Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Life and Times of Phineas Bagg


Last spring, my husband and I travelled to Pittsfield, in western Massachusetts, where Phineas Bagg (c 1751-1823), my four-times great-grandfather, lived. As we wandered around the nearby town of Lenox, we spotted a sign indicating that a small office building had once been the Berkshire County Courthouse.

Simply by chance, we were standing in front of the building where my family’s history had taken a dramatic turn.

former courthouse, Lenox, MA
In 1794 and 1795, my ancestor appeared in that courthouse because he owed local merchants money he couldn’t pay. After he lost most of his land to pay off these debts, he left Massachusetts for good.

Phineas did not have an easy life. He was born in Westfield, MA around 1751, the youngest of eight children of farmer David Bagg and his wife Elizabeth Moseley.1 His mother died when Phineas was about eight years old and his father remarried, but that second wife also died. In the mid-1760s, the family moved to Pittsfield, a new town on the western frontier of Massachusetts, and David Bagg remarried a third time.  

The family cleared the forest so they could plant crops and likely built their own log cabin. As a young single man in 1777, Phineas purchased a farm of his own of about 100 acres.

Although Pittsfield was remote, the political events of the time were of great interest to its residents and opposition to Great Britain was strong. When the American Revolution (1775-1783) broke out, Phineas, his father and several of his brothers served as a soldiers. On three occasions, Phineas marched in a local militia unit, and he served in the Continental Army for about a month.2

Phineas Bagg, late in life
By the time the war ended, Phineas had his own family. In 1780, when he was about 29, he married 20-year-old Pamela Stanley.3 There are no records of their children’s births or deaths, but Phineas and Pamela had four children who survived to adulthood: Polly, Stanley, Abner and Sophia.4

When his household was counted in the 1790 United States census, it included six people: one white male age 16 and older, two white males under 16 and three white females.5 Phineas Bagg’s name also appeared in other Berkshire County records. His household was included in a 1786 local census, his name appeared in the ledger of a local merchant between 1791 and 1794, and he paid $49.11 in real estate tax in 1795.6

What was not recorded was his wife’s death. Pamela probably died between 1792 and 1794, a period when there were many deaths in the community. This would have been a hard blow to the family, not only emotionally, but also because women usually contributed to the work on the farm.

Farmers Under Pressure

Many New England farmers had faced financial difficulties ever since the end of the revolution. In 1886 and 1887, many of them joined in what became known as Shays’ Rebellion.7 I do not know whether Phineas joined the rebels, but he shared a similar financial situation.

Phineas was a yeoman: a farmer who owned his own land. Land ownership gave yeomen a great deal of pride and independence. Before the revolution, the farmers in the interior regions of Massachusetts were subsistence farmers: they grew enough crops to feed their families (mostly Indian corn, apples and vegetables) and bartered the small surplus of goods they produced with local merchants to obtain products such as nails and sugar.

After the revolution, new economic forces squeezed the merchants, and they in turn pushed their customers for cash. The farmers did not have cash, so the merchants took them to court. Many yeomen lost their land as a result, others were sent to jail – and jail was a dirty and dangerous place.


This was exactly what happened to Phineas, although his troubles took place a few years later. In 1793, he mortgaged his farm to the Union Bank for $500. The following year, three creditors took him to the Berkshire County Courthouse for debts totaling about 44 pounds. If he did not repay the money within six months, the court commanded the sheriff to “take the body of said Bagg and him commit into our gaol” until his creditors were satisfied. Several weeks later, Phineas gave each of his creditors several acres of the farm as repayment.8

In 1795, he took out another mortgage on his property. Then ten additional creditors to whom he owed a total of $650, including substantial court costs, assessors’ fees and inflated travel expenses, won judgments against him. To repay them, Phineas lost another 62 acres of farmland, the barn and half his house.

The final case, heard in 1797, involved money he owed to tailor John George Randow. Once again, the court ordered that Phineas should be jailed if he did not pay. Phineas did not pay and he did not appear in court. In fact, by that time, he was probably in Canada. Several weeks later, Randow acquired title to a piece of land from Phineas’ farm.

Perhaps these events had convinced Phineas that he could not support his children in Pittsfield. Perhaps he was so distraught, he did not want to try. I do not know whether his extended family members tried to convince him to stay. Meanwhile, it appears he had found a companion who wanted to join him in a new life – or perhaps she persuaded him to go. At some point, he and the children left for Canada, where he lived with Ruth Langworthy, a young woman who had probably accompanied them from Pittsfield. As far as I know, she and Phineas did not marry.

How they chose their destination is another mystery. Probably Phineas knew someone who lived in La Prairie, a town on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River near Montreal, because that is where they ended up.

La Prairie Innkeeper

old houses in La Praire
Phineas received a license to run a tavern in La Prairie on March 15, 1797 and he became an inn keeper.9 La Prairie notary Ignace-Gamelin Bourassa handled six acts for Phineas between September, 1796 and March, 1801, including a lease, an agreement for transportation and a loan guarantee, while notary Edme Henry handled two leases from Joseph Nolin to Phineas Bagg in 1800 and 1803.10 Other notarial records show Phineas purchased land in the La Prairie area in 1805 and sold it in 1813.

Ruth Langworthy gave birth to two children in La Prairie. Daughter Lucie Bagg was baptized in the Catholic parish church in La Prairie on January 11, 1798 by a French-speaking priest and with French Canadian godparents. Son Louis died shortly after birth and was buried April 1, 1800, but Lucie grew to adulthood. I have found no further record of Ruth.

By 1809, Phineas had moved across the St. Lawrence and was living on the Island of Montreal, near the mountain. In October of that year, he was appointed overseer of highways for the Ste-Catherine district, an annual unpaid appointment that rotated among parish householders.11

About this time, Phineas may have been a member of the Scotch Presbyterian Church in Montreal.12 A number of Americans were members of the same church.

In 1810 he went into partnership with his eldest son, Stanley, as P & S Bagg. They leased a building from landowner John Clark and started a new enterprise as tavern keepers. The Mile End Tavern was in the countryside north of the city of Montreal, at the junction of the only two roads in the area. It must have been a popular spot, especially on days when there was horse racing at the nearby track. Meanwhile Stanley was busy with other business opportunities as a merchant and contractor.

The family never did move to Upper Canada

In 1818, when Phineas was around age 67, they closed the business. The following year, Stanley married Mary Ann Clark, their former landlord’s daughter. Perhaps Phineas lived with Stanley and Mary Ann in their house on St. Lawrence Street for the last few years of his life.

Bagg Family crypt, Mount Royal Cemetery
When he died in 1823, his funeral service was held at Montreal’s Anglican Christ Church. Phineas Bagg Esquire was probably buried in the old cemetery downtown and his remains later moved to the Bagg famly crypt in Mount Royal Cemetery. Once a debtor threatened with imprisonment, Phineas had become part of a well-respected family.  





See also:

“David Bagg’s Life on the Massachusetts Frontier,” writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com, June 22, 2018, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2018/06/david-baggs-life-on-massachusetts_22.html

“The Elusive Pamela Stanley,” writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com, Sept. 28, 2018, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2018/09/the-elusive-pamela-stanley.html

“Who was Phineas Bagg?”  writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com, Oct. 11, 2014, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2014/10/who-was-phineas-bagg.html

 “Lucie Bagg’s Mother, Ruth Langworthy,” writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com, April 15, 2016, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2016/04/lucie-baggs-mother-ruth-langworthy.html

“An Economic Emigrant,” writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com, Oct. 16, 2013, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2013/10/an-economic-emigrant.html.

“The Mile End Tavern,” writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com, Oct. 21, 2013, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-mile-end-tavern.html

“The Life and Times of Stanley Bagg, 1788-1853,” writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com, Oct. 5, 2016, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-life-and-times-of-stanley-bagg-1788.html

“Abner Bagg: Black Sheep of the Family?” writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com, April 9, 2015, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2015/04/abner-bagg-black-sheep-of-family.html


Notes and footnotes     

1 The best evidence for his date of birth comes from the record of his burial at Montreal’s Anglican Christ Church. Dated Nov. 3, 1823, it says, “Phineas Bagg esq of Montreal, merchant, died on the 31 day of November [sic] 1823, aged 72 years, and was buried on the 3rd day of November following by me. John Bethune, rector.” (The minister made a mistake on the date of death: it was actually 31 October.)

2. A summary of his service record reads as follows:  “Bagg, Phineas, Pittsfield.Capt. William Francis's co.; list of men who marched to Albany Jan. 14, 1776, by order of Gen. Schuyler, and were dismissed Jan. 19, 1776; service, 5 days; also, Lieut. William Barber's co., Col. Simonds's regt.; list of men who marched to New York Sept. 30, 1776, and were dismissed Nov. 17, 1776; service, 7 weeks; also, Private, Capt. William Francis's co., Maj. Caleb Hyde's regt.; list of men who marched to Fort Edward July 8, 1777, and were dismissed Aug. 26, 1777; service, 7 weeks; also, list of men who enlisted Oct. 26, 1779, to reinforce Continental Army, and were dismissed Nov. 30, 1779.”   Ancestry.com. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution, 17 Vols .[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1998. Original data: Secretary of the Commonwealth.  Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution. Vol. I-XVII. Boston, MA, USA: Wright and Potter Printing Co., 1896. (accessed Jan. 12, 2013)

3.  Early Vital Records of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden & Hampshire Counties, Mass. to about 1850 (electronic resource) Wheat Ridge, CO: Search and Research Publ Corp. c2000, p. 22 of sheet 99, F94/p6/M37.

4. According to date of birth calculated from age as listed on her tombstone, Polly Bagg Bush was born April 22, 1785 and died Jan 9, 1856. (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/65952231/polly-bush).
Stanley Bagg and his brother Abner were both baptized as adults in Christ Church (Anglican) Montreal in 1831. At that time Stanley gave his date of birth as June 27, 1788 and Abner said his date of birth was August 5, 1790, however, this date does not make sense in light of his sister Sopha’s calculated birthdate.  “Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968” [database on-line].  Ancestry.com, (www.ancestry.ca, accessed 2 Oct. 2016), entry for Stanley Bagg, 2 April, 1831; citing Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.
Sophia was probably the youngest of the Bagg children. Dame Sophia Bagg, veuve (widow) Gabriel Roy died Nov. 12, 1860, and at the time was said to have been 69 years, eight months of age. Calculating her date of birth from that, she would have been born around February 20, 1791. (“Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968” [database on-line]. Ancestry.com.)

5. United States Census, 1790 Pittsfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts, familysearch.org, results for Phinehas Bagg. "United States Census, 1790," database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHKL-1HW : accessed 29 September 2018), Phinehas Bagg, Pittsfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts, United States; citing p. 483, NARA microfilm publication M637, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 4; FHL microfilm 568,144.

6. The people of Pittsfield were not great record keepers at this time, however, the Berkshire Family History Association (http://www.berkshirefamilyhistory.org/) has done a good job of transcribing the records that do exist and publishing them in Berkshire Genealogist. The Berkshire Atheneum, the public library in Pittsfield, has an excellent collection of genealogy resources and local history books. I also found some records of Phineas at The New England Historic Genealogical Society library in Boston.

7. David P. Szatmary, Shay’s Rebellion: The Making of an Agrarian Insurrection, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1980.

8. I copied the microfilmed records of Phineas’ court appearances at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston in 2011. At that time, I was fairly new to genealogy and did not take proper note of the source. First, I consulted the index to deeds granted by Phineas Bagg in Pittsfield, dated between 1794 and 1797, (character Levy, volume 32, between pages 46 and 111.) The grantees included Williams, Randow, Minteur, Van Schaal, Danforth, Metcalf, Messenger, Gold, Cadwell, Hallister, Noble, Ford and Thayer. Phineas transferred property to these men to cover the money he owed them. These legal documents have been digitized by Familysearch.org and can be browsed under Massachusetts Land Records 1620-1986, Berkshire, Deeds, 1792-1813, vol 31-32,  images 438- 442. These online documents are much clearer than the microfilmed version was.

9. Historian Donald Fyson told me he came across this license, issued by the Special Sessions of the Peace, in the archives of the City of Montreal when he was working on his PhD.

10. Once again, I did this research many years ago and I did not make a full notation of the sources. The indexes to these acts are not online. I remember looking at actual old books at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) on Viger Street in Montreal. My notes mention notary Ignace-Gamelin Bourassa, 1789-1804 La Prairie, microfilmed, reel 2718-2723, Cote CN601,S47; and notary Edme Henry, 1783-1831, Cote CN601,S200.

11. Fyson mentioned this in a note to me.

12. Rev. Robert Campbell, A History of the Scotch Presbyterian Church, St. Gabriel Street, Montreal, Montreal: W. Drysdale & Co. 1887, P. 252. https://archive.org/details/cihm_00397/page/n1. A section of this book that discusses the large number of New Englanders living in Montreal at the beginning of the 1800s. The author mentions Phineas but incorrectly describes him as Abner Bagg’s brother, rather than his father, so he may have confused Phineas with Stanley.

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Elusive Pamela Stanley

This is the eighth 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 first started to research my ancestors some 10 years ago, one of my goals was to find out what happened to my four-times great-grandmother Pamela Stanley, wife of Phineas Bagg (c. 1750-1823). As is the case for many women in colonial America, there were few traces of her, and I was curious. I knew Phineas and the children had moved from Massachusetts to Canada around 1795 and I wondered whether she had accompanied them on this journey.

Another reason Pamela intrigued me was because her last name, Stanley, was given to three generations of my direct ancestors: her son, Montreal merchant Stanley Bagg (1788-1853), his son Stanley Clark Bagg (1820-1873) and grandson Robert Stanley Bagg (1848-1912).

There is a record of Pamela’s birth. Born in of Litchfield, Connecticut in 1760,1 she was the fourth of eight children of Timothy Stanley Jr., originally of Hartford, and his wife Mary Hopkins, who was from Harwinton, CT.2

Pamela’s father probably owned a small business as a clothier in Litchfield, a village in northern Connecticut. When the American Revolution broke out, he enlisted. He was captured by the British and died aboard a prison ship in New York harbour in 1776. I do not know who supported Pamela and her siblings after that since their mother had died around 1770 and their father did not leave a will.

On March 29, 1780, Pamela Stanley and Phineas Bagg, both of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, announced their intention to marry.3 Phineas was a farmer in the remote Berkshire hills, about 90 kilometers (60 miles) from Litchfield. How they met was a mystery until I discovered that Pamela’s uncle Caleb Stanley lived in Pittsfield for many years and was town clerk there from 1777 until his death in 1781.4 In addition, Pamela’s brother Frederick and Phineas’ brother Martin served in the same militia unit in 1777.

The herb garden, early spring, Old Deerfield, MA
Pamela’s life as a young wife would have been busy. Women helped their husbands in the fields at planting and harvesting times and spent a great deal of time working in their gardens and in their kitchens. Many women bartered goods they made with their neighbours. They often had strong attachments with the other women in their communities, charity was important, and they tended to be more religious than their husbands. Pamela was no doubt a loving mother, although motherhood was sometimes seen as “a kind of travail, an unavoidable though potentially rewarding labor ordained by God.”5

There are no surviving records of the baptisms of the Bagg children, and most published records list only two sons, Stanley and Abner. My research, however, revealed that Pamela and Phineas had four children who grew to adulthood: Polly (1785-1856), Stanley (1788-1853), Abner (c. 1790-1852) and Sophia (c. 1791-1860).6

Phineas Bagg’s household was listed in a local census of Pittsfield in 1786, and it was counted in the 1790 U.S. federal census, but Phineas was the only family member personally identified.  

As for Pamela’s date of death, it remains a mystery. The minister of the First (Congregational) Church of Pittsfield kept detailed records of the births and deaths of his parishioners, and in many instances he listed the cause of death. But in 1792 the community lost about 30 people, in 1793 26 people died, and 36 people, 14 of them adults, died in 1794.7 The minister must have been exhausted and overwhelmed by so much sickness and sorrow. My guess is that Pamela died during this period. I have found no trace of her grave. Perhaps Phineas could not afford a stone, or perhaps it deteriorated long ago.

Between 1794 and 1797, Phineas found himself deeply in debt, and he lost almost all of his farmland, his barn and half his house to repay his creditors.8  A widower with four children to raise, he must have decided to start a new life in Canada. He became an inn-keeper in La Prairie, near Montreal, and had two more children (one of whom died as an infant) with Ruth Langworthy there.

Note:
Pamela’s Sister Abigail Stanley
I received an email in 2017 from a man named Jim Lautenberger who is trying to prove that he is descended from Pamela’s sister Abigail. He says that Abigail Stanley married David Martin, a Revolutionary War soldier, but her family disapproved of the marriage so she lost contact with them. In 1801, after David had died, Abigail married Asa Goodrich in West Haven, Rutland County, Vermont, the same village where Pamela’s and Phineas’ daughter Polly (Bagg) Bush lived much of her life. He adds that, according to a family story, ancestors living near Whitehall, NY, were visited by wealthy relatives from Montreal (Stanley Bagg and family?) in the early 1800s. Abigail died in 1834 at age 72. Jim is looking for someone who is also descended from Abigail in order to compare DNA. Contact lautenbergerj@gmail.com

See also:
“An Economic Emigrant,” writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com, Oct. 16, 2013, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2013/10/an-economic-emigrant.html,.

“Timothy Stanley Jr., Revolutionary Martyr,” writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com, Nov. 15, 2013, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2013/11/timothy-stanley-jr-revolutionary-martyr.html.

“Polly Bagg Bush: a Surprise Sister,” writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com, May 23, 2014, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2014/05/polly-bagg-bush-surprise-sister.html

“Abner Bagg: Black Sheep of the Family?” writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com, April 9, 2015, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2015/04/abner-bagg-black-sheep-of-family.html

“The Life and Times of Stanley Bagg, 1788-1853,” writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com, Oct. 5, 2016, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-life-and-times-of-stanley-bagg-1788.html


Footnotes:
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/13218/203/234906257

2. The children of Timothy Stanley Jr. and Mary Hopkins were:
Timothy, b. 1754, m. Lucy Woodruff
Mary, b. 1756, m. Amasa Castle
Frederick, b. 1758, m. 1. M.S. Bishop; 2. M.K. Grosvenor
Pamela, b. 1760, m. Phineas Bagg
Abigail, b. 1762
Eunice, m 1764
Huldah, b. 1766, m. Levi DeWolf
Rufus, b. 1767, m. Lydia Collins
Source:  Israel P. Warren, The Stanley Families of America, as descended from John, Timothy and Thomas Stanley of Hartford, CT.  1636. Timothy Stanley, #74, p. 24, Portland, Maine: B. Thurston & Co, 1887, https://archive.org/details/stanleyfamilieso00byuwarr

3.  Early Vital Records of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden & Hampshire Counties, Mass. to about 1850 (electronic resource) Wheat Ridge, CO: Search and Research Publ Corp. c2000, p. 22 of sheet 99, F94/p6/M37.

4. Warren, Ibid. #81, p. 245.

5. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750, p. 239. 

6. According to date of birth calculated from age as listed on her tombstone, Polly Bagg Bush was born April 22, 1785 and died Jan 9, 1856. She lived much of her life in West Haven, Vermont and is buried near her son Phineas in a rural graveyard in southern Illinois. See www.findagrave.com, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/65952231/polly-bush.

Stanley Bagg and his brother Abner were both baptized as adults in Christ Church (Anglican) Montreal in 1831. At that time Stanley gave his date of birth as June 27, 1788. “Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968” [database on-line].  Ancestry.com, (www.ancestry.ca, accessed 2 Oct. 2016), entry for Stanley Bagg, 2 April, 1831; citing Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.

The same source gives Abner’s date of birth as August 5, 1790, however, this date does not make sense in light of his sister Sopha’s calculated birthdate. At his death in 1852, Abner’s age was recorded as 64, which would have meant he was born in 1788, the year brother Stanley was supposed to have been born. When he was married in 1814, Abner gave his age as 25, which would have meant he was born in 1789. 

Sophia was probably the youngest of Pamela’s children. Dame Sophia Bagg, veuve (widow) Gabriel Roy died Nov. 12, 1860, and at the time was said to have been 69 years, eight months of age. (“Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968” [database on-line]. Ancestry.com.) Calculating her date of birth from that, she would have been born around February 20, 1791.

7. Records pf the First Church, Pittsfield, Rollins H. Cooke Collection, Berkshire County, vols 26 and 27, reel #2.

8. Massachusetts Land Records 1620-1986, Berkshire, Deeds, 1792-1813, vol 31-32, images 438- 442. www.familysearch.org, Accessed Sept. 26, 2018.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

My Mother's Breakout Years


World War II was raging across Europe and the Pacific and the newspaper headlines were dire, but for my mother, the war years may have been the best of her life. After a sheltered childhood, she finally moved out from her parents’ house and found a job. Best of all, towards the end of the war, she met my father.

Joan Murray Smith was born in Montreal in 1918. She grew up an only child and attended a small, all-girls private school a short distance from her house. She was a good student, but shy and unsure of herself.

After finishing high school, she enrolled in art and typing courses. She kept up with her old school friends and there were always lots of parties to attend. In 1937, she and her parents boarded The Empress of Australia and sailed to England and Scotland for a short holiday. It was to be her only trip abroad. Two years later, the war broke out and such vacations became impossible.

A few years later, Joan joined the war-effort in her usual quiet way: she found a clerical position with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). At that time, the NFB was in its infancy. It was headed by John Grierson, a Scottish-born pioneer in documentary film-making, and my mother was thrilled to work there. She later told me that she helped set up the film library at the film board. She was well-organized, and no doubt she found the job both interesting and rewarding.  

My mother kept this NFB catalogue in a scrapbook.
Many of NFB’s early films were morale-building movies focused on Canada’s role in the war. They also produced documentaries informing people about civilian defence and the roles of different branches of the armed services. Other films were short educational documentaries about food and agriculture, and there was a series of films targeted at women to help homemakers deal with shortages of consumer goods. These were shown in movie theatres across Canada, while libraries made them available to school and church groups. In rural areas, they were shown in community centres, using travelling projectors supplied by the NFB. 

The NFB’s head office was located in Ottawa, a two-hour train trip from Montreal. Joan lived with her friend Denny and Denny’s father for a year, then she moved into a house with several other young women. Using the office typewriter, she wrote to a friend, “I am enjoying myself hugely. I got caught up in a round of small gaiety and am finding housekeeping wonderful fun. Not that I do anything but wash up as all the other girls have earlier hours than I do and always have the food ready for me at breakfast and dinner, which is very lucky for all concerned.”

Ottawa is a quiet city, but it was probably more interesting during the war. One of its chief advantages for a young single woman was that it was full of officers. As Joan wrote in another letter, “I have discovered a very nice captain whose chief virtue is that he is a wonderful dancer, but who unfortunately isn’t stationed here.”

Then she met Jim Hamilton, her husband-to-be. He too was working for the NFB. He had a science background and was making a film to educate members of the armed forces about sexually transmitted diseases.

Intelligent and something of a non-conformist, Jim was shy with women, while Joan was looking for someone different from the conservative sons of wealthy Montreal families she had grown up with. My vision of my future parents in their dating days comes from a photo, taken in the Gatineau hills on what looks to be a warm day in early spring 1946 in which they looked happy and carefree.

This article is also posted on www.genealogyensemble.com



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.)