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.

IMG_4136_Rocky_Hill_-_Glastonbury_Ferry
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.

A_Dictionary_of_the_English_Language_Noah_Webster_title_page

 

 

 

Turn to the Webster’s

It matters which dictionary you turn to.

Being a lover of language, dictionaries have always been a treasure trove to me.  But I must say that the newer they are, the less satisfying their definitions become.  Defining a word does not mean that you have to try and say the same thing as simply and with as few words as you possibly can.  This technique might work when talking to a 5-year-old, but kindergarten children are not the intended audience of dictionaries in the first place…

Enough talk.  Here is an example from the Oxford Dictionary of English, 2006.

theurgy, noun: the operation or effect of a supernatural or divine agency in human affairs

  • a system of white magic practiced by early Neoplatonists

DERIVATIVES: theurgic adjective, theurgical adjective, theurgist noun

ORIGIN: mid 16th cent.; via late Latin from Greek theurgia ‘sorcery’, from theos ‘god’ + ergos ‘working’

And this second definition comes from the dictionary I would recommend for all lovers of the English language, Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language from 1828.  Note the differences and judge for yourself.

THEURGIC, THEURGICAL: [from theurgy.] Pertaining to the power of performing supernatural things.
Theurgic hymns, songs of incantation

THEURGIST, n. One who pretends or is addicted to theurgy.

THEURGY, n. [Gr. theos God, and ergos work]
The art of doing things which it is the peculiar province of God to do; or the power or act of performing supernatural things by invoking the names of God or of subordinate agents; magic.  This has been divided by some writers into three parts; theurgy, or the operation by divine or celestial means; natural magic, performed by the powers of nature; and necromancy, which proceeds by invoking demons.

%d bloggers like this: