Sunday, May 9, 2021

Ezra Sill DAR Patriot

Dear Grandparents, 
For the last five or so years, I have been serving as the Registrar for my Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter (NSDAR). This is an organization for the female lineal descendants of those who fought or supported America's effort to win its independence. In another five years, we will celebrate America 250... the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. I've been a member of DAR since 2008 and have proven my descent from two Patriots, Evert Van Epps (A117914) and Asa Pratt (A092459). I also have applications pending for Magdalena Schlechty (A002160), Andrew Woodruff (A128621), Elisha Hopkins (A210046), Eleazer Warner (A121071) and James Clark. I am especially anxious for James Clark to be verified as he will be a new Patriot. That means, that I will be his first decendant to prove his service and my descent. James Clark, of Lebanon, CT, responded to the Lexington Alarm, and fought at Bunker Hill and White Plains. I am determined to recognize as many of my ancestors as I can possibly prove including Ezra Sill (A103626). 

Usually, when I write a post for this blog, I am using the calendar report function from Legacy Family Tree software. Today is no exception. Thursday, May 6th 2021, was the 268th anniversary of my 5th great grandfather Ezra Sill's birth in Lyme, New London County, Connecticut. Ezra's parents are Andrew and Elizabeth (Mather) Sill. Andrew is a descendant of John Sill and his son Joseph who immigrated to Cambridge, MA from Newcastle on Tyne, Northumberland, England. Newcastle is in the far north of England, nearly to the border with Scotland.
According to "The Pioneers of Massachusetts, 1620-1650" John Sill heard Mr. Shepard preach in Northumberland and sailed for New England with wife Joanna and son Joseph in tow. John became a proprietor of Cambridge, MA on May 2, 1638. Their surname was spelled variously Sill, Scill, Sell but Sill is the spelling that seems to have prevailed. John is Ezra's 3rd great grandfather. Ezra's mother Phoebe is the daughter of Lt. Joseph and Phoebe (DeWolf) Mather.The Mather family also has deep New England roots. Rev. Richard Mather was born about 1596 in Much Woolton, Lancashire, England. The oldest building in Much Woolton is the "Old School" which is said to date from 1610 and may have been the site of Richard's early education. Today Much Woolton is part of Liverpool.
Richard went on to attend Oxford University's Brasenose College but did not complete his degree. He immigrated on the ship James with his wife and family in 1634. Rev. Mather was paid 100 pounds annually for serving as Dorchester's minister for many years. The family lived in a part of Lyme, CT sometimes referred to as "Silltown" from the time of Ezra's great grandfather Joseph's marriage to Sarah Clark in 1677.
Back to Ezra.... it would be wonderful to know how involved he was in the unrest prior to the Revolution. We know he was only 22 when he responded to the Lexington Alarm. We know he was paid for 29 days of service and we know that he was hospitalized during that time with a fever.
Of course, we all consider ourselves lucky that he survived the fever lest we would not be here. There are many records missing for Ezra. We would like to know the exact date of his marriage to Charity Pratt, daughter of Edward and Mary (Pratt) Pratt. {The untangling of my Pratt lines is the subject for another, or several, other posts because I also descend from Charity's brother Jeremiah Pratt who married Jennett Pratt. You begin to see the problem here but just to relieve your concerns, none of the married Pratts were first cousins.} 

We believe that Ezra and Charity were married about 1778 because their first child Mary was born that year. All of their children (Enoch, Mary, Uriah) were baptized July 17, 1788 at the church in Essex, Lyme County, CT. "Charity, w. of Ezra, was admitted to the church July 20, 1788". Perhaps, they had moved to an area near the church or perhaps the death of their son Edmond on Oct. 10, 1787 followed by the death of Ezra's father Andrew on May 13, 1788 brought them to church. The Essex Church records are our only source for the death of Ezra in Aug of 1808. I am looking forward to submitting my supplemental application for Ezra. Any of Ezra's other female decendants over the age of 18 are eligible to join DAR (contact or your local chapter). I wish all of you who fought, worked and supported the Revolution could make yourself known to me. I don't want to forget anyone.

Love, Cecily 

My descent from Ezra and Charity (Pratt) follows: Their daughter Mary Sill married Rufus Utley. Their son Philip Utley married Harriet Pratt. Their daughter Eliza Harriet Utley married William Warner Cone. Their son Frederick Naaman Cone married Helen Brown Newton. Their son Charles Newton Cone married Hazel Bymum Allen. Their son Charles Newton Cone, Jr. is my father.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

 Dear Grandparents,

Happy Anniversary to Joseph and Mehitable (Young) Sanford my 5th great grandparents who were married March 7, 1769. Joseph, the son of Captain Joseph and Mary (Clark) Sanford, was born about July 28th, 1745 in Litchfield, Connecticut the youngest of their 6 children. The Sanford family were descendants of Thomas Sanford from Hatfield, Broad Oak, Essex, England.

Photograph of St. Mary the Virgin Church and maps are from

Hatfield Broad Oak was well established by the Norman Conquest and the parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin is early medieval so would have been known to Thomas the immigrant. At the time of the Domesday Book, Hatfield Broad Oak was the 9th largest settlement in Essex. Though Thomas arrived in Massachusetts, he soon emigrated to Milford, Connecticut. Three generations later, the senior Joseph relocated to Litchfield.

Not as much is known about Grandmother Mehitable's family. The book "Thomas Sanford, the emigrant to New England; ancestry, life,, and descendants" published in 1911 and compiled by Carlton Elisha Sanford states that Mehitable was from Long Island. There is a Jeremih Young who marries Mehetabel Brown in Southold, Suffolk County, New York in 1747 which would be of a good age to be the parents of Grandmother Mehitable. The Peabody Genealogy, which has been published on, lists a Jeremiah Youngs born 1719 in Oyster Ponds, Long Island who married 3 Sep 1747. His father is given as Jonathan Youngs and his mother Dorathy Browns. Evidently his wife, Mehetable Brown was a cousin of his mother. The genealogy also lists two daughters Ann Youngs and Mehetable Youngs.

Google maps distance between Oysterponds and Litchfield

We don't know how Joseph and Mehitable met. Many would suggest that most people married people who lived in the same county if not the same town. This is not alway true in our family of wanderers. Today the journey between Oysterpond, Long Island, New York and Litchfiedl, Connecticut would take about 3 hours by car. In their day, the trip would have been measured in days not hours. 

Joseph's immediate family were all located in the South Farms area of Litchfield and it was there that they made their home. Seven children were born of their marriage:

  • Stephen 1770-1772
  • Mehitable 1771-1772
  • Joseph 1773-1805
  • Olive 1774-1817
  • Stephen 1776-1841
  • Edmund 1781-1860
  • Osias 1784-1856

In the "Genealogical and Family History of Central New York, Vol. 1, Joseph is referred to as "Captain" Joseph Sanford. On page 445, it states that he served in the revolution and "On June 8, 1778, he was captain of the Eleventh company, trainband in the Thirteenth regiment of the state." He was also at Peekskill with the main army in New York.

Honestly, I did not remember what happened during the Revolution at Peekskill. I also had not thought about how close Peekskill is to Litchfield, Connecticut. New York State has created an almanac website that tells more of this story. In the summer of 1776, the British had more than 8,000 troops on Staten Island and 100 ships were anchored in the harbor. They needed to feed their sailors and troops. The flour, fresh meat and produce that were held on Litchfield farms were just what the British needed. Only the men of the Litchfield Miltia stood in their way. As a farmer, you must have known that you had to keep the British from reaching supplies but also that the survival of the Sanford family and others depended on their ability to stop the British.

       Map from

The New York Almanac has a very sobering description of what was at stake when Militia men responded to the Alarms at Poughkeepsie and Peekskill. "Barley and wheat fields were almost ready for harvest and if left unattended grain would rot on the stalk." A farmer of that time and area typically worked 50 or more acres which was mostly pasture and grain. He would also have an orchard and a garden adjacent to his wood frame house and barn. Each year he would raise cattle and hogs and butcher 1500-2000 pounds of pork and 1200 pounds of beef. His family's survival depended on a successful harvest. 

Things were even more complicated for the Sanford family. Their first two children had died in 1772. If Joseph went with the Militia, Mehitable would be at home with a three year old, a two year old about to give birth early in July. There was extended family around but most of the men were also part of the militia.

Joseph chose to serve and his service has been recognized by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. He is Patriot #100080. Mehitable has not been recognized for a contribution to the Revolution. This rankles me more than a bit. My husband served a 30 year career in the U. S. Navy and I well know that family members make more than little contributions to their loved one's service. I promise you I had it easier than Mehitable.

Joseph's and Mehitable's marriage lasted nearly 45 years until he passed on 13 Dec 1813. That was a long marriage in those days. Joseph left a third of his estate to his wife.

Joseph's will refers to "his beloved" wife

Three years after Joseph's death, Mehitable married widower Daniel Strong of Bethlem. Their marriage lasted until his death June 15, 1830. Mehitable lived until March 11, 1835.

No headstones survive for either Joseph or Mehitable. An earlier transcription of headstones in the cemetery at Morris, Litchfield County, CT refers to a stone "In memory of Mr. Joseph Sanford who died Dec 13, 1818 aged 68 years. 

Thank you both for your service. We remember you still.



Our descent from Joseph and Mehitable is as follows:

Their son Stephen Sanford married Olive Woodruff (whose father also served). Their daughter Caroline Beckworth Sanford married Reuben Newton. Their son Charles Shepard Newton married Mary Elizabeth Clark. Their daughter Helen Brown Newton married Frederick Naaman Cone. Their son Charles Newton Cone married Hazel Bynum Allen. Their son Charles Newton Cone, Jr. is my father.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Thankful for Intrepid Ancestors

 Dear Grandparents,

A few days before we will celebrate Thanksgiving, we pause to remember that we owe our lives to intrepid ancestors who were willing to take huge risks to settle in an area that was largely unknown. We have many ancestors who came on ships but today I will especially be remembering those who came on the Mayflower 400 years ago. 

My 10th Great Grandfather, William Bradford was one of the religious separatists that fled England for Holland and then Holland for America. William was born around 1590 in Austerfield, Yorkshire, England. His father died when he was an infant and he was raised by older relatives. He was among those imprisoned in Boston, England during their first attempt to escape to Holland. Records from Leiden list him as a fustian maker (a maker of cotton cloth). On November 15, 1613, he married Dorethea May whose father was among the religious separatists. She died in Cape Cod harbor December 7, 1620 slipping on the Mayflower's icy deck and falling in to the water. How sad to have survived the difficult voyage only to drown before setting foot in the new world. 

Bradford married second Alice (Carpenter) Southworth a widow who came in 1623, it is said, in response to a letter from William proposing marriage. 

William Bradford became one of the leaders of the Plymouth Colony, serving as its Governor for nearly 30 years. Much of what we know about their life in Leiden, in the colony and of the Mayflower's voyage comes from his account entitled Of Plymouth Plantation. Below is the first page of his manuscript: (from

Our descent from William and Alice (Carpenter) (Southworth) Bradford is as follows: their son William Bradford, his daughter Alice Bradford, her daughter Abiel Adams, her daughter Delight Metcalf, her son Eleazer Warner, his son Thomas Warner, his daughter Joanna Warner, her son William Warner Cone, his son Frederick Naaman Cone, his son Charles Newton Cone, his son Charles Newton Cone, Jr and me.

My 11th great grandparents William and Mary (unknown) Brewster also came on the Mayflower. They were among the older religious separatists. William was born about 1566 in Nottinghamshire, England. According to Bradford, he attended Cambridge University. He then entered the service of William Davison, Ambassador to the Netherlands and afterward Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth I. Brewster became Postmaster at Scrooby. This office was rather more involved than today and included occupying Scrooby Manor and entertaining royalty and church prelates. It was through Brewster's friend Sir Edwin Sandys, treasurer of the Virginia company, that he obtained a grant of land in North America. 

William Brewster was a ruling elder of the Plymouth church and until 1629 acted as minister and teacher. When he died in 1644, the inventory of his belongings included separate listings of his Latin and English books totalling nearly 400 titles. The chest below is on display at the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth and is said to have been brought on the Mayflower by Brewster.

Unfortunately, Mary's surname and origin are unknown. Our descent from William Brewster is as follows: William and Mary Brewster; their daughter Patience, her daugther Mercy Prence, her daughter Hannah Freeman, her daugher Mercy Mayo, her son Nathaniel Hopkins, his son Nathaniel Hopkins, his son Elisha Hopkins, his daughter Rhoda Hopkins, his daughter Joanna Warner, her son William Warner Cone, his son Frederick Naaman Cone.... etc.

Another of my 10th great grandfathers is Francis Cooke. Born about 1583, his English origins have not been discovered. Some think he was from Norwich or Canterbury. He lived in Leiden where he married Hester le Mahieu July 20, 1603. She is said to have been a French Walloon (protestant) whose parents had earlier fled to Canterbury. Their marriage occurred six years before the Pilgrim Church had moved to Leiden. The Cookes returned to Norwich, England for some time but returned to Leiden to have their first son baptized at the French church there. 

Francis and his oldest son, John, sailed on the Mayflower. Hester and their other children Jane, Jacob, Elizabeth and Hester came to Plymouth in 1623 onboard the ship Anne. Francis lived a long life dying at about 80. His wife survived him by at least 3 years.

Our descent from Francis and Hester (le Mahieu) Cooke is as follows: their son Jacob, his son Jacob, his son John, his daughter Sarah, her son Nathaniel Thacher, his daughter Sarah, her daughter Lydia Hornell, her daughter Mary Elizabeth Clarke, her daughter Helen Brown Newton, her son Charles Newton Cone, etc...

My 8th great grandfather Edward Doty was not among the religious separtists who sailed on the Mayflower. His English origins are still unknown. He is believed to have been born between 1597 and 1602. He came on the Mayflower as a servant to Stephen Hopkins and was still a servant in 1623 when the land was divided. He signed the Mayflower Compact so he was probably 18 to 21 in 1620. Nothing is know of his first wife. He married Faith Clarke who came on the ship Francis in April 1634 with her father Thurston Clarke.

Doty has the reputation of being a troublemaker in Plymouth. He fought a sword and dagger duel with another Hopkins servant Edward Leister. Both were wounded. They were sentenced to have their feet and heads tied together for an entire day but were let out after an hour because of their "suffering".

Our descent from Edward Doty is as follows: Edward and Faith (Clarke) Doty, their son Edward Doty, his daugher Mercy Doty, her son Edward Pratt, his son Jeremiah Pratt, his daughter Harriet Pratt, her son Harriet Utley, her son Frederick Naaman Cone, etc....

Stephen Hopkins, my 10th great grandfather, led a very interesting life. Proven descent from Stephen can get you into the Mayflower Society as well as the Jamestown Society. From Hampshire, England, he married his first wife Mary in the parish of Hursley. They had three children Elizabeth, Constance and Giles. Hopkins sailed in the ship Sea Venture bound for Jamestown as a minister's clerk. Unfortunately, the ship was wrecked at Bermuda. The surviving crew and passengers were stranded on the island for ten months eating turtles, birds and wild pigs. 

Six months into this life as a castaway, Stephen and several others organized a mutiny against the ship's captain. The plot was discovered and Stephen was sentenced to death. Pleading with sorrow and tears, he begged for mercy as his death would ruin his wife and children left behind in England. Eventually, the castaways built a small ship and sailed to Jamestown. It is unknown how long Stephen stayed in Jamestown.

Meanwhile in England, Mary Hopkins died and left a probate estate which mentioned their children by name. 

Stephen married Elizabeth Fisher in England in 1617. Their first child Damaris was born about 1618. The entire family sailed on the Mayflower. The others treated him as an expert on Native Americans as he had met some of them in Jamestown. Stephen died in 1644 leaving a will and naming his children. Below is his signature

Our descent from Stephen and Mary Hopkins is as follows: son Giles who also came on the Mayflower, his son Stephen Hopkins, his son Nathaniel Hopkins, his son Nathaniel Hopkins, his son Elisha Hopkins, his daughter Rhoda Hopkins, her daughter Joanna Warner, her son William Warner Cone, his son Frederick Naaman Cone, etc...

Recently, I discovered another Mayflower passenger who is my 11th great grandfather, Richard Warren. He was born about 1585 in county Hertford, England. He married Elizabeth Walker April 14, 1610 at Great Amwell, Hertford. 

Not much is known about Richard's life in America. His wife and five daughters came on the ship Anne in 1623. In Plymouth, they added two sons. All of the Warren children survived to adulthood, married and had large families. At his death, it was written, "this year (1628) died Mr. Richard Warren, who was an useful instrument and during his life bare a deep share in the difficulties and troubles of the first settlement of the Plantation of New Plymouth."

Our descent from Richard and Elizabeth (Walker) Warren is as follows: their daughter Abigail, her daughter Lydia Snow, her daughter Deborah Skiffe, her daughter Keziah Presbury, her daughter Sarah Freeman, her daughter Drusilla Conant, her daughter Rhoda Hopkins, her daughter Joanna Warner, her son William Warner Cone, his son Frederick Naaman Cone, his son Charles Newton Cone, etc...

I am thankful that this group of people, bound by a common experience, braved the ocean voyage and a new, unknown land. I wonder if I would have been as brave.


Cecily Cone Kelly

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Evert Van Eps and the Battle of Oriskany

 Dear Grandfather Evert,

Yesterday, August 6th, was the 243rd anniversary of the Battle of Oriskany. Though I am certain you well remember the day, I think many of your descendants may not know about the Battle or that you were part of it. So here is what we know today... wish you could correct any wrong impressions we have.

Early on the morning of August 6th, 1777, a troop of more than 800 men from the Tryon County (NY) Militia and their allies among the Oneida, were marching along the path through woods leading west from the Oneida Village of Oriskany. The terrain they were navigating was difficult, a rocky wooded ravine. They were ambushed as they were marching to the aide of Fort Stanwix which was under seige by British forces led by Lt. Colonel Barry St. Leger and their Iriquois allies.

The painting above, shows General Herkimer rallying the Tryon County Militia at the Battle of Oriskany. It is on display at the public library of Utica, New York and was executed by Frederick Coffay Yohn.

The American troops were led by Nicholas Herkimer. Herkimer was the son of Palatine German immigrants who had settled in the Mohawk Valley. A veteran of the French and Indian War, he became the head of the Tryon County Committee of Safety and then colonel of the local militia. After a split with the loyalists on the committee, Herkimer was commissioned by the Provincial Congress as a Brigadier General on September 5, 1776. 

Upon learning of the siege of Fort Stanwix, General Herkimer ordered the Tryon County Militia to assemble at Fort Dayton. We assume, that you were with those troops and began the 28 mile march to the west. There must have been a great deal of confusion at the start of the ambush. We know that both you and General Herkimer were wounded in your left legs. You lived to relate the story of your wound to your family and it is included in the Widow's Pension application for your wife.

General Herkimer was not so lucky. Though his leg was dressed on the Battle Field, infection set in on the retreat. His leg was amputated by an inexperienced surgeon and Herkimer died ten days later.

I hope you know that the site of the battle has been long rememberd. The Oriskany Monument was dedicated on August 6, 1884. Though the action was considered a tactical loss, the Battle is considered to have contributed to the colonists' major victory at Saratoga and a coalition of civic and political leaders, descendants of Revolutionary soldiers, historians and artisans were instrumental in constructing the monument. 

Monument dedication August 6, 1884 from

Your name is on the plaque listing the soldiers who fought at Oriskany. We thank you for your service there and your other efforts to secure our nation. More than 40 of your descendants have proven their relationship to you for membership in the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.


your 4th great granddaughter

Cecily Cone Kelly

Our descent from Evert Van Eps is as follows

Evert Van Eps married Mary "Polly" Minthorn; their daughter Jane Van Eps married Richard Hugunin; their son Van Eps Hugunin married Sarah Amanda Gibson; their daughter Mary Elizabeth Hugunin married William Wallace Colby; their daughter Ada Grace Colby married Cecil Oscar Werst; their daughter is my mother Betty Lorraine Werst.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Happy Anniversary Theodore and Mary Jane (Vale) Whitlock

Dear Grandparents,
Yesterday, we are commerated the 166th wedding anniversary of my husband's 3rd great grandparents, Theodore and Mary Jane (Vale) Whitlock.

Image from
Whitlock-Vale record underlined.
Theodore is the oldest son of John Whitlock, who was born about 1809 in Cecil County, Maryland. John married Rachel Ann Mason March 25, 1832 in New Castle County, Delaware. Rachel is the daughter of Matthew Mason and an unidentified mother. John was a Wheelwright and Theodore learned his trade from his father. A wheelwright is someone who made or repaired wheels for carts and wagons.

Mary Jane is the daughter of James Vale (Vail). She appears with him on the 1850 census as a 16 year old living in Middletown, New Castle County, Delaware. There is no appropriately aged female that could be considered her mother on the record.

1850 Census Middletown, New Castle County, Delaware stamped p 196
By 1860, Theodore and family were living in the village for Leipsic about 5 miles inland from the Delaware Bay. He owned real estate worth 300 dollars. In 1860, wheelwrights would earn about $10.64 per week so to have accumulated 300 dollar's worth of real estate meant the family was doing well. It should also be noted that Mary Jane is listed as an adult who can neither read or write, a situation that was not unusual for women at that time.

1860 Census from Little Creek Hundred for Theodore Whitlock and presumed family
image from

The next record we find for the Whitlock family is the 1870 census and there are some problems with the information reported to the Enumerator. Theodore is still a Wheelwright born in Delaware, however the box for having a foreign born father is checked and we know his father was born in Maryland. Mary Jane's name is listed as Sarah J. Some other items seem correct. The four coldest children, ages 18 to 10 are all listed as laborers who can both read and write. It was not uncommon for children to go to work at very young ages usually for their father.

1870 Census record for Theodore Whitlock and presumed family

By 1880, the family is living in West St. George's Hundred, New Castle County. Theodore is still working as a Wheelwright and Mary J is keeping house. There are six children still in the home, the youngest three are in school. I have not included the image as it is very faint.

Death Certificate for Theodore Whitlock, Sr.
Today, we would think that Theodore died fairly young only 58.. The cause of death is listed as appoplexy, that is a cerebral hemorrhage or stroke.
A death certificate for Mary Jane has not been found. The last record we have of her is the 1900 census. She is listed as a widow, living in a rented house in District 63 in Middletown. Also in her household are sons John, age 41 and widowed, Eugene age 34 single, daughter Olive married and grandson Eugene born November 1891. All of them, with the exception of the grandson, can read and write.

1900 Census for Middletown, New Castle County, Delaware District 63
For more than fifty years, Ed and I have been driving through Middletown, Delaware on trips between Burlington County, New Jersey and Annapolis, Maryland. These trips began when Ed was a Midshipman at the U. S. Naval Academy and have continued when we lived in Annapolis and now when our daughter lives in Annapolis. In the beginning, we did not know that Ed had ancestors who had lived in Middletown. Probably, we did not even know that Ed had Whitlock surnamed ancestors.
Still the town always had appeal and we often stopped there for a break.

Ed, Amanda and I stopped in Middletown a couple of years ago and spent a few hours looking in local cemeteries and libraries looking for a death record for Mary Jane and headstones. Unfortunately, we did not have any luck. Hopefully, we'll be back later this summer and find something.

Until then,

For family members
Theodore and Mary Jane (Vale) Whitlock parents of
James Whitlock who married Catherine Shaffer
Catherine "Kate" Whitlock married Edward Everett Hanna
Alice Mae Hanna married William Joseph Kelly
Edward Ebert Kelly* married Pauline Nelda Haas
*family lore has it that Edward Ebert Kelly was supposed to have been named Edward Everett for his grandfather and an error was made on the birth certificate so Edward Ebert he became.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Reverend Thomas Hooker

Dear Grandfather Hooker,

Today, May 31st we are marking the anniversary of your delivery of your most well remembered sermon at Hartford, Connecticut in 1638. Those of us who are students of the origins of the United States of America, consider it to be among those sentiments that led to our Declaration of Independence. Your declaration that "the foundation of authority is laid firstly in the free consent of the people" was passed on by Henry Wolcott, Jr. who was in attendance at church that day and made handwritten notes of your revolutionary statement.

In the 21st century, most have forgotten that in your time, the world was dominated by Kings and Emperors and that normal, everyday people had little, if any say, in their government. Your sermon is credited with providing some of the impetus for Connecticut citizens to ratify, in January 1639, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the first known written constitution to form a basis of government. According to the Office of the State Historian (Connecticut) historian John Fiske wrote 150 years later that the Fundamental Orders "mark the beginnings of American Decomcracy, of which Thomas Hooker deserves more than any other man to be called the father."

So who were you? Some records are lost to history. You were born in Leicestershire, either at Marfield or Birstall on July 5, 1586.

You recieved your first formal education at Dixie Grammar School, a free school in Market Bosworth. Following that you matriculated at Queen's College, Cambridge University in 1608 and then transferred to Emanuel College where you received your BA in 1608 and your MA in 1611. You later studied Divinity there.

Front Court Emanuel College, Cambridge
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0
In 1620, you were preaching at St. George's Church, Esher, Surrey and it was there you earned your reputation as an excellent speaker and were noted for good pastoral care of your parishners.

St. George's Church, Esher where Rev. Thomas Hooker preached circa 1620.
Church was not remodeled during the Victorian era and appears much as it was in Hooker's day.
from Wikimedia Commons
Perhaps it was the reputation you gained in Esher, that led to you being hired as a lecturer and preacher for St. Mary's Church in Chelmsford under John Michaelson. Archbishop William Laud decided to suppress church lecturers in 1629, and you left to run a school at Little Baddow, just to the east of Chelmsford. We don't know exactly when they were able to identify you as a leader for the Puritan sympathizers but we do know that your were summoned to the Court of High Commission and later forfeited your bond and fled to Rotterdam, The Netherlands. These difficulties led you to seek a new start in Massachusetts. Some reports say that your congregation from Chelmsford preceded your journey to Massachusetts and wrote to you in Holland inviting you to come and once again serve as their leader.

The Governor of Massachusett, John Winthrop, recorded the arrival of Griffin in his diary writing,
 “The Griffin, a ship of three hundred tons, arrived (having been eight weeks from the Downs). This ship was brought in by John Gallop a new way by Lovell’s island, at low water, now called “Griffin’s Gap”. She brought about two hundred passengers, having lost some four, whereof one drowned two days before, as he was casting forth a line to take mackerel. In this ship came Mr. Cotton, Mr. Hooker and Mr. Stone, ministers, and Mr. Pierce, Mr. Haynes (a gentleman of great estate), Mr. Hoffe, and many other men of good estates. They got out of England with much difficulty, all places being belaid to have taken Mr. Cotton and Mr. Hooker, who had been long sought for to have been brought into the high commission; but the master being bound to touch at the Wight, the pursuivants attended there, and, in the meantime, the said ministers were take in at the Downs. Mr. Hooker and Mr. Stone went presently to Newtown, where they were to be entertained, and Mr. Cotton stayed at Boston." 
Hosmer, James Kendall ed. (1908). Winthrop's Journal, "History of New England," 1630-1649. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York.

Drawing of Griffin from GENI
Among the passengers were your wife Susanna and children John, Samuel, Sarah, Joanna and Mary.
(For family members, another of my 11th great grandfathers, John Gallop, was also aboard Griffin.

It must have been wonderful for you and your family to be reunited with your friends from Chelmsford who had settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Once you were pastor of your old congreation, you are quoted as saying, "Now I live, if ye stand fast in the Lord."

Plaque honroing Thomas Hooker's Ministry at First Church of Cambridge, Cambridge, MA
I suppose for non-comformists such as yourself and your congregation, the appeal of new land in Connecticut where you could worship exactly as you choose was overwhelming. In 1636, all of you removed to the banks of the Connecticut River where you were among the founders of Hartford.

Today, we are largely kept at home by a viral pandemic. Our understanding is that your death on July 7, 1647 was caused by a prevalent epidemic. Some times have not changed. Your death was considered a great public loss. Gov. Withrop wrote, "That which made the stroke more sensible and grievous, both to them and to all the country, was the death of that faithful servant of the Lord, Mr. Thomas Hooker, pastor of the church of Hartford; who for piety, prudence, wisdom, zeal, learning, and what else might make him serviceable in the place and time he lived in, might be compared with men of the greatest note." (Appletons' Cyclopedia of American Biography, 1600-1889, Vol III, p 251) That is high praise indeed. It is believed that you are buried in Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground and there is a plaque to your memory on the wall in the current building of the chuch you founded. You are not forgotten.

Hartford, Connecticut from

Your 11th great granddaughter

For family members, here is our descent from Thomas Hooker

Rev. Thomas Hooker married Susanna Garbrand
Mary Hooker married Rev.  Roger Newton
Capt. Samuel Newton married Martha Fenn
Susanna Newton married Joseph Plumb
Susanna Plumb married Nathan Nettleton
Anne Nettleton married Samuel Woodruff
Andrew Woodruff married Miranda Orton
Olive Woodruff married Stephen Sanford
Caroline Beckworth Stanford married Reuben Newton
Charles Shepard Newton married Mary Elizabeth Clarke
Helen Brown Newton married Frederick Naaman Cone
Charles Newton Cone married Hazel Bynum Allen, my paternal grandparents.

The two Newton lines do not seem to be related. Though both English, Rev. Roger Newton's line is from Lincolnshire and Reuben Newton's line goes back to Bures St. Mary, Suffolk.

Monday, May 25, 2020

On Memorial Day We Always Remember

Dear Grandparents,
This was first published a few  years ago but it seems proper to repost it on Memorial Day 2022.
Our family has a strong tradition of men and women who have served our country from the Revolutionary War to present day. By and large, they have survived their service to go on to have careers, families, and long lives. Today, as we commemorate another Memorial Day, I want to write about two family members who were not so lucky and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

My 2nd great uncle, Theodore William Clarke, served with the First Nebraska Infantry fighting for the Union during the Civil War. He was an unlikely soldier and most of what we know about him comes from the more than forty letters he wrote home to his mother Lydia Hornell Clarke and sister Mary Elizabeth Clarke Newton. The letters have been carefully preserved and handed down through the generations.

Theodore or "Trit" as he was nicknamed by the family was an unlikely soldier. Born about 1838 in Michigan, he was working for the telegraph company laying wire across Missouri and the Nebraska Territory when the war broke out. On July 15, 1860 he writes home stating, "I am in the employ of the Western Union Telegraph Company. We are engaged in the construction of the Pacific Telegraph running from Saint Louis to San Francisco in California... We're going along the Missouri River as far as Omaha City and then across to Fort Kearney... which is as far as we shall get before cold weather sets in." He is anxious for his little sister Molly, my 2nd great grandmother, to understand where he is and write August 5, 1860 from near Nebraska City, "It is about 60 miles from here to Omaha City and 180 from there to Ft. Kearney. By allowing about 5 miles for every working day you can look on your map and see anytime where I am."

Theodore William Clarke
from tintype in my possession

Though he is busy with work he is not undecided about who should win the Presidential Elections of 1860. Writing September 21, 1860 he states, "Why Lincoln's the man of course and if the territories and Kansas and Nebraska had a voice in the coming election Douglas would hear a noise that would make him stuff his ears with cotton and send him to visit with his mother for the next four years at least."

Trit stays with Western Union until they complete the line to Ft. Kearney and he learns to become a proficient telegraph operator feeling that he is making good money doing so. However, the situation changes when word of the secession of the southern states reaches the Nebraska Territory. He enlists as a 'fifer' or musician with the First Nebraska Infantry explaining to his mother on July 16, 1861, "I can never have it said that I, who have no one dependent on me and nothing but my life to loose, stood back in this hour of our country's peril and remained an inactive spectator."

His words turned out to be prophetic. Theodore spent more than 18 months with the First Nebraska, surviving the Battles of Ft. Donelson, and Shiloh before dying January 7, 1863 in Van Buren, Missouri. Like the majority of the Union casualties, Theodore died not of wounds but of a disease probably  something like pneumonia.
Battle of Fort Donelson fought February 14 through 16, 1862.
Picture created by Kurz & Allison 1887

I wish I could report that family members can visit Theodore's tombstone and place flowers their each memorial day in remembrance of his sacrifice. Unfortunately, his final resting place is unknown. When ever I visit Arlington National Cemetery, I like to imagine that our Trit is one of the 'unknowns' honored there.

My cousin Phelps Wilson Long, Jr. also gave his life, not in a national catastrophe but in a global conflagration. The 1940 Federal Census finds Phelps as a 16 year old, living with his family and attending high school.
His father Phelps and mother Martha Allen Long were running the family department store in Tallahassee, Florida. Little sister Shirley was in the sixth grade. An older cousin Lindsay Pappy also lived in the home.

1940 U. S. census, Leon County, Tallahassee, Ward 2, Florida, population schedule,
Page 2, penned, lines 31-36, house number 1016, Thomasville Rd., digital images ( accessed 24 May 2014);
citing National Archives microfilm roll: T627_597; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 38:3.
After High School, Phelps went off to the University of Florida in Gainesville and joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Probably no one anticipated the changes that would effect the family and nation in the next couple of years.

Phelps is fourth from the right in the bottom row of the  University of Florida
Seminole Yearbook image from

The first year following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor did not go well for American forces. Many young men like Phelps felt an urgency to do their part for the war effort. Phelps enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was sent to New River, North Carolina for training.
Private Phelps W. Long, Jr.
copy of photograph in possession of his sister. Used with permission.

Phelps' unit was eventually sent to the South Pacific to take part in the battle for Bougainville, a strategic island that had been held by the Japanese since 1942. His unit, the 3rd Marine Division was given the task to take the hilly area around the Japanese field artillery. One of the most difficult positions to take was an area called "Helzappoppin Ridge". The Marines attacked there on December 12th. It wasn't until the 18th that coordinated attacks allowed the American troops to capture and control the ridge. Phelps was killed on the 16th.

His death left a huge hole in his tight knit family. My grandmother Hazel Allen Cone (his mother's sister) said that his mother never recovered from his loss. She died a mere five years later at age 47. Talking with his sister Shirley Long Collins last month is Tallahassee, she said that her father never got over Phelps death either. I could see the sadness over of the loss of her brother that remains with Shirley to this day. Phelps' parents eventually paid to have their son's remains returned to Florida for burial.

Hopefully, we will all take time among the picnics, boat rides, cookouts and other festivities to remember those whose sacrifices have secured our country and way of life.

Cecily Cone Kelly

P. S. For family members - Phelps W. Long was my paternal grandmother's nephew and my father's first cousin. Theodore Clarke is also on my paternal side, the brother of my 2nd great grandmother.

P.P.S Since this was written, I've discovered that Phelps Long received a posthumous Silver Star for his attempted rescue of another wounded Marine. His citation reads, "For conspicous gallantry and intrepidity while serving with the Third Marine Division in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Cape Torokina area Bougainville Island, Solomon Islands on December 16, 1943. He "courageously volunteered with another man to carry a stretcher out to a dangerous position in front of his lines and bring back a wounded pharmacist's mate. PFC Long made his hazardous way forward in the face of hostile fire and under extremly difficult conditions, succeeded in placing the injured man on the stretcher. Subsequently, raising himself slightly to move to the rear of the stretcher and pick it up, he was mortally wounded by Japanese sniper fire." The newspaper article also mentions that his parents also "received a letter from their son's company commander, Capt. Robert R. Lamb, USMC expressing tribute to the young Marines gallant bravery."