Friday, June 22, 2018

David Bagg’s Life on the Massachusetts Frontier

This is the seventh in a series of posts about four generations of my ancestors in colonial Massachusetts and Connecticut. It includes the Bagg, Burt, Phelps, Moseley, Stanley and other related families between 1635 and 1795.

Pittsfield, MA

David Bagg was a pioneering settler in the remote Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, he married three times and brought up eight children. At age 60, he fought beside his adult sons in the American Revolution. He was my five-times great-grandfather, and I think of him as a survivor.


Born in Feb. 1716/1717, David was the youngest of the ten surviving children of Daniel Bagg and Hannah Phelps of Westfield, Massachusetts.1 Westfield was a thriving town in the Connecticut River valley at the time, and David’s father, a farmer and merchant, was a fairly prominent citizen. David had eight older sisters, and his one brother was 20 years older than him.

In 1738, when David was 21, his father died. In his will,2 Daniel Bagg left money to each of his eight daughters and he left his farmland to his two sons, Daniel Jr. and David, to share equally. Daniel Jr., who was married, was to get the new house, while David inherited the old house, plus some cash so he could repair it. David also inherited the team of oxen that were used to plough the fields and pull the farm wagons. This bequest was probably a big help to David as he began his adult life.

A year after his father’s death, on July 7, 1739, David married Elizabeth Moseley,3  the daughter of prominent Westfield resident Consider Moseley and his wife Elizabeth Bancroft. Like most other New England couples at the time, David and Elizabeth had a large family: Elizabeth, Joseph, Rachel, Martin, Eunice, Abner, Aaron and Phineas. Phineas (my four-times great-grandfather) was probably born in 1751, however, there is no record of his baptism.

As far as I know, David led a quiet life in his younger years. He farmed the fields he had inherited from his father and, in 1754, his brother sold him the 12 tracts of land in Westfield that he had inherited.4 But David’s life seems to have been turned upside down with his wife’s death in Westfield on April 11, 1759.5 At the time, his children ranged in age from about 18 to eight.

In the wake of his wife’s death, David must have decided to leave Westfield. He bought a farm in nearby Blandford Township and the following year, on June 25, 1761, he married Martha Cook, the widow of John Dickinson.6 This marriage did not last long, however, as Martha died a year later. 


The Move to Pittsfield


Over the next few years, David made an even bigger move. He gradually sold off his properties in Westfield, selling the last tract of land in 1777. He also sold the farm in Blandford in 1766.7 Meanwhile, he purchased property in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in the isolated Berkshire hills of the colony’s western frontier.

In this newly settled area, the soil was rockier and less fertile than in the Connecticut valley, but perhaps David felt that Pittsfield would offer an opportunity for a fresh start for himself and affordable land for his five sons. The move was also typical of a trend in colonial New England for farmers and their growing families to leave settled areas, which were becoming crowded, and found new towns. David’s father Daniel had done the same thing as a young man, moving from Springfield, MA, where he was born, to Westfield, which at that time had been the colony’s westernmost outpost.

The Pittsfield site was purchased in 1734 by an investor from Boston, but efforts to clear the land immediately were abandoned because of the threat of Indian raids. The first settlers, many of whom came from Westfield, arrived in 1752.  


David bought property in Pittsfield in 17608 and probably moved there with his family not long after 1764.9 The move wouldn’t have been easy: the road to Pittsfield was an old aboriginal trail that had been widened, but was often impassable. David and his family must have moved their most important furniture and implements, cleared the land and built a log house. In 1772, David Bagg and a household of eight were listed among the 666 residents of Pittsfield.10

In 1769, David married a third time.11 His new wife was Ruth (Owen) Tupper, the widow of Thomas Tupper of Salisbury, Connecticut. She gave birth to 13 children during her first marriage, five of whom are recorded as living to adulthood.


David’s lifetime was a period of social and political change. For one thing, the people of New England were not as religious as their great-grandparents had been when they came to North America as Puritans fleeing religious persecution.

Politically, the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War,) ended in 1763 with the French ceding New France to the British. This brought to an end the raids on Massachusetts towns by the aboriginal allies of the French. It also led indirectly to the American Revolution: the war had left the British heavily in debt, and the high taxes they imposed on the Thirteen Colonies eventually led to a revolt.

Many people in the Berkshires were strongly opposed to the British, and David must have agreed. During the American Revolution, David served in Pittsfield militia regiments on two occasions: in January 1776, he marched to Albany for five days, and in July, 1777, he served for 10 days on a march to Manchester. Each time, one of his sons (Phineas or Martin) accompanied him.12

The last mention of David Bagg of Pittsfield in the records of Massachusetts is a suit on a note given to him by John Phelps, with court action in June, 1784.13 

In the 1790 federal census, sons Martin and Phineas Bagg and Daniel Bagg (likely a nephew) were counted in Pittsfield, while son Joseph appeared in nearby Lanesborough.14 David might have been living with one of his children, but he was probably deceased by then.


See also:

Janice Hamilton, “Daniel Bagg’s Will,” Writing Up the Ancestors, June 13, 2018, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2018/06/daniel-baggs-will.html

Janice Hamilton, “Considering Consider Moseley,” Writing Up the Ancestors, May  16, 2018, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2018/05/considering-consider-moseley.html

Janice Hamilton, “John Bagg of Springfield, Massachusetts,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Feb. 22, 2018, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2018/02/john-bagg-of-springfield-massachusetts.html

Janice Hamilton, “An Economic Emigrant,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Oct. 16, 2013, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2013/10/an-economic-emigrant.html

Janice Hamilton, “Who Was Phineas Bagg?” Writing Up the Ancestors, Oct. 11, 2014, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2014/10/who-was-phineas-bagg.html

Notes:

There were several men named David Bagg in this time period. David Bagg jr.,son of David and Hannah of Springfield died in 1756 in his 19th year. David Bagg, son of Jonathon Bagg of Springfield, died in 1760 in his 50th year. Also David Bagg, born Westfield to Mary Sackett, March 27, 1739.

The children of David and Elizabeth (Moseley) Bagg.
(The records are spotty, and some of these details may be incorrect or incomplete. All sources from either Americanancestors.org or Familysearch.org)

Elizabeth  bapt.  Nov. 1, 1741 at Westfield (Westfield, MA, Baptisms performed at the Church of Christ, 1679-1836), Elizabeth Bagg of Blandford m. Hezekiah Jones of Pittsfield, July 12, 1764, Westfield (Massachusetts Vital Records, 1620-1850, Westfield, vol. 2).

Joseph  born Jan 6, 1739/40 at Westfield, bapt.  Nov. 1, 1741; (Massachusetts Vital Records, 1620-1850, Westfield, vol. 1) soldier in American Revolution, m. Eunice Loomis in Blandford, Dec. 29, 1765, (Massachusetts Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records), lived in Lanesborough, d. 1836.

Rachel  bapt Dec 19 1742 at Westfield, (Westfield, MA, Baptisms performed at the Church of Christ, 1679-1836)

Martin   bapt Jan 27, 1745 at Westfield (Westfield, MA, Baptisms performed at the Church of Christ, 1679-1836); soldier in American Revolution; m. Olive Goodrich, 1792 at Pittsfield

Eunice  bapt June 8, 1746 at Westfield (Westfield, MA, Baptisms performed at the Church of Christ, 1679-1836), m. Adam Noble, 22 May 1769, Pittsfield (Massachusetts Marriages, 1695-1910)

Abner bapt May 15, 1748 at Westfield (Westfield, MA, Baptisms performed at the Church of Christ, 1679-1836), d. 8 Feb. 1773, Pittsfield (Massachusetts Deaths and Burials, Familysearch.org)

Aaron bapt Mar 11, 1750 at Westfield (Westfield, MA, Baptisms performed at the Church of Christ, 1679-1836), soldier in American Revolution

Phineas   born c. 1751 in Pittsfield, MA; yeoman in Pittsfield 1777, soldier in American Revolution; moved to Laprairie, QC c. 1795; d. 31 Nov. 1823, in Montreal. m. 1) Pamela Stanley of Litchfield, Conn, 21 Mar. 1780 in Pittsfield;  d. c. 1793; 2) (common law) Ruth Langworthy.

Footnotes:

1. Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13250/3/253010247

2. Hampshire County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1660-1889. Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2016, 2017. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives and the Hampshire County Court. Digitized images provided by FamilySearch.org) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB1653/i/33925/7-17-co3/0

3. Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016).https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13251/4/253014174

4. William A. Cooper, “The James Bagg Family of Lanesborough, Mass,” unpublished, 1918.

5.  Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13250/91/253013581

6.  Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/14507/117/264964546
7. Cooper, ibid.  

8. Rollin H. Cooke, Pittsfield Families, Vol. 1 A-B, p. 73.

9.  J.E.A. Smith, The History of Pittsfield, (Berkshire County,) Massachusetts, From the Year 1734 to the Year 1800. Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1869. p. 476.

10.  “The Number of Families and Persons in the town of Pittsfield, Nov. 16, 1772” Berkshire Genealogist, fall 1993, vol. 14, no 4, p. 111.

11. Vital Records from The NEHGS Register. Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (Compiled from articles originally published in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register.) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB522/r/264680608

12 Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution, Ancestry.com

13 Cooper, ibid.

14. Ancestry.com. 1790 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
Original data: First Census of the United States, 1790 (NARA microfilm publication M637, 12 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. Year: 1790; Census  Place: Pittsfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts; Series: M637; Roll: 4; Page: 483; Image: 526; Family History Library Film: 0568144. (accessed Jan. 14, 2013)





Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Daniel Bagg's Will



This is the sixth in a series of posts about four generations of my ancestors in colonial Massachusetts and Connecticut. It includes the Bagg, Burt, Phelps, Moseley, Stanley and other related families between 1635 and 1795.

When I revised my will last year, although it expressed my wishes, its legal language felt impersonal. Reading Daniel Bagg’s will, written in 1737, was a very different experience: it gave a real glimpse of his character, revealing his love for his wife, his trust in his sons, and his generosity to his daughters.

Daniel’s will also acknowledged that God had blessed him in this life, which was a very Puritan thing to say. The Puritans of New England attributed everything that happened to them to God’s will.

Daniel Bagg (1668-1738) was a farmer in Westfield, a small town founded in 1669 on the western frontier of Massachusetts. He and the town’s other residents lived in a tightly knit community, centered around the building that doubled as the town meeting house and the Congregational church. 


Daniel would have attended meetings and church services in a building similar to this one in nearby Deerfield, MA.

Agricultural fields were spread out across the surrounding areas. The hills, plains and riverside meadows of the Westfield area had fertile soil and provided growing conditions for a variety of crops, including corn, wheat and flax.

Most of Westfield’s early residents had come from either Springfield, Massachusetts or Windsor, Connecticut, and Daniel was no exception. He was born in Springfield in 1668, one of 10 children born to John Bagg and Hannah Burt.1

Daniel’s mother died when he was 12 years old, and his father died three years later. It is not clear who raised him and his eight surviving brothers and sisters after that. His father’s probate records show that Sam Marshfield was to be a guardian to sons John and James, and to Abilene, the youngest child, but there was no mention of Daniel or the other children.2 Perhaps their mother’s family cared for them.

When they became adults, John and Jonathan Bagg (James had died young), settled in West Springfield, on the west bank of the Connecticut River, where their father had owned land. Daniel probably moved to Westfield around the time he married, in January 1693/94.3 His wife was Hannah Phelps, born in 1675 to Isaac Phelps and Ann Gaylord. Isaac Phelps had been a founding resident of Westfield and was a community leader there. Perhaps this connection to the Phelps family helped Daniel become a prominent citizen of Westfield.

In land deeds and court documents, Daniel was described as a farmer and wheelwright and, in the later part of his life, as a merchant or trader. Perhaps Daniel’s activities as a merchant brought good income, although his name appeared in several lawsuits, primarily because he either owed money or money was owed to him.4

Daniel served as a selectman (town official) of Westfield in 1718 and 1723. He represented the town in the Massachusetts legislature for a year5 and he was involved in several committees at Westfield’s Church of Christ.6

Daniel and Hannah, who were my six-times great-grandparents, had 11 children: three boys, one of whom died as an infant, and eight girls. Their youngest son, David, was my direct ancestor.

I am not sure whether the girls’ marriages are correct in the following list; Daniel did not mention any of their husbands in his will. The couple’s 10 surviving children were: Hannah, b. 1695, m. ?; Daniel Jr.,  b. 1697, m. Abigail Dewey; Ebenezer b/d 1700; Rachel, b. 1702, m. Aaron Phelps; Ann, b. 1704, m. John Field; Abigail, b. 1707, m. Isaac Dewey; Ruth, b. 1709, m. Daniel Dickason; Margaret, b. 1712; Sarah, b. 1714, m. ?; David, b. 1716/1717, m. Elizabeth Moseley.7 Following Elizabeth’s death in 1759, David married two more times. 

Daniel prepared his will in 1737 and signed it with his mark, suggesting that, although he may have known how to read, he could not write. He died Aug. 18, 1738, age 70.8

An ox cart in Westfield
He left to his “dearly beloved wife during her natural life” one end of “my dwelling house and part of the cellar with the one half of the garden, as also one quarter of the orchard by the house and one quarter of the land by the house that was called the homestead, being two acres and a half.”

Daniel left all his farmland in Westfield to his two sons, Daniel Jr. and David, to share equally. Daniel Jr. was to have the new house and David the old house and barn, and Daniel was to give David 60 pounds to enable him to make improvements. David was also to have the team of oxen.

To each of his daughters, Daniel left “100 pounds with what she has already had.” He showed special concern for daughter Abigail, who was married to Isaac Dewey, and her children, leaving them extra money. He gave Daniel and David a deadline to make sure his daughters received their bequests – and extra time to come up with the funds if there was not enough in his personal estate.

See also:

Janice Hamilton, “John Bagg of Springfield, Massachusetts,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Feb. 22, 2018, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2018/02/john-bagg-of-springfield-massachusetts.html

Janice Hamilton, “Isaac Phelps and His Blended Families,” Writing Up the Ancestors, May 3, 2018, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2018/05/isaac-phelps-and-his-blended-families.html

Sources:

1. Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016).https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/r/1320087835

2. Hampshire County, Massachusetts probate records 1660-1916. index, 1660-1971 [microform]

3. New England Marriages to 1700. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.) Originally published as: New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015. https://www.americanancestors.org/DB1568/i/21174/65/426875386

4 Debrett, “The Bagg Family of Massachusetts, America and of Montreal, Canada. Research for Mrs. J.D. Hamilton, July, 1980.”

5 Massachusetts: Legislators of the General Court, 1691-1780 (Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2002), (Orig. Pub. by Northeastern University Press , Boston, MA. John A. Schutz, Legislators of the Massachusetts General Court 1691–1780 A Biographical Dictionary, 1997.) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB142/r/5875254

6. Rev. John H. Lockwood, Westfield and its Historic Influences 1669-1919: The Life of an Early Town (Springfield, 1922, Printed and sold by the author), p. 147, 310, https://archive.org/stream/westfieldandits00lockgoog#page/n174/mode/2up, accessed May 19, 2018

7. Daniel’s and Hannah’s girls and boys are listed separately in the Massachusetts Vital Records 1620-1850. For example, the girls’ births in Westfield are in vol. 1, page 50; the boys are on page 3.
Females births: Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13250/50/253012007
Males births: Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13250/3/253010247
Females marriages: Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13251/81/253016859
Males marriages: Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016).https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13251/4/253014174

8. Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016), https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13250/91/253013579
9. Hampshire County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1660-1889. Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2016, 2017. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives and the Hampshire County Court. Digitized images provided by FamilySearch.org) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB1653/i/33925/7-17-co3/0










Wednesday, May 30, 2018

William the Conqueror and Me


William the Conqueror must have thousands of descendants, but it seems quite a coincidence that I had thoroughly researched his life before I was aware there was a direct connection between us.

I learned about that connection from Gary Boyd Roberts, Senior Researcher Emeritus of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and author of many books, including The Royal Descents of 600 Immigrants to the American Colonies of the United States. A half-hour meeting with Roberts was part of a weekend research event at the NEHGS that I attended a few years ago.

Roberts was a bit intimidating. He insisted I not look at my notes, but look at him, and he was baffled that I was interested in my ancestors’ lives. For him, the births, marriages and deaths were all that mattered. He seemed to have memorized the lineages of just about every family in colonial New England, and he indicated the pages of the family history books I should photocopy. When he learned I am Canadian, Roberts remarked that I have a “nice chunk of Yankee.”

He then pointed to the name Margaret Wyatt on my family tree and stated, “she was of royal descent.”

When I posed with this wax William in 2009, at the Bayeux Tapestry exhibit in France, I had no idea we were related.

That royal ancestor was King Henry I, but the name did not ring any bells until I returned home and looked up Henry I on the Internet. Then I realized that Henry was the youngest son of William the Conqueror, about whom I had written a book!1 The book told the story of how William, Duke of Normandy, became King William I of England almost thousand years ago. Titled The Norman Conquest of England, it is one of several non-fiction books I have written for children.

William’s own ancestry was actually Viking: the Normans were people from Scandinavia who began raiding northern France around 800 A.D. In 911, William’s ancestor Rolf the Viking took control of the area that became known as Normandy.

William was born in Normandy around 1028, the illegitimate son of Duke Robert I of Normandy and a young woman named Herleve, who was probably the daughter of a tanner. Even as a child, William had many rivals, but eventually he succeeded his father as Duke of Normandy. In 1066, he famously crossed the English Channel and defeated the English troops at the Battle of Hastings. He was a powerful and violent man, and a good military commander.

The story of how William the Conqueror evaded his enemies and invaded England is full of intrigue and coincidences. After writing about these events, my husband and I toured northern France, including Bayeux, home of the Bayeux Tapestry that illustrates the Norman Conquest. Little did I know at the time that William was one of my ancestors.  

After William I’s death in 1087, his son William Rufus became king of England. Following the death of Rufus, William the Conqueror’s youngest son became King Henry I. Henry, who had been born in England, ruled from 1100 to 1135. Well educated, decisive and energetic, he was known as the Lion of Justice.

Henry married Matilda of Scotland, but the line of descent that leads to America was through an unnamed mistress. Their illegitimate child was Robert of Caen, 1st Earl of Gloucester. At generation 19 came Margaret Wyatt ( -  c. 1675).2 She married Matthew Allyn (1605-1671) in Devonshire, England in 1626/27 and a few years later they sailed across the Atlantic, settling in Hartford and later in Windsor, Connecticut.

From there, my line goes through their daughter Mary Allyn who married Benjamin Newberry; their daughter Mary Newberry who married John Moseley; their son Consider Moseley, who married Elizabeth Bancroft; and their daughter Elizabeth Moseley who married David Bagg in Westfield, Massachusetts. Their son Phineas Bagg, my four-times great-grandfather, left New England for Montreal, Quebec with his children around 1795.4

See also: 
Janice Hamilton, "Considering Consider Moseley," Writing Up the Ancestors, May 16, 2018,  writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2018/05/considering-consider-moseley.html

This article is also posted on www.genealogyensemble.com

Sources.
1. Janice Hamilton, The Norman Conquest of England, Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, 2008.

2. Gary Boyd Roberts, compiler, Ancestors of American Presidents, 2009 Edition. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009, p. 408.

3. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. (Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010), (Originally Published as: New England Historic Genealogical Society. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III, 3 vols, 1995) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB393/i/12107/42/235171345

4. Janice Hamilton, “An Economic Emigrant,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Oct. 16, 2013, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2013/10/an-economic-emigrant.html


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Considering Consider Moseley

This is the fifth in a series of posts about four generations of my ancestors in colonial Massachusetts and Connecticut. It includes the Bagg, Burt, Phelps, Moseley, Stanley and other related families between 1635 and 1795.

Consider Moseley (1675-1755), of Westfield, Massachusetts had an unusual name. In Puritan New England, where he was born, people normally named their children after close relatives1 or gave them Biblical names, but the origin of Consider’s name is a mystery. Maybe his parents had good imaginations: they called one of his brothers Comfort.

Whatever the meaning and origin of his name, my six-times great-grandfather was born in Windsor, Connecticut, the fifth child of Lieut. John Maudsley (an earlier spelling of the last name) and his wife Mary Newberry. He had five younger siblings, all of them born after the family relocated to Westfield, Massachusetts2 around 1675.

The Ashley House, built in Deerfield, MA in 1734, may have been similar to Consider Moseley's home.
John Maudsley came to New England in 1638 and settled in Dorchester, Mass.3 He married Mary Newberry in 1664 and the couple moved to Windsor. It had been established on the banks of the Connecticut River almost 30 years earlier, and the founding settlers had received land grants but, as a relative latecomer, John purchased his land.

John sold that property in 1677 and moved to Westfield4 where he purchased a house and store. According to Westfield chronicler Chester Stiles, “Mr. Moseley had already proved his valor in battles with the followers of King Philip. [King Philip’s War, 1675-1676, was fought between some of the indigenous people and the colonists.] Hence, he was warmly welcomed to the stockaded hamlet and chosen lieutenant of the little company of defenders. He was also recorded as one of the seven original members, or “foundation men,” of the [Congregational] church first organized under Rev. Edward Taylor in 1677.” 5

John still owned a mill in Windsor, and he died there in 1690. Mary then married her Westfield neighbour, widower Isaac Phelps.6 Consider was 15 at the time of his father’s death and, as one of the older boys in the family, he would likely have been responsible for many chores on the family farm.

Consider was still a young man in 1700 when he was called upon to assist the whole community. Officially, this was peace time, but there was only a lull between two wars between England and France, King William’s War and Queen Ann’s War. Even in peace time, the people of Westfield were worried that the indigenous people who were allied with the French would come from New France (Quebec) and attack them.7

The town residents agreed that several houses should be securely fortified, and Consider’s house was one of the buildings chosen. Teams of neighbours helped with the work. Consider eventually became a lieutenant in the Westfield militia.

Eight Children including Twins

In 1709, at age 34, Consider married Elizabeth Bancroft.8 The couple had eight children, including twins Elizabeth and Daniel. (Daughter Elizabeth Moseley grew up to marry David Bagg, and they are my direct ancestors.9)  Consider’s wife died and, in 1731, he married Rebecka (Williams) Dewey, the widow of Jedediah Dewey II.10 Rebecka had nine children of her own at the time, ranging in age from five to 26.  

When Consider died in September, 1755, at age 80, he was described as “one of the wealthiest and most influential men of the town.”11 He may or may not have considered wealth important. Puritans valued hard work, but wasting their money on frivolous things was frowned upon. Wealth was tied to influence, however. Wealthier residents were usually elected to their town’s most important offices and, every Sunday when the people of New England went to church, where they sat depended on their social status.12

Lieut. Consider Moseley's grave in Westfield's Old Burying Ground
Many Puritans believed that God ordained all that happened, so an individual’s prosperity was a sign of God’s approval for a commitment to godly living. In his will, Consider noted that, “it has pleased God to bless me in this life.”

When Consider wrote his will in January, 1754, he noted that he was “infirm and weak in body, yet of perfect mind and memory.” Indeed, this four-page document shows how well organized he was. He owned numerous tracts of pasture land and farmland around Westfield, and he identified each one according to its geographic location, neighbouring lot owners or the individual from whom he had purchased it.

He had already signed deeds of conveyance giving the titles of several properties to his sons. He split the land between his two sons, Daniel and Israel, and the sons of his late son Benjamin. Each of his five daughters, and Benjamin’s daughter, received relatively small sums of money and a share of his furniture and household goods.

As for his beloved wife Rebecka, his bequest to her was five shillings “in consideration of the articles of agreement concluded between us at our marriage.” He did not describe that agreement,13  but her children probably looked after her for the rest of her life.

Photos by Janice Hamilton

Notes:

Children of John Maudsley and Mary Newberry:  
Born in Windsor: Benjamin, b. 1666, m. Mary Sackett; Margaret, b. 1668/69, d. 1678; Joseph, b. 1670, m. Abigail Root; Mary, b. 1673, m. Isaac Phelps Jr.; Consider, b. 1675, m. 1, Elizabeth Bancroft, 2, widow Rebecca Dewey.
Born in Westfield: John, b. 1678, d. c. 1690; Comfort, b. 1680, d. 1711; Margaret b. 1683, m. Samuel Taylor; Elizabeth, b. 1685; Hannah, b. 1690, d. 1707.
Source: Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor vol. II, p. 508.

The Bancroft Family:

Immigrant John Bancroft brought his wife and children to New England in 1632 and settled in Lynn, Massachusetts. After he died in 1637, his wife may have remarried and moved to Windsor, Connecticut. 

In 1650, John Bancroft Jr. married Hanna Duper in Windsor. John Jr. and Hanna had five children, including Nathaniel, born 1653. After John Jr. died in 1662, Hanna remarried and moved to Westfield.

Nathaniel Bancroft married Hannah Williams in 1677. They had five children, with Elizabeth, born 1682, being the second-youngest. Elizabeth Bancroft married Consider Moseley in 1709.
Source: Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor vol. II, p. 40-41.


Children of Consider Moseley and Elizabeth Bancroft:
Rhoda, b. 1710, m. Nathaniel Weller; Israel, b. 1711, Daniel, b. 1714, m. Ann Abbott; Elizabeth, b. 1714, m. Daniel Bagg; Lydia, b. 1716, m. Israel Dewey; Ruth, b. 1717, m. Thomas Root; Mercy, b. 1722, m. Aaron King; Benjamin?, m. Hannah?                
Source: Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor, p. 509.

Sources:

1. David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, New York, Oxford University Press, 1898, p 23.

2. Henry R. Stiles. The History of Ancient Windsor, Vol. II, a facsimile of the 1892 edition, Somersworth: New Hampshire Publishing Co., 1976. p. 508, https://archive.org/stream/historygenealogi02stil#page/508/mode/2up accessed April 10, 2018.

3. Robert Charles Anderson, Great Migration Directory: Immigrants of New England, 1620-1640, a Concise Compendium. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015.

4. Henry R. Stiles, The History of Ancient Windsor, p. 508.

5. Chester D. Stiles, A History of the Town of Westfield, compiled for public schools from Greenough’s History of Westfield in the Annals of Hampden County and other sources, Westfield: J.D. Cadle & Company, 1919, p. 22. https://archive.org/stream/historyoftownofw00stil#page/22/mode/2up  accessed April 14, 2018.

6. The American Genealogist. New Haven, CT: D. L. Jacobus, 1937-. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009 - .) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB283/i/12963/239/24672606, accessed April 7, 2018.

7. Rev. John H. Lockwood. Westfield and its Historic Influences, 1669-1919: the life of an early town. Springfield, MA, printed and sold by the author, 1922, p. 295, https://archive.org/stream/westfieldandits00lockgoog#page/n324/mode/2up  accessed April 10, 2018.

8. Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016), https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/13251/47/253015607 accessed April 14, 2018.

9. Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/r/253018268, accessed April 10, 2018.

10. Joann River, River-Hopkins, Saemann-Nickel and Related Families (website), Jedediah Dewey II #8003, http://josfamilyhistory.com/htm/nickel/griffin/sheldon/noble/noble-dewey.htm#jed3, accessed April 15, 2018.

11. Lockwood, Westfield and its Historic Influences, p. 386.  https://archive.org/stream/westfieldandits00lockgoog#page/n414/mode/2up, accessed April 10, 2018.
12. Virginia DeJohn Anderson, New England’s Generation: The Great Migration and the Formation of Society and Culture in the Seventeenth Century, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991, p.175.

13.  Westfield, Hampden, Massachusetts, Probate Record of the estate of Consider Moseley, 1755. Case Number 102-30, Hampshire Box 102, 1755, page 102-30:1.
(Consider’s will is missing from the NEHGS online database of court, land and probate records, however, it is on available on microfilm at the NEHGS in Boston.)



Thursday, May 3, 2018

Isaac Phelps and his Blended Families



The grave of Capt. Isaac Phelps, 1638-1725, in Westfield's Old Burying Ground

This is the fourth in a series of posts about four generations of my ancestors in colonial Massachusetts and Connecticut. It includes the Bagg, Burt, Phelps, Moseley, Stanley and other related families between 1635 and 1795.

My seven-times great grandfather Isaac Phelps (1638-1725) was like the Energizer bunny: he never seemed to stop. For much of his life, he worked hard as a farmer and he held many offices in his home town in New England, but he also became a school teacher at age 64 and was named a captain in the militia at age 71. Only death seemed to slow him down, at age 87, and his tombstone is almost as legible now as the day it was carved.

Isaac was born in 1638 in Windsor, Connecticut, the eldest son of George Phelps and Philura Randall,1 both of whom were newcomers to New England, part of a wave of Puritans who fled England, hoping to follow their religious beliefs without persecution.

By the time he was nine years old, Isaac had four younger siblings, but that year, 1647, two of them died. The following April, his mother died.2 Families needed two parents to share the work of running the household and the farm, so his father did not wait long to remarry. George Phelps’ second wife was Frances Dewey, whose second husband, Thomas Dewey, had died two days before Philura.3

From age ten, Isaac grew up in what we would describe as a blended family. The household included his father and step-mother, his brother Joseph, Mary Clark (Frances’ daughter from her first marriage) and the five Dewey children, Thomas, Josiah, Anna, Israel and Jedediah. Eventually, there were three more half-brothers: Jacob, John and Nathaniel Phelps. Isaac’s other brother, Abraham, was adopted by Randall relatives who were childless.4

The Puritans wanted to be able to read the Bible themselves, so education was considered important in colonial New England. Perhaps Isaac went to a neighbour’s house for tutoring. Meanwhile, everyone in the community attended church for the whole day every Sunday.

In 1662, Isaac Phelps married Ann Gaylord.5 (See note i) Isaac’s and Ann’s eldest child, Isaac Jr., was born in 1666 in Windsor. The family moved to Westfield, Massachusetts around 1670 and the rest of their 11 children were born in that frontier settlement. (See note ii)

Dewey House, built 1735, is home to the Western Hampden Historical Society
Ann (Gaylord) Phelps died in 1689 or 1690, when the youngest child was still a toddler. Sometime before 1694, Isaac married his neighbour, widow Mary (Newberry) Maudsley,6 who had eight children of her own. (See note iii) Once again, Isaac was part of a big, blended family.

Members of the extended Phelps/Dewey family were also living in Westfield, including George and Frances and Isaac’s half-brothers and step-siblings. Perhaps these families saw more opportunities to acquire fertile farmland in the new settlement, which was founded by settlers from nearby Springfield and a handful of families from Windsor.

Isaac and his father were amongst the first settlers in Westfield, choosing prime home lots located near the Little River in 1667.7 The colonists purchased the land from the indigenous people and Westfield was incorporated in 1669.

Because Westfield was quite isolated, the residents were afraid of attacks by the indigenous people, especially during King Phillip’s War (1675-76). When colonial authorities in Boston told the residents to go to Springfield because of the danger, Isaac Phelps was one of four people to sign a letter refusing to do so. Instead, Westfield residents built a two-square-mile wooden palisade around the town and dug an underground cellar where the women and children could hide.8 Westfield was not attacked, although Springfield was, and some individuals were.

Map showing Westfield's first meeting house and fortified area
Westfield’s citizens maintained a militia for decades to counter the threat that was fueled by ongoing wars between the English and the French and their Native American allies. In 1709, Isaac became a captain in the militia.

Westfield had about 150 residents in 1676, and the town continued to grow. The Dewey brothers built a mill on one of the many nearby creeks, there was a tavern in the town and a road that led to Springfield. Most important, the town had a minister: Reverend Edward Taylor, a graduate of Cambridge University and of Harvard University, served the people of Westfield from 1679 to 1726. Isaac was one of the founding members of the church, and a deacon.9

Isaac also played a role in Westfield’s civic life. He served as town clerk, assessor, surveyor and town treasurer,10 and, although he was not a scholar, he took on the duties of school teacher at age 64. He was also a legislator of the Massachusetts General Court.

He died in 1725 and was buried in Westfield’s Old Burying Ground. He is my ancestor through his daughter Hannah Phelps, who married Daniel Bagg in 1693.

Photo credits:
Janice Hamilton
www.cityofwestfield.org/DocumentCenter/View/236/Westfield-History


See also:

Janice Hamilton, “George Phelps of Windsor and Westfield,” Writing Up the Ancestors, April 18, 2018, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2018/04/george-phelps-of-windsor-and-westfield.html

Janice Hamilton, “A Visit to the Old Burying Ground of Westfield, Massachusetts,” Writing Up the Ancestors, April 4, 2018, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca/2018/04/a-visit-to-old-burying-ground-of.html

Notes:

i. The Gaylord family. Ann Gaylord’s grandfather William Gaylord (also spelled Gayler, Gaylar, Gaylor, Gailead and Gailer) brought his family from England to Dorchester, Massachusetts aboard the Mary and John in 1630. At the time, he and his wife (name unknown) had six children ranging in age from about four to 15.11

William Gaylord played an important role in Dorchester, initially as one of two deacons of the Congregational church that the colonists and their pastor, John Warham, established there. William was one of four men who signed early town orders in Dorchester, he was chosen as a selectman (town official) for several terms between 1635 and 1637, and he was appointed assessor in 1636. Two years later, the Gaylord family followed Rev. Warham and a number of other Dorchester families to Windsor, Connecticut. There, William was granted a 20-acre home lot and several tracts of agricultural land. He served as deputy for Windsor to the Connecticut General Court for many years. His wife died in Windsor in 1657; William Sr. died in 1673.

Their second child, William Jr., was baptized in Crewkerne, Somersetshire, in 1617, and married Anna Porter in Windsor in 1641.12 John Porter’s family had come from England and settled in Windsor in 1639. After Anna died in 1653, William married Elizabeth Drake.

William Jr. died in 1656, leaving seven children, the oldest of whom was Ann, born 1645. Ann must have shouldered a lot of responsibility helping to raise her younger brothers and sisters. She married Isaac Phelps on March 11, 1662/63.

ii. Isaac’s and Ann’s children born in Windsor:
Isaac, b. 1666, m. Mary Moseley.
Those who were baptized in Westfield were:
daughter b. 1669, d. young.
John b. 1672, married Thankful Hitchcock;
Hannah b. 1674, m. Daniel Bagg in 1693/4 (my direct ancestors);13
Hezekiah b. 1677;
Joseph b. 1679;
Daniel b. 1681, d. 1690;
Noah, b. 1684, d. 1731 at Housatonnuc;
infant, b/d 1686;
Ebenezer, b. 1687, m. Susanna Burbank.14

iii. Some 19th-century genealogies suggest Isaac did not remarry after Ann’s death, but it would have been unusual for a widower with a houseful of young children not to look for a new wife. An article proving Isaac did remarry appeared in The American Genealogist in 1993 (TAG vol. 68, p 239-241). In such a small community, there were multiple connections between some of these blended family members. After Isaac Phelps married Mary (Newberry) Maudsley, his son Isaac Jr. married her daughter, Mary Maudsley.

iv. Windsor and Westfield kept good records and these databases are available online from the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Several books have been written about the area and its residents, mostly by amateur historians and genealogists in the 19th century, and the information in these books need to be checked against the databases. Keep in mind that often several individuals living about the same time had the same name. For example, besides the father and son I have mentioned, there were three other men named Isaac Phelps. See The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 163 [2009]: 117.

Sources:

1. Connecticut: Vital Records (The Barbour Collection), 1630-1870 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011.) From original typescripts, Lucius Barnes Barbour Collection, 1928. https://www.americanancestors.org/DB414/i/12316/224/138422806, accessed April 7, 2018

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Oliver Seymour Phelps and Andrew T. Servin, compilers, “George Phelps the Emigrant, 1630,” The Phelps Family of America and their English Ancestors, and other interesting papers, coats of arms and valuable records, volume II (Pittsfield, MA: Eagle Publishing Company, 1899), p. 1270.

5. Burton Spear, compiler, Search for the Passengers of the Mary and John, 1630, vol. 5, Gallop – Greenway (Toledo: The Mary and John Clearing House, 1987), p 18.

6. The American Genealogist. New Haven, CT: D. L. Jacobus, 1937-. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009 - .) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB283/i/12963/239/24672606, accessed April 7, 2018.

7. Rev. John H. Lockwood, Westfield and its Historic Influences 1669-1919: The Life of an Early Town (Springfield, 1922, Printed and sold by the author), p. 58, https://archive.org/stream/westfieldandits00lockgoog#page/n80/mode/2up accessed April 1, 2018

8. Kay Delli Bovi, Barbara Trant, volunteers in public schools, The Westfield Story, printed in 2006, http://www.cityofwestfield.org/DocumentCenter/View/236 accessed April 7, 2018.

9. Lockwood, Westfield and its Historic Influences 1669-1919, p. 94. https://archive.org/stream/westfieldandits00lockgoog#page/n120/mode/2up, accessed April 1, 2018.

10. Phelps and Servin, The Phelps Family of America and their English Ancestors, p. 1269.

11 Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, 3 volumes, (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society), II: 742.

12.  Connecticut: Vital Records (The Barbour Collection), 1630-1870 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011.) From original typescripts, Lucius Barnes Barbour Collection, 1928. 
https://www.americanancestors.org/DB414/r/138416737, accessed April 10, 2018.

13. New England Marriages to 1700. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.) Originally published as: New England Marriages Prior to 1700. Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015.

14. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1847-. (Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2013.) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB202/r/245392558, accessed April 10, 2018.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

George Phelps of Windsor and Westfield

This is the third in a series of posts about four generations of my ancestors in colonial Massachusetts and Connecticut. It includes the Bagg, Burt, Phelps, Moseley, Stanley and other related families between 1635 and 1795.


For many of the colonists who fled England to become pioneers in New England in the 1630s, rebuilding their lives once was enough. But not for George Phelps. He helped to found the town of Windsor, Connecticut and raised his family there. Thirty years later, he started over as a founding settler of Westfield, a new town on the edge of the Massachusetts wilderness.

His date and place of birth in England are unknown, but he was probably born around 16131 and he probably came to New England on the ship Recovery in 1634.2 Most of its passengers were from southwest England, and George may have been from the same area.

He initially settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Some people in Dorchester complained that the leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were too elitist and autocratic.3  They wanted to be part of a more democratic society. In 1635, a group of unhappy colonists left Dorchester with their minister, Reverend John Warham, determined to found a new community they called Windsor, Connecticut. George was one of them.

A trading post had been built at the spot where the Farmington River flows into the Connecticut River several years earlier, and the indigenous people in the area were friendly to the newcomers and willing to sell them land. The spot was well located for trade and its riverside meadows were fertile, so Warham’s group decided to settle there. 

Map of Windsor. The Phelps' house was left of the spot where the Farmington River flowed into the Connecticut. 
Sixty men, women and children travelled overland with their farm animals, while their possessions were shipped by water. The first winter was so difficult that many of the cattle died and some of the would-be settlers fled back to Dorchester, returning to Windsor in the spring, accompanied by additional settlers.

In 1637, the Pequot Indians began attacking the New England colonists, so the settlers surrounded their houses with a protective wooden palisade. By 1639, the danger had subsided and the people of Windsor constructed the most important building in the community: the church and meeting house.
George married Philura Randall, the daughter of Philip Randall, although there is no surviving record of their marriage. They lived in an area known as the Island, overlooking the Farmington River, but not only was that area prone to flooding, in 1640, the house burned.4

Like most of his neighbours, George supported his family as a farmer. According to a 1640 inventory of Windsor properties, he owned nine different tracts of land, including several acres in what was known as the Plimouth Meadow, several properties on the other side of what people called the great river, and several narrow tracts of land that stretched three miles back from the water.5

As well as wheat and Indian corn, George may have grown tobacco, a crop that has been grown in the area since 1640, and he planted 500 apple trees. Apples had been imported to the colony from England and were a staple of the New England diet.

Old Corn Mill, Windsor, built around 1640, as it appeared in 1910
He signed land deeds and his will with a mark, so George probably did not know how to write, however, he did own books.6 He served as a constable in Windsor in 1645 and was on juries a number of times between 1649 and 1667.

George and Philura had five children, including Isaac (my direct ancestor), born 1638, Abraham, born 1642, and Joseph, born 1647. The years 1647 and 1648 were particularly difficult, with many deaths in the community. Two of the Phelps children died in 1647, and Philura died on April 29, 1648.7 George remarried six months later. His second wife was Frances Dewey, the widow of Thomas Dewey, who had had also died in April. Frances had a daughter from her first marriage and five young children from her marriage with Thomas. She and George went on to have three children together: Jacob, born 1649, John, born 1651, and Nathaniel, born 1654.8

In the late 1660s, the Phelps family left Windsor and helped to found Westfield, Massachusetts. Some of their Windsor neighbours made the same move, joining several families who had come from Springfield, Massachusetts to establish the new town. Life was not easy in Westfield, wnich was the westernmost town in Massachusetts, nevertheless, these self-reliant pioneers survived the many hardships they faced and the town grew.

When George Phelps died on May 8, 1687,9 he left his bedding, household goods, some money and the use of part of the house in Westfield to his wife. Frances died in Westfield three years later.
His son Jacob received a four-acre section of the home lot in Westfield that included the house, barn and orchard. To son Isaac, he left “the best coat of my wearing apparel and my mare.”10 He distributed money and his remaining land in Windsor and Westfield between all his sons.

Photo sources:
map: The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, vol. 1, p. 149
Corn mill: photo by Katherine Parker Drake; Windsor Historical Society collection. 

Notes:

All the sources for this article are secondary. The article on George Phelps in The Great Migration series by Robert Charles Anderson, published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), includes references to numerous other sources.

The chapter on George Phelps in The Phelps Family of America was recommended to me by a senior researcher at the NEHGS. Another NEHGS researcher, Alicia Crane Williams, discussed this book on the blog Vita Brevis (https://vita-brevis.org/2018/03/pulling-it-all-together/#more-10613), noting that it was written by a gentleman genealogist in the 19th century. Books of this type often contain errors and, in this case, the information about George’s origins in England is wrong.

I used both the book and the online version of The Great Migration Begins. Links to the other digital books about Windsor can be found on ConnecticutHistory.org, https://connecticuthistory.org/towns-page/windsor/

The organization Descendants of the Founders of Ancient Windsor has published a list of the early settlers of Windsor on its website, http://www.ancientwindsor.org/index.html. See http://www.ancientwindsor.org/founders-list.html.

Sources:

1. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III. (Online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2010), (Originally published as: New England Historic Genealogical Society. Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Volumes I-III, 3 vols. 1995), p 445. https://www.americanancestors.org/DB393/i/12107/539/1415511879, accessed March 25, 2018.

2. “The Origin of George Phelps” Phelps Family History in America, http://www.phelpsfamilyhistory.com/research/george/index.asp, accessed March 24, 2018.

3. Howard, Daniel. A New History of Old Windsor, Connecticut. Windsor Locks, CT: Journal Press, 1935. http://www.archive.org/stream/newhistoryofoldw00howa#page/n5/mode/2up, accessed March 29, 2018.

4. Stiles, Henry. The History and Genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut Including East Windsor, South Windsor, Bloomfield, Windsor Locks, and Ellington. 1635-1891, Vol. 1. Hartford, CT: Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, 1891, p. 163. https://archive.org/stream/historygenealogi11stil#page/n357/mode/2up, accessed March 24, 2018.

5. Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, p 446.

6. Oliver Seymour Phelps and Andrew T. Servin, compilers. The Phelps Family of America and their English Ancestors, and other interesting papers, coats of arms and valuable records. Volume II.  Pittsfield, MA, Eagle Publishing Company, 1899. “George Phelps the Emigrant, 1630,” p. 1267.

7. Connecticut: Vital Records (The Barbour Collection), 1630-1870 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011.) From original typescripts, Lucius Barnes Barbour Collection, 1928, https://www.americanancestors.org/DB414/i/12316/224/138422806, accessed April 7, 2018

8. Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, p 449.

9. Massachusetts Vital Records. 1621-1850 (online database: AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016.) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/r/253013871, accessed March 21, 2018.

10. Anderson, The Great Migration Begins, p 447.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A Visit to the Old Burying Ground of Westfield, Massachusetts



I have always been fascinated by the carved images found on early American gravestones. Imagine how thrilling it was to discover that this kind of tombstone marked the final resting place of one of my colonial New England ancestors in Westfield, Massachusetts. I found it when I visited Westfield’s Old Burying Ground a few years ago, en route to the New England Regional Genealogical Conference which was being held in nearby Springfield.  

Westfield was founded in 1669. The oldest known gravestone in the burying ground is that of Abigail Noble, who died in 1683. Childbirth, consumption, dysentery, smallpox and accidents were common causes of death, but a surprisingly large number of those interred here lived to more than 80 years of age.

Among the more than 1100 gravestones and several hundred more unmarked graves in this cemetery, I was looking for the resting places of three of my direct ancestors: my six-times great-grandfather Daniel Bagg, his father-in-law, Isaac Phelps, and his son’s father-in-law, Consider Moseley. I found them in the southeast section of the cemetery where many of the oldest plots are located.1

My first stop was the Athenaeum (the public library) to pick up the key to the cemetery. From there, it was a short walk to what is known as the Mechanic Street Cemetery. Set back from street between two houses, the wrought iron gate was a bit hard to find, but once I entered the cemetery, I was amazed at how large it is, and how well cared for. This old burying ground, which is included in the U.S. National List of Historic Places, was carefully weeded and mowed, protected by a fence and shaded by mature trees. The historic tombstones have been cleaned over the years, and local citizens are trying to find the funds to better preserve them..2


The grave of Captain Isaac Phelps (1638-1725) was easiest to find because there was a small American flag next to it. Carved in capital letters on his gravestone are, the words, “Capt. Isaac Phelps Anno 1725  age 87 year.” Westfield lay at the western edge of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the tiny settlement was vulnerable to attack from American Indians, so Isaac probably played a role in protecting the community, and a military title acknowledged that contribution.

Born in Windsor, Connecticut to George Phelps and Philura Randall, Isaac Phelps married Ann Gaylord around 1663 and moved his family to Westfield around 1670. Isaac carried out many civic duties in Westfield over the years: he was town clerk, assessor, surveyor, town treasurer and schoolmaster.3

Isaac and Ann had 11 children, four of whom died young.4 He and Ann were my seven-times times great-grandparents through daughter Hannah, who married Daniel Bagg (1668-1738).  

Lieut. Consider Moseley’s red sandstone tombstone, with a carved face, crown and wings symbolizing everlasting life, was close to Isaac’s.5 
Consider (1675-1755) was the fifth of 10 children of John Maudsley (the name was spelled various ways) and Mary Newberry. The Maudsley/Moseley family moved from Windsor to Westfield around the time of Consider’s birth.

In 1709, when Consider was 34 years old, he married Elizabeth Bancroft. They had eight children, including twins Elizabeth and Daniel, born in 1714. After his first wife died, Consider married widow Rebecca Dewey. His daughter Elizabeth married David Bagg, the son of Daniel Bagg and Hannah Phelps, in 1739.

According to a history of Westfield, Lieut. Consider Moseley was “one of the wealthiest and most influential men of the town,” however, I have found few details of his life.6 He died on Sept. 12, 1755, age 80.

The grave of Daniel Bagg was more difficult to identify. The stone that I suspect marks his grave is almost illegible. The other problem is that there are three individuals named Daniel Bagg buried in this cemetery.

The Daniel Bagg I was seeking was the son of John Bagg and Hannah Burt of Springfield. Many of Springfield’s younger residents moved to Westfield. Daniel became a farmer in the Little River area of Westfield. He and his wife Hannah Phelps had 10 children, and their son David and his wife Elizabeth Moseley were my direct ancestors.


Ann Gaylord, Elizabeth Bancroft, Hannah Phelps and Elizabeth Moseley are also likely buried in the Old Burying Ground, but their graves are not marked.

Photo credits: Janice Hamilton

This article has also been posted on www.genealogyensemble.com.

Sources:
1. Old Burying Ground Mechanic Street Cemetery. http://www.cityofwestfield.org/DocumentCenter/View/419a, accessed March 11, 2018. (The name Bagg is misspelled Back in this 1995 inventory.)

2. Dan Warner. “After 350 Years, Old Burying Ground in need to a fix-up in Westfield.” Masslive.com, June 27, 2014, http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/06/after_350_years_old_burying_gr.html, accessed March 11, 2018.

3. Oliver Seymour Phelps and Andrew T. Servin, compilers. The Phelps Family of America and their English Ancestors, with copies of wills, deeds, letters and other interesting papers, coats of arms and valuable records. Vol. II, Pittsfield, MA: Eagle Publishing Company, 1899, p. 1269.

4. Henry R. Stiles. The History of Ancient Windsor, Vol. II, a facsimile of the 1892 edition, Somersworth: New Hampshire Publishing Co., 1976. p. 509.

5. Bob Clark, Stories Carved in Stone: Westfield, Massachusetts, West Springfield, Dog Pond Press, 2008.

6. Rev. John H. Lockwood. Westfield and its Historic Influences, 1669-1919: the life of an early town. Springfield, MA, printed and sold by the author, 1922, p. 384. https://archive.org/stream/westfieldandits00lockgoog#page/n413/mode/2up, accessed March 23, 2018.