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.

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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: His Descendants, With A Royal Connection

Thomas Strong, like his father, was one prolific man. Again, the following information is to the best of my knowledge. Thomas and Mary Hewett’s children (all born in Northampton) were:

  • Thomas, born November 16, 1661; married Mary Stebbins, November 17, 1683; died November 30, 1735 in Durham, New Haven County, CT
  • Maria, born August 31, 1663; married Samuel Judd; died May 18, 1751
  • John, born March 9, 1664/65; never married; died May 21, 1699 in Deerfield, Hampshire County, MA
  • Hewett, born December 2, 1666; never married; died before September 29, 1689 (Benjamin Woodbridge Dwight states in “The History of the Descendants of Elder John Strong” that he was one of the first settlers of Durham, CT. However, Durham was not even settled until 1699, so this cannot be true.)
  • Asahel, born November 14, 1668; married Margaret Hart; died October 8, 1739 in Farmington, Hartford County, CT; buried in Memento Mori Cemetery in Farmington

Thomas and Rachel Holton’s children (all born in Northampton) were:

  • Joseph, born, December 2, 1672; married Sarah Allen; died December 23, 1763 in Coventry, probably Hartford County (now Tolland County), CT; buried in Nathan Hale Cemetery in Coventry, although it must not have been known as such when Joseph was buried. (In fact, Nathan Hale was Joseph’s grandson. Another famous descendant of Joseph was Princess Diana, whose ancestry back to Joseph is best outlined here – thanks to Barbara Poole of the “Life From the Roots” blog.)
  • Benjamin, born 1674; never married; died August 27, 1755 in East Guilford (what is now Madison), New Haven County, CT; buried in Hammonasset Cemetery in Madison
  • Adino, born January 25, 1676; married Eunice Johnson; died December 31, 1749 in Woodbury, Fairfield County (now Litchfield County), CT; buried in South Cemetery in Woodbury
  • Waitstill, born 1677/78; married Mindwell Bartlett; died November 13, 1762; buried in Bridge Street Cemetery, Northampton, Hampshire County, MA
  • Rachel, born July 15, 1679; married Miles Dudley January 23, 1705/06
  • Selah, born December 23, 1680; married Abigail Terry; died April 8, 1732 in Brookhaven (what is now Setauket), Suffolk County, NY; buried in Saint Georges Manor Cemetery in Setauket
  • Benajah, born September 29, 1682; some trees indicate several marriages, but I haven’t explored them at this time
  • Ephraim, born January 4, 1685; died in Milford, New Haven County, CT
  • Elnathan, born August 20, 1686; died May 22, 1727 in Woodbury, Fairfield County (now Litchfield County), CT
  • Ruth, born February 4, 1688; married William Dudley (brother of Miles, who married Rachel Strong); died September 18, 1763; buried in Old North Cemetery in Guilford, New Haven County, CT

“The History of the Descendants of Elder John Strong” states that a daughter named Submit Strong was born February 23, 1690, but Mr. Dwight does not state where he may have obtained this information. (Perhaps she is actually a daughter of Thomas, Jr.?) There is some conflicting data about her on FamilySearch’s International Genealogical Index (IGI), so that is not even worth repeating.

1703 New England and New York.  Thomas Strong's children settled all over New England and New York.  Courtesy The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

1703 New England and New York. Thomas Strong’s children settled all over New England and New York. Courtesy The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

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.

Seventh Great-Grandfather Thomas Strong, Jr.

Seventh Great-Grandfather Thomas Strong, Jr.

Let me start by saying that I only use the designation “Jr.” here because much of what I’ve read uses “Jr.” to distinguish him from his father; I have not seen that he actually used this designation himself.  Thomas Strong, Jr. was the oldest child of Thomas Strong and Mary Hewett of Northampton, Massachusetts Bay Colony.  He was born on November 16, 1661.  Thomas became a farmer.

Thomas married Mary Stebbins (daughter of John Stebbins and Abigail Bartlett) on November 17, 1683 in Northampton.  Their children (all born in Northampton) were:

  • Mary, born August 7, 1684; died August 31, 1684
  • Thomas, born August 27, 1686; married Mary _____; ended up living in Coventry, Tolland County, CT
  • Eliakim, born September 26, 1688; married Mehitable King on April 13, 1712; died January 24, 1745/46 in Durham, New Haven County, CT
  • Mary, born December 29, 1690; married Thomas Alvord, Jr. between 1707 and 1710
  • Hewett, born January 27, 1694; died March 25, 1694
  • Hewett, born May 1696; married Dinah ____ November 17, 1726 (who died in 1737); then married another wife on April 26, 1739; moved from Durham to New Berlin (New York? or perhaps actually Berlin, Connecticut?) to Farmington, Hartford County, CT; died in what became Durham, Greene County, NY (I am not sure if it was still Freehold at the time of his death.)
  • John, born April 25, 1698
  • Rachel, born April 15, 1700; married Samuel Robinson March 19, 1724
  • Damaris (some records say Tamar), born 1702; married John Camp; died August 25, 1737 in Durham, CT; buried in Old Durham Cemetery
  • Hannah, born 1704; married Benoni Hills 1724
  • Mercy, born Nov 16, 1707

With all of his family except for Eliakim and perhaps Mary, Thomas moved to Durham, CT “shortly after” 1708.  I assume that he continued his trade of farming there.  His wife Mary predeceased him on August 8, 1733.  He passed away on November 30, 1735, and both are buried in Old Durham Cemetery.

Sixth Great-Grandfather Eliakim Strong

Eliakim Strong was born on September 26, 1688 in Northampton, Hampshire County, MA, the third child & second son of Thomas Strong, Jr. and Mary Stebbins. Like many of his Northampton family members, he was a member of Northampton First Church.

Eliakim married Mehitable King (daughter of John King and Mehitable Pomeroy) on April 13, 1712 in Northampton. He was a farmer in there from at least 1712 – 1725, then in Durham, New Haven County, CT starting from sometime between 1725 and 1730. He joined his father Thomas Strong, Jr., who already moved to Durham in 1708.

Eliakim and Mehitable’s children were:

  • Catherine (or Katherine), born January 8, 1713 in Northampton; married Bryan Rosseter September 2, 1736 in Durham; after Bryan’s death in 1755 married Gideon Leete in Durham; died April 11, 1778 and is buried next to her first husband in Old Durham Cemetery
    Katherine (Strong) Rosseter grave.  Author's collection.

    Katherine (Strong) Rosseter grave. Author’s collection.

    Bryan Rosseter grave.  Author's collection.

    Bryan Rosseter grave. Author’s collection.

  • Mehitable, born September 5, 1715 in Northampton; married Aaron Alvord, November 6, 1739 in Durham; they seem to have moved to Torrington, Litchfield County, CT between 1755 and 1760
  • Eliakim, born March 7, 1720 in Northampton; married Hannah Seward, June 4, 1751 in Durham; moved to Freehold, Greene County, NY (which is now Durham, NY); died 1800 in Freehold, NY
  • Thomas, born November 17, 1722 in Northampton; married Phebe Seward January 16, 1746 in Durham (more about them here)
  • Hewett (died young)
  • Experience, baptized January 3, 1730/31, probably in Durham; married Noah Norton, December 29, 1757 in Durham
  • Mary, born September 8, 1734 in Durham; married Rowland Rosseter, April 11, 1753 in Durham; died November 17, 1799; buried in Old Durham Cemetery

Eliakim died January 24, 1744 in Durham and is buried in Old Durham Cemetery. Many online trees suggest that his wife Mehitable died in 1778. I assume that she also is buried at Old Durham Cemetery.