Genealogical Resources


Steve Condarcure’s New England Genealogy Index – The purpose of these pages is to help beginners gather raw data for their genealogy project.  This database does NOT have any sources on the names here.  Steve guesses that 98% of the information here is accurate, but there is some that he has put here with the idea that questionable data is better than nothing.

Great Migration Begins: Biographies of immigrants to New England, 1620-33

Gravestones –

Gravestone Records from the 15 Towns of Cape Cod  A major goal is to photograph and display the most interesting old gravestones in Barnstable County before they are lost to the ravages of time. A related goal is to provide reasonably complete gravestone records from the earliest in 1683 up to 1900 for all Barnstable County cemeteries. The web site is complete to 1880 for most cemeteries and many cemeteries are complete to 1900. Work continues for the time period 1880 – 1900.


Since the earliest days of settlement, the town clerk of the community has been responsible for vital records. He or she is usually the best person to approach for advice about how to access the records.

GenForum –  Genealogy Message Board organized by surname –  holds a variety of resources for those whose research involves families of New Plymouth Colony (1620-1685) and the Massachusetts counties that sprang from it – Plymouth, Barnstable and Bristol. That includes sites for Plymouth and Barnstable Counties, twenty-eight sites for cities and towns in the Old Colony, and one for Town Records of Barnstable County.  It also hosts three sites for towns in other Massachusetts counties, a set of forums for online genealogical and historical discussions, and four sites holding other genealogical resources  –  Resources to connect people so that they can help each other and share genealogical research.

USGenWeb Project – A group of volunteers working together to provide free genealogy websites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States. This Project is non-commercial and fully committed to free genealogy access for everyone.

Organization is by county and state, and this website provides you with links to all the state genealogy websites which, in turn, provide gateways to the counties. The USGenWeb Project also sponsors important Special Projects at the national level and this website provides an entry point to all of those pages, as well.

World Connect Project –  The WorldConnect Project is a set of tools, which allow users to upload, modify, link, and display their family trees as a means to share their genealogy with other researchers.  More than 640 million names on file

English Ancestors

Medieval source material on the internet: Heralds’ Visitations and the College of Arms –

At first sight, the heralds’ visitations are an ideal source of information for the medieval genealogist. The visitations produced a collection of pedigrees of families with the right to bear arms, recorded between the early 16th and the late 17th century, but in many cases extending much further back. Though they are indeed a valuable source, they must be used with great care, and confirmed from contemporary records wherever possible.

From the early 16th century to the late 17th century the heralds carried out visitations, county by county, in order to regulate the use of arms. Most counties were visited several times during this period. Those who were allowed arms had them recorded, including the quarterings to which they were entitled. Most importantly to the genealogist, supporting pedigrees were recorded. These could include, in addition to the main line of descent, offshoots giving the ancestry of wives who were heraldic heirs, in order to illustrate the route by which the quartered arms had been acquired. In these pedigrees, dates are given only occasionally, and presumably reflect the dates of documents which mention the people concerned. Often the ages of those in the final generation are given, which can allow the chronology of the later part of the pedigree to be estimated.

Sometimes the heralds also recorded some of the evidence on which the pedigree was based, such as transcripts of medieval charters, drawings of seals, coats of arms copied from churches or private houses and so on. Other information may also have been recorded at visitations, such as lists of those using arms to which they could not prove any right. This may sound too good to be true and sadly, in many cases, it is not true. While some of the heralds were pioneers in the systematic application of record evidence to genealogy, others were far less skilful and far less scrupulous.

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Oyster River Massacre – 1694

Most genealogies say Ensign John DAVIS (1621 – 1686) was killed at the Oyster River Massacre,  he actually died a few years earlier, but the actual toll to his family is bad enough; daughter Sarah, son John Jr, daughter-in-law Elizabeth, grandson James and grandson Samuel all killed, two to four grandchildren carried off to Canada, one to live for fifty years as a French nun. Another son and grandson were killed by Indians in 1720 and 1724.

Yesterday, I found out that one of his granddaughters, Mary Smith, later married Thomas Freeman Jr, , son of our ancestor Deacon Thomas FREEMAN (1653 – 1716) who lived 150 miles away in Cape Cod.  Did Mary escape or was she captured and taken to Canada?   How did she get  from New Hampshire to Harwich?   Was the attack a treacherous massacre or justified act of war?  I decided to make this post to share what I found out.

Navigate this Report
1. Overview
2.Background – King William’s War
3. French Perspective
4. Indian Perspective
5. English Perspective
6. Family Perspective
7. Aftermath


1. Overview

The Oyster River Massacre (known to the French and Indians as the Raid on Oyster River)  happened during King William’s War, on July 18, 1694 at present-day Durham, New Hampshire.

Durham, Strafford, New Hampshire

Durham, Strafford, New Hampshire

Strictly speaking, this place formed part of the township of Dover until the year 1732, but it was five or six miles, from Dover proper, and was always a distinct settlement, and had a separate history from the first.

Oyster River Detail

Oyster River Detail — Circa 1667 Map of The Piscataqua by John Scott (See full map below)

The name of “Oyster river” was given by the early pioneers to the Indian Shankhassick, a branch of the Piscataqua, on the banks of which they had found a bed of oysters. This stream has a channel broad and deep enough for shipping as far as the head of tide-water—that is, to the falls in Durham village, which is about two miles from its mouth and ten miles from Portsmouth harbor. There was no village here, however, in 1694. At that time there was a cordon of twelve garrisons along both sides of the river below, in which, at the least signal of danger from the Indians, those scattered settlers took refuge whose houses were without means of defense. But the meeting-house, the parsonage, the licensed tavern, and the center of local affairs were then on the south side of the river, more than a mile below the falls, on the tongue of land between the Oyster and Piscataqua rivers, now known as Durham Point.

151 Durham Point Road

151 Durham Point Road

This point is a rough, hilly tract of land, whose heights afford some delightful views across the tidal streams that enclose it.   At that time Durham Point was alive with the activity of the early colonists, who were engaged in fisheries and in supplying lumber for a foreign market, as well as in agriculture.

View from 151 Durham Point Road

View from 151 Durham Point Road

A force of about 250 Indians under command of the French soldier, Claude-Sébastien de Villieu, and “the fighting priest” Fr. Louis-Pierre Thury attacked settlements in this area on both sides of the Oyster River, killing or capturing approximately 100 settlers, destroying five garrison houses and numerous dwellings. It was the most devastating French and Indian raid on New England during King William’s war.

I’ve seen different estimates on the casualties

Reverend John Pike wrote in his diary:

The Indians fell suddenly & unexpectedly upon Oyster River about break of Day. Took 3 Garrisons (being deserted or not defended) killed & Carried away 94 persons, & burnt 13 houses- this was the f[i]r[st] act of hostility Committed by [them] after ye peace Concluded at Pemmaqd.

Wikipedia based on Acadia at the End of the Seventeenth Century by John Clarence Webster, Saint John, NB, The New Brunswick Museum, 1979 says

In all, 104 inhabitants were killed and 27 taken captive,[2] with half the dwellings, including the garrisons, pillaged and burned to the ground. Crops were destroyed and livestock killed, causing famine and destitution for survivors.

Jeremy Belknap, The History of New Hampshire, ed. John Farmer (Dover, N.H.: S.C. Stevens and Ela & Wadleigh, 1831)

94 killed and carried away

Another account says

In all, 45 inhabitants were killed and 49 taken captive, with half the dwellings, including 5 garrisons, burned to the ground. Crops were destroyed and livestock killed, causing famine and destitution for survivors.

2. Background – King William’s War

King William’s War  was the North American theater of the Nine Years’ War (1688–97). It was the first of six colonial wars fought between New France and New England along with their respective Native allies before Britain eventually defeated France in North America in 1763.

England’s Catholic King James II was deposed at the end of 1688 in the Glorious Revolution, after which Protestants William and Mary took the throne. William joined the League of Augsburg in its war against France  where James had fled.

In North America, there was significant tension between New France and the northern English colonies, which had in 1686 been united in the Dominion of New England.   New England and the Iroquois Confederacy fought New France and the  Wabanaki Confederacy,

The Wabanaki Confederacy was created by the five Indian tribes in the Acadia region  in response to King Philip’s War. It was a political and military alliance with New France to stop the New England expansion.

The Iroquois dominated the economically important Great Lakes fur trade and had been in conflict with New France since 1680. At the urging of New England, the Iroquois interrupted the trade between New France and the western tribes. In retaliation, New France raided Seneca lands of western New York. In turn, New England supported the Iroquois in attacking New France, which they did by raiding Lachine.

There were similar tensions on the border between New England and Acadia, which New France defined as the Kennebec River in southern Maine. English settlers from Massachusetts (whose charter included the Maine area) had expanded their settlements into Acadia. To secure New France’s claim to present-day Maine, New France established Catholic missions among the three largest native villages in the region: one on the Kennebec River (Norridgewock); one further north on the Penobscot River (Penobscot) and one on the St. John River (Medoctec)

King William's War

King William’s War

Supplies were in short supply. For King William’s War, neither England nor France considered weakening their position in Europe to support the war effort in North America.

Many of our ancestors were involved in other parts of King William’s War: 1689 attacks of Dover NH, Saco ME, and the Siege of Pemaquid;  Benjamin Church‘s   raids on Acadia; the 1690  Battle of Fort Loyal; the 1690  Battle of Port Royal.; the 1690Battle of Quebec; and the 1691 attack on Wells, Me. It was a dangerous time t live in Maine and New Hampshire.    I’ll have to make a post tying all these actions together.

3. French Perspective

In 1688  Sir Edmund Andros, Governor of the Dominion of New England, sailed the H.M.S. Rose into the harbor at the mouth of the Penobscot River. Once anchored, Andros sent his lieutenant ashore at Pentagoet to summon the Baron de St. Castin.  St. Castin was a French army officer, who had established a trading post at Pentagoet near the mouth of the Penobscot.   While he became the third Baron de Saint-Castin on the death of his elder brother in 1675, he appears to have devoted his time to becoming an Abenaki.  He married a daughter of Madockawando, the highly respected principal chief of the Indians living along the Penobscot River.  As the son-in-law of  Madokawando.  St. Castin enjoyed considerable influence among the Indians. The English, not wholly without merit, blamed the current Indian troubles on St. Castin. When the lieutenant returned with word that St. Castin had fled, Andros promptly seized the trading post. All movable goods were conveyed to the Rose, leaving behind only the vestments in St. Castin’s chapel.  Many historians point to this raid as the beginning of King William’s War in the colonies.

Baron De St Castin ((1652–1707)   by Will H Lowe 1881

Baron De St Castin 1881 by Will H Lowe

During King William’s War, after Benjamin Church successfully defended a group of English settlers at Falmouth, Maine in the fall of 1689, Castin returned to the village in May 1690 with over 400 soldiers and destroyed the village. xxx

News of  The Treaty of Pemaquid  stunned the French command. From his base of operations at Fort Nashwaak on the St. John’s River, Joseph Robineau de Villebon understood full well the implications of this treaty. Except for a few regulars and Canadian militia, the Abenaki warriors constituted his entire military force. Their neutrality, or worse yet, their allegiance to the English, put all of Acadia in a very vulnerable position. Villebon moved immediately to counter the effects of the treaty. On September 6, 1693, he dispatched Manidoubtik, a St. John’s chief, to see the Penobscot chief, Taxous, on his behalf. Madockawando’s chief rival, Taxous refused to take part in the peace talks and opposed any accommodation with the English. Manidoubtik was to implore Taxous to raise a faction to end the peace pact.

On September 11, Father Louis-Pierre Thury, Jesuit missionary and the orchestrator of a 1692 raid on York (Maine), arrived at Fort Nashwaak. In this man of God, the English encountered their most dangerous enemy. Thury had established himself at Pentagoet in 1687 at the invitation of St. Castin. Thury regarded the English as heretics and accompanied the Indians on many of their raids. He had lately been at Quebec, but left for the fort at St. John’s as soon as news of the treaty became known. Thury reported to Villebon and the two agreed on a plan of action. Two days later, Thury departed for Pentagoet with the intention of fostering disapproval of Madockawando’s treaty.

Governor General Frontenac  of New France  sent Claude-Sébastien de Villieu in the fall of 1693 into present-day Maine, with orders to “place himself at the head of the Acadian Indians and lead them against the English.” Villieu spent the winter at Fort Nashwaak. The Indian bands of the region were in general disagreement whether to attack the English or not, but after discussions by Villieu and cajoling by the Indians’ priest Fr. Thury (and with support from Fr. Bigot), they went on the offensive.

Louis de Buade de Frontenac

Louis de Buade de Frontenac (1622 – 1698)

Claude-Sébastien de Villieu (1674–1705) was a French military officer best known for his service in New France. In addition to service during King William’s War, he served for a time as military governor of Acadia.

Villieu was a career soldier, having entered the French army in 1648 at the age of fifteen. Villieu fought well against the Iroquois in 1666 and was granted a tract of land on the St. Lawrence River. Despite having done little to develop his grant, Villieu sought loftier appointments. In 1690, he had command of a company of volunteers and acquitted himself favorably during Phips’ siege of Quebec. However, Villieu possessed little real experience in dealing with the problems of a frontier command. He was used to the harsh discipline and regimentation of the regular army. Except for the 1666 campaign, Villieu had spent little time away from the European settlements. At the age of sixty, he was completely unprepared for the undisciplined rigors of frontier life.

According to his own statement, he served for fifteen years on the battlefields of Europe, beginning in 1674, before coming to New France. He participated in the defense of Quebec when it was attacked by New England colonists in 1690. In 1692 he married Judith Leneuf, the daughter of Michel Leneuf de La Vallière de Beaubassin.

Villieu was  n opportunist. Once out of Frontenac’s sight, Villieu sought to better his position in life. Neglecting his duties to Fort Nashwaak, he began a profitable business at the expense of the soldiers he was supposed to be commanding. He began appropriating supplies intended for his men to use in illegal trade with the Indians.  Frontenac later commended Villieu for his efforts; at the same time, however, he summoned him to answer charges related to this trading.

Desiring nothing less than the governorship of Acadia, Villieu took advantage of every opportunity to discredit his commanding officer, Villebon.   Villieu detested having to answer to a man twenty-two years his junior. He acted with insubordination and disregard for Villebon’s authority. It was clear upon Villieu’s arrival at Fort Nashwaak in November 1693 that he had no intention of carrying out his orders with regard to the treaty. Villieu’s arrival on the fifteenth coincided with the loss of a shipment of provisions intended for Villebon’s winter use.  This contributed to the overall supply shortage, rendering many of the troops at the fort unfit for duty. This shortage of supplies remained a source of contention between the two men.

After the Raid on Oyster River  he was rewarded with command of Fort Nashwaak (at present-day Fredericton, New Brunswick). He participated with Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie de Saint-Castin in Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville‘s successful Siege of Pemaquid in 1696. The ship carrying him from Pemaquid (in present-day Bristol, Maine) was captured, and he was imprisoned in Boston. Eventually released back to France, he returned to Acadia, where he served as the temporary governor from July 1700 to December 1701 after the death of governor Robineau de Villebon.

Little is known of the rest of his life. He was known to have difficult relations with his superiors, but was popular with the people in Acadia.

Louis-Pierre Thury (c. 1644, Notre Dame de Breuil, Normandy,  France-  3 Jun  1699, Halifax, Nova Scotia), known to the English as “The Fighting Priest” was a French missionary who was a liaison between the French and their native American allies during King William’s War.

Thury had probably begun his theological studies in France. He arrived in Canada about 1675, where he finished his theological studies, and was ordained by Bishop Laval  21 Dec. 1677. He first served some parishes on both shores of the St. Lawrence and became busar of the seminary of Quebec.

In 1684, as the institution was planning to found a mission in Acadia, Bishop François de Laval sent Fr. Thury on an observation tour from Percé to Port-Royal (Annapolis Royal, N.S.). The missionary sent the bishop a long account and chose to settle at Miramichi, where Richard Denys  offered a piece of ground for a mission. He remained there three years, receiving the visit of Bishop  Saint- Valllier La Croix, and occasionally went to the Saint John River and Port-Royal.

On Abbé Petit’s advice, he then went to settle at Pentagouet (Castine, Maine), near Jean-Vincent d’Abbadie de Saint-Castin, where he remained eight years. He acquired great influence over the Abenakis and took part in their expeditions. In 1689 he accompanied Saint-Castin on the raid which resulted in the destruction of Pemaquid,; of this he left a detailed account. In 1692 he went along with a war party against York (Maine). Two years later he applied himself to thwarting the endeavors of Phips, who wanted to keep the Abenakis neutral; Thury played an important role in retaining them under French influence. He took part in the attack against Oyster Bay, and was present with  Joseph Robineau de Villebon and a party of Abenakis at the capture of Pemaquid by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville  in 1696.

The bishop of Quebec made him his vicar general in 1698 and appointed him to be the superior of the missions in Acadia. About the same time Fr. Thury founded a new mission at Pigiguit (on Minas Basin) and planned to group the Micmac people, in one huge settlement between Shubenacadie and Chibouctou. The court looked with favor upon this plan and granted him a sum of 2,000 livres. His death prevented him from carrying out this undertaking.

Fr. Thury died 3 June 1699 at Chibouctou and was buried by the Indians under a stone monument. Dièreville saw this monument and heard the hymns which the missionary had translated into Micmac.

Fr. Thury had a full career and was a successful missionary. His political role is more open to discussion and has been variously judged. The French officers praised his activity and Charlevoix represented him as a “true apostle,” whereas Parkman considered him merely an “apostle of carnage.”

In 1668, Father Bigot erected a chapel at Narantsouac, now Norridgewock, restoring the mission.

Where were theses Catholic missionaries during the carnage at Oyster River? Belknap only speaks of one; but according to the Durham tradition there were two priests in the expedition. They are said to have taken refuge in the meeting-house, and, without doubt, saved that building from destruction when the neighboring houses, including the parsonage, were burnt to the ground. No credit has been given them for this protection, and a poor return was made when our troops afterward pillaged and then burnt more than one Catholic church among the Indian missions of Maine. In view of this the priests in the Oyster River meeting-house may certainly be pardoned for the trifling act that has been made almost a matter of accusation against them. The local accounts say that while there they “amused themselves” in writing on the pulpit.

The Catholic missionaries seem to have done their utmost to rescue the women and children, at least, from the hands of the savages and place them in good families in Canada, where they were treated with invariable kindness and Christian charity, as is manifest from the accounts given at their return, several of which have been published. Most of the children, at least the girls, were sent to the schools at Quebec and Montreal to be educated, and some of these it is difficult to identify, for they generally received new Christian names in baptism, instead of the Old Testament names in vogue among the Puritans, and their surnames, uncouth to French ears, were phonetically recorded, and thereby transformed almost beyond recognition. Otis, for instance, was written Autes, Hotesse, and even Thys; Hubbard was changed to Ouabard; Willey to Ouilli, Houellet, and Willis; Wheeler to Huiller; Bracket to Bracquil, etc. These are all Oyster River or Dover names. One pupil was registered at Quebec as “Nimbe II.” Her real name was Naomi Hill. Many of the surnames were dropped in despair, and “Auglaise” substituted. Among tle captives at the Ursuline school in Quebec, about the year 1700, were Marie Elisabeth Anglaise, Marie Francoise Anglaise, Anne Marie Anglaise, and so on, to the number of eight or more, with no other -surname.

4. Indian Perspective

In western Maine, the years of 1687 and 1688 brought with them a heightening of tensions between the Abenaki and their English neighbors. Increased settlement, especially near the mouth of the Saco River, triggered a series of conflicts over fishing rights, livestock, and land ownership.  The English placed nets across the Saco River, blocking migrating fish, a major Abenaki food source in the spring. English cattle continually damaged the local tribe’s unfenced corn fields.  The leaders of the Saco Indians approached the English complaining, “that the corn, [the English had]promised by the last treaty, had not been paid, and yet their own was destroyed by the cattle of the English; and that they, being deprived of their hunting and fishing berths, and their lands, were liable to perish of hunger.”  

The Abenaki complaints fell on deaf ears. English failure to address these complaints violated a 1685 treaty that established mechanisms for resolving such difficulties. Frustrated in their attempts at diplomacy, the Saco killed the offending cattle during the summer of 1688. In August, a dispute between settlers and Indians at North Yarmouth ended violently with casualties on both sides. Prompted by this Indian uprising, Benjamin Blackman, justice of the peace at Saco, ordered the seizure of twenty Indians that he suspected of causing the unrest. The Abenaki responded in kind, capturing several settlers during a raid on New Dartmouth in September 1688.

The Abenaki enjoyed considerable success at the start of the war. In June of 1689, several of the Eastern Indians joined with Kancamagus’ Pennacooks in an attack on Cocheco (Dover). That August, the English fort at Pemaquid Point (Maine) was destroyed.  Later that same month, a party of sixty Indians returned to New Hampshire, burning the Huckins garrison at Oyster River.

After initial successes in King William’s War (1689-98), French and Native aggression waned. Little more that a side show in the Nine Year War, supplies to Canada, especially to Acadia, were often low. Native groups desiring trade goods in exchange for furs (and needing guns, powder, and lead) were at times forced to deal with the treacherously undependable English. With French supply shortages, a desire for trade goods, and the continued gains by the English military, some Penobscot and Kennebec factions felt compelled to sign a treaty with the Governor of Massachusetts, William Phips, at the newly rebuilt Fort William Henry at Pemaquid, Maine in 1693.

Replica of Fort William Henry in 1909

Replica of Fort William Henry in 1909

The reverses of 1692 and 1693 eroded the Abenaki willingness to continue the war. During the summer of 1693, a group of ten to thirteen chiefs, led by Madockawando, began to explore the possibility of peace. The humiliating failures at Wells and Pemaquid exposed the ineffectiveness of the French military alliance.  The Abenaki  found themselves deceived in the expectation of receiving assistance from the French. The cost of the war and lack of French support crippled the Abenaki economy. Continual war-parties interrupted traditional patterns of food gathering and fur production.

Late in July, Madockawando and his peace envoy approached the commander at Fort William Henry. Lamenting “the distress they have been reduced unto,” they expressed “their desires to be at peace with the English.” The chiefs sought to reopen their trade with the English, Boston being their nearest and best market. The English traded at rates that were much more advantageous than the French would agree to. The chiefs hoped that with improved relations they would be able to recover kinsmen captured by the English since the outbreak of King William’s War. The two parties entered into council and by August 11 th, reached an agreement. As proof of their fidelity, the sagamores gave four of their number into Governor Phips’ custody to be held as hostages.

The Treaty of Pemaquid was a  one-sided document, reflecting English pretensions of innocence. The English either ignored or failed to see how their own actions contributed to the opening hostilities at Saco in 1687 and 1688. The treaty made the Abenaki the sole aggressors stating, “whereas a bloody war has for some years now past been made and carried on by the Indians.” The English wrongly attributed the war to the “instigation and influences of the French.”

While the English gained Madockawando consent to a treaty of peace, he was unable to persuade the chiefs who were under the influence of French Jesuit emissaries, and was compelled to recommence hostilities.

The English assumed that the thirteen signers of the treaty represented all the Indians “from the Merrimack River unto the most easterly bounds of said Province. ” This belief reflected a dangerous lack of understanding of Indian politics and social structure. While each tribe had a principal chief, there were several minor chiefs at the head of each village group. Abenaki politics relied on the “vagaries of social consensus.” Those chiefs who had not signed the treaty would not necessarily feel themselves bound by it. Not understanding this subtlety, the English assumed that the Indian peace envoy’s promises to “forbear all acts of hostility” and to “abandon the French interest” applied to all the Indians.  

The treaty imposed humiliating conditions on the Indians, who conceded perhaps more than they realized. The very trade they were so desirous of now came under the strict control of the Governor and General Assembly of Massachusetts. They gave up their very freedom, “herby submitting ourselves to be ruled and governed by their Majesties’ laws.” ]In doing so, their only recourse in the event of a dispute lay in the English courts, which allowed the Indians no representation. In all likelihood, the Abenaki resented the treaty’s terms. Even the notoriously pro-French historian Charlevoix concluded that “these Indians often beheld themselves abandoned by the French, who counted a little too much on their attachment, and the influence of those who had gained their confidence.”  ]Yet the Abenaki could not bear the cost of the war alone.

After being tipped off that Madockawando (a Penobscot), Edjeuemit (a Kennebec) and approximately ten others had signed this treaty, Villebon, Governor of Acadia, considered the 1694 spring war declarations of Taxous Madockawando’s Penobscot rival) all the more urgent and important.

Chief Madockawando

Chief Madockawando

As an international war party organized at the usual French and Native staging area of Pentegoet (Castine, Maine) French imperial interests were represented by Marine Captain Villeu, and the “Fighting Priest,” Thury.

Other parties from Nari Comagou (Canton Point, Maine) Ameseconti (Farmington Falls, Maine), and Norridgewock (Madison, Maine) started forming at Panawamske (the largest Penobscot village now in Old Town, Maine), and deliberated on a military target.

The name Old Town derives from “Indian Old Town”, which was the English name for the largest Penobscot Indian village, now known as Indian Island.  Located within the city limits but on its own island, the reservation is the current and historical home of the Penobscot Nation

Oyster River Raid War Party Route Map

Oyster River Raid War Party Route Map

Now also joined by Maliseets from Meductic (Woodstock, New Brunswick) and Penobscots, the mobilized parties finally convinced the neutral “Madockawando faction” to take up the hatchet against the English. Fearing for the safety of clan relatives taken hostage by the English in Boston, the treaty group resisted until at last convinced by Madockawando’s son (recently returned from meeting Louis XIV in France), admonitions from Taxous, and arguments from Thury and Villeu. The French also claimed that past English “lies and betrayals” sealed the fate of the hostages and were said to now be slaves in England. Now on board, the peace faction joined the invasion force; all they needed was a target.

Maliseet Territory

Maliseet Territory

After an almost botched probe at Pemaquid, Villeu, who engaged in illicit fur trading throughout this part of the campaign, embezzled almost half of the French supplies. Therefore, as the army moved west towards the English settlements, through the river and portage routes, shortages started causing distress on the war trail. Picking up more warriors along the way, the group crossed over to the Merrimac River to Penacook (Concord, NH) by canoe, over the Ossippee/ Winnepesauke/ Merrimac River route. Now apparently near starvation, largely because of Villeu’s corruption, the war party decided upon Oyster River Plantation as a destination. A lucrative and easy enough target, it was also close, with a quick escape.

Bomazeen, a  young, minor chief of the Kennebecs, played a significant role in the formation of the war-party and in the attack itself. Bomazeen had signed the Treaty of Pemaquid in 1693. Acting as an emissary of goodwill, he had traveled to Boston several times during the winter of 1693 to 1694. In late November, Bomazeen was thrown in prison by the order of the Lt. Governor of Massachusetts, where he stayed until midDecember. He was eventually released, but was committed twice more in January and March.  Angered by this treatment, Bomazeen became a major proponent of an attack on the English. During the feast at Amasaquonte, the young chief was honored by being given command of a contingent of warriors for the coming attack.

Leaving the canoes at Penacook, and walking overland to  Oyster River, the war party divided into smaller groups and moved down both sides of the river. The plan was to surround all the dwellings and garrisons and attack simultaneously by an agreed signal near dawn. Not completely in position, shooting broke out prematurely. Even in the chaos, the invaders “harvested” 104 dead and 27 prisoners.

From the start, the Indians were acting independently and not under the direction of Villieu.  Although Villieu accompanied them and provided input, he did not lead them. Secondly, the Indians discussed among themselves where exactly to attack.  It seems that Villieu’s  only real contribution to the attack was to apprise his companions of the possible danger that they would be in if they stayed much longer. Villieu was leery of being surprised by a pursuing force bent on revenge. Thury conducted a brief mass, asking God to reward his charges for their valiant efforts. The war-party then withdrew to a nearby hill where they could safely sleep until the next day.

The following morning, fearing  pursuit from the militia, the group returned to Penacook. Not at all satisfied with their uneven winning, the Penobscots under Taxous and Madockawando, along with some other of the “bravest”Kennebecs under Bomazeen, continued on the war trail down the Merrimac River to Groton, perhaps intending to attack Col. Johnathin Tyng in Dunstable, MA, taking an additional 22 dead and 13 more prisoners.

The Indian war continued for more than a year after the Peace of Ryswick had been concluded between France and England, until by the Treaty of Casco of 7 January 1699 the Penobscots acknowledged subjection to the crown of England. In the later operations Castin was their leader, Madockawando having been, perhaps, one of the chiefs treacherously slain by Capt. Pascho Chubb at a conference at Pemaquid in February 1696.

The Wabanaki Confederacy (translated roughly as ‘People of the First Light’ or ‘Dawnland’) comprises five principal Nations: the Mi’kmaqMaliseetPassamaquoddyAbenaki and Penobscot First Nations.

The  Wabanaki peoples — are located in the area generally known to European settlers as Acadia. It is now most of Maine, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, plus some of Quebec south of the St. Lawrence River. The Western Abenaki are located in New Hampshire, Vermont, and into Massachusetts

The Wabanaki ancestral homeland stretches from Newfoundland, Canada, to the Merrimack Rivervalley in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Following the European invasion in the early 17th century, this became a hotly contested borderland between colonial New England and French Acadia. Beginning with King William’s War in 1688, members of the Wabanaki Confederacy of Acadia participated in six major wars before the British defeated the French in North America:

During this period, their population was not only radically decimated due to many decades of warfare, but also because of famines and devastating epidemics.

Wabanaki people freely intermarried with French Catholics in Acadia starting in 1610 after the conversion of Membertou. After 1783 Black settlers, refugees from the US, began to settle in the historical territory and many intermarriages between these peoples occurred, especially in southwest Nova Scotia from Yarmouth to Halifax. Suppression of Acadian, Black, Mi’kmaq and Irish people under British rule tended to force these peoples together as allies of necessity. Mixed-race children were commonly abandoned on reserves to be raised in Wabanaki tradition, as late as the 1970s.

The Wabanaki Confederacy was forcibly disbanded in 1862, but the five Wabanaki nations still exist, and they remain friends and allies – in part because all peoples claiming Wabanaki heritage have forebears from multiple Wabanaki and colonial ancestries.

The Penobscot main settlement is now Penobscot Indian Island Reservation.

5. English Perspective

1667 Map of The Piscataqua by John Scott

1667 Map of The Piscataqua by John Scott (See Oyster River Detail above)

Good Hearts, Stout Men – “The war party of 250 Abenaki Indians that moved through the darkness of the night, concealed within forests, was out for blood. Besides their own chiefs, at the head of the party was Sebastien de Villieu, a 60-year-old French military career officer, and Father Louis-Pierre Thury, a Jesuit priest. Father Thury had previously incited other Abenaki massacres of English Protestants whom he had hatefully considered to be heretics. The Abenakis were determined to slaughter or capture all the English colonists of the New Hampshire Oyster River Plantation, then butcher their livestock and set all their dwellings on fire.

When thirteen of the Abenaki chiefs signed the 1693 Treaty of Pemaquid the previous year, the French were alarmed that they might be losing their native allies for further prosecution of their war against the English. Father Thury and other Frenchmen insidiously influenced the younger chiefs to reject what the thirteen older chiefs had decided, suggesting that they were weak-willed cowards who planned to sell tribal land to the encroaching English. The best way to insure future Abenaki loyalty, the French knew, was to induce the disaffected chiefs to mount a treaty-breaking raid against an English settlement. After that, there could be no turning back until the French made peace with the English. Initial war councils of the young chiefs in 1694 had favored Boston as the target of their intended terror, but the Abenakis changed the site of battle to the Oyster River Plantation.

[For the English, the Treaty of Pemaquid was a master stroke. Many of the frontier settlements lay in ruins. Settlers confined to garrisons could not harvest crops. Food shortages were common. Commerce and trade were at a standstill. But now, with the Eastern Tribes under control, New England was free to muster her forces for a second attempt on Quebec.  Flushed with success, Phips sent runners to the frontier settlements to proclaim the peace. To a war-weary region this was welcome news indeed. As fall gave way to winter, and no new outbreaks occurred, the settlers began to leave the garrisons, returning to their homes. ]

Only two days before the slaughter, the Oyster River settlers  had gathered to belatedly hear — and to cheer — news of the Treaty of Pemaquid. Feeling safe from attack, the  neighbors let their guard down, ending the long-held night watches along both sides of the Oyster River.”

The Indian war party approached from the west after sunset, and divided their forces into two divisions, one attacking along the river’s south side and the other on the north side. Detachments of eight to ten Indians were then tasked to strike each of the 12 fortified garrisons and other strong-houses.   The Indians believed that settlers in unfortified houses would rush to the garrisons for protection, only to find the Indians waiting to kill them down outside the already-besieged garrisons.”

Jeremy Belknap, continues the story in The History of New Hampshire, ed. John Farmer (Dover, N.H.: S.C. Stevens and Ela & Wadleigh, 1831)

The towns of Dover and Exeter being more exposed than Portsmouth or Hampton, suffered the greatest share in the common calamity.

The engagements made by the Indians in the treaty of Pemaquid, might have been performed if they had been left to their own choice. But the French missionaries had been for some years very assiduous in propagating their tenets among them, one of which was ‘ that to break faith with heretics was no sin.’ The Sieur de Villieu, who had distinguished himself in the defence of Quebec when Phips was before it, and had contracted a strong antipathy to the New-Englanders, being then in command at Penobscot, he with M. Thury, the missionary, diverted Madokawando and the other Sachems from complying with their engagements; so that pretences were found for detaining the English captives, who were more in number, and of more consequence than the hostages whom the Indians had given.

The settlement at Oyster river, within the town of Dover, was pitched upon as the most likely place; and it is said that the design of surprising it was publicly talked of at Quebec two months before it was put in execution.

Rumors of Indians lurking in the woods thereabout made some of the people apprehend danger; but no mischief being attempted, they imagined them to be hunting parties, and returned to their security. At length, the necessary preparations being made, Villieu, with a body of two hundred and fifty Indians, collected from the tribes of St. John, Penobscot and Norridgewog, attended by a French Priest, marched for the devoted place.

The enemy approached the place undiscovered, and halted near the falls on Tuesday evening, the seventeenth of July. Here they formed two divisions, one of which was to go on each side of the river and plant themselves in ambush, in small parties, near every house, so as to be ready for the attack at the rising of the sun; and the first gun was to be the signal.

John Dean, whose house stood by the saw-mill at the falls, intending to go from home very early, arose before the dawn of day, and was shot as he came out of his door. This firing, in part, disconcerted their plan; several parties who had some distance to go, had not then arrived at their stations; the people in general were immediately alarmed, some of them had time to make their escape, and others to prepare for their defence. The signal being given, the attack began in all parts where the enemy was ready.

Map of Dover Garrison Houses

Map of Dover Garrison Houses

Of the twelve garrisoned houses five were destroyed, viz. (11.) Adams’s, Drew’s, (13.) Edgerly’s, (1.) Medar’s and (6.) Beard’s. They entered (11.) Adams’s without resistance, where they killed fourteen persons ; one of them, being a woman with child, they ripped open. The grave is still to be seen in which they were all buried. Drew surrendered his garrison on the promise of security, but was murdered when he fell into their hands. One of his children, a boy of nine years old, was made to run through a lane of Indians as a mark for them to throw their hatchets at, till they had dispatched him. Edgerly’s was evacuated. The people took to their boat, and one of them was mortally wounded before they got out of reach of the enemy’s shot. Beard’s and Medar’s were also evacuated and the people escaped.

The defenceless houses were nearly all set on fire, the inhabitants being either lulled or taken in them, or else in endeavoring to fly to the garrisons. Some escaped by hiding in the bushes and other secret places. Thomas Edgerly, by concealing himself in his cellar, preserved his house, though twice set on fire. The house of John Buss, the minister, was destroyed, with a valuable library. He was absent; his wife and family fled to the woods and escaped. The wife of John Dean, at whom the first gun was fired, was taken with her daughter, and carried about two miles up the river, where they were left under the care of an old Indian, while the others returned to their bloody work. The Indian complained of a pain in his head, and asked the woman what would be a proper remedy : she answered, occapee, which is the Indian word for rum, of which she knew he had taken a bottle from her house. The remedy being agreeable, he took a large dose and fell asleep ; and she took that opportunity to make her escape, with her child, into the woods, and kept herself concealed till they were gone.

Bunker Garrison

James Bunker built a fortified home in 1652 known as Bunker’s Garrison (4. on map above) in the Oyster River Plantation area. Two soldiers were assigned to his garrison and he was paid £5/6/0 for their upkeep between 25 Jul 1693 and 24 Nov 1694.

The other seven garrisons, viz. (9.) Burnham’s, (12.) Bickford’s, (3.) Smith’s, (4.) Bunker’s, (2.) Davis’s, (5.) Jones’s and (7.) Woodman’s were resolutely and successfully defended. At Burnham’s, the gate was left open : The Indians, ten in number, who were appointed to surprise it, were asleep under the bank of the river, at the time that the alarm was given. A man within, who had been kept awake by the toothache, hearing the first gun, roused the people and secured the gate, just as the Indians, who were awakened by the same noise, were entering. Finding themselves disappointed, they ran to Pitman’s defenceless house, and forced the door at the moment, that he had burst a way through that end of the house which was next to the garrison, to which he with his family, taking advantage of the shade of some trees, it being moonlight, happily escaped.

Bunker Garrison Plan -- The walls, except the gable ends, were of hewn hemlock logs, nine inches in thickness. There were loopholes for defence which were afterward enlarged into windows.

Bunker Garrison Plan — The walls, except the gable ends, were of hewn hemlock logs, nine inches in thickness. There were loopholes for defence which were afterward enlarged into windows.

Still defeated, they attacked the house of John Davis, which after some resistance, he surrendered on terms; but the terms were violated, and the whole family was either killed or made captives.

Thomas Bickford preserved his house (12.)  in a singular manner. It was situated near the river, and surrounded with a palisade. Being alarmed before the enemy had reached the house, he sent off his family in a boat, and then shutting his gate, betook himself alone to the defense of his fortress. Despising alike the promises and threats by which the Indians would have persuaded him to surrender, he kept up a constant fire at them, changing his dress as often as he could, shewing himself with a different cap, hat or coat, and sometimes without either, and giving directions aloud as if he had a number of men with him. Finding their attempt vain, the enemy withdrew, and left him sole master of the house, which he had defended with such admirable address.

Davis-Smith Garrison

Davis-Smith Garrison – The drawing of the Davis-Smith garrison in what today is Newmarket is shown in its latter days just before being torn down in 1880. Probably built ca. 1694 by David Davis, it was taken over (and perhaps rebuilt) by John Smith around 1701, after Davis had been killed by Indians.

Smith’s, Bunker’s and Davis’s garrisons, being seasonably apprised of the danger, were resolutely defended. One Indian was supposed to be killed and another wounded by a shot from Davis’s. Jones’s garrison was beset before day; Captain Jones hearing his dogs bark, and imagining wolves might be near, went out to secure some swine and returned unmolested. He then went up into the flankart and sat on the wall. Discerning the flash of a gun, he dropped backward; the ball entered the place from whence he had withdrawn his legs. The enemy from behind a rock kept firing on the house for some time, and then quitted it. During these transactions, the French priest took possession of the meeting-house, and employed himself in writing on the pulpit with chalk; but the house received no damage.

Those parties of the enemy who were on the south side of the river having completed their destructive work, collected in a field adjoining to Burnham’s garrison, where they insultingly showed their prisoners, and derided the people, thinking themselves out of reach of their shot. A young man from the sentry-box fired at one who was making some indecent signs of defiance, and wounded him in the heel: Him they placed on a horse and carried away. Both divisions then met at the falls, where they had parted the evening before, and proceeded together to Capt. Woodman’s garrison. The ground being uneven, they approached without danger, and from behind a hill kept up a long and severe fire at the hats and caps which the people within held up on sticks above the walls, without any other damage than galling the roof of the house.

At length, apprehending it was time for the people in the neighboring settlements to be collected in pursuit of them, they finally withdrew; having killed and captivated between ninety and an hundred persons, and burned about twenty houses, of which five were garrisons. The main body of them retreated over Winnipiseogee lake, where they divided their prisoners separating those in particular who were most intimately related.

Belkap 1

Belkap 2

Belkap 3.

Belkap 4.

Belkap 5.

Belkap 6.

Belkap 7.

Belkap 8.

Belkap 9.

Belkap 10.

Belkap 11.

Belkap 12.

6. Family Perspective

Mary Smith Freeman

Mary Smith was born  24 May 1685 in Oyster River, Stafford,  New Hampshire.  Her parents were James Smith and Sarah Davis.   Her parents were killed in King William’s War,  her father in 1690 and her mother and two brothers in the Oyster  River Massacre  18 Jul 1694 in Durham, New Hampshire. Her grandparents were our ancestors Ensign John DAVIS and Jane PEASLEE.

She married 13 Nov 1707 Eastham, Barnstable, Mass to Thomas Freeman Jr. (b. 12 Oct 1676 Harwich, Barnstable, Mass – d. 22 Mar 1715/16 Orleans, Barnstable, Mass) His parents were our ancestors Thomas FREEMAN and Rebecca SPARROW.  Thomas had married first Bathsheba Mayo, but she died four months after their marriage.  After Thomas died, Mary married again aft. Mar 1717 in Eastham, Barnstable, Mass. to Hezekiah Doane (1672 – 1752) Mary died in  1732 in Eastham, Barnstable, Mass.

I wonder how Mary came the 150 miles from New Hampshire to marry and live in Eastham on Cape Cod. Around 1700, most marriages were within the same towns.

Here’s a romanticized version I found where Thomas was a mariner who had business at Oyster River where he met Mary, fell in love and brought her home to the Cape to be married.  I’m not sure of the author,but,  I’ve updated a little of the florid 19th Century language and omitted incorrect details like their mother scooping babes Samuel and James into her arms since they were actually 11 and 13 years old.

In the days of the French and Indian Wars, the  town of Durham,  [today home to the University of New Hampshire], was called Oyster River. The scattered farmhouses were guarded by six or eight garrison houses. Nothing lay between the settlements and Quebec, but the unbroken wilderness known only to the Indians, the fur traders and the marauding war parties which were sent out against each other by Catholic Canada and Protestant New England.

Mary Smith lived at the Inn which was kept by her father James Smith and her mother Sarah Davis in Oyster River N.H.  The people lived in constant terror of attack. Mary’s father was killed by the Indians, and Mary’s mother took her five children and moved into the garrison house near by with her brother Ensign John Davis.

July 18, 1694 some 200 Indians led by 20 French Canadians and 2 Catholic Priests burst, without warning, on the sleeping village.  The garrison house of Ensign Davis, Mary’s Uncle, was quickly surrounded. One of the French leaders and a Catholic priest promised safety for him and his household if he surrendered. He took them at their word, realizing all too well, that alone he could not hold out long. The instant he unbolted the door, he was rushed upon by the Indians, tomahawked and scalped, together with is wife and two of their children while the two older girls were seized as captives. When Mary’s mother saw what was happening, she  shouted for her  children to run for their lives out the back door. Somehow, Mary, her sister Sarah, and brother John made their escape and hid in the woods.  [Mary’s brothers James (1681 – 1694) and Samuel (1683 – 1694) were not so lucky.]

Twenty-eight of Mary’s closest relatives met death that morning.  In all, 104 inhabitants were killed and 27 taken captive,  with half the dwellings, including the garrisons, pillaged and burned to the ground. But Mary was not to be taken captive. In a few days Captain Tom Freeman from Cape Cod was heading his lumber schooner in toward Oyster River for a load of sawn boards. He found several frightened, bewildered people who told him of the massacre. He loaded no lumber that trip but began to search along the bank and in the woods for all those he could possibly save.

Among this group was our ancestor Mary Smith. She was taken to Tom Freeman’s father’s home which was in Harwich, Mass. Mary was reared and educated by those fine people and when she grew up she married the youthful sea captain who had rescued her – Captain John Freeman _ Mary Smith Freeman.

From the family Bible – we read in Mary’s own precise handwriting –

Mary Smith born May 24, 1685 Md Tom Freeman November 13, 1707

In a short ten years her husband was dead and she a widow at thirty-three with four little children. The final line of the record reads – My husband Thomas Freeman deceased March 22, 1718.

Mary’s sister Sarah came to Eastham to marry Joshua Harding in 1702. So a more likely scenario is that Mary came to visit, or even live, with Sarah and met Thomas then.

Judith Davis

Ensign John DAVIS‘ daughter  Judith, wife of Captain Samuel Emerson, was also taken by the Indians and remained in captivity five years.

Judah Emerson -- From - New England Captives Carried to Canada Between 1677 and 1760  By Emma Lewis Coleman

Judah Emerson — From – New England Captives Carried to Canada Between 1677 and 1760
By Emma Lewis Coleman

Mary Ann Davis

Ensign John DAVIS”s granddaughter, daughter of John Davis is one the most interesting of the captives taken at Oyster River, July 18, 1694.  According to a constant tradition in Durham, became a nun in Canada and refused to return home at the redemption of captives in 1699. This was Sister St. Benedict, of the Ursuline convent, Quebec, the first native of New Hampshire, if not of New England, to embrace the conventional life.

Mary Anne Davis was seven years old when the Indians, on the above-mentioned day, burnt her father’s house and killed him and his wife and several children, as well as his widowed sister and two of her sons. They spared, however, his two young daughters,- whom they carried into captivity, but who, unfortunately, were separated.

One of them, named Sarah, was afterwards redeemed, and was living at Oyster River October 16, 1702, on which day her maternal uncle, Jeremiah Burnham, was appointed her guardian and the administrator of her father’s estate. She afterwards married Peter Mason, but was left a widow before 1747.  Sarah inherited her father’s land at Turtle Pond and also his homestead on the south side of the Oyster River.  With true Davis tenacity to life she was still living in 1771, when she sold part of her homestead lands to John Sullivan (afterwards General  in the Revolutionary army, delegate in the Continental Congress, Federal judge,  and Governor of New Hampshire). How much longer she lived does not appear. She left one daughter, at least, whose descendants can still be traced.

Though John Davis was killed in 1694 no attempt was made to administer on his estate till after his daughter Mary Anne’s religious profession, September 25, 1701, when all hope of her return home was renounced.

But to return to her sister, who chose the better part. Mary Anne was carried away by the Abenaki Indians, but was rescued not long after by Father Rale, who instructed and baptized her and conveyed her to Canada. In 1698 she entered the boarding-school at the Ursuline convent, Quebec. At her entrance into this “Maison des Vierges” of which she had heard among the Abenakis, she was transported with joy. “This is the house of the Lord,” she cried; “it is here I will henceforth live; it is here I will die.” She entered the novitiate of that house on St. Joseph’s day, March 19, 1699; and received the religious habit and white veil, with the name of Sister St. Benedict, the fourteenth of September following—the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. She took the black veil and made her vows September 25, 1701. Mademoiselle de Varennes, whose father was governor of Trois Rivieres for twenty-two years, took the white veil with her and made her vows at the same time. The latter was only fourteen years of age when she entered the novitiate.

Sister St. Benedict is said not to have known her own age, but was supposed to be a few years older. The trials she had undergone, however, must have given her an air of maturity beyond her years The Durham tradition does not mention her age, but speaks of her as “young” when taken captive. She died March 2, 1749. Her death is entered in the convent records as follows:

“The Lord has just taken from us our dear Mother Marie Anne Davis de St. Benoit after five months’ illness, during which she manifested great patience. She was of English origin and carried away by a band of savages, who killed her father before her very eyes. Fortunately she fell into the hands of the chief of a village who was a good Christian, and did not allow her to be treated as a slave, according to the usual practice of the savages towards their captives. She was about fifteen years old when redeemed by the French, and lived in several good families successively in order to acquire the habits of civilized life and the use of the French language. She everywhere manifested excellent traits of character, and appreciated so fully the gift of Faith that she would never listen to any proposal of returning to her own country, and constantly refused the solicitations of the English commissioners, who at different times came to treat for the exchange of prisoners. Her desire to enter our boarding-school in order to be more fully instructed in our holy religion was granted, and she soon formed the resolution to consecrate herself wholly to Him who had so mercifully led her out of the darkness of heresy. Several charitable persons aided in paying the expenses of her entrance, but the greater part of her dowry was given by the community [i.e., by the Ursulines themselves] in view of her decided vocation and the sacrifice she made of her country in order to preserve her faith.

Her monastic obligations she perfectly fulfilled, and she acquitted herself with exactness of the employments assigned her by holy obedience. Her zeal for the decoration of the altar made her particularly partial to the office of sacristan. Her love of industry, her ability, her spirit of order and economy, rendered her still very useful to the community, though she was at least seventy years of age.

“She had great devotion to the Blessed Virgin and daily said the rosary. Her confidence in St. Joseph made her desire his special protection at the hour of death—a desire that was granted, for she died on the second of March of this year 1749, after receiving the sacraments with great fervor, in the fiftieth year of her religious life.”

Sarah Davis 1

New England Captives Carried to Canada Between 1677 and 1760 During the …
By Emma Lewis Coleman 1926

Sarah Davis 2
Sarah Davis 3
Sarah Davis 4

There was another Mary Ann Davis who became a nun in Canada in early times. She was, likewise, a captive from New England. She became a nun at the Hotel Dieu, Quebec, in 1710, under the name of Sister St. Cecilia. She was taken to Canada by the Rev. Father Vincent Bigot, S.J., who had ransomed her from the Indians at St. Francis. She is mentioned as leading ” a holy life” for more than fifty years in the religious state. She died in 1761, at the age of seventy-three. There is no record of her birthplace or parentage. She may have been the daughter mentioned by the Rev. John Pike, of Dover, N. H., in his journal:

“August 9, 1704, The wife, son, and daughter of John Davis, of Jemaico, taken by ye Indians in yr house or in yr field.” [Jemaico was part of Scarborough, Maine.]

7. Aftermath

The people of Oyster River Plantation were not sacrificed on the altar of fate. Their deaths reflected the accomplishment of a very real strategic objective.  The Abenaki went to war in order to protect their land and their way of life. The signing of the Treaty of Pemaquid, by a small group of disaffected chiefs, demanded action from both the French and Native Americans. The attack on Oyster River was the successful culmination of their joint action.

Immediately following the 1694 massacre, the British assigned 20 soldiers to protect
the remaining Oyster River residents. Records show that at least three soldiers were
posted “at Bunker’s” and note payments “James Buncker” made to the soldiers before the first inter-colonial war ended in 1697 — which is also the year that James Bunker died.

The sacrifice and valor of the Oyster River settlers was eloquently heralded by the leading Puritan intellectual and firebrand preacher Cotton Mather in his 1699 history, Decennium Luctuosum, or “Sorrowful Decade.”

New France and the Wabanaki Confederacy were able to thwart New England expansion into Acadia, whose border New France defined as the Kennebec River in southern Maine.

In the North American  theatre the French had been on the ascendant; all the English assaults on French possessions had been repulsedFort Penobscot on the border of Acadia had been destroyed; the frontiers of both New England and New York had been ravaged and forced back; the English outposts in Newfoundland had been destroyed and the island virtually conquered. In addition, throughout the war England’s claims to the Hudson Bay had been severely contested in a series of French expeditions culminating in Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville‘s capture of York Factory shortly before the signing of the treaty.

In spite of this the  Treaty of Ryswick,signed on Sep 1697 returned the territorial borders to where they had been before the war (status quo ante bellum). The Iroquois nation, deserted by their English allies, continued to make war on the French colonies until the Great Peace of Montreal of 1701.

Site of Oyster River Massacre

Site of Oyster River Massacre

The Oyster River Environs Archaeology Project (OREAP) is a multidisciplinary study bringing professionals from the fields of archaeology, history, geology, geography, and the environmental sciences together with interested members of the public to reconstruct the cultural history and land use patterns of the prehistoric and historic peoples who have lived within the Oyster River and Lamprey River watersheds.

Field-Bickford Garrison Site.2008

Field-Bickford Garrison Site.2008

Goals of the OREAP:
1. Site Chronology and Settlement Patterns – Radio carbon dating, the historical record, and artifact typology will be used to establish occupational sequences and settlement layouts. This will provide a framework for studying cultural change/ continuity and land use patterns.

2. Reconstruction of Economies – Economies of subsistence, manufacture, and trade will be reconstructed as a means to understanding how people made their living and interacted with other cultural groups.

3. Social Hierarchies, Politics, and Religion – The above provides a framework for assessing social structure within the community, relations with other communities, and the role of religion in everyday life.

4. Cultural Continuity/ Change – All of the above will provide a framework for the reconstruction of a cultural history for the region. Change and continuity will be assessed in relation to the larger Piscataqua Region and New England as a whole.


 The History of New Hampshire, by Jeremy Belknap,  ed. John Farmer Dover, N.H.: S.C. Stevens and Ela & Wadleigh, 1831


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Henry Dillingham

Henry DILLINGHAM (1624 – 1705) was Alex’s 9th Great Grandfather; one of 1,024 in this generation of the Shaw line.

Dillingham - Coat of Arms

Dillingham – Coat of Arms

Henry Dillingham was born 13 Oct 1624 in Cottesbach, Leicestershire, England. His parents were  Edward DILLINGHAM and Ursula CARTER. Henry died 26 July 1705 in Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.

Hannah Perry was born in 1623 in Devonshire, England.  Her parents were Edmund PERRY and Sarah BETTS.  Hannah died 9 Jan 1672/73 Sandwich, Barnstable Co. Mass

Children of Henry and Hannah:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Mary DILLINGHAM 23 Dec 1653   Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass. John WING III
c. 1677
Yarmouth, Mass.
Aug 1702 Sandwich
2. John Dillingham 21 Feb 1656  Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass Lydia Hatch
11 Sep 1746   Sandwich
3. Deborah Hannah Dillingham 21 Mar 1660   Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass Daniel Wing
1731  Sandwich
4. Dorcas Dillingham 31 Mar 1662 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass Ralph Earle
1692 in Dartmouth, Bristol, Mass.
23 Jan 1742  Dartmouth, Bristol, Mass
5. Edward Dillingham 21 Feb 1665 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass Abigail Nye
26 Sep 1695 Sandwich, Mass
28 Mar 1739 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass

Henry was baptized at Cottesbach, Leicestershire, England on Oct 13, 1624. He was mentioned in his grandfather’s will of that year. He came to America in 1632 on the William Francis  to Boston with his father.  He removed with him from Lynn to Sandwich in 1637, where he passed the remainder of his life. His name first appears on the records in the list of men able to bear arms in 1643.

Both Henry and his sister Elizabeth , wife of John WING II early adopted the Quaker faith and suffered persecution in common with others of that sect. The trouble seems to have begun about 1656. In 1657 neither he nor his father appears on a list of those subscribing to support the minister.

Sandwich was the site of an early Quaker settlement. However, the settlement was not well-received, as their beliefs clashed with those of the Puritans who founded the town. Many Quakers left the town, either for further settlements along the Cape, or elsewhere.

7 June 1659 – Henry  was fines 50 shillings “for refusing to serve in the office of constable, being chosen by the town of Sandwich”In the same year he was again fined 2 pounds,10 shillings.

In 1659 he was fined 15 Shillings ” for refusing to aid the Marshall in the execution of his office” (relating to Quakers) and in the same year his wife was fined 10 shillings for being at a Quaker’s meeting.

Protesting the fines for being at a Quaker meeting.

Protesting the fines for being at a Quaker meeting.

He seems later to have modified his views, or possibly the authorities had grown more tolerant, as in 1666 he served a constable.

In 1654 he contributed to build the mill: in 1655 signed a petition to the minster of the church at Sandwich;in 1658 appears as a landowner;in 1662 took the oath of fidelity;in 1667,with his brother John, settled his father estate; in 1670 was on the Grand Jury;in 1675 appears on the list of “townsmen of Sandwich,and was “voted to become one of the council of War from that time”

15 Jul 1678 – He was on a list of those who had taken the oath of fidelity, and in 1681 is again on the list of “townsmen. In June 1689, he was admitted freeman. As it was necessary for this that he should have complied with all the civil and religions requirements,it indicates that he had made his peace with the authorities and also that the persecution of the Quakers had been modified or abandoned. Although he was certainly a Quaker, his name does not appear in the first volume of records of the Sandwich Monthly Meeting, covering the period from 1672-1755.
His name is found in the list of freeman of the town in 1701 and 1702.

It is believed that Henry is Buried in the Backyard of the home still standing in Sandwich Mass.  How ever he also could be buried close to his father, Edward, but the stone is no longer there.

Edward’s home is still in use in Sandwich, Mass as a B&B and it is said to be haunted!!! Lights go off and on and doors have been known to open and close when no one is around them….. According to the Sandwich Historical Society, the Dillinghams are still is watching over their beloved home.


1. Mary DILLINGHAM (See John WING III‘s page)

2. John Dillingham

John’s wife Lydia Hatch was born 5 Dec 1669 in Scituate, Plymouth, Mass. Her parents were  eremiah Hatch (1626 – 1712) and  Mary Hewes (1633 – 1716). Lydia died 1710 in Scituate, Mass.

Alternatively, John’s wife was Sarah Bourne. Sarah was born 6 Jul 1681 in Scituate, Plymouth, Mass. Her parents were Shearjashub Bourne (1643 – 1718) and Bathsheba Skiff (1648 – 1714) Sarah died 7 Sep 1733 in Scituate.

Very little has been found in the public records about this John, reason unknown unless it is due to the fact that he was a Quaker. The public records do not give a date for his marriage or record his children, nor the orthodox church: the Quakers were not recorded.

John Dillingham was on the list of those who took the oath of fidelity in Sandwich, Jul 4, 1678. He was admitted townsman Jan 27, 1681.

Here Lyes buried the body of Mr John Dillingham who departed this life SEPth 11th Anno Domni 1746 in ye 83d year of his age

Here Lyes buried the body of Mr John Dillingham who departed this life SEPth 11th Anno Domni 1746 in ye 83d year of his age

Children of John and Lydia:

i. John Dillingham b. 1695 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.; d. 30 Jan 1763  Brewer, Barnstable, Mass; m. 7 Aug 1715  Scituate, Mass to  Jael Turner .   Jael’s parents were  Elisha Turner and Elizabeth Jacob.

ii. Jeremiah Dillingham b. 1696 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.

iii. Melatiah Dillingham b. 1700 Hanover, Plymouth, Mass.

iv. Patience Dillingham b. 1701 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.

v. Mary Dillingham b. 1702 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.

vi. Edward Dillingham b. 1704 in Harwich, Mass,

3. Deborah Hannah Dillingham

Deborah’s husband Daniel Wing was born 28 Jan 1664 in Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass. His parents were Daniel Wing and Hannah Swift. His grandparents  Rev. John WINGE and Deborah BACHILER.  Daniel died Mar 1740 in Sandwich

Children of Deborah and Daniel:

i. Edward Wing b. 10 Jul 1687 in Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass; d. 1734 in Dartmouth, Bristol, Mass; m. 1 Jun 1717 Dartmouth to Sarah Tucker (b. 23 Apr 1693 Dartmouth – d. 2 May 1727 Dartmouth)

ii. Samuel Wing b. 12 Aug 1690 in Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass; d. 12 Feb 1732 in Sandwich

iii. Jemima Wing b. 14 Oct 1692 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass

iv. Jeremiah Wing b. 6 Jan 1693/94 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass

v. Daniel Wing b. 6 Oct 1695 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass; d. 1759

vi. Dorcas Wing b. 6 Oct 1695 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.; d. 22 Mar 1737 in Dartmouth, Bristol, Mass

vii. Rebecca Wing b. 1 Jul 1700 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.; d. 1721 in Sandwich

viii. Zaccheus Wing b. 3 Apr 1703 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.; d. 15 Mar 1784 in Sandwich

ix. Hannah Wing b. 29 Oct 1706 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.; d. 3 Mar 1778 in Dartmouth, Plymouth, Mass

4. Dorcas Dillingham

Dorcas’ husband Ralph Earle was born 1664 in Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island. His parents were Ralph Earle Sr.  (1632 – 1716) and Dorcas Sprague (1632 – 1702) Ralph died 14 Apr 1718 in Dartmouth, Bristol, Mass.

Children of Dorcas and Ralph:

i. Deborah Earle b. 2 Sep 1693

ii. Barnabas Earle b. 3 Feb 1698 Dartmouth, Bristol, Mass.;

iii. Hannah Earle b. 21 Dec 1701 Dartmouth, Bristol, Mass.;

iv. Meribah Earl b. 29 Jan 1703 Dartmouth, Bristol, Mass.;

5. Edward Dillingham

Edward’s wife Abigail Nye was born 18 Apr 1678 in Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass. Her parents were John Nye (1644 – ) and Esther Shedd ( – 1724) Abigail died Jul 1720 in Sandwich.

Children of Edward and Abigail:

i. Hannah Dillingham b. 12 Jul 1696 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.;

ii. Abigail Dillingham b. 26 Feb 1697 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.;

iii. Simeon Dillingham b. 24 Sep 1700 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.;

iv. Edward Dillingham b. 12 Mar 1704 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.;

v. Mary Dillingham b. 22 Oct 1705 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.;

vi. Experience Dillingham b. 9 Mar 1707 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.;

vii. John Dillingham b. 14 Nov 1710 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.;

viii. Deborah Dillingham b. 7 Jun 1716  Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.;


Posted in 11th Generation, Dissenter, Immigrant - England, Line - Shaw | Tagged | 5 Comments

Stephen Minor’s Children – Unionist Slave Owners

Stephen “Don Esteban” Minor (1760 – 1815) was just a second cousin of our Miner line, but his family story is too unique not to include. His children and grandchildren owned hundreds of slaves and some of the grandest plantations in Louisiana and Mississippi, yet most remained loyal to the Union.

  • His son-in-law Willliam Butler Kenner received a franchise from the United States Congress to dig a large canal across New Orleans. The canal was never started, but Canal Street received its name from the aborted project.
  • His grandson Minor Kenner founded Kenner, Louisiana, population 66,702 at the 2010 census.
  • His son-in-law Henry Chatard was aide-de-camp to Major General Andrew Jackson and Assistant Adjutant General at the Battle of New Orleans
  • His son-in-law James Campbell Wilkins was a Natchez, Mississippi, cotton planter, merchant, cotton factor, financier, and banker. As Captain of the Natchez Militia, he helped hold the endangered West side of the Mississippi during the Battle of New Orleans.
  • His grandson Duncan Kenner (wiki), the richest of them all, tried to get England and France to recognize the Confederacy in exchange for emancipation.
  • His son William John Minor was nationally recognized in the breeding and racing of horses. Under the pseudonym, “A Young Turfman,” Minor authored more than seventy articles on horse racing for the Spirit of the Times, a New York sporting-life newspaper aimed for an upper-class readership made up largely of sportsmen.William John acquired Hollywood Plantation (1,400 acres) and Southdown Plantation (6,000 acres) in Terrebonne Parish and Waterloo Plantation (1,900 acres) in Ascension Parish.  His net worth, including hundreds of slaves, was estimated to be more than one million dollars in 1860.
    Active in Whig politics in the years before the Civil War, William John Minor lobbied against secession throughout the South.   When war did come, Minor remained loyal to the Union despite the social ostracism and economic losses that his family would suffer during and after the war.Today, Each fall, Southdown Plantation hosts the Voice of the Wetlands Festival showcasing dozens upon dozens of world class musical artists
  • William John’s daughter-in-law Kate Surget Minor was also a Unionist.  She filed a petition with the Southern Claims Commission in  1871.   The commission was to determine the validity of monetary claims of loyal southern Unionists whose property had been confiscated by the Union army during the Civil War. Kate’s claim for losses on Carthage and Palo Alto plantations totaled $64,155. However, after nearly a decade of litigation, and thousands of pages of testimony, the commission disallowed the majority of her claim and awarded only $13,072.   Kate’s case is covered in detail in The Case of the Minors, A Unionist Family in the Confederacy by Frank Wysor Klingberg The Journal of Southern History Vol. 13, No. 1, Feb., 1947

Stephen Minor was born 8 Feb 1760 Greene County, Pennsylvania. His great grandparents were our ancestors William MINER and Francis BURCHAM.  His grandparents were Stephen Minor and Athaliah Updyke.     His parents were Capt. William Minor and Frances Ellen Phillips.   (See William MINER‘s page for their stories)

Stephen Minor Detail

Detail of Stephen Minor Portrait – By William Edward West (1809)

Stephen first ventured to New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1779.  He first married  Martha Ellis 1790 in Louisiana.  After Martha died, he married Katherine Lintot 4 Aug 1792 in Natchez, Adams, Mississippi. Stephen died 29 Nov 1815 in Natchez, Mississippi and is  buried at Concord, the historic residence of the early Spanish governors at Natchez, Mississippi. For his story, see my post Stepehen Minor – Last Governor of Natchez


Child  of Stephen and Martha:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Mary Minor 4 Jul 1787 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi William Kenner
19 Nov 1801
5 Oct 1814 Oakland Plantation, Louisiana


Children of Stephen and Katherine:

Name Born Married Departed
2. Martha Minor ~1793
Natches, Adams, Mississippi
Bef. 1795
Natches, Adams, Mississippi
3. Frances Minor 27 Mar 1795 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi Major Henry Chotard
27 May 1819 Adams, Mississippi
10 May 1864 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi
4. Katherine Lintot Minor 24 Jun 1799 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi James Wilkins
11 Apr 1823  Adams, Mississippi
5 Jan 1849 or 9 Jul 1844 Natchez, MS
5. Stephen Minor ~1803
Natchez, Adams, Mississippi
Charlotte Walker? 29 Nov 1815 Natchez, MS or
26 Jun 1830
6. William John Minor 27 Jan 1808 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi Rebecca Ann Gustine
7 Aug 1829  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
18 Sep 1869 Houma, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana

The wealthy in 19th Century Natchez: What did they contribute to economy? by Stanley Nelson “On the eve of the Civil War Natchez boasted one of the largest concentrations of men of great wealth of any town in the south. The notion of ‘wealthy Natchez’ was created largely by the presence of this plantation owners. The aristocrats’ contributions to the local economy, however, are debatable, for in many instances their principal holdings lay outside the town and country. Some paid almost all of their taxes to the Louisiana government (where their large plantations were located), few seem to have added much to the tax coffers of Natchez and Adams County.

Natchez Mississippi in 1850

Natchez Mississippi in 1850

A local newspaper, The Natchez Free-Trader, said the small farmer contributed much more to the local economy than the large plantation owner.  In 1842, the paper reported:

“They (small farmers) would crowd our streets with fresh and healthy supplies of home productions, and the proceeds would be expended here among our merchants, grocers and artisans. The large planters –- the one-thousand-bale planters — do not contribute most to the prosperity of Natchez. They, for the most part, sell their cotton in Liverpool; buy their wines in London or Havre; their Negro clothing in Boston; their plantation implements and supplies in Cincinnati; and their groceries and fancy articles in New Orleans.

In 1854, Frederick Law Olmsted was a journalist working for the New York Times when he visited Natchez. In the days before he became famous for designing Central Park in New York, he strolled about the region and was overwhelmed by its beauty. Olmstead, however, was turned off by the attitude of the rich and described their “marble-like” behavior as they looked at others “stealthily from the corner of their eyes without turning their heads…”    A man interviewed by Olmsted warned him of the “young swell-heads (rich)…Why, you can tell them by their walk…They sort o’ throw their legs as if they hadn’t got the strength enough to lift ’em and put them down in any particular place. They do want so bad to look as if they weren’t made of the same clay as the rest of God’s creation.”

1. Mary Minor

Mary Minor was the daughter of Martha Ellis and was said to have had a twin sister who died in infancy. Mary was married at such an early age to William Kenner that it has been theorized that Katherine might have wanted her step daughter out of the house. Mary had her first of 6 children at 14 and was dead by age 28. William was left with a very young family and did not remarry. It is thought that some of the children were sent to Natchez to be “taken in” for extended periods by family there. William was in the transporting business, had met Mary through his business with Stephen, and would have been able to get to Natchez on one of his boats to visit them.

Mary’s husband William Butler Kenner was born 4 Jul 1776 in Northumberland, Virginia. His parents were Rodham Kenner (1752 – 1819) and Sarah Carter (1754 – ) or Sarah Kennedy (1740 – 1820). William died 10 May 1824 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

William Butler Kenner (1776 - 1824)

William Butler Kenner (1776 – 1824)

William was a New Orleans businessman, planter, and politician. He arrived at Cannes Brulees at the turn of the century. The population of New Orleans at that time was just a little over 8,000 people. But the city was on the verge of an economic boom. Kenner established a very successful mercantile and commission business.

In 1803 the Louisiana territory became part of the United States. William Kenner became a member of the legislative council and later helped organize a militia to repel the British in the Battle of New Orleans. The Governor of Louisiana, William C. C. Claiborne referred to Kenner as “An honest man, a respectable merchant, a man of sense and property.” According to Kenner’s descendants, the first steamboat to leave New Orleans carried a consignment from Kenner and Company.

Kenner played an important role in organizing a company which received a franchise from the United States Congress to dig a large canal across New Orleans. The canal was never started, but Canal Street received its name from the aborted project.

In 1810 Kenner purchased a sugar plantation in Ascension Parish. The growth of the sugar industry made this a very profitable investment, the income from which far exceeded Kenner’s mercantile business.

Kenner had married Mary Minor, the 14 year old daughter of a an officer with the Spanish troops stationed at Natchez. She gave birth to four sons and died at the age 27 in 1814, a year after giving birth to Duncan. William Kenner’s tragedies were made worse six years later when a trusted business partner absconded with most of his company’s assets. William Kenner died three years later at the age of 47.

Kenner Bio – Source: Old Families of Louisiana By Stanley C. Arthur, George Campbell Huchet de Kernion 1999

Kenner Bio 2

Kenner Bio 3

Children of Mary and William:

The Kenner brothers were orphaned at the ages of 10, 11, 13 and 15. A Creole lawyer and family friend, Etienne Masareau, salvaged enough of from the embezzlement disaster to provide each boy with an inheritance. These young men were destined to own all of Cannes Brulees.

William and Mary’s descendants lived on Oakland Plantation, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, and on Roseland Plantation, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, both sugar and rice plantations. The Jefferson Parish city of Kenner is sited on the family’s lands.

i. Patsy Kenner b. 1802 Louisiana; d. young

ii. Maria Kenner b. 18 May 1803 in Louisiana; d. 19 Oct 1806

iii. Martha Kenner b. 28 Sep 1804 Louisiana; d. 25 Apr 1873 Fayette, Fayette, Kentucky; m1. John Brown Humphreys (b. 1789 in Staunton, Virginia – d. 30 Jul 1835 in Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky) John’s parents were Alexander Humphreys (1757 -1802) and Mary Brown (1763 – 1836) John was nephew of James Brown, Louisiana’s third US Senator; m2. ~1838 to Robert Bruce; m3. Charles Oxley (b. 1805 Liverpool, England – d. 13 Apr 1854 Louisiana) Charles was a cotton broker. Martha left eight children.

Martha and Charles Oxley resided at Roseland Plantation in St. Charles Parish.

In the 1850 census, Charles and Martha were planters in St. Charles Louisiana with real estate valued at $90,000. They were living with four Humphreys children ages 16 to 24 and two Bruce children ages 10 and 12.

In the 1860 census, Martha’s real estate was valued at $250,000 and she was living with two adult daughters Fanny Humphreys (age 34) and Ella Humphreys (age 26)

iv. Frances Ann Kenner b. 20 Apr 1806 d. 12 Aug 1875 Christenburg, Virginia, leaving no descendants; m1. when she was quite young to John Dick ( – d. 1824); m2. 20 Jul 1826 to George Currie Duncan ( ~1799 Lancashire, England – 4 Mar 1870, Louisiana) George’s parents were William Macmurdo Duncan and Marianne [__?__]. George arrived in New York from Liverpool on the Hercules on 21 Nov 1822. He became a naturalized citizen 2 Mar 1855 in Louisiana.

G.C. Duncan to F. Anne Kinner, Marriage Contract. In City of New Orleans, LA, 19 July 1826, appeared George Currie Duncan Esquire aged 25 years, born in England, formerly of the City of Liverpool and now residing in this state where he has established his domicile, the legitimate son of William Macmurdo Duncan and Marianne Duncan, his father and mother both living in the City of Liverool; the said George Currie Duncan stipulating for himself and in his name, AND Mrs. Francis Anne Kenner aged 19 years, the minor widow of the late John Dick Esquire, emancipated by marriage, and the legitimate daughter of William Kenner and Mary Minor, her father and mother, both of MS, deceased, the said Mrs. widow Dick here stipulating for herself and in her name. Which said parties have settled the civil clauses and conditions of the marriage intended shortly to be had between them … (1) no community or partnership of acquits or gains between the parties who hereby expressly renounce the benefit of the law establishing in the State of LA said community or partnership … George Currie Duncan gives Francis Anne Kenner, widow of John Dick, the full administration and disposal of all her property. (2) Debts shall be paid by the party who contracted them. (3) Property of Francis Anne Kenner, widow of John Dick, consists of house, furniture, (etc.) and one undivided sixth part of one sixth of the whole estate of Stephen Minor her maternal grandfather deceased, one undivided sixth of the property of William Kenner and Mary Miner her deceased father and mother, her right as wife of the late John Dick deceased (money), and in one undivided sixth part of one fourth of a certain unsettled claim lately made by the heirs of the late Richard Ellis Senior, the deceased maternal ancestor of the said Widow Dick, of a large tract of land lying in the Attakapa. (4) Property of said George Currie Duncan is invested in commercial concerns, part of said property in State of England and elsewhere. (5) If they move, she retains the rights over her property. (6) She has no say in the property of George Currie Duncan. (7) and later. Mention of the laws of the State of LA. (FHL film 892,057)

11 Feb. 1829, George Currie Duncan and wife Frances Ann Duncan of City of New Orleans, LA, but now in the City of Natchez, to Nathaniel Dick and James Dick of said City of New Orleans and Christopher Todd and wife Sarah of State of TN; for $20,000 paid Frances A., sell the life estate of the said Frances Ann Duncan “(acquired by her the widow of the late John Dick deceased)” to one undivided moiety of all that plantation called Poplar Grove Plantation lying southerly of second creek in Adams Co. MS containing 11 arpens or French acres, being the same tract conveyed by Isaac Johnson to the late Benjamin Farrar decd. by deed 2 Dec. 1800 and conveyed by said Benjamin in his lifetime to said John Dick decd. by deed 29 Jan. 1820, together with the houses

Also the one undivided moiety of the following slaves, being upon the said Poplar Grove plantation, to wit, Joe, Class, Phil (right margin too faint) -dir, Billy, Anthony, Jack, Richard, Alick, Pier, Chester, B…, Cambridge, Less, Henry, Delozier, Supe?, Obadiah, Pane, Toby, Will, Isaac, Frank, Carolina, Adams, Old Jack, Little D..?, Jeffery, Dinah, Alley, Hetty, Bettie?, Vicy, Nancy, Judy, Candis Bets, Seyll?, Greser?, Sealy, Kathy, Affy, Harriet, Patience, Anna, Little R?? (too dark), Delphy, Eliza, Lotty, Ann, Sangar, Darkey, (MAD many more not copied).

Also the one undivided moiety of all the horses, mules, farming utensils, belonging to the said Poplar Grove Plantation, being the undivided moiety of … the life estate of the said Frances Ann Duncan as the widow of said John Dick deceased, and being secured in and to the said Frances Ann in her own right by a marriage contract entered into and executed by the said parties of the first part in the city of New Orleans on 19 July 1826, recorded in Book P, pg.492, 493 of the records of deeds of Adams Co.; also all the estate, etc., of said George Currie Duncan and Francis Ann Duncan or either of them in the same. /s/ Frances Ann Duncan, G. Currie Duncan. Ack. 11 Feb. 1829, no wit.

1 Feb. 1829, Nathaniel Dick and James Dick and Christopher Todd & wife Sarah by their attorney said Nathaniel Dick, to Mrs. Frances Ann Duncan of City of New Orleans, mortgage the life estate during the lifetime of said ?? to one undivided moiety of the plantation called Poplar Grove Plantation, slaves, etc., they to pay $23,000. /s/ Nathl. Dick, James Dick, Christopher Todd, Sarah Todd. Ack. 11 Feb. 1829.

v. Stephen Minor Kenner b. 18 Feb 1808 Louisiana; d. 10 Feb 1862; m. Eliza Davis (b. 1811 in Louisiana – d. 1862 in Louisiana) Minor and Eliza had three children born between 1830 and 1841.

Down river from Oakland was Belle Grove Plantation, located about where the Louis Armstrong Intl Airport is today. Minor Kennedy acquired this property from through his wife, Eliza, who was heir to the property through her widowed mother Maria Holliday.

The Kenners acquired Pasture Plantation in parcels. By 1845 the Pasture Plantation property was owned entirely by Minor Kenner.

Around 1853  Railroad Fever struck the Delta region. A coalition of New Orleans business owners had put up 3 million dollars toward a railroad that would run to Jackson, Mississippi. They purchased some of the Kenner’s property and began laying 55 miles of trackbed  from Manchac to Osyka.

Minor Kenner was possessed by the idea that Cannes Brulees could become a city. First, there was the proximity to New Orleans. Second, was the presence of the railroad. He hired a surveyor, W.T. Thompason to lay out a plan for the development of Oakland and Belle Grove. The plan was completed on Mar 2 1855, a date generally considered the city’s birthday. Kenner and Thompson’s vision would take time to develop, but today the basic layout of Old Kenner is very similar to the plan layed out in 1855.

The city of Kenner  near New Orleans is on land that consisted of three plantation properties that had been purchased by the Kenner family.  At the time, all land north of what is now Airline Highway was swampland.

Kenner Bio 4

vi. William Butler Kenner b. 11 Mar 1810 in Virginia; d. 24 Sep 1853; m. 12 Sep 1832 in Cincinnati, Ohio to Rumahah A. Riske (b. 1811 in Ludlow Station, Ohio – d. 24 Feb 1885) Rumahah’s parents were David Riske ( – 1818) and Charlotte Chambers (1768 – 1821) William and Rumahah had seven children born between 1833 and 1846.

The area now called Kenner consisted of three large plantation properties known by the names Oakland, Belle Grove and Pasture. Farthest upriver, bordering St. Charles Parish, was the Oakland tract, owned by Louis Trudeau. After a decade of persistent effort the Kenner brothers acquired the entire Trudeau property. The Oakland Plantation was acquired by William Butler Kenner in 1841.

Despite New Orleans economic and cultural success, it was not a healthy city to live in. Much of the sewer system was open and provided a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Yellow fever outbreaks were common. Flooding was frequent and the threat of hurricanes hung over the city for six months out of the year. On May 3, 1849 a 100 foot breach in the levee near Little Farms in Jefferson Parish sent flood waters six feet deep surging from the Mississippi toward the lake. Metairie Ridge deflected the water and steered it into New Orleans. Streets became rivers and 12,000 people were left homeless.

As a cultural and economic hub New Orleans had earned the nickname “Queen City of the South.” Living conditions in the city had earned it another nickname: “The Watery Grave.” Many residents of New Orleans were making an effort to spend as much time away from the “Queen City” as possible. The north shore of Lake Ponchartrain, the Gulf Coast and the northern parts of the state provided temporary escape. But these areas were too far from the city’s commercial operations to provided a permanent residence. Cannes Brulees was not.

By this time tragedy had again visited the Kenner family. William Butler Kenner had become involved in a failed business venture which left him in such debt that he had to heavily mortage the Oakland Plantation. In 1853 a Yellow Fever epidemic struck New Orleans and the surrounding area. 11,000 died, including William Butler and his 12 year old son. Minor Kenner became the executor of William Butler’s estate.

Their children included Philip Minor Kenner (1833-circa 1890), Josephine, Charlotte “Lottie” K. Harding, Butler, Mary Minor, Sarah Belle, and Fredrick Butler Kenner. Philip Kenner served as a lieutenant during the Civil War; he married Ella Humphreys.

Kenner Bio 5

Kenner Bio 6

Kenner Bio 7

vii. George Rappele Kenner b. 1812; d. 25 Sep 1852 in Craney, Texas; m. 11 Mar 1840 to Charlotte Chambers or Charlotte Jones

viii. Duncan Farrar Kenner  (wiki) b. 1 Feb 1813 in Bienville St, New Orleans, Louisiana; d. 3 Jul 1887 Carondelet St, New Orleans; m. Jun 1839 to Anne Guillelmine Bringier (b. 1815; bapt 24 Aug 1823 in Hermitage, Ascencion Parish, Louisiana – d. 6 Nov 1911 in New Orleans, Louisiana) Anne’s parents were Michel Douradou Bringier (1789 – 1847) and Elizabeth Aglae Du Bourg (1798 – ) a prominent French Creole family. Duncan and Anne had two children.

In the 1850 census,  when Duncan’was 35 his real estate was valued at $300,000.  In the 1860 census, real estate was $190,000 and personal property (slaves) was $250,000.

Ashland Plantation House

Ashland Plantation House

As a wedding present, Duncan commissioned construction of the great house at Ashland. Construction began in 1840, and the project was completed by 1842. The Greek Revival great house at Ashland is considered an architectural masterpiece. The quarters and the sugarhouse were built at about the same time the great house was erected. It is likely that the great house, the sugarhouse, and the quarters were all built by the plantation’s slaves.

Ashland Plantation House

Ashland Plantation House

Ashland is representative of the massiveness, simplicity, and dignity which are generally held to epitomize the Classical Revival style of architecture. Free of service attachments and with a loggia on all four facades, it is a more complete classical statement than the vast majority of Louisiana plantation houses. With its broad spread of eight giant pillars across each facade and its heavy entablature, Ashland  is among the grandest and largest plantation houses ever built in the state.

The walls of Ashland (as the Kenner plantation was then known) were adorned with paintings of horses, and the grounds included a racetrack.

Duncan Kenner bought his brother’s interest in the plantation in 1844. He named his property “Ashland” after U.S. statesman Henry Clay’s plantation in Kentucky. Kenner eventually expanded his land holdings to over 2,200 acres. His estate included the neighboring Bowden Plantation, complete with its own sugarhouse, which he bought in 1858.

After Duncan’s death, Kenner’s estate was sold in March 1889 to George B. Reuss, an Ascension Parish planter. The Reuss family moved into the Ashland great house. Reuss renamed the plantation “Belle Helene” in honor of his recently born daughter, Helene. Belle Helene remained a major sugar plantation into the second decade of the twentieth century. The cabins continued to be used by the plantation workers.

Helene Reuss moved from the Ashland-Belle Helene great house soon after her marriage in 1908. However, other members of the Reuss family lived there until sometime in the 1920s. The house had deteriorated significantly by the time a restoration effort began in 1946. Although it subsequently fell victim to further decay and haphazard renovation, the house is being stabilized by its present owners, Shell Chemical Company.

As was the case with almost all the other great Louisiana plantations, Ashland passed into anonymity along the banks of the Mississippi. The quarters fell silent, the sugarhouse collapsed, and the land was divided and sold. Much of the former Ashland-Belle Helene Plantation tract currently serves as the site for major chemical production facilities owned by Shell Chemical Company and the Vulcan Materials Corporation.

Duncan Farrar Kenner (

Duncan Farrar Kenner (1813 – 1887)   Artist Unknown — Done from life. ca. 1884-1887 – Could have been painted in New York or New Orleans

Duncan Kenner was a CSA diplomat, legislator, and millionaire planter.

Although a large slave owner, [the US census reported that Kenner had 117 slaves in 1840 and 169 slaves in 1850.] early in the war he had become convinced that the emancipation of slaves was the only way to gain independence for the Confederacy.  Kenner first broached the idea to Davis and the cabinet in early 1863.

In 1865, he was sent by Jefferson Davis as special commissioner and minister plenipotenitaryto Englandand France to secure the recognition of the Confederate States of America.   Davis, through Kenner, offered the emancipationof the Confederate slaves in exchange for recognition of the Confederacy by Britain and France.  But it was too late,  the European powers knew that Confederate resources were rapidly dwindling and defeat was near.  Kenner believed  [Papers of Jefferson Davis]:  “Had I gone to Europe in 1863 instead of 1865 I have no doubt that I would have been successful … Slavery was the bone of contention.”  He also believed that he might have been successful in securing the $15 million loan.  “It is nearer to being accomplished than the political mission.”

Duncan Kenner's European Diplomacy  Source:  Confederate Goliath: The Battle of Fort Fisher By Rod Gragg, Edward G. Longacre

Duncan Kenner’s European Diplomacy Source: Confederate Goliath: The Battle of Fort Fisher By Rod Gragg, Edward G. LongacreFort Fisher kept North Carolina’s port of Wilmington open to blockade-runners supplying necessary goods to Confederate armies inland. By 1865, the supply line through Wilmington was the last remaining supply route open to Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. When Ft. Fisher fell after a massive Federal amphibious assault on Jan 15, 1865, its defeat helped seal the fate of the Confederacy

Here’s another account of Kenner’s European adventurein Retrospectaions of an Active Life,  published in 1909, authored by John Bigelow, former Union envoy in Paris:

“Kenner was a member of the Confederate Congress. He had long been satisfied that it was impossible to prosecute the war to a successful issue without a recognition of the Confederacy by at least one of the maritime powers of western Europe, into the ports of which the Southern States might carry their prizes, make repairs, and get supplies. He was also satisfied that they would never secure recognition or any substantial aid so long as the foundations of their projected new empire rested on slavery. He communicated these views to President Davis. The President asked what he had to propose in the premises. He said he wanted the President to authorize a special envoy to offer to the governments of England and France to put an end to slavery in the Confederacy if they would recognize the South as a sovereign power. The President consented to submit the suggestion to several of the leading members of the Congress, by some of whom it was roughly handled.

They protested that the emancipation of the slaves would ruin them, etc. Mr. Kenner told them that he and his family owned more slaves, probably, than all the other members of the Congress put together, and that he was asking no one to make sacrifices which he was not ready to make himself. The result of the consultations was that Kenner himself was sent abroad by President Davis, either with or without the confirmation of the Senate, with full powers to negotiate for recognition on the basis of emancipation. As soon as he received his commission he took a special train to Wilmington, North Carolina. On his arrival there he found either that the blockade was too strict, or that there was no suitable transportation available from that port, and returned at once to Richmond, determined to go by the way of the Potomac and New York. When he mentioned his purpose to Davis, “Why, :Kenner,” he exclaimed, “there is not a gambler in the country who won’t know you. You will certainly be captured.” Kenner had been one of the leading turfmen in the South for a generation. “I am not afraid of that,” said Kenner. “There is not a gambler who knows me who would betray me. I am going to New York.”

Being a very bald man, Kenner provided himself with a brown wig as his chief if not only disguise, and proceeded on his journey. By hook and by crook he finally reached New York and drove to the Metropolitan Hotel. Discovering that the waiters were colored, and that there were too many chances of some of them knowing him, also that ex-Senator Foote of Mississippi, who had deserted the Confederates, was residing at this hotel, he succeeded in getting a note to Mr. Hildreth, then managing the New York Hotel, and an old and trusty friend, asking that a certain room on the lower floor and north side of the hotel be made ready for him, and named the hour that he might be expected, adding that he could not sign the letter, but was a friend. At the time named he went to the hotel and directly to the room he had ordered. The fireman was preparing a fire. While at his work at the grate the door opened, and in walked Hildreth to see who his ‘friend,’ and new lodger might be. Upon recognizing Kenner, he exclaimed, “Good God!” He was checked from continuing by observing Kenner’s fingers on his lips.

They talked upon indifferent matters until the fireman left, and then Hildreth asked Kenner, what could have brought him to New York at such a time. “Do you know,” said he, “that it is as much as your life is worth to be found here?”

“I am going to sail in the English steamer on Saturday, ” said Kenner, and I wish to stay quietly with you until then. You can denounce me to the government if you choose, but I know you won’t.”

Kenner did not leave his room till he left it in a cab for the steamer. His meals were served in his room by Hildreth’s personal attendant. As soon as Kenner arrived in London he sought an interview with Palmerston, to whom he unfolded his mission. Palmerston said that his proposition could not be entertained without the concurrence of the Emperor of France.

“With the Emperor’s concurrence would you give us recognition?” asked Kenner.

“That,” replied Palmerston, “would be a subject for consideration when the case presents itself, and may depend upon circumstances which cannot be foreseen.” Kenner went to Paris and had an interview with the Emperor, who told him he would do whatever England was willing to do in the premises, and would do nothing without her.

Kenner then returned to Palmerston to report the Emperor’s answer. During his absence, the news of Sherman’s successful march through the South had reached London.

Palmerston’s answer to him was, “It is too late.”

Duncan was a CSA Congressman. Served in many posts including, Member of Lousiana State House of Representatives in 1836, Member of Louisiana State Senate, Delegate to Louisiana State Constitutional Convention (1844, 1852), Delegate from Louisiana to the Confederate Provisional Congress (1861-1862), Representative from Louisiana in the Confederate Congress (1862-1865) and Candidate for United States Senator from Louisiana in 1878

Duncan, the youngest brother, eventually took over William’s sugar plantation in Ascension. On this property he built a splendid mansion surrounded on all four sides by a magnificent white colonnade. The building was designed by James Gallier, the most famous Southern architect of the day. Duncan named it Ashland after the home of Henry Clay.

Kenner became a wealthy sugar planter. He used scientific techniques and was said to be the first man in Louisiana to use a railroad to bring sugar cane from the fields to the mill.

By 1845 New Orleans had a population of about 110,000, making it the nation’s fourth largest city. New Orleans had become a major economic hub with dozens of steamboats departing daily carrying sugar, cotton, grain and other goods. Norbert Rillieux had perfected the “multiple effect” process for refining sugar, revolutionizing the industry and providing for significant financial rewards to those who held lands able to grow the cane. Duncan Kenner prospered, listing sales of 1.5 million pounds of sugar in 1850.

Duncan of Ashland Plantation and his Uncle William John Minor each had a private track for training purposes and took many honors on the turf, racing their fine horses at Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Natchez, and Mobile.

Kenner served for several terms in the Louisiana House of Representatives and was a member of the state constitutional conventions of 1845 and 1852, having presided over the latter conclave.

Kenner was a member of the Confederate Congress and chairman of its Ways and Means Committee. In 1862, he proposed a national income tax of 20%, including a schedule of exemptions. His tax bill went nowhere, but in April 1863, Congress passed another act calling for a tax “in kind”, payable with goods and agricultural produce rather than money, and based not on property but on agricultural produce and income it generated.

In July 1863, while visiting his family at his Ashland Plantation during a recess in the legislature, Kenner narrowly avoided capture by the Union army, making his escape after being warned by one of his slaves of the advance of Federal troops.

Much of Kenner’s property was confiscated and his slaves were freed,   All of Kenner’s prized racehorses, one of the largest stock farms in the United Statesmost of his wine and liquor, and the Kenner family silver were captured by the Federal troops..

By this time he had become convinced that the emancipation of slaves was the only way to gain independence for the Confederacy.

In 1865, he convinced Jefferson Davis to send him as special commissioner to England and France to secure the recognition of the Confederate States of America. Davis, through Kenner, offered the emancipation of the Confederate slaves in exchange for recognition of the Confederacy by Britain and France.

Even though Ashland had been captured by the Union army, sugar was still produced by the estate. The sugarhouse and its machinery were left undamaged. The overseer maintained control of the plantation and its labor force throughout the war. During the last two years of the war, Ashland was rented, and then confiscated by the Freedmen’s Bureau, a Federal agency formed to assist the freed slaves. In 1866, Kenner returned from Europe, swore an oath of allegiance to the Union and was repatriated, thereby recovering the ownership of Ashland.

Not long after the Civil War, Duncan Kenner moved to New Orleans to pursue his law practice. The workers on Ashland Plantation, probably including Kenner’s freed slaves, continued to live in the antebellum quarters. Continued residence in the quarters is partly explained by the nature of labor on sugar plantations in the post-Civil War period. Following Emancipation, working for wages replaced slavery on sugar plantations. As was the custom on sugar plantations before the Civil War, sugar laborers were organized into groups of workers who performed specific jobs directed by an overseer. On many plantations, the antebellum quarters were used to house these workers. The laborers were paid either in cash or in credits for use at the plantation store. A store was probably established soon after the war.

At his death Duncan Kenner was again a millionaire.

Kenner Bio 8

Kenner Bio 9

3. Frances Minor

Frances’ husband Major Henry Chotard was born 3 Mar 1787 in Santo Domingo. His parents were Jean Marie Joseph Chotard ( – 1810) and Henrietta Lofont. Henry died 7 Jul 1870 in Natchez, Adams, Mississippi.

During the War of 1812, Major Henry E. Chotard was aide-de-camp to Major General Andrew Jackson and Assistant Adjutant General New Orleans. An  adjutant general is a military chief administrative officer.   LSU archives contain  1810-1818 Papers pertaining to Chotard’s service include recruiting reports, a letter from an officer at Mobile regarding reinforcements, prospects for victory, and Indian involvement.

The Battle of New Orleans   on Jan 8 1815 was the final major battle of the War of 1812. American forces defeated an invading British Army intent on seizing New Orleans and the vast territory the United States had acquired with the Louisiana Purchase.  The Treaty of Ghent, having been signed on Dec 24, 1814, was ratified by the Prince Regent on Dec 30, 1814 and the United States Senate on Feb 16, 1815. Hostilities continued until late February when official dispatches announcing the peace reached the combatants in Louisiana, finally putting an end to the war.  The Battle of New Orleans is widely regarded as the greatest American land victory of the war and for many years January 8 was celebrated as a holiday on equal footing with the 4th of July.

In his report of the battle of December 23 Jackson wrote: “Colonels Butler and Piatt and Major Chotard, by their intrepidity, saved the artillery.”

On the morning of December 23, British General John Keane and a vanguard of 1,800 British soldiers reached the east bank of the Mississippi River, 9 miles   south of New Orleans.  Keane could have attacked the city by advancing for a few hours up the river road, which was undefended all the way to New Orleans, but he made the fateful decision to encamp at Lacoste’s Plantation and wait for the arrival of reinforcements.

During the afternoon of December 23, after he had learned of the position of the British encampment, Andrew Jackson reportedly said, “By the Eternal they shall not sleep on our soil..”  That evening, attacking from the north, Jackson led 2,131 men in a brief three-pronged assault on the unsuspecting British troops, who were resting in their camp. Then Jackson pulled his forces back to the Rodriguez Canal, about 4 miles  south of the city. The Americans suffered 24 killed, 115 wounded, and 74 missing, while the British reported their losses as 46 killed, 167 wounded, and 64 missing.

Historian Robert Quimby says, “the British certainly did win a tactical victory, which enabled them to maintain their position”.  However, Quimby goes on to say, “It is not too much to say that it was the battle of December 23 that saved New Orleans. The British were disabused of their expectation of an easy conquest. The unexpected and severe attack made Keane even more cautious…he made no effort to advance on the twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth”.  As a consequence, the Americans were given time to begin the transformation of the canal into a heavily fortified earthwork.

Major Henry Chotard, a gallant Mississippian of the Third U.S. Infantry, Adjutant-General on the staff of General Jackson, was wounded by a shell in the British bombardment of the Chalmette plantation buildings January 8 1815. (Latour.)

In the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815, Jackson’s 5,000 soldiers won a decisive victory over 7,500 British. At the end of the battle, the British had 2,037 casualties: 291 dead (including three senior generals), 1,262 wounded, and 484 captured or missing. The Americans had 71 casualties: 13 dead, 39 wounded, and 19 missing.

The battlefield at Chalmette Plantation on January 8, 1815

The battlefield at Chalmette Plantation on January 8, 1815

Chotard’s Jan 17 1815 letter conveys Jackson’s very detailed orders for Brigadier General David Bannister Morgan to march 600 men down river, cross behind the retreating British troops, and make preparations to attack them.

Given that the units involved were veterans of the Napoleonic Wars, it’s unlikely the British ran through the briars and  ran through the brambles
And ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go.
And ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Henry, Frances and their four young children returned to New Orleans from Sicily via Le Havre on the Mary Howland arriving on 30 Dec 1826

The Chotard family lived at Somerset Plantation in south Louisiana.  According to Reader’s Digest, “Henry Chotard of Natchez, for example, built stables for his horses with hand-carved mahogany stalls and marble troughs, and commissioned a silver nameplate for each horse.”

In the 1850 census, Henry and Frances were planters in Adams, Mississippi with real estate valued at $30,000.  The 1850 slave schedule shows they had 100 slaves.

Children of Frances and Henry:

i. Catherine Chotard b. 2 Jan 1820 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; d. 12 Feb 1877 New Orleans; Burial: Natchez City Cemetery; m. Horatio Sprague Eustis (b. 25 De 1811 Newport, Newport, Rhode Island – d. 4 Sep 1858 Issaquena County, Mississippi)  Horatio’s parents were Gen. Abraham  Eustis (wiki) (1786 – 1843)   and Rebecca Sprague.   Eustis, Florida and Fort Eustis Virginia each named in Abraham’s honor. Catherine and Horatio had twelve children between 1840 and 1860.

Horatio  (Harvard 1830) was fitted for college at Round Hill School, Northampton, Mass., under the superintendence of Joseph Green Cogswell (H.C. 1806) and George Bancorft (H.C. 1817). After leaving college, he studied law; went to the West; and finally settled, as a lawyer, in Natchez, where he continued in the practice of his profession, with the exception of an interval of a year of two, until his death.

All four of Horatio’s sons were sponsored at Harvard by their uncle Henry Lawrence Eustis (wiki) (1819 – 1885) who organized the engineering department when it opened in 1849 and was appointed first professor of engineering. Two of the brothers served in the CSA and were killed in action.

Two of Horatio's sons including Horatio Eustis Jr. were killed in action fighting for the CSA

Two of Horatio’s sons Horatio Jr. and Richard were killed in action fighting for the CSA.  Lt. Horatio Eustis (Harvard 1861)  died after his leg was blown off Sep 19 1864 at the Third Battle of Winchester, Virginia

Horatio’s brother Henry  graduated from Harvard University in 1838 and then attended  West Point.  After graduating first in his class, Eustis was assigned to engineering roles, including working on several improvements to the unfinished Fort Warren in Boston Harbor. Eustis taught engineering at West Point from 1847 to 1849. He resigned on November 30, 1849, and took an appointment teaching engineering at Harvard.   Henry served as a general in the Union Army during the Civil War, later returning to Harvard becoming the dean of the Lawrence Scientific School, later the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

ii. Henry Chotard. b. ~1820 Mississippi

iii. Amenaide Chotard b. 5 Feb 1822; d. 16 Feb 1895; m. 29 Mar 1843 to Edward Kemp Chaplain (b. 12 Nov 1814 – d. 14 Oct 1853. Amenaide and Edward had five children born between 1844 and 1851.

iv. Frances “Fanny” Chotard b. ~1823 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; d. 1892

In the 1870 census, Fanny (age 45) and Maria (age 33)  Chotard were farming in Natchez.  Their real estate was valued at $25,000 and their personal estate at $1,450 each.

v. John Charles Chotard b. ~1823 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; m. 28 Jun 1859 Natchez to Mary A. Barnard.

In 1850 J C Chotard of Natchez was a freshman at Yale University living at 4 St. John’s Place. In 1852 he was studying applied chemistry and living in Analyt. Lab. J. C. Chotard was a private in Capt. Bauck’s Company, Mississippi Cavalry. John Charles Chotard Solider of CSA was buried in 1863 in Bethsalem Cemetery, Boligee
Greene, Alabama

vi. Richard D Chotard b. Oct 1825 in Adams, Mississippi; d. Sep 1887 in Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; m. ~1846 to Elizabeth J. Bernard (b. 2 Nov 1830 – d. 9 Jun 1905) Richard and Elizabeth had six children born between 1847 and 1866.

vii. Henry Chotard b. 29 Nov 1827 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; d. Jan 1895 in Mississippi

In the 1860 census, H Chotard and his wife S. M. [__?__] (b. ~1830 Mississippi) were farming in Wards 4 and 5, Concordia, Louisiana. His real estate was valued at $245,000 and personal estate at $3000

viii. Henrietta Chotard b. 5 Dec 1829 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; d. 10 Oct 1910

In the 1880 census, Henrietta Chotard (44) was living with her sisters Mariah Chotard (35), Amenaid Chaplain (38) and Fannie Chotard (34) and her nephew Henry Chotard (18)
and niece Mary E. Chaplain (27) in Court House, Adams, Mississippi

ix. William Minor Chotard b. 27 Jan 1835; d. 25 May 1836.

x. Mariah “Maria” Marshall Chotard b. 27 Nov 1837 in Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; d. 6 Dec 1912 in Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; m. 10 Dec 1889 Somerset Plantation, Adams, Mississippi to Farrar B. Conner (b. 19 Feb 1834 in Clifford Plantation, Natchez – d. 25 Mar 1904 at Somerset Plantation, Natchez) Farrar’s parents were   William C. Conner (1798 – 1843) and   Jane Elizabeth Boyd Gustine Conner (1803 – 1896) Farrar had first married Mary Elizabeth Louise McMurran (1835 – 1864) and had three children. He owned and/or managed Rifle Point plantation near Waco in McClennan County, Texas.

Maria (age 50) and Farrar (age 55) married late in life

In Jun 1861 Farrar joined Adams Troop cavalry company under William T. Martin, CSA

LSU Archives include a series of letters (1866-1867) to Lemuel, Sr., from his brother Farar B. Conner, concerning the management of his plantation Rifle Point, in Waco, Texas, in the postbellum days, and describing labor shortages, relations with freedmen and the Freedmen’s Bureau, cotton production and sales, problems with boll weevil infestations, and financial difficulties.

In the 1870 census, Fanny (age 45) and Maria (age 33)  Chotard were farming in Natchez.  Their real estate was valued at $25,000 and their personal estate at $1,450 each.

4. Katherine Lintot Minor

Katherine’s husband Capt. James Campbell Wilkins was born 27 Oct 1786 in Carlisle, Cumberland, Pennsylvania.  His parents were John Wilkins Jr . (wiki) (1761 – 1816)and Catherine Stevenson.  His grandparents were John Wilkins and Catherine Rowan. James first married about 1810 to Charlotte Frances Bingaman (b. 10 May 1794 Kentucky – d. 10 Oct 1820 in Bay of St Louis), and had three daughters including Charlotte Catharine Wilkins who married Samuel Stillman Boyd.  James died 9 Apr 1849 in Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky.

John Wilkins Jr. (1761 -1816)

Katherine’s father-in-law John Wilkins Jr. (1761 -1816) served as Quartermaster General of the United States Army from 1796 to 1802.

John Wilkins Jr.  was a  U.S. Major General who served as Quartermaster General of the United States Army from 1796 to 1802. At age 15  Wilkins enlisted for the Revolution, and was assigned as Surgeon’s Mate of the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment.  As a result of this service Wilkins earned the nickname “Doctor”.  After the war Wilkins became a merchant and contractor in Pennsylvania and Presque Isle, Michigan, providing supplies and equipment to the United States Army in the Northwest Territory.   In 1793 Governor Thomas Mifflin appointed Wilkins as Brigadier General of the Allegheny County Militia as part of Pennsylvania’s response to the Whiskey Rebellion.

President George Washington appointed Wilkins as Quartermaster General of the United States Army in June, 1796. In October Wilkins attempted to resign, pleading the necessity of personal business. His resignation was not accepted and he continued to serve, overseeing the supplying and equipping of an expanded Army in anticipation of war with France. The dispute with France was resolved without fighting, and Wilkins served until his position was abolished in March, 1802 as part of a downsizing of the Army.   After leaving the Army, Wilkins returned to his business interests in Pennsylvania, including serving as President of the Pittsburgh branch of the Bank of Pennsylvania

James Campbell Wilkins

James was a Natchez, Mississippi, cotton planter, merchant, cotton factor, financier, and banker. Born in Pennsylvania in 1786, he came to Adams County around 1805. He participated in the Battle of New Orleans, the last general assembly of the Mississippi Territory, and the constitutional convention for the new state. Between 1828 and 1835 he attempted an unsuccessful political career. He was associated prominently with four banks at Natchez (1824-1840), but lost most of his fortune in 1841 and died at Lexington, Kentucky, in 1849.

The James Campbell Wilkins Papers (1801-1852) are stored at the University of Texas. The papers include correspondence, financial records, and legal documents relate to the lives and careers of Wilkins, his family, and business associates and concern the cotton trade; business of commission merchants in Natchez, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana; plantation life and economy; slavery; and the planter elite of the Natchez and Adams County area.

Included is material concerning James Campbell Wilkins’s uncle, Charles Wilkins, Lexington, Kentucky, merchant and provisioner of the U. S. Army’s work on the Natchez Trace road (1801-1807); James Campbell Wilkins’s work as a commission merchant in Natchez; his partnership (1816-1834) with John Linton in New Orleans; his business as a planter; activities of individuals and families, including George Adams, Adam Lewis Bingaman, Stephen Duncan, Levin R. Marshall, and the Minor family; and the 1836 sale and transportation to the South of a group of 50 slaves.

Capt. James Campbell Wilkins and the Battle of New Orleans

At the Battle of New Orleans, General Edward Pakenham ordered a two-pronged assault against Jackson’s position. Colonel William Thornton (of the 85th Regiment) was to cross the Mississippi during the night with his 780-strong brigade, move rapidly upriver and storm the batteries commanded by Commodore Daniel Patterson on the flank of the main American entrenchments and then open an enfilading fire on Jackson’s line with howitzers and rockets.   Then, the main attack, directly against the earthworks manned by the vast majority of American troops

The only British success at was on the west bank of the Mississippi River, where William Thornton‘s brigade, comprising the 85th Regiment and detachments from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, attacked and overwhelmed the American line.    General Lambert ordered his Chief of Artillery, Colonel Alexander Dickson, to assess the position. Dickson reported back that no fewer than 2,000 men would be needed to hold the position. General Lambert issued orders to withdraw after the defeat of their main army on the east bank and retreated, taking a few American prisoners and cannon with them.

The Natchez Volunteer Riflemen, under Captain James C. Wilkins, “by the most strenuous efforts reached New Orleans on Jan 8 1815, at an early hour in the morning. They were hurrying to the battlefield when they perceived the American forces on the opposite bank of the river in great confusion retreating before a British regiment. Having received no orders it occurred to Captain Wilkins that the best service he could render would be to cross over and reinforce our defeated party. A couple of plantation ferry boats enabled him to cross, and he immediately took a strong position behind a ditch and sent Lieutenant Bingaman to report to General David B. Morgan. A number of fugitives joined him here. While calmly waiting, determined there to check the enemy or to die, Colonel Thornton, who had been driving our disorganized forces before him, suddenly fell back. He had just been apprised of the disasters on the other side and ordered to recross the river.” (Claiborne’s Mississippi.) This company of volunteers returned to Natchez February 14.

Children of Katherine and James.  I’m curious why information on these children of a prominent family has been so hard to find.  Maybe they didn’t have offspring themselves.

i Frances Chotard Wilkins was born on 25 Dec 1823; d. 6 Oct 1853; m. 12 Oct 1836 Lowndes, Mississippi to Robert Lindsey Ellis (b. 1820 Lowndes County, MS) Frances and Robert had one daughter Isabella J Ellis (1842 – 1917)

ii. Charles Minor Wilkins b. 2 May 1825; d. 14 Aug 1835.

iii. Rachel Rebecca Wilkins b. 27 Aug 1827; d. 25 Apr 1876

In the 1870 census, Rebecca and her sister Louisa were living with the widow J C. Roleswart in New Orleans Ward 4, Orleans, Louisiana

iv. Louisa Wilkins b. ~1830  Mississippi; d. 27 Feb 1910.

In the 1880 census, Louisa was living with her sister  widow Catherine Boyd   (b. 1813  Mississppi in Natchez, Adams, Mississippi.  Also in the household included:

  • Catherine Boyd (67) Louisa’s half-sister
  • Errol Boyd (34) Catherine’s son
  • Saml S. Boyd (32) Catherine’s son
  • Ann Boyd (21) Catherine’s daughter
  • Louisa Wilkins (50) sister
  • W. H. Wilkins (40) brother  Deputy Assessor
  • Julia Wilkins (32) Black, Servant
  • Margaret Wilkins (13) Black, daughter
  • Georgiana Wilkins (11)  Black, daughter
  • Julia Wilkins (8)  Black, daughter
  • Louisa Wilkins (6) Black, daughter
  • Thomas Wilkins (1) Black, son
  • Jane Brevington (67) Black, mother

v. Stephen Minor Wilkins b. 28 Jul 1835 Mississippi; d. 25 Nov 1871.

A Stephen Wilkins serviced in Company F, Missouri 10th Infantry Regiment of the Union Army.

In the 1870 census, Stephen may have been living in Natchez without occupation.

  • S T Wilkins (34)
  • Ella Wilkins (24) 2nd Wife?
  • R E Wilkins 11  (male)
  • Andrew Wilkins 1 (male)

Strangely, there was another family in 1870 Natchez with almost the same information

  • Henry J. Wilkins (34) Printer
  • Ella Wilkins (24)
  • Roberta L. Wilkins (4)
  • Andrew G. Wilkins (1)

vi. W H Wilkens b. 1840  Mississippi; Deputy Assessor in Natchez, Mississippi in 1880 census.

Wilkins, W.H.(Tip) Washington artillery.

Wilkins, H.J. Lieut. Co. 48th Miss. Regt..

5. Stephen Minor

Stephen’s wife Charlotte Walker was born about 1805 in Greene Co., Pennsylvania.

6. William John Minor

Upon the death of his father Stephen in 1815, his uncle Col. John Minor (See William MINER‘s page) managed the family affairs until William J. Minor became of age. (21 in 1829)

William’s wife Rebecca Ann Gustine was born 17 May 1813 in Carlisle, Cumberland, Pennsylvania. Her parents were  James Parker Gustine (1781 – 1818) and  Mary Ann Duncan Gustine (1790 – 1863). She was the niece of wealthy Natchez planter and investor Stephen Duncan. Rebecca Ann Gustine’s sisters, Margaret and Matilda, were married to brothers Charles and Henry Leverich, who were successful cotton factors and commission merchants in New York and New Orleans. Rebecca Ann died 14 Jul 1887 in Cayuga Lake, New York.

William John Minor was educated by private tutors until he entered the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in the 1820s. There, he became acquainted with Rebecca Ann Gustine. William John Minor and Rebecca Ann Gustine were married in Philadelphia on July 7, 1829.They returned to Natchez in the 1830s, living at Concord. The Minors had eight children: Duncan, Francis, Henry, James, John, Katherine, Stephen, and William.

He was the second president of the Agricultural Bank at Natchez, and much of his early correspondence deals with the bank’s affairs.

About 1828, Minor acquired land in Terrebonne Parish. From 1839 to 1842, he was in dispute with the U. S. Treasury Department because of a debt the bank owed. He was one of the wealthiest planters of the Natchez area and owner of at least three plantations in Louisiana (Southdown, Hollywood and Waterloo) in addition to Concord Plantation, the family home

Although his homestead was in Adams county, Miss., he opened up land in Terre Bonne parish, La., as early as 1828, and soon became the owner of large tracts in that, Ascension and Concordia parishes. In 1864 he came to Terre Bonne parish and settled on the property now known as Southdown.

Mr. Minor was deeply interested in education and religious matters and was a strict member of the Episcopal church.

As a hedge against declining cotton prices, Minor sought to diversify his holdings by investing in sugar-cane production in Louisiana. He acquired Hollywood Plantation (1,400 acres) and Southdown Plantation (6,000 acres) in Terrebonne Parish and Waterloo Plantation (1,900 acres) in Ascension Parish. Prior to the Civil War, these three plantations were producing an average of more than twelve hundred hogsheads of sugar annually. Although Minor was largely an absentee owner, entrusting the management of his plantations and slaves in Louisiana to overseers, he was meticulous in the administration of his holdings. His net worth, including hundreds of slaves, was estimated to be more than one million dollars in 1860. Minor also found time to serve as a captain in the Natchez Hussars, a local militia unit, and as president of the Agricultural Bank in Natchez.

Nationally recognized in the breeding and racing of horses, William John Minor owned at least sixty thoroughbreds during his lifetime. Under the pseudonym, “A Young Turfman,” Minor authored more than seventy articles on horse racing for the Spirit of the Times, a New York sporting-life newspaper, between 1837 and 1860.  The paper aimed for an upper-class readership made up largely of sportsmen.

Spirit of the Times

Under the pseudonym, “A Young Turfman,”  William John  Minor authored more than seventy articles on horse racing

The Spirit relied on amateur correspondents to cover sporting events across the United States. By the end of the 1830s, these writers had begun to submit fiction as well, including horse-racing fiction, hunting fiction, and tall tales. The paper thus served as an early outlet for many American authors. Among the Spirit’s correspondents who would go on to literary careers were George Washington Harris (who used the pseudonyms ‘Sugartail’ and ‘Mr. Free’), Johnson Jones Hooper,Henry Clay LewisAlexander McNutt, and Thomas Bangs Thorpe. Many contributed anonymously, as writing was not always seen as a respectable profession.

As these humor segments grew more popular, Porter sought out new writers. Among the humorists he published were Joseph Glover BaldwinAugustus Baldwin Longstreet, and William Tappan Thompson. Many of these writers concentrated on Southwestern humor, that is, humor relating to Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

Minor also published a pamphlet entitled Short Rules for Training Two Year Olds, which was published by The Picayune in New Orleans in 1854. Minor was also instrumental in founding local cricket and jockey clubs in Natchez.

William J. Minor, who managed the plantation business, was very well known for his high living and lavish entertaining. He liked racing and built large stables for the fine horses he purchased for the sport of kings. Minor and his nephew, Duncan Kenner , of Ashland Plantation, each had a private track for training purposes and took many honors on the turf, racing their fine horses at Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Natchez, and Mobile.

In 1846-47. Minor’s race horse winnings totaled $4,225.   Among the horses from his stables winning races in these two years were: “Warwick,” “Verifier,” “Jenny Lind,” “Black Deck,” and “S. Maggie.” The horse named “Verifier” was kept in Baton Rouge in 1850-51. All these horses were raced at Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Natchez. They and others belonging to W. J. Minor (“Post Oak”, sold in 1840; “Britannia”, referred to in 1842; and “Lecompte,” raced in 1855) undoubtedly raced at Mobile, Alabama, also. During the years from 1848 through 1852, Minor employed Thomas Alderson as horse trainer. The costly stables built in 1858 burned in 1861, but were re-built sometime after the Civil War

Active in Whig politics in the years before the Civil War, William John Minor lobbied against secession throughout the South. He was convinced that secession and war would lead to economic ruin for the planter class. Capt. Minor wrote the governors of all the southern states, before the articles of secession were voted on, and used his influence to prevent their passage.

When war did come, Minor remained loyal to the Union despite the social ostracism and economic losses that his family would suffer during and after the war. General  Benjamin Franklin Butler at New Orleans consulted him frequently, but William Minor refused a commission to visit President Lincoln and discuss the state of affairs in the occupied portions of Mississippi and Louisiana, fearing it would bring further damage to his family.

Benjamin Franklin Butler

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler (1818 – 1893), later Governor of Massachusetts would frequently confirm with William John Minor when he was General in occupied New Orleans

Maj. Gen. Franklin Butler  showed great firmness and political subtlety in the administration of New Orleans. He devised a plan for poor relief, imposed strict quarantines and introduced a rigid program of garbage disposal to stem the spread of Yellow Fever,  demanded oaths of allegiance from anyone who sought any privilege from government, and confiscated weapons. 

Many of his acts, however, gave great offense. Most notorious was Butler’s General Order No. 28 of May 15, 1862, that if any woman should insult or show contempt for any officer or soldier of the United States, she shall be regarded and shall be held liable to be treated as a “woman of the town plying her avocation”, i.e., a prostitute. This was in response to women in the town who were pouring buckets of their own urine on Union soldiers, and who at the time could get away with anything as respectable women. Butler’s order had no sexual connotation; rather, it permitted soldiers to not treat women performing such acts as ladies. If a woman punched a soldier, he could punch her back.

The order stopped all of their behavior, without arresting anyone or firing a bullet, but provoked protests both in the North and the South, and also abroad, particularly in England and France. He was nicknamed “‘Beast’ Butler” or alternatively “‘Spoons’ Butler,” the latter nickname derived for his alleged habit of pilfering the silverware of Southern homes in which he stayed.   While no proof exists that Butler was corrupt it is possible that he knew of the illegal activities of his brother Andrew, also in the army in New Orleans.

On June 7 Butler executed William B. Mumford, who had torn down a United States flag placed by Admiral Farragut on the United States Mint in New Orleans. Most, including Mumford and his family, expected Butler to pardon him; the general refused, but promised to care for his family if necessary. (After the war Butler fulfilled his promise, paying off a mortgage on Mumford’s widow’s house and helping her find government employment.)  For the execution and General Order No. 28 he was denounced (December 1862) by Confederate President Jefferson Davis in General Order 111 as a felon deserving capital punishment, who if captured should be reserved for execution.

William’s wife Rebecca was a Philadelphian, and she too, was a staunch Unionist.   Union officers protected Concord Plantation on two separate occasions, Sep 29, 1863 and Mar 10, 1864. William moved to Southdown in Terrebonne Parish in 1864. In May 1864 Adjutant General of the United States, Lorenzo Thomas   gave Rebecca Minor a pass allowing her to pass with her servants and baggage to any point in the North without molestation or hinderance, and in a like manner to return, when so disposed to any parts of the Southern states within the lines of the U.S. Army.”    It was the type of pass, unlimited in time and place, that only known Unionists could obtain.

Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas gave Rebecca Minor an unlimited travel pass in May 1864.

U.S. Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas (1804-1875)  gave Rebecca Minor an unlimited travel pass in May 1864.

Although the majority of William John Minor’s sons remained loyal to the Union, one son was conscripted and another enlisted under public pressure  in the Confederate army against his father’s wishes.

During and after the Civil War, W. J. Minor’s problems were felt most acutely because his properties were in three separate locations in Louisiana and in one in Mississippi, and because he and his wife strongly opposed the war. Politically, Minor was a Whig. His 1859 Diary (entry for January 22,) reveals that he owned 399 slaves: 176 at Southdown, 165 at Waterloo, and 58 at Hollywood. His wife was opposed to slavery, but often remarked that she did not know how to resolve the economic and social problems which were an inevitable part of emancipation

William John Minor died in Terrebonne Parish on September 18, 1869. Rebecca Ann Gustine Minor died in Cayuga Lake, New York, on July 14, 1887.

Southdown Plantation

Southdown located in Houma, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, approximately 60 miles southwest of New Orleans,  was built on part of a Spanish land grant to Jose Llano and Miguel Saturino, who were engaged in growing indigo. In 1790 and 1798 respectively, two more tracts were given to them by Charles IV, King of Spain.

In the 1920’s  Southdown’s sugarcane played a dramatic role in rescuing the Louisiana sugar industry.  Mosaic disease was causing  severe crop losses.   A heartier subspecies of sugarcane was developed, grown on the fields of Southdown, and distributed to the rest  Louisiana’s sugarcane planters.

Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana

Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana

Subsequently, the property was owned by the noted adventurer and soldier, Jim Bowie , renowned for the knife named after him and for his exploits at the Alamo.

In 1828, William John Minor  purchased the plantation. In 1858, he built the house with brick made in his own kilns and with cypress from his own swamps.  It is now the Southdown Museum and home to the Terrebonne Historical & Cultural Society.

Southdown Plantation during Voice of the Wetlands Festival

William John Minor’s 1858 Southdown Plantation home  during Voice of the Wetlands Festival

Each fall, Southdown Plantation hosts the Voice of the Wetlands Festival, showcasing dozens upon dozens of world class musical artists kicking off the weekend on a serious musical note in the traditional “Friday Night Guitar Fights” with performances from the likes of Joe Bonamassa, Tab Benoit, Sonny Landredth, Paul Barrere, Camille Baudoin, Mike Zito and Joe Stark. Continuing through the weekend, we have listened to the extraordinary sounds of Dr. John, Beausoliel, The Radiators, Susan Cowsill, The Producers, Zebra, Amanda Shaw, Chubby Carrier and especially Louisiana LaRoux, whose appearances at the Festival have become a true South Louisiana must see tradition. And completing the perfect weekend, a performance by the acclaimed Voice of the Wetlands All Stars, recognized by rave reviews and sold out performances across the nation as a truly talented cultural and blues musical ensemble.

Southdown appears very different in design from the homes normally seen on plantations of the Old South. Gothic Revival architecture was slightly less popular than Greek Revival at that time, but the Minors nevertheless chose the former. Instead of the familiar white columns, Minor erected a smallish, simple entrance gallery. The original house, begun in 1858 and completed in 1862, consisted of what is now Southdown’s main floor, which includes the twin front turrets and the rear center turret. The top floor and the turrets were added in 1893 by William’s son, Henry C. Minor.

This brick home has twenty rooms; the brick and plaster walls range between twelve and twenty inches of thickness. The center hall doorways are flanked by beautiful stained glass in a sugarcane design. Second-floor side galleries face up and down Little Bayou Black, and a balcony opens from the rear. Just behind Southdown stands a two-story brick structure that served as a kitchen for the manor and as a home for the house servants – a two story slave dwelling is an unusual sight in Louisiana outside of the Vieux Carre. A covered walkway once connected this building with the “big house”.

The first floor of the present Southdown house was built between 1858 and 1862 of brick made in the brick kiln constructed at Southdown in 1858. William Minor, Jr., to W. J. Minor, April 13, 1860, wrote his father: “We will have by Saturday night two 100 thousand brick (sic) made so you see that we are making youse (sic) of the dry weather. The tower (bagasse tower) is getting on but slow. Mr. D (J.B. Dunn, the brick mason) has to (sic) many irons in the fire.” In her narrative, “The Federal Raid Upon Ashland Plantation in July 1862,” Rosella Kenner Brent, the daughter of Duncan Kenner who was first cousin to W. J. Minor, states that in the Kenner family’s flight from the Union troops in early August, 1862: “…when we reached the town of Houma, we were met by William Minor, Jr., who was then living on Southdown Plantation. He took us to his house which was newly built, large & comfortable & gave us a hearty & cousinly welcome.”

The timber used in the construction of Southdown is cypress. It was cut from the native cypress which grows on Southdown property. The mill work on the wood used in  building the first floor was in all probability done by Charles Minty, who was employed as carpenter and overseer at Southdown from December, 1846, into the year 1866, and/or Andrew Douglas, the carpenter who operated the sawmill which W. J. Minor had built at Southdown in 1857

The first crop grown at Southdown was indigo but various factors made sugarcane more rewarding.

What sparked the switch from indigo to sugar cane was the market demand for sugar and acceptance, of the domesticated purple and blue striped “ribbon” cane introduced from Java about 1820. This very hardy variety of cane replaced the old “Malabar” or “Creole”, variety introduced from Santo Domingo in 1751 (or 1733?) and the “Tahiti” variety introduced in 1797. The growth of sugar cane in south Louisiana was further encouraged after 1830 by the introduction of steam driven mills and by improvements in the manufacture of granulated sugar made commercially feasible by Etienne de Bore’ in 1795

Southdown was named after a variety of English sheep, Southdowns, that the Minor family imported to eat the weeds and grass between the rows of sugarcane.

Despite the great contribution that Southdown owners had made to the sugar industry, they could not weather the many setbacks that occurred during the early 1920’s. During the economic crash of October, 1929, and the severe Depression of the 1930’s, all their property was lost to the creditors.

Sadly, the family legacy of Southdown House, where so many notables were entertained at gala affairs, was ended when a new owner took possession in 1932. For more than four decades, the home was utilized by the new owners to house various plantation personnel.

Southdown House gradually fell into a state of disrepair, but the Terrebonne Historical and Cultural Society, Inc. had the foresight to start a movement to save the great mansion. On July 31, 1975, that dream was realized when the owners donated the home, servant quarters, and four and a half acres of land to the society for the purpose of historical preservation, cultural activities, and a museum of arts and crafts of Terrebonne Parish.

Children of William John and Rebecca Ann:

i. John Duncan Minor b. 8 Aug 1831  Concordia, Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; d.  26 Jun 1869 New York City. Interred at Oakland Plantation. He was later reinterred in the Natchez City Cemetery;  m. 6  Mar 1855 at Cherry Grove,  her father’s plantation to Katherine “Kate” Surget (b. 27 Apr 1834 in Natchez, Adams, Mississippi – d. 17 Feb 1926)   Kate first married John Duncan’s brother James Gustin and divorced.  Kate’s parents were James Surget Sr. and [__?__] John and Kate had five children born between 1855 and 1868.   James Surget (1855-1864); Mary Grace (1858-ca. 1859); Katherine Surget (b. 1860); Duncan Gustine (b. 1862); and Jeanne Marie (b. 1868).

John  was privately educated by private tutors until he entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1848. Although frequently ill at school, Minor completed his education and returned to Natchez in the early 1850s. He soon became involved in local equestrian life, including fox hunting and high-stakes racehorse gambling, and attending rounds of social gatherings such as dinner parties and fancy-dress balls. Minor also began a courtship with Kate Surget, . They were married at Surget’s plantation, Cherry Grove, on March 6, 1855.

Following a severe bout of yellow fever, James Surget, Sr., died intestate on August 27, 1855. His children, James Surget, Jr., and Kate Surget Minor, divided the elder Surget’s estate, which was estimated at around three million dollars. Kate Surget Minor’s inheritance included Carthage Plantation (2,095 acres) in Adams County and Palo Alto Plantation (2,560 acres) in Concordia Parish, as well as hundreds of slaves and considerable agricultural stores and livestock.

At the time of John Minor’s marriage to Kate Surget Minor, his father gave him $10,000 for the purchase of Oakland, an estate near Natchez. His wife supplied an additional $5,000 to complete the purchase of this property in 1857.

Today, Oakland Plantation is a hotel at 1124 Lower, Woodville Rd. Natchez, MS.  They say  ~1785. Andrew Jackson courted his future wife, Rachel Robards, at this gracious 18th-century home.  The guest rooms are located in the old servants’ quarters building, just steps from the main house. This working cattle plantation includes fishing ponds, a tennis court and canoeing. Rooms are filled with antiques, and the innkeepers provide guests with a tour of the main home and plantation. They also will arrange tours of Natchez.

Oakland Guest Room

Oakland Guest Room

Kate Surget Minor also acquired Wannacutt Plantation (1,217 acres) in Concordia Parish in 1857. The deed to this plantation was recorded in the name of John Minor, and the income from it was apparently intended for his personal use. John Minor acquired no additional real property with his own funds during the course of his fourteen-year marriage to Kate Surget Minor.

Although the Minors shared the burden of plantation management during the early years of their marriage, it became increasingly necessary for Kate Surget Minor to shoulder more of this responsibility on the eve of the Civil War. In her role as plantation mistress, Kate Surget Minor was also responsible for supervising many aspects of domestic life at Oakland and on the working plantations.

As the threat of secession and war became imminent, John Minor enlisted as a first lieutenant in the Adams Troop, a local cavalry company organized by attorney William T. Martin in 1860. Its recruits were mainly from wealthy families in Adams County. The cavalry company was intended to counter potential lawlessness in the county. However, when Mississippi ratified the Confederate constitution in March of 1861, the Adams Troop also began to prepare for war. When war came in April of 1861, John Minor resigned his commission and publicly declared his support for the Union.

Fearing forced conscription in the Confederate army, John Minor eventually paid a man $5,000 to serve in his place. His decision to support the Union cause would also have social and economic consequences that would adversely affect his family during and after the war. Many of Minor’s friends and acquaintances considered his behavior to be dishonorable and therefore openly censured him. His wife was also spurned by many of her friends and acquaintances, including her best friend, Margaret Conner Martin. The Minors further alienated themselves by entertaining Union officers at Oakland after Natchez was occupied in July of 1863.

The Unionist sympathies of the Minors initially made them more vulnerable to the expropriation of cotton, horses, livestock, stores, and supplies on their Louisiana and Mississippi plantations by Confederate officers. However, their Unionist position would not shield them from later expropriations by Union officers, which were far more severe in terms of economic loss. Emancipated slaves and itinerant whites later plundered what the Confederate and Union armies failed to take.

The Minors survived the Civil War with their plantation holdings essentially intact. They soon applied for pardons from President Andrew Johnson in 1865, since amnesty ensured that they would have full control over the management of their plantations. The Minors gradually adjusted to a wage-based labor system supervised by the Freedmen’s Bureau, which approved labor contracts between planters and black workers. It was necessary to mortgage Carthage and Palo Alto plantations in order to raise sufficient capital to rebuild, make necessary repairs, pay wages, and harvest a marketable cotton crop. It was also necessary to sell the heavily mortgaged Wannacutt Plantation to the Louisiana State Bank. Declining cotton prices, family illness, flooding, insect damage, labor problems, and yellow-fever epidemics often confounded the Minors’ attempts to produce a successful cotton crop during Reconstruction.

The health of John Minor worsened in the late spring of 1869. Hoping to recover, he traveled to New York for the summer. However, a short time after arriving at his New York hotel, he sustained a serious head injury in a fall. Minor died the following day on June 26, 1869. Survived by his wife, Kate, and three young children, Katherine Surget, Duncan Gustine, and Jeanne Marie, John Minor was interred at Oakland. He was later reinterred in the Natchez City Cemetery.

The finances of Kate Surget Minor began to improve toward the end of Reconstruction. After the 1869 death of wealthy uncle Jacob Surget, she inherited several plantations jointly with her brother, James Surget, Jr., and $26,000 in securities. Kate Surget Minor and her brother also formed a partnership to administer their properties, which lasted until the death of James Surget, Jr., on May 1, 1920. During the post-war years, revenue from her plantation holdings was primarily generated from annual leasing or sharecropping agreements with tenants. Initially, James Surget, Jr., assisted her in the management of the jointly held plantations, but in later years her son, Duncan Gustine Minor, would assume full responsibility for the management of her properties.

Kate Surget Minor filed a petition with the Southern Claims Commission in the summer of 1871. The mandate of this commission, which was created by Congress in March of 1871, was to determine the validity of monetary claims of loyal southern Unionists whose property had been confiscated by the Union army during the Civil War. Her claim for losses on Carthage and Palo Alto plantations totaled $64,155. However, after nearly a decade of litigation, the commission disallowed the majority of her claim and awarded only $13,072.

Kate Surget Minor had regained much of her former wealth and status by the 1880s. At the time of her death on February 17, 1926, she owned the estate, Oakland; Blackburn, Carthage, Magnolia Place, and Palo Alto plantations; and a half-interest in Brighton Woods, Cole Hill, Fatherland, Hunters Hall, Hurricane, Jane Surget White, and Mount Hope plantations, which were jointly held with her brother, James Surget, Jr. Kate Surget Minor died intestate, and her estate was equally divided among her three surviving children. Duncan Gustine Minor served as administrator of the estate. However, litigation among the three heirs delayed the final settlement of the estate until 1941.

Katherine (Tassie) Surget Minor married Frederick Schuchardt, a grandson of the Leveriches, at a lavish wedding and reception at Oakland in 1882. The Schuchardts had three children: Frederick, Jr., Katherine, and Mary Ann, and they lived in New York. Frederick Schuchardt, Sr., died in 1894, and Katherine Surget Minor Schuchardt died in 1934.

Duncan Gustine Minor continued to live at Oakland. He remained a bachelor but had a close relationship with Jennie Surget Merrill for many years, apparently in defiance of his disapproving family. Minor would later become linked to scandal when Merrill was murdered in the woods behind her home, Glenburnie, on August 4, 1932. The eccentric and impoverished Richard Dana and Octavia Dockery, who lived in squalor next door at Glenwood (Goat Castle), were initially implicated in the murder, which received considerable local and national press coverage of a highly sensational nature. However, a deceased black itinerant worker, George Pearls, was ultimately blamed for the murder, and Dana and Dockery were cleared of suspicion. Merrill bequeathed her entire estate to Duncan Gustine Minor. The legacy included Glenburnie, two plantations in Louisiana, and $250,000 in cash. Minor died at Glenburnie in 1939. His inheritance from Merrill reverted to the Merrill family, and the remainder of his estate was equally divided among Jeanne Marie Minor McDowell, Frederick Schuchardt, Jr., Katherine Schuchardt Robertson, and Mary Ann Schuchardt Scott.

Jeanne Marie Minor McDowell was married to Seaborn McDowell but had no children. Spending the majority of her life at Oakland, McDowell died there in 1949. Frederick Schuchardt, Jr., inherited her estate.

The Case of the Minors

The Case of the Minors, A Unionist Family in the Confederacy by Frank Wysor Klingberg The Journal of Southern History Vol. 13, No. 1, Feb., 1947

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ii. Stephen Minor b. 18 Aug 1833 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; d. 1834

iii. William Minor b. 31 Jul 1834 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; d. 19 Dec 1913. He was buried in Lafayette Cem, New Orleans, Louisiana.; m. 12 Jan 1870 to first cousin once removed Amenaide Chotard Chaplain (b. 25 Jan 1846 Natchez – d. 3 Dec 1911 in New Orleans; buried in Lafayette Cemetery.) Amenaide’s parents were Edward Kemp Chaplain and Amenaide Chotard (William’s 1st cousin). William and Amenaide had nine children born between 1871 and 1887

iv. Stephen Minor b. 6 Nov 1836 in Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; d. 28 Jul 1878.

Stephen’s health was so badly impaired by the typhoid fever he contacted while in the Confederate camp at Bowling Green, Kentucky, that he died in young manhood.

iv. James Gustine Minor b. 31 Mar 1839 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; d. 6 Feb 1860 in New Orleans, Orleans, Louisiana; buried in Natchez Cememtary); m. ~1853 to Katherine Surget (b. 27 Apr 1834 in Natchez, Adams, Mississippi – d. 17 Feb 1926) The marriage ended in divorce. James and Katherine had one child James Surget Minor (1855 – 1864)  Kate married James’ brother John Duncan  6  Mar 1855 at Cherry Grove,  her father’s plantation.

v. Henry Chotard Minor b. 29 Sep 1841 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi;d. 13 Mar 1898 Houma, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana buried in Magnolia Cemetary, Houma; m. 28 Apr 1875 to Louisa Ann “Annie” Stirling Butler (b. 6 Dec 1843 St. Francisville, West Feliciana Parish, LA – d. 15 Aug 1906 in Houma) Henry and Annie had six children born between 1876 and 1886.

Henry was “had no superior, if an equal, in the state as a sugar planter” In the years following Reconstruction, he superseded his father, William J. Minor as head of Southdown and the later correspondence is addressed to him as the head of the family. Henry  was a Congressional candidate in 1889.

The Minors and Gustines are both of English descent. H. C. Minor was educated in the private schools of Mississippi and subsequently engaged in planting with his father, suceeding him in the plantation. He selected as his companion in life Miss Anna Butler, and their nuptials were celebrated in 1875. Mr. Minor has enlarged and greatly improved his plantation, and during the year 1890 he made 3,500,000 pounds of sugar, mostly yellow clarified. He has two sugar-mills, one six and the other five-roller, and the capacity about 150,000 pounds per day. He has two vacuum pens, one eight and the other ten feet, double and triple effect, and these have a capacity of 250,000 pounds per day. He has two bagasse burners and all other modern improvements. Mr. Minor affiliates with the republican party in his political views and is looked upon as the coming man. In 1889 he was a candidate for congress. He has been a member of the Episcopal church since 1859 and takes an active interest in religious works.

vi. Duncan Minor b. 20 May 1844 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; d. 17 Feb 1862 fighting for the Confederacy in Virginia.

vii. Francis Octave Minor b. 30 May 1847 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; d. 9 Dec 1915 in New Orleans; m. 25 May 1871 in Adams, Mississippi to Odile Louise Larue (b. 8 Sep 1852 – d. 16 Feb 1930 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Francis and Odile had eight children born between 1872 and 1895.

viii. Katherine Lintot Minor b. 4 Dec 1849 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi; d. 1 Dec 1923  Southdown Plantation, Houma, Louisiana

Following the death of W. J. Minor on Sep 18, 1869, Henry Chotard Minor and Katherine Lintot Minor bought the interest of the other heirs in Southdown and operated the plantation as a partnership. Henry was the active manager of the property, but family and local tradition establish that Katherine, took a keen interest in every phase of the sugar business. Henry often said that he would rather consult with his sister than almost any other planter in the state.

Katherine is described as combining the sweetness and charm characteristic of Southern women with an able, analytical mind which was masculine in its approach to business problems. Miss Kate, as she was affectionately known, was born at Waterloo on December 5, 1849, and died in New Orleans on December 1, 1923. Her brother Henry pre-deceased her in 1898.

After the death of Henry C. Minor, Southdown was run under the name of H.C. Minor Estate Partnership. Katherine retained her interest in the property with the three children of H. C. Minor and Ann Louisa Butler. The children were John D., Mary and Margaret. The active administration of affairs was under Mr. Walter Suthon and Miss Kate Minor.  About 1904, John D. Minor assumed management of Southdown and operated it until 1912. In that year, John sold his interest to his sisters, who had by then married: Mary to David W. Pipes, Jr., and Margaret to Charles Conrad Krumbhaar. Thereafter, Pipes and Krumbhaar were associate managers of Southdown. In 1920, they began acquiring an interest in the property in lieu of salary.

For the story on how Southdown saved the Louisiana sugar industry from mosaic disease in the 1920’s click here.


The Case of the Minors, A Unionist Family in the Confederacy by Frank Wysor Klingberg The Journal of Southern History Vol. 13, No. 1, Feb., 1947

Minor Family Papers – Mississippi Dept of Archives and Records

William J. Minor and Family Papers -LSU Library

Kenner Family Papers – Louisiana State University Libraries

Old Families of Louisiana – By Stanley C. Arthur, George Campbell Huchet de Kernion 1933

Archaeology at Duncan Kenner’s Ashland Plantation 

Duncan Kenner’s European Diplomacy

Southdown Plantation

Posted in Artistic Representation, Historical Site, Line - Miner, Place Names, Storied, Veteran, Wikipedia Famous | Tagged | 8 Comments

Stephen Minor – Last Spanish Governor of Natchez

Stephen “Don Esteban” Minor (1760 – 1815) was just a second cousin of our Miner line, but his story is too unique not to include. Pardon the length, but as Frances Hunter says, this period of early American history is a delightful rabbit hole of heroes and scoundrels — often embodied in the same individuals.

Stephen’s rise from a backwoods Pennsylvania, teenaged sole survivor of an ambush to Governor,  first president of the Bank of Mississippi (1797-1815) and wealthy Natchez planter is remarkable.   I think his connection to the rich and powerful was Oliver Pollock, though I haven’t seen this link written anywhere.

My next post covers Stephen’s children and grandchildren who owned hundreds of slaves yet many remained loyal to the Union and one offered emancipation in exchange for recognition of the Confederacy by England and France.

Famous and infamous characters in Stephen’s life include:

Stephen Minor was born 8 Feb 1760 Greene County, Pennsylvania on the Monongahela River near the border with Virginia.  Present day West Virginia University in Morgantown is about 12 miles away from Stephen’s birthplace.   His great grandparents were our ancestors William MINER and Francis BURCHAM.  His grandparents were Stephen Minor and Athaliah Updyke.     His parents were Capt. William Minor and Frances Ellen Phillips.   (See William MINER‘s page for their stories)

Stephen Minor Portrait 2

Stephen Minor Portrait – By William Edward West (1809)

Stephen first ventured to New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1779.  He first married  Martha Ellis 1790 in Louisiana.  After Martha died, he married Katherine Lintot 4 Aug 1792 in Natchez, Adams, Mississippi. Stephen died 29 Nov 1815 in Natchez, Mississippi and is  buried at Concord, the historic residence of the early Spanish governors at Natchez, Mississippi.

Martha Ellis was born 1760 in Natchez, Natchitoches, Louisiana She was the daughter of Colonel John Ellis of White Cliffs, located south of Natchez on the Mississippi River. There were apparently no children from this union. Martha died before 1791

Katherine Lintot was born 4 Aug 1770 in Carlisle, Cumberland, Pennsylvania. Her parents were Bernard Lintot (1740 – 1804) and Katherine Trotter (1744 – 1804).  Bernard . Bernard Lintot is reputed to have studied at the Inner Temple, London.  He was a Wall Street trader who became the commissary at Manchac.    She was known as the “Yellow Duchess” because of her reputed fondness for all things golden. Katherine died 9 Jul 1844 in Natchez, Adams, Mississippi

Bernard Lintot


Child  of Stephen and Martha: for her story, see my post Stephen Minor’s Children – Decadent Unionists

Name Born Married Departed
1. Mary Minor 4 Jul 1787 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi William Kenner
19 Nov 1801
5 Oct 1814 Oakland Plantation, Louisiana


Children of Stephen and Katherine: (for their story, see my post Stephen Minor’s Children – Decadent Unionists

Name Born Married Departed
2. Martha Minor ~1793
Natches, Adams, Mississippi
Bef. 1795
Natches, Adams, Mississippi
3. Frances Minor 27 Mar 1795 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi Henry Chotard
27 May 1819 Adams, Mississippi
10 May 1864 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi
4. Katherine Lintot Minor 24 Jun 1799 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi James Wilkins
11 Apr 1823  Adams, Mississippi
5 Jan 1849 or 9 Jul 1844 Natchez, MS
5. Stephen Minor ~1803
Natchez, Adams, Mississippi
Charlotte Walker? 29 Nov 1815 Natchez, MS or
26 Jun 1830
6. William John Minor 27 Jan 1808 Natchez, Adams, Mississippi Rebecca Ann Gustine
7 Aug 1829  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
18 Sep 1869 Southdown Plantation,, Houma, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana

Stephen Minor Detail

Caravan Survivor

About 1779 before Stephen was twenty years old, he traveled to Spanish New Orleans to procure military supplies for the Continental Army.  Once the goods were packed on mules, Minor and his men headed up the western bank of the Mississippi in a caravan in route to the Ohio Valley.  Along the way, Minor fell ill and was at times so consumed with fever and chills that the caravan was forced to moved forward during the day while Minor followed their trail at his own sluggish pace, often catching up with the group at its encampment at night.

One day as Minor laid back shivering with a high fever, the caravan was overtaken by bandits deep in the heart of Indian country in present day Arkansas, their goods stolen and the men murdered.  Minor found the grisly crime scene hours later, his life having been spared due to his illness. Alone in the vast wilderness, the 20-year-old stumbled back into New Orleans with news of the disaster.About that time, Spain had joined the Americans in the fight against the British. Minor, always enterprising, learned Spanish and French as he determined his next move.

The Taking of British West Florida 

Minor joined the royal Spanish army being assembled by the Governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Gálvez, for attacks on English Manchac (Fort Butte) and Baton Rouge (1779).

Bernardo de Gálvez  (1746 – 1786)

Young Stephen Minor caught the eye of Bernardo de Gálvez (1746 – 1786)  5th Governor of Spanish Louisiana , 61st Viceroy of New Spain.   Galveston,  Texas is named for him

Spain officially entered the American Revolutionary War on May 8, 1779, with a formal declaration of war by King Charles III. This declaration was followed by another on July 8 that authorized his colonial subjects to engage in hostilities against the British.  When Bernardo de Gálvez, the colonial Governor of Spanish Louisiana received word of this on July 21, he immediately began to secretly plan offensive operations. Gálvez, who had been planning for the possibility of war since April, intercepted communications from the British at Pensacola indicating that the British were planning a surprise attack on New Orleans; he decided to launch his own attack first.  To that end, he concealed from the public his receipt of the second proclamation.

Fort Bute was located on Bayou Manchac, about 115 miles  up the Mississippi River from New Orleans, on the far western border of British West Florida. Lt. Col. Alexander Dickson was charged with the defense of the Baton Rouge district, which included Fort Bute, Baton Rouge, and Fort Panmure (modern Natchez, Louisiana). The British had begun sending larger numbers of troops to the area following George Rogers Clark‘s capture of Vincennes, which had exposed the weak British defenses in the area. At Dickson’s disposal in August 1779 were 400 regulars, including companies from the 16th and 60th Regiments and a recently-arrived company o fgrenadiers from the German state of Waldeck, and about 150 Loyalist militia.

Fort Bute was an older stockade fort built in 1766.  It was in such disrepair that Dickson judged it to be indefensible. When Dickson received word of Spanish movements, he withdrew most of his forces to Baton Rouge and Panmure, leaving a small garrison of 20 Waldeckers under Captain von Haake behind.

Gálvez originally planned to march from New Orleans on August 20. However, a hurricane on August 18 swept over New Orleans, sinking most of his fleet and destroying provisions.  Undeterred, Gálvez rallied the support of the colony and on August 27 set out by land toward Baton Rouge, using as an explanation for the movement the need to defend Spanish Louisiana from an expected British attack.  The force departing New Orleans consisted of 520 regulars, of whom about two-thirds were recent recruits, 60 militiamen, 80 free blacks and mulattoes, and ten American volunteers, including Stephen Minor, headed by Oliver Pollock.

Pollock used his fortune to finance American operations in the west, and the successful Illinois campaign of General George Rogers Clark in Illinois 1778.   Stephen Minor’s uncle, Col. John Minor built Clark’s flotilla of vessels on the Monongahela River.  I’ve never seen it written anywhere, but its more than likely that Pollock’s introduction of Minor to the Spanish leadership was a key factor in Stephen’s rise and family fortune.

Oliver Pollock (1737-1823) was a merchant and financier of the Revolutionary War, of which he has long been considered a historically undervalued figure.  He is often attributed with the creation of the US Dollar sign in 1778.

Oliver Pollock

Oliver Pollock (1737-1823)

Oliver Pollock came to North America in 1760. A native of Ireland, he arrived in Philadelphia and settled in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. At age 25, Pollock began a career as a merchant in the West Indies. With his headquarters in Havana, Cuba, he traded mainly with the Spanish. In Cuba, he established a relationship with Governor-General Alejandro O’Reilly Like Pollock, O’Reilly was from Ireland, but left his native land to fight in foreign armies, serving in both the Austrian and Spanish military. O’Reilly married into the family of the Spanish governor of Cuba, and quickly rose in influence in the region. In 1769, he was sent to Louisiana to put down a rebellion by French Creoles, a task he completed with flying colors.

Following his friend to New Orleans, Pollock worked there as a merchant and was given free trade status within the city because of his relationship with O’Reilly. As a result, he because a very successful businessman, particularly in dealing with flour, which was a highly sought-after commodity. To help the colonists, Pollock sold the flour at half price, no doubt endearing him to the populace.

With his growing wealth, Pollock gained political influence. In 1777, he was appointed as the commercial agent of the United States government in New Orleans, essentially making him the representative of the colonies. Utilizing his enormous wealth, Pollock financed American military operations west of the Mississippi, including George Rogers Clark’s campaign in Illinois in 1778. That same year, he borrowed $70,000 from the Spanish governor of Louisiana and served as his aide-de-camp during a campaign against the British. Throughout Louisiana, Alabama and Florida, the Spanish defeated the British, culminating with the Siege of Pensacola in 1781. Pollock, through his diplomatic skills, helped gain the surrender of Fort Panmure by the British in Natchez.

In 1779 he borrowed $70,000 from Spanish Louisiana’s Governor Bernardo de Gálvez, but the financial needs of the country at the time left him in a loss. Pollock served as Gálvez’s aide-de-camp during the Spanish campaign against the British that began with the Spanish declaration of war in June 1779. Gálvez and the Spanish troops swept through Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida, defeating the British with the Capture of Fort Bute and campaigning through the victorious Siege of Pensacola in 1781. Pollock’s diplomacy assisted in the surrender of Fort Panmure at Natchez, Mississippi

As they marched upriver, the force grew by another 600 men, from Indians to Acadians. At its peak, the force numbered over 1,400, but this number was reduced due the hardships of the march by several hundred before they reached Fort Bute.

When the force neared Fort Bute on September 6, Gálvez informed them of the Spanish war declaration and the true purpose of their mission, eliciting cheers from the men. At dawn the next day, they attacked the fort, and after a brief skirmish in which one German was killed, most of the garrison surrendered.  The six who escaped capture made their way to Baton Rouge to notify Dickson.

After several days’ rest, Gálvez advanced on Baton Rouge, only 15 miles from Fort Bute.  When Gálvez arrived at Baton Rouge on Sep 12, he found a well-fortified town garrisoned by over 400 regular army troops and 150 militia under the overall command of Lt. Col. Alexander Dickson.

Gálvez first sent a detachment of men further up the river to break communications between Baton Rouge and British sites further upriver. Before the fort he was unable to directly advance his own artillery, so Gálvez ordered a feint to the north through a wooded area, sending a detachment of his poorly-trained militia to create disturbances in the forest. The British turned and unleashed massed volleys at this body, but the Spanish forces, shielded by substantial foliage, suffered only three casualties. While this went on, Gálvez dug siege trenches and established secure gunpits within musket range of the fort. He placed his artillery pieces there, opening fire on the fort on Sep 21.

The British endured three hours of shelling before Dickson offered to surrender. Gálvez demanded and was granted terms that included the capitulation of the 80 regular infantry at Fort Panmure (modern Natchez, Mississippi), a well-fortified position that would have been difficult for Gálvez to take militarily. Dickson surrendered 375 regular troops the next day; Gálvez had Dickson’s militia disarmed and sent home. Gálvez then sent a detachment of 50 men to take control of Panmure.  He also dismissed his own militia companies, left a sizable garrison at Baton Rouge, and returned to New Orleans with about 50 men.

In 1780 Spanish Gen. Bernardo de Gálvez amassed an army to take on the British in West Florida.   Stephen  joined the Spanish army and participated in a military expedition against Fort Charlotte, located near Mobile in British West Florida., which resulted in a resounding Spanish victory.   At Mobile, according to historian Benjamin L.C. Wailes, Minor caught the eye of Gen. Galvez who was impressed with Minor’s bravery and heroism as well as his “remarkable skill with the rifle.”Minor was in Spanish service for most of his adult life. He became a major of the Spanish army.

In 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the French and Indian War. The treaty ceded Mobile and the surrounding territory to Great Britain, and it was made a part of the expanded British West Florida colony.  The British changed the name of Fort Condé to Fort Charlotte.

British West Florida in 1767

British West Florida in 1767

The British were eager not to lose any useful inhabitants and promised religious tolerance to the French colonists, ultimately 112 French Mobilians remained in the colony.   The first permanent Jewish presence in Mobile began in 1763 as a result of the new religious tolerance.

While the British were dealing with their rebellious colonists along the Atlantic coast, the Spanish entered the war as an ally of France in 1779. They took the opportunity to order Bernardo de Galvez, Governor of Louisiana, on an expedition east to retake Florida.  He captured Mobile during the Battle of Fort Charlotte in 1780, as part of this campaign. The Spanish wished to eliminate any British threat to their Louisiana colony, which they had received from France in the same  1763 Treaty of Paris.

On Jan 11, 1780, a fleet of twelve ships carrying 754 men, a mix of Spanish regulars and militia sailed from New Orleans, reaching the mouth of the Mississippi on Jan 18. They were joined on January 20 by the American ship West Florida, under the command of Captain William Pickles and with a crew of 58.

On Feb 20, reinforcements arrived from Havana, bringing the force to about 1,200 men. By Feb 25, the Spanish had landed their army on the shores of the Dog River, about 10 miles from Fort Charlotte. They were informed by a deserter that the fort was garrisoned by 300 men.

On Mar 1, Gálvez sent a letter to Durnford offering to accept his surrender, which was politely rejected. Gálvez began setting up gun batteries around the fort the next day. Durnford wrote to General John Campbell at Pensacola requesting reinforcements. On March 5 and 6, most of the Pensacola garrison left on a march toward Mobile. Delayed by difficult river crossings, this force was unable to assist the Fort Charlotte garrison.

On Mar 13, the walls of Fort Charlotte were breached, and Durnford capitulated the next day, surrendering his garrison.  The fall of Fort Charlotte drove the British from the western reaches of West Florida and reduced the British military presence in West Florida to its capital, Pensacola.

4/5 scale replica of Fort Conde in downtown Mobile

4/5 scale replica of Fort Conde in downtown Mobile – Note the row of cannon

Emboldened by the destruction of a Gálvez-led expedition against Pensacola by a hurricane in the fall of 1780, Campbell decided to attempt the recapture of Mobile.  In the Battle of Mobile,  a British attack on Jan 7 1781 against a Spanish outpost on the east side of Mobile Bay was repulsed, and the German leader of the expedition was killed.

Captain Johann von Hanxleden’s expedition of 700 men arrived near the outpost late on Jan 6, and made a dawn attack the next morning.    Forty of the Spaniards made a dash for a boat anchored nearby, but the British cut many of them down with a musket volley. Choctaw warriors from the expedition then followed the Spaniards into the water to collect scalps. The remaining Spanish coolly opened fire on the British, killing Hanxleden and nineteen others. The British troops then disengaged and retreated

Minor also participated in the  conquest of Pensacola (1781) by  later in the year Spanish Field Marshal Gálvez completing the Spanish conquest of West Florida.

These actions were condoned by the revolting American colonies, partially evidenced by the presence of Oliver Pollack, representative of the American Continental Congress, and due to the fact that Mobile and West Florida, for the most part, remained loyal to the British Crown. The fort was renamed Fortaleza Carlota, with the Spanish holding Mobile as a part of Spanish West Florida until 1813, when it was seized by United States General James Wilkinson during the War of 1812.

Stephen Minor and Manuel Gayoso de Lemos

In return for his military services under Galvez, Minor was accorded the rank of Captain and granted the land on which the city of Natchez was built. In 1781, Galvez appointed Minor adjutant of the military post at Natchez commanded by Gayoso de Lemos.

Minor received a commission as a captain in the Spanish army, and he served as the adjutant of Fort Panmure at Natchez. During this time, Minor also assisted Spanish governor Manuel Gayoso de Lemos in various administrative duties. He also provided the Anglo-American settlers and Natchez Indians of the district liaison with the Spanish officials, who often referred to him as “Don Esteban.”

Manuel Luis Gayoso de Lemos Amorín y Magallanes (1747 – 1799) was born in Oporto, Portugal to Spanish consul Manuel Luis Gayoso de Lemos y Sarmiento and Theresa Angélica de Amorín y Magallanes, he received his education in London, where his parents were living.  He was said to have the accent and manners of the British.

Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, Governor of Natchez

Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, Governor of Natchez

At age 23 Manuel Gayoso de Lemos joined the military, the Spanish Lisbon Regiment as a cadet (1771) and was commissioned ensign  the following year. The Lisbon Regiment had been reassigned from Havana to New Orleans since the Spanish entry under Field Marshal Alejandro O’Reilly in 1769.  (Like many so-called “Wild Geese” of his generation, O’Reilly  left Ireland to serve in foreign,Catholic armies.)

Throughout his life Gayoso de Lemos retained his military rank and he was a brigadier at the time of his death. Don Manuel Gayoso de Lemos married three times. His first marriage was to Theresa Margarita Hopman y Pereira of Lisbon, with whom he had two children. In 1792 he married Elizabeth Watts of Philadelphia and Louisiana; she died three months later. He then married Elizabeth’s sister, Margaret Cyrilla Watts, with whom he had one son.

On Nov  3, 1787, Manuel Gayoso de Lemos assumed military and civil command of the fort and the newly organized District of Natchez (West Florida), having been appointed district governor by Governor-General Esteban Rodríguez Miró, governor of Louisiana and West Florida. On his arrival, Gayoso de Lemos established an informal cabildo (council) of landed planters which was formalized in 1792. Most of the council were of non-Spanish origin having come down from the Ohio River Valley settlements (especially Kentucky).

From The Sins of Manuel Gayoso – “Natchez was a rough, lawless frontier settlement when Gayoso arrived in 1789. There were about twenty houses, most of them rough framed affairs, sparsely furnished. Kentuckians and other westerners descended the Mississippi with flatboats of goods to sell, unloaded their cargoes, then raised hell in the taverns. Often they stole a horse to get back home, via the Natchez Trace. Stolen goods frequently changed hands in the taverns for the price of a few drinks. Counterfeiting was big business, and slaves were common targets for thievery. Gayoso himself was ripped off by an American traveler to whom he extended hospitality, losing two slaves, a shotgun, carbine, bridles, and two saddles. (The thief was caught and returned for trial.)

Gayoso sought to lower the high rate of homicide in his frontier district by banning knives and pistols, but outlaws with a penchant for stabbing circumvented the law by fashioning effective stilettos of hardened wood. As governor, Gayoso was the chief magistrate and possessed the power to adjudicate disputes and arrange settlements. In Natchez Saturday was court day, and Gayoso spent virtually the entire day hearing complaints of various types and rendering his decisions. He was as tough on miscreants as his authority allowed, petitioning Miró unsuccessfully for the funds to build a jail. Gayoso had considerable power over the church in his district. Because the governors were considered the Spanish King’s representatives the new world, they had the power to create new bishoprics, dioceses, parishes, and other church posts. Gayoso was tolerant of various religious sects in Natchez, but he didn’t take any guff off the priests and didn’t hesitate to let them know who was boss.

Miró left the governorship of Louisiana in 1791 and returned to Spain. Gayoso had hoped to replace him, but was disappointed when Francisco Luis Hector de Carondelet was appointed in his place. Despite initial reason for tension, the two men seemed to have had an effective working relationship. When Carondelet arrived in 1791, he was appalled at the state of Spain’s defenses on the lower Mississippi. Together, Gayoso and Carondelet set about a long-term program to beef up Spain’s military defenses. At Gayoso’s urging, Carondelet created the Squadron of the Mississippi, which came to include six galleys, four galiots, one bombardier, and six cannon launches. In 1795, the crew members numbered over 300. The larger galleys boasted an 18-pounder cannon and eight to ten swivel guns. They were used for reconnaissance expeditions up and down the Mississippi.

Gayoso also recommended to Carondelet construction of additional forts in the Mississippi Valley. They beefed up defenses in Nogales, Natchez, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge. Gayoso beat the Americans to Chickasaw Bluffs through painstaking negotiations with the Chickasaws, who finally consented to let Spain build a small military post there. Gayoso was supported by a majority of the ships in the Spanish squadron when he established a new military post at Chickasaw Bluffs in 1795.

The new fortifications aside, Gayoso believed that the primary defense of Louisiana lay not in expensive permanent forts, but in the willingness of Natchez settlers to defend their homes and plantations. Louisiana had a regular battalion of infantry—at least on paper (in fact, the battalion was never at full strength despite recruiting efforts in Mexico and emptying out all the jails in the Spanish empire). Gayoso persuaded Carondelet to organize a real militia, though Carondelet was mistrustful of the French settlers in Natchez and was reluctant to give them too much leeway. Gayoso persevered, and by the fall of 1793, he had organized two companies of infantry, two of cavalry, and one of artillery for Natchez.”

Gayoso de Lemos continued to encourage American settlement on Spanish soil, especially by Catholics, notably the Irish and the Scots, and those who brought significant property. He moved the administrative part of the town of Natchez from the waterfront up onto the bluffs. One of the most troubling aspects during his civil administration was confusion in the land titles, with a number of inconsistent land grants. Unfortunately, Rodríguez Miró’s successor, Governor-General Carondelet was not amenable to rectifying the problem.

While in Natchez, Gayoso de Lemos used Americans freebooters, notably General  James Wilkinson and Philip Nolan to help limit the growth of the United States. Also to this end, Gayoso de Lemos entered into alliances with the local Indian tribes and signed formal treaties with them in 1792, 1793, and 1795. Under his direction the Spanish fortified the Mississippi at Nogales (later Walnut Hills, then later changed to Vicksburg) and Chickasaw Bluffs (later Memphis). He was instrumental in acquiring the information from James Wilkinson concerning the proposed US attack on New Orleans in 1793 by General George Rogers Clark.

Several years  after the death of his wife, Elizabeth,  Gayoso began courting the younger sister of his second wife, Margaret Cyrilla Watts. However, the road to matrimony was far from smooth. When Gayoso sailed north to New Madrid in 1795 (where he happened to run into young William Clark), ugly rumors circulated to the effect that he was keeping a mistress there, had built a house for her, and intended to marry her. Governor Carondelet heard the rumors and was disturbed enough to write to Gayoso, reminding him that it was common knowledge that he had “lived as a husband” to Margaret Watts in Natchez and that if he didn’t behave himself, he was going to get in trouble with the Bishop of New Orleans.

Gayoso finally requested a royal license to marry Margaret in early 1796. Carondelet forwarded the paperwork through the captain-general of Cuba to the secretary of war. Official permission was not forthcoming until March 1797, by which time Margaret was noticeably pregnant. Concerned about their status, Gayoso asked Carondelet to grant interim permission, which he declined to do.

On July 14, 1797, Margaret gave birth to a healthy son, whom they named Fernando. When the Gayosos went to New Orleans later that year, an interesting religious ceremony took place, in which the Bishop baptized young Fernando and married his parents.

Under the terms of Pinckney’s Treaty promulgated in 1796, Spain agreed to relinquish the Natchez District to the United States. Thus Gayoso de Lemos oversaw the gradual Spanish withdrawal from the east-side of the middle Mississippi. In March 1797 the fort at Nogales was decommissioned with the troops and stores being moved to St. Louis.

Gayoso de Lemos succeeded Carondelet as Governor-General of Louisiana and West Florida on Aug 5, 1797 and  Minor briefly served as acting governor until the Spanish evacuated Natchez prior to April of 1798, when the Mississippi Territory was created by the United States Congress.

Gayoso died of yellow fever in Louisiana in 1799. Unkind gossips claimed that hard drinking with a visiting American general who was associated with several scandals and controversies — James Wilkinson—was a contributing factor.

Wilkinson served in the Continental Army, ,but was twice compelled to resign. He was twice the Commanding General of the United States Army, appointed first Governor of the Louisiana Territory in 1805,  and commanded two unsuccessful campaigns in the St. Lawrence theater during the War of 1812. After his death, he was discovered to have been a paid agent of the Spanish Crown.    Traitor extraordinaire James Wilkinson should be better known. I’m pretty well versed in American history and today is the first I’ve heard of him..

(See the Spanish Conspiracy by Frances Hunter.   I wonder if Stephen Minor assisted his mentor Manuel Gayoso in his undercover work.  Maybe he led the  300 Natchez militiamen deployed to New Orleans  in 1793 to help defend the port against “the Jacobin menace.” )

Mississippi Territory (1798 - 1817)

Mississippi Territory (1798 – 1817)

Minor was next appointed as one of the Spanish commissioners responsible for establishing the boundary between Florida and the United States during 1798 and 1799, running the lines between Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. He was in command of the Spanish forces in Vidalia, Louisiana, across the river from Natchez,  when the United States acquired this territory with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Minor was also a Spanish boundary commissioner for Louisiana during 1804 and 1805.

Owning plantations on Sandy and Second creeks in Adams County, Minor initially produced indigo and tobacco. Following the example of Governor Gayoso, he began planting cotton around 1795, and by 1797, just one of his plantations was yielding twenty-five hundred bales of cotton annually. Minor also owned forty thousand acres of land east of the Pearl River in Louisiana.

Stephen Minor purchased Concord, the former residence and plantation of Governor Gayoso, after the latter departed Natchez.

Over fifty years later, in its December 1850 session, the US Supreme Court affirmed the validity of Minor’s title to Concordia.  At issue was whether Gayoso gave Concordia to his second wife Margarett Watts to use as she pleased or whether Gayosa’s infant son Fernando should have inherited.  Also at issue was how the 1802 contract between the United States and Georgia and the 1803 Congressional Act regulating land grants south of Tennessee should be applied to this case.  You can read the arguments and the decision here.

Stephen Minor Portrait

Stephen Minor Portrait – By Edith Flisher, ca. 1900-1905 — A copy of William Edward West’s 1809 painting, with a transformation of a blue coat into this red


Some Interesting Events in Stephen’s Timeline

In 1788, Stephen Minor sold 300 acres to the Spanish government which included the bluff property.    Manuel Gayoso de Lemos   “drew a line from Front Street, facing the bluffs, and forbade the granting of lots west of it.”

Natchez Bluff Park

Natchez Bluff Park

From 1804 to 1806, Congress was involved in a dispute over the bluff property involving 30 acres, which was eventually provided the Town of Natchez.   In 1804 the (Natchez) Common Council fell into legal controversy with the aristocrat-controlled Board of Trustees of Jefferson College in Washington over the college’s claim to the public square and the commons in Natchez. In 1803 the United States Congress granted the college, for revenue purposes, two lots in Natchez and thirty acres of federal property in the city, with the tracts to be picked by the governor. Despite loud cries of protest from the Natchez officials,  Gov. C.C.  Claiborne chose two lots on the public square, and Cato West, acting governor  of the Mississippi Territory  in 1803, picked as the thirty-acre site the city commons on the bluff…The issue was not settled until 1816 when the city ‘won permanent and clear title to the tracts’.

At noon Thursday, May 11, 1797, [Concordia Sentinel by Stanley Nelson] Englishman Francis Baily, the 21-year-old son of a London banker, arrived in Natchez on a flatboat loaded with flour. This was a tense time in Natchez country history — the Spanish flag was flying over Fort Panmure (Rosalie) and the American flag flying over Liberty Hill a few hundred yards to the north where the House on Ellicott Hill sits today. A treaty had transferred possession of Natchez to the Americans, but the Spanish had yet to leave town, causing great tension. Much excitement was also in the air over cotton, a crop which was transforming the economic fortunes of the region, triggered by the invention of Eli Whitney’s saw gin.”There is a great deal of cotton raised in this district,” Baily wrote in his journal, which was later published in a book. “There are several jennies erected…in order to extricate the seed from the cotton.” On the bank of the Mississippi River at Natchez, Baily observed one gin owned by Stephen Minor and his partner that was “worked by two horses, which will give 500 lbs. of clear cotton in a day.”

Not long after inspecting Minor’s gin on the river bank, Bailey prepared to take off for New Orleans. When the owners of the flatboat that transported Baily to Natchez sold their flour, the owner and crew headed back home through the wilderness along what became known as the Natchez Trace.

Flatboat going down the Mississippi

Bailey found a ride south on another flatboat, owned by a Mr. Douglass, “laden with cotton” bought at Natchez. Baily said the cotton was loaded into bags weighing about 200 pounds each and that the flatboat held an estimated 250 bags, about 25 tons. Douglass charged farmers and merchants an average of $1.50 per bag of cotton, garnering him a fee of about $375 for the entire shipment.

The flatboat was the only really serviceable type of river craft, for it would go where there was water enough for a muskrat to swim in, would glide unscathed over the concealed snag or, thrusting its corner into the soft mud of some protruding bank, swing around and go on as well stern first as before. The flatboat was the sum of human ingenuity applied to river navigation. Even (keeled) barges were proving failures and passing into disuse, as the cost of poling them upstream was greater than any profit to be reaped from the voyage.

1800-1810 – When Natchez lawyer, judge, Congressman and finally Senator  George Poindexter, a man often embroiled in controversy, challenged Minor to a duel in the early 1800s for some alleged slight, Natchez citizens thought he was insane. One friend advised Poindexter to back off, noting, “You must look to him (Minor). Whatever Major Minor states, upon his honor, you, and every other gentleman, are bound to accept.”

Poindexter was involved in two other shootings. When former U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr was arrested in 1807 for the alleged Burr conspiracy, Poindexter conducted the prosecution until Burr’s escape from custody.  Poindexter’s outspoken opposition to the Federalist Party resulted in criticisms from merchant Abijah Hunt, possibly the richest man in Mississippi Territory.

George Poindexter - US Senator from Mississippi - was bi-polar and a binge drinker. Quick tempered, Poindexter often clashed with adversaries and often challenged others to duels.

George Poindexter – US Senator from Mississippi – was bi-polar and a binge drinker. Quick tempered, Poindexter often clashed with adversaries and often challenged others to duels.

When Hunt criticized him, Poindexter challenged Hunt to a duel and the quick moving affair ended up on the dueling grounds of Concordia on the plantation known as Palo Alto, located about a mile north of the Post of Concord (Vidalia) and owned by Stephen Minor of Natchez.  Poindexter  killed Hunt resulting in controversy and unsubstantiated claims that accused Poindexter of firing prematurely.

In 1834 when he was  President pro tempore of the Senate,  Poindexter had his Washington, D.C. home painted by Richard Lawrence. Lawrence, a deranged man, thought he was the ruler of England and the United States and that Andrew Jackson was a usurper. In Jan 1835 Lawrence shot at Jackson with two pistols while the President was attending a memorial service for a Congressman at the House of Representatives. It was the first attempt to assassinate a President. Jackson accused various political enemies as being behind Lawrence.  Among them was Poindexter, who denied any connection except for the painting. But the accusations followed Poindexter back to Mississippi. He was unsuccessful for a second term.

The Yellow Duchess

Another Yellow Dutchess

Another Yellow Duchess

Stephen Minor’s wife Katherine Lintot was known as “The Yellow Duchess” . She is buried under the massive tomb to the left and her husband is buried next to her under the “table top” tombstone. She was known as the “Yellow Duchess” because of her fondness for the color yellow. Everything she owned was yellow. Including her clothes, carriage and furniture. She even had a flower garden full of yellow roses. She insisted that her horses be Palominos,  and her slaves mulatto. Being of Spanish Royalty she had very great wealth and it is said she was buried with much of her gold. Therefore a massive structure was placed over her grave to prevent grave robbery. But no, she did not die of Yellow Fever – a disease that took many lives in Natchez.


Yellow Duchess Grave

Katherine is buried under the massive tomb to the left and Stephen is buried next to her under the “table top” tombstone.It is said that the Yellow Dutchess was buried with much of her gold and this massive structure was placed to prevent grave robbery. – Natchez City Cemetery


Philip Nolan Jr.

Katherine’s sister Fanny, married Philip Nolan, Sr.  (wiki), who lost hits life while on an illegal horse hunting expedition at the site of present-day Waco, Texas, in 1797. His infant son, Philip, Jr., was reared by Stephen Minor. Philip Nolan, Jr., apparently lived out his life using the surname of his Uncle Stephen Minor. It was Philip, Jr., who built Linwood Plantation (circa 1840 to 1939) near Ashland (1841- ), the plantation home of Stephen’s grandson Duncan F. Kenner in Ascension Parish, Louisiana.

Philip Nolan (1771 Belfast, Ireland– 21 Mar 1801 Hill County) was a horse-trader and freebooter in Natchez, on the Mississippi River, and the Spanish province of Tejas (Aka Texas).

He is not to be confused with the fictional Philip Nolan of “The Man Without a Country” by Edward Everett Hale whose background was only loosely based on the real Philip Nolan’s exploits. Hale had intended to make his fictional character Philip Nolan’s brother, but, misremembering the real Nolan’s name as “Nathaniel”, named his character “Philip” (the apostles Philip and Nathaniel being frequently mentioned together in the New Testament). In editions printed after Hale discovered his mistake, the word “brother” was therefore changed to “cousin”, and Hale wrote The Real Philip Nolan by way of atonement.

At the age of fifteen, Nolan went to work for the Kentucky and Louisiana entrepreneur James Wilkinson as his business secretary and bookkeeper (1788–1791). He handled much of Wilkinson’s New Orleans trade and became conversant in Spanish. During this time, he became acquainted with Manuel Luis Gayoso the district governor for Natchez.

In 1791, using the influence of Wilkinson, Nolan obtained a trading passport from the Spanish governor of Louisiana and West Florida, Esteban Rodríguez Miró. He left Wilkinson’s employ and set out to trade with the Indian tribes across the Mississippi.  This trade was not legitimate, but was perhaps winked at by the Spanish authorities.  The passport was void in Texas, and his goods were confiscated by Spanish authorities. Nonetheless, and after living with the Indians for two years, Nolan returned to New Orleans with fifty horses.

He made a second trip to Texas in 1794-1795, with a passport from the Louisiana governor. He made acquaintance with Texas Governor Manuel Muñoz and the commandant general of the Provincias InternasPedro de Nava. It was on this trip that he met his first wife. This time he brought back 250 horses.

In 1796, Nolan worked for Andrew Ellicott, boundary commissioner for the United States who was mapping up the Missouri River.  [Stephen Minor had previously worked with Ellicott mapping the border between Florida and the Mississippi Territory. ] Governor Gayoso de Lemos was not pleased when Nolan arrived at Natchez accompanied by the surveying party.

But Nolan managed to patch things up, at least with Governor Carondelet in New Orleans, and obtained a third passport to enter Texas, despite the fact that trade directly between Louisiana and Texas was still officially prohibited by Spain. Gayoso de Lemos was not fooled. He wrote directly to the viceroy of Mexico, warning him against foreigners (such as Nolan) who were stirring up the Texas Indians against Spanish rule.

In the summer of 1797, Nolan left on his third trip to Texas with a wagon train of trade goods, which he successfully brought to La Villa de San Fernando de Béxar, Spanish Texas (now San Antonio, the seat of Bexar County), where he insinuated himself in Spanish Texas society and married.  Commandant General Pedro de Nava was ordered by the viceroy not to deal with Nolan, but Governor Muñoz defended Nolan and provided him with safe conduct out of Texas. Nolan left his wife and daughter in Texas and came back to Natchez in the autumn of 1799 with more than 1,200 horses.

Nolan is sometimes credited with being the first to map Texas for the American frontiersmen, but his map has never been found. Nonetheless, his observations were passed on to Wilkinson, who used them to produce his map of the Texas-Louisiana frontier in 1804.

Philip Nolan was married twice, first to Maria Gertrudis Dolores Quiñones, with whom he had a daughter, Maria Josefa Nolan, born August 20, 1798, in what is now San Antonio. Philip was separated from Maria by, at least, July 1800.  He also married the former Frances “Fanny” Lintot, the daughter of Bernard Lintot, a prominent Natchez citizen, on December 19, 1799.  Frances bore him a son Philip Nolan, Jr., in July 1801, after he had left on his fourth and final trip to Texas.

Nolan was unable to obtain any more passports from the Spanish authorities. He conceived or borrowed a scheme to go illegally into Texas and perhaps other Mexican provinces. There is considerable dispute about the exact nature of this filibustering expedition; some claim that he promised his men that they would seize riches and land and create a kingdom for themselves. Nonetheless, he convinced some thirty frontiersmen that the expedition would make them rich. They crossed the border in October 1800 and headed north of Nacogdoches to capture wild mustangs. The Spanish soon heard of their activities, and Pedro de Nava ordered their arrest.

On March 21, 1801, a Spanish force of 120 men under the command of Lieutenant M. Múzquiz left Nacogdoches in pursuit of Nolan, whom they encountered entrenched and unwilling to surrender just upstream from where the current Nolan River flows into the larger Brazos (now in Hill County, Texas). Several of Nolan’s men surrendered immediately to the Spanish and after Nolan was killed, the remainder yielded. Nolan’s ears were cut off as evidence for Spain that he was dead.  The first-hand account of the expedition, capture and subsequent imprisonment is contained in the Memoirs of Ellis P. Bean, who was second in command of the expedition.  Also see this account of the Adventures of Philip Nolan and Ellis P. Bean from a history of Texas.


Concord in Ruins 

Concord was first the residence of Stephen Minor’s friend, the first Spanish Governor, Don Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, who built the house in 1794. Gayoso filled his mansion with ornate furniture imported from Spain and Santo Domingo, spent wildly and entertained lavishly. A friend described Gayoso during this time as “of high stature, and stoutly built,” and added, “he was fond of horses, of good cheer and madeira.” He owned matched bay horses, and a black and a roan. In 1799, he ordered a special “elastic jacket, which is very convenient apparel for a corpulent person to ride on horse back.”

To his beautiful home, Gayoso brought his second wife, an American beauty named Elizabeth Watts, in April 1792. Unfortunately, Elizabeth contracted a fever and died within three months of their marriage. A curious legend sprang up that the grief-stricken governor kept his dead wife in a tub filled with embalming fluid on the second story of Concord.

Gayoso’s mansion, “Concord,” was the social and political center of Natchez. A lady who remembered the mansion as a young girl gave this description:

The very first sight of the house, seen through a long vista of noble trees, as you enter the gate, forms a splendid picture. About half way from the gate is a large pond surrounded by gnarled old cedars, after which the road branches into two, on each side of an extensive sloping lawn, and the end of the delightful drive brings us to the house itself.

Built of brick with walls fully two feet thick, there is an air of massiveness and solidity about this grand old house that gives promise of centuries of useful existence before it shall succumb to the leveling hand of time.

On the ground floor a broad gallery paved with brick completely circles the house, and lofty pillars reaching to the roof support another broad gallery upon which all the second story rooms open. These pillars are about four feet in diameter, made of brick covered with mortar, which gives them the appearance of stone. Two winding flights of stairs, one on each side of the entrance, made of the purest white marble, lead from the ground to the upper gallery, where they meet in a solid slab of snow white marble about six feet wide and ten feet long … A vestibule paved with alternate squares of black and white marble, after the houses of Pompeii, leads through the richly carved front door into a broad hall extending the full length of the house.

After Gayoso de Lemos became Governor-General of Louisiana, he sold the house to Stephen Minor, who took over his former post. The Minor family moved after the Civil War and the home fell into a long period of deterioration. It burned in 1901, just as new owners made plans to refurbish it

Concord Natchez burned in 1901.  This postcard contains the only known photo

Concord Natchez burned in 1901. This postcard contains the only known photo

The original house resembled Ellicott’s Hill, with a front gallery under the main roof. Later in the 1810s, under the ownership of Steven Minor, the distinctive classical portico and side galleries were added, possibly designed by Levi Weeks, the architect of Auburn (1812), a Natchez mansion thought to be the first use of the classical orders in the form of “white columns” we’ve all come to associate with the antebellum South. Many early authors assumed Concord’s portico was original and thus ascribed a level of sophistication to the Spanish period that really came later in the American period.

The Mississippian created his own architecture; his slave labor was unskilled, his models no more than pictures or memories; his real pattern was the Spanish. The result was the fusion of styles found at Natchez, predominantly Georgian in character, with columns and pediments relieved by the sloping roofs and galleries that broke across the classic fronts. In Concord, the former home of the Spanish governors at Natchez, which burned in 1901, this fusion probably reached its finest expression. The great columns that gave distinction to the building sprang from the earth itself. The lower story was extended to the face of the upper verandah, whose slender balustrade and smaller piazza posts were deeply recessed under the eaves of the light roof. The effect was Spanish West Indian as much as Greek.

Plan of Concord 1 - Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History Catalog

Plan of Concord 1 – Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History Catalog

Mississippi State Archives

Plan of Concord 2

Plan of Concord 2

Nevertheless, the house was important both architecturally and historically, and was seen as such before it burned, as you can see below.

First Mansion Built in the State
Gives Way to the Fire
Marble Mantels and Cornices from
Spain–Nothing Left but

a Memory

Concord Ruins 1940

Concord Ruins 1940

Another grand old ante-bellum mansion, one of the many that have made this section famous, lies in ruins, a victim of the fire fiend. The mansion in question is the historic old “Concord,” built by the Spanish Governor, Carlos de Grand Pre, in 1789, who was commandant here from 1786 to 1792.

It was then known as “Grand Pre.” In 1792 Don Manuel Gayosa de Lemos succeeded Governor Grand Pre and he changed the name of the mansion to “Concord.” In 1798 Stephen Minor succeeded Governor Gayosa and occupied “Concord.” The mansion remained as the property of the Minors until some years ago when it was sold to Dr. Stephen Kelly, president of the Fifth National bank of New York, but formerly of this city.

As fate would have it, Dr. Kelly’s son arrived in Natchez day before yesterday on his bridal tour and is now occupying “Melrose,” another old ante-bellum mansion of the Kelly estate.

Concord is in a large grove and was built of brick with a large wide gallery extending around the four sides. A double stone staircase leads from the grand driveway to the second floor. The mantels were of marble quarried in Spain and brought here for Grand Pre.

One of the historical incidents mentioned in connection with Concord is the story that in the old library at “Concord” Aaron Burr endeavored to persuade Governor Minor to co-operate with him in his nefarious plot against the Federal Government.

After Burr left the Vice-Presidency at the end of his term in 1805, he journeyed into what was then the West, areas west of the Allegheny Mountains, particularly the Ohio River Valley and the lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase drumming up support for his plans. Burr had leased 40,000 acres of land (known as the Bastrop Tract) along the Ouachita River, in what is now Louisiana, from the Spanish government.

Aaron Burr (1756 - 1836)

Aaron Burr (1756 – 1836)

His most important contact was General James Wilkinson, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Army at New Orleans and Governor of the Louisiana Territory. Others included Harman Blennerhassett, who offered the use of his private island for training and outfitting Burr’s expedition. Wilkinson was later proved to be a bad choice.

Burr saw war with Spain as a distinct possibility. In case of a war declaration, Andrew Jackson stood ready to help Burr, who would be in position to immediately join in. Burr’s expedition of about eighty men carried modest arms for hunting, and no materiel was ever revealed, even when Blennerhassett Island was seized by Ohio militia.  His “conspiracy”, he always avowed, was that if he settled there with a large group of (armed) “farmers” and war broke out, he would have an army with which to fight and claim land for himself, thus recouping his fortunes. However, the 1819 Adams-Onís Treaty secured Florida for the United States without a fight, and war in Texas didn’t occur until 1836, the year of Burr’s death.

After a near-incident with Spanish forces at Natchitoches, Wilkinson decided he could best serve his conflicting interests by betraying Burr’s plans to President Jefferson and to his Spanish paymasters. Jefferson issued an order for Burr’s arrest, declaring him a traitor even before an indictment. Burr read this in a newspaper in the Territory of Orleans on Jan 10, 1807. Jefferson’s warrant put Federal agents on his trail. He turned himself in to the Federal authorities twice. Two judges found his actions legal and released him. Jefferson’s warrant, however, followed Burr, who then fled toward Spanish Florida; he was intercepted at Wakefield, in Mississippi Territory (now in the state of Alabama) on Feb 19 1807, and confined to Fort Stoddert after being arrested on charges of treason. 

Burr’s secret correspondence with Anthony Merry and the Marquis of Casa Yrujo, the British and Spanish ministers at Washington, was eventually revealed. It had been to secure money and to conceal his real designs, which were to help Mexico to overthrow Spanish power in the Southwest, and to found a dynasty in what would have become former Mexican territory. This was a misdemeanor, based on the Neutrality Act of 1794 passed to block filibuster expeditions like those questionable enterprises of George Rogers Clark and William Blount.  Jefferson, however, sought the highest charges against Burr.

In 1807, on a charge of treason, Burr was brought to trial before the United States Circuit Court at Richmond, Virginia. His defense lawyers included Edmund RandolphJohn Wickham and Luther Martin. Burr was arraigned four times for treason before a grand jury indicted him. This was surprising since the only physical evidence presented to the Grand Jury was Wilkinson’s so-called letter from Burr which proposed the idea of stealing land in the Louisiana Purchase. During the Jury’s examination it was discovered that the letter was written in Wilkinson’s own handwriting – a “copy,” he said, because he had “lost” the original. The Grand Jury threw the letter out, and the news made a laughingstock of the General for the rest of the proceedings. The trial, presided over by Chief Justice of the United States John Marshall, began on August 3.

Article 3, Section 3 of the United States Constitution requires that treason either be admitted in open court, or proved by an overt act witnessed by two people. Since no two witnesses came forward, Burr was acquitted on September 1, in spite of the full force of the Jefferson administration’s political influence thrown against him.  Immediately afterward, he was tried on a more appropriate misdemeanor charge, but was again acquitted.

Concord Natchez

Concord Natchez prior to 1901

Among the noted men who have been entertained at “Concord” were General Anthony Wayne, General Lafayette, Jefferson Davis, Aaron Burr and Winthrop Sargent, the first territorial governor of the Mississippi Territory,

Mississippi Territory ~~ Winthrop Sargent ~Issue of 1948

Mississippi Territory ~~ Winthrop Sargent ~Issue of 1948

The entertainments at Concord were the most famous and lavish ever given in this section, even in the days when regal splendor was the order at all the social divertissements of the upper ten.

Of late years the place has been occupied by Mr. Herman Stier, a well known and prosperous meat butcher.

A few months ago “Concord” was the scene of a magnificent “country ball” given by the Duke and Duchess of Manchester. It was a reminder of the old time social festivals at “Concord” and was largely attended. It was a brilliant affair and made a suitable fluis to the social chapter in the history of “Concord.”

It was just after the town clocks struck the hour of 12 yesterday afternoon that the alarm was turned in. Though “Concord” was a mile beyond city limits the volunteer department hastened to respond. The firemen performed heroic work, but they were dependent upon a few cisterns for their water supply, which was very poor indeed. The old mansion was doomed.

The firemen assisted by numerous citizens directed their first efforts to saving the furniture in the building and succeeded in their endeavors.

Several of the rich marble mantels that were brought from Spain to add their splendid beauty to the magnificence of “Concord” were taken out before the roof caved in, but some were broken and will be of little use, save as mementoes of the famous mansion.

After the fire had played its part the relic hunters picked up small pieces of blackened stone broken from the cornices, also a product of Spanish stone quarries.

The value of the building was beyond estimate. In historic interest its value was beyond price, as its was easily the most famous of all antebellum mansions.

It was insured for $2500 through the Metcalfe Insurance Agency and $2500 through Major John Rawle’s insurance agency, making a total of $5000.


For their story, see my post Stephen Minor’s Children – Decadent Unionists



Minor Family Papers – Mississippi Dept of Archives and Records

William J. Minor and Family Papers -LSU Library

Posted in Artistic Representation, Historical Site, Immigrant - North America, Line - Miner, Pioneer, Public Office, Storied, Veteran | 11 Comments

John Vincent

John VINCENT (1608 – 1663) was Alex’s 11th Great Grandfather; one of 4,096 in this generation of the Shaw line.

Vincent Coat of Arms

Vincent Coat of Arms

John Vincent was born about 1608 in England. His parentage is quite uncertain. It has been alleged that he was the child of Sarah Allerton and her first husband, John Vincent.  If so, he was left behind in Europe and came to New England on his own as an adult.  He married Hannah SMITH. John died 1663 in Yarmouth, Barnstable, Mass.

Hannah Smith’s origins are not known.    The given and maiden names of his wife is unknown.  However, in the Yarmouth Vital Records are the cryptic entries on October 1676 and 5 December 1683 of a “Miss Vincent” dying.  These could be unmarried daughters or one may be the wife of John Vincent. [Yarmouth VRs, p. 125]

Children of  John and Hannah:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Elizabeth Vincent 1630 Thomas DEXTER Jr.
8 Nov 1648 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.
19 Mar 1714 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass
2. Sarah Vincent  1634 William Dexter (Thomas’ brother)
Jul 1653 in Barnstable, Barnstable, Mass
Barnstable, Barnstable, Mass
3.  Henry Vincent  1635 Mary Matthews
15 Dec 1657 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.
Yarmouth, Mas
4. Mary Vincent  1632 Benjamin Hammond (Son of William HAMMOND)
8 Nov 1648 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.
1705 in Rochester, Plymouth Co., Mass

Legendary Mayflower Roots

The faulty research [or the undocumented leap] is that this John Vincent is the son of another John Vincent and Sarah Allerton, daughter of Edward ALLERTON and sister of Isaac ALLERTON of the Mayflower.  Sarah Allerton’s first husband John Vincent was born about 1590 in: London, Middlesex, England. He and Sarah married about 1608 in Leiden. John died about 1610 at: Leiden, Zuid-Holland.  Some researchers have given John and Sarah a son John, but no documentation has been found, and suggest Sarah brought 5 children with her in 1623 – the only children documented are Mary Priest, Sarah Priest and Samuel Cuthbertson

In Leiden on 4 Nov 1611, Degory Priest of London married Sarah Vincent, widow of Jan Vincent of London. [Mayflower Descendant 7:129-30].  Together they have two daughters. Priest dies on 1 Jan 1620/21 and news of that event is conveyed back to Leiden where his widow remarries in November 1621 to Godbert Godbertson [sometimes transliterated as  Cuthbert Cuthbertson].  All four, that is, Sarah, Godbert and her two daughters, arrive in Plymouth in 1623 on the Anne. Both Godbert and Sarah die “without will” before 24 Oct 1633 when their inventory was spoken of. [Plymouth Colony Records 1:11-13].  Eventually their estate was settled on 3 Aug 1640 to John Combe and Phineas Pratt who had married the two daughters of Digory and Sarah (Allerton) Priest.

No mention of John Vincent, the man of Sandwich, is ever made in connection with Sarah (Allerton) (Vincent) (Priest) Godbertson, whether in Plymouth or Leiden records.  One would have to believe that the younger John Vincent was left in England and Sarah went to Leiden alone.  After all the intensive research done on Mayflower families I find it hard to believe that not one record has surfaced that ties the two together in some way.  Unlike some theories, here the timeline works.  A woman born in 1575 has a son in 1600 and then two more daughters in 1613 and 1615 (when she is about forty) and no more children.  Isaac Allerton’s birth year is ca. 1586 based on his own deposition and it all holds together.

However, John Vincent is a much more common name than you would think.  A search in the IGI for parish records (not patron submissions) shows four John Vincents born in London between 1600 and 1610.  If you include all of England and reduce the birth years to 1600 to 1604, there are still 14 John Vincents.  Certainly the John Vincent of Sandwich was a man of some social importance.  He is a leader of Sandwich from the beginning and given the honorific “Mr.” in town records.  Further research is needed in England to find his origins.  However, for now, his connection with Sarah Allerton is based solely on her marriage record as a widow of John Vincent.  Intriguing? Yes.  Evidence?  No.  Certainly not anywhere close to being a reasonable determination of a relationship.

John Vincent Bio

Genealogical notes of Barnstable families Vol 1, p 68: The Indian title to the lands in Sandwich was purchased by William Bradford and his partners of the old Plymouth Company in 1637, for £16, 19 shillings, payable “in commodities,” and Jan 24, 1647/48, they assigned their rights to Edmund FREEMAN, and on the 26th of February following, he assigned the same to George Allen, John VINCENT, William Newland, Robert Botfish. Anthony Wright and Richard Bourne, a committee of the proprietors of the town of Sandwich.

John Vincent was of Saugus (today’s Lynn), Essex, MA by 1636 but was granted lands in Duxbury, Plymouth, MA.  His Duxbury land abutted the lands of Thomas Burgess and William BASSETT, both early settlers of Sandwich. He was made freeman in 1637.  In 1638, he was appointed Constable in Sandwich.

 6 March 1638 — Mr. John Vincent is elected constible of Sandith. and was sworne to searue in the said office from this Court to the end of the next government, vis, for a yeare and a quarter .”

By 1639 John sold the Duxbury land to Thomas Weybourne, and that same year was appointed Deputy to Plymouth Court from Sandwich. Also in 1639, he was appointed to go to Yarmouth to aid in establishing land rights.  He was also listed in the 1643 roster of persons between the age of 16 and 60 who were liable to bear arms.

John Vincent was in Sandwich as late as 1658 when he married for the second time but the moved to Yarmouth, Barnstable, MA.

This man has a research history very similar to John Ellis who also lived in Sandwich.  Both may or may not have ties with the Mayflower, but certainly some researchers have insisted they do.

The best write-up for John Vincent is by Harl Preslar Aldrich, Jr. in George Lathrop Cooley and Clara Elizabeth Hall: Their Ancestors and Descendants in America (Rockport, Me.: Penobscot Press, 2001), pp. 213-215.  Aldrich claims that John Vincent was in Duxbury by 1637, however, there is no record of him being admitted a freeman there.

He lives his life in Sandwich and later in Yarmouth, Mass.  He has four children, all of whom are captured from their own respective marriage records.  John Vincent himself leaves no will or probate.

5 Mar 1638/39 – The Colony Court ordered the Committee of the town of Yarmouth, consisting of Mr. Anthony Thacher, Mr. Thomas HOWES, Mr. John Crowe, Mr. Nicholas Sympkins, William Palmer, Philip Tabor and Joshua Barnes, to make the first division of the planting lands, to be divided equally “to each man according to his estate and quality, and according to their instructions.” Thacher, Howes and Crowe, had surveyed the lands during the previous winter, and it appears that Andrew HALLETT Sr. was also in Yarmouth, and had “assumed to himself” more land than was thought equitable, and the Colony Court appointed March 5, 1638/39, Joshua Pratt, of Plymouth, and Mr. John VINCENT of Sandwich, to view the lands, “and make report thereof unto the Court, that if these proportions which Mr. Andrew Hellott hath assumed to himself there shall be so p’judiciall to the whole, that then some just and equall order be taken therein, to prevent the evil consequences it may be to the whole plantation.”

No report of the committee is on record, and it would appear from the subsequent action of the Court that Mr. Hallett had not “assumed to himself” a greater proportion of the planting lands than he had a right to claim.

Vol 1 p 475 in an article on the Hallett family:’ Thacher, Howes and Crowe, had surveyed the lands during the previous winter, and the Mr. Hallett… had “assumed to himself” more land than was thought equitable, and the Colony Court appointed March 5, 1638-9, Joshua Pratt, of Plymouth, and Mr. John Vincient of Sandwich, to view the lands..’


John’s children in order of their marriages and therefore extrapolated births are: (i) Elizabeth m. Sandwich, 8 November 1648 [poss. confused with the next record; first child born in 1649], Thomas Dexter (Jr.) and born say 1625; (ii) Mary m. Sandwich 8 November 1648 [Sandwich VRs, p. 8] Benjamin Hammond, and born say 1627; (iii) Sarah m. 8 July 1653 at Barnstable [Mayflower Descendant 4:223] William Dexter [brother of Thomas above] and born say 1631; and (iv) Henry m. 15 December 1657 at Sandwich [Sandwich VRs, p. 15], Mary Matthews, and born say 1634.  The dating of the children is important because you need to be able to date the parents.  Based on the above information we can say that John Vincent was married about 1624 and was likely born about 1600.

1. Elizabeth VINCENT (See Thomas DEXTER Jr.‘s page)

Ensign Thomas Dexter married, Nov. 8, 1648, Mary or Elizabeth Vincent. The record of the marriage is mutilated, but this seems to be its true reading. In early times Mary and
Elizabeth were considered synonymous or interchangeable.

2. Sarah Vincent

Sarah’s husband William Dexter was born about 1630 in England His parents were Thomas DEXTER Sr and Mary HARPER. William died 1694 in Rochester, Plymouth, Mass.

William came to America with his father, and was in Barnstable in 1650. He lived on one of the two farms that his father bought. He took oath in Barnstable in 1657. He removed to Rochester, Mass. about 1679 and died there in 1694.

He was one of a party of thirty, which included such men as William Bradford, Kenelem Winslow, Thomas Hinckley and Rev. Samuel Arnold, who became the grantees of the town of Rochester.

Williamm died intestate, and his estate was settled by mutual agreement between the widow Sarah and her children, Stephen, Phillip, James, Thomas, John, and Benjamin Dexter, and her daughter Mary, wife of Moses Barlow. James, Thomas and John, had the Rochester lands, and Stephen, Phillip and Benjamin, the Barnstable estate. In the division of the meadows in 1694 William had 3 acres assigned him by the committee of the town, which was reduced to two by the arbitrators in 1697. Stephen and Phillip, the only children of William of sufficient age, were assigned 2 acres each. In 1703 Phillip had removed to Falmouth, and Stephen was the only one of the name who remained in town. He had 48 shares alloted to him in the division of the common lands, considerably more than the average, showing him to be a man of good estate.

Children of William and Elizabeth

i Mary Dexter, b. 11 Aug 1649 or Jan 1654 in Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.; d. 1729 Mass; m. Moses Barlow. Removed to Rochester.

ii Stephen Dexter. b. Jan 1654 or May 1657 Barnstable, Mass; d. 1729 Barnstable, Barnstable, Mass, probate 17 Mar 1729/30. m. 27 Apr 1696 to Ann Saunders. Stephen and Ann had ten children born between 1696 and 1714.

Stephen spent his whole life in Barnstable and made his home on the farm which was originally his grandfather Thomas’, at Dexter lane. West Barnstable. In 1703 he was the only one of the name left in Barnstable.

iii Philip Dexter, b. Sep 1659 Barstable, Barnstable, Mass; d. 10 Jun 1741 Falmouth, Barnstable, Mass. m. Alice Allen; d.1741 Philip and Alice had nine children.

At the time of their marriage, Philip and Alice moved to Falmouth, where they spent the remainder of their life. He was miller there many years. At one time he was complained of for’ charging’ too high. But as he was the only miller, the people were dependent upon him. A committee was sent to consult with him. but the record does not reveal the result, but at a later period he was paid by the town £30 for his part of the mill and the land that the pond covered, so it may be that the matter was settled in that way. In 1712 he and Thomas Bowerman were appointed to lay out land of the ”New Purchase” into lots, etc. He was selectman, and also town clerk.

iv James Dexter, b. May 1662 Barnstable, Mass,; d. 15 Jul 1694 or 15 Jul 1697 Rochester, Mass; m. Rochester, Mass to Mary Tobey. James and Mary had three children born in Rochester.

James went to Rochester with his father. In 1712, after the death of the father, Mary, the daughter, being- a minor over 14, chose Jabez Dexter (a kinsman) for guardian. and Deborah chose Samuel Hunt for her guardian.

v. Thomas Dexter, b. Jul 1665; d. 31 July, 1744.; m1. 17 Jul 1695 to Mary Miller and had by her one sone; m2. 1702 to Sarah C. March No issue.

The son must have died before his father, for he is not mentioned in his will, and he leaves most of his property to Constant Dexter, who had been brouuht up by him. He gave land to Mary Sherman, wife of William Sherman, who was a daughter of his brother John, lie also gave land to Rose, or Rest, Dexter daughter of his brother John. He gave £3 each to the four daughters of his brother John and to the two daughters of his brother Benjamin. He gave £5 to the church, and all the balance to Constant Dexter, son of his brother Benjamin.

vi John Dexter, b. Aug 1668 Barnstable, Barnstable, Mass; d. 31 Jul 1744 Rochester, Plymouth, Mass; m. 1702 to Sarah [__?__] ( – 21 Jan 1755). John and Sarah had seven children born between 1703 and 1724 all born at Rochester. John and Sarah had eleven children.

John was called yeoman in 1690. He sold land to Samuel Arnold and John Hammond, and in 1714 to James Winslow, and in 1716 to Thomas Dexter.

vii Benjamin Dexter, b. 16 Feb 1670 Barnstable, Mass; d. 18 May 1732 Rochester, Mass.; m. Sarah Arnold Sarah’s father was Rev. Samuel Arnold, who who was the second minister at Rochester, and also one of the grantees of the town. Her grandfather, Rev. Samuel Arnold, was third minister of Marshfield. Benjamin and Sarah had eleven children, all born in Rochester between 1697 and 1718.

Benjamin removed to Rochester with his father. He was a farmer and sold land in 1693 to Moses Barlow, in 1699 to John Hammond, in 1723 to Edward Winslow, in 1715 to John Corning. All of this land was inherited from his father.

Benjamin’s estate was valued at £1,047. At his death, his son James Dexter was made guardian of the two young children, Seth and Joanna.

3. Henry Vincent

Henry’s wife Mary Matthews’ origin is not known.

Child of Henry and Mary:

i. John Vincent b. 1685 in Yarmouth, Barnstable, Mass.; m. 2 Nov 1710 in Harwich, Mass. to Hannah Sears (b. 1 Jul 1685 in Harwich, Barnstable, Mass -d. Harwich or Dennis ) John and Hannah had six children born between 1712 and 1732.

4. Mary Vincent

Mary’s husband Benjamin Hammond was born in 1621 in London, England. His parents were William HAMMOND and Elizabeth PAYNE. . He went to Sandwich, and there in 1650 married Mary Vincent.    Nothing is known as to his whereabouts from his arrival in Boston, in 1634, to his marriage to Mary Vincent in 1650, except that he was at Yarmouth in 1643.

There is some mention  in Otis book (on Barnstable): Vol 2, p 67:

‘It is reported that he [Benjamin Hammond – also not of Barnstable] married in 1650 Mary, daughter of Mr. John Vincent of Sandwich. This date is uncertain, for there was a Mary Hammon in Yarmouth in 1648. As there was only one family in town, I thence infer that she was the wife of Benjamin…. list of children: Samuel, who married Mary Hathaway of Dartmouth… John born Nov. 22, 1663, and his wife Mary Arnold… Nathan who married a Dexter, Benjamin. He had also three daughters, two died young, and one named Rose…This list of his children is imperfect. The William named in the following extract from the Boston Journal, was perhaps his oldest son… William Hamilton, born in Scotland…settled on Cape Cod…RI…died in CT in 1746…’

Children of Benjamin and Mary:

i. Mary Hammond, b. Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass; d. young.

ii. Samuel Hammond, b. in 1655 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass; d. m. Mary Hathaway of Darthmouth

iii. John Hammond , b. 22 Nov 1663 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass; d. 19 Apr 1749, O. S.; m. Mary Arnold

iv. Nathan Hammond b. in 1670 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass; d. m. [__?__] Dexter

v. Benjamin Hammond, b. Nov. 1673.Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass; d. 29 Mar 1747.

vi. Rose Hammond, b. Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass;d. 20 Nov 1676.


Genealogical notes of Barnstable families  Being a reprint of the Amos Otis Papers originally published in the Barnstable Patriot in 1861; Revised by Charles  F. Swift Largely made from notes made by the author (1888)

Posted in 13th Generation, Immigrant - England, Line - Shaw, Pioneer, Public Office | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Thomas Dexter Sr.

Thomas DEXTER Sr. (1594 – 1676) was Alex’s 11th Great Grandfather; one of 4,096 in this generation of the Shaw line.

Dexter Coat of Arms

Dexter Coat of Arms

Thomas Dexter Sr. was born between 1594 and 1606 in Great Bowden, Leicestershire, England. Alternatively, he was born 24 Jan 1594 in Bristol, Somerset, England. His parents were Thomas DEXTER and Mary TOPLEY. He may have married 30 Jan 1612/13 Great Bowden, Leicestershire, England to Mary HARPER. Thomas died between 26 Oct 1676 and 9 Feb 1677 in Boston, Middlesex, Mass. and is buried in Kings Chapel Cemetery, Boston.

The identify of his wife(s) is not known.

Mary Fuller may have been born in 1597 in Bristol, Somerset, England. Mary died about 1629.

Mary Harper  may have been born 25 Dec 1590 in Great Bowden, Leicestershire, England.

Children of Thomas and Mary:

Name Born Married Departed
1. Mary Dexter b. 1617
John Frend
Oct 1639 Barnstable, Mass.
Captain James Oliver
 1680 Barnstable, Barnstable, Mass.
2. Thomas DEXTER Jr. ~1623
Great Bowden, Leicestershire, England.
Elizabeth VINCENT
8 Nov 1648 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass
30 Dec 1686 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.
3. Frances Dexter 1626
Bristol, England
Richard Woode or Woodee 21 Apr 1718 Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass
4. William Dexter 1630, Alton, Wilts, England Sarah Vincent
8 May 1694 Rochester, Plymouth, Mass.

Thomas’ father Thomas Dexter was born in 1568 in Bristol, Somerset, England. Thomas most likely died in Somerset, England.

Thomas’ mother Mary Topley was born 1572 in England. Mary died in 1639 in Boston, Middlesex, Mass.

Genealogy of the Dexter Family in America, – “Of the early life of Thomas Dexter, the first ancestor of this line of Dexters to arrive in this country, but little is known. He came either with Mr. Endicott in 1629 or in the fleet with Governor Winthrop in 1630. He brought with him three of his children at least, and several servants. hut as there is no record of his wife, it is presumed that she died before they sailed from England. There is some reason to believe that they belonged in the neighborhood of Bristol, England. “for in the years that followed he had considerable dealing with people who lived there. In 1640 he gave a mortgage of his 500-acre farm at Lynn to Humphrey Hooke, alderman of Bristol, England.

He had received a good education, and wrote a beautiful hand, as papers now in existence will show: was a man of great energy of character, public-spirited, and ever ready to contribute to the support of any enterprise he thought to be of interest to the colony ; always independent, and fearless in the expression of his opinions. Such were the leading traits; but it must be admitted, says one writer, “that his energy of character bordered on stubbornness and his independence of thought on indiscretion and self-will.”

In 1630, in the prime of life and with ample means, he settled on a farm of 800 acres in the town of Lynn. Mass. He had many servants, and was called “Farmer Dexter.” The house was on the west side of the Saugus River, about where the iron works were afterward erected.

In 1633 he built a bridge over the Saugus River and stretched a weir across it, and a little later built a mill nearby.

He was greatly interested in starting the iron works, which were the first to be built in this section of the country, getting the iron ore from the Cape. He interested English capital in the enterprise and became the general manager. Some years later, becoming convinced that the enterprise could not prove satisfactory, he withdrew.

He became a freeman 18 May 1631, but soon lost the honor, for he was disfranchised on the 4th of March, 1633.

4 Mar 1632/33 – The court ordered that “Thomas Dexter shall be set in the bilbowes, disfranchised & fined £40 for speaking reproachful & seditious words against the government here established, & finding fault to diverse with the acts of the Court, saying this captious government will bring all to naught, adding that the best of them was but an attorney, &c.”

6 Sep 1638 – In the general amnesty, £30 of this fine was remitted

He had many quarrels and many vexatious lawsuits. In 1631 he had a quarrel with Captain Endicott (afterward Governor), in which the Salem magistrate struck Mr. Dexter, who had him complained of in court at Boston. Mr. Endicott said in his defense:

“I hear I am much complained of by Goodman Dexter for striking him. Understanding since it is not lawful for a ‘justice of the peace to strike, but if you had seen the manner of his carriage with such daring of me, with arms akimbo, it would have provoked a very patient man. He has given out that if I had a purse he would make me empty it, and if he cannot have justice here, he will do wonders in England, and if he cannot prevail there, he will try it out with me here at blows. If it were lawful for me to try it out at blows and he a fit man for me to deal with, you would not hear me complain.”

The jury gave Mr. Dexter a verdict of £10.

In 1633 the court ordered Mr. Dexter to be set in the bilboes, disfranchised and fined £10 for speaking reproachful and seditious words against the government here established.

Mr. Dexter, having been insulted by Samuel Hutchinson, met him one day on the road, “and jumping from his horse bestowed about twenty blows on the head and shoulders of Hutchinson, to the no small danger or deray of his senses as well as sensibilities.” These facts would indicate that Mr. Dexter was not a meek man.

In 1637 he and nine others obtained from the Plymouth Colony court a grant of the township of Sandwich. He went there and built the first grist mill.

Dexter's Mill

Dexter’s Mill

Dexter's Grist Mill

He did not remain there long, however, for in 1638, he had 350 acres assigned to him as one of the inhabitants of Lynn. He remained in Lynn until 1646. About this time he purchased two farms in Barnstable, one adjoining to the mill-stream and afterwards occupied by his son William, and the other farm on the northeastern declivity of ”Scorton Hill.” His dwelling’ was situated on the north side of the old county road, and commanded an extensive prospect of the country for miles around. Here he lived a quieter life, yet could not keep entirely free from lawsuits, for in 1648 he had no less than six lawsuits in court. all decided in his favor.


His greatest lawsuit was with the inhabitants  of Lynn over the ownership of the land where Nahant now  is. This land Mr. Dexter bought of the Indian chief Pognannm, or “Black Will.” paying- for the same a suit of good clothes. This he fenced in and used it to pasture his cows. The title to this was disputed by the other inhabitants (1657) who, if his claim was denied, would share in the division of the land. The result was a defeat for him and his heirs. although they kept it in court over thirty-eight years.

4 Aug 1646 – Admonished for sleeping in church

In 1657 Mr. Dexter took the oath of fidelity. He was admitted freeman of Plymouth Colony on June 1. 1658. For the next eighteen years he lived a quiet, retired life on his farm. During the later years of his life he appears to have conveyed his mill and his large real estate in Sandwich to his son Thomas, Jr. and his West Barnstable farm to his son William. retaining his Scorton Hill farm and his personal estate for his own use. He sold this last mentioned farm in 1676.  to William Troope (Throope).

Dexter's Grist Mill

Dexter’s Grist Mill – Sandwich

He then removed to Boston  that he might spend the remainder of his days with his daughter, who was the wife of Captain Oliver. He died there in 1677, and was buried in the Oliver tomb in King’s Chapel burying-ground.

Taken all in all. he was one of the foremost men of his times. He had faults: and who has not?  No attempt has been made in this to veil them. He was not one to hide his light under a bushel, and in estimating his character we must inquire what he did, not what he might have done. Who did more thanThomas Dexter to promote the interest of the infant colony at Lynn, with the building of the weir, the bridge, the mill and the great iron works? Who did more at Sandwich and at Barnstable, where he built bridges, mills and roads improvements that the public  took interest in? For these acts he is  deserving- credit, and they will forever embalm his memory. As to religious matters he was a member of the Puritan Church, yet tolerant and liberal in his views.”


1630 – Migration, first residence: Lynn

3 May 1631 the Thomas Dexter’s accusation of battery against John Endicott was tried before a jury, which decided in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him 40s. damages

18 May 1631 – Freeman

3 Jul 1632 – The court ordered “that Thomas Dextor shall be bound to his good behavior till the next General Court, & fined £5 for his misdemeanor & insolent carriage & speeches to  Mr. Bradstreet, at his own house; also, at the General Court is bound to confess his fault”

7 Nov 1632 – £4 of the fine was forgiven

3 Sep 1633 – The differences between John Dillingham, Richard Wright and Thomas Dexter were referred to John Endicott and Increase Nowell for arbitration

4 Mar 1632/33 – The court ordered that “Thomas Dexter shall be set in the bilbowes, disfranchised & fined £40 for speaking reproachful & seditious words against the  government here established, & finding fault to diverse with the acts of the Court, saying this captious government will bring all to naught, adding that the best of them was but an attorney, &c.”

6 Sep 1638 – In the general amnesty, £30 of this fine was remitted

1 Oct 1633 – Thomas Dexter was fined 20s. for drunkenness

3 Apr 1637 – Thomas Dexter was one of the “ten men of Saugus” who were granted land to establish the town that would become Sandwich

Ten Men of Saugus

Thomas was the last named – Ten Men of Saugus

The record says: ”April 3, 1637, it is also agreed by the Court that these ten men of Saugus, viz., Edmund FREEMAN, Henry Feake, Thomas DEXTEREdward DILLINGHAM, William Wood, John Carman, Richard Chadwell, William Almy, Thomas Tupper, and George Knott, shall have liberty to view a place to sit down, and have sufficient lands for three-score families, upon the conditions propounded to them by the governor and Mr. Winslow.”

That year these men except Thomas Dexter, who came subsequently, settled with their families in and near that part of the town now occupied by the village of Sandwich.

Sandwich was the site of an early Quaker settlement. However, the settlement was not well-received, as their beliefs clashed with those of the Puritans who founded the town. Many Quakers left the town, either for further settlements along the Cape, or elsewhere. Early industry revolved around agriculture, with fishing and trading also providing for the town. Later, the town grew a small industrial component along the Scusset River and Old Harbor Creek and its tributaries.

6 Sep 1638 – In the general amnesty £30 of this fine was remitted

1638 Lynn land division – Granted 350 acres

24 Oct 1638 – “Thomas Dexter of Lynne …, yeoman … for my natural love and good affection that I bear unto my son & heir apparent Thomas Dexter” granted him one mansion house and appurtenances, and one water mill, and six hundred acres of land, meadow and pasture to the said mansion house belonging “lying and being in Sandwich by the Indians heretofore called Shawme” in Plymouth Colony, and if “my said sone … shall not think good to accept of the premises hereby granted, that I will pay him the sum of five hundred pounds upon reasonable demands”

30 Oct 1638 – The previous deed was amended to include Thomas Dexter’s gift of oxen, plough and a horse and to commit to writing the agreement that young Thomas would “pay or cause to be paid unto Mary Dexter & Frances Dexter his [Thomas the elder’s] daughters, for and towards their portions the sum of one hundred pounds” each when the younger Thomas “shall enter into & upon the said lands … after his marriage, or at such time as he or his executors … shall demand & receive the said five hundred pounds, in case the said Thomas Dexter above bounden should marry a wife and die at sea before his return into these parts of New England, or not be well advanced in marriage according to the good liking of the said Thomas Dexter the father”

16 Jul 1639 – Samuel Maverick of Noddle’s Island, gentleman, and Thomas Dexter of Lynn, yeoman, bound themselves in the amount of £800 to pay William Hooke, merchant, £436 on 16 Jan 1639/40

20 Aug 1640, Thomas Dexter of Lynn, yeoman, mortgaged the eight hundred acre farm in Lynn and twenty head of cattle to Humphrey Hooke for payment of a £500 judgment against Dexter [ Lechford 285-86]. This debt was not easily paid, and Aspinwall recorded that “Alderman Hooke of Bristol, merchant” and “Tho: Dexter of Linn” in a difference over £440 due to Hooke agreed to have four men value “lands towards or in satisfaction of the said debt” 10 September 1643.

“John Frend” had Thomas Lechford record a list of “money due to me from my father-in-law Thomas Dexter” about spring 1641. It included over £100 borrowed from Friend prior to the marriage and “My wife’s portion was to be 100. to be paid at the day of marriage w[hi]ch was in October 1639….” Evidently not being able to pay the various sums, Thomas Dexter bound the mill to Friend 26 June 1640

16 Apr 1640 – In the division of meadow at Sandwich “Mr. Thom[as] Dexter” was granted twenty-six acres “if he come to live here”

29 Jun 1640 – “Tho: Dexter of Lynne” granted to Mathew Cradock of London, merchant, in security “for the payment of one hundred & fifty pounds unto the said Math: Cradock his farm at Linne w[i]th the appurtenances thereof”

7 Nov 1640 – Aspinwall recorded a bond of £80 from Thomas Dexter to John Fish of “Wroxall in the county of Warwicke”

22 Dec 1640 – Samuel “Peerse” received £32 2s. for the use of Mr. Thomas Santley
from “Mr. Thomas Dexter of Linne”

26 Dec 1640 – Aspinwall recorded another bond from Dexter to Fish for £60

29 Jun 1641 – Thomas Dexter Sr. was ordered to return the sack and its contents taken
from William Harper He was in court against William Harper and arbiters were
assigned to the case 25 Jan 1641/42

27 Jun 1643 – He was still having troubles with the Harpers, this time Richard

27 Dec 1643 – At court Thomas Dexter was presented for “evading justice in challenging cattle of Mr. Otley under execution, and putting others in their room”

9 Jul 1644 – At court “six acres of land lying by Farmer Dexter, given him by the town, challenged by Tho. Dexter by a former gift. It is agreed that he shall have the six acres near Mr. Holliock’s twenty acres. He said that he bought one hundred and fifty acres, house and wares, at twelve pence per acre”

4 Nov 1645 – Robert Nash agreed to pay a considerable debt due Mr. Simon “Broadstreet” in beaver on behalf of Dexter,

31 Mar 1646 – At court Samuel Hutchinson of Lynn sued Thomas Dexter, Sr., of Lynn, for assault and battery and won a 40s. judgement against Dexter he depositions of several neighbors who were going to work and passed “Goodman Dexters” said that Dexter struck Hutchinson “with the great end of his stick about twenty blows, that the man was a quiet man and that Goodman Dexter had no cause to complain”

6 Apr 1646 – The Dexters were hard masters. Thomas Jenner found it necessary to write from Saco to John Winthrop asking Winthrop to see to the matter of a child of Mrs. Allin of Casco whose only son had been placed “by Mr. Tuckar and Mr. Cleaves” with “one Goodman Dexter of Lyn.” “The truth is, the boy is used very hardly: I saw the youth at Dexter’s own house most miserable in clothing, never did I see any worse in New England …”

Dexter was heard to say over the dying body of young Thomas Fish, crushed in the collapse of a bank at the mill dam, that “It is too late to go to work today”
6 Mar 1648/49 – “Mr. Thomas Dexter, Senior,” brought eight debt suits to court with mixed results

4 Aug 1646 – Thomas Dexter Sr. was admonished for “sleeping in time of service,”

Thomas Dexter was an early investor in the Saugus Ironworks, the first ironworks in North America, a great technological achievement in that time and place. It was built about 1646, closed by 1675, and was built near some ore deposits, as well as the Saugus River, which provided power to the ironworks. The site included a dam that provided power for forging, a blast furnace with a bellows, a reverbatory furnace, a trip-hammer forge, and rolling and slitting mills. It produced both cast and wrought iron.  One item produced there was nails, which were especially vital because so many new settlements were being built in the wilderness. They milled thin strips of wrought iron, slit these strips, and sold them. The customers then cut the nails and shaped the heads and points. The ironworkers formed a community there known as Hammersmith.

Working Forge Hammer at Saugus Ironworks (cover your ears!)

Working Forge Hammer at Saugus Ironworks (cover your ears!)

25 Jan 1646/47 – Thomas Dexter of Lynn, yeoman, sold to “Richard Ledder” for the use of the Saugus ironworks, all that land which by reason of a dam now agreed to be made shall overflow and all sufficient ground for a watercourse from the dam to the works to be erected, and also all the land between the ancient watercourse and the next extended flume or watercourse together with five acres and an half of land lying in the cornfield most convenient for the ironworks and also two convenient cartways that is to say one on each side of the premises as by a deed indented bearing date the twenty-seventh of January 1645 more at large appeareth.

Jannetje LOZIER‘s father-in-law Alexander Ennis , came to America as a prisoner of war after the Battle of Dunbar.  . Sixty-two of the consigned men on the Unity, including Alexander Ennis, were sent to the Saugus Ironworks at Lynn, Massachusetts.  He was listed on an inventory of the iron works dated Nov 1653. The inventory was a result of lawsuits resulting from financial diffulties. The Scots were valued at £10 each, though Giffard protested that they were worth twice that amount and some of the Scots more than that.

The indentured Scots were employed in a variety of tasks, including acting as forge hands, assisting the colliers (who produced the charcoal for the iron works), and even keeping Hammersmith’s cattle. Giffard was directed to use most of the Scots as woodcutters to supply the colliers. Some were taught the trades of “smiths, colliers, carpenters, sawyers, finers, and hammerman” (according to Carlson). Giffard stated that these men “would neare have managed the Compa(ny’s) business themselves, and have saved them many hundreds of pounds in a yeare.” Carlson stated, “The Scots of Hammersmith were for the most part unskilled laborers. (See my post Scottish Prisoners)

Saugus Iron Works, Saugus, MA

Saugus Iron Works, Saugus, MA

1647 – “Farmer Thomas Dexter” caused copies of a 1638 agreement between him and Richard Chadwell of Sandwich to be entered in the court records at Plymouth as they began arbitration of a debt

By 1648 – Removed to Sandwich

7 Jun 1648 and 4 Jun 1650 – Highway surveyor, Sandwich,

30 Jun 1648 – Thomas Dexter was described as “late of Lin & now of Sandwich” when he confirmed that he had assigned one hundred acres of plowland and five hundred thirty acres of pasture near Charlestown line to Samuel Bennet as ordered by Mr. William Hooke. William Hooke wrote of the matter to John Winthrop, indicating that he would give Dexter as much time as he could, but that his father pressed for the money

7 Oct 1651 Petit jury

7 Jun 1652 – Plymouth Colony grand jury

3 May 1653 – He was ordered to record the bounds of his allotment at Conahassett

4 Oct 1653 – He asked that someone go and set the bounds of his property at Barnstable, Eventually Governor Prence went, but there was no settlement of the issue, even as late as 1680

20 Jun 1654 – Committee to lay out a highway,

6 Mar 1654/55 Petit jury,

5 Jun 1656 and 2 Oct 1660 Committee to set the bounds between Sandwich and Plymouth,

By 1657 – Removed to Barnstable

30 Jun 1657 – At court Thomas Dexter sued the town of Lynn for trespass, claiming that he owned Nahant. Among the many depositions brought in regarding this case, “Christopher Linse” succinctly stated that “Thomas Dexter bought Nahant of Black Will or Duke William, and employed him [Linse] to fence part of it when he lived with Thomas Dexter.” William Winter, aged seventy three years or thereabouts, remembered that “Black Will or Duke William …came to my house (which was two or three miles from Nahant) when Thomas Dexter had bought Nahant of him for a suit of clothes” and asked him what he would give for the land Winter’s house stood on [ EQC 2:43]. The court found for the defendants. Thomas Dexter and his son-in-law Richard Wooddy appealled.

1 Jun 1658 – Admitted freeman of Plymouth Colony . (Oath of fidelity, Barnstable list of 1657 (as “Mr. Thomas Dexter, Seni[o]r”) Barnstable section of Plymouth Colony list of freemen of about 1658

7 Jun 1659 – Plymouth Colony grand jury

29 May 1670 –  In Barnstable section of freeman’s list (as “Mr. Tho: Dexter, Seni[o]r”)

1 Jun 1675 – Committee to gather in the minister’s maintenance at Sandwich

By 1676 – Removed to Boston

9 Feb 1676/77 – Administration was taken on the estate of “Thomas Dexter Senior” by
“Capt. James Oliver his son-in-law and Thomas Dexter Jr., his grandson” The
grandson soon died and in court in November 1679 “Ensign Ri[chard] Woodde” was named in his place.

25 Apr 1677 – An inventory was sworn 25 April 1677 on the estate of “Thomas Dexter Senior late deceased in Boston and as far as is known” totalling £70 with no land, except “a claim of some lands” at Lynn, which were unvalued.

Capt. James Oliver and Thomas Dexter, Jr., administrators of the estate of selectman Thomas Dexter Sr., deceased, sued the town of Lynn and Thomas Laiton regarding the ownership of Nahant, appealing the Court of Assistants’ ruling of 1 Sep 1657

26 Nov 1678 – The judgment was in favor of Lynn. The most telling evidence against Dexter was probably the deposition of about 1677 made by “Clement Couldam aged about fifty-five years” who said that “about thirty-four years since he lived with old Thomas Dexter and the latter coming from the town meeting told Mr. Sharp of Salem, in his hearing, that he had given up his right in Nahant to Line and the town had given him a considerable tract of land on the back side of his farm which would be of more advantage to him”

1. Mary Dexter

Mary came to America with her father and settled in Lynn.

Mary’s first husband John Frend was born 1601 in Bristol, England. John died in 1656 in Salem, Essex, Mass

Mary’s second husband Captain James Oliver His parents were Thomas Oliver and Ann [__?__] who came from England in 1632. Thomas, the father was one of the ruling elders and of wide influence in the affairs of the new town. Capt. James was admitted freeman in 1640, was of the artillery company in 1651, was Lieutenant in 1653 and Captain in 1656 and 1666. He was selectman in 1663 and for several years inspector of the port.

He was Captain of the first military company of Boston in 1673 and was was appointed to command of the company in the Narragansett campaign, and was one of the few officers that passed safely through the Great Swamp Fight. Oliver’s 3rd company of Massachusetts had 83 troops with 5 killed, 8 wounded (See my post Great Swamp Fight – Regiments)

James was an eminent merchant of Boston. He and Mary had no family, but her father came to live with them, and’ was there in 1677 when he died, and Captain Oliver was one of the administrators of his estate.

2. Thomas DEXTER Jr. (See his page)

3. Frances Dexter 

It is not certainly known whether she came to America with her father or came later.

Frances’ husband Sergeant Richard Woodee was born 1620 in Guilford, Surrey, England. His parents were Richard Woodee and Annie [__?__] This name is sometimes spelled Woodde. Richard died 6 Dec 1658 in Massachusetts.

The records say that the father and Samuel, Richard, Mary, Martha and Elizabeth were dismissed to Third Church, Boston, in 1673.

Children of Frances and Richard:

i Thomas Woodee, b. 12 Dec 1648; d. 13 Oct 1650.

ii Mary Woodee, b. 21 Aug 1650; m. John Daffern ; three children.

iii Martha Woodee, b. 25 Feb 1651/52 or 25 Nov 1651 in Roxbury, Suffolk, Mass; d. 21 Apr 1713 in Boston, Mass. Martha was a widow in 1695.

iv Elizabeth Woodee, b. 19 Sep 1653.

v. Ann Woodee, b. 12 Jul 1655.

vi. Samuel Woodee, b. 11 Sep 1656.

vii. Richard Woodee, b. 3 Dec 1658.

viii. Sarah Woodee, b. 26 Mar 1661; d. 23 Aug 1661.

4. William Dexter

William’s wife Elizabeth Vincent was born 1634 in England. Her parents were John VINCENT and Hannah SMITH.  Elizabeth died 1694 in Barnstable, Barnstable, Mass.

William came to America with his father, and was in Barnstable in 1650. He lived on one of the two farms that his father bought. He took oath in Barnstable in 1657. He removed to Rochester, Mass. about 1679 and died there in 1694.

He was one of a party of thirty, which included such men as William Bradford, Kenelem Winslow, Thomas Hinckley and Rev. Samuel Arnold, who became the grantees of the town of Rochester.

When he died he owned considerable land both in Barnstable and in Rochester which he gave to his children, as follows : James Dexter, Thomas Dexter and John Dexter had the Rochester lands, while Stephen Dexter, Philip Dexter and Benjamin Dexter had the Barnstable land. The children all went to Rochester except Philip, who removed to Falmouth, Mass., and Stephen, who remained in Barnstable and who was the only one of the name in the town in 1703.

Children of William and Elizabeth

i Mary Dexter, b. 11 Aug 1649 or Jan 1654 in Sandwich, Barnstable, Mass.; d. 1729 Mass; m. Moses Barlow. Removed to Rochester.

ii Stephen Dexter. b. Jan 1654 or May 1657 Barnstable, Mass; d. 1729 Barnstable, Barnstable, Mass, probate 17 Mar 1729/30. m. 27 Apr 1696 to Ann Saunders. Stephen and Ann had ten children born between 1696 and 1714.

Stephen spent his whole life in Barnstable and made his home on the farm which was originally his grandfather Thomas’, at Dexter lane. West Barnstable. In 1703 he was the only one of the name left in Barnstable.

iii Philip Dexter, b. Sep 1659 Barstable, Barnstable, Mass; d. 10 Jun 1741 Falmouth, Barnstable, Mass. m. Alice Allen; d.1741 Philip and Alice had nine children.

At the time of their marriage, Philip and Alice moved to Falmouth, where they spent the remainder of their life. He was miller there many years. At one time he was complained of for’ charging’ too high. But as he was the only miller, the people were dependent upon him. A committee was sent to consult with him. but the record does not reveal the result, but at a later period he was paid by the town £30 for his part of the mill and the land that the pond covered, so it may be that the matter was settled in that way. In 1712 he and Thomas Bowerman were appointed to lay out land of the ”New Purchase” into lots, etc. He was selectman, and also town clerk.

iv James Dexter, b. May 1662 Barnstable, Mass,; d. 15 Jul 1694 or 15 Jul 1697 Rochester, Mass; m. Rochester, Mass to Mary Tobey. James and Mary had three children born in Rochester.

James went to Rochester with his father. In 1712, after the death of the father, Mary, the daughter, being- a minor over 14, chose Jabez Dexter (a kinsman) for guardian. and Deborah chose Samuel Hunt for her guardian.

v. Thomas Dexter, b. Jul 1665; d. 31 July, 1744.; m1. 17 Jul 1695 to Mary Miller and had by her one sone; m2. 1702 to Sarah C. March No issue.

The son must have died before his father, for he is not mentioned in his will, and he leaves most of his property to Constant Dexter, who had been brouuht up by him. He gave land to Mary Sherman, wife of William Sherman, who was a daughter of his brother John, lie also gave land to Rose, or Rest, Dexter daughter of his brother John. He gave £3 each to the four daughters of his brother John and to the two daughters of his brother Benjamin. He gave £5 to the church, and all the balance to Constant Dexter, son of his brother Benjamin.

vi John Dexter, b. Aug 1668 Barnstable, Barnstable, Mass; d. 31 Jul 1744 Rochester, Plymouth, Mass; m. 1702 to Sarah [__?__] ( – 21 Jan 1755). John and Sarah had seven children born between 1703 and 1724 all born at Rochester. John and Sarah had eleven children.

John was called yeoman in 1690. He sold land to Samuel Arnold and John Hammond, and in 1714 to James Winslow, and in 1716 to Thomas Dexter.

vii Benjamin Dexter, b. 16 Feb 1670 Barnstable, Mass; d. 18 May 1732 Rochester, Mass.; m. Sarah Arnold Sarah’s father was Rev. Samuel Arnold, who who was the second minister at Rochester, and also one of the grantees of the town. Her grandfather, Rev. Samuel Arnold, was third minister of Marshfield. Benjamin and Sarah had eleven children, all born in Rochester between 1697 and 1718.

Benjamin removed to Rochester with his father. He was a farmer and sold land in 1693 to Moses Barlow, in 1699 to John Hammond, in 1723 to Edward Winslow, in 1715 to John Corning. All of this land was inherited from his father.

Benjamin’s estate was valued at £1,047. At his death, his son James Dexter was made guardian of the two young children, Seth and Joanna.


“Genealogy of the Dexter Family in America, 1905″ by Warden and Dexter

The Great Migration Begins – Thomas Dexter

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