Tag Archives: Massachusetts

James Morgan Sr.

James Morgan, 1607-1685

In a previous post, I reviewed the murky nature of materials regarding James Morgan’s birth and parentage. However, once he gets to New England, my seventh great-grandfather’s name appears frequently in the record books of New London Connecticut. Besides being the “first comer” of my Morgan line, he helped found two communities and was an early resident of a third.

In that earlier post, I named some of the family biographies that mention James. However, more details to flesh out the life of this early mover and shaker in New England lie in the history of communities. I have been engrossed in New London County Connecticut with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneer and Prominent Men, compiled by D. Hamilton Hurd and published in 1882.

Although I had not noticed that James was associated with the town of Stonington, Connecticut, Ancestry also led me to explore the book, Stonington Chronology, 1649-1949, Being a Year to Year Record of the American Way of Life in a Connecticut Town. That book, published in 1949, makes clear how intertwined these early towns were, and how fluid their boundaries. The book includes both local “news” as well as national and international events, so we learn that Cromwell was declared Lord Protector of England in Nov. 1653 as well as the bounty for wolves and the prices of trading goods. I have inserted excerpts, not always direct quotes, from that book throughout this article on James Morgan Sr.

James Morgan Sr Comes to America

It seems clear that James was born about 1607, and probably in Llandaff, Glamorgan, Wales. As I discussed in the previous post, his parentage is not well documented.

He probably sailed from England in March 1636 and landed in Boston the following month, accompanied by younger brothers Miles and John. However another account claims he sailed “in the summer” with a kinsman named Robert. In that scenario, Miles, whose mother was Elizabeth who had been born into another Morgan line, had sailed in January and was not a brother.

June 1637: Earthquake in North East in the month of June.

New England Chronicles

We forget that this whole territory had yet to be populated. A contemporary account in 1638 says there were 20 houses in Boston. Salem, Roxbury, Charleston, Dorchester, Waterton, Cambridge, Lynn and other towns totaled about 16,000 populaton. The first settlers arrived in Roxbury in 1630.

James Morgan Sr. Family in Roxbury

The first record of James Morgan Sr. in America comes with his marriage to Margery Hill in Roxbury. Margery and James had six children all born in Roxbury, four of whom lived to adulthood. (The sixth might have been born in New London as they moved from Roxbury to Pequot/New London in 1650 when she was born.)

  • Hannah, b. 1642, married Nehemiah Royce of New London in November 1660 and lived in Wallingford.
  • James (later known as Capt. James, b. 1643, married Mary Vine. Like his father, Capt. James held many church and civic positions in New London County.
  • John (my ancestor, and also later known as Capt.) , b. 1645, married first Rachael Dymond and 2nd Elizabeth Williams (nee Jones). He had a total of 15 children and lived in Preston Connecticut later in life.
  • Joseph (later known as Lt. Joseph), b. 1646, married Dorothy Parke and lived in Norwich/Preston
  • Abraham, b. 1648, died when he was one year old.
  • Elizabeth, b. 1650, died as an infant.

In 1643, the young James applied for the designation of Freeman. In 1646 and 1650 he was listed as a resident of Roxbury, but in 1650 he moved to Pequot, later called New London.

James Morgan Sr. Family in New London

To illustrate the confusion of names, here is an 1893 map of West Mystic (Groton) and East Mystic (Stonington) on either side of the Mystic River. Farther west you come to Pequot/Groton’s western boundary, the Thames, which separates Groton from the town of New London.

The General Court at Hartford Ct. had established Pequot the previous year–May 1649. The town would stretch four miles on each side of the Great River (Thames) and six miles in from the sea. Only 40 families would acquire lots.

An influx of Welshmen arrived in 1650, following their minister Richard Blinman. The author of History of James Morgan gives his proof that James was not part of that group. However, another book says the Welsh party from Gloucester Massachusetts were granted house lots on Cape Ann Lane–the street on which Morgan settled. So he certainly lived near his fellow countrymen, even if he did not arrive in the large group that followed Richard Blinman.

The History of James Morgan of New London describes in detail the location of his home in Pequot/New London. It was located on “the path (later known as Cape Ann Lane) to New Street (later known as Ashcraft Road). ” The area was a highland on the east side of the Thames River and today borders Morgan Park. James and his family lived in that home until 1656 when he moved across the river to the town that became Groton. That same source sites a sale of some of his land, described as 6 acres of upland, where the wigwams were, in the path that goes from his house towards Culvers, among the rocky hills.

Click on map to enlarge and see labels for markers.

1654, April: Peace in Europe ended the British/Dutch war and Connecticut stopped preparing to attack New Amsterdam.


1654, August: The bounty on wolves raised from 5s to 20s. (shillings)

Stonington Chronicle

James Morgan and Family Move Across River

On Christmas day (just another day to the Puritans) in 1656, James sold his Pequot/New London homestead and moved to the west side of the river to what would become Groton. (I assume to occupy some of that 200 acres he was granted earlier, but I don’t know for sure.) He was part of a move by some of the movers and shakers of the community who decided the West side of the river was a better place to live.

1656: Thomas Hewitt first appeared on the Mystic River trading grindstones, muskets and poder and rum and such goods for corn, cattle and sheep.

1656: A citizen of Stonington paid 12s 3d (12 shillings, 3 pence) for county taxes plus his one year’s dues to the minister of 1 firkin of butter, 12d worth of wampum. Note: for an explanation of the money system in the colonies see this very interesting article.

Stonington Chronicle

The house location is described as three miles from the Groton ferry on the road to Poquona Bridge.

The first settlers of Groton, besides James Morgan, included James Avery, Wiilliam Meades, Nehemiah Smith and John Smith. Interestingly James Morgan’s home passed down to seven successive James Morgans who lived in the same home until the final James had no sons.

In March 1657, The General Court changed the name of Pequot to New London and the east side of the river, where the Morgan family now lived, became Groton and Ledyard.

1660, May 8: Charles II restored as King of England after Cromwell died in 1658.

Stonington Chronicle

James apparently made the most of the property he had been granted. In a tax list in 1662, of 100 property holders, only seven had value more than 200 Pounds. His property was valued at 250 pounds.

1664, Nov.17: A comet streaking over New England is taken as a portent of war with Indians.

Stonington Chronicle

James Morgan Sr, a Community Leader

In short order–May 1657, James was sent to the General Court of Connecticut to represent his new community. It was then that we have a statement from him that he was “about 50 years old” confirming his birth at about 1607.

He held other positions of responsibility for which I do not have specific dates.

  • Frequently employed in land surveys.
  • Helped establish highways.
  • Determined boundaries
  • Adjusted difficulties between citizens when he was a magistrate.
  • As a measure of the high regard his fellow citizens had for him, The History of James Morgan relates an incident where the court authorized a committee of three arbiters, but once James Morgan was chosen, he was authorized to proceed alone.
  • Elected Selectman of New London several different years.
  • Ten times was chosen as a member of the Assembly.
  • Commissioned to lay boundaries for New London.
  • Commissioned to contract for the building of a meeting house in 1662.
  • Between 1656-1660, Laid out the highway from Pequonnock Cove to Mystic River which is now U. S. Rt. 1. The road started as a bridle path, but wisely was build very wide so it accommodated later traffic.
  • November 29, 1669, New London appointed Lt. Avery, Saul Rogers, James Morgan and John Morgan (James’ son) to lay out a King’s Highway between Mystic and Norwich.

1673: England and Holland are at war again and the Dutch blockade Long Island Sound, making goods scarce in New London County.

1674, June 29: King Charles grants his brother Duke of York not only New York but most of New England in an effort to cancel New England charters and form royal provinces.

1675: King Phillip’s War breaks out, raining death and destruction on New England and forcing participation of men in militias. James Morgan’s friend James Avery is very active in this ear.

1676:The King Phillip’s War continues. In August, Thomas Miner has 6 sheep killed by a wolf.

1676: The colony levied a war tax of 8d on the pound on all the tax list. New London and Norwich pay 25s an acre.

1677: A smallpox epidemic strikes across New England.

1681: A comet with a blazing tail terrifies the people of New England.
1681: William Penn got grant for his colony which he opened without restrictions by creed or color.

1683: 2 horse coursers (thieves) apprehended at Stonington and fined
£ 10 AND 5 LASHES.

1684: The French/Indian war broke out in western New York and Connecticut sent troops.

1685, January: A great snowstorm and a very cold winter hit New England.

Stonington Chronicle

In 1685, at 78 years old, James Morgan, Sr., the early settler of New London and one of the founders of Groton Connecticut, died. He left four children and his wife.

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie (Kaser) Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, who is the daughter of
  • Harriette Morgan Stout, who is the daughter of
  • Jesse Morgan, who is the son of
  • Jesse Morgan, who is the son of
  • Timothy Morgan, who is the son of
  • Samuel Morgan, who is the son of
  • Capt John Morgan (1st), who is the son of
  • James Morgan, Sr.

Notes on Research

A History of James Morgan of New London Connecticut and His Descendants, Nathaniel Morgan, Lockhart and Brainard, Hartford CT (1869). Accessed at archive.org April 2019

A History of the Family of Miles Morgan, Titus Morgan, self published (1809), Accessed at archive.org April 2019

The Stonington Chronology: 1649-1949, William Haynes, Pequot Press, Stonington, CT (1949), Accessed at archive.org April 2019

New England Chronology, From the Discovery of the County by Cabot in 1497 to 1820. Boston: S. G. Simpkins (1843) Accessed at archive.org May 2019

Connecticut, Church Record Abstracts, 1630-1920, Ancestry.com

Connecticut, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1790-1890, Ancestry.com,
CT 1635-1807 Misc. Records

Connecticut, Hale Cemetery Inscriptions and Newspaper Notices, 1629-1934 , Ancestry.com

Massachusetts Applications of Freemen, 1630-91,
C. R., Vol. II. pp. 27, 28. Accessed at Ancestry.com

Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, Roxbury, 1630-1867, Jay Mack Holbrook . Oxford MA : Holbrook Research Institute (1985), Accessed through Ancestry.com

U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s,
Place: Massachusetts; Year: 1636; Page Number: 49. Accessed at Ancestry.com Original Document: Immigrant Ancestors: A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America before 1750. Frederick Verkus, editor. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1964. 75p. Repr. 1986.

Visiting Cemeteries to Bring Life

Three years ago, some members of my family gathered in Sudbury Massachusetts to pay homage to ancestors–where they had lived and where they now lie under weathered gray stones. While there, we stayed at the  Longfellow’s Wayside Inn–in the building first built by our ancestor David How.  Numerous How/Howes,  Stones,  Bents, and other pioneers in this land were our ancestors and we discovered their names carved in stone again and again as we went visiting cemeteries.

I am terribly behind in the 52 Ancestors challenge from Amy Johnson CrowBetter late than never might not be a really good excuse when we’re talking about visiting cemeteries (Ha, Ha)–but it is the best I can do at the moment.

Sudbury Cemetery

Our little group of relatives visited the Sudbury old cemetery, where we saw a memorial to those who battled during King Philip’s war. Visiting New England cemeteries will teach you the history of the area. If you don’t come from New England, you may not even have heard of King Philip’s war, but here in one of the Puritan villages of New England that was tragically affected, the memories are as fresh as are the battles of the Revolution. Our ancestor Samuel How’s house and barn were burned down and other ancestors lost family members in the battles around Sudbury.

Sudbury Cemetery

Memorial to those who lost lives in Indian Wars Sudbury Cemetery

The wording of the memorial hints at the devastation.

“This monument is erected by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the town of Sudbury in grateful remembrance of the services and sufferings of the founders of the state and especially in honor of Capt. S. Wadsworth of Milton. Capt. Brocklebank of Rowley. Lieut. Sharp of Brookline. and twenty-six others, men of their command, who fell near this spot on the 18th of April 1676, while defending the frontier settlements against the allied Indian forces of Philip of Pokanoket.  1852.”

Sudbury Cemetery

Monument to Sudbury men who died in King Philips War

Old Burial Ground in Rutland Massachusetts

I later took a side trip to Rutland where I discovered a forest of old gray stones.  Here while visiting cemeteries, I found more  familiar names and a memorial to those who had given their lives in the French and Indian war or the Revolution, the list included two ancestors, both named Samuel Stone.

Rutland Cemetery

Rutland Cemetery with old tree. The stones stretch back into the surrounding woods.

Memorial to Rutland's war dead

Rutland Cemetery Memorial to those who died in French-Indian War and Revolution.

“Killed or Died in Service. Not All Interred here.

French-Indian War  J. Phelps, I. Stone

Revolutionary War R. Forbus Jr., N. Laughton, I Metcalf, W. Moore, A. Phelps, B. Reed, G. Smith, S. [Samuel] Stone, Jr., S.[Samuel] Stone 3rd.”

The final two names are Samuel Stone Jr. and Samuel Stone 3rd.

Lt. Samuel Stone, 3rd , my 1st cousin 6 times removed also had a son who served in the Revolution. There are so many Samuel Stones and so many served in the militia pre-Revolution or during the revolution, that the “Jr.” and numbers are not much help. I have a Samuel Stone Jr. on my tree, but he died in Lexington rather than Rutland, so may fit the description of “not all interred here.” The Samuel Stone Jr. may refer to the son of “the 3rd,” and I have very little information on him.

On the other hand, I am quite familiar with another Samuel Stone Jr. Our 6th great-grandfather, Capt. Samuel Stone lived and died in Lexington, Massachusetts, and is the grandfather of Lt. Samuel Stone 3rd.  And you think YOU are confused???

Confusion aside, I did, however, find the gravestone in Rutland for the one designated here as “3rd.”

Lt. Samuel Stone

Lt. Samuel Stone, who died in 1775, probably not in battle, although he fought in the Revolution.

The gravestone reads:

“In memory of Lieut. Samuel Stone who decd December the 10th 1775 in the 40th year of his Age. A Kind husband and Tender Parent. Reader Behold as you pass by, as you are living so [was I], as I am now, so you must be ___________ ____ ____ Death [&] Follow [me].”

Sudbury Revolutionary War Cemetery

Sudbury Evolutionary War Cemetery

One of our family members at the entrance to Sudbury’s Revolutionary War Cemetery.

Our family group visited the Sudbury Revolutionary War cemetery where our family of Howe descendants, including a newly discovered cousin, the director of the Sudbury History Museum, gathered around the grave of our 1st cousin, 6 times removed, Col. Ezekiel Howe.

We felt close to this Ezekiel because he was the son of David Howe, our 6th great-grandfather who built the Howe (later Wayside) Inn where we were staying. Ezekiel took over the Inn when David Howe died.  His son  Ezekiel Jr., grew up at the Inn.  There is a story that Ezekiel Jr. ran the entire distance from Sudbury to Concord when the alarm went up about the battle at Concord Bridge. He was 19 at the time.

Ezekial Howe

Sudbury Historian,and family members visit Ezekiel Howe.

Unfortunately, other than his name, and death year–1796–this stone is unreadable.

My sister and I and our cousin could not resist paying a separate homage to Ezekiel Jr.’s wife Sarah, also known as Sally. We thought about the poet John Milton’s line,”they also serve who only stand and wait,” which applies to so many of the women of these villages of New England during the 1770s.

Sarah Howe

3 cousins gather with the stone of Sarah (Sally) Howe, wife of Ezekiel Howe Jr.

“Erected in memory of Mrs. Sarah How wife of Mr. Ezekial How who died July 13, 1812 in the 53 year of her age.”

Old North Cemetery, Sudbury, Massachusetts

Expecting to find some of my oldest ancestors, I also visited the Sudbury Old North Cemetery (now located in the town of Wayland). I particularly wanted to visit the grave of (Leut.) Samuel How, my 7th great-grandfather, and the father of David How. Samuel had his fingers in many pies in the development of Sudbury and surrounding communities–you can read about his wheeling and dealing here. Unfortunately, I did not locate his grave, although I have a picture of his stone from Find A Grave.com.  Samuel How was one more ancestor who was a soldier in the pre-Revolution days.

Samuel How

Samuel How, Old North Graveyard, Sudbury, MA. Photo by Charles Waid on FindaGrave.

“Here lies the body of Lieutenant Samuel How Aged 70 years Died April Ye 15th 1715.”

Old North Cemetery

Old North Cemetery, Sudbury/Wayland.

Despite the disappointment that sometimes accompanies visiting cemeteries, I found Old North fascinating.The interesting things I discovered included a separate burial ground for Native Americans–not seen in many cemeteries, and stones so old that a tree that grew between them, enfolded them in its trunk.

Old North Cemetery

Old North Cemetery, Sudbury Tree grown into tombstones

I am grateful for the nudge from the 52 Ancestors prompts to look back at my ‘visiting cemetery’ pictures.  I realized that I had a treasure trove of photos (there are many, many more than I had room for here) and I had not done anything with them.  By “anything” I mean I intend to transcribe the inscriptions, label them properly in my computer files, add them to the gallery of ancestors on my family tree at Ancestry, and check at Find a Grave to see if I have photos or information to add there. For too long, I have been a freeloader at Find a Grave–using it for my research, but rarely making additions to the information.  Now I have a chance to add some value.

I have submitted the two memorials–Sudbury’s to those who served in Kind Philip’s War and Rutland’s to those killed in the French-Indian Wars or the Revolution to the Honor Roll Project. Follow that link to see this effort to keep the names alive that are listed on the many memorials in this country and others.

That’s how visiting cemeteries can help you bring life to a cemetery.

The Bent Family From England to America

The Bent family of my 7th great-grandmother, Martha Bent (Howe) handed me a boxful of interesting stories.  I have been pursuing Martha’s family for a few weeks now. To help you read about Martha’s father John Bent (the pioneer) and his family and descendants, here is an index of those articles, starting with the oldest member of the Bent family–Martha’s grandmother Agnes Gosling Bent. Just click on a title to read

Great-great-great-great, etc.

Tragedy at Sea  talks  about the ill-fated voyage in 1639 of Agnes Gosling Bent (9th great- grandmother and her daughter Agnes Bent Barnes Blanchard (9th great-aunt). Other members of the extended Bent family mentioned are Richard Barnes, Elizabeth Plympton, Thomas Plympton, Robert Bent and Richard Barnes Sr.  (the latter two died before the trip) and Thomas Blanchard. Surprise sources were a footnote in a town history and the summary of a trial (that took place 13 years later) in a book of passenger lists.

John Bent Sr., Father of the Bent Family in America relates the story of this man born during the reign of Elizabeth in Penton-Grafton, Hampshire, England who founded the Bent family that spread across North America. One of the founders of Sudbury, John Bent, my 8th great-grandfather was a good friend of John Howe, another 8th great-grandfather and father-in-law of my 7th great-grandmother, Martha Howe Bent.

The 8th Great-Uncles

John Bent, Jr., Tithingman of Framingham, born in 1636, traveled with his family to America when he was only two-year-old. John Bent Jr. grew up to be a solid citizen and respected leader in Massachusetts. He was Martha’s older brother.

Peter Bent, Of Indian Attacks and Fatal Accidents. Peter Bent’s father named him for his friend Peter Noyes, who organized the group from Penton-Grafton to travel to America. Peter was an important pioneer in his own right, having arrived from England when he was eleven years old.  He seems to have been a successful business man, perhaps a trader, as he made more than one trip back to England. He joined other young men who left Sudbury and founded Marlborough. His family endured a violent Indian attack that injured a young son and killed an apprentice, he accidentally killed his younger brother Joe, and Peter died overseas.

The Short Life of Joseph Bent Poor Joseph Bent, the first of John and Martha Bent’s children to be born in Sudbury, Massachusetts, followed his older brother in the move to Marlborough and established his farm there. Joseph served as constable in Marlborough, but by 1672 , when his father died, he had moved back to Sudbury. He and his wife had five children, but he came to an untimely end at the age of 34.

I did not write about the oldest son Robert Bent, because his life was cut short at twenty-three years old, so there is very little information about him.  The second son, William Bent, leaves even fewer tracks. The Bent family history says he “probably died early.”

My 7X Great- Grandmother

Martha Bent, American Born was the youngest of John and Martha Bent’s children seven children. (Some sources claim they had ten children, but I have only been able to document seven.) She was born in Sudbury in 1643. In the small town of Sudbury, the marriage pool was limited. Martha married a member of one of the leading families, Samuel How(e) and they had seven children, including my ancestor David Howe the proprietor of the Howe Tavern which is known as Longfellow’s Wayside Inn.

Bent Brothers Building the Old West

Bent’s Fort tells the story of brothers William and Charles Bent, two kety figures in the buiding of the American West in the early 19th century.  They carry on the dramatic and tragic story of the Bents in Colorado and New Mexico.