Category Archives: Hometown Tuesday

Hometown Tuesday ~ Glassy Mountain, Greenville County, South Carolina

hometown tuesdayGlassy Mountain, located in Greenville County at the edge of the Blue Ridge mountains. It has an elevation of 2760 feet above sea level. It got the name from the water that flows down the large granite face of the mountain that often freezes. The icy rock face reflects the sunlight as if it were made of glass. Glassy Mountain is considered the “heart” of the Dark Corner of Greenville County. The mountainous region, originally populated by Cherokee Indians, was and is home to an independent and hardy collection of people.

Thousands of years ago, this was the domain of the Cherokees. As firstGlassy mtn river white hunters, then traders, and later settlers entered the area, interactions occurred between the two peoples. What began as mutually beneficial trade led to confrontations as the white people wanted more and more land and the Indians were willing to give up less and less of it.

Glassy MountainAs late as 1776, the Cherokees controlled most of the South Carolina Piedmont as a tribal hunting ground. But in the Treaty of DeWitt’s Corner that year, they ceded all but the northernmost parts of Oconee, Pickens, Anderson, and Greenville counties. The whites immediately moved into the newly gained territory and built fortifications. They erected a blockhouse near the modern town of Tryon, N.C., and built forts near the modern towns of Gowensville (Fort Gowens) and Duncan and Landrum (Fort Prince). These fortifications stood on the Cherokee boundary and approximated what is now the dividing line between the two counties.

After the Americans won their independence and established a government, they began to emphasize internal improvements. By 1820, the state of South Carolina had begun construction on a toll road from Charleston, S.C., to Asheville, N.C. The plan included a magnificently designed, stone-arched bridge, called the Poinsett Bridge, in the heart of the Dark Corner. The bridge still stands today, a short distance from Highway 414, although it is no longer used for traffic.
In the early 1830s, however, the attention of the people of South signCarolina was not on scenic parks. The Andrew Jackson administration imposed a higher tariff that was especially harmful to the primarily agricultural South. South Carolinian’s, led by Jackson’s own vice president, John C. Calhoun, led the opposition to the tariff. Despite those efforts, the tariff passed Congress and Jackson signed it into law. But the South Carolina legislature voted to nullify the law, essentially declaring that it did not apply in South Carolina.

Not everyone in South Carolina, however, favored nullification. Opposition to it was strong in the Upstate, especially in northern Greenville County. A government official sought to convince the people of the folly of opposing nullification. Standing in a wagon so that all could see and hear him, he waxed eloquent on the righteousness of standing against the national government on the issue. At some point in his speech, he hit a raw nerve, and some of his listeners overturned the wagon and spilled him unceremoniously in the dirt. Forced to end his speech, he dusted himself off, declaring that “the light of nullification will never come to this dark corner of the state.”

greenville-county-dark-corner-mapThe notoriety of the Dark Corner only increased during the Civil War. The residents of the area were divided over slavery; therefore, a constant struggle raged between Unionists and Confederates. The whole southern Appalachian range, including the Glassy Mountain area, became a haven for deserters and draft dodgers of both the Union and the Confederacy. It also once again became bloody ground as soldiers from both sides sought to capture the deserters, draft the dodgers, and punish their abettors. As enforcement of conscription laws tightened, resistance to them increased proportionally. And gangs of fugitives preyed upon the residents of the land for survival. In many instances, long-standing feuds were settled behind the convenient guise of civil war. In some instances, animosities continued beyond the war itself.

The area was also populated by fiercely independent Irish and Scottish immigrants who took a dim view of authority. Many grumbled about rich men buying their way out of the service. Many men joined the battle not for any political point of view, but because of a desire to defend their homes. One of the common expressions among the common soldiers was ‘rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.’ There was some bitterness in the fact that ordinary people were dragged into this, not because of any feeling about state’s rights or that they were defending anything except … defending their homes.

During the war and the economically sparse times of Reconstruction, stillthe mountain farmers had a hard time making a living. No matter how efficiently they produced corn and other grains, they could not survive on what little cash that crop produced. Corn sold for only about 50 cents a bushel. Farmers discovered, however, that if they used the grains to make alcohol—moonshine—they could make much more cash. A bushel of corn yielded about two and a half gallons of whiskey, and whiskey sold for about a dollar a gallon. A farmer operating a 50-gallon still could make 10 or 11 gallons of whiskey a day. The math was simple.

So moonshining became a common business enterprise in the rugged mountainous expanse. The problem was that the national government wanted to tax liquor. To make alcoholic beverages without paying a tax was illegal. But the mountaineers who ran the stills didn’t want to pay taxes. So a battle of wits and weapons erupted. The mountain people could trust no stranger; he might be a “revenoor.” Friends and family members of the moonshiners refused to help the government agents. If the residents suspected that a government agent was in the area, the moonshiners conveniently disappeared into the surrounding gaps and hollows. If agents discovered a still, they destroyed it. When the competing interests collided, shots were often exchanged. The conflict continued well into the 1960s. Some people say that it is still a problem today.

My 4th great-aunt, Celia Divine was born 1784, in South Carolina. She was the 2nd of 7 children born to Thomas Divine Jr. (1748-1840) and Jemima Dill (1755-1748). In 1813 she married John A. Butler (1773-1839) and they moved to Glassy Mountian, South Carolina. They had 6 sons and  6 daughters. John was a farmer but it is not known if he was one of local moonshiners. Celia died on  July 4, 1857, at her home in Glassy Mountain at the age of 73.

 

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.

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Hometown Tuesday ~ Northampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts

hometown tuesdayThe Town of Northampton (originally the town of Nonotuck meaning “the midst of the river”, named by its original Pocumtuc inhabitants.) was granted its Charter in 1654. Northampton’s founders, though strongly Puritan in conviction, were drawn to the area more by accounts of abundant tillable land and ease of trade with the Indians than by the religious concerns that characterized their brethren in eastern Massachusetts. In May 1653, 24 persons petitioned the General Court for permission to “plant, possess and inhabit Northampton MANonotuck.” Northampton was settled in 1654 on a low rise above the rich meadowlands by the Connecticut River. Relations between settlers and Native Americans, though initially cooperative, became increasingly strained, culminating in King Philip’s War in 1675, when Chief Metacomet’s uprising was put down by the English.

800px-Northampton_(Massachusetts)_(NYPL_b12610608-421421)Though Northampton grew as a trade and marketing center in the 18th century, religious fervor was quickened by the ministry of the congregational preacher, theologian, and philosopher Jonathan Edwards. He was a leading figure in a 1734 Christian revival in Northampton. In the winter of 1734 and the following spring, it reached such intensity that it threatened the town’s businesses. In the spring of 1735, the movement began to subside and a reaction set in. But the relapse was brief, and the Northampton revival, which had spread through the Connecticut River Valley and whose fame had reached England and Scotland, was followed in 1739–1740 by the Great Awakening, under the leadership of Edwards. For this achievement, Edwards is considered one of the founders of evangelical Christianity. He is also credited with being one of the primary inspirations for transcendentalism.

Northampton hosted its own witch trials in the 1700s, although no newenglandmathersalleged witches were executed. Mary Bliss Parsons (circa 1628-1711/12) of Northampton was the subject of accusations and charges of witchcraft resulting in at least two legal trials. To head off the allegations, Joseph Parsons initiated a slander case in 1656, which he won. But eighteen years later, Mary was officially accused of and tried for witchcraft in 1674. She was eventually acquitted, but it seemed that the residents of Northampton, despite any court decrees, were convinced that Mary was a witch.

 
Rachel Celeste Moon, my 7th great-grandmother, was born in Northampton on August 13, 1703, the daughter of Joseph and Sarah Moon. When Rachel was 16 years old her family moved to Frederick County, Virginia and here she married Joseph Elijah Lindsey on March 12, 1719. They had 2 known children, Elijah Jr, and my 6th great-grandfather Thomas. Rachel died on February 5, 1768, in Frederick County, at the age of 64.

 

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.

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Hometown Tuesday ~ Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

hometown tuesdayThe year 1630 was distinguished by the arrival of “Winthrop’s fleet” which was owned by the Governor of Massachusetts Edward Winthrop, bringing a colony, well qualified by their spirit of self-denial and perseverance, to form new settlements in the wilderness. The first winter after their arrival, the food was scarce. All they had was shellfish, groundnuts and acorns to eat.

Watertown, first known to settlers as Saltonstall Plantation, was one of Watertown#3the earliest of the Massachusetts Bay Colony settlements. Founded in the early part of 1630 by a group of settlers led by Richard Saltonstall and Reverend George Phillips, it was officially incorporated as the settlement of Watertown in September 1630. Watertown initially encompassed the present communities of Weston, Waltham, and large sections of Lincoln, Belmont, and Cambridge which was one of the largest American settlements of its time. It soon grew to be an important center for trade, commerce, and industry.

watertown sealAs early as the close of the 17th century, Watertown was the chief horse and cattle market in New England and was known for its fertile gardens and fine estates. Here about 1632 was erected the first gristmill in the colony, and in 1662 one of the first woolen mills in America was built here. The first burying ground, on Arlington Street, was established in the 1660s.

My 10th great-grandfather, Thomas Broughton arrived in Watertown in July 1635. He was born in 1616 in Gravesend, Kent, England, and traveled alone at the age of 19 to this new colony. Here he married Mary Ann Briscoe in 1637. He was able to purchase land on which he built a corn mill. The couple had 2 children that died at birth. In 1639, Thomas sold his land and mill and moved the pregnant Mary to Boston. Soon after their arrival their daughter Mary was born. They went on to have 7 more children, 4 sons, and 3 daughters. He once again purchased land and the following is an account of how he obtained mills in the area.

“While a merchant in Boston, Thomas Broughton, bought of Rev. Henry Dunster, the mills (corn and fulling) on Mistick River, on Menotomy land, which mills said Thomas Broughton built. Also bought of Parnell and Samuel Nowell, of Charlestown, for 85 pounds that farm of upland and meadow containing 300 acres, which the town had granted to their father, Mr. Increase Nowell, bounded SW by Cambridge line, NW by the line between Woburn and Charlestown, NE by Mr. Zechariah Sims, NW line between Mr. Winthrop, Major Gibbons & Mr. John Wilson.”

Thomas died on November 17, 1700, at the age of 84. Mary had died in 1665, at the age of 45.

 

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.

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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

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Hometown Tuesday ~ The Cherokee Land Run of 1893

hometown tuesdayWilliam Henry Hamilton Hayes, my 2nd cousin 4x removed, was born on February 2, 1846, in Claiborne County, Tennessee. His family moved to Pleasant Hill, Missouri in 1853. There he married Sarah Cornelia Hayes, his first cousin, on August 8, 1878. They had 14 William Hamilton Hayes & Sarah Cornelia Hayes pcchildren, 12 of whom lived past adulthood. In 1883, he moved his growing family to Medicine Lodge, Barber County, Kansas. Here he built a large house for his family to live in and he farmed the land.

Land run photoIn August of 1893, “Ham” as he was called, learned that the government was going to open up land in Oklahoma to new settlers. There were 8,144,682.91 acres available of homesteading land that has been purchased from the Cherokee Nation. In order to obtain this land, you had to participate in a Land Run. Potential homesteaders gathered on the edges of the large landmass and once given a signal they had to drive their wagon or ride a horse and pick up a flagLast land rush 1893 marking the section of land they were to live on. The run began on September 16, 1893. It was a wild and dangerous event but somehow Ham got his own piece of the land. It was near present-day Richmond, Oklahoma. In his obituary it gives this description:

Here he resided, enduring the trials and hardships which characterized the settlement of a new country, helping to make of it a suitable habitation and giving his family the best it was possible to have in a new place. His efforts were crowded with success and he lived to see the day when the land brought forth in abundance. Schools were established and modern conveniences enjoyed.”

In 1910, Ham once again moved his family. This time to Woodward, Oklahoma. He found work as a janitor at the local Court House. He worked there for 6 years until February 8, 1916, when he became ill and the County Commissioner gave him a 10 day leave to get better. He went home hoping to feel better and return to work, but that was not to be. On Thursday, February 10, 1916, he passed away at his home. On the following Saturday, his funeral service was held at the local Christian Church and it was filled to overflowing with those who wanted to honor and pay tribute to this good man.

Hayes Family Early Settlers newspaper article William Henry Hamilton Hayes FamilyI know this blog has strayed from my usual Hometown Tuesday format. I just discovered this story about my cousin and wanted to share it. He lived in 5 very beautiful places and picking just one was too hard. Plus, the excitement of having someone related to me who participated in the Land Run, was too good to pass up. Over the years he moved over 1153 miles from Tennessee to Oklahoma. I guess he could have been called a ramblin’ man!

 

 

 

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.

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Hometown Tuesday ~ New Castle, Delaware

hometown tuesdayNew Castle Delaware was originally named Fort Casimir. It was founded in 1651 by Peter Stuyvesant, who was sent to provide the Dutch with the command of all river traffic. Because of its strategic location, ownership of the settlement was constantly changing. The flags of the Netherlands, Sweden, and Great Britain have all flown over New Castle.

Settled by Swedes in 1638, it has been called by no less than six names as Swedes,clapboard housing new castle Dutch or English took possession: Grape Vine Point, Sandhuken, Fort Casimir, Fort Trinity, New Amstel, and New Castle. This last being given by Sir Robert Carr when the British conquered the Dutch here in 1664. Most houses in New Amsterdam in 1664 were of wood with roofs thatched with the local reeds and they used clapboard siding. The houses were one story with a garret. Almost all buildings had their gable-end facing the street. The siding was generally horizontal clapboards.

leblanc_headerThe three counties which make up the state of Delaware were added to William Penn’s lands in America. In 1682, Penn came ashore at New Castle and took possession, but these counties, which were already well established, became dissatisfied with his rule. Proceeding to the Court House he was presented with “Turf and Twig, Water and Soyle” in token of his Proprietorship. The Court House in New Castle is the oldest one in the United States, and it is located in the center of a 12-mile circle forming the northern boundary of Delaware. It was the scene of many famous trials. In the Courtroom, there are two pillars on which the hands of criminals were placed while being branded with hot irons. The Common Farms, given under a Charter from William Penn in 1701 for use of inhabitants of New Castle, consisted of 1000 acres of fine farmland that adjoined town. In 1704, when he granted them a separate legislature, New Castle became the colonial capital of Delaware. The lively town also briefly served as the first state capital and continued as the county seat until the 1880s.

New Castle’s location made it an ideal transfer point for trips up and down the coast. logo delawareAs a result, New Castle was a thriving community throughout the 1700s and early 1800s. The courts and general assembly also attracted various judges, lawyers, and government officials who built handsome houses, many of which still remain.

William Dyer, my 7th great-grandfather, was born in Boston, Massachusetts on March 7, 1663. He married Joanna Chard on March 22, 1687. He moved to New Castle, Delaware after the marriage where they had 2 sons, John and Joseph. Joanna died in 1711 and William then married Mary Whitman on April 17, 1712. There were no children born to this union. William died in January 1714 at the age of 51. It is not known where he is buried as the Quakers that ruled this community did not believe in placing headstones or markers on graves.

 

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.

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Hometown Tuesday ~ Northumberland County, VA

hometown tuesdayIn the winter of 1607–08, Captain John Smith traveled up the Rappahannock River as a prisoner of the Powhatans. He was the first European known to have visited the Northern Neck. Northumberland County, Virginia, was originally known as Chickacoan, an Indian district on the Northern Neck, lying between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers, tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.

In 1648, this “Mother County of the Northern Neck” was organized and VA-Northumberland conamed after County Northumberland, England. The first white settler to make a permanent home in the county was Col. John Mottram, sometime between 1635-1640. In 1651 Northumberland County, Virginia, was officially formed by an act passed by the Burgesses in Jamestown, Virginia. It was later divided into three additional counties: Lancaster, Richmond, and Westmoreland

Virginia OystersSteeped in history, it is a land where generations of watermen continue to harvest Rockfish, Blue Crabs, and the ever-famous Virginia Oyster from the waters surrounding the peninsula.

This peninsula nestled between the two above Rivers and spilling intoz-4 northumberland county Marker the Chesapeake Bay was part of the enormous 1649 land grant by Charles II, known as the Fairfax Grant. The bountiful waters of the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay supported and induced English settlement. The English built stately homes and farmed tobacco for export to England, which became the basis of the Northern Neck’s economy during the Colonial era. Some consider this area as the “birthplace of our nation” with three of the first five American presidents born here along with other prominent families that helped form our nation.

george_washingtonThe Northern Neck’s most famous son, George Washington, my 3rd cousin 8x removed, was born on Pope’s Creek off the Potomac River, called the region “the Garden of Virginia.” Our nation’s fifth president, James Monroe, was born in Westmoreland County in 1758.

Captain William Powell, my 9x Great Grandfather, came from Wales in 1607 with Capt. John Smith. He represented James City in the First House of Burgess. He was killed by Indians 1623.

The Lee family of Virginia called the Northern Neck home and builtStratford Hall this one Stratford Hall in the 1730s, of bricks fired from the clay soil on the premises. A son of Thomas Lee, my 11x Great Grandfather, Richard Henry Lee, my 10x Great Grandfather, co-wrote the Westmoreland Resolves, which proposed American independence in 1766 in protest against the Stamp Act. Richard Henry Lee and his brother Francis Lightfoot Lee, my 2nd cousin 9 x removed, were the only two brothers to sign the Declaration of Independence. The last Lee to survive to maturity, Robert E. Lee, my 4th cousin 7x removed, was born at Stratford Hall in 1807.

For hundreds of years, Northumberland remained a county largely isolated from the rest of the state due to the lack of a road network. But in 1926, with the bridge crossing from Essex County to the Northern Neck, with access to the west, growth began in the area.

 

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.

 

 

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Hometown Tuesday ~ Saybrook, Middlesex County, Connecticut

hometown tuesdayThe English were the first Europeans to establish roots in Saybrook Colony in 1636. It was located at the mouth of the Connecticut River. John Winthrop Jr. was made Governor by the group that claimed possession of the land. A deed for this land was given to the Colony by Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick.

The settlers quickly set to work clearing large tracts of land for Old saybrookfarming. The region’s natural resources. timber and fish were harvested for export to England. The men and the young boys worked the fields tending the crops. The women and young girls took care of the home. They kept the hearth, wove cloth, sewed clothes, and made sure that dinner was on the table. The community was a tightknit one and was centered around the Puritan church and family life. By 1644, with the growth of the surrounding areas, the New Connecticut Colony was formed.

witch-trialIn 1661 there was a witch trial of Saybrook residents, Margaret Jennings and her husband Nicholas. They were accused of causing the deaths of Marie Marvin and others. The trial resulted in a finding that they were probably witches, but there was not enough evidence to execute them.

In 1701 the Collegiate School of Connecticut was chartered in Saybrook. It moved to New Haven in 1716 and was later renamed Yale University.

My 9x Great Grandfather, Robert Lay was born in England in 1617. He immigrated to Lynn County Massachusetts in 1638. He moved to Saybrook, Connecticut in 1645 and married Sarah Fenner (1615-1676) here in 1647. There is only one birth recorded for them, a daughter Phoebe on January 5, 1650. Robert grew tobacco on his sprawling farm and shipped it to England.  He died on July 9, 1689, in Saybrook. It is said that Robert was considered a pioneer of this town.

 

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.

 

 

 

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Hometown Tuesday ~ 7 Oaks, Nelson County, Virginia

hometown tuesdayWith the establishment of the Virginia Colony in 1607, English emigrants arrived in North America by the thousands. By the late 17th century English explorers and traders had traveled up the James River to this area. Early trading posts were established between 1710 and 1720. By 1730, many families moved into the area currently known as Amherst County. They came because of the abundance of land and the good tobacco-growing soil.

Originally known as “The Oaks” and “Seven Oaks Villagethis town started as a stage station on the Charlottesville-Lynchburg road. In 1806 the county took its present proportions when Nelson County was formed from its northern half. The county seat was then moved to the village of Five Oaks, which was later renamed Amherst. The original courthouse was built in 1809 on two acres of land purchased “from a Mr. Coleman for ten shillings.” The original courthouse was torn down 1872 and the present courthouse was built “from the homemade brick of Amherst County clay.” All Amherst County records have been stored in the courthouse since 1761 when Amherst-Nelson counties were divided from Albemarle County. The county was named for Lord Amherst, known as the “Conqueror of Canada“, who commanded the British forces that successfully secured Canada from the French during the Seven Years’ War and had been named Governor of Virginia although he had never been there. 

When 7 Oaks Town’s name was changed to the Town of Amherst in 1807, it was also named after Sir Jeffery Amherst. By this time tobacco was the major crop grown as well as apples. The soil was rich and there were still plenty of lands to be had.

After the death of my 3rd Great Uncle, John Rucker (1680-1742) in January 1742, his wife Susannah (1684-1742) moved their 12 children (7 sons and 5 daughters) from Orange, Virginia to 7 Oaks. John Sr had purchased 5850 acres of land here in 1738. Unfortunately, she died in September of that same year. The Rucker’s were very prosperous making a good name for themselves and growing tobacco which they exported to England. Two of the sons, Anthony (1728-1821) and Benjamin (1726-1810) invented a new type of riverboat to transport the tobacco to Jamestown. These boats were also used to move supplies and munitions up and down the inland rivers during the Revolutionary War. Another son, John Jr. (1720-1780) was a dispatch rider for George Washington during the war.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hometown Tuesday ~ Tazewell, Claiborne County, Tennessee

hometown tuesdayThe Tennessee General Assembly formed Claiborne County in 1801 from parts of Grainger and Hawkins Counties and it was named for William C.C. Claiborne, who was Tennessee’s first congressional representative. The most important historic feature of Claiborne County is the Cumberland Gap, located south of where the states of Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky meet. Native Americans called this natural gateway to the north and west the “Warrior’s Path.” In 1750 Dr. Thomas Walker claimed discovery of the gap and named it Cumberland Gap in honor of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the son of King George II and Queen Caroline. Daniel Boone led thirty men through the gap and opened a road west to settlement in 1775.

The first settlement was in the Powell Valley along the Clinch River. Shortly afterward, settlements were established at Sycamore Creek and Fort Butler. In 1801 the town of Tazewell was laid out as the county seat. The town received a post office in 1804, and James Graham served as the first postmaster. The county court met three times in the homes of John Hunt and Elisha Walling before a small frame courthouse was erected in 1804 on land belonging to John Hunt Sr., probably the first settler in the area and the first sheriff of the County. A jail was constructed at the same time as the courthouse, and a second jail was TazewellTN Home 1812built in 1819. Luke Bower, one of the first Watauga settlers, was the first attorney and the first merchant was William Graham, a native of Ireland. Graham had extensive real estate holdings, and around 1800 he completed a stone residence known as the Graham-Kivett house. (photo) Other historic buildings include the Parkey house, also thought to have been built by Graham, which was used as a hospital during the Civil War and survived the great fire of 1862. A frontier church at Springdale on Little Sycamore Creek was erected by Drew Harrell and the Reverend Tidence Lane sometime around 1796.

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Tazewell did not have a church building until 1815, but settlers probably worshipped in open-air assemblies and in homes prior to that time. William Graham, a Presbyterian, erected the first church building, which was used by all denominations. In 1844 the Baptists and Methodists both erected buildings on Russell and Church streets, respectively.

Tazewell, Claiborne County, and the Cumberland Gap figured prominently in the Civil War strategy of both the North and the South.  The town changed hands four times. Although no major battles were fought in the county, there were several bloody skirmishes. On November 11, 1862, at the height of the Civil War, Confederate troops occupied Tazewell as part of the greater struggle for the strategic Cumberland Gap. When the Confederates evacuated the town in November of that year, a fire followed, destroying much of Tazewell including some twenty buildings including the courthouse, a large hotel, and several brick storehouses.

My paternal Great Grandfather, Hamilton Hayes was born in Tazewell, Hamilton Hayes picTennessee, on December 15, 1856, almost 6 years before the town was burned. He was the 4th child born to George W. Hayes (1817-1898) and Elizabeth Coffey (1821-1883). Within a year of the fire, his family moved to Grainger County Tennessee. Then in 1860, after the death of his slightly older sister Mary, the family moved to Rockcastle, Kentucky. Ten years later his family once again moved, this time to Mount Pleasant, Cass County, Missouri. Here he met and married Elvira Register (1861-1936) on March 16, 1979. They had 9 children, 4 sons, and 5 daughters. Hamilton was a farmer. In 1906 he passed away at the age of 52, in Dover, Lafayette County, Missouri.

 

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.

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