A Break to Deck the Halls

Once again, it’s the holiday season, and once again I will be taking a break from blogging. This time of year, I focus on making family history rather than writing about it.

My biggest tradition is baking fifteen different types of cookies for gifts and for Christmas gatherings. The past few years, my adult son has assisted me, which he probably will continue to do.

Part of my baking tradition includes Gingerbread Night, which involves having some friends over to help me decorate the Gingerbread Men. I’m just not creative enough to decorate all those men!

So I hope everyone enjoys their own family time, regardless of which holiday you celebrate. See you in 2016!

Last year's cookies!

Last year’s cookies!

Ninth Great-Grandfather John Scranton: Puritan

We’ve arrived at the end of the Scranton line in the “New World”! One thing I’ve discovered is that when you trace your lines back to this point, you may find books and articles written about your ancestor, but just like online family trees, you also find plenty of conflicting information. Which only goes to show that there is nothing like finding original primary sources or at least sources contemporary to your events. I’m saying all this because I’ve found quite a bit of information on John Scranton, the forefather of my Scranton line, but some of this information does not agree with each other. What I’ll attempt to do is tell John’s story as best I can, trying to note conflicts where I’ve found them.

John Scranton’s birth was estimated to be around 1609-1610 in England. It is possible that he may have lived in Guildford, England with his fellow immigrants. (Guildford is a town that is 27 miles southwest of London.) While in England, it is thought that John married his first wife Joanna (whose last name is unknown).

When John left England is uncertain. I’ve seen an article state that he and others left in 1637 for Boston, Massachusetts; another stated that he was among the twenty-five families that traveled with Henry Whitfield to New Haven in May of 1639, to later take part in the “Fundamental Agreement” that formed the government of New Haven Colony. As his name is nowhere on the document, I think it was unlikely. I feel that the article that stated that John arrived in a second ship that arrived in New Haven in July 1639 is a more likely conclusion. Whenever he actually arrived, he was among a number of families that left England to escape religious persecution from the Church of England. He is credited to be among the original group who settled in Guilford Plantation on October 10, 1639. (Today, Guilford is a shoreline town that is bordered by Branford, North Branford, Durham, and Madison. I’m sure it took up most of these lands during its colonial days.) Minister Henry Whitfield was the leader of the settlers. Whitfield’s stone house (which also doubled as a fort and likely the settlement’s initial church meeting place) still stands. The early settlers helped build the house, so I have to wonder if John Scranton was one of them. Certainly he must have spent some time there.

Henry Whitfield House, the oldest stone house in New England. Courtesy Wikipedia

Henry Whitfield House, the oldest stone house in New England. Courtesy Wikipedia.

One account I read said that John Scranton first had two acres on East side of State Street. It’s unclear whether it was here or in the “Hammonasset Quarter”, where he moved in 1656, where he experienced success as a farmer, though I suspect it was the earlier spot. It was John who started the practice of cutting down trees (as opposed to digging them up) to clear the land before planting his wheat. He had “…astonished the people by gathering from [his acre of land] twenty bushels”.

John and Joanna’s known children, all born in Guilford, New Haven Colony were:

  • John, Jr., born circa 1641; married Mary Seward, March 12, 1773/4; married Elizabeth (Bishop) Clark, December 10, 1691; died September 2, 1703 in East Guilford (now known as Madison)
  • Thomas, born circa 1643; more info on him found here
  • Sarah, born May 16, 1645; married John Bushnell, May 15, 1665; they lived in Saybrook, Connecticut

John was admitted as a freeman on May 22, 1648. He later served as a Marshall from 1661 to 1662, and then as a Deputy to the New Haven Colony court during the “extra session” of January 1664. Soon after, New Haven Colony merged with Connecticut Colony.

Joanna Scranton died July 22, 1661. Less than two weeks after New Haven County was formed, John remarried Ada or Adaline (most recently widowed by Robert Hill) on May 22, 1666. John continued in public service as a Deputy to the General Court in 1669 & 1670. He later died on August 27, 1671.

Being the closest ancestral land to where I live now, I’m probably long overdue for a trip to Guilford. I would love to visit the Whitfield House and walk on the land where my ancestors walked. Perhaps if I’m lucky, I will find some records that will clarify John Scranton’s life.

Eight Great-Grandfather Thomas Scranton

Thomas Scranton was born circa 1643 in Guilford, New Haven Colony. (Guilford is currently in New Haven County, Connecticut.) He was the second son and child of John Scranton and Joanna (last name unknown). He was a farmer who lived on his father’s lot.

Thomas married Deborah, daughter of William Dudley and widow of Ebenezer Thompson. Their children, born in Guilford, (and in no particular order) were:

  • Samuel, born in the late 1600s; married Elizabeth Bishop, January 30, 1712; died March 18, 1750
  • Hannah, born in the late 1600s; married Joseph Evarts, April 21, 1713
  • John
  • Elizabeth, married John Lee
  • Sarah, married John Evarts

There may have been more children, but I have very scant information on this family.

Deborah died in October 1681, and Thomas later married Elizabeth Goodrich or Griswold. He died on November 10, 1711. Thomas made his will on March 10, 1710, and it was exhibited in probate court November 30 – December 1, 1711. I don’t know where he was buried, but I’m sure it was in Guilford.

Seventh Great-Grandfather Samuel Scranton

Samuel Scranton was the firstborn son & child of Thomas Scranton and Deborah (Dudley) Thompson, born in the later part of the 1600s in Guilford, New Haven County, Connecticut.

On January 30, 1712, Samuel married Elizabeth Bishop, daughter of John Bishop. (She was born on October 14, 1690.) Their children, all born in Guilford were:

  • Elizabeth, born August 20, 1713; married Eliphalet Hall, January 1, 1735; died April 15, 1742.
  • Thomas, born May 28, 1715; married Mary Parmalee, December 28, 1736.
  • Hannah, born October 14, 1716; married Eleazar Evarts, either on January 29, 1739/40 (per the Barbour Collection) or on August 29, 1740 (per “A Genealogical Register of the Descendants of John Scranton”, compiled by Rev. Erastus Scranton).
  • Samuel, born March 24, 1720; married Mary Fitch, March 5, 1747.
  • Timothy, born May 1722; married Abigail Torrey, November 23, 1748; married Anna Fields, December 15, 1779; married Comfort Richmond, November 15, 1797.
  • Abraham, born 1724; married Beulah Seward; married Eleanor Picket, May 10, 1757; died May 5, 1780.
  • Sarah, born 1726; married Thomas Stone, June 17, 1747; died Jan 28, 1772.
  • Lucy, born 1728; died December 7, 1736.

Samuel died on March 18, 1750. According to Find a Grave, he is buried at West Side Cemetery in Guilford, but there is no photograph of the stone, and the memorial shows a death date of March 25, 1750.

Sixth Great-Grandfather Abraham Scranton

I almost was ready to just post a simple sketch of Scrantons going back to England when it seemed like David Scranton was telling me, “Wait! There’s more!” As I took a closer look, I found there were more stories to be told, this time about David’s father Abraham.

Abraham Scranton, the fourth son and sixth child of Samuel Scranton and Elizabeth Bishop, was born 1724 in Guilford, New Haven County, Connecticut. He was the first Scranton to settle in Durham sometime before December 1749.

Abraham married Beulah Seward of Durham, the daughter of Joseph Seward. They had three sons, all born in Durham:

  • Abraham, born December 3, 1749, died January 28, 1836. He married Hannah Camp on January 1, 1772 in Durham (she died April 18, 1796). Abraham served in the Revolutionary War as a Lieutenant. ¬†After the war, he served on the Connecticut General Assembly. On January 1, 1811, he married Louisa Fairchild, who later died during January 1839.
  • David, born October 27, 1751, died March 5, 1838 in Manchester, Nova Scotia. More information on David can be found here and here.
  • Enos, born 1753 (baptized November 25, 1753); died October 1, 1754; buried in Old Durham Cemetery.

Beulah died in 1756, when young Abraham was only seven and David was four years old. I had never noticed this before, and I wonder how it impacted his sympathies for his daughter Phebe when her mother died.

Beulah (Seward) Scranton's grave (here spelled Bulah), Old Durham Cemetery. Author's collection.

Beulah (Seward) Scranton’s grave (here spelled Bulah), Old Durham Cemetery. Author’s collection.

It wasn’t long before Abraham re-married, this time to a woman named Elennor (or Elenor), widow of James Picket, on May 10, 1757. They, too, had three sons:

  • Ichabod, baptized March 12, 1758; died October 29, 1760; buried in Old Durham Cemetery.
  • Garnsey, born circa 1759, died November 24, 1761; buried in Old Durham Cemetery. (Some online trees show him born in 1764 and dying in 1766.)
  • Ichabod born on August 31, 1762; married Rachel Seward, who died August 1819. Once she passed on, Ichabod moved to Vincennes, Indiana, and then to Terre Haute where he died in 1823.
Abraham Scranton's grave, Old Durham Cemetery. Author's collection.

Abraham Scranton’s grave, Old Durham Cemetery. Author’s collection.

Abraham passed away on May 3, 1780 in Durham at age 56. He is buried in Old Durham Cemetery. When his estate was settled on July 3, 1780, his eighteen-year-old son Ichabod was left under his half-brother Abraham’s guardianship. Elennor later died on April 26, 1797.