Ninth Great-Grandfather William Seward

William Seward is an ancestor of whom I know very little, but thanks to Google Books, I’ve found that he certainly set a great example for his descendants to follow. He was born circa 1627 in England, and immigrated from Bristol, England to Taunton, Massachusetts in 1643. He later settled in New Haven, which was still part of New Haven Colony which would later be part of Connecticut.

William married Grace Norton of Guilford (daughter of Thomas Norton and possibly Grace Wells) in New Haven to April 2, 1651. It seems that he moved to Guilford sometime after 1652 and took the oath of fidelity there on May 4, 1654.

By trade, William was a tanner who did well for himself. He owned plenty of property and enjoyed good standing in town. William’s name comes up often as a leader in the early history of the town. On June 1, 1665, he was appointed captain of the guard in Guilford. He served as a deputy between 1674 and 1685 and as representative to the General Assembly in Connecticut between 1683 to 1686.

William and Grace’s children were:

  • Mary, born Feb 28, 1652 in New Haven; married John Scranton, Jr. on March 12, 1673; died 1688
  • John, born February 14, 1653/54; married Abigail Bushnell* on June 25, 1679; died December 6, 1748
  • Joseph, born 1655; married Judith Bushnell* on February 7, 1681/82; died February 14, 1731/32
  • Samuel, born August 20, 1659; died before 1666
  • Caleb (who I spoke of in this post), born March 14, 1662/63; married Lydia Bushnell* on July 14, 1686; died August 2, 1728
  • Stephen, born August 6, 1664; never married
  • Samuel, born February 8, 1666/67; died April 8, 1689; never married
  • Hannah, born February 8, 1669/70; married Joseph Hand; also married John Tustin
  • Ebenezer, born December 13, 1672; died October 19, 1701

*Abigail, Judith and Lydia Bushnell were sisters.

William died on March 29, 1689 (age 62) (some sources say March 2). Grace died March 5, 1704. Sadly, I don’t know where either of them are buried, although I am sure it is somewhere in Guilford.

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.

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.

Ninth Great-Grandfather John Scranton: Puritan

We’ve arrived at the end of the Scranton line in the “New World”! One thing I’ve discovered is that when you trace your lines back to this point, you may find books and articles written about your ancestor, but just like online family trees, you also find plenty of conflicting information. Which only goes to show that there is nothing like finding original primary sources or at least sources contemporary to your events. I’m saying all this because I’ve found quite a bit of information on John Scranton, the forefather of my Scranton line, but some of this information does not agree with each other. What I’ll attempt to do is tell John’s story as best I can, trying to note conflicts where I’ve found them.

John Scranton’s birth was estimated to be around 1609-1610 in England. It is possible that he may have lived in Guildford, England with his fellow immigrants. (Guildford is a town that is 27 miles southwest of London.) While in England, it is thought that John married his first wife Joanna (whose last name is unknown).

When John left England is uncertain. I’ve seen an article state that he and others left in 1637 for Boston, Massachusetts; another stated that he was among the twenty-five families that traveled with Henry Whitfield to New Haven in May of 1639, to later take part in the “Fundamental Agreement” that formed the government of New Haven Colony. As his name is nowhere on the document, I think it was unlikely. I feel that the article that stated that John arrived in a second ship that arrived in New Haven in July 1639 is a more likely conclusion. Whenever he actually arrived, he was among a number of families that left England to escape religious persecution from the Church of England. He is credited to be among the original group who settled in Guilford Plantation on October 10, 1639. (Today, Guilford is a shoreline town that is bordered by Branford, North Branford, Durham, and Madison. I’m sure it took up most of these lands during its colonial days.) Minister Henry Whitfield was the leader of the settlers. Whitfield’s stone house (which also doubled as a fort and likely the settlement’s initial church meeting place) still stands. The early settlers helped build the house, so I have to wonder if John Scranton was one of them. Certainly he must have spent some time there.

Henry Whitfield House, the oldest stone house in New England. Courtesy Wikipedia

Henry Whitfield House, the oldest stone house in New England. Courtesy Wikipedia.

One account I read said that John Scranton first had two acres on East side of State Street. It’s unclear whether it was here or in the “Hammonasset Quarter”, where he moved in 1656, where he experienced success as a farmer, though I suspect it was the earlier spot. It was John who started the practice of cutting down trees (as opposed to digging them up) to clear the land before planting his wheat. He had “…astonished the people by gathering from [his acre of land] twenty bushels”.

John and Joanna’s known children, all born in Guilford, New Haven Colony were:

  • John, Jr., born circa 1641; married Mary Seward, March 12, 1773/4; married Elizabeth (Bishop) Clark, December 10, 1691; died September 2, 1703 in East Guilford (now known as Madison)
  • Thomas, born circa 1643; more info on him found here
  • Sarah, born May 16, 1645; married John Bushnell, May 15, 1665; they lived in Saybrook, Connecticut

John was admitted as a freeman on May 22, 1648. He later served as a Marshall from 1661 to 1662, and then as a Deputy to the New Haven Colony court during the “extra session” of January 1664. Soon after, New Haven Colony merged with Connecticut Colony.

Joanna Scranton died July 22, 1661. Less than two weeks after New Haven County was formed, John remarried Ada or Adaline (most recently widowed by Robert Hill) on May 22, 1666. John continued in public service as a Deputy to the General Court in 1669 & 1670. He later died on August 27, 1671.

Being the closest ancestral land to where I live now, I’m probably long overdue for a trip to Guilford. I would love to visit the Whitfield House and walk on the land where my ancestors walked. Perhaps if I’m lucky, I will find some records that will clarify John Scranton’s life.

Seventh Great-Grandfather Samuel Scranton

Samuel Scranton was the firstborn son & child of Thomas Scranton and Deborah (Dudley) Thompson, born in the later part of the 1600s in Guilford, New Haven County, Connecticut.

On January 30, 1712, Samuel married Elizabeth Bishop, daughter of John Bishop. (She was born on October 14, 1690.) Their children, all born in Guilford were:

  • Elizabeth, born August 20, 1713; married Eliphalet Hall, January 1, 1735; died April 15, 1742.
  • Thomas, born May 28, 1715; married Mary Parmalee, December 28, 1736.
  • Hannah, born October 14, 1716; married Eleazar Evarts, either on January 29, 1739/40 (per the Barbour Collection) or on August 29, 1740 (per “A Genealogical Register of the Descendants of John Scranton”, compiled by Rev. Erastus Scranton).
  • Samuel, born March 24, 1720; married Mary Fitch, March 5, 1747.
  • Timothy, born May 1722; married Abigail Torrey, November 23, 1748; married Anna Fields, December 15, 1779; married Comfort Richmond, November 15, 1797.
  • Abraham, born 1724; married Beulah Seward; married Eleanor Picket, May 10, 1757; died May 5, 1780.
  • Sarah, born 1726; married Thomas Stone, June 17, 1747; died Jan 28, 1772.
  • Lucy, born 1728; died December 7, 1736.

Samuel died on March 18, 1750. According to Find a Grave, he is buried at West Side Cemetery in Guilford, but there is no photograph of the stone, and the memorial shows a death date of March 25, 1750.

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.