Goodwins and Spencers Arrive in Colonial Maine

We’ve now come to the end of my Goodwin line – at least in America. I’m going to start with the Spencers, since they seem to have arrived first.

Thomas Spencer (who seemed to be from Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, England) had married Patience Chadbourne (of Tamworth, Staffordshire, England) around 1630 in England. I’m not sure when exactly they immigrated, but I do know that Patience’s father William came over in 1634 and proceeded in building a mill on the Piscataqua River. Perhaps Thomas and Patience arrived about the same time.

The Spencers settle in Kittery, Massachusetts Bay Colony, in the area now known as South Berwick, York County, Maine. William Chadbourne had given Thomas and Patience a house at the corner of Brattle and Vine Streets, the foundations of which supposedly are still there. Shortly after arriving the New World, Thoams and Patience had their daughter Margaret, who is one of about seven children.

Site of Thomas and Patience Spencer's land.  Perhaps the foundation is under this house?  Courtesy Google Earth.

Site of Thomas and Patience Spencer’s land. Perhaps the foundation is under this house? Courtesy Google Earth.

Meanwhile in Oxford, Staffordshire, England, Daniel Goodwin and Dorothy Barker had a son named Daniel, who would be the first of the Goodwins to immigrate to Kittery. Daniel was granted land by the town on December 16, 1652 and went on to become a planter and supposedly a surveyor and innkeeper. Over time he had acquired much land in the area, particularly at “Slutts Corner”, which is now in South Berwick along the southwestern portion of Witchtrot Road.

Site of Daniel Goodwin's land.  Courtesy Google Earth.

Site of Daniel Goodwin’s land. Courtesy Google Earth.

In 1654 (findagrave.com says as early as 1646), Daniel married Margaret Spencer and they went on to have the following children (not necessarily listed in order):

  • Daniel, born 1656 in Kittery; married Ann Thompson (daughter of Miles Thompson) on October 17, 1682; married Amy _____ before 1693; died April 1726 in Berwick; buried in Old Fields Cemetery in South Berwick.
  • James, married Sarah Thompson (daughter of Miles Thompson and sister of Ann) on December 9, 1686 in Kittery; died July 31, 1697 in Kittery.
  • Thomas, married Mehitable Plaisted circa 1685 (see more information on them here)
  • William, born in Kittery; married Deliverance Taylor (daughter of John and Martha Taylor); died March 26, 1714; buried in Old Fields Cemetery in South Berwick.
  • Moses, married Abigail Taylor ((daughter of John and Martha Taylor and sister of Deliverance) on September 7, 1694 in Kittery; died 1726.
  • Elizabeth, married Zachary Emery on December 19, 1686; married Phillip Hubbard on December 22, 1692; died December 16, 1736; buried in Old Fields Cemetery in South Berwick.
  • Sarah, married Isaac Barnes on December 6, 1694.
  • Patience, married Daniel Stone on September 19, 1670; died 1715.
  • David
  • Adam

Margaret died in March 1670 and was buried in Old Fields Cemetery. Some time later, Daniel married Sarah (Sanders) Turbet, widow of Peter Turbet.

On June 4, 1702, Daniel was one of the founding members of the First Parish Congregational Church in the Berwick area of Kittery (which is now South Berwick).

Daniel is thought to have died on March 16, 1713 in Berwick and is buried at Old Fields Cemetery.

Goodwins and Plaisteds: Colonial Maine Skirmishes

James Goodwin was lucky to be alive. He was fortunate to be born around 1711 in Berwick, Massachusetts Colony (now Maine), among the younger of Thomas Goodwin and Mehitable Plaisted’s children. He was blessed to find a wife in Margaret Wallingford, who was born circa 1716 in Dover, New Hampshire, to Thomas Wallingford and Margaret Clements. James and Margaret both lived good, long lives: James dying on May 10, 1800 and Margaret on February 20, 1803. Both lived to see the birth of their new country for which their son Jedidiah helped fight. What made James so lucky? It all began with the story of his parents, particularly his mother, Mehitable Plaisted.

Mehitable was born April 30, 1670 (old calendar) to Roger Plaisted and Olive Coleman. She was among the last of their many children. Roger and Olive, along with their firstborn, Roger, travelled from England around 1649, and settled in the Kittery area of the region of Maine (which eventually became Berwick). They soon became part of the growing colonial community. Where relations between the colonists and the local Waramaug natives started off on a friendly foot, things quickly deteriorated with misunderstandings and violence on both sides. Soon, what was known as “King Philip’s War” was underway, starting about June 1675 on many fronts throughout New England.

Mehitable was only five years old when her father and older brothers, Roger and Joseph, joined other area colonists in the military defense of their towns. Her father, Roger, was a lieutenant of the defense in the Kittery area. Early in the war, on October 16, 1675, Lieut. Plaisted and George Broughton sent a desperate plea to the surrounding communities for assistance as they saw their men being killed off by the natives. The Plaisted men became part of the casualties that very day.

from "King Philip's War" by George William Ellis & John Emery Morris; Grafton Press, New York; 1906; Google Books, 2007.

from “King Philip’s War” by George William Ellis & John Emery Morris; Grafton Press, New York; 1906; Google Books, 2007.

King Philip’s War lasted about three years until a peace treaty was signed. However the colonists were far from living peacefully with the natives. I’m sure the early communities in Maine were constantly vigilant against future troubles. In spite of that, life did go on. Olive Plaisted re-married to John Wincoll, who served as a stepfather to Roger’s children. Mehitable herself got married around 1685 to Thomas Goodwin, son of Daniel Goodwin and Margaret Spencer. They started their family with a baby boy.

When the baby was about five months old in the early winter months of 1690, the natives descended on the town; not to kill this time, but to capture. The entire family was taken, but Thomas was with a separate band of natives than his wife and child. Somehow, he was either released or managed to escape shortly thereafter. Mehitable and the baby were not as lucky. Their story is told dramatically in Cotton Mather’s Magnolia Christi Americana:

[The baby] which, through hunger and hardship, (she being unable to nourish it,) often made most grievous [cries]. Her Indian master told her, that if the child were not quiet he would soon dispose of it; which caused her to use all possible means that his Netop-ship might not be offended; and sometimes carry it from the fire out of his hearing, where she sat up to the waste [sic.] in snow and frost for several hours until it was lull’d asleep. She thus for several days preserved the life of her babe, until he saw cause to travel with his own cubs farther afield; and then, lest he should be retarded in his travel, he violently snatch’d the babe out of its mother’s arms, and before her face knock’d out its brains, and stript it of the few rags it had hitherto enjoy’d, and order’d her the task to go wash the bloody cloaths. Returning from this melancholy task, she found the infant hanging by the neck in a forked bough of a tree. Sho desired leave to lay it in the earth; but he said, “it was better as it was, for now the wild beasts would not come at it, … and she might have the comfort of seeing it again if ever they came that way. The journey now before then) was like to be very long, even as far as Canada, where his purpose was to make merchandise of his captive, and glad was the captive of such happy tidings. But the desperate length of the way, and want of food, and grief of mind wherewith she now encounter’d, caused her within a few days to faint under her difficulties. When at length she sat down for some repose, with many prayers and tears unto God for the salvation of her soul, she found herself unable to rise, until she espied her furious executioner coming towards her with fire in his eyes, the devil in his heart, and his hatchet in his hand, ready to bestow a mercy-stroak of death upon her. But then this miserable creature got on her knees, and with weeping, and wailing, and all expressions of agony and entreaty, prevailed on him to spare her life a little, and she did not question but God would enable her to “walk a little faster.” The merciless tyrant was prevail’d withal to spare her this time…

Mehitable and the other captives changed hands among several bands of natives along the journey and were ultimately sold to the French Canadians by about March 1690. (The histories I’ve read don’t say this, but yes, basically selling them as slaves.) Mehitable was put into service to a Mademoiselle de Nauguiere in Montreal. I suppose that escape wasn’t really an option; after all, she would need to go back through the native-filled country that she traversed to get to Montreal.

It seems that Mehitable must have made the best of her circumstances. On May 11, 1693, she was baptized into the Catholic Church with the name “Marie Esther”. More time passed, and it wasn’t until October 1695 when a Matthew Cary came to redeem Mehitable and a number of other captives in order to return them to their families. (I would love to know more about this man and the story behind his redeeming the captives!)

What I find incredible and wish I knew more about is Mehitable’s eventual return to her family. Where many captives assimilated to their new culture and some even refused to leave, Mehitable returned to the waiting Thomas and seemed to continue where they left off. The Goodwins re-built their family (which included my ancestor James), and had about nineteen more years together until Thomas’ death sometime after June 3, 1714.

Mehitable lived on much longer, passing away on June 2, 1740. In fact, her gravestone still stands in Old Fields Cemetery in South Berwick. She must have had amazing strength and resilience to have endured all that she did and to still have a normal and long life later on.