The Sewards, Back to Caleb

In my post about my Fifth Great-Grandfather Thomas Strong, I introduced his wife Phebe Seward (also my ancestor). I don’t have her line going much further back, but it is very interesting.

Phebe was born February 3, 1723 in Durham, New Haven County, CT, the second child and oldest daughter of Thomas Seward and Sarah Camp. Since we’ve already explored her life after her marriage, I will move on to her father.

Thomas Seward was born December 19, 1694 in Guilford, New Haven County, CT. He was the fourth child of the seven children of Caleb Seward and Lydia Bushnell. He married Sarah Camp on March 31, 1720 in Durham. Their children (all born in Durham) were:

  • Solomon, born January 19, 1721; married Alenor Baldwin
  • Phebe (just discussed)
  • Amos, born March 25, 1726; married Ruth Rogers on January 16, 1751 [in Durham]; died May 8, 1794; buried in Edgewood Cemetery in Wolcott, New Haven County, CT
  • Catherine, born December 28, 1727
  • Nathan, born 1730 (baptized June 14, 1730)

Sarah died on March 12, 1762. Thomas died before then (since she had remarried to a Daniel Benton), and is said to have died in Wallingford. I have not been able to find their burial places.

Thomas’s father Caleb is who I’ve been most interested in. Caleb was born March 14, 1662 in Guilford, New Haven Colony, to William Seward and Grace Norton, the fifth of nine children. He married Lydia Bushnell (daughter of William Bushnell) on July 14, 1686. They first made their home on East Creek in Guilford. Then on May 4, 1699, they and their four oldest living children moved to the area of Coginchaug, where Caleb was soon to be given a land grant. This ended up giving them the distinction of being the very first settlers of the town of Durham, which was incorporated in 1708.

Caleb had the honor of being the first town clerk in 1706-1707, and then was a representative to the General Assembly in Connecticut on and off between 1710 and 1723. This was in addition to his usual job of being a tanner.

His and Lydia’s children were as follows:

  • Daniel, born 16 October 1687; died April 28, 1688, both in Guilford
  • Lydia, born May 22, 1689 in Guilford; married John Howe on April 5, 1714
  • Caleb, born January 2, 1691 in Guilford; married Sarah Carr on January 21, 1713 at the Church of Christ in Durham; died July 4, 1769; buried in Old Durham Cemetery
Caleb Seward (the younger)'s grave.  Author's collection.

Caleb Seward (the younger)’s grave. Author’s collection.

Sarah (Carr) Seward's grave.  Author's collection.

Sarah (Carr) Seward’s grave. Author’s collection.

  • Thomas (discussed above)
  • Noadiah, born August 22, 1697 in Guilford; died 1744
  • Ephraim, born August 6, 1700, having the distinction of being the first white child born in Durham; married Abigail Wetmore on October 19, 1743 in Durham; died 1780
  • Ebenezer, born June 7, 1703 as the second white child born in Durham; married Dorothy Rose; died October 19, 1795 in Chester, Hampshire County, Massachusetts

Caleb died in Durham on August 2, 1728, and Lydia followed much later on August 24, 1753. Both are buried in Old Durham Cemetery, and I was able to see and photograph Caleb’s gravestone myself. To see the words “first inhabitant” on the stone, and think: “That’s MY ancestor!” was pretty exciting!

The grave of Caleb Seward, First Inhabitant of Durham!  Author's collection.

The grave of Caleb Seward, First Inhabitant of Durham! Author’s collection.

Next time, we’ll take one more step back in the Seward family tree.

Seventh Greath-Grandfather Thomas Strong: His Descendants, With A Royal Connection

Thomas Strong, like his father, was one prolific man. Again, the following information is to the best of my knowledge. Thomas and Mary Hewett’s children (all born in Northampton) were:

  • Thomas, born November 16, 1661; married Mary Stebbins, November 17, 1683; died November 30, 1735 in Durham, New Haven County, CT
  • Maria, born August 31, 1663; married Samuel Judd; died May 18, 1751
  • John, born March 9, 1664/65; never married; died May 21, 1699 in Deerfield, Hampshire County, MA
  • Hewett, born December 2, 1666; never married; died before September 29, 1689 (Benjamin Woodbridge Dwight states in “The History of the Descendants of Elder John Strong” that he was one of the first settlers of Durham, CT. However, Durham was not even settled until 1699, so this cannot be true.)
  • Asahel, born November 14, 1668; married Margaret Hart; died October 8, 1739 in Farmington, Hartford County, CT; buried in Memento Mori Cemetery in Farmington

Thomas and Rachel Holton’s children (all born in Northampton) were:

  • Joseph, born, December 2, 1672; married Sarah Allen; died December 23, 1763 in Coventry, probably Hartford County (now Tolland County), CT; buried in Nathan Hale Cemetery in Coventry, although it must not have been known as such when Joseph was buried. (In fact, Nathan Hale was Joseph’s grandson. Another famous descendant of Joseph was Princess Diana, whose ancestry back to Joseph is best outlined here – thanks to Barbara Poole of the “Life From the Roots” blog.)
  • Benjamin, born 1674; never married; died August 27, 1755 in East Guilford (what is now Madison), New Haven County, CT; buried in Hammonasset Cemetery in Madison
  • Adino, born January 25, 1676; married Eunice Johnson; died December 31, 1749 in Woodbury, Fairfield County (now Litchfield County), CT; buried in South Cemetery in Woodbury
  • Waitstill, born 1677/78; married Mindwell Bartlett; died November 13, 1762; buried in Bridge Street Cemetery, Northampton, Hampshire County, MA
  • Rachel, born July 15, 1679; married Miles Dudley January 23, 1705/06
  • Selah, born December 23, 1680; married Abigail Terry; died April 8, 1732 in Brookhaven (what is now Setauket), Suffolk County, NY; buried in Saint Georges Manor Cemetery in Setauket
  • Benajah, born September 29, 1682; some trees indicate several marriages, but I haven’t explored them at this time
  • Ephraim, born January 4, 1685; died in Milford, New Haven County, CT
  • Elnathan, born August 20, 1686; died May 22, 1727 in Woodbury, Fairfield County (now Litchfield County), CT
  • Ruth, born February 4, 1688; married William Dudley (brother of Miles, who married Rachel Strong); died September 18, 1763; buried in Old North Cemetery in Guilford, New Haven County, CT

“The History of the Descendants of Elder John Strong” states that a daughter named Submit Strong was born February 23, 1690, but Mr. Dwight does not state where he may have obtained this information. (Perhaps she is actually a daughter of Thomas, Jr.?) There is some conflicting data about her on FamilySearch’s International Genealogical Index (IGI), so that is not even worth repeating.

1703 New England and New York.  Thomas Strong's children settled all over New England and New York.  Courtesy The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

1703 New England and New York. Thomas Strong’s children settled all over New England and New York. Courtesy The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Seventh Great-Grandfather Thomas Strong, Jr.

Seventh Great-Grandfather Thomas Strong, Jr.

Let me start by saying that I only use the designation “Jr.” here because much of what I’ve read uses “Jr.” to distinguish him from his father; I have not seen that he actually used this designation himself.  Thomas Strong, Jr. was the oldest child of Thomas Strong and Mary Hewett of Northampton, Massachusetts Bay Colony.  He was born on November 16, 1661.  Thomas became a farmer.

Thomas married Mary Stebbins (daughter of John Stebbins and Abigail Bartlett) on November 17, 1683 in Northampton.  Their children (all born in Northampton) were:

  • Mary, born August 7, 1684; died August 31, 1684
  • Thomas, born August 27, 1686; married Mary _____; ended up living in Coventry, Tolland County, CT
  • Eliakim, born September 26, 1688; married Mehitable King on April 13, 1712; died January 24, 1745/46 in Durham, New Haven County, CT
  • Mary, born December 29, 1690; married Thomas Alvord, Jr. between 1707 and 1710
  • Hewett, born January 27, 1694; died March 25, 1694
  • Hewett, born May 1696; married Dinah ____ November 17, 1726 (who died in 1737); then married another wife on April 26, 1739; moved from Durham to New Berlin (New York? or perhaps actually Berlin, Connecticut?) to Farmington, Hartford County, CT; died in what became Durham, Greene County, NY (I am not sure if it was still Freehold at the time of his death.)
  • John, born April 25, 1698
  • Rachel, born April 15, 1700; married Samuel Robinson March 19, 1724
  • Damaris (some records say Tamar), born 1702; married John Camp; died August 25, 1737 in Durham, CT; buried in Old Durham Cemetery
  • Hannah, born 1704; married Benoni Hills 1724
  • Mercy, born Nov 16, 1707

With all of his family except for Eliakim and perhaps Mary, Thomas moved to Durham, CT “shortly after” 1708.  I assume that he continued his trade of farming there.  His wife Mary predeceased him on August 8, 1733.  He passed away on November 30, 1735, and both are buried in Old Durham Cemetery.

Sixth Great-Grandfather Eliakim Strong

Eliakim Strong was born on September 26, 1688 in Northampton, Hampshire County, MA, the third child & second son of Thomas Strong, Jr. and Mary Stebbins. Like many of his Northampton family members, he was a member of Northampton First Church.

Eliakim married Mehitable King (daughter of John King and Mehitable Pomeroy) on April 13, 1712 in Northampton. He was a farmer in there from at least 1712 – 1725, then in Durham, New Haven County, CT starting from sometime between 1725 and 1730. He joined his father Thomas Strong, Jr., who already moved to Durham in 1708.

Eliakim and Mehitable’s children were:

  • Catherine (or Katherine), born January 8, 1713 in Northampton; married Bryan Rosseter September 2, 1736 in Durham; after Bryan’s death in 1755 married Gideon Leete in Durham; died April 11, 1778 and is buried next to her first husband in Old Durham Cemetery
    Katherine (Strong) Rosseter grave.  Author's collection.

    Katherine (Strong) Rosseter grave. Author’s collection.

    Bryan Rosseter grave.  Author's collection.

    Bryan Rosseter grave. Author’s collection.

  • Mehitable, born September 5, 1715 in Northampton; married Aaron Alvord, November 6, 1739 in Durham; they seem to have moved to Torrington, Litchfield County, CT between 1755 and 1760
  • Eliakim, born March 7, 1720 in Northampton; married Hannah Seward, June 4, 1751 in Durham; moved to Freehold, Greene County, NY (which is now Durham, NY); died 1800 in Freehold, NY
  • Thomas, born November 17, 1722 in Northampton; married Phebe Seward January 16, 1746 in Durham (more about them here)
  • Hewett (died young)
  • Experience, baptized January 3, 1730/31, probably in Durham; married Noah Norton, December 29, 1757 in Durham
  • Mary, born September 8, 1734 in Durham; married Rowland Rosseter, April 11, 1753 in Durham; died November 17, 1799; buried in Old Durham Cemetery

Eliakim died January 24, 1744 in Durham and is buried in Old Durham Cemetery. Many online trees suggest that his wife Mehitable died in 1778. I assume that she also is buried at Old Durham Cemetery.

Fifth Great-Grandfather Thomas Strong

Thomas Strong was born on November 17, 1722 in Northampton, Hampshire County, MA. He was the second son and fourth child of Eliakim Strong and Mehitable King and was probably named for Eliakim’s father Thomas. He moved to Durham, New Haven County, CT as a child, sometime between 1725 and 1730. There he became a farmer and married Phebe Seward on January 16, 1746.

Thomas and Phebe’s children, all born in Durham, were:

  • Sarah, baptized February 22, 1746; died July 13, 1770; buried in Old Durham Cemetery (was Loraine’s daughter Sarah Scranton named after her?)
  • Thomas, born July 23, 1748; took the oath of a freeman in Durham on September 16, 1777; died June 24, 1819
  • Lois, born July 1, 1750
  • Eunice, born August 16, 1752; married Simeon Coe; died October 22, 1828; buried in Norwich Corners Cemetery, Frankfort, Herkimer County, NY
  • Phebe, born November 3, 1754; died December 9, 1792; buried in Old Durham Cemetery
Phebe Strong grave, Old Durham Cemetery.  Author's collection.

Phebe Strong grave, Old Durham Cemetery. Author’s collection.

  • Loraine, born March 18, 1757; married David Scranton between 1782 and 1785; died November 8, 1838 in Manchester, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia (more on Loraine and David here)
  • Catherine (or Katherine), born April 14, 1759
  • Nathan, born January 3, 1762; died April 28, 1763; buried in Old Durham Cemetery
  • Lucy, born March 4, 1764
  • Nathan, born October 13, 1766; died November 23, 1767; buried in Old Durham Cemetery
  • Nathan, born June 29, 1769; married Eunice Chalker circa 1790; died January 2, 1841 in Rodman, Jefferson County, NY; buried in Fairview Cemetery in Rodman

Either he or his son Thomas took Oath of Fidelity to State of Connecticut on August 26, 1777 in Durham. I suspect that it may have been Thomas, Sr., since the “History of Durham, Connecticut” does note the juniors who took the oath. This leads me to believe that the family, like so many in Durham, supported the Patriot cause during the American Revolution.

Thomas’ wife Phebe died in February 3, 1787 and is buried in Old Durham Cemetery. He moved to Whitestown, Herkimer County, NY, likely when his youngest son Nathan moved there in 1794-1795. Thomas died in Whitestown, by then Oneida County, NY, likely before 1810 when Nathan moved to Rodman. I don’t know the date of death or where he was buried, due to New York State’s scant vital records at that time.

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.

Fifth Great-Grandfather David Scranton: Patriot or Loyalist?

I’ve seen a few old inquiries on the internet, asking if David Scranton was a Loyalist during the American Revolution. It’s a fair enough question, since he moved to Nova Scotia shortly after the war and transported a number of Loyalists with him. Also, he is not listed on the Daughters of the American Revolution Ancestor Search database. Because he moved to the British territory of Nova Scotia, David probably never could have applied for a Revolutionary War pension, so I would not find him in those types of records. However, all this is not enough to draw a conclusion. The following is what I’ve found.

In the book “Record of service of Connecticut men in the War of the Revolution” (page 614), David Scranton of Durham is listed as one of the ensigns in Colonel Ely’s State Regiment during June 1777. Other officers included Lieutenant Colonel James Arnold and Major Elias Buell. I found further evidence in Asa Burdick’s Revolutionary War pension application affidavit. Asa was part of a company in New London, Connecticut, commanded in June 1777 by “Captain Collins, Lieutenant Taylor and Ensign David Scranton, in a regiment commanded by Col. Ely and Lieutenant Col. Arnold.” The company was involved in building the original Fort Trumbull at New London.

In another Revolutionary War pension application affidavit by Abiel Baldwin, Abiel was part of team in 1781 that transported beef from Durham to Fishkill for the troops there, under David Scranton’s direction.

In William Chauncey Fowler’s book “History of Durham Connecticut,” David was among those chosen on February 27, 1782 from Durham as part of a committee to put together a regiment to defend Horse Neck & the western frontier. (Today, Horse Neck is now known as Field Point in a very exclusive area of Greenwich, Connecticut along the coast.) Now although the British formally surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781, there were still British troops in New York City (a relatively short distance from Greenwich) until November 25, 1783, so I presume the local militia stayed on alert until that time.

To answer the question “was David Scranton a Patriot or Loyalist?”, my verdict is that he was definitely a Patriot! (As a side note, his brother Abraham’s service in the American Revolution has been well-documented.)

So how did David and his family fare during the War of 1812, where there was a lot of hostility along the US/Canada border and at sea? I couldn’t find any mention of him in any kind of service in the war. Even though he was over sixty, he would at least have opportunity to donate supplies or support the cause of the British if he had chosen to do so. Much of New England, including David’s home state of Connecticut, did not support the US government’s decision to go to war with Great Britain. In spite of this, the British did attack Essex, Connecticut (only a few towns away from Durham) in 1814. On a more personal note, David’s nephew Hamlet Scranton who in Rochester, NY had to get his family to safety after a British raid at nearby Fort Niagara in late 1813. Certainly the strained trade relations hit the shipping industry hard, so it was a good thing that David had the farm to fall back on. In any case, David and his family remained in Nova Scotia regardless of where his sympathies may have laid.