Just three years after the end of the Revolutionary War, Sarah Scranton was born on August 11, 1786 in Durham, Middlesex County, Connecticut to David Scranton and his second wife Loraine Strong. Sarah was Loraine’s first child, but David’s second. His first was Phebe, who was born on May 11, 1782, to David’s first wife Phebe Curtis. The elder Phebe died less than three weeks after her daughter’s birth on May 30, 1782.
David was a mariner of his own sloop called Nancy that dealt in trading. His hometown of Durham was a landlocked rural town, at least twenty miles from the Connecticut shore and about ten miles west of the Connecticut River. Every time he was to make a trip on the Nancy, he would probably need extra days just to travel to and from wherever she was docked. (I have to admit that as I drove to Durham last summer, I was surprised just how far it was from the shore. “No wonder David didn’t stay here!” I said to myself.)
On one of David’s trips to Quebec, he had stopped in Chadebucto Bay in Nova Scotia, which runs along today’s Guysborough County’s southern shoreline. Apparently he was quite impressed with the area, for when the Hallowell Grant in Nova Scotia opened up for settlement, he took the opportunity to find a new home that was more convenient to his occupation. (A great description of the Hallowell Grant can be found here on the “From Maine to Kentucky” blog.)
In mid-1787, Sarah was only one year old when she made the voyage with her parents and fourteen-year-old cousin Henry Scranton (who was recovering from a “fever-sore in one limb”) to Nova Scotia; she likely never saw the country of her birth again. Other settlers came with them on the Nancy, some of whom had been Loyalists during the war. The Scranton family settled on a farm in the newly formed town of Boylston* on east side of Milford-Haven River, a tidal river that empties into the Chedabucto Bay. This seemed to be a perfect location for David, who could easily split his time between his travels and the family farm.
Left behind in Durham was Sarah’s five-year-old sister Phebe, who was being raised by Phebe’s maternal aunt (whose name I do not know). I have to wonder if this aunt may have stepped in to help raise the newborn Phebe after her mother’s untimely death. Perhaps the two formed a mother-daughter-like bond that David could not break up. In any case, I am sure Phebe and her father kept in touch; one of her children was named after him, after all.
Cousin Henry’s illness did not get any better with time. On December 21, 1787 (just a few months after his arrival), Henry passed away. I have to wonder if his was one of the first deaths in Boylston. So Sarah became the “oldest child” of the family, having nine younger siblings that were between one and a half and sixteen years younger than herself, all born in Manchester. (I will detail them in a later post.) As such, Sarah probably helped her mother run the household and take care of the children; perhaps she even helped out on the farm.
Meanwhile, in 1790, a Scotsman named John McMasters arrived in Manchester and was deeded 172 acres of land. The two books that mention him say that his parents were John McMasters and Ann Cummings. I assume that John must have been close to twenty years older than Sarah. John and Sarah were married on November 20, 1808 in Manchester. They had nine children, all born in Manchester:
- George Henry, born October 10, 1810; died August 1812 of rheumatism
- Lauraine, born November 16, 1811; died September 11, 1838
- Ann Charlotte, born October 26, 1814; married Thomas McKeough December 19, 1848; died sometime after 1891
- John, born December 9, 1816; married Catherine J. Cummings before 1855; died 1906
- Catherine, born November 8, 1818; married A. Henry Partridge before 1843
- David, born April 19, 1820; married Margery E. Fox 1855; died 1903
- Samuel, born February 25, 1823; married Margaret Pyle October 2, 1873; died 1903
- Christina, born May 26, 1826; married Robert Bruce Lipsett January 8, 1859; died June 15, 1891
- Margaret, born June 23, 1829
John died somewhere between 1838 (where he appeared as a farmer on the census) and 1861 (where Sarah seemed to be living as a widow with her son David). Sarah died of old age on March 23, 1865 in Manchester. (Her son David was the informant of her death.) I assume both are buried in Manchester, but I don’t have any records of that yet.
* Harriet Cunningham Hart’s “History of the County of Guysborough” indicates that “Boylston did not thrive as a town” and became a part of Manchester township. Therefore, the Scrantons did not move, but their residence became known as Manchester. The town of Boylston was later re-established in 1874.