A Tough Mother: Elizabeth Hubbard How Barrett

Elizabeth Hubbard Howe Barrett 1720-1802(?)

Since her husband, my 5x great grandfather Israel How had such a simple life, I figured Elizabeth would be a piece of cake.  Surprise! Most of the drama occurred during her second marriage, but she lived a fascinating life.

Although I might not be a blood relative of her 2nd husband, because Elizabeth is my 5th Great Grandmother, her offspring qualify as — 4x great-grand aunts and uncles — never mind–just think of them as related. So perhaps I am justified in spending an inordinate amount of time reading the longest military pension file I’ve run into yet, and beating the bushes looking for clues to when Elizabeth died.

I generally start with a timeline. It helps clarify what information I have and what is missing.  Elizabeth Hubbard‘s starts easily enough.

September 25, 1720: born in Concord Massachusetts to Capt. Joseph Hubbard and Rebecca Bulkeley.

But right away I’m thrown off the rails of my investigation of the How/Howe family of Sudbury, being introduced to two new surnames that now designate two more lines of grandparents, and both have some very distinguished ancestors to add to my tree.  The Hubbards arrived in North America in the early 1600s from England, settling first in Glastonbury CT and then Concord MA.

See their origin and destination here.

On Elizabeth’s mother’s side, the Bulkeley/Bulkely famly also come from England and emigrated in 1635, moving straight to Concord MA. So Elizabeth is 5th generation American on both sides of her family. She beats her husband Israel by one generation, since the Hows had been here for four generations.

Back to Elizabeth’s timeline.  Just glancing through the dates between 1740 and 1759, Elizabeth could be dismissed as a baby machine, but her life, hard as it was,  had some exciting moments.

March 24, 1740: Marries Israel How of Paxton/Rutland. She is twenty.

In the next five years, Elizabeth  gives birth to a son (1741) and two daughters, Lucy (1743), and my 4th great grandmother, Elizabeth (1744). In the fifth year of her marriage, the son, Israel, Jr. died at four years old.

Two more girls follow: Ruth (1746) and Rebekah (1748).

But instead of celebrating the joy of a new healthy baby when Rebekah was born, the mother must have been devastated, for just three days after Rebekah’s birth, Elizabeth’s husband Israel How died at the age of thirty-six.  Being a housewife and family cook was a hard job in Colonial times, but Elizabeth had a specially hard life as Israel’s wife. Now she is twenty-eight years old and has four daughters to care for as well as the farm.

I imagine that the extended How family must have come to her aid, but after all, Israel had moved away from Sudbury, where most of his siblings lived, to Rutland, several miles to the north. And the daughters are not old enough to be of much help–the eldest being only five.

The only thing a widow with so many children can do is remarry. And she does.

May 12, 1750: Elizabeth Hubbard How marries Stephen Barrett of Paxton (which was originally a part of Rutland).

Although she may have been exhausted from having five children in seven years, and grateful to find a husband who did not come with children of his own, she very quickly becomes pregnant again.  A year after Elizabeth and Stephen were married, Lydia was born. [Lydia is doubly connected to me, since she married a Stone–a descendent of the same line of Stones that I am tracing.]

In 1753, Stephen Barrett Jr., who would be very important in Elizabeth’s future, was born.

Either Elizabeth’s tired body decided to take a break, or she lost a baby which did not make it into the records, but her next child, Israel is not born until 1757. [Israel, who grew up to become a shoemaker by trade, has another fascinating story–becoming a soldier in the American Revolution and a prisoner of war for nine months.]

Her last child, Benjamin, was born in 1759 when she was nearly 40.  [Benjamin Barrett was another Revolutionary War Veteran, and after the war moved to Ohio.]

Elizabeth’s fifties must have been a most difficult time for her. One by one, her three sons joined the army and left for the Revolutionary War.  The village hung on news reports from battles and frequently heard reports of sons of Massachusetts dying. Not only her sons, but so many relatives from Sudbury and Paxton and surrounding areas were involved.

The worst year was when Israel was held prisoner for nine months in Quebec and the family had no idea what was happening to him. I wonder if she was having second thoughts about naming her son after her short-lived first husband and the first child, who had died in childhood?

Her son Israel’s wife and two children (Lucy) lived with Elizabeth and Stephen Hubbard Jr. when he reenlisted in 1781.

After the Revolution, when Stephen Barrett, Elizabeth’s husband dies, she moves with her son Stephen Jr., his wife and two little girls to the town of Paris in Oneida County, New York. Stephen was one of the pioneers of Oneida County. While it seems impossible given how long there had been settlement on the east coast, Oneida County was practically wilderness in 1789.

The Oxcart Man

The Oxcart Man, a children’s book.

Since today we could drive the distance in half a day, it is hard to imagine how difficult a journey by oxcart from Massachusetts to New York was in 1789.  Some details of the trip are related in the Genealogy of Thomas Barrett listed below.

…the entire distance from Winchendon, Mass., to
Utica, (then Fort Schuyler*) New York, taking two
weeks, was made with a sled and a yoke of oxen,
he (Stephen Barrett) traveling most of the way on
foot, driving his oxen — his mother, wife and chil-
dren riding upon the sled.

The slow motion of the sled over the rough roads
caused his wife a distressing sickness very similar
to sea-sickness, and she was obliged to lie down
upon the sled the greater part of the distance. At
night if they were fortunate enough to reach a
settlement, they found rest and comfortable quar-
ters in the house of some hospitable settler.

When he arrived at a point (Whiteboro) about
three miles distant from Fort Schuyler (Utica) he
halted, built a temporary log house, and remained
there for a short time to rest. After he and his
family and team had rested, and sufficiently recovered
their nearly exhausted strength they continued
their journey until they reached Paris, Oneida
County, New York, which was as far West as the
Government surveys had at that time (1789) been
made, where he purchased land, settled upon and
cleared it, and became a permanent resident of
Oneida County.

I notice that Stephen’s wife is made “seasick” by the journey, but apparently Elizabeth, nearing 70 years old,  soldiered on. The sturdy grandmother would have been responsible for feeding the family and caring for the two young girls.

On this map you can see Rutland, just NW of Worchester MA, and Paris, NY, due east of Syracuse NY.(You may have to slide the map to see the star marking Rutland off to the East) A short drive today.

Elizabeth could be very proud of her three sons who served honorably in the American Revolution. And particularly of Stephen, who was a leader in his new state–first in Paris and then Sangerfield, both in Oneida County, NY.

He took a deep interest in public affairs, and was a leading
and prominent actor and an important factor in
all matters, church as well as state, that concerned
his town, county and state in those early days.
He was one of the selectmen of Paris, and he was
also a Justice of the Peace of Mohawk. He served
as a soldier for three years in the Revolutionary
War; had the respect and confidence of all who
knew him; was a good citizen, a kind neighbor, an
indulgent and affectionate husband and father, an
earnest and sincere Christian : in short, he was a
model man.

A year after Stephen moved his mother and his family, his brother Israel also moved to New York. The youngest brother Benjamin settled in Ohio after the Revolutionary War, so the family was starting to spread away from New England.

One family tree says that Elizabeth Hubbard How Barrett died in 1802, but I have not yet confirmed that fact. Whether she lived into her eighties or not, I must admire this woman for her toughness. She gave birth nine times, cared for and helped two farmer husbands, worried over three sons and a son-in-law fighting in a war, and as a widow pulled up stakes and took a hard journey to a raw new territory.

How I am related

  •  Vera Marie (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 (Basset), the daughter of
  • Elizabeth How (Stone), the daughter of
  • Elizabeth Hubbard (How) (Barrett)


Birth and death records recorded in Rutland and Paxton Massachusetts which I find at Ancestry.com.

Revolutionary War pension records for Israel Barrett, accessed on Ancestry.com
Genealogy of some of the descendants of Thomas Barrett, sen., of Braintree, Mass., 1635, (1888), Compiled by William Barrett.  Available on line

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