Category Archives: family

Mother’s Day Memory Jar for Mother

A fellow genealogy blogger, Jeanne Bryan Insalaco, recently blogged about a Memory Jar that she made for her mother. With Mother’s Day coming up, it seems like a particularly timely idea. Jeanne wrote down her memories of their past and put the individual slips of paper in a jar. She meant for her mother  to read one per day–but of course her mother couldn’t wait and read all of them right away.

My mother would have done the same thing. Unfortunately, she is no longer here to share these memories.  Thanks goodness we had opportunities for long talks when she was in her last decade. Here are a few of the things I remember about my other, Harriette V. Anderson Kaser. I have organized them by different places that we lived.

Ames Iowa

My earliest memories for the memory jar come from when I was nearly three years old in New Philadelphia, Ohio, but other than stories mother told me, I don’t have any specific memories of mother in New Philly.

I do remember the little house in Ames, Iowa where we lived for a short time during World War II. I was a few months short of four years old. Mother was teaching me to read.  She probably needed to do some teaching, because she had set aside her teaching career to follow Daddy to Iowa for his job, and she was VERY bored.

I remember the thrill of recognition of squiggly lines become letters and words and stories about Dick and Jane and Sally.

King Avenue, Columbus Ohio

I remember when mother got her first hearing aid.  We were living in a two-story brick house that in its grander days in the early 20th century had served as the home of managers of a beer company.

She knew the hearing aid was inevitable.  She had inherited a hearing problem from her father, Daddy Guy, who wore a hearing aid. His was a big clumsy thing (I was going to say the size of an early transistor radio, but some of my readers would not relate to that) with a visible wire to his ear. Mother’s Beltone was smaller than a pack of cigarettes and she wore it clipped to her bra and hid the wire in the bun on the back of her head. Much later she had the in-ear type, which is what I now have.

In the same house, when I was about nine years old,  I learned that a third child would join my brother and me.  My parents cheerfully announced the expected new arrival, but I had overheard their earlier conversations, so it was not a surprise. Not only that, but I did not greet the news with the enthusiasm they wanted. Not because I didn’t want another baby in the house, but because mother was 42 and I had heard their conversations worrying about the dangers of pregnancy at an advanced age. The memory jar reminds me that worry goes both ways between mother and child.

Loretta Avenue, Columbus Ohio

Next my memory jar turns to the late 1940s. I remember soft summer nights with my mother sitting with her friend Leona Culshaw on the back steps of our house, overlooking the lawn and gardens my dad had planted. Kids ran up and down the streets or alleys until it got too dark to see. Fireflies blinked, garlic smells drifted from the kitchen of the Italian house next door. It would have been idyllic, except to me as a vulnerable pre-teen, their conversations about cancerous ovaries and failing hearts and other icky things made me nauseous.

Again, mother had taken a leave from her teaching career, and filled her time with doing crafty things, which she loved. For PTA (as a parent rather than a teacher) at Linden Elementary School, she took charge of the organization’s scrapbook.  During later years, she made creative centerpieces for ladies’ luncheons at church or at her golf club. And when I married, she created the headpieces worn by my bridesmaids and put her creative touch to other parts of the wedding.

Killbuck, Ohio

We had lived in Killbuck off and on before, but our longest stint took place in a hundred-year-old house on the Schoolhouse Hill.  I attended eighth grade through high school there, so of course the memory jar is packed with memories–but being a teen at the time, the memories are pretty self-centered.

Mother sewed, despite her full-time teaching jobs, a succession of formals for me.  I belonged to Rainbow Girls (a girl’s auxiliary to the Masonic Lodge) and needed to wear a formal every four months.  Of course it would be out of the question to wear the same dress twice!  Like a wizard, mother would take off a ruffle here, add an overskirt or shawl-like top there and give new life to an old dress.  I loved her creativity and all my “new” dresses.

Hilliard Ohio

The family moved to Hilliard, a suburb of Columbus, in the summer of 1956 to relieve Daddy of the commute to Columbus and to be closer to Ohio State University, which I would attend that fall.  Mother immediately got a job teaching at Hilliard High School and the family stayed put long enough for my brother and sister both to graduate from Hilliard.

Mother’s history of loving word games predates the move to Hilliard, but I relate her love of Scrabble to that time.  She was a formidable opponent, because she would make up words and who could argue with an English teacher?  If you dared say the word did not appear in the dictionary, she would scoff that dictionary was no good.

After she retired from teaching, she started every day with the Word Scramble found on the comic page of the newspaper, while Daddy did the crossword puzzle.

Tucson Arizona–the Final Years

After retirement, Daddy and Mother moved to Scottsdale Arizona, following her migrating children west. There they played golf and enjoyed apartment living.  When their health began to fail, they joined Ken and me in Tucson living first in an independent living apartment, and after Daddy died, mother lived in a nursing home.

The transition was made easier for her by her love of poetry.  She had to have a bookshelf of poetry books beside her bed, and took joy in letters from old students about how she had planted a love of poetry in them.

Like all aging people, she liked to reminisce, and we went through her old picture albums and she told me stories.  How she loved cars! One day she told me about every car she had owned, starting when she was twenty-one years old.  She had to have new ones every couple of years, and in her nineties, she remembered every one.

Her other love encompassed all of nature.  “The world is so beautiful,” she would say as we took short road trips to a nearby national park, or looked up to the mountains surrounding Tucson, or drove along roads rimmed with wildflowers.

I suppose that is the most important memory I have of my mother to put in the memory jar would include–her enthusiasm for the world, for people–particularly teenagers, and the way she threw herself into her activities with enthusiasm.

Tragedy At Sea: Agnes Bent, Agnes Bent 2 and child

Agnes Gosling Bent,1570(Probable birth year)- 1639 and Agnes Bent Blanchard, 1602-1639

Old Agnes is Cautious

As we learned in the story of John Bent, the first  of the Bent family to arrive in America, his mother, Agnes Bent approached the idea of relocating with caution in 1638.  Her husband Robert had died seven years before, leaving her with enough land and money to support her in her old age. Her entire life had been spent in rural Hampshire County as the wife of a farmer. When Peter Noyes organized a group from Penton-Grafton England to travel to America in 1638, Agnes had reached the age of 68, definitely old age for the 1600s.

And sailing was dangerous.  She had heard the stories of ships lost at sea. She lived inland and she probably had never had reason to be on a boat. The prospect of three weeks or more on the heaving waves of the Atlantic would give her pause.

The marker here shows Penton Grafton’s location in relation to London and the port of Southampton.

For historical background–England was ruled by Catholic King Charles, hated and feared by the reform Christians like those we call Puritans.  The restrictions on religion by his father King James was a motivating factor in the emigration of the Pilgrims to New England in 1620.  Since then, the trickle of emigres had turned to a gusher that we call The Great Migration. Despite the hardships of taming the wilderness in the New World, the prospects seemed preferable to the religious restrictions and the high taxation of King Charles. Civil War was brewing in England. As more English families fled England, the first Pilgrim villages expanded throughout the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Agnes Bent sailed for Massachusetts

Massachusetts Pay Colony 1630

John was Agnes’ only remaining son, and possibly the only child in addition to young Agnes.

Family of of Agnes Gosling and Robert Bent

  • Jane/Margery Bent (Plympton) 1590-1631 (after Aug 1631) Her husband Robert Plympton died in 1637.
  • Richard Bent 1592- Died Bef. Aug. 1631*
  • Robert J. Bent 1594-Died Bef. Aug.1631*
  • John, 1596-1672
  • Maria 1598-1599
  • Denys/Dennis/Dennys (female) 1599, married 1626 (Death unknown.)
  • James B. Bent abt. 1602-Died Bef. Aug. 1631*
  • Agnes 1602-1639

* Not mentioned in father Robert Bent’s will in July 1631

When her husband Robert died in 1631, Agnes moved in with her son John in the Hampshire village of Penton Grafton. Even though widow Agnes’ son John,  was leaving  England in 1638 with his wife and his five children, she hesitated. However, she entrusted Peter Noyes with 60 pounds to check out the possibilities of settlement and possibly purchase land for her in Massachusetts.

Peter Noyes, himself, had left some of his family members in England, but his first year in America persuaded him that the move was the correct thing to do.  So in 1639, he returned to England to complete selling his property there and to round up his family and book them on a ship with him as he returned to his new home in Massachusetts.

When the widow Agnes’ son John left for America, one source speculates that she may have been “placed” in Andover, presumably with one of her children. In 1637, Agnes’ youngest daughter married Thomas Blanchard.  In early 1639, the widow Agnes went to live with the family of Thomas Blanchard. They lived in London and the move must have been in preparation for the trip to America, since Thomas Blanchard, and widow Agnes’ daughter, the younger Agnes, were also gong to America.

Although the widow Agnes was well fixed, a source reports that there was a “gathering of Christians” in “Sarum” to help raise the passage for  Thomas and Agnes Blanchard. Widow Agnes’ daughter Denys and her husband lived in New Sarum in Wiltshire County, so they may have organized the fund raising.

The Young Agnes Bent (Barnes, Blanchard)

The younger Agnes, probably the last of Agnes’ children, was baptized in July, 1602.  She and Richard Barnes were married in the township of Weyhill, location of Penton-Grafton, her home town in April 1630. Her son, Richard Barnes Jr., was born before July 1631, as he is mentioned in his grandfather’s will. However, Agnes’ husband Richard did not live long after the wedding. He may have died before Robert Bent’s July 1631 will, since he is not mentioned there and other sons-in-law are. [Note; Several sources claim that the couple had a daughter, Elizabeth, however, I am not convinced.  I will put a short note separate from this post explaining.]

Agnes Bent Barnes did not immediately remarry when her first husband died, but records show she married Thomas Blanchard on May 15, 1637. By the time they were married, the couple must have been thinking about sailing for America.  Agnes gave birth to a child in late 1638 or early 1639, and once the money had been gathered for the voyage, they set sail with their mother and the party of Peter Noyes on the Jonathan.

The departure date April 12, 1639 must have been a day of great excitement as well as some concern. Eight-year-old Richard  Barnes would be filled with excitement. Young Agnes would have been concerned not only for her infant, who was still nursing, but also for her mother, who was not well.  Additionally, I believe young Agnes had the responsibility for the orphaned Elizabeth Plympton who would have been about Richard Jr.’s age.

Illness and Death Aboard the Jonathan

Near the Bank of Newfoundland, just a few days out, Widow Agnes fell ill, and for the rest of the voyage she was confined to her cabin.  This put an extra burden on her daughter and son-in-law, because the passengers had to prepare their own meals.

The first tragedy began 15 days out. In late April, 1639, the younger Agnes fell sick and died at the age of 37. The passengers on the ship had a meeting and found volunteers to nurse the infant.

A few days later, the baby also died.

The death of young Agnes left the mourning husband, Thomas Blanchard, to care for his wife’s son, Richard, her niece Elizabeth (17), and nephew Thomas Plympton (13) and Thomas Blanchard’s very ill mother-in-law.  Apparently he worked hard at that task and was admired by the other passengers for his care of his mother-in-law.

The Record Left in a Court Case

Thirteen years later, the young boy, Richard Barnes sued his father in law, Thomas Blanchard in Massachusetts court to recover £20 promised him by his mother.

The wife of “Goodman Cook” and  Samuel Hyde, fellow passengers on the Jonathan,testified about Thomas Blanchard and Agnes Bent.  [Note; The ‘weake girl’ must have been Elizabeth Plympton, widow Agnes’ 17-year-old grand-daughter.]

Goody Cook: Thomas Blanchard did wholly take care and paynes with his wives mother all the way over (except some little help some time of a weake girl who was a kinsman of hers) and the old woman what with her age and what with her sickness for she was sick all the way his trouble and payns with her was such that it was unseemly for a man to do but there was no other save that little helpless girle his kinswoman and continued his care and payns with her all the way from London to Nantaskith (Nantucket?)  and anchored there and this deponent came away before she was dead.
Samuel Hyde: “The old woman stayed in her cabin and never came out. The big girl didn’t do much for the old woman but Thomas Blanchard did much about her.

In fact, knowing that Thomas Blanchard was poor, the other passengers took up a collection to help him.

Old Widow Bent Succumbs

At some point, the ship’s surgeon was called to assist, but Widow Agnes Bent continued to worsen.  By early May when the ship approached Boston, and her long-awaited reunion with her son, John Bent, she still had not emerged from her cabin.  At last the ship docked and the passengers began to debark.  Then, so close to the new life in the New World, Agnes Gosling Bent died, never having seen the country she sailed to.

Her son-in-law, Thomas Blanchard, took charge of burying her body in the Boston area, and found a home for young Richard with John Bent in Sudbury.

The Costs of a Journey

A receipt shows that Peter Noyes paid  £5  per adult and £ 2.50 per child, a total of 50 pounds for 9 adult and 2 half-passengers. He also paid £8 ,10 shillings for freight and  £17 , 18 shillings for “mele”, 4 firkins of butter [about 11 gallons per firkin] and 2 cases licorice.

The passengers enumerated with that receipt are

  • Peter Noyes
  • John Waterman [neighbor from Penton-Grafton]
  • Nicholas Noyes
  • Doreyti Noyes
  • Peter Noyes (Jr.?)
  • William Stret [There is a William Streete who is a brother-in-law of widow Agnes’ husband. This might be a son from that family.]
  • Anie (Agnes) Bent [widow Agnes]
  • Elizabeth Plemton (Plympton)
  • Richard Barnes
  • Agnis Blanchet (Blanchard) [young Agnes]

I am not sure why Thomas Blanchard is not on this list. Peter Noyes later testifies that he paid for the passage of Agnes Blanchard and Thomas Blanchard out of her estate, plus loaned money to Thomas once they landed, so apparently another receipt no longer exists.

A separate accounting gives the amounts that Agnes Bent reportedly paid as £17  for passage plus  £1, 10 shillings for transporting her goods and 10 shillings for the surgeon. (Note: this does not quite line up with the 5 pounds per adult and £2 .5 for a child, nor does it specify for whom she paid, or why Peter Noyes is credited with paying for Agnes Bent’s passage.)


John Bent , son of the elder Agnes, became a leading citizen of Sudbury and friend of another of my great-grandfathers, Samuel Howe.  You can read about him here.

Peter Noyes returned to Sudbury where he was a leader and friend of John Bent the rest of his life.

Elizabeth Plympton, grand-daughter of Agnes Bent, married John Rutter and  lived in Sudbury until she died in 1689. John Rutter was one of the deponents in the Barnes-Blanchard court case.

Thomas Plympton, Settled in Sudbury. Married a daughter of Peter Noyes when he was twenty-nine. Lived in Sudbury until he was killed at 52 on April 29,1676 in the Indian attack on Sudbury part of King Phillip’s War.

Thomas Blanchard remarried and lived in various places in New England.

Richard Barnes, grandson of the elder Agnes Bent, as mentioned above, first lived with John Bent. Later he had another guardian. When he reached adulthood, he became an important member of his community, married Dorothy Dix in 1667 and started the Barnes line in America.  In March 1652, Richard had filed suit against his stepfather to recover his legacy from his mother. The finding of the Cambridge Court said the jury found for the plaintiff, giving Richard damages of £20 and costs of court–thirty shillings. Thomas Blanchard contested the decision, but the books that relate the details of the case, do not say if his appeal was successful.  Richard moved to Marlborough and lived to 1708, a long life.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, the daughter of
  • Vera Stout (Anderson),the daughter of
  • Hattie Morgan (Stout), the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett (Morgan),the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Stone (Bassett) the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Howe (Stone), the daughter of
  • Israel Howe, the son of
  • David How, the son of
  • Martha Bent How, the daughter of
  • John Bent, Sr. and Agnes Gosling Bent

Notes on Research

  • The Bent family in America : being mainly a genealogy of the descendants of John Bent : who settled in Sudbury, Massachusetts, in 1638 : with notes upon the family in England and elsewhere. in North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000 at, Allen H. Bent, 1900. Also available at Contains will of Robert Bent
  • U. S. and Canada Passenger and Immigration Index, 1500s-1900s, Ancestry. Record for John Bent Sr. arrival 1638.This edition was privately printed in 75 quarto copies for W. Elliot Woodward. Same as the octavo edition of 1860 with an additional section, “The First Settlers of Plymouth,” pp. 115-122. Research originally done, 1858-1860, for The New England Historical Society.Source Bibliography:
    DRAKE, SAMUEL G. Result of Some Researches Among the British Archives for Information Relative to the Founders of New England …. 3rd ed. Boston: John Wilson and Son, 1865.
  • U.S. and Canada Passenger and Immigration Index, 1500s-1900s, Ancestry. Record for John Bent Sr.., arrival 1638
  • A History of Framingham, Massachusetts, including the plantation, from 1640 to the present time with an appendix containing a notice of Sudbury and its first proprietors. By William Barry, 1847, J. Munroe & Co., Boson. At the Library of Congress. Accessed through This book has a footnote on page 181-182 detailing much of the information I relate about the two Agnes and other on the Jonathan.  The Footnote specifies that the information came in part from the court files of Middlesex County.
  • The History of Sudbury, Massachusetts 1638-1889, Alfred S. Hudson 1889, R. H. Blodgett, Sudbury.  Available on Page 45 contains a sketch of John Bent and family. (It incorrectly states that he returned to England and came back on the Jonathan) and information on activities and land throughout. Page 52 talks about Thomas and Elizabeth Plympton, including the information that Thomas was probably the brother of Elizabeth, because he was mentioned in his grandmother’s will and  worked for Peter Noyes, and married his daughter. It also details how he was killed.
  • History of the Town of Marlborough, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Charles Hudson, 1862, read on Page 314: Thomas Barnes sketch and information throughout book. Bent family members throughout.
  • The Sudbury Fight, April 21, 1676, An Address Delivered before the Society of Colonial War, at the Battle Ground, Sudbury, Massachusetts, June 17, 1897 by Edward Webster McGlenen. Boston, 18. This address, printed in book form, mentions the death of Thomas Plympton.
  • The Planters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: A Study of the Emigrants and Emigration in Colonial Times: to which are Added Lists of Passengers to Boston and to the Bay Colony; the Ships which Brought Them; Their English Homes, and the Places of Their Settlement in Massachusetts. 1620-1640. “Passenger and Vessels That Have Arrrived in America, page138-140.” Section seen at  The section on the ship Jonathan, instead of having the regular list of passengers, has very detailed information from the trial records of Barns v.Blanchard.  It is the most complete record I have discovered of the trial, although I have written to the Massachusetts Court Archivist to try to discover the original. The testimony given by passengers on the Jonathan provides a good picture of the last days of the two Agnes Bents.

  • New England Historical and Genealogical Society Register, Vol. 41, 1887, p. 81-82, “New England Gleanings”  Entire passage: “Massachusetts Archives-Petition of Thomas Blancher [Blanchard] 2-4-1646 says whereas Anne (Agnes Bent Barnes) of Way-hill in Hampshire England gave her son Richard Barnes 20 pounds and Anne (Agnes Gosling Bent) grandmother to said Richard gave him 16 pounds committed to trust of John Bent with whome the said Richard hath been “maintained since his coming to New England about seven years: John Bent gives security for payment when said Richard is twenty-one, signed by Thomas Blancher [Blanchard], John Bent and Peter Noyes.
  • U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s, Agnes Bent,  King, Carol Tyler,
  • U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900,, Source number: 93.000; Source type: Electronic Database; Number of Pages: 1; Submitter Code: NV1,; Agnes Gosling Bent and John Bent.

  • U. S. Find a Grave, Agnes Gosling Bent
  • Puritan Village, Sumner Chilton Powell, Wesleyan University Press, 1970, Hanover, New Hampshire. Author’s collection. Read in Kindle version.
  • England and Wales Marriages, 1538-1988, An Barnes and Thomas Blanchard, Place: Salisbury, Wiltshire, England; Collection: St Edmond; -; Date Range: 1587 – 1650; Film Number: 1279311,
  • U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900, Agnes Bent and Richard Barnes, Source number: 3416.000; Source type: Electronic Database; Number of Pages: 1; Submitter Code: RH1,

John Bent Sr.–Father of the Bent Family in America

 John Bent 1596-1672

Weyhill Church

The Weyhill church where John Bent’s family members were baptized, married and buried from the 16th century.

The Bent Family in England

John Bent’s father was Robert Bent of Penton-Grafton, Weyhill Parish in Hampshire County, England. His grandfather’s name: John Bent. The small village lies about seventy miles south of London. To put the history in perspective, when John Bent was born, Elizabeth I was still Queen. He had two older brothers, Richard and Robert, and an older sister, Jane. By the time he was six years old,  three younger sisters would be added to the family.

Names are important to John Bent’s story.  His aunt Joanne Bent married a William Noyes–a family closely intertwined with the Bents in both England and America.  John’s mother’s name was Agnes, as was one of his aunts.  The Bents favored the name Agnes sometimes written as  Annis or Ann and named a bewildering array of offspring by that name. The next person I’ll talk about is an Agnes with a daughter Agnes and a grand daughter Agnes. Naturally, the Bents also recycled the names Robert and John and Richard and Joseph.

John Bent’s Family

In 1624, John Bent married Martha, whose last name I have not proven.  According to one index she was Martha Blanchard and according to another, possibly Baker. Other relatives of John Bent are married to both Bakers and Blanchards. However both indices agree they were married in England in 1624. John would have been 28 years old.

In the following eleven years, the couple had five children. (For more details about the family, see the story about John Bent Jr., born in 1636. )

In 1631, John’s father, Robert, died leaving John and his older brother 40 shillings each. That is less than left to other children, but may indicate that they had received land from their father. According to Puritan Village, John had inherited 45 acres of land. Two of John’s sons and his daughter received two ewes each, the bequest for most of Robert’s grandchildren,  and John’s oldest son received a young cow.

Robert Bent named two neighbors as “overseers” of the will–Henry Tuncks and Peter Noyes, once again emphasizing the closeness of the Bent and Noyes families.

John was a successful farmer, as was his father, Robert.  The book “Puritan Village” discusses tax rolls of the Parish of Weyhill. “(Peter) Noyes and (John) Bent were 4th and 5th in land holdings of 44 landholders (there were also 40 landless men).”

The Great Puritan Migration

About the time that John Bent turned 40 years old, the people of the village were becoming increasingly unhappy with the reign of Charles I that started in 1625.  There must have been many long, soul-searching conversations, as they looked across the Atlantic at the possibilities of a better life in the new country where the first band of dissidents had landed in 1620. Unhappiness with both civic and religious constraints stimulated the Great Puritan Migration of the 17th century.

Peter Noyes, John’s friend, must have been one of the most adamant and outspoken about the necessity to leave England. John Bent, no longer a young man, had to decide whether to make the risky journey with young children, to leave familiar surroundings and a successful farm, to leave his widowed mother and his siblings, all for an unknown future.

Then King Charles decided to raise money. Ironically, these Englishmen whose grandsons would fight to separate America from England over tax issues, found tax issues pushing them to emigrate to America. As The Bent Family in America explains:

“A glance at affairs in England will show ample cause for a change of home at that time. The rule of Charles I had become almost unbearable, and it is not at all surprising that so many looked upon ‘the American wilderness as the only asylum in which they could enjoy civil and spiritual freedom.’ The King, advised in affairs of state by Lord Wentworth (Earl of Stafford) and in religious affairs by William Land, Archibishop of Canterbury, wished to do for England what Richelieu was doing at that very moment for France. ‘put the estates and personal liberties of the whole people at the disposal of the crown and deprive the courts of law of all independent authority,’ as well as to break up all gatherings of religious dissenters. He had already ruled nine years without a Parliament and his despotism seemed nearly complete. But one thing was lacing, and that was a standing army.”

In order to fund the army, the King proposed heavy taxes on the counties along the coast that profited from shipping. Hampshire, the home of the Bents, was one of those counties.

“England, to the outward eye, verdant, calm, and peaceful, but in reality on the verge of a political and religious volcano (The explosion came with the Civil War in 1642).”

A Decision to Risk the Trip

In the end, John decided to take the risk. His elderly mother, Agnes Bent, promised that she would consider sailing to America if Peter Noyes and John decided the conditions were good.  She entrusted £ 80  to Peter to help him finance the voyage and to look for land for her.

“[Peter] Noyes sailed from Southhampton on April 12, 1638 in the ship Confidence, taking 3 servants, his eldest son and daughter, and his neighbor, John Bent.”[/plain]

John and Martha brought with them five children ranging from two years old to thirteen years old.  At that time period, they would have been traveling on a sailing ship and would have been responsible for bringing along their own food which they prepared on board. It was no pleasure cruise.

The Confidence held 110 people–a large percentage of whom were servants. Perhaps most of the servants had indentured themselves in order to pay for travel. They would pay off the debt in a few years and become regular citizens. These were not impoverished immigrants dependent upon plantation investors from the old country. They had been leaders in their English communities and were well suited for building new towns in New England. The families on board were headed for various Massachusetts Bay Colony towns, but the Bents and Noyes and a couple of other families were going to Sudbury.

The American Scene

Since the Pilgrims had arrived in Plymouth in 1620, small towns had sprung up progressively reaching westward from the seacoast, so in that eighteen-year-span other people had started to build villages. Nevertheless, Sudbury lay on the edge of civilization, connected to other towns only by Indian trails and rivers traversed by canoe. Far from their mother land where the parish church was already a century or more old, the Bent family  now lived in wilderness, surrounded by natives who while generally friendly did not always accept their presence.

John’s Family and Responsibilities Grow

The year after John and Martha Bent arrived in Sudbury, his mother and sister set sail to join him.  My next story will deal with the story of the two Agnes Bents, but suffice it to say here that in addition to the five children that the Bents brought from England, they cared for one of John Bent’s nephew, Richard Barnes, for several years. Martha also gave birth to two more children–Joseph in 1641 and her namesake, my 7x great grandmother Martha, in 1643.

Two years after John arrived, he received status of Freeman in his new community, giving him rights to vote and help rule the town.  He settled in a part of Sudbury that is now the town of Wayland, building a house on a six-acre lot 1/4 mile from the Sudbury River. The following year, he served on a committee to assign timber to citizens. In 1648, the town fathers appointed John Bent as one of three men to “end small business under twenty shillings”, a kind of small claims court. The same year, leaders chose him to lay out the highway from Watertown to Danforth Farms (later Framingham), following the old Connecticut Path. Not everything that happened in 1648 was as happy. John and Martha’s oldest son Robert, died at the age of twenty-three.

Sudbury Massachusetts

Colonial Sudbury–early 18th century–and the Wayside Inn after John Bent’s day.

As his sons grew to adulthood, John helped them settle in other places, joining the petition to form the town of Marlboro (Marlborough) for the benefit of his son Peter in 1656.

John Bent’s Will

In September 1672, at 76 years of age, John Bent Senior, wrote his will. He must have been proud of his life’s work, having accumulated wealth, mostly in the form of land, to pass on to his children and grandchildren.

John Bent Will

1672 will of John Bent, Sr., of Sudbury.

John Bent was buried in the Old Cemetery in Sudbury, Massachusetts.

John was spared the heartbreak of losing two of his sons later that decade. In 1675, as we learned in an earlier post, tragedy struck when Peter accidentally shot his brother Joseph, the youngest of the family. Three years later, Peter died while on a trip to England. And Martha Bent, John Bent Sr.’s wife, died in 1679.

John Bent’s Legacy

John Bent, by coming to America in 1638 had founded a family that would spread across the country and even to Nova Scotia. In 1760 David Bent of Sudbury moved to Annapolis County, Nova Scotia, taking advantage of land that became available when the British expelled French Acadians  out of Canada. Four years later two other Bent families followed.

John Bent’s descendants included several soldiers of the Revolutionary War.

One of those was Lt. Col. Matthias Bent of Framingham, later a Deacon.  His daughter Abigail Bent wrote The Happy Merchant and Other Tales for Sunday School teaching. (Not timeless literature, it seems to have disappeared.)

One of those soldiers of the Revolution, Lt. Col. Silas Bent of Rutland, went to Ohio as one of the first settlers–thus probably a friend and neighbor of my other ancestors who traveled with Rufus Putnam–the Israel Stone family. Silas kept on moving west, moving on to Missouri. A 3x great-grandson of John Bent, Silas Bent was a judge of the Missouri Supreme Court in the early 19th century.

The judge’s son, Charles Bent, served briefly as the first American Governor of the Territory of New Mexico.The National Park Service maintains a fur trading fort Charles Bent and his brother established on the Santa Fe Trail: Old Bent’s Fort.

Bent's Fort

Bents Old Fort, near La Junta, Colorado, founded by Charles Bent in 1833.

During the Mexican War, the fort served as a base for the troops of American General Kearney. General Kearney  appointed Charles Bent as Governor of New Mexico after the Mexican War. He served from September 1846 until soldiers of the Pueblo uprising killed him in January 1847. (For those keeping track, Charles is the 4x great grandchild of John Bent through Peter Bent. That makes Charles my 5th Cousin, 4x removed.)

Little did John Bent know when he left England, what a mark his family would make on America.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, the daughter of
  • Vera Stout (Anderson),the daughter of
  • Hattie Morgan (Stout), the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett (Morgan),the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Stone (Bassett) the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Howe (Stone), the daughter of
  • Israel Howe, the son of
  • David How, the son of
  • Martha Bent How, the daughter of
  • John Bent, Sr.

Research Notes

  • The Bent family in America : being mainly a genealogy of the descendants of John Bent : who settled in Sudbury, Massachusetts, in 1638 : with notes upon the family in England and elsewhere. in North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000 at, Allen H. Bent, 1900. Also available at
  • U. S. and Canada Passenger and Immigration Index, 1500s-1900s, Ancestry. Record for John Bent Sr. arrival 1638.This edition was privately printed in 75 quarto copies for W. Elliot Woodward. Same as the octavo edition of 1860 with an additional section, “The First Settlers of Plymouth,” pp. 115-122. Research originally done, 1858-1860, for The New England Historical Society.Source Bibliography:
    DRAKE, SAMUEL G. Result of Some Researches Among the British Archives for Information Relative to the Founders of New England …. 3rd ed. Boston: John Wilson and Son, 1865.
  • U.S. and Canada Passenger and Immigration Index, 1500s-1900s, Ancestry. Record for John Bent Sr.., arrival 1638
  • A History of Framingham, Massachusetts, including the plantation, from 1640 to the present time with an appendix containing a notice of Sudbury and its first proprietors. By William Barry, 1847, J. Munroe & Co., Boson. At the Library of Congress. Accessed through
  • A History of Sudbury 1638-1889, Alfred S. Hudson 1889, R. H. Blodgett, Sudbury.  Available on
  • England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975, 2014 (John and Martha Bent parent of James and parent of Ann(Agnes).
  • Massachusetts Applications of Freemen, 1630-91, 2010, John Bent 1640
  • Massachusetts, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1790-1890, 1999, John Bent 1639
  • Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, Roxbury, 1630-1867, Jay Mack Holbrook, 1985, John Bent Death 1672
  • Middlesex County, Massachusetts Probate Index, 1648-1870,Flint, James, compiler, 2000 John Bent, Sudbury, 1672.
  • In addition to this index, the book The Bent Family in America reprints the entire will (ref above).,
  • U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900, Source number: 76.000; Source type: Electronic Database; Number of Pages: 1; Submitter Code: CGF, John Bent and Martha Blanchard, 1624, Hampshire, 2004
  •, John Bent 1596-1672
  • Puritan Village: The Formation of a New England Town, Sumner Chilton Powell, Wesleyan University Press, University Press of New England, Hanover NH 1970, read in Kindle Edition.