On the Move Again

1.  Pomfret and Canterbury

The passage from the 17th century to the 18th is not unlike that from the Age of Dinosaurs to the Age of Mammals. Where in the earlier period all is exotic and fantastical, in the later things start to become almost familiar. The scale of events becomes smaller and more intimate. The shape of the lands and the lineages that inhabit them are more like what we know. Where before we were dealing with ancestors, now we are speaking of relatives.

As the 18th century began, desirable land was getting more difficult to find, and the colonists started pioneering new areas. One of these was Windham County in northeastern Connecticut. For sixty years, people had been traveling through this territory on the way from Boston to Hartford, or Hartford to Providence, but it had not been considered suitable for settlement because it lacked a navigable river. Settlers began arriving only after 1700, including Padget ancestors Thomas Adams and Jonathan Hyde, 3rd.

Jonathan Hyde, 3rd was born in Cambridge, MA in 1674. His father was Jonathan Hyde, Jr., the son of Jonathan Hyde, Sr. who had arrived Boston in 1639 at the age of 13.  His mother was Dorothy Kidder, the daughter of that James Kidder who two years later would die fighting in King Philip's War. Jonathan's wife was Elizabeth Williams, the daughter of Isaac Williams of Newton, MA.

(As it happens, two of Isaac Williams' brothers were also Padget ancestors. Samuel Williams was the grandfather of Rev. John Warren of Wenham. John Williams was an early settler at Windsor, CT whose granddaughter married the grandson of Thomas Dewey, Jr. of Westfield, MA. )

Jonathan Hyde and Elizabeth Williams were married early in 1700, and their first child, whom they named Isaac, was born at the end of that year. Some time before 1715, they settled in Pomfret, CT, along with Jonathan's widowed father. Pomfret is in the extreme northeast corner of Connecticut, only about ten miles from both the Massachusetts and the Rhode Island borders. A few years later, after the elder Jonathan's death in 1726, they would continue on to Canterbury, about fifteen miles south of Pomfret.

Isaac Hyde was married in 1724, probably to Elizabeth Starr of Dedham, MA. (The genealogical resources I have consulted on this are not in agreement and some of them show her marrying a Jonathan Hyde in Boston instead.) Elizabeth was the daughter of Comfort Starr -- not the Padget ancestor who had moved to Middletown, CT, but his first cousin of the same name. Isaac and Elizabeth's eldest child was a daughter, Judith Hyde, who in 1744 married Charles Adams of Canterbury.

Charles Adams' father, Thomas Adams, was a great-grandson of Henry Adams of Braintree, MA. The Adams name looms large in American history because it produced two presidents, but three hundred years ago, the Adams family was not prominent or even very well documented. However, it appears that Thomas Adams and his wife, Abigail Davenport, must have been early settlers in Canterbury, because their son, Charles Adams, was born there in 1716.

Charles Adams and Judith Hyde would be married in Canterbury, but they would not remain there long. Within a few years, they were pioneers in another migration, to the town of New Marlboro in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. 

2.  The Howling Wilderness

The Berkshires were another of those out-of-the-way corners of New England, being far too hilly and inaccessible to attract the first -- or even the second -- wave of settlers. Even today, driving through on the Mass Pike gives the impression of a series of isolated and thinly populated valleys, set among hills where the snow comes sooner and lingers far longer than it does in in the Connecticut Valley just to the east. 

However, the Indian trail through the Berkshires formed one segment of a major route that ran from Boston, through Springfield and Westfield, and on to Kinderhook and Albany in New York. (This is roughly the same path that the Mass Pike and New York Thruway follow today.) William Hubbard, in his history of King Philip's War, described a battle which occurred on the "Ausotunnoog river in the middle way betwix Westfield and the Dutch river and Fort Albany." This may well have been the spot on which Great Barrington was later built, since Hubbard's "Ausotunnoog" was the Indian name later corrupted by the Dutch into "Westenhook" and by the English into "Housatonic."

Dutch fur-traders from New York had shown some interest in this area, but had established no permanent settlements. A Boston minister who traveled through it in 1694 called it a "howling wilderness." And Moses Ingersoll of Westfield must also have passed that way in 1719 when he married Catharina Van Slyke of Kinderhook, NY, the granddaughter of Willem Peterse Van Slyke of Beverwijck, Holland.

But the land along the Housatonic River was fertile, and permanent settlers began to arrive in 1726. Moses Ingersoll was among them, as were a number of his relatives -- Ingersolls on his father's side of the family, Ashleys on his mother's -- and former neighbors from Westfield. The new town was originally known as Sheffield, but when it was later split, the name Sheffield was kept for the southern part, while the section where Moses Ingersoll had settled was known as Great Barrington. Moses kept an inn in Great Barrington and was a large landholder and prominent citizen.

Two other Padget ancestors, Samuel Dewey of Westfield and his nephew, Thomas Dewey, were also among the first settlers of Sheffield, building houses there no later than 1733. The Deweys were closely related by marriage to both the Ingersolls and the Ashleys.  Samuel's wife was Rebecca Ashley -- the sister of Moses Ingersoll's mother, Sarah Ashley -- while Thomas's maternal grandmother was Mary Ashley, Sarah and Rebecca's aunt. 

(In addition, Thomas Dewey's wife was Abigail Williams, who was the second cousin of both Isaac Hyde of Canterbury, CT and Rev. John Warren of Wenham, MA. It seems as though sometimes family trees branch as widely as an old oak, while other times they just tangle up on themselves like spaghetti.)

In 1735, the Massachusetts government created several new townships along the trail through the Berkshires, in hopes of making the journey safer and more comfortable. These included New Marlboro slightly to the southeast of Great Barrington and Tyringham to the northeast.  But the settlers must have taken their time in arriving, because Charles Adams and Judith Hyde, who were still living in Canterbury, CT at the time of their marriage in 1744, are said to have been among the original inhabitants of New Marlboro. David Tracy also came from eastern Connecticut and settled in New Marlboro no earlier than the 1750's. 

Over the next several decades, Padget ancestors continued to filter into this area. Some were from nearby -- like Nathaniel Lee, a great-grandson of Walter Lee of Westfield, who arrived in Great Barrington in 1759 -- while others came from further afield. 

For example, Ithamar Hubbell's ancestors had lived in various towns of what was then the New Haven Colony, along the Connecticut coast. It is not clear wht brought him to Sheffield, but he became a prominent citizen there, married Samuel Dewey's daughter, Mabel, and served in the French and Indian War. His daughter, Sarah Hubbell, married Nathaniel Lee in 1763.

Thankful Peirce came even further, from Weston, MA, which is today a suburb of Boston. Her ancestors had originally settled in Cambridge and Watertown, then over several generations had moved only a few miles to the west. But Thankful's uncle was an early settler in Great Barrington, and in 1753, Thankful and her brother made the long journey to join him.

The origins of other Padget ancestors who appear in the Berkshires at this time can be identified only tentatively. Priscilla Austin -- who married Azariah Dewey (the son of Thomas Dewey and Abigail Williams) in Sheffield in 1744 -- was almost certainly from Suffield, a little ways down the Connecticut River from Springfield, where there was a prominent family of Austins. But no one has ever found a birth record to link her to a specific set of parents. 

Josiah Smith of Tyringham, who married Thankful Peirce in 1760, may also have been from Suffield. There was a Josiah Smith born there in 1736, the son of Noah Smith and Mary Johnson, and circumstantial evidence suggests that they were the same person, but there is no hard proof.

Isaac Preston is even more mysterious. Nothing is known of him before 1767, when he appeared in Great Barrington and married Abigail Dewey (the daughter of Azariah Dewey and Priscilla Austin). My best guess is that he may have belonged to the family of Roger Preston of Salem, MA, among whose descendents the name Isaac was extremely common. There was an Isaac Preston of this family born in Windham County, CT in 1744 about whose later life nothing is known -- perhaps he was the Isaac who found his way to Great Barrington.

But the greatest mystery of all is Abigail Ross. She was born in 1754 and is on record as being the adoptive daughter of Miss Hannah Blackmore of New Marlboro, but nothing is known of her true parents. There are several Ross families in New England, all of them apparently descended from Scottish soldiers who were taken prisoner by Cromwell's army in the 1650's and sent over as indentured servants. But the Abigails in these families are all documented as having lived in other places, married other people, and led other lives. 

Abigail Ross would become the wife of John Dodge, son of Abraham Dodge and Elizabeth Warren. Abraham and his family had left Wenham in 1770 and settled in Brookfield in central Massachusetts. Then, within a few years, they moved on again, to New Marlboro, where John and Abigail were married in April 1775.

3.  "Leaving a Venerated Name to His Posterity"

There is one more internal migration that features prominently in the Padget story. In the 1760's there appears to have been a major movement of families from Rhode Island to the extreme northwest corner of Massachusetts and to southern Vermont and New Hampshire.

Religion may have played a part in this migration, since the town of Cheshire, MA is said to have been founded by Rhode Island Baptists who were largely descendants of the followers of Roger Williams. But Rhode Island is a tiny state, and the lure of cheap land helped motivate the migration as well.

Philemon Lee, who was born in Coventry, RI in 1747, moved to Massachusetts in the 1760's and lived both in Cheshire and the nearby town of Hancock. His ancestors had all been early settlers of Rhode Island or Plymouth Colony, including Hugh Mosher and Rebecca Maxson. In 1773, Philemon married Priscilla Sprague, the daughter of Anthony Sprague, 4th and Mercy Dexter.

Anthony Sprague, who died the year before his daughter's marriage, was an inhabitant of Lanesboro, which lies roughly between Cheshire and Hancock. He was originally from Scituate, on the Atlantic coast between Boston and Plymouth, and, like Philemon Lee, had both Plymouth and Rhode Island ancestors. He was the great-grandson of Anthony Sprague, Sr. of Hingham -- whose house had been burned at the commencement of King Philip's War -- and Elizabeth Bartlett of Plymouth, granddaughter of Mayflower passanger Richard Warren.

On his mother's side, Anthony Sprague was descended from several prominent Quaker families of Rhode Island, while Mercy Dexter was descended mainly from followers of Roger Williams, including John Smith the Miller and Gregory Dexter.  It is not clear to what extent Philamon Lee or Anthony Sprague continued to follow the values and motivations of their Rhode Island ancestors, but there are no such doubts about the final Padget ancestor who participated in this migration, the Reverend Maturin Ballou.

Maturin Ballou was the great-grandson of an earlier Maturin Ballou, who had settled in Roger Williams' city of Providence no later than 1645. The younger Maturin was, according to the very detailed notes Lucie Panshin made on him, both a farmer and and a mechanic of sorts. He is described in legal documents of the time as a turner -- that is, someone who does wood-working on a lathe -- and is recalled in tradition as having been a small-scale manufacturer of spinning-wheels.

Maturin's wife, Lydia Harris, came of an old Rhode Island Quaker family which goes back to the Thomas Harris whose name appears as one of the petitioners on the royal charter of 1663. On her mother's side, she was a Sprague -- and was in fact the first cousin of Anthony Sprague of Lanesboro.

Lucie Panshin's notes suggest that she was fascinated by Maturin Ballou, perhaps more than by any other ancestor. The style of these notes, both more formal and more flowerly than her usual manner, suggests that she was adapting from some older source. She wrote of Maturin: 

He became deeply religious in early life, and a devoted member of the Calvinistic Baptist Church. In 1752, at the age of 30 years, he began preaching in that denomination, and continued in its ministry over half a century.  . . . He is said to have been a remarkably diffident, humble, modest, and unassuming, as well as a devoutly faithful man, and would never receive any stipulated compensation for his ministerial service -- having conscientious scruples against it. Both father and mother are said to have been eminent for tender affection and wholesome discipline toward their offspring.
Lucie writes further that in the 1760's, there was widespread interest around Providence in the possibility of migration to Richmond, NH, where large tracts of land were available at low prices. Several Ballou families eventually participated in this migration, as well as the families of four of Lydia's brothers and sisters. Lucie goes on:
Rev. Maturin joined the movement. He sold his property in 1767, and in October of that year bought at Richmond 80 acres, mostly uncleared land, and there, amid toil and privation, he pursued his ministry to a handful of new settlers. He was among the first, if not the very first, to preach the Baptist gospel in New Hampshire. He soon gathered a Baptist church in the section of Richmond, over which he was formally ordained pastor in the year 1770 and continued to officiate successfully until 1778. Afterward he preached more or less frequently in the surrounding region till near the time of his death.

Rev. Maturin is described as a man of large and commanding presence, stalwart for labor, an adroit horseman even down to old age, and a man of prudential, as well as executive accomplishment. The town of Richmond honored him with several positions of official responsibility, and he was greatly revered.

Preaching for love alone is a traditional way of guaranteeing the sincerity of the preacher, but it meant that Maturin and Lydia and their eleven children were always barely scraping by. Especially after Lydia's death in 1773, times must have been hard for the family. It is a tribute to the impact of Maturin's character that four of his sons chose to follow him in becoming ministers, including his youngest son, Hosea Ballou, who was the founder of the Universalist Church in America. Universalism involves a belief in the possibility of universal salvation and a rejection of the Calvinist obsession with damnation and is very similar to the heresy for which William Pynchon's book was burned on Boston Common.

Padget ancestor Stephen Ballou was the second youngest child in the family, born in Richmond in 1768, just after his family had moved there. He married Ruth Slater of Guilford, VT, which lies some twenty miles from Richmond, near the Vermont-New Hampshire border. Ruth's parents had also come from Rhode Island, and she and Stephen were third cousins. Lucie writes of them:

Stephen Ballou is reputed to have been eminently conscientious and upright, remarkable for wit and good humor--- frugally industrious as a wheelwright and farmer--- never rich, but by the economy of himself and worthy companion, securing a plain competency of life's necessaries, and leaving a venerated name to his posterity. He and his wife passed through many vicissitudes of anxious enterprise, toil, and affliction, but doubtless interlarded with a reasonable share of domestic enjoyment.

4.  Scots and Scotts

During the 1700's, it was not only old New England families who were on the move. For the first time since the 1630's, immigrants were also coming from Europe in large numbers. And although religion still played some part in these migrations, the motivations were increasingly economic ones. 

The story of the Scots-Irish begins in 1603, when Queen Elizabeth I of England died and was succeeded by her distant cousin, King James of Scotland. England and Scotland had been at war on and off for a century, and raiding the English had become a way of life for the Scottish border clans. They were not about to give it up just because their king was now the king of England as well.

The brilliant solution that occurred to King James was to settle a large number of his rowdy Scots subjects in Northern Ireland, displacing the even rowdier Irish. In the long run, this was an absolutely terrible idea, because it created the horrendous problems which beset Northern Ireland today. But even in the short run, it caused problems for the Scots who had been resettled.

For one thing, the Scots were poor farmers who now found themselves at the mercy of rich English landowners. For another, they were largely Presbyterians, who were similar in their beliefs to the Puritans and did not belong to the Church of England. They were not actively persecuted for their religion, but they were severely limited by law in their economic opportunities.

In the early 1700's, bad weather combined with high rents to force the Scots-Irish into a state of desperation. Emigration to America seemed like the most promising way out of their plight, and as many as one-third of the Protestants in Ireland did emigrate at this time. Many of them went to Pennsylvania, which had been founded as recently as 1682 and was still eager for immigrants. But some ended up in New England. 

Padget ancestor John Scott was one of those. He probably arrived at Boston in 1719 (although that might have been a different man of the same name). He definitely lived for a time in Brookfield, which lies about two-thirds of the way from Boston to Springfield. And in 1738 he moved to the new town of Blandford, some twenty miles west of Springfield, together with his wife, Agnis, and his small son, John Scott, Jr. 

There were so many Scots-Irish in Blandford that it was sometimes known as "Glasgow," and John Scott settled down there, rising to hold the respectable positions of constable and hog reeve. (As I understand it, constables in those days dealt with stray pigs the way police officers these days hand out parking tickets. It was just part of the job.)

5.  Johan, Johann, and Johannes

The Palatine Germans' motivations for emigration were similar to those of the Scots-Irish, but their problems included war as well as poverty. They lived in a part of Germany that ran along the border with France, and whenever war broke out -- which is to say, about every fifteen years -- French armies would cross the border and ravage the Palatinate. This had happened in the 1690's, as part of that same war that sent the New Englanders off to attack Quebec, and it happened again in 1707. Besides getting kicked to pieces by the French, the Palatine Germans were also plagued by war-induced taxes and by the terrible winter of 1708-09.

At this point, the English made it known that they would be glad to help. England had been involved in both of those wars against France and was finding it politically useful to position itself as the champion of Protestants everywhere, particularly those who had been victimized by the Catholic French. When bitter weather sent thousand of Palatines fleeing their homeland, it was England that took them in (much as the United States took in various groups of refugees during the Cold War with Russia.) And when England found itself with more refugees than it could handle, Pennsylvania was glad to offer them a home.

Pennsylvania, which had been founded by William Penn as a refuge for Quakers, had already taken in thousands of German Anabaptists and other fringe groups. The Palatines, who were mainstream Protestants, were not being persecuted for their beliefs in the same way, but Pennsylvania needed settlers and was eager to have them. The result was a great flood of German immigrants that lasted for several decades. They landed at Philadelphia but spread out into the surrounding counties to the north and west of the city, which are still full of their descendents today. Because they were non-English, excellent records were kept of their arrival, and we generally know exactly when they immigrated and where they went.

Three Padget ancestors were part of this migration. Johannes Heinrich Christ came to Philadelphia in 1732 and settled in Maxatawny Township, Berks County. Johan Michael Graul came to Philadelphia in the Harle on September 1, 1736 and in 1752 became one of the first settlers of Reading in Berks County. Johann Heinrich Schreffler came to Philadelphia in 1749 and also settled in Reading. (Most Germans in the 18th century had "Johan" as their first name. To avoid confusion, they were typically known by their middle names instead.)

The new immigrants were skilled and industrious and quick to settle in. The church and legal records by which we know them suggest a tight-knit commuity, with the same families continually intermarrying, standing sponsor at each other's christenings, and engaging in land deals together. 

6.  "Such Wonderful Stories of America"

The Scots-Irish and Pennsylvania Germans helped set the image of America as a land of economic opportunity which has persisted to this day, but by the 1760's, there were also people in England proper who needed an economic refuge. The root of their problem was the new, scientific farming of the 18th century, which inspired wealthy landowners to take back the land they had previously rented out to a myriad of small farmers in order to farm it themselves -- or else to produce the same result by raising the rents past what was endurable.

Increasing numbers of these dispossessed farmers began taking ship for America, to the point where the British government started worrying about how to prevent them from leaving. Yorkshire was one of the places most affected by enclosures and was a major source of emigrants.

John Padget and his wife, Hannah Wilson, arrived in America from Yorkshire in 1772 with their two little boys, aged four and one. Over a century later, their granddaughter, Hannah Barstow, would write down what she knew of them. Part of her reminiscence reads:

My mother's father's name was John Padgett. His place of residence was South Cave, England. As near as I know my grandfather was a shepherd. He married Hannah Wilson. I never heard her father's name. Her mother's name I believe was Martha. They had only two children, my grandmother and her brother John. There was a young man of wealth who wished to marry my grandmother when she was young, but she preferred my grandfather who was not very wealthy, and married him.

They had three children, one little girl named Hannah after her mother. She died and was buried in England. Then they had two sons before coming to America; John and James. Then grandfather, hearing, as I suppose such wonderful stories of America, made up his mind to come hither. Grandmother did not wish to leave father and mother and brother who were wealthy. She had before marriage everything heart could wish and did not have to labor at anything only such light and fancy work as she chose to do. But grandfather was bent on coming and told her he should come anyway. So rather than to have him come and leave her and her two little boys there, she finally consented to come.

Her brother was not married at that time. He afterwards married and lived in Hull and became very rich. He wrote to his sister that he had married as fine a woman as eyes ever beheld, but alas, before many years she died and he wanted grandmother to name my mother after her, which she did. 

They came in a sail vessel and were a long time crossing the ocean. At one time they came in sight of land and the captain told her she could get her children ready for they would soon be to land, but there came a storm and the wind blew them far away from their course and they never saw land again for weeks.

Her brother never married again and used to send chests of very rich goods to his sister as long as he lived. I do not know how long they had been in America when the war commenced, but her brother sent her things at that time that she never received and all letters were stopped so she was unable to hold any communication with her friends over the sea.

We know nothing about John and Hannah in the first several years after they arrived in America. There were no formal immigration records required for those who came from England, and the new arrivals did not quickly settle into the sort of tight-knit communities that would provide abundant church and legal records. Most of them landed in New York City and were immediately taken in hand by the agents of land speculators, who offered them rents far lower than what they were accustomed to pay back home and sent them upstate, to the areas west of Albany, to pioneer the wilderness. It is possible that John and Hannah were among these pioneers, but we will probably never know for sure.

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