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Descendants of James Smith of Weymouth

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Moved here from the profile of James Smith since they pertain to many people and times beyond the profile of PGM immigrant James Smith. Smith-32867 08:28, 11 September 2017 (EDT)

Note: These are not my (Vicki McLindsay's) notes. I am just the person who took time to type them up and put them on the internet. My cousin (Ed Jenest) whom I found through my genealogy search provided them to me. Please enjoy reading them and give credit to those who have made them available to all researchers. I have made some clarifications which are noted as footnotes and a “*”. Also note the footnote numbers have changed as I added clarification. Typed on a hot summer day in the beautiful countryside by Ohio, Illinois… a long way from Wessaguscus. (signed) Vicki McLindsay Smith Kessel the great, great, great, great, great granddaughter of Hezekiah. July 27, 2012

These notes were originally written in preparation for a talk about Major Hezekiah Smith at a reunion in Colrain, Massachusetts on Aug 23, 1986. The focus is on Hezekiah’s public life in Colrain and his service during the Revolutionary War. The accomplishments of his sons have been included because their lives were a complement to an extension of their father’s achievements. Unfortunately, I found little information on the women in the Smith family.

Margaret Smith Jones is the real expert on the Smith lineage and her data on James Smith, Hezekiah’s immigrant ancestor, has been complied for your perusal. My special thanks to Nancy Purington, great, great, great, great, great granddaughter of Hezekiah for her help in editing and typing these pages. (signed) Lois Call Stearns October 1988

I. James Smith, Hezekiah’s immigrant ancestor was born in England. He came to Massachusetts Bay before 1639 and lived in Weymouth. James was admitted a freeman*1[1] in 1654. His will was dated June 19, 1673 proved June 22, 1676. The will mentioned his wife Joan, sons James and Nathaniel, his daughter Hannah Parramore and his grandson James, son of Joshua who died in 1669. James died on March 21 or May 2, 1676 (Note: the extensive data on James provided by Margaret Smith Jones has been copied for your perusal.)

II. Joshua Smith the sailor son of James was born about 1637 and died in Weymouth on Nov 17, 1669. He married Ruth Frye, daughter of George Frye in Weymouth on Dec 14, 1668. Ruth was born about 1650 and died in Weymouth on April 28, 1724 at the age of 74. If our dates are correct Ruth was very young when Joshua died leaving her with 11 month old Joshua. Jonathan Torrey was Ruth’s second husband.

III. James Smith, son of Joshua, was born in Weymouth December 14, 1668 and died in Barrington, Rhode Island in 1743/44. On November 10, 1691 he married Elizabeth Holbrook of Scituate. Elizabeth born on February 2, 1672/73 was the daughter of John and Abigail (Pierce) of Hingham.

“On May 30, 1711 James Smith was one of the 29 petitioners, inhabitants of the western end of Swansea to be set off as a separate town. They failed that year and also the next but succeeded November 18, 1717 when Barrington was created, which later proved to be in Rhode Island. In 1722 he was assessor and on committee to settle the highway and in 1724 on committee “to agree with a schoolmaster for 9 months”. On June 26, 1726 it was voted that James Smith keep and board Christian Phippen at the rate of three shillings per week. In 1728 he was made committee “to lay out a burying place and to agree with Ebenezer Alden what to give him for the ground” and February 6, 1738 on a committee to report to Mr. Heath “where he shall preach till the town hath built a meeting house”. Note: this material inserted from materials given to me by Margaret Smith Jones.

IV. Ebenezer Smith son of James was born February 10, 1693 in Weymouth. He married Sarah Smith daughter of Samuel Smith and Rebecca Hoar Smith in Barrington, Rhode Island on June 22, 1721. Sarah was born in Taunton, Massachusetts on December 2, 1693 and died February 9, 1773 in Woodstock, Connecticut. Before moving to Woodstock, Ebenezer lived in Barrington and held several minor public offices. Ebenezer died in Woodstock on May 3, 1777. Both Ebenezer and Sarah are buried on Bungee Hill in Woodstock.

V. Hezekiah, son of Ebenezer was born in Barrington in 1726. In 1730 he moved to Woodstock. He later moved his family to Colrain, Massachusetts where he died on August 19, 1800. Hezekiah married Eunice Morris daughter of Lt. Edward and Bethiah Morris on January 14, 1747. Eunice was born in Woodstock on January 12, 1728 and died in Colrain on November 9, 1807. Hezekiah and Eunice are buried in Colrain’s Branch Cemetery.2[2]

Children of Hezekiah and Eunice (Morris) Smith

  1. Hannah born Aug 28, 1748 died Woodstock Dec 14, 1754
  2. Abigail born Dec 5, 1749 died ? married Charlemont, MA Dec 6, 1781-2nd wife of Major Jonathan Hastings 5 children
  3. Oren born March 10, 1751 died May 14, 1823 married (int) Jan 7, 1778 Keziah Sheppard. Buried North River Cemetery, Colrain MA. 8 children
  4. Hezekiah Jr. born Dec 2, 1752 died Halifax, VT July 4, 1843 married 1 Patty Tupper married 2 Jan 1, 1784 Martha Holmes. Hezekiah and Martha are buried in the Panel Hill Cemetery. 2nd marriage 9 children
  5. Nathaniel born July 9, 1754 died May 11, 1835 married (int) Nov 19, 1778 Mary Thompson. Nathaniel buried in Branch Cemetery, Martha buried in North River Cemetery. 8 children
  6. Hannah born Feb 11, 1756 died Halifax VT July 25, 1831 married Colrain (int) Nov 17, 1778 Capt. James Pennill. Both buried in Panel Hill Cemetery. Possible 3 children. Note: Hannah was a twin of Bette who lived for only a few days. Oren was the father of twins, Calvin the grandfather of triplets, and David the great grandfather of twins.
  7. David born Oct 16, 1757 died Colrain Feb 10, 1816 married 1 (int) Jan 16, 1781 Martha Thompson married 2 Widow Thankful Dennison. All buried in Branch Cemetery. David and Martha 10 children,
  8. Rominer born Aug 13, 1759 died Colrain Feb 10, 1816 married 1 (int) Jan 16, 1781 Hannah Wilkinson of Dedham, MA. Both buried in Branch Cemetery. 5 children
  9. Sabrina born Nov 10, 1762 died Ellisburgh, NY June 9, 1837 married (int) Colrain Jan 22, 1788 Andrew Pennill. 3 children
  10. Calvin born July 11, 1764 died Colrain July 17m 1837 married Colrain Feb 22, 1788, Anna Thompson. Both buried in Branch Cemetery. 10 children
  11. Luther born February 7, 1767 (no further information)
  12. Ester born September 16, 1770 died Dec 29, 1848 married 1801 Samuel Eddy Jr. 1 child possibly more.

Notes: Further information on the Smith Family is available in Woodstock and Colrain libraries.

Hezekiah’s children except for Luther and Ester were born in Woodstock, CT.

Nathaniel, David and Calvin married sisters the daughters of Joseph and Jennet (McClellan) Thompson. Jennet was the sister of Hugh McClellan. It must have been interesting during the Shays’ Rebellion*3[3] – Nathaniel on one side and Uncle Hugh McClellan on the other.

The Smith, Call, Fox, Johnson and Manning families all came from Woodstock, CT at the same time. Moses Johnson was Eunice Smith’s cousin. Thomas Fox and Ephraim Mannin were brothers-in-law of Moses Johnson.

Hezekiah was referred to as Lt. Smith before the Revolutionary War.

David and Oren Smith were appointed to a committee to investigate the “alarming state of our country” in July 1821. 4* [4]

In 1791 David Smith was a selectman in Colrain. Oren was an assessor and Rominer was a tithingman. A tithingman maintained order in church, kept the boys quiet, woke up any member of the congregation who fell asleep during services and inquired about absences from church.

Charles H. McLellan said of Oren, “(He) was somewhat remarkable man, and of his oddities and eccentricities many anecdotes are told. It was he who being asked if he were a blacksmith replied: “Yes, black-Smith, but (I) don’t pound iron.” On another occasion, a young lawyer appeared for him in a case and by his manner provoked from the magistrate a deserved rebuke, to which Smith interposed the remark: “Let him display talent, if he’s got any.”

Hezekiah in Colrain

Hezekiah and Eunice settled in Colrain about 1765. The Smith, Call, Fox and Johnson families all came from Woodstock at approximately the same time settling in the southwestern section of this new township.

Charles H. McClellan in his 1885 Decoration Day speech said, “Hezekiah Smith of Woodstock, Connecticut bout of Joshua Wells of Greenfield, what was know as the Wells tract, where his great great grandson Charles Smith now lives, the deed being dated December 6th, 1764 and the consideration being 93 pounds, 6 shillings and 8 pence”5[5] According to Lois McClellan Petrie’s History of Colrain, the Wells lot was 100 acres of land located to the southwest at the confluence of the North Branch Rivers.6[6]

Later in the 1885 address, McClellan said Hezekiah was “at once prominent in town affairs.” He was selectman in 1768 and appointed to a committee to oversee the construction of a bridge in 1771.

After March of 1753 when the town voted, “That the town will have a school this year,” school was held in either buildings constructed for that purpose or homes of the settlers. In 1773 the annual meeting named the school locations, one of which was the home of Hezekiah Smith. Possibly Hezekiah, Jr. was the schoolmaster.

By January of 1773, the town had become increasingly wary of their differences with their English brethren. These early settlers were and independent people and the new taxes and laws being imposed upon them were a growing irritation. About this time a Committee of Correspondence was appointed to consider and answer communications coming from Boston. Our ancestor was a member of this Committee in both 17743 and 1774. Petrie says the group sent the following letter to the Committee in Boston:

“Although we are an infant settlement, we look upon our liberties as dear to us as if we were the oldest in the Province, and e, with the most sincere regard, acknowledge the vigilance and care discovered by the Town of Boston respecting public rights and liberties and would inform you that this Town do and will heartily concur with you in all salutary, constitutional and proper measures for the redress of those intolerable grievances which threaten us with total distraction. We would ever esteem ourselves obligated to the Town of Boston, the capital of this Province; may she rejoice in perpetual prosperity, may wisdom direct her in all her consultations, may her spirited prudence render her a terror to the enemies of our Constitution, and may every Town and every Colony in America be awakened to a sense of anger; may this land be purged from evil and designing men, that want to bring slavery on a loyal and dutiful people to his Majesty, and my righteousness be exalted, that Gold Almighty may be our God, as He was God of our forefathers, and may we be possessed with virtue, religion and public spirit, which warmed and animated our ancestors. We conclude with expressing our gratitude to all that have been instrumental in bringing to light things that have been hid, and hope by uniting we may stand.”

The Tea Act of 1773 and the subsequent “Boston Tea Part” on December 16, 1773 increased the level of uneasiness felt by our Colrain forefathers. In January of 1774, they met in town meeting to review and pass on a document known as the “Colrain Resolves”.[7]

With, John Woods, John Morrison, Daniel Donelson and Thomas Bell composed the Committee of Correspondence in 1773 and in January of 1774 a very significant town meeting was held. It seems to have been called to consider some communication from the Committee of safety at Boston. Joseph Caldwell was chosen moderator and then the meeting adjourned to Mr. John Woods’ tavern (where Mr. Aaron Lyons formerly lived) to discuss the situation and other matters including probably certain liquids that John woods naturally kept and before they finally adjourned they framed and passed some resolutions which are marvels of their kind and fully justify the estimate I have put upon their authors. Undoubtedly James Stewart and others whose names I have mentioned had a hand in the framing and drafting of this remarkable work and if the same abilities which they have here exhibited still reside among their descendants here or elsewhere they certainly possess talents of a very high order.”

In May of 1775, Hezekiah was named an delegate to the Provincial Congress in Watertwon where Massachusetts voted to cal out an army of 13,600 men and to provide the money for their support. Colrain was asked to furnish five firearms and 17 uniform coats. Around the firs of July, Geroge Washington was received by the Provincial Congress in Watertown. He was on his way to Cambridge where he assumed command of the Army on July 2nd. We have no way of knowing whether Hezekiah was present at this time. 7*[8]

As I looked at materials to document Hezekiah’s involvement in the Revolutionary War, I found myself making some assumptions. I theorized that our ancestor was probably and acquaintance or friend of General Israel Putnam, a major general of the Continental Army.

Putman and Smith lived in neighboring towns in Connecticut and both fought in the French and Indian Wars. At this point, I have been unable to find out the name of the regiment that Putnam commanded during this period, but our ancestor served as 2nd Lieutenant, 6th Company 3rd Regiment of Connecticut troops in 1758 and was 1st Lieutenant in 1761.

I feel certain that I could prove that Hezekiah Smith and Deacon John Call were with Putnam when he served under General James Abercrombie at Fort Ticonderoga. This would explain Smith’s later assignment to the Fort during the Revolutionary War. Deacon John Call who later moved to Colrain with the Smith family mentions in his diary lending money to Lt. Smith and Captain Putnam.

It is interesting to not the approximate ages of Hezekiah and his sons at the star of the war. Hezekiah 49 years, Oren 24 years, Hezekiah Jr. 22 years, Nathaniel almost 21, David 17 ½ , Rominer almost 16, Calvin almost 11. I have no information on the youngest son Luther. At least nine of Hezekiah’s children were unmarried at this time. It is possible that all of them were still at home. His youngest child was under 5 years of age.

At the beginning of the war our ancestor was the fifth generation of his family to live in this new country, his ancestors having been here for nearly 140 years. In contrast anther man prominent in the town at the time Hugh McClellan was born in Ireland and was only 31 years of age. We tend to forget that some of these early patriots had roots back to 1620 and others were recent arrivals.

The Greenfield Gazette’s Centennial Edition (1892) calls Hezekiah a “patriot of the most reliable type”8[9] He was a Major in the 5th Massachusetts Regiment, David Wells, Colonel. David, Hezekiah’s son is often referred to as Major David Smith but I think that this rank was attained as a member of the militia after the war ended.

Early in the war we know that Hezekiah was in Watertown as a delegate to the Provincial Congress. According to the Massachusetts archives his son Oren was also in the Boston are. He enlisted May 1, 1775 eleven days after the Lexington Concord confrontation serving in Captain Robert Oliver’s Company. Col. Ephraim Doolittle’s (24th) Regiment. The same source mentions a receipt for advance pay, signed by said smith and others dated Charlestown Camp, June 27, 1775.9[10]

I feel reasonably that certain that Oren fought in the battle of Bunker Hill. First, we know that he enlisted in May and was stationed at the Charlestown Winter Hill Camp Several sources state that some of Doolittle’s men fought a Bunker Hill. Oren’s company commander, Captain Robert Oliver of Conway was listed in the archives as an “officer belonging to Col. Doolittle’s regt. Who lost articles at the battle of Bunker Hill.” Charles Martyn in his book on General Artemas Ward said, “Of the nine Massachusetts regiments ordered forward in force between 12 and 1 o’clock, five, (Brewer’s, Nixon’s, Little’s, Doolittle’s, Woodbridge’s) were represented on the firing line at the time of the first attack about 3 pm. A book about the Revolutionary War says that part of Doolittle’s men along with those of Coloner William Prescott and others manned the redoubt and breastworks on Breed’s Hill where some of the day’s most intense fighting occurred.10[11] The evidence indicates that Oren was in Charlestown during this period and in all probability was in the middle of the hostilities at Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775.

After comparing the entries in the archives for Smith, Oliver and Doolittle, I assume that Oren was part of Doolittle’s regiment from May until December of 1775. The archives list a “general order dated Headquarters, Cambridge, July 22, 1775; said Doolittle’s regiment assigned to a brigade to be commanded by Brig. Gen. Sullivan and form par of the left wing of the army under Maj. Gen. Lee and to be stationed at Winter Hill.” Sometime during the year, Oren obtained the rank of sergeant. After 1775 I find no other record of Oren participating in the war. Since he did not marry until 1778, where was Oren in 1776 and 1777?

Private Hezekiah Smith (probably Jr.) enlisted August 1, 1775 and served under Oliver and Doolittle. An entry in the archives dated November 18, 1775 indicates that David also served in the same company as his two brothers.

On December 23, 1775 at Winter Hill Oren requested money in lieu of a bounty coat. Hezekiah and David’s requests for bounty coats were dated Winter Hill November 18, 1775. An explanation of the bounty coat from the archives says, “On the 5th of July 1775 a resolve was passed to provide each of the non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the army authorized to be raised under resolve of April 23, 1775, with a coat and 13,000 where ordered to be provided by the towns districts in accordance with a regular apportionment. This gift of a coat was considered in the nature of a bounty and later at the time of their distribution the men in service were permitted to choose between acceptance of the coat or a sum of money in lieu thereof.”

The archives recorded a ballet by the House of Representatives dated January 31, 1776. David Field was chosen Colonel of the 5th Hampshire Co. Regiment of Massachusetts’s militia, David Wells chosen Lt. Colonel and Hezekiah Smith chosen 1st Major. Their appointments “concurred in by Council Feb 8, 1776; reported commissioned Feb 8, 1776.

At this time I have no further information relating to the whereabouts of Major Smith or his sons for the year 1776. Colrain history says that most of the men serving at this time were with the Northern Army or in garrison at Fort Ticonderoga. We do know that Hezekiah was at the fort in early 1777 in charge of the Commissary department. His son, Rominer joined him there before March of that year and stayed with his father until the Americans were forced to abandon the fort on July 5, 1777.

Immediately after Fort Ticonderoga was abandoned in July, Major Smith was joined by tow of his sons, Hezekiah Jr. and Nathaniel. They were active with the Northern Army until August 12. Colrain history states that another son David was one of the men from Colrain answering the Bennington Alarm on August 16, 1777. Since Rominer was probably at the fort when the Americans left, he might still have been in the area, but I cannot find data related to his whereabouts.

Later that fall David and Nathaniel were with Capt. Hugh McClellan’s Co at Saratoga from September 20 to October 18 leaving after the Battle of Stillwater and General Burgoyne’s surrender. Some sources indicate that Major Smith was also at Saratoga and the battle of Stillwater often referred to as the “turning point on the Revolutionary War”, but I cannot document this.

The History of the Connecticut Valley (1879) says of McClellan and his men:

“He (McClellan) was at the battle of Stillwater and was on several occasions chosen to perform perilous duty. After the battle General Burgoyne sent forward a company of artificers protected by a strong guard to prepare a way of retreat. It became necessary for the American commander to have these works so far as they have been completed, destroyed. Capt. McClellan and his company were chosen to perform this duty. Under cover of night they went and destroyed a bridge which the enemy had erected. On their return to the American Camp they passed a house in which Capt. McClellan conjectured a part of the guard sent forward by General Burgoyne might be stationed. He placed his men around the house so that no one could escape and then ordered two of them to fire at the door; upon which a company of 31 men came out. A battle ensued in which all of the enemy were killed save two, who were taken prisoners.” 11[12]

According to Petrie, Major Smith was again stationed at Fort Ticonderoga from late 1777 to 1779. The Massachusetts archives list Hezekiah Smith on “return (list) for clothing, etc. supplied to Smith and others Commissaries, for use of Mass. Troops in service of United States between June 24, 1777 and January 29, 1779.” Another listing states, “Council warrant dated September 20, 1779 for 410 pounds 6 shillings 5 d in favor of said Smith, Commissary for the department at the Northward, on account of a balance due him upon the settlement of his accounts.”

Hezekiah was Colrain’s delegate to the convention that framed the constitution of Massachusetts. This group met first in Cambridge on September 1, 1779. Referring to this convention, Charles McClellan in 1882 said:

“On the 13th of August, 1779, Hezekiah Smith was chosen to go to Cambride on the first day of September next, to help frame a Massachusetts Bay. The convention met on the above date, and continued by adjournments till the second day of March following, at which time it adjourned until the first Wednesday of the ensuing June, and in the meantime the Constitution was submitted to the people for ratification. A meeting was held here on Tuesday, the 16th day of May, and Major Hezekiah Smith as chosen moderator. It was then voted to read the Constitution paragraph by paragraph, or the clause, or clauses, and every person to make the objection, or objections, to any paragraph, or any clause, in said Constitution. This was accordingly done, and amendments proposed, discussed, and voted upon, to nearly every article it contained; after which, Major Smith, Captain McClellan, William Steward, Lieutenant Pennill, Oren Smith, Deacon Lucas, and Deacon McGee, were chosen a committee, to draw up in a proper order the amendments above, and also to make such amendments as they shall think proper on the remainder of the constitution, and to report at an adjourned meeting to be held on the 26th instant. This report under date of May 19, is very full and particular; stating their objections to various articles and giving their reasons therefor and is in every respect a most remarkable production. I wish I might introduce it in here entire, but my space will not permit. They disapproved of the entire third article in the bill of rights, except the first seven lines, and the last clause of said article; and gave as a reason that they thought that the Legislature had not a right to command the subject in matters of religion, unless in his protection. They disapproved of the qualifications fixed for senators (one hundred pounds) and gave as a reason, we consider money as no qualification in this matter. They thought eleven Senators sufficient to constitute a quorum; Reason-to prevent unnecessary cost .They moved to amend the 2nd article of the 2nd chapter, regarding the qualification for Governor; that the sum of one thousand pounds be not considered a qualification and that the word Protestant be substituted instead of Christian. Reasons,- We could wish the important chair to be filled with qualifications preferable to that of money; and 2nd We are a Protestant people. In the 2nd Article of Chapter 6th; We move that an addition be made to this article; that no person be suffered to hold any office in of said Commonwealth. Reason,- A person who has acted the traitor in this important matter is not to be trusted.”

The First Baptist Church of Colrain was organized in September of 1780 with 18 members, 9 of which were members another Smith family. They were Hezekiah and his wife Eunice, Oren and his wife Kezia, Nathaniel, Hezekiah, JR., David, Calvin, and Esther. Hezekiah was the church’s first clerk. It is interesting to note the absence of Hezekiah and Eunice’s unmarried daughters, Sabrina and Abigail. Also Nathanield’s wife, Mary, and Rominer were not original members of the church. (Note: Abigail was born in December of 1749. She would have be 30 years old at this time. She married Hastings in 1781. It is possible that Abigail was married before she married Hastings. It seems strange that the 1st daughter of a colonial family was unmarried by the age of 30, though there is no record of her being married Hastings.)

The period between 1781 and 1787 is often referred to as Shays Rebellion. Petrie says: “The curious marginal note to American history known as Shays’ Rebellion was of major significance to the town of Colrain. No other town in the area involved was more united in its early action and more bitterly divided in its later opinions and allegiances. Yet in no other town was the rift between kinfolk and neighbors more quickly healed and forgotten… The general pardon issued in March of 1787 required every man who had taken active part in the rebellion to appear before a justice of the peace and take the oath of allegiance. Col. McClellan, as Colrain’s justice of the peace, administered the oath to sixty-one of his fellow townsmen but the remaining twenty-four journeyed to Heath to make their submission to a magistrate beyond the border, a possible indication that Colrain'’ upholders of law and order were not yet wholly forgiven for their transgressions.” Hezekiah and Nathaniel took the oath in Colrain on March 21, and Rominer took the oath in Heath on March 23, 1787.

Our ancestor’s greatest legacy was his “spirit of public service.” He served his adopted town well: two terms as selectman, delegate to the Provincial Congress, member of the Committee of Correspondence for two years, soldier of the Revolution, delegate to the convention that drafted the Massachusetts Constitution, instrumental in establishing one of the town’s churches, as well as other noteworthy contributions.

Hezekiah’s sons followed in their father’s footsteps. David had a record of 23 years as a Colrain selectman, Calvin served in that post for 8 years. Brothers Oren and Nathaniel were also selectmen. David Calvin were representatives to the General Court, David serving for 4 years in that position. Between 1768 , Hezekiah and his descendants gave more than 75 years of service as selectmen of Colrain.

McClellan in 1885 called the sons of Hezekiah “men of distinction.” Later grandsons, great grandsons and succeeding generations have followed the “family tradition” of public service first started by Major Hezekiah in 1768.

James Smith of Weymouth

James Smith and his family were among the earliest settlers of Weymouth in the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. The family included James, his wife Joan, James Jr., Hannah, Joshua and Nathaniel (last of which was born at Weymouth on June 8, 1639).12[13]

The story of Weymouth begins with sixty men who sailed from England in the “Charity” and the “Swan” to establish a trading post as Wessaguscus on Massachusetts Bay. They landed on the east bank of the Fore River in August 1622, and built rough cabins for the settlement which after Plymouth, was to be the oldest in New England.13[14]

The geographical setting of Wessaguscus provided the settlers with harbors for ships and natural positions for defense of their Colony from attacks of the Indians. About a mile to the east of the Fore River a steep hill rose abruptly from the bay to serve as a beacon for early navigators and a lookout for the settlers. The land to the east of the hill formed the neck of the bay on the west and the Back River on the east.14[15]

The history of Wessaguscus as a separate colony ends in 1630 with the arrival of the Winthrop Fleet. Governor John Winthrop had left England with a thousand Puritans to escape persecution for refusal to worship according to the forms of the Church of England. They came to Massachusetts Bay to erect a Puritan colony which was to serve as a refuge for Puritanism. They brought with them the Charter of the Massachusetts Bay Company which contained a grant of territory more extensive than the present Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a delegation of powers to govern the present and future inhabitants of the Colony.15[16]

The General Court promptly extended it’s jurisdiction over Wessaguscus. They taxed Wessaguscus commencing September 28, 1630; they granted permission to some people from Weymouth, England “to settle there” on July8, 1635; they name of Wessaguscus to Weymouth on September 3, 1635; they added Grape Island to the town of Weymouth on December 7, 1636; and on May 10, 1643 they included Weymouth in the newly erected County of Suffolk.16[17]

The early settlers of Weymouth view with apprehension the expanding power of the Massachusetts Bay Colony with its capital at Boston. They regarded this development as a threat to their liberties, and for that reason many did not immediately become freemen of the Colony. James Smith was one of them, for he was not admitted as a freeman until May 3, 1654.17[18]

Weymouth was without formal local government until the town meeting of November 26, 1651 at which time a resolution was adopted which made provision for electing selectmen and defining their duties. They were to make orders, issue rates and authorize the expenditure of money.18[19] James Smith was elected to serve as a selectman for 1652, 1656, and 1663.19[20]

With the evident purpose of recognizing the property rights of early settlers, the General Court on April 1, 1634 ordered all towns in the Massachusetts Bay Colony to make a survey showing the area and dimensions of the lands occupied by their respective inhabitants. Weymouth was find five shillings on December 3, 1639 for being delinquent and did not comply with the order until 1642 when a list was prepared containing the names of the early proprietors and the descriptions of their lands.20[21] As no basic surveys or recording systems were available to early proprietors, the Weymouth survey described their lands by natural boundaries, the names of their neighbors and in the case of those who were not original proprietors by the names of the former owners.

The survey described the lands of James Smith as follows.

“Three on the Easterneck bounded on the East with the highwafe the land of Clement Briggs on the West on the North with the se on the south with the land of William Hayard.”

“One acre of Salt Marsh bounded with the sea on the East of the sea on the West the land of William Pitty on the North of James Ludin on the South.

As the descriptions make no reference to a former owner, it is probable that James Smith was the first settler and the original proprietor. 21[22]

The location of his land also marks James Smith as one of the earliest proprietors of Weymouth. The first land to be occupied was that which spread along the short of the Bay including the land at the base of the hill, on the neck and along the peninsula. The first description is easily identified as having been on the neck, while the marsh, bounded with the sea on the east and the sea on the west was evidently on the peninsula.22[23]

By acquiring property from his neighbors and participating from time to time the distributions of undivided land by the town, James Smith became one of the large landholders of Weymouth. He purchased land from Clement Briggs, James Ludlin, James Britton, Arthur Warrin and Clement Weaver. He participated in the 1651 distribution of great lots on Fresh Pond and Great Pond and in the firs and second divisions of the 1663 distribution. He acquired a part of Grape Island in 1673.23[24]

James Smith like the great majority of the early settlers was a farmer.24[25]

He made his home at the base of the great hill, which then was called Smith’s Hill after the family.25[26]

Although the church of his baptism is unknown, it is certain that James Smith was a member of the Congregational Church in 1654, when he was admitted as a freeman. He later became active in the Congregational Church of Weymouth and in 1664 was appointed to a committee to determine how the residence of Rev. Thos. Thatcher was to be placed at the disposal of his successor, the Rev. Samuel Torrey.26[27]

During his last days James Smith lived in Boston, where he died on May 2, 1676.27[28] He left a will dated March 11, 1673 in which he stated that he was “sick in body but of good and perfect memory.”

The will was published at Weymouth on June 19, 1673 before James and Nathaniel Humprey as witnesses and was admitted to probate at Boston on June 22, 1676 before Governor John Leverett and Assistant Edward Tyng. 28[29] The testator left his entire estate to his wife Joan for life. After the death of Joan he devised to his sons, James Jr. and Nathaniel and his grandson James, son of his deceased son Joshua each and undivided one third interest in his great lots, his lots in the first and second divisions and his land on Grape Island to his sons James Jr. and Nathaniel, each an undivided one half interest in his land upon the Easterneck and the Hill; to James Jr. the land he purchased from Jonathan Briggs and James Ludlin: to Nathaniel all of his housing with the meadow and swamp adjoining; to James, son of Joshua, the land he has purchased from Arthur Warrin and Clement Weaver.

The devises to James Jr. and Nathaniel were charged with the payment of twenty pounds to each to their sister Hannah Narramore while the devise to James, son of Joshua was charges with the payment of twenty pounds to grandchildren..

Although the early lives of James and Joan Smith will of their birth. They were among the earliest arrivals in the colony that was settled by the English. They remained in the colony during a period in which it was under the jurisdiction of the crown of England. Their names were English. They lived n a community in which English was spoken and the will of James Smith was written and signed in English.

James Smith was survived by his wife, Joan, his sons James Jr. and Nathaniel, his daughter Hannah and his grandson James, son of Joshua.29[30]

1 JAMES SMITH (c. 1610 ENG - d. 1676 Weymouth MA) m Joanne Unknown = 3 SONS
-2 JAMES (1634 -1692) m Mary Brandon = NO Sons, 6 ds
-2 JOSHUA (1633/44 -1669 MA) m Ruth Frye = 1 Son
--3 James (1668 -1745) m Elizabeth Holbrook = 3 Sons
---4 Ebenezer (1693 -1777 MA) m Sarah Tiffany = 3 Sons
.---5 Ebenezer (1722 MA -1777 CT) m Dorothy Childs = 7 Sons
..---6 Ebenezer (1748 MA?-1825 CTVR) m. 1772 CTVR Margaret Bowen = at least,
...---7 Ebenezer (1787 CTVR - ?)


  1. "The prerequisites for freemanship were not always the same. In some clerical companies the more prominent of the settlers were freeman by virtue of the fact of having made significant financial contributions to the company. Others were very stringent in their requirements, emphasizing consistent demonstration of Puritan virtues, a declaration of faith, and Church membership. Joining a Congregational church in the first generation was not an easy thing to do. After 1635, a candidate had to stand before a highly skeptical group of elders and satisfy them in three respects: adherence to Calvinist doctrines, achievement of a godly life, and demonstrable experience of spiritual conversion." http://www.dowdgen.com/dowd/document/henry.html (Located in Footnotes for a personal genealogy of the Dowde family)
  2. History of Woodstock, Connecticut-Genealogies of Woodstock Families. Plimpton Press, Norwood, Mass. :Clarence Winthrop Bowen, PhD, LL.D, 1930 Note: Colrain and Woodstock histories differ on the date of Eunice and Hezekiah’s marriage. Woodstock lists it as January 14, 1747/48. Colrain as December 19, 1747. Colrain lists Eunice’s mother as Bethia Drake, it should be Bethia Peake. Eunice’s grandfather Jonathan Peake settled in Woodstock in 1687. Eunice’s family on the Morris side were prominent in Woodstock history. Her great grandfather was a leader among the first settlers in the town. Her grandfather was a selectman*(The board of selectmen is commonly the executive arm of the government of New England towns in the United States. The board typically consists of three or nine members, with or without staggered terms. Three is the most common number, historically) for 24 years between 1691 and 1722 and her father was one of a committee of three to negotiate with the Massachusetts and Connecticut commissioners regarding the Woodstock boundaries.
  3. Shays' Rebellion was an armed uprising that took place in central and western Massachusetts from 1786 to 1787. The rebellion was named after Daniel Shays, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War and one of the rebel leaders. The rebellion started on August 29, 1786. It was precipitated by several factors: financial difficulties brought about by a post-war economic depression, a credit squeeze caused by a lack of hard currency, and fiscally harsh government policies instituted in 1785 to solve the state's debt problems. Protesters, including many war veterans, shut down county courts in the later months of 1786 to stop the judicial hearings for tax and debt collection. The protesters became radicalized against the state government following the arrests of some of their leaders, and began to organize an armed force. A militia raised as a private army defeated a Shaysite (rebel) attempt to seize the federal Springfield Armory in late January 1787, killing four and wounding 20. The main Shaysite force was scattered on February 4, 1787 after a surprise attack on their camp in Petersham, Massachusetts. Scattered resistance continued until June 1787, with the single most significant action being an incident in Sheffield in late February, where 30 rebels were wounded (one mortally) in a skirmish with government troops. The rebellion took place in a political climate where reform of the country's governing document, the Articles of Confederation, was widely seen as necessary. The events of the rebellion, most of which occurred after the Philadelphia Convention had been called but before it began in May 1787, are widely seen to have affected the debates on the shape of the new government. The exact nature and consequence of the rebellion's influence on the content of the Constitution and the ratification debates continues to be a subject of historical discussion and debate.
  4. Note: where are our ancestors when we need them now!
  5. History of Colrain. Greenfield, Massachusetts: Charles H. McClellan, 1885. This was the printed text of Mr. McClellan’s speech given on Decoration Day (Memorial Day) 1885.
  6. History of Colrain, Massachusetts. Lois McClellan Patrie, 1974.
  7. http://www.pasttimespresent.com/ColrainResolves.pdf Accessed June 18, 2016. It is unknown to me who placed/typed this document.
  8. Actually we should believe he was there! He was involved in every other situation!
  9. Greenfield Gazette Centennial Edition. Greenfield, Massachusetts. 1892
  10. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War – A compilation from the Archives. Wright and Potter, Boston Massachusetts. Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1896.
  11. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War – A compilation from the Archives. Wright and Potter, Boston Massachusetts. Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1896.
  12. History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts. Philadelphia. Louis H. Everts, 1879. (Volume II).
  13. Nathaniel Smith son of James Smith borne 8 4 1639. This entry appears in early seventeenth century script on a page of the “Original County Record of Births, 1633- 1662. The book bound in black morocco its pages preserved in silk is in the custody of the City Register 1005 City Hall Annex, Boston.
  14. Nash: Historical Sketch of Weymouth. 2-4; History of Weymouth, I, 26-28.
  15. Nash, 13: History of Weymouth, I, 113
  16. The charter of “The Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in Newe England” delegated power “to make laws and ordinances for the good and welfare of the said Company and for the government and ordering of the inhabit the same as to them from tyme to tyme shalbe thought meete.” *typo exactly as written on document. Mass. Col.Rec. I, 12; Andrews: Colonial Period of Amer. His., I, 390. The delegation of power was sufficiently broad to permit its extension to all exigencies as they arose through the normal process of judicial interpretation. Hon. Joel Parker: The First Charter and the Religious Legislation of Mass. Press of John Wilson & Son, Boston (1869)
  17. Mass. Col. Rec., I 149, 156, 191 and II , 38.
  18. John and James Smith were admitted as freemen on the same day, May 3, 1654. Mass. Col. Rec., IV, Part II, 460. Although the record does not so state, they can be identified as John and James Smith both of Weymouth. John Smith was fined for conspiring to hinder the established church of Weymouth, March 13, 1638. Mass Col. Rec., I, 252. He was allotted land by the Town of Weymouth, December 17, 1658. Hist. Of Weymouth, II, 508.
  19. His. Of Weymouth, II, 503
  20. Hist. Of Weymouth, II, 503, 8, 11
  21. Miss. Col. Rec., I, 116, 266: Suffolk Deeds, I, 10: Hist. Of Weymouth, I, 184-198.
  22. “Mr. Steven Winthrope was chosen to record things.” Mass. Col. Rec., I, 137. The first Weymouth deed was recorded Jan. 28, 1640. Suffolk Deeds, I, 16, Hist. Of Weymouth, I, 188.
  23. Hist.. of Weymouth, I, 128, 9
  24. Hist. Of Weymouth, II, 199-201: II 522
  25. Hist. Of Weymouth, II 950. The inventory of the Estate of James Smith includes his dwelling house and barn, his cattle and sheep. Suffolk Probate Records, IXX, 39
  26. The Hill may also have been know as Jeffery’s Hill after Jeffery Staple. Hist. Of Weymouth, I, 194. It is so called by Joan Smith in the inventory of her husband’s estate. Suffolk County Probate Records, XII, 39.
  27. Hist. Of Weymouth, II, 514.
  28. The inventory of the estate of James Smith lists “at Boston” such household articles as three brass pans, a brass skillet, a pestol and morter, a pot hanger and pot, four pewter dishes, a warming pan, a feather bed and bolster, two pairs of sheets, a bead stead and cords, an old carpet and two boxes. Suffolk Probate Records, XII, 39, Bowen, Hist. Of Woodstock, VIII, 309.
  29. Suffolk Probate Records, VI, 149.
  30. The addition to the Savage. Gen. Dic, in which Porter states that Joan, wife of James Smith, died May 2, 1659 is in error. New. Eng. Hist & Gen. Reg., XLVI, 188. Joan was named executrix in James will dated Mach 11, 1673 and made oath to the inventory of his estate on June 22, 1676. Suffolk Probate Records, VI, 149; XII, 39. Joan was probably mistaken for the first wife of James Smith Jr.

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