Categories: Hartford County, Connecticut Colony.
- THE AMERICAN GENEALOGIST
- THE REV. DANIEL ELMER OF NEW ENGLAND AND NEW JERSEY
- By George E. McCracken, Ph.D.
- Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa
- The abstracts of wills printed in the New Jersey Archives were usually made by competent persons, but it is never safe to assume even that all the genealogical data in a will has been copied or copied accurately. The present article is the result of discovering an abstract which seemed to go counter to other ev1dence, with the result that during a visit to Trenton the original will was examined with considerable profit.
- Brief accounts of the Rev. Daniel Elmer (l690·1755) appear in Stiles' Ancient Windsor, 2:234, 837; Burt's First Century of the History of Springfield, 1:563; the New England Historical Register, 35:340 f.; Richard Webster's History of th Presbyterian Church in America (Philadelphia, 1854), 403f.; Franklin B. Dexter's Yale Biographies, 1:110-111; and in Brookes More's Genealogy of the Elmer and More Families (1930). The last reference I have not seen: the book has been criticized to me but, so far as I can tell from the description, the Daniel Elmer sketch is substantially sound though not without error.
- Webster places Daniel Elmer's birth in Fairfield, Conn., but no confirmation is to be found in Mr. Jacobus' Families of Old Fairfield, and Stiles identifies our man as Daniel3 Elmer (Samuel2, Edward1), an identification we have no reason to doubt though no attempt has been made to verify it. Daniel Elmer was, however, one of three graduates of Yale, then at Saybrook, in the class of 1713, and immediately moved to Springfield, Mass., where he taught a grammar school and studied theology under the pastor, John Woodbridge. On 13 Dec. 1713 he married there Margaret Parsons, born at Springfield, 19 Sept. 1693, daughter of Ebenezer Parsons and Margaret Marshfield [NEHGR 1:271]. For a brief period in 1714 and 1715 Mr. Elmer preached at Brookfield, and Stiles claims that in 1716 and 1717 he was at New Haven, but he left no trace in the vital records of either town. Where Daniel was living from 1715 to 1727 was never discovered by Mr. Webster, whose work was thorough, -his book contains a great deal of very valuable information, far more on genealogy than a modern counterpart would include. Dexter states that Daniel lived until 1724 in Westborough, Worcester Co., Mass., and that he preached there, though not as the ordained minister, for some years; daughters were born there in 1718 and and 1722. Burt claims that in 1724 the family returned to Springfield, and thence removed to Newark, N. J. They visited the old home in Windsor sufficiently to have another daughter baptized there in 1725. Neither Mr. Webster nor I have found evidence of the Newark stay, which is the more surprising in his case as he covers all Presbyterian churches quite thoroughly.
- By 1728 Daniel Elmer was pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Fairfield, Cumberland Co., N. J., where he henceforth lived. At the declaration of the Confession in 1729 he was the only minister not ready to act but, given time for reflection, he accepted the Confession for himself in the next year. At the separation in 1741 into the Old Light and New Light factions, a schism which was to endure until 1869, he and his elder Jonathan Fithian had left the meeting before the protest was introduced, but later adhered to the Old Light side. In September 1754 there was a factional dispute in the Fairfeld congregation which was about to be investigated by visit of ecclesiastical authority when the controversy was settled by the pastor's death on 14 Jan. 1755, aged 65. He was buried, together with his second wife at the Old New England Town cemetery at Fairton, Cumberland County. Her gravestone gives her first name as Susanna, died 14 Nov. 1784, aged 64 years 8 months, but, as we shall see, she had subsequently had two other husbands.
- The will which is in Cumberland Wills, Book 8, p. 95, shows ownership of much land, and mentions the following persons in this order: sons Daiel Elmer, Theophilus Elmer, Theodorus Elmer, Silvanus Elmer, Samuel Elmer, the last two minors; wife Susanna Elmer; daughter Elizabeth, surname not stated; “the rest of my children unmarried, viz: Theodorus, Theodosia, Silvanus, Rumolla, and Samuel, and in this bequest daughter Elizabeth is to have a double portion. Witnesses: Thomas Harris, Ephraim Harris, Ruth Harris.
- In the printed abstract in N. J. Archives [Wills, 3:105], son Daniel and daughter Theodosia are completely overlooked. The actual will is not the document signed by Daniel Elmer but an official contemporary copy thereof, and it is clear that in the bequest to Mary's children something has been omitted. The bequest may have been as follows: “daughter Mary's children to David Ogden, Jason and Elmer Ogden,” but I am not sure of her husband's first name: David is the name given to this man by Stiles.
- The first wife, Margaret Parsons, died in Fairfield, probably as said about 1730, after which Daniel Elmer is regularly credited with having married Susanna Webster, sometimes called a widow. The source for the surname is unknown to me, but it is an error. Daniel Elmer married Susanna Fox at the First Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, on 8 February 1738/9. She was probably that Susanna Fox who was baptized at the same church on 12 May 1712, daughter of the Philadelphia baker Justinian Fox by his wife Elizabeth Yard, daughter of the bricklayer Joseph Yard and his wife Mary ______. The chief doubt about the identification of Justinian's daughter with Daniel's wife is the discrepancy of some eight years between the baptismal date and the age at death. Daniel Elmer cannot have married a hypothetical younger Susanna, also daughter of Justinian but born about 1720, for Justinian Fox himself was dead by 16 Jan. 1718/19. Justinian Fox was born at Plymouth, England, baptized there at Charles Church, 19 Dec. 1673, son of Edward Fox by his second wife Mary Ball who had been married at St. Andrew's, Plymouth, on 25 May 1667. Justinian Fox arrived at Philadelphia on the ship Desire, 23 June 1686, from Plymouth, England, listed among the servants of John Shellson and Naomie, his wife, not as a servant of another family also on the same ship, James Fox and Elizabeth his wife [Pa. Mag. of Hist. & Biogr., 8:338 f.]. The latter foxes were Friends but there is no evidence thaat Justinian was one, though his son Joseph Fox did become a Friend. The Yard family into which Justinian Fox married and his own children, except for son Joseph, show very close connections with the Presbyterian church, which is one of the reasons for accepting the identification of the baptismal record with the marriage, despite the discrepancy in age.
- In any case, the widow of Daniel Elmer married, as Susanna Elmer, by New Jersey license dated 6 Jan. 1758, David Westcott or Wescote, of the township of Fairfield, Cuberland Co., N. J. He died 16 July 1772 in his 57th year leaving a will dated 29 May 1772, probated 12 Aug. 1773 [Wills, 5:572], in which, besides his wife Susanna, he names his children David, Abinadab, John Rhoda, and Rachel, the last one being under fourteen. As Rhoda is not said to be under fourteen, we conclude that she had been the child of an earlier wife; since Rachel, even if almost fourteen, could hardly have been born before the marriage in 1758, we conclude that she was the sole child of David and Susanna. Stiles had somewhere learned of this second marriage but got the surname as Wolcott. Then, after his book was in type, he became suspicious of this and decided to delete the marriage, which he did in the corrigenda on page 837: delete “ who subsequently married a Wolcott,” but before going to press, he had better information and actually printed on page 236 the correct name.
- Susanna married third, but as his second wife, in or after 1774, Captain Thomas Harris of the same place, who died 27 Apr. 1783, leaving a will dated 6 Feb. 1781, probated 17 Mar. 1784 [Wills, 6:179 f.]. In this he names, besides his wife Susanna, his children as follows: eldest son Ephraim; [a second son d. v. p., having had by his wife who was Ruth Lawrence the following children, all named in the will], Isaac, a minor under 19, Ruth, Sarah, Abigail, and Barshaba; sons James and Amariah; and five living daughters, -Ruth Bower, Sarah Clark, Barshaba Brooks, and Judeth Harris; witnesses; Ruth Elmer, Thephilus Elmer, and others. As Susanna could not have been less than 54 when she married, if the gravestone is correct, and may have been as old as 62, if the baptismal record be accepted, we think it improbable that any of Thomas Harris's children were also hers.
Children of Daniel Elmer by Margaret Parsons:
- Susanna Harris, late of Fairfield Township, Cumberland County, dies intestate; administration bond of Theodosia Anderson dated 23 Nov. 1784, with Ephraim Harris as fellow-bondsman [Wills, 6:179; Pa. Genealogical Mag., 17:82]. An inventory dated 20 Nov. 1784 mentions receipts from Abigail Thompson (see below), Jeremiah Harris (stepson), Victorina Bateman (daughter), William Bateman and Richard Parker (sons-in-law), nd Rachel Parker (daughter). It is possible that Abigail Thompson was the widow of Daniel Elmer the younger, who could have remarried. On the Harris family see the article bearing the names of Walter Lee Sheppard, Jr., and Lewis D. Cook, The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, 17: 81 f., 104. Correspondence with both of these writers has been profitable.
Children of Daniel Elmer by Susanna Fox:
- Daniel, b. Springfield, Mass., 25 Oct. 1715; d. 2 May 1761 aet. 45; m. Abigail Lawrence, according to Stiles. Webster says they were the parents of Dr. Jonathan and Gen. Ebenezer Elmer.
- Margaret, b. Westborough, Mass., 23 May 1718; m. before 1753, (Edward?) Loomis.
- Mary, b. Westborough, Mass., 8 Jan 1771/2; d. probably by 1773; m. (David?) Ogden and in 1753 had sons Jason and Elmer Ogden.
- Elizabeth, bapt. 21 Mar. 1724/5, Windsor, Conn.; according to Stiles, d. unm. In 1793 at Philadelphia.
- Ruhamah, m. by New Jersey license dated 29 Dec. 1747, Ephraim Dayton; by 1753 had a child and probably died.
- Theophilus, above 21 in 1753, b. 1729 according to Stiles, and m. # Theodosia Sayre; witnessed stepfather's will in 1781, together with a Ruth Elmer who, if not his wife, may have been wife to one of his younger brothers.
- Theodorus, above 21 in 1753.
Child of David Wescott and Susanna (Fox) (Elmer):
- Theodosia, b. ca. 1740; m. by New Jersey license dated 1 Aug. 1761, James Anderson; d. s. p., testate, Deerfield Township, Cumberland Co., N. J., will dated 20 July 1785, probated 11 Apr. 1786 (Wills, 6:18), naming sisters Rumolla Elmer, Victorina Bateman, and Rachel Parker.
- Silvanus, minor and unm. In 1753.
- Rumolla, unm. In 1753, d. 1809 aet. Over 60, unm., Bridgeton, N. J.
- Samuel, minor and unm. In 1753.
- Victorina, b. posthumously, 1755; m. (1) Edward Saunders; (2) by N. J. license dated 15 Aug. 1780, William Bateman. She had children by Saunders: Edward and Elmer; by Bateman: Aaron, Silvanus, Susanna, Harriet
- Rachel, b. after 1758, under 14 in 1772; m. before 1784, Richard Parker. 
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