Hometown Tuesday # 38 ~ Suffield, Hartford County, Connecticut

Originally known as Southfield—pronounced “Suffield,” on May 20, 1674, made a petition for the settling of the town. The petition was granted by the Massachusetts Bay court on June 8, 1674.

The Connecticut General Court authorized the men to settle a town, and they stipulated that in five years, twenty families were to settle there and that a minister be maintained. Land was reserved for a common, a meeting house, a school, and land for a minister. The first land was sold at four pence per acre. By 1675 three dozen families had settled, but they were forced to flee to Springfield during King Philip’s War. Returning and rebuilding after the settlement was burned, they were ready to retain their first minister in 1679. Suffield was incorporated as a town in March 1682.

It is located on the west bank of the Connecticut River and borders Massachusetts. West Suffield Mountain, part of the Metacomet Ridge, runs through the center of Suffield from north to south. It’s location on the river meant an early economy based on fisheries and shipbuilding, but tobacco soon became an important export. By the 1830s, the Connecticut Valley Broadleaf plant had been developed and the town’s factories began producing 14 million cigars annually. In 1727 tobacco was used as a legal tender for debts. By 1753 the fertile Connecticut valley was growing tobacco for export. The first cigar factory in the country was opened in Suffield in 1810.

Cains pond proved to be useful for harnessing Stoney Brooke for a saw mill and a grist mill. Bog or pond ore, which is usually 18-30% iron, was harvested from the pond and a bloomery and iron works were set up near the pond. The first iron works were set up in 1700, the second in 1721, the third in 1722 and all were in operation until about 1770. The town allowed Samuel Copley to set up a fulling-mill in 1710. A cotton-mill, which made cotton yarn, was set up in 1795 and is believed to be the first in Connecticut and possibly the third successful cotton-mill in the country.

John Allen, my maternal 6th Great Grandfather, was born in Suffield on March 15, 1717. He was the second of two known sons born to David Allen (1675-1725) and Sarah Hayward (1689-1755). He married Ann Rhodes (1722-1746) on November 24,1740. They had three sons. John was a tobacco farmer, and he participated in the French and Indian War, serving from 1758-1862 in the 2nd Connecticut Regiment under the command of Colonel Nathan Whiting. John died on May 20, 1767 at the age of 50.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Hometown Tuesday ~ Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi

hometown tuesdayFounded in 1716, Natchez is the oldest city on the Mississippi River. It was founded as Fort Rosalie by the French to protect the trading post which had been established two years earlier in the Natchez territory. Permanent French settlements and plantations were subsequently developed a dangerous distance from the fort and too near important native locales. The French inhabitants of the “Natchez colony” often came into conflict with the Natchez people over land use and resources. This was one of several Natchez settlements; others lay to the northeast. The Natchez tended to become increasingly split into pro-French and pro-English factions; those who were more distant had more relations with English traders, who came to the area from British colonies to the east.

After several smaller wars, the Natchez launched a war to eliminate the French in November 1729. It became known by the Europeans as the “Natchez War” or Natchez Rebellion. The Indians destroyed theHistoric Natchez Map French colony at Natchez and other settlements in the area. On November 29, 1729, the Natchez Indians killed a total of 229 French colonists: 138 men, 35 women, and 56 children (the largest death toll by an Indian attack in Mississippi’s history). They took most of the women and children as captives. The French with their Indian allies attacked the Natchez repeatedly over the next two years. After the surrender of the leader and several hundred Natchez in 1731, the French took some of their prisoners to New Orleans. Following the Seven Years’ War, in 1763 Fort Rosalie and the surrounding town was renamed for the defeated tribe, and it came under British rule.

The terrain around Natchez on the Mississippi side of the river is hilly. The city sits on a high bluff above the Mississippi River. In order to reach the riverbank, one must travel down a steep road to the landing called Silver Street, which is in marked contrast to the flat “delta” lowland found across the river surrounding the city of Vidalia, Louisiana. Its early planter elite built numerous antebellum mansions and estates. Many owned plantations in Louisiana but chose to locate their homes on the higher ground in Mississippi. Prior to the Civil War, Natchez had more millionaires than any other city in the United States.It was frequented by notables such as Aaron Burr, Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, Winfield Scott, and John James Audubon.

Culpeper_SealPeter Rucker, my 5th great-grandfather, was born in 1735 in Culpeper, Culpeper County, Virginia. He was the 8th of 13 children born to Thomas Sr and Elizabeth (Reynolds) Rucker. By the age of 20, he had accumulated 500 acres of land and was a proficient farmer. In 1759, he married Sarah Wisdom (1746-1808) and they had 4 sons and one daughter. Peter furnished supplies to the county militia of Culpeper in 1755. He also served under Captain Robert Slaughter in the French and Indian War. In 1775 Peter and Sarah sold their land to Michael Ehart, and they packed up their children and belongings and made the long trek to Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi.

Here Peter worked as an Indian Agent for the Spanish. During the American Revolution, the British surrendered the Natchez District to Spain. As an agent, he would relay messages back and forth between the Spanish and the Natchez Tribal leaders. He also attempted to keep the peace between all parties. He died in 1781.

Peter had owned a large plat of land in the town of Natchez and in Natchez Plat Rucker1822 his son Jonathan filed a claim for the land. Natchez was the starting point of the Natchez Trace overland route, a Native American trail that followed a path established by migrating animals, most likely buffalo, which ran from Natchez to Nashville through what are now Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Natchez became part of the United States in 1817 when Mississippi entered the Union as a state.

27 years ago, before I really began my Genealogy journey we lived in Mississippi, and we would frequently make the drive up the Natchez Trace to Nashville. I wish I knew then that my ancestors had lived here.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter

Sunday Salute ~ Colonel Benjamin Cleveland ~ Terror of the Tories ~ Part 2

An image of the american revolution

Last week I took a look into the early years of this Revolutionary War hero.  I discovered that not every Patriot was honorable or moral, even though I had always seen them that way. This week I will cover his military career up to his participation in the Battle of Kings Mountain: the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Before the Revolutionary War Benjamin Cleveland fought off and on in1200px-French_and_indian_war_map.svg the French and Indian War. During the seven years, he would join a skirmish for a while then return home. It was here that he learned the brutal way the French fought. As the area where Benjamin lived was prospering there were mounting troubles with the British. By 1774 he was becoming excessively outspoken in his criticisms of British policies concerning the colonies. When news of colonial taxation by King George and the Parliament reached the Yadkin Valley, Benjamin was among the first to resent the threatened tyranny. He joined the Regiment of Militia for Surry County on June 28, 1774. Those listed in this unit were Jesse Walton as captain, Benjamin Cleveland as a lieutenant, and William Jerrell as ensign along with three sergeants, three corporals, one drummer, and eighty privates who were not listed by name.

By 1775 local tempers were running high when neighbors and friends of the Upper Yadkin Valley traveled to Cross Creek to sell their surplus products and to purchase supplies. Before they were permitted to make these transactions the colonists were compelled to make an oath of allegiance to the king. When Benjamin heard of this blatant act of tyranny, he swore he would crush the scoundrels. He then raised a select party of riflemen to march upon the Loyalists and scatter them.

loyalistBenjamin hunted the countryside and captured several Loyalist outlaws, one of whom he executed. He was a man named Jackson, who had set fire to the home and fully-stocked storehouse of Ransom Sunderland, one of the many Surry County residents who were friends of American liberty. On September 1, 1775, Benjamin was offered the position of the ensign of the North Carolina Line under the command of Colonel Robert Howe, but he turned down the honor, to serve with the militia in his own locality.

By the summer of 1776, the British had enticed the Cherokees into open hostilities with the colonists. Fighting had begun in various locations as some British agents tried to divert the patriots’ mental focus. Working as a colonial scout on the western frontier, Benjamin took his men to Sycamore Shoals on the Watauga River. From there they covered the frontier in a display of force for the Cherokees. His activities caused the Indians to change their thoughts about being associated with the British, and the tribes smoked the long pipe of peace with Benjamin and his friends.

The peace was only temporary and by autumn the Indians were once again agitated into ravaging the frontier by the British. This time General Griffith Rutherford led a strong force against the Cherokees, and Benjamin and his men joined the campaign in the Surry Regimentcolonel joseph williams under Colonel Joseph Williams and Major Joseph Winston. During the campaign, the troops suffered hardships and need in this service. There were never enough provisions and the company had just a few blankets and no tents. The men were dressed in mended clothing made of a crude material gathered from the field and forest. They were often harassed on their march by ambush parties, and all of the men participated in the skirmishes of the campaign because there was no official general engagement. General Rutherford had begun with two thousand men before Benjamin and his volunteers added to their strength.

He was promoted to captain on November 23, 1776. While securing the country around Cape Fear, Benjamin and his men engaged in the Battle of Moore’s Creek and captured and executed several outlaws while burning many Loyalist towns. “Cleveland’s Bulldogs” were earning him a reputation for brutality in partisan warfare characterized by inhumanity, summary hangings, and mutilation. On some occasions, he would hang Tories by their thumbs until they confessed to British movements–thus creating a local expression “being hung by your thumbs.”

mountain menThe fiercely loyal mountain men were untrained but they were hardy and accurate with their guns. Admirers and countrymen called them “Cleveland’s Heroes” or “Cleveland’s Bulldogs,” but to the British and the Tories they were the “Cleveland’s Devils.” In 1778 Benjamin was made colonel of the militia. Despite his reputation for brutal justice or it could have been because of it, he was appointed justice of the Wilkes County court and placed at the head of the Commission of Justices. Regarded as one of the most popular leaders of the mountain section of the state, he was easily elected to the state’s House of Commons during this year.

His strong patriotic nature saved the western Carolinas from the British and Tory taking over. In 1779 his abrupt justice was further demonstrated by his handling of two hoodlums, James Coyle and John Brown, who had terrorized the entire country between Wilkes County, North Carolina, and Ninety-Six, South Carolina. After their spree of rape, murder, robbery, and plundering, they were eventually caught and brought before Benjamin, who was so incensed he wanted to kill them himself. He thrust his sword at Coyle, but a counterblow broke the blade. Now even more enraged, Benjamin had them seized by his men and hanged from the nearest tree. James Harwell, who had housed and protected these hoodlums, were severely beaten by Benjamin’s men. Cleveland and Benjamin Herndon, who was also involved in this justice, were subsequently indicted for murder in the Superior Court of the District of Salisbury, but on November 6, 1779, the North Carolina House of Commons offered a resolution to the governor, who signed it, and the two men were pardoned for their actions.

Benjamin was the leader of more than a hundred fights with the Benjamin Cleveland portraitTories. He was considered the perfect athlete with a large frame and an iron constitution. Since he was accustomed to the forest and climbing mountains, he was able to endure fatigue and hardships in his pursuit of Tory rebels. According to Governor Perry, Benjamin was “bold, fearless, and self-willed, full of hope and buoyancy of spirits…..He was a stern man and loved justice more than he did mercy. He knew that very often mercy to a criminal was death to an innocent man.”

Next week will be part 3 of the series on Benjamin Cleveland. This one will cover his greatest victory, the Battle of Kings Mountain.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.