Taunt: A Short But Fruitful Branch

Remember Jerusha Taunt? I wanted to document her lineage as well, starting with her paternal line. Sadly, I only had it going back two more generations. Little did I know that there was a surprise waiting for me as I prepared this post!

Let’s start with the basics, beginning with Jerusha’s father, Seth Billings Taunt. He was the son of Levi Taunt and Jerusha Billings, born on September 26, 1772 in Stoughton, Plymouth County (now Norfolk County), MA. On March 11, 1794 he married Anna Capernaum in Braintree, Norfolk County, MA. One source, The Record of Births, marriages and Deaths and Intentions of Marriage in the Town of Stoughton… noted that the intention of marriage was filed in March 1794 between Seth Taunt and “Mrs. Anna Copernaun”. This brings two questions to mind: Which is the correct spelling of her surname (which I know is very subjective back then)? And “Mrs.” — was Anna really married before? If so, what is her maiden name?

The following are Seth and Anna’s children, the facts of whom all took place in Braintree unless otherwise noted:

  • Anna, born August 3, 1794 (by this date you can see why the intention of marriage was filed!); died September 5, 1811.
  • William, born after 1794; died July 15, 1797.
  • Cynthia, born May 21, 1798; married Elisha Savil on December 20, 1818; died April 23, 1876.
  • Jerusha, born February 7, 1801; died October 12, 1803 (obviously not my Jerusha).
  • Seth, born December 16, 1804; married Mary J. Holbrook on January 19, 1825.
  • Jerusha B. (as I stated before, I suspect that “B.” is for Billings), born May 28, 1807; married Ivory Goodwin on January 25, 1824; died October 20, 1870 in Lynn, Essex County, MA.
  • William, born August 24, 1809; died before January 15, 1817.
  • William, born January 15, 1817.

Seth died on April 17, 1837 and Anna on January 29, 1856, both in Braintree. I have no burial information on them at this time.

Going back a generation, we come to Seth’s father Levi, who lived in Stoughton. There are other Taunts in Stoughton around Levi’s time, and I suspect they are related, but I don’t know how. (Again, a job for an in-person research trip to the town!)

On December 7, 1767, Levi and his future bride Jerusha Billings (born August 3, 1750 to Seth Billings and Jerusha Redman) filed their marriage intention with George Crosman, Stoughton town clerk. They were married on February 25, 1768 by Reverend Samuel Dunbar, a long-time minister there.

Although the 1790 census shows more people in Levi Taunt’s home, I’ve only uncovered two children attributed to him and Jerusha:

  • Charlotte (also listed as Charity and Charlety), born December 10, 1768; married Ebenezer Holmes on February 10, 1789.
  • Seth, born September 26, 1772; outlined above.

Now for the interesting part. Normally before I write a blog post, I review what records I have and maybe do a quick second look in Google. Under a spelling variation of “Tant”, I came across Levi’s name in the History of the Town of Canton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, by Daniel Thomas Vose Huntoon. Though published in 1893, Huntoon wrote the book in the 1860s after having been Town Clerk in Canton (which had been part of Stoughton) and desiring to preserve the history from its records. Under Appendix XX, “Levi Tant” was listed as a private who was in the First Company under Captain James Endicott, among a contingent of minutemen who marched from Stoughton on April 19, 1775 upon hearing news of the Lexington alarm. Under Appendix XXI, “Levi Taunt” is listed among the “Soldiers who served in the Revolution after the Lexington Alarm”. So my sixth great-grandfather was a minuteman and a Patriot!

Lexington Minuteman Monument. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Lexington Minuteman Monument. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Other than this one book, I can’t easily find any other record of his service (which of course will mean more deep digging). However, I have no reason to doubt it either. What a find, just in time for Independence Day!

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.

Let Freedom Ring – Norwalk Style

Every Fourth of July, I try to make it out to Norwalk, CT’s annual “Let Freedom Ring” ceremony at the old Town House at Mill Hill. Out of all the Independence Day celebrations, this one is most true to the real meaning of the holiday. It is celebrated every year nationwide (although it is not formally organized) as a result of a Concurrent Congressional Resolution that can be read here (see the top of the linked page). Every year, it’s a little different; sometimes more elaborate than others. This year was rather simple, but faithful to Independence Day.

Let Freedom Ring!

Let Freedom Ring!

Diane Jellerette, Executive Director of the Norwalk Historical Society, welcomed everyone to the annual “Let Freedom Ring” bell-ringing ceremony. She reminded us of how our own city of Norwalk was involved in the Revolution during the Battle and subsequent Burning of Norwalk, where General Tryon only left about 6 homes standing of nearly a hundred that were in town.

Ms. Jellerette welcomed the many city and state officials that were in attendance. Mayor Harry Rilling said a few words, proudly declaring that, “America is, without a doubt, the best country on earth.” He reminded us of the phrase “with liberty and justice for all” from the Pledge of Allegiance we recited earlier applies now more than ever to all people.

Mayor Rilling.  Author's collection.

Mayor Rilling. Author’s collection.

Dressed in colonial garb, Town Clerk Rick McQuaid had the honor of reading excerpts of the Declaration of Independence (to be honest, I believe he read the whole thing).

Town Clerk Rick McQuaid reads the Declaration of Independence.  Author's collection.

Town Clerk Rick McQuaid reads the Declaration of Independence. Author’s collection.

Finally came the centerpiece of the ceremony: the ringing of the bell thirteen times, once for each newly independent state. (Technically, the bell ringing is to occur at 2pm, but that is when we started the whole ceremony.)  Councilman Erik Anderson read off the list of states as Senator Bob Duff (who attends the event every year) rang the bell of the old Town House.  (I was hoping to embed video, but WordPress doesn’t accept that filetype.  However, you can view my tweet that captured at least part of it here.)

What followed was a beautiful, pitch-perfect rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” by Catherine Robinson of Norwalk’s Crystal Theatre. Many couldn’t help but join in as the song progressed.

Catherine Robinson, singing the National Anthem.  Author's collection.

Catherine Robinson, singing the National Anthem. Author’s collection.

The ceremony concluded as Ms. Jellerette explained that the Town House will shortly be undergoing a renovation. Just recently, the grounds of Mill Hill were renovated to include a walkway and an herb garden, which she invited all to check out. And in the fall, a new Norwalk Museum will be opening up on the same grounds as City Hall after being out of commission for quite some time. There is much to look forward to regarding Norwalk history!

New herb garden at Mill Hill.  Author's collection.

New herb garden at Mill Hill. Author’s collection.