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The Redman Legacy

I last touched on the Redman name in this post about Seth Billings and Jerusha Redman. Since then, I’ve learned a bit more about Jerusha’s heritage. I’m going to start from the earliest known Redman, because it’s going to get really confusing!

The first Redman I know of was named Charles (we’ll call him Charles 1), who lived in Dorchester, MA. He made a will on December 30, 1668, which was probated on January 31, 1669, so I imagine he was on death’s door when he wrote his will.

Charles 1 had a son named Robert (he will be Robert 1), who in 1662 laid out 200 acres of land in newly-formed Milton for the ministry of the church. Robert 1 died in 1678.

Robert 1’s youngest some was named Charles (we’ll call him Charles 2–I said this would get confusing!). Charles 2 lived in Milton and on February 10, 1688, married Martha Hill of Dorchester. Just two years later, Charles 2 was among many soldiers from the Dorchester area that served under Captain John Withington in an ill-fated expedition to Canada (likely as part of the many French and India skirmishes). At least forty-six of his regiment, including Withington, were lost at sea. Fortunately Charles 2 himself survived the entire experience.

Charles 2 and Martha had at least six children by 1700, listed in Huntoon’s History of the Town of Canton…: Robert (he’ll be Robert 2) (born March 30, 1694), John (born May 8, 1696), Mary, Martha, Mercy (born July 8, 1698) and Thankful.

March 1, 1704/05 was a significant date in Redman family history: Charles 2 began a lease of land from the Native Americans, who had been granted an area of land called Ponkapoag (also spelled Punkipog and other various spellings, as you can imagine) in what is now Canton, MA. (There was a five-year period from 1715 when Charles 2 did not lease this land, but it was back in his hands in 1720.) Apparently Charles 2 cultivated some apple trees here.

Robert 2 grew up and took on the responsibilities of a man of his time: he married his wife, Mary Kennee (or Keeney) on August 1, 1722 in Boston by Samuel Checkley, Esq. By March 22, 1725, Charles 2 had passed away, as referenced in a deed of Ponkapoag land from the natives to Robert 2 and the other heirs of Charles 2. Exactly how much land went to the others, I am not sure, but Robert 2 was appointed the administrator of Charles 2’s estate on June 14 of that year, so he probably was the one to make that decision.

Robert 2 continued to improve his land by building a sawmill along Ponkapoag Brook, one of the first mills in that area. In 1726, he opened his home for use as the community’s first school. I have to wonder who taught at the school–was it Robert himself, or maybe someone in the church?

Redman Farm was not the only land that Robert owned. In 1737 he received a grant of land in the “Dorchester Canada” settlement, which is now Ashburnham, Worcester County, MA. This grant was among many that were given to the descendants of Withington’s 1690 Canada expedition. It seems that Robert 2 must have sold this grant, since it is not mentioned in his December 18, 1657 will.

Robert 2 passed away on November 8, 1760 and his will (which is meticulously written) was proved on December 19, 1760. Half of his land passed to his living son Robert, and the other half to his wife Mary, to be divided later among their remaining children. (Mary seems to have died sometime between 1768 and 1780.) All their children were:

  • Robert; died in childhood, October 6, 1731.
  • Sarah; died in childhood, March 19, 1725.
  • John, born September 20, 1730, died unmarried June 6, 1761. Robert 2’s will implies that he must have had issues with this son: firstly, he left him just five shillings, then stated that, out of is wife’s Mary’s half of the estate, John could have “two fifths of [the] remainder if he behaves well and dutifully to his mother during her life”, otherwise she could distribute it as she saw fit. These statements and seeing how soon John died after his father’s death makes me wonder about John’s lifestyle. However, John did make a will that left everything to his mother, so I suppose that in the end, he was “dutiful”.
  • Robert, married Mary Dunbar on April 23, 1767; died 1778 with no children.
  • Sarah, born August 10, 1732; married Jonathan Kinney; died before December 1757. She had two children.
  • Martha, married Nehemiah Liscom on October 9, 1761; died before September 1763 with no children.
  • Jerusha, born January 31, 1735; married Seth Billings (probably in early 1750), then Nathaniel Pitty on March 15, 1789. She had four children. I had wondered how she had carried on after Seth’s death in 1766; now I know that her inheritance must have helped.
  • Mary, married Thomas Spurr, Jr. on August 15, 1744; died early 1780. She had ten children.

As a final note, the location of the lands of Redman Farm is at the Ponkapoag Golf Course in Canton, MA and includes part of the Ponkapoag Trail, which is open for public hiking. In fact, the left portion of the trail is called “Redman Farm Path”. I would love to walk on this trail some day and think about my ancestors who may have walked here as well!

The grounds of Redman Farm today. Courtesy Google Earth.

The grounds of Redman Farm today. Courtesy Google Earth.

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