Friday, February 12, 2016

My 11th great grandfather Edward Wightman: The Last Man Burned at the Stake in England

Dear Grandfather Edward,
     As we were celebrating the beginning of 2016, I began to look at the calendar in my genealogy software program (Legacy) to help me select an ancestor born on New Year's Day or shortly thereafter and write their story. Your 4 times great granddaughter, Martha Rathbone was born January 2, 1736 in Stonington, Connecticut and I thought I would begin this year's posts with her. Well....I was innocently writing Martha's story and noted that she was the daughter of Capt. Joshua and Mary (Wightman) Rathbone and then realized that I did not know the ancestral origin of her mother's family who had settled in Rhode Island. That research led me to your story.
     You were probably born a little before your baptism December 20, 1566 in Burbage, Leicestershire, England. Your mother is Modwen or Madewyn Caldwall, daughter of William Caldwall, and a member of a family of successful drapers or traders of wool. Your father, John Wightman, was headmaster of the grammar school at Repton, Derbyshire just a few miles from your mother's family's home in Burton-on-Trent. It is unknown if you attended your father's school or were
schooled in Burton-on-Trent.
     Evidently, your father's profession of school master did not call you. Instead you entered the cloth business of your mother's family serving an apprenticeship to John Barnes as a woolen draper in the town of Shrewsbury beginning in 1580. Did you meet the woman you would marry selling cloth at the market in her hometown of Hinckley? Your marriage to Frances Darbye was registered at the
Staffordshire Record Office September 11, 1583.
     Settling in Burton-on-Trent and engaging in the cloth trade, you and Frances are the parents of six children:

 Johannis Wightman, born circa November 1594, died young.

 Priscilla Wightman, born circa December 1596

 John Wightman, born circa January 1598, died in Rhode Island Colony

 Maris Wightman, born circa February 1602

 Anna Wightman, born circa September 1608

 Samuel Wightman, born circa August 1611, died in Rhode Island Colony

     Everything about your life to this point seems somewhat ordinary. Of course, I can only imagine the turmoil the English people had experienced since King Henry VIII broke from the Roman Catholic Church in 1529.  King Henry's argument with the Pope wasn't just about divorcing his wife. He was also frustrated that the Roman Catholic Church in England, the next largest land owner in the country next to the crown, owed its allegiance and funds to the Pope. His newly established Church of England continued the policy that church attendance was mandatory and both Crown and Church used these services to spread their dictates. Every English man was subject to the rule of the Church, they were required to pay for the support of their local clergyman and the upkeep of the church. Not only did the church have the power to tax the people, it also could summon the people to a church court for a variety of offenses. Those transgressions included; failure to attend church, adultery, fornication, gossip and heresy. The church courts had the power to excommunicate those who were found guilty. Punishment for the most serious offense, heresy, was turned over to the civil authorities.
     It seems likely that you were first exposed to the Puritan movement while serving your apprenticeship in Shrewsbury. The English Puritans were trying to purge the Church of England of all Roman Catholic practices. They were looking to eliminate the expensive trappings and rites that made priests seem to be princes. A thriving movement, headed by John Tomkys, was centered in Shrewsbury. Others in Burton-on-Trent were establishing Puritanism there including Peter Eccleshall
who was indicted in 1588 for not using the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer  and Philip Stubbes, a Puritan evangelist. By your subsequent actions, their preaching must have found a place in your heart.
     I wish you could detail for your descendants the process by which you became committed to what is described as "an emotional and spiritual band of Puritanism." Clearly, your new views differed radically from not only the Church of England but also those of the local Puritan leaders. Wikipedia's article on you lists thirteen of your views that brought you into direct conflict with the Church and King James I.
  •  There is no Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost).
  •  Jesus Christ was not God.
  •  Jesus Christ was a mere man.
  •  Christ was never incarnate and did not fulfill the promises of salvation.
  •  The three creeds (Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian) of the apostolic church were lies.
  •  You, Edward Wightman, were the promised Messiah of the Old Testament.
  •  You were the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
  •  To deny that you were divine was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, worthy of everlasting  death.
  •  Jesus Christ is dead and there is no punishment for sinners in the afterlife.
  • You are literally the prophet Elijah.
  • The historic baptism of the church (baptism of infants) is wickedness.
  • The Lord's Supper (communion) is evil.
  • That God ordained you (Wightman) Saviour of the world.
     The power of the established Church and King were overwhelming. That many clerics tried to dissuade you of your beliefs may well have been out of respect for your place in the community and your family. Finally you were given the ultimatum, recant your opinions or "burn at the stake in Burton before Allholland day next."

     You were taken to Lichfield, and ordered to be placed "in some public and open place... and before the people burned in the detestation of the said crime and for manifest example of other Christians that they may not fall into the same crime." King James I approved your execution.

St. Mary's Church and Marketplace Lichfield, England from the early 19th century
Image from www.wikipedia.org
     I can only imagine the pain and terror you experienced when the flames reached your feet and legs. Reports are that you screamed to recant and the gathered crowd pleaded for your release. Pulled from the flames, you were already too badly injured to sign the papers accepting beliefs of the church. Two weeks later, you were brought before the authorities to sign your denial of your beliefs. After your firm refusal, you were once again tied to the stake in the marketplace  and this time burned to death. The date was April 11, 1612.

View of Lichfield Marketplace 2012
from Edward Wightman www.findagrave.com Memorial #101686171
     What terror your family must have experienced! Your children were between the ages of 16 and less than a year old. How would your wife be able to support the family? She soon left for London and some anonymity. Not surprisingly, your two surviving sons immigrated to Rhode Island, a colony known for religious tolerance.

     Historically, you bear the dubious distinction of having been the last Englishman burned at the stake. There is a plaque near the marketplace in Lichfield marking that distinction.

Photograph of Marketplace plaque from
www.findagrave.com 
Edward Wightman Memorial #101686171
This Memorial was written by Edward's 11th great grandson Steven Tynan.
     I wish I could say that people are no longer being put to death for their religious beliefs but sadly there are radical religious groups that are still committing such atrocities today. You have moved to the top of the list of ancestors with whom I would like to have dinner.

Love,
Cecily

For family members: Our descent from Edward Wightman

Cecily13, Charles12, Charles11 Cone, Helen10 Newton, Mary9 Clarke, Lydia8, George7 Hornell, Jr., Martha6 Stevens, Martha5 Rathbone, Mary4,Valentine3, George2, John1, EdwardA Wightman

Superscript A indicates the generation that did not immigrate. If there is no surname after the name, the surname is the same as the previous generation.

     My original post was formatted in Word with footnotes which did not import into the Blogger format this time though they have in previous posts. Additional information on Edward Wightman's story can be found at the following sources:

"England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NPQ1-HXV: accessed 9 January 2016), Edward Wightman, 20 Dec 1566; citing BURBAGE,LEICESTER,ENGLAND, reference; FHL microfilm 585,278.

"England Marriages, 1538–1973 ," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N61M-J82: accessed 9 January 2016), Edward Wightman and Francis Darbye, 11 Sep 1593; citing St. Modwen's, Burton Upon Trent, Staffordshire, England, reference items 4-10; FHL microfilm 1,278,931.

"Contributions to the history of the Whiteman or Wightman Family", The Narragansett Historical Register, Vol. 3, No. 4 (April 1885), Pages 290-2.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Dear Grandparents,
Merry Christmas! I am very blessed this Christmas to be celebrating with both my daughters, son-in-law and grandchildren and of course my husband Ed. We're taking a short break for naps before gathering once more for Christmas dinner. This rest interval has given me time to stop and reflect on Christmas past and present and remember you and the traditions you passed down to us. I've included some photographs of Christmases past as well as today.
Christmas in La Habra, CA 1957
We always had 'rain' or tinsel on the tree, a Pacific Northwest tradition.
Ron and Jill with Hoo Hoo and Poppy
Christmas 1963 Hacienda Heights, CA
We usually celebrated holidays with Aunt Helen, Uncle Jim, Ron and Jill. In 1963, the Cone family moved to Willingboro, New Jersey and ended that tradition for several years. We were missing them!

First Christmas in the Kelly's house, Chula Vista, CA 1979
Trude sent a taped tour of Amsterdam
Ed and I were so excited to have everyone come to our home for Christmas.  The unshown story....
A snake crawled into a transformer on the street, sacrificed his life and put us all in darkness. We had to cook Christmas dinner on the BBQ.
We moved into our house on Romar Drive in Annapolis in the summer of 1988
There was a wonderful antique fireplace surround that came with the house. It was the perfect place for hanging stockings. I really tried to convince Ed we should take it with us when we sold the house.

Mom made Christmas dresses for Amanda and Colby
Charlotte 1987
Mom sewed beautifully and we all miss having our own private seamstress. I've saved these dresses and hope that Cassidy may be able to wear them starting next year.
Christmas in Charleston, SC 1991 - Dad's last Christmas
Ed  was deployed and my whole family came to make it easier for the kids.
We moved to Charleston, SC in June of 1990. Ed assumed command of USS Thorn DD-988 and was deployed during Christmas 1991. Ed's brother Bob had been killed in an auto accident the Christmas before and we were trying very hard to have a special Christmas for Amanda and Colby.
Christmas with Peg and Hugh in Roswell, NM 1994

Christmas with Grandmom in Charlotte 2002
At an "American Christmas" at the Hotel Del Coronado
Rein was called up to the stage and just beamed! 

Peg and Hugh by the Hotel Del Coronado Christmas Tree
2005

Chris, Colby, Ed and Amanda building snowman
Christmas 2006 in Spokane
Chris' first white Christmas
Steamed pudding is Grandmother Hoo Hoo's traditional recipe.
Making struffoli for Dad Christmas 2013
Montego Cove house Willis, Texas
Ed's stepfather, Carmen Della Penna's mother always made struffoli and Italian Christmas cookies for him. This was our first attempt at recreating her recipe. We are still working on perfecting it.

Lots of fun Christmas memories and many that include Grandparents.

Love,
Cecily

Monday, November 23, 2015

Dear Grandparents,
In the ongoing discussions about refugees, it seems common to attribute one's birth in the United States as merely the result of luck. Somehow that seems to negate your efforts to find safe havens for your families, a place to practice your religion freely, and a place where the ownership of land and a better life was possible. These desires were probably as universal among those early immigrants leaving war, religious persecution and societal restrictions behind as they are today.  In the case of our 17th century English immigrant ancestors, they had endured more than 100 years of religious chaos as England vacillated between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England. As we ready ourselves to celebrate Thanksgiving, I want to thank all of you for your courage and commitment. We, your descendants, continue to benefit from your efforts.

Thanksgiving traditions in the United States have roots in the settlement of the Pilgrims in Plymouth. We have several ancestors who were part of the Mayflower community: William Brewster and his wife Mary, William Bradford and his wife Dorothy (May), Stephen Hopkins and son Giles, and Edward Doty who was indentured to Stephen. I thought I would share what I have learned about these brave people beginning with William Brewster.

William Brewster is presumed to have been born in or near Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, England in 1566 or 1567.  The exact date of his birth has not been discovered but according to the affidavit made at Leyden, June 25, 1609, in which "he, his wife Mary and son Jonathan declare their ages to be respectively 42, 40 and 16 years."[1]  He is the son of William Brewster who was appointed bailiff and postmaster at the manor house in Scrooby that belonged to the Archbishop of York.

It is not known how long William studied at Peterhouse College at Cambridge University. He matriculated there December 3, 1580 and studied Latin and Greek but there is no record of his receiving his degree, so it assumed that he left before graduating. After leaving, he became an assistant to William Davison, Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth I. He accompanied Secretary Davison on his posting to the Netherlands in 1585 and served him until Davison's downfall in 1587 after which he returned to Scrooby.

William's father died in 1590 and he took his place as postmaster, an office he held until 1607, and lived at the manor house in Scrooby. He opened his home to the other members of the Pilgrim congregation for their weekly Sunday meeting. These meetings were eventually discovered and to escape prosecution the Brewsters and several other members of the congregation fled first to Amsterdam in 1608 and then to Leiden in 1609. It was probably more difficult for Brewster to support his family in Holland as he had been a government official in England and not a tradesman. He eventually found work tutoring students at the University of Leiden in English and Latin.

Map of Scrooby with inset to show location in England[2]



William also joined with other members of their sect in publishing books and pamphlets supporting the separatist religious movement which were then secreted into England. When these were traced back to William, the English pressured the Dutch government to stop their export. With authorities of two countries breathing down their necks, the congregation decided to establish a colony in Virginia where they could pursue their religion without fear of reprisal.

Pamplet published by William Brewster in Leiden
from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Brewster_(Mayflower_passenger)
As the second ranking member of the congregation, behind pastor John Robinson, Elder William Brewster was urged to make the trip across the ocean on the Mayflower. He and his wife Mary decided to take their two youngest children, Love and Wrestling, with them. My 10th great grandmother, Patience, stayed behind arriving on the Anne in late July 1623.[3]

William Brewster continued to minister to the Plymouth congregation for the rest of his life but he also worked in the fields and participated in the colony's militia. William Bradford writes in his History of Plymouth Plantation, Elder Brewster "was in no way unwilling to take his part and bear his burden with the rest." John Abbott Goodwin writes in Pilgrim Republic "The good Elder fights as he prays, though he would far rather convert an enemy than hurt him, he would not dream of letting him first fire."[4]

Elder Brewster died at Plymouth, 10 April 1644. He had not made a will however the careful inventories prepared by William Bradford, Thomas Prence, Capt. Miles Standish and Mr. Reynor leave us a complete knowledge of the contents of his home and library. These list can be found in The Brewster Genealogy at the  following https://books.google.com/books?id=fsEGAwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

My descent from William and Mary (unknown) Brewster is listed below. I am using the standard genealogical format which numbers the immigrant generation as 1. Changes in surname occur when the descent is on the female side. I hope this is an easier format to understand. Also, not surprisingly, my descent comes from two of William's granddaughters. Hannah and Mercy Prence are both daughters of Thomas and Patience (Brewster) Prence.

Cecily14, Charles13, Charles12, Frederick11, William10 Cone, Joanna9 Warner, Rhoda8 , Elisha7 ,  Nathaiel6 Hopkins, Mercy5 Mayo, Hannah4 Freeman,  Mercy3 Prence,  Patience2, William¹ "the Pilgrim" Brewster

Cecily15, Charles14, Charles13, Frederick12, William11 Cone, Joanna10Warner, Rhoda9 , Elisha8 Hopkins,  Abigail7 Merrick, Lydia6, Thomas5, Nathaniel4Mayo, Hannah3 Prence, Patience2 William1   


Thank you for your bravery and determination, Generations of your descendants have benefited from your efforts.

Love,
Cecily


[1] Jones, Emma, The Brewster Genealogy 1566-1907, New York, The Grafton Press, 1908, 1: 3-4
[2] Contains Ordnance Survey data
[3] Michael Tepper, editor, New World Immigrants; The Mayflower Series of Papers"5-Immgrants on the Pilgrim Ship, p 11.
[4] The Brewster Genealogy, p. lix

Saturday, November 21, 2015

November 21st, 2015 the 395th anniversary of the Mayflower Compact.

Dear Grandparents,
Thought I would up date this blog post that I originally wrote in 2013. Today, November 21st, 2015 is the 395th anniversary of the signing of the Mayflower Compact. It was among the first written documents establishing the fundamentals of democratic government in the colonies.

As we begin to prepare for our annual commemoration of Thanksgiving, my mind has been turning to those of you who made Mayflower's historic voyage from England to Massachusetts. What courage it must have required to board that tiny ship leaving every place you had ever known behind! I hope I would have had the courage to join you.

We often focus today on the feast of Thanksgiving you hosted with the Indians and many forget some of the other contributions made by the settlers at Plymouth. We've read about the religious congregation from Leiden and probably most of us think of you as one group. I wonder if you realize that you are often referred to as the "Saints" and "Strangers." I think the implication being that the "Saints" were members of the Leiden congregation and the "Strangers" were the other English families who were hoping for more opportunities in a new land.

What foresight it took to understand that you needed some rules to govern the expectations and behaviors of the community before it was established ashore. I wonder how many of us would have come to that realization.



Mayflower Compact 1620

IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, bu the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politck, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Futherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience.

IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.

Mr. John Carver, John Billington, Thomas Williams, John Ridgdale, Mr. William Bradford,        Moses Fletcher, Gilbert Winslow, Edward Fuller, Mr. Edward Winslow, John Goodman,                Edmund Margesson, Richard Clark, Mr. William Brewster,  Mr. Samuel Fuller,                             Peter Brown, Richard Gardiner, Isaac Allerton, Mr. Christopher Martin, Richard Britteridge,          Mr. John Allerton, Myles Standish, Mr. William Mullins, George Soule, Thomas English,             John Alden,  Mr. William White, Edward Tilly, Edward Doten, John Turner, Mr. Richard Warren, John Tilly, Edward Liester, Francis Eaton, John Howland, Francis Cooke, James Chilton,                    Mr. Steven Hopkins, Thomas Rogers, John Craxton, Digery Priest, Thomas Tinker*

*I have bolded the names of my ancestors who signed the compact.

There were women on board the Mayflower though they were not included in the affirmation of the compact they were certainly expected to live up to its requirements.

The transcription of the Mayflower Compact 1620, as well as the signatories, comes from the General Society of Mayflower Descendants Website. Commonly referred to as the Mayflower Society, it is an organization of those who prove their descent from one or more Pilgrims. It is estimated that there may be as many as twenty million descendants of the 102 hardy souls who sailed on the ship including nine American Presidents. My Great Grandfather Frederick Naaman Cone was a member of the Society, as was his son William Laurence Cone.

For family members, we can trace our linage to William Bradford, William Brewster, Steven Hopkins and his son Giles Hopkins, and Edward Doty (who's name was written at Doten on the compact).

Thank you for your bravery, foresight and spirit. I want to tell more of your stories before Thanksgiving.

Love,
Cecily

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Could this be their wedding photograph?

Dear Cecil and Hoo Hoo,
Peg recently came across a photograph of the two of you in some of Mom's things that we never remember seeing before. We are all wondering, could this be your wedding photograph?

Cecil Oscar and Ada Grace (Colby) Werst
circa 1924 probably Spokane, Washington.
From personal collection of their granddaughter
Leslie M. Cone
You do look dressed for a special occasion. The weight of your clothing and the leaves behind seem to support that it was summer. Your marriage certificate does not list the time of day you were married.

Certificate of Marriage dated 8 August 1924
Spokane, Washington
H. F. Lange, Minister officiated.
http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/DigitalObject/View/4DC13D0F7C659F39741B9256A10D2644
We do not know why you decided to get married in Spokane that August. Perhaps you did not have enough time off from your positions with the Royal Silk Hosiery Company to travel to Pendleton to include the bride's sister Madge and the groom's brother Clem. We know that Grace was estranged from her father because of her stepmother's intolerance for her presence so Grace's home of Newberg was not an option.  Since your first child was born 22 months after your wedding, that does not seem to have been the issue.

Wedding photograph or not, it is very nice to see you as a happy couple.

Love,
Cecily

Updating this post from Veteran's Day 2013 - Thank you for Your Service and Sacrifice

Dear Grandparents,
Each year on November 11th, we honor our country's men and women who have served in our armed forces in both peace and war. This November is the first since 1971 where the family has no one currently serving on active duty. In the honor of those who served, I am endeavoring to put together a list by name, rank and service. These are the family members who have served in the 20th and 21st centuries, I'll cover the 18th and 19th centuries in another post. If you have additions or corrections please leave me a comment.

LCdr, Raul Dominguez, U. S. Navy 2002-2013
Maj. Amanda M. Kelly, U. S. Air Force (ret) 2002-2012
Lt. Kristen Cone, U. S. Navy 2005-2009
Cpl. Agye Danso, U. S. Marine Corps 2003-2007
Maj. Roger Moore, U. S. Army National Guard
Capt. Edward W. Kelly, U. S. Navy (ret) 1971-2001
PH2 Ronald A. Pearce, U. S. Navy 1972-1982
Lt. Charles "Rusty" N. Cone, III U. S. Navy, 1978-1983
Lt. Frederick Allen Cone, JAG, USNR 1957-1960
Sn. Dana A. Pearce, U. S. Navy 1954-1956
1st Lt. Hugo Riecken, U. S. Army 1954-1957
Capt. Charles N. Cone, Jr, U. S. Navy, 1944-1984
PFC Phelps Wilson Long, Jr,  U. S. Marine Corps, Killed in Action Dec. 16, 1943 Bougainville, Solomon Islands
Pvt. Kenneth M. Branchflower, U. S Army, 1936-7; 1944-1946
Sn. Charles Robert Brim, U. S. Navy, 1942-1945
Cpl. Josephine Mary Brim, U. S. Marine Corps, 1943-1945
CM1 Charles C. Black, U. S. Navy 1942-1945
Pvt. Edward Ebert Kelly,  U. S. Army, 1944-1946
Pvt. William Joseph Kelly, U.S. Army, 1942-1945
PO1 Donald Edward Haas, U. S. Navy, U. S. Coast Guard, 1943-1963
Pvt. John Joseph Beaumont, Jr., U. S. Army, 1942-1945
Sn. Richard Hans, U. S. Navy, 1940-1946
Pvt. Daniel Joseph Foley, U. S. Army, 1942-1945
PFC James R. Caldwell, U. S. Army, 1944-1947
Sn David Earl Propes, U. S. Navy, 1944-1945
Pvt. Vern B. Werst, U. S. Army, 1942-1946
Pvt. Emerald J. Caldwell, U. S. Army, 1918-1919
Pvt. Charles N. Cone, U. S. Army, 1918-1918
Pvt. Charles Richard Brim, U. S. Army, 1918-1919
Sgt. William Laurance Cone, U. S. Army, 1917-1919
Cpt. Chester D. Allen, U. S. Army Medical Corps, 1917-1923

Their contributions represent over 100 years of service to our country.

Our family has been blessed that only one member was killed in action. Phelps Wilson Long, Jr. was the daughter of my Grandmother Hazel Bynon Allen Cone's sister Martha Marinda Allen Long. Phelps was my Dad's first cousin. He enlisted in the United State Marine Corps shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and was trained at New River, North Carolina. He was part of  Company I, 21st MAR, 3rd Marine Division.


He was killed in action at Bouganville, Solomon Islands on December 16, 1943 and posthumously award the Silver Star for Conspicuous Gallantry and Intrepidity Against Enemy Japanese Forces in the Cape Torokina Area. I do not know if his body was returned to the family for burial in Florida or if they erected the marker just in remembrance. Once while visiting Oahu, My mother, Ed and I paid our respects at the Punch Bowl National Cemetery in Honolulu. My mother had been under the impression that Phelps was buried there but we did not find him.

My Grandmother said her sister never recovered from Phelps' loss. She died five years later at age 48.

Thank you all for your service. For the time you spent away from spouses, children and homes which did not come without sacrifice on both your part and that of your families.

Love,
Cecily

Saturday, October 10, 2015

In honor of nonagenarians C. Robert (C. Bob) Brim and Josephine (Jo) (Brim) Ayers: The story of another James Clark of Lebanon, Connecticut 1730-1826

Dear Grandparents,
One of my cousins, Helen Peterson, posted a photograph of two of our family nonagenarians celebrating first cousin once removed C. Bob's 97th birthday with his younger sister Jo who is 94 in Seattle. In their honor, I thought I would write about one of our ancestors who also lived well into his 90s, James Clark of Lebanon, Connecticut.

Josephine Brim Ayers and brother, C. Bob Brim (photo courtesy of cousin Helen Peterson).
James Clark3 (Moses2, Daniel1, DanielA, SabbathB), sixth and youngest child of Moses and Elizabeth (Huntington) Clark, was born 15 September, 1730 in the family home which had been built by Moses about 1709. The house still stands today and is said to be the oldest structure in the community of Lebanon.

The Moses Clark house circa 1729 as it looked 28 September 2015.
The home is privately owned but still a treasure.
Image from author's personal collection 28 September 2015
James married on 20 January 1757 to Ann Gray, probably the daughter of Simeon and Ann (Hyde) Gray. She was born in Lebanon 29 July 1732.  They are said to have been the parents of two children James Junior and Ann. Some records include two other sons, Moses and Jacob. Ann Gray Clark died sometime between the birth of her daughter Ann in 1767 and James' remarriage to Keziah (surname unknown) about 1768. With Keziah, James had three children, Wealthy (1769-1775), Earnest (1772-1775) and Augustus (1773-1781). Of James' five children, only James Junior lived to adulthood and he died at age 32. Many researchers report that James Junior had no children but they have neglected to look at Leonard Labaree's, "Public Records of the State of Connecticut", Connecticut, 1948; VII:293, "Upon the Memorial of Anne Lyman Clark Widow and Relict of James Clark Junr late of Lebanon in the County of Windham Deceased and Administratrix of his Estate.... rendering said House Habitable for herself and two Young Children as per Memorial on file."

A paper written by Miss Mary Clarke Huntington of Lebanon and delivered to the New London County Historical Society 15 January 1902 by Colin S. Buell provides more information about James Clark and his roles in Lebanon and the Revolution. "His name appears upon the town records in various land grants while he was yet a young man, and he was given several town offices, being a Grand Juror in 1772. When in 1775, came the Lexington Alarm, he mustered a company of a hundred men and marched to the scene of the action. He took part in the battle of Bunker Hill 17 June 1775, and over and over told the story of that great battle to his great grandchildren, of whom my father was one, as they clustered about him before the open fire in "grandfather's room" at the old Clark homestead."

She then quoted "a bit of the old soldier's talk as it was given to me, a little child, sitting upon my father's knee, as he so many years before sat upon the knee of the old soldier." Jame Clark described the battle as follows, "Yes,yes, my boys and girls, it was a wonderful fight! The hundred men who with me had made the march from Lebanon to Charleston Neck in three days were brave fellows, every one. We were sent to help hold the Hill, but the men in the redoubt were so nearly out of powder that we could only cover their retreat. We kept back the redcoats, though. And everywhere at once was General Putnam, shouting and swearing through the smoke and noise urging ... to hold their ground so long as possible. He was a little man but a big soldier. Yes, yes, my boy and girls, it was a wonderful fight. Not one step did we retreat until our ammunition was gone."

Perhaps Miss Huntington's report of her second great grandfather's tale was embellished, but James' role at the Battle of Bunker Hill is well documented. It is because of his participation in that battle and his long life that we have his portrait.  The Marquis De Lafayette, who was on a tour of the United States, presided at the ceremony laying the cornerstone for a monument to the Battle of Bunker Hill 17 June 1825. Nearly 95 year old, James Clark was the oldest veteran who attended the ceremony having been carried by litter from his home in Lebanon.

Original is captioned "Col. James Clark
of Lebanon Conn. Aged 95
Thee oldest Survivor of the Battle of Bunker Hill, was present at the laying of the cornerstone
of the monument, June 17th, 1825."
From the collection of the Lebanon Historical Society, lithograph made by
T. Badger of Pendleton.
According to his headstone in the Old Cemetery in Lebanon, James lived to 96 years and 5 months. James also saw service in New York, at the Battles of White Plains and Harlem Heights. Miss Huntington reports that he was promoted to Major in December of 1776 and to honor his bravery he "came home a Major changed to Colonel-- an honorary title bestowed upon him at the expiration of his term of service, and as Colonel he was know to all his townsfolk afterward." His headstone reads:

To the Memory of
COL. JAMES CLARK
Who died on the 29th of Dec. 1826
Aged 96 years & 5 mos.
He was a soldier of the Revolution and 
dared to lead where any dared to follow.
The Battles of Bunker Hill, Harlem Heights and White Plains
witnessed his personal bravery, and his devotion to the cause of his
country. He here in death rests from his labors.
Col. James Clarke Headstone, Old Cemetery, Lebanon.
Image from authors personal collection 28 September 2015
My husband, daughter, Amanda, and I were able to visit Lebanon last month and received wonderful assistance from Donna at the Lebanon Historical Society with our research. None of James Clark's descendants have proven their linage so he is not a patriot recognized by Daughters or Sons of the American Revolution. I hope to take care of this situation.

Happy Birthday Cousin C. Bob! Hope you enjoy this story of your 5th great grandfather.

Love,
Cecily