1844.

And lastly, the graves of another set of my 4th-great-grandparents, Robinson Hill & Lydia Briggs. For the longest time I felt frustrated that Lydia was identified only as a “relict” of Robinson Hill. But finally I think I can place her in the Briggs family of Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island, and so have another place to go looking for gravestones.

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ROBINSON HILL died Feb. 14, 1817. Aged 52 years.
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LYDIA, Relict of Robinson Hill, died Sept. 20, 1848. Aged 81 years.

Robinson Hill, was born about 1765 in Block Island, New Shoreham (Washington) Rhode Island, and died 14 February 1817 in Mystic Bridge (New London) Connecticut. He married in New Shoreham, Lydia Briggs, who was born 21 February 1767 in New Shoreham, and died 20 September 1848 in Mystic Bridge, daughter of Joseph and Marjorie (Dodge) Briggs.

Lydia & Robinson were the parents of:

1. Rufus Hill (my 3rd-great-grandfather), born about 1799 and died 10 March 1881. He married Lydia White, daughter of Oliver and Lydia (—) White. Rufus & Lydia were the parents of two children.