Remembering Our Ancestors: Relief Howe

Relief Howe Everton was our 4th and 5th great-grandmother in the Denney line.

Our great-grandma Relief Howe was born on 10 October 1764, in Dover, New Hampshire.  Apparently, her family called her Leafy.  I must say that “Relief” is a very interesting first name.  Why might parents name their daughter “Relief”?  In this case, she was named after her own mother, but the question remains.  Whatever the reasons, however, Relief was to name one of her own daughters Relief as well, so it can rightly be said that this first name, much like Polly, Sally, Molly and other more common names of that time, runs in the family.

Relief and her three siblings grew up in the very north of this country, in the area of New Hampshire and later Maine, just when Colonial America was turning into an independent state:  The Declaration of Independence was signed when Relief was 11, going on 12 years old.  How much of what was going on did she see or realize, one has to wonder, and was her father involved at all?

One day before her 20th birthday, on 9 October 1784, Relief married Thomas Everton Sr. in Maine.  In the next 20 years, Thomas and Relief had ten children together (naming one of their daughters “Relief”, as mentioned), but they apparently left Maine around 1787 and lived in New York State for a while before settling in Rutland, Meigs Co., Ohio around the turn of the century.  Her husband Thomas was known in the community there as “Deacon Everton”: They belonged to the Regular Baptist Church in town, according to the “Pioneer History of Meigs Co, OH” by Stillman Carter Larkin.

Their third daughter, Jane Howe, born in 1790 in Oneida, NY, in time became Harvey Hamilton Lindsey‘s grandmother, who in turn was our great-grandfather (and 2nd great-grandfather) via Grandma Irene.

Relief Everton née Howe died this week 179 years ago, on 1 June 1841 at the  age of 76.  We assume that she lies buried in Rutland, but we have no record of her burial place, or that of her husband.

Rest well, Great-Grandma Relief, wherever they laid you to rest.



Remembering Our Ancestors: Elisha Andrews

Remembering Elisha Andrews and his wife Ruth Loveland takes us back to colonial America.

This past Wednesday 270 years ago, our 8th (and 9th) great-grandfather Elisha Andrews passed on in his home village in Glastonbury, Hartford Co., CT.  To the day half a year later, his wife Ruth (née Loveland) followed him.  On his Find-A-Grave memorial, the following is quoted (see also the featured image):

Elisha Andrews, eldest son of Stephen, of Glastonbury, and his wife, Sarah Gillett; record of his birth on the Hartford town books.  He lived in East Glastonbury, and succeeded his father as clerk of the school society; he was both mechanic and farmer, as was common in our early history. He married the 9th February, 1726, Ruth (Loveland).  He was the first of four of the name in as many generations, being great-grand-father of Capt. Elisha, of South Manchester, now, 1867, living at the age of 78.  Rev. A. B. Chapin. D. D., in his History of Glastonbury, says, Elisha Andrews, as clerk from 1743 to 1749, had few peculiarities of spelling, and wrote a respectable hand.  He died the 29th January, 1750, aged 43 years, 7 months. 19 days.  He seems to have been a school-teacher, in 1747.

Quoted from:
Genealogical history of John and Mary Andrews, who settled in Farmington, Conn., 1640: embracing their descendants to 1872; with an introduction of miscellaneous names of Andrews, with their progenitors as far as known; to which is added a list of some of the authors, clergymen, physicians and soldiers of the name.
by Andrews, Alfred, 1797-1876

Said birth took place on 10 Jun 1706, 13 years after Glastonbury was founded; he was the first of four children born to Stephen and Sarah.

Elisha and Ruth in turn had five children, their 4th child and last son Robert being our direct ancestor.  Both Elisha and Ruth died before they reached the age of 50:  He passed on at age 43, and she one day before her 48th birthday, only 6 days after their second son Benjamin had died at the age of 22.  The exact place of their burial is not known, but we assume they all were laid to rest in or around East Glastonbury.  Makes one wonder if smallpox were rampant in Glastonbury at the time since both parents and a son died within 6 months from one other.  After all, smallpox was a leading cause of death in 18th century Europe, and the widespread use of variolation in the North American colonies reduced the impact only during the latter part of the 18th century and mainly among the wealthy classes, too late and possibly not accessible for Elisha, Ruth and their son Benjamin.

Anyway, here we are in pre-revolutionary Connecticut, in a place where the now oldest continually operating ferry in the United States is located, the Rocky Hill – Glastonbury ferry, dating back to 1655.  Today, the trip across the Connecticut River takes approximately 4 minutes, but we assume it took longer back in the day:  Originally the ferry was a raft that was poled across the Connecticut River.  Later, it was powered by a horse on a treadmill before the ferry was upgraded to a steamship in 1876.

The Rocky Hill to Glastonbury (Connecticut) Ferry in 2007

There is another little historical curiosity concerning our ancestors and Glastonbury, CT:  Our Elisha and his father were succeeded in their teacher-position by a certain Noah Webster, who was born in West Hartford in 1758, eight years after Elisha’s death, and who taught in Glastonbury for “a short time” around 1779, approximately 30 years after Elisha.  The name Noah Webster is nowadays firmly associated with “dictionary”, especially with the modern Merriam-Webster dictionary that was first published in 1828 as “An American Dictionary of the English Language”.  Webster has been called the “Father of American Scholarship and Education”, and his “Blue-backed Speller” books taught five generations of American children how to spell and read.





Remembering Our Ancestors: William Southard

Our 11th (and 12th) great-grandfather William Southard immigrated from England to the colonies some time before 1640.

Today we remember an ancestor who died this past Monday 305 years ago in Virginia.

William Southard, father-in-law of the first Denny in our direct paternal line to settle in the Colonies, was born in February 1619 in Kirkham, Lancashire, England, where he was baptized on 20 February of that same year.  Some sources say he was born in Leyden in the Netherlands, but that seems rather unlikely, given that his baptism is recorded in the parish records of Lancashire, although William did move to Leyden at some point before he turned 20.

His parents never crossed the Atlantic Ocean:  William’s mother Margareth Lyvesey (a prominent Lancashire last name) died in England around 1624, and his father Thomas passed on in 1640 in Leyden in the Netherlands when William was 21 and possibly already married.  It is conceivable that he and his father both planned to go to the colonies from the Netherlands as many did back in the day, but his father did not actually make the journey.  William’s daughter Mary was born in the Colonies in 1642.  Who William’s first wife was, we have not been able to find out, but we do know that he married again later in life when he was already 69 years old.  His bride then was Margaret Lewis, and they got married in Christchurch, Virginia on 17 April 1688.

William was blessed with a long life.  His son-in-law Samuel Denny, also an English immigrant whom his daughter had married around 1660, had already passed on in 1710, his grandson David Denny was already 50 years old, and his daughter Mary would die only two years after him:  William lived to be 95, and died on 6 January 1715 in Christchurch, Virginia.

It takes a sturdy condition to live that long even under altogether favorable living conditions, and one can imagine that the 17th century did not exactly offer those, especially not for colonists.

Rest in Peace, Great-Grandpa Southard.


Remembering Our Ancestors: Elisabeth Case

Today we remember our 9th (and 10th) great-grandmother Elizabeth in the Snyder line, who was baptized this week 363 years ago in New Amsterdam, but who lived her life on the frontier.

Elizabeth Case, born to a father (John Case) relatively recently immigrated to the new world from Kent in England, and a mother (Sarah Spencer) who was already American-born, lived a frontier life if ever there was one.  Her maternal grandfather had been William Spencer, the eldest of four Spencer brothers that emigrated to New England during the 1630s (William, Thomas, Michael and Gerard), and his name is engraved on the Founder’s Memorial in Hartford, CT, and her father’s name is closely connected with the settlement of Massacoe and the founding of Simsbury, CT.

Elizabeth was baptized in Maspeth Kill (i.e., Maspeth Creek) on Long Island (later called
Newtown, now part of the City of Brooklyn, NY) on 26 November 1656, but the family did not live there at the time.  We know that they stayed there because John sent a letter to “my honored father William Edwards” at Hartford from there.  They lived, instead, much closer to Hartford, in the settlement of Massacoe which had 13 permanent residents in 1669.  People appeared to be hesitant to move settle there.  Her father John Case was appointed to the position of constable of the ‘plantation’, this being the first recorded civil office held by residents of the area.  John Case also appears to have been instrumental in the process of turning the settlement into a town of Connecticut, which happened on 12 May 1670, when the plantation was ordered to be called “Simmsbury“.  The boundaries at that time were Farmington on the south and Windsor on the east, with the extent of Simsbury running 10 miles north of Farmington and 10 miles west of Windsor.  Elizabeth seems to have spent most of her life in that area.  One can surely say the family were American pioneers.

american pioneers
American Pioneers

Elizabeth first married Joseph Lewis on April 30, 1674 when she was only 17.  The two had three children together.  Then, in or before 1685 when she was around 28, she married John Tuller, our 9th (and 10th) great-grandfather, by whom she had five children.  She was John Tuller’s first wife, and a year after Elizabeth’s death, he married again.  Our line continues through Elizabeth and John’s youngest daughter Mehitable, who married into the Chidester/ Chichester family that eventually joined the Snyder line.

Elizabeth died on 9 October 1718, in Simsbury, Connecticut, at the age of 61.  She was laid to rest there in Simsbury Cemetery.

Rest in Peace, Grandma Tuller.  You were among the first to settle a place that is still one of the prettiest places in the country, it seems: 9th best town to live in 2015 in the United States according to Time magazine!

The Farmington River in Simsbury

Remembering Our Ancestors: Thomas Mulford

Today we remember an early New England settler who happens to be our 8th great-grandfather.

Here lyes Buried the Body of Mr. Thomas Mulford, Dec’d Nov. Ye 2d, 1732, in Ye 77th Year of his Age.

So says the grave marker of our 8th (and 9th) great-grandfather Thomas Mulford of East Hampton, Suffolk Co., NY, laid to rest there in South End Cemetery.  The Mulfords were among the early European settlers of Long Island, along with the Hedges, Gardiners, Conklings and other illustrious names of the time.  In fact, East Hampton was the first European settlement on Long Island, which had hitherto been inhabited by Native American tribes.

Thomas Mulford, born this day 364 years ago, on 8 Feb 1655, was one of two (known and attested) sons of William Mulford and Sarah Akers.  William Mulford and his brother John had come to Salem, MA, and thence to East Hampton, in 1643 from Devonshire, England.  William and Sarah had three sons and two daughters, with Thomas, our direct ancestor, being the oldest son.  Sarah Akers had also been born in Devonshire, England and immigrated before 1648, when she married William.  William took to farming as soon as he had settled in East Hampton, while his brother John was more interested with the political affairs of the new settlement and later became a judge.

When he was 26 years old, Thomas Mulford married a young lady by the name of Mary Gardiner Conkling, daughter of Jeremiah Conkling and Mary Gardiner and thus the grand-daughter of Lion Gardiner.  The two lived all their life in East Hampton and had many children together, ten or maybe even twelve, before Thomas died on 2 Nov 1732.  Mary outlived him by ten years.  Both are buried in East Hampton.

If you go to East Hampton today, you will find there the old Mulford farmhouse, which overlooks the Village Green.  It is one of the oldest in the county of Suffolk, and one of the nation’s most significant, intact English colonial farmsteads.  Together with the barn, it is now operated as a living museum.

mulford house
Mulford Farm on James Lane, East Hampton, Suffolk County, NY, built in 1680

The farmhouse was built in 1680, not by the Mulfords, but for Josiah Hobart, another prominent early settler of East Hampton.  Thomas Mulford’s cousin Samuel Mulford bought the farm in 1712 when the first owner died.  Along with the wonderfully well preserved 17th-century English colonial house, the Mulford Barn, which dates to 1721, is also still standing.  In fact, the Mulford Barn is one of the most intact early 18thcentury English-plan barn forms in New York State and is recognized as an outstanding example of early 18thcentury construction methods and materials.  The location of the barn also provides insight into the history of settlement patterns in this region of New York.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mulford Barn
Mulford Barn, built in 1721

Viewed as an artifact which has been shaped to fit the needs and desires of those who have lived in it, the house itself has much to tell about the origins of colonial New England society.  The survival of this house is remarkable since it has been left largely unchanged since 1750.  The majority of the framing and wood members have been left undisturbed, enabling scholars to tell the story of the successive changes over time.  In addition to the house’s architectural significance, the home has remained in Mulford hands for the majority of its existence, so the lives and spirit of this family still echo throughout the house, if you know how to listen.  When the house was restored to make it a museum, period appropriate furnishings and authentic decorative arts were used.

PantigoWindmill and Mulford Farm
Pantigo Windmill next to the Mulford Farm

The museum is located at 10 James Lane, off Montauk Highway, East Hampton, NY.  It is open from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend.  Worth a visit, IMHO!

Mulford Farmstead sign

Quote on Early American Life

We mistakenly think of Americans in the seventeenth century as ourselves…

“Were we to confront a seventeenth century Anglo-American we would experience a sense of culture shock as profound as if we had encountered a member of any other of the world’s exotic cultures.  We mistakenly think of Americans in the seventeenth century as ourselves but somehow simpler, “quaint” perhaps, but people with whom we would feel an instant empathy.  In fact [their] world was assembled according to a different set of rules…Recognizing this fundamental difference permits us to consider the people of that time in their own terms, rather than in those categories we impose on them.”

~James Deetz, “In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life”

Certain Christians today suggest a related attitude towards Scripture, to the effect that one should allow Scripture to shape the understanding rather than having the understanding shape Scripture.  I think this could equally apply to the study of history, or even basic communication, especially in written form.  It’s important to set aside what we think we know and allow history to speak for itself.

French historian Fernand Braudel suggests we “strip ourselves in imagination of all the surroundings of our own lives.”  This seems like a goodly approach.


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