How do you find the stories about your family?
Sometimes it is a notation in a church record, on the census page, in a newspaper account, a note in a will, or a written history of the town or county they lived in. This week’s prompt is Misfortune. Was it misfortune or just life on the frontier? This week’s story comes from the History of two different communities that were the home for one of my ancestors.
The Putnam line has been the famous and the infamous. With the early tales of Salem and Danvers,Massachusetts the Putnam’s of 1690’s have been well documented for their part in the Salem Witch hysteria. In 1695 Ann(e) Putnam wife of Thomas and mother to Ann(e) (one of the accusers) gave birth to Seth who was my 6x great grandfather. In May of 1699 when Seth was only 4 years old his father Thomas died and only 14 days later his mother Ann(e) died. Seth was one of 12 children born to Thomas and Ann(e) (Carr) Putnam. His sister Ann(e) was 20 and brother Thomas was 19 when their parents died. Such a misfortune.
For Seth it must have been difficult growing up never knowing your parents and with the knowledge that your sister and mother played such a major role in the witch hysteria. So who raised Seth? There is a record that notes who the guardians were for the other minor children but not Seth or his younger sister. The probate and guardianship papers on Ancestry for Thomas Putnam are a mess. There are many other Putnam’s intermixed with what is supposedly Thomas’ file. The hand writing to my modern eye is atrocious. So they are no help to me, maybe someone else could sort them out and transcribe them (Madeleine?). When Seth’s sister Ann(e) (who never married) died in 1716 she does mention her brothers by name and Seth is listed in her will. http://www.writeopinions.com/ann-putnam-jr “When her parents died in 1699, (Ann) Putnam was left to raise her nine siblings aged 7 months to 16 years.” When Ann(e) died Seth would have been 21 years old. And probably had been on his own for some time.
In 1718 Seth married Ruth Whipple in Salem. Seth is reported in the History of Billerica, Massachusetts, A Genealogical Register to have bought a house-lot and 60 acres in 1719 from Samuel Walker (part of the “Church farm”) in Billerica for £200. His name appears several times in the Billerica town records in 1733. The Genealogical Register includes the location of the property and that he had lived there 25 years “and then became a grantee of No. 4” of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the early name for Charlestown, later of New Hampshire.
No. 4 (Charlestown).
From the History of Charlestown, New Hampshire, The Old No. 4 , Seth’s sons Ebenezer and Seth Jr. were at No. 4 in 1746 when Seth Jr. (part of the militia) was the first of the settlers killed by Indians. Another misfortune. In the Evening the women were to go out to milk the cows, Major Josiah Willard and several soldiers accompanied them. As they approached the stables a party of eight Native Americans fired upon them. Seth fell and the Major and the other soldiers returned fire striking two of the raiders who where quickly dragged off by the rest of their party.
The remainder of the family including daughter Ruth and sons Thomas and Timothy (my 5x great grandfather) came out to Charlestown about 1750. From the time that the Massachusetts Bay Colony settled No4 until after the Treaty ending the French and Indian War (1754-1763) this outpost was in constant danger. The French and the Native Americans coming down from Canada to raid and fight the settlers and British soldiers, were passing right by this settlement along the Connecticut River. The Fort at No.4 was established about 1745 and Massachusetts provided military protection (by a petition from the citizens to Massachusetts Governor), but life on this frontier was dangerous. Seth’s daughter Ruth married Peter Labaree who was captured by the Indians and managed to escape. Other families had members who were also taken at various times and some were given to the French, who might try to ransom them, or to other Natives Americans who kept them as replacements for their own lost family members. In 1775 a smallpox epidemic swept through the colonies, Seth died that year at age 80, whether or not it was from smallpox I have not been able to determine.
Use History’s of Places.
I really enjoy reading these history’s of the communities were the families lived. It is great that so many of them are now on line. They are not exactly “politically correct” but they do give a look at these early settlements and the families that pioneered them. If you haven’t before or if it’s been awhile, google the town you’re interested in learning more about and see whats out there. You can also use Family Search catalogue file for places and see what they have available.