What About Abigail Ford, my Eighth Great-Grandmother?

Abigail Ford was baptized October 8, 1619 in Bridport, Dorsetshire, England. She was the second of the five children of Thomas Ford and Elizabeth (Chard) Cooke. The other children were:

  • Joanna, baptized June 8, 1617 in Bridport
  • Thomas, baptized September 21, 1623 in Bridport; buried in Bridport on October 6, 1623
  • Hepzibah, baptized May 15, 1625 at Holy Trinity in Dorchester, Dorsetshire, England
  • Hannah, baptized February 1, 1628/9 at Holy Trinity in Dorchester; buried in Bridport on March 28, 1629

According to the “History of the Town of Dorchester, Massachusetts” by the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society, many who immigrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony in those early years were influenced by Rev. John White, a minister of Trinity Church in Dorchester, England. He wanted form “a community in New England, where all who felt themselves aggrieved by religious or political persecution might find asylum.” Perhaps Thomas and Elizabeth felt the need, like many others, to pull away from the Church of England.

On March 20, 1630, Thomas, Elizabeth and their three surviving daughters boarded the Mary and John at Plymouth, England. If Abigail was baptized close to her time of birth, she would have been about 11 years old for this voyage. Captain Squeb was in charge of the vessel, which arrived at Nantasket (present-day Hull) on May 30.

Upon their arrival, a dispute arose between Captain Squeb and the passengers: Squeb wanted a “pilot” (a guiding boat) to lead the ship through the harbor to land safely. Of course, no one lived at that spot back then. Some parties left the ship to find assistance. Eventually, Governor Winthrop came from Salem to help settle the dispute. They were still in port on June 28. Many were sick, hungry and in poor health. I imagine that Abigail and her sisters probably wanted nothing more than to go home.

A picture of the Mayflower and the Speedwell in their harbor.  I imagine that the Mary and John was of similar build.  Courtesy New York Public Library Digital Collection.

A picture of the Mayflower and the Speedwell in their harbor. I imagine that the Mary and John was of similar build. Courtesy New York Public Library Digital Collection.

The settlers didn’t settle in what was to become their own Dorchester until mid-July. Food had to be sent for from Ireland, and people began fishing in Massachusetts Bay. Eventually, land was granted and families began to set up their homes. Thomas became one of Dorchester’s first Freemen in 1631. He was amongst twelve leaders who met every Monday morning to discuss the affairs of the town, a practice established at what is credited to be the first Town Meeting in the country on October 8, 1633. Perhaps Thomas told his family about some of the goings-on at the meetings over supper.

So Abigail came of age as Dorchester became a community. She was still quite young when she married John Strong–perhaps around eighteen, not unusual for that time. Immediately, she was a stepmother to John’s young son and became a mother herself, as discussed here. At this time, she left the town that her family had a part in founding, but played her own role as wife and mother in other towns that John Strong helped mold and grow.

Eighth Great-Grandfather John Strong: His Children

The following is a “bare bones” account of the children of Elder John Strong. There are numerous resources on and off the internet about each one and their own lives.

As stated in my previous post, John’s first wife was Margery Deane and their son was also named John, born sometime between 1625 and 1633 in England. He married Mary Clark on November 26, 1656 in Windsor, Connecticut. After her death on April 26, 1663, he subsequently married Elizabeth Warriner in 1664. He died on February 20, 1697/8 in Windsor.

The children of John Strong and Abigail Ford were:

  • Thomas, born in the mid- to late-1630s, probably in Hingham, Massachusetts Bay Colony; married Mary Hewett on December 5, 1660 (who died February 20, 1770/71); married Rachel Holton on October 10, 1671 in Northampton, Massachusetts Bay Colony; died October 3, 1689 in Northampton.
  • Jedidiah, born May 7, 1637 in Hingham; married Freedom Woodward on December 18, 1662 (some records say November 18, 1662) (who died May 17, 1681); married Abigail (Bartlett) Stebbins on December 28, 1681 (who died on July 15, 1689); then married Mary (Hart) Lee on January 5, 1691 (who also predeceased him on October 10, 1710); died May 22, 1733 in Coventry, (probably Hartford County), Connecticut.
  • Return, born circa 1641 in Taunton; married Sarah Wareham on May 11, 1664; then married Margaret Newberry on May 23, 1689; died April 9, 1726 in Windsor, Hartford County, CT; buried in Palisado Cemetery in Windsor.
  • Ebenezer, born 1643 in Taunton; married Hannah Clap on October 14, 1668 in Northampton; died February 11, 1729 in Northampton; buried at Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton.
  • Abigail, born 1645 in Taunton; married Nathaniel Chauncey on November 12, 1673 in Northampton; then married Medad Pomeroy on September , 1686 in Northampton; died 1704.
  • Elizabeth, born February 24, 1647 in Windsor, Connecticut; married Joseph Parsons March 17, 1668/69 in Northampton; died May 12, 1736 in Northampton; buried at Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton.
  • Experience, born August 4, 1650 in Windsor; married Zerubbabel Filer on May 27, 1669 in Windsor; died 1714.
  • Samuel (twin to Joseph), born August 5, 1652 in Windsor; married Esther Clap on June 19, 1684 in Northampton, then married Ruth (Sheldon) Wright on October 28, 1698 in Northampton; died October 29, 1732.
  • Joseph (twin to Samuel), born August 5, 1652 in Windsor; died young.
  • Mary, born October 26, 1654 in Windsor; married John Clark on March 20, 1678/9 in Northampton; died December 8, 1738 in Northampton; buried at Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton.
  • Sarah, born 1656 in Windsor; married Joseph Barnard on January 13, 1675 in Northampton, then married Jonathan Wells on September 23, 1698; died February 10, 1733 in Deerfield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts; buried at Old Deerfield Burying Ground in Deerfield.
  • Hannah, born May 30, 1659 in Windsor; married William Clark (brother of John Clark who married Mary Strong) on July 15, 1680 in Northampton; died January 31, 1683/84 in Lebanon, New London County, Connecticut; buried at Old Cemetery in Lebanon.
  • Hester, born June 7, 1661 in Northampton, Massachusetts Bay Colony; married Thomas Bissell on October 15, 1678 in Northampton; died March 4, 1726 in Windsor, Connecticut.
  • Thankful, born July 25, 1663 in Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts Bay Colony; married Jonathan Baldwin by 1695; died March 5, 1726 in Milford, New Haven County, Connecticut; buried in Milford Cemetery in Milford.
  • Jerijah, born December 12, 1665 in Northampton; married Thankful Stebbins (daughter of Abigail, Jerijah’s sister-in-law) on July 18, 1700 in Northampton; died April 24, 1754 in Northampton.

If you are descended from any one of these families, then I say: Hello, Cousin!

Eighth Great-Grandfather John Strong: A Great Migration Ancestor

There is a lot of varying information about Elder John Strong. One commonly used source is “The History of the Descendants of Elder John Strong of Northampton, Mass” by Benjamin Woodbridge Dwight; however, recent scholarship by Robert Charles Anderson through the New England Historic Genealogical Society challenges some of those assertions. What I’ll write about here will primarily reflect Anderson’s findings.

John was born circa 1605 in Chard, Somerset, England. He was first married to Margery Deane (daughter of William Deane) in England. They had a son named John who was born sometime between 1626 and 1633 (Anderson says circa 1631). Dwight states that another unnamed child was born to them in the New World, but I have no other information on this child.

John and his family are believed to have come over on the Hopewell from Weymouth, England to Massachusetts in May 1635. They settled in Hingham, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Here and throughout his life, he worked as a tanner.

Margery died sometime after their immigration, and John then married Abigail Ford (daughter of Thomas Ford and Elizabeth Chard), in Hingham. They went on to have 15 children, who I’ll write about in the next post.

From this point onward, John Strong played an active role in the building of each community he lived in. After he had moved to Taunton, Plymouth Colony, in 1638, he was active in the courts, serving on the jury and as a deputy. In 1647, he moved to Dorchester, Connecticut Colony (which was subsequently renamed Windsor) along with his father-in-law Thomas Ford. Here he was part of the petit jury and a constable. In addition to being a tanner, he also had quite a few acres on the east side of the Connecticut River; I’m sure it was necessary for his large family to maintain a farm.

Eventually, John made his final move to Northampton, Massachusetts Bay Colony around 1659, where he purchased quite a bit of farmland and set up his tannery. In June of 1663 he earned the title Elder in the First Church of Christ in Northampton and eventually became the ruling elder in 1672. Everywhere John seemed to live, he was a significant part of the community, but never so influential in the life of the town as he was in Northampton. He helped establish schools and was a leader in the work of the church. The “History of Northampton Massachusetts from Its Settlement in 1654” by James Russell Trumbull states: “To him more than any other layman is the church indebted for its foundation and early growth. Among all the earnest, thoughtful men who planted the settlement at Northampton, not one was more influential, more painstaking, or more respected than Elder John Strong.”

Abigail died on July 6, 1688 and John followed on April 14, 1699. Both are buried in Bridge Street Cemetery, where a memorial is erected by their descendants in their honor. Even greater than this stone marker is their imprint on American life through their children and their many descendants. Benjamin Dwight only touches on some of these descendants; there are so many more! There is even a Strong Family Association that links still more family.

Seventh Greath-Grandfather Thomas Strong: Simply His Life

As I climb further and further back into my family history, I find that there are less primary sources and more derivative and authored sources. I know that this can be “dangerous” in that what I try to determine what to write about. So I preface this and other stories set in colonial and early American times with that phrase I love on my tax return: this is all “to the best of my knowledge”. I am completely open to learning new and better information!

The following is Thomas’ story, leaving out the details of his many children (which I will cover in the next post):

Thomas Strong was born in the mid- to late-1630s, probably in Hingham, Massachusetts Bay Colony, the oldest child of John Strong and Abigail Ford. He was the first child in this line born in the New World.

Thomas seems to have spent much of his childhood in Taunton, Plymouth Colony, then the family moved to Windsor, Connecticut Colony. It was in Windsor where Thomas became a man and served as a trooper in 1658 under Major Mason. Thomas also had to have met his future wife, Mary Hewett (daughter of Reverend Ephraim Hewett or Huit and Isabel Overton) in Windsor. (As a side note, Reverend Huit’s gravestone is known to be the oldest legible gravestone in Connecticut.)

In 1659 Thomas (going along with most of his family) moved from Windsor to Northampton, Massachusetts Bay Colony. He must have returned to Windsor at the very least to wed Mary Hewett on December 5, 1660.

In Northampton, Thomas (like his father) became a part of community life. He was a member of the Church of Christ in Northampton. In July of 1666 he helped with the building of a mill in Northampton.

On February 20, 1770/71 Thomas’ wife Mary died, leaving him with their five children under the age of ten. I’m sure that his extended family in Northampton came alongside Thomas to help with the children, but they didn’t have to do so for long. On October 10, 1671 he married Rachel Holton (daughter of William Holton and Mary Winche). Thomas and Rachel went on to have at least ten more children of their own.

As a farmer, Thomas donated bushels of wheat to Harvard College between 1672 and 1673. On February 11, 1679/80 he, along with others, was sworn into office as a “tithing man”, a church official who was in charge of the morals of the community.

On October 3, 1689, Thomas died in Northampton. I imagine that, like his parents, he is buried at Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton, although I have nothing that proves that.

After Thomas’ death, Rachel married Nathan Bradley of East Guilford (now Madison), New Haven County, CT in May 1698, and moved there with her younger children.