Tag Archives: New Hampshire

Keene NH, Bunker Hill, and American Independence

In the History of Keene New Hampshire, 1874-1904  Frank H. Whitcomb (1904) reports the response of the people of Keene to the battle of Lexington. Samuel Bassett, my 4 times great grandfather, was among the first 23 men to respond and fight for American Independence.

Patriots had assembled military stores at various places, including Concord Massachusetts and General Gage, the British commander meant to destroy those weapons. But the colonists had an active grapevine, and kept close tabs on the British. So when the redcoats marched toward Lexington and Concord, the people of New Hampshire were ready to go to the aid of Massachusetts and fight for American independence.

War for American Independence

Revolutionary War Re-enactment at Sturbridge, MA Photo by Lee Wright.

On Tuesday, April 18, at 11:00 p.m., the British crossed the Connecticut River and as the dramatic story is told in the History of Keene New Hamshire,

The lanterns were hung in the steeple of Christ church on Copp’s hill.  Paul Revere crosssed Charles river in a boat five minutes before the British sentinels received the order to allow no one to leave Boston, mounted a fleet horse and sped away to Lexington, rousing the people as he went.  Other messengers hastened in all directions, bells were rung and neighbor sent word to neighbor.

Before Sunrise American citizens had been slain at Lexington, and minute-men and other patriots were flocking to the scene of action.  The tidings were caught up by relays of swift horsemen and fleet runners on foot…and carried to every township and every log cabin.

When the news reached Keene, 90 miles from Lexington, by a rider coming through the woods on a bridle paty, a meeting was called on the Green the afternoon of Thursday, April 20. A commander was chosen, and altogether thirty men marched for Lexington including Samuel Bassett, fifer.

Promptly at the hour [sunrise] on that Friday morning, the 21st of April, 1775–the men were there and immediately marched off down Main street…[on the] road to Boston.

Samuel was twenty-one years old.

Chapter 7 of the History of Keene, entitled “Keene in Revolution” starting at page 171, tells the details of what the men of Keene did during their march to Boston and the battles of Breed’s Hill and Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775.

American Independence at Bunker Hill

In this map, you can see The New Hampshire Regiment commanded by Starks on the first day as they attacked Breed’s Hill. Map from WIki Commons.

Col. Stark’s regiment, including the Keene men under Capt. Stiles, was in the front of the charge on Bunker Hill, and according to the History of Keene, a report to England from General Gage said “If a monument is to be erected upon that battle ground to an colonel, it should be to Colonel Stark of New Hampshire, whose services in the strife were more important than those of any other man bearing that title.”

Part of the report of the details of movements of the New Hampshire troops toward Bunker Hill is credited in the book to a statement by “Samuel Bassett of Keene, fifer in Stiles’s [sic] company, who was with the detached party.”

He carried his musket in the action and states that he discharged five or six rounds and received a flesh wound in his thigh (so slight that he was not reported wounded, as is often the case in battle), after which several minutes elapsed before the retreat began.

Samuel is also listed in the roster of Stile’s company transferred to the command of Massachusetts Col. Dudley Sargent on August 1, 1775.  There he is identified as a “Freamer,” a word I have been unable to track down. But since he is listed immediately following the Drummer, I assume it is another way of saying Fifer.

The Keene men were mostly dismissed at the end of their eight-month term of duty in October, 1775.

In December, since they considered the British evicted from rulership but there was not yet a written set of regulations for the country, the people of Keene wrote their own Resolutions. You can see what their main concerns were. (Although they used much more flowery language.)

1. Appoint 3 good men to enforce the resolutions.

2. Establish fines for profanity

3. Fine anyone loitering or tippling instead of working.

4. Fine or publicly whip anyone who smites another person or abuses or destroys property of another person.

5. If anyone brings tea into town intending to sell it, they must surrender it until “the minds of Congress are fully known.”

6. Each member of committee has power to enforce the resolutions.

7. An officer will be appointed and given power to bring trangressors to the committee.

And all masters and heads of families have the responstibility that their “children, servants, and others [I suppose that includes wives?] not trespass against these “particulars.”

And they voted to hire a minister.

The records also show that in 1775, “Samuel Bassett and Aaron Willson, by the aid of a bee, excavated the canal from the pond on West Street to a point on the river about a hundred rods below.”  This enabled the building of a saw mill and a grist mill (owned by other men). [Can anybody tell me what a ‘bee’ would be?]

On April 12th 1776, all able-bodied men of Keene were asked to sign a statement supporting the Continental Congress–

“….that we will do the utmost of our Power at the Risque of our LIves and Fortunes with ARMS oppose the  Hostile Proceedings of the British Fleets and Armies against the United American COLONIES.”

Samuel Bassett was one of the 133 men of Keene that signed the Declaration. The thirteen who refused to sign (mostly wealthy men of the town) were also listed.

American Independence Day Fireworks

American Independence Day Fireworks

On July 4th, when the citizens were ready to celebrate the new American Independence, they erected a Liberty pole and a nine year boy climbed the pole to affix the flag.  The following September (they had been in recess when Independence was declared), the legislature enacted a statement making the former colony the STATE of New Hampshire.

The legislature of the new state voted to raise two regiments of men, and Samuel Bassett volunteered the 6th Company of the regiment commanded by Nahum Baldwin of Amherst. They took part in the battle of White Plains in October.

In May 1777, he marched with 112 men under Col. Bellows to TIconderoga, but the threat was over when they arrived, and they were dismissed in late June.

If you want the entire 3-chapter history of Keene’s involvement in the Revolution, I suggest you read the detailed History of Keene, made available on line by the Keene Public Library. And on Monday, I’ll be sharing Samuel’s own account from his pension record.

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher, the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, the daughter of
  • Hattie Stout Morgan, the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett Platt Morgan, the daughter of
  • William Bassett, the son of
  • Samuel Bassett.

Why Did William Bassett Leave Keene?

William Bassett 1779-1833

Keene New Hampshire

Current day picture of Keene NH United Church of Christ

In 1826,  William Bassett and his wife Elizabeth Stone Bassett and their five daughters packed up a wagon in Keene, New Hampshire, and headed out for the new settlement of Keene, Ohio. It had been two centuries since the first William Bassett arrived in North America. Both pioneering families–the Bassetts and the Stones had spread throughout Massachusetts and into neighboring states by the 1800s.

Stagecoach moving west

A Stagecoach going West. Photo by the author.

My 3rd-great-grandfather, William Bassett, who was in a sense a pioneer when he settled in Ohio, actually came along SIX generations after the real pioneer William Bassett,–a member of the Plymouth Colony who arrived in 1621. (Why he wasn’t stepping ashore at Plymouth Rock in 1620 is another story for another day.) Ironically, I have far more information about the men on either side of this William than I do on William himself.

What persuaded William to move his family to Ohio? Was it a worthwhile move?

Click here to see the journey. (At least the start and end, since I’m not sure what roads and boats were available to them.)

Keene New Hampshire

Keene New Hampshire

New Hampshire land disputes. Photo from Wiki Commons

Keene NH lies in the southwest of New Hampshire, in an area that was once disputed territory, with first Massachusetts and then both Vemont and New York claiming it.

Samuel Bassett, who had been born in Norton Massachusetts, lived in Keene ,New Hampshire when he enlisted in the colonial army in 1775. He married William’s mother, Martha Belding in Swanzey, a smaller town just slightly south of Keene, and William was born in Keene in 1779.

During the period between 1750 and 1790, WIlliam’s family in Keene had been subject to constant fighting about overlapping claims of three states. At first Vermont was considered part of the colony of New Hampshire. The New York claims to territory west of the Connecticut River spurred the formation of the Green Mountain Boys, led by Ethan Allen, to protect those settlers in what were known as New Hampshire grants.

Once New York was discouraged from poaching land in the New Hampshire grants, Vermont and New Hampshire fought over territory, and the people of Keene wished to stay with New Hampshire.

New Hampshire  officially became a state in 1788, with the line between Vermont and New Hampshire designated as the path of the Connecticut River.  Congress admitted Vermont in 1791 with the proviso that they should give up claims to New Hampshire East of the Connecticut River.

Keene New Hampshire in 1800s

The War of 1812 was demoralizing to the people due to disagreements about support of the war. Morality campaigns began to encourage those who had begun to ignore church. The town fathers felt it necessary to appoint tythingmen to insure that people paid to support the churches and remembered to attend churche on Sunday. William’s father Samuel, was appointed one of the first tythingmen in 1814.

Keene, New Hampshire in 1826 was a thriving community, growing fast, with many schools, churches, a new hotel, businesses of all sorts. It had recovered from the Revolutionary War and even held theatrical performances.  The most promising new mode of transportation was by steamboat on river and canal systems, and a company formed to finance locks along the Connecticut River.  One of the committee was a Belding (related to William’s mother.)

But despite all these signs of a healthy community, religion continued to divide people, which may have triggered the exodus of so many citizens for Ohio.

A group split off from the town-supported Congregational Church, forming a Unitarian Church. The town continued to tax everyone to support the church, despite protests from those who no longer attended. (Separation of church and state, anyone?)

Ohio in the 1820s

By the time that William and Elizabeth and their girls traveled to Ohio, it was no longer a territory–it was a state. (I am saying five girls, because although some people say there is a sixth, the evidence is scanty.  Based on the 1810 census, there might have also been a boy who died in childhood.) [NOTE: After I wrote this, I found the sixth daughter, Harriette.  See Questions for Elizabeth Stone Bassett.]

The enterprising New Hampshirite who founded Keene, Ohio ( in Coshocton County) in 1824, was betting on the future of the new western state. The Erie Canal was being constructed through Coshocton County between the middle of the 1820s and 1830–and there were great expectations of the wealth this new transportation corridor would bring. When the community was founded, Holmes County had not been split from Coshocton, and boosters of Keene thought it would make a dandy site for a county seat. However, when Holmes County was split off, that no longer was an option.

Although it was adventurous to leave one’s native New England, it was comfortable to be traveling with numerous families who came from the same town. There are several Bassett families that show up in the history of Coshocton County, including an indication that William’s brother Nathan may have moved at the same time as William. Some others may have been relatives.

Within a very short time of their arrival, William’s daughter Mary Bassett had established her own school. It was short lived, since she was 16 when she arrived in Ohio and married at 19, when she moved to Holmes County. In short order the new immigrants to Ohio built churches and the Keene Academy. Among the churches was the Keene Presbyterian Church where several members of the family are buried.

The Family in Ohio

Within three years of their arrival in Keene, Ohio, William’s wife Elizabeth died and the three oldest daughters–Eliza (Emerson), Martha (Smith) and Mary (Platt,2nd- Morgan) were married. Eliza wound up living with a son in Kansas; Martha moved to Iowa and the next daughter, Sarah, never married. Sarah lived with her sister Lura, who had married a Stone (perhaps a relative of her mother) in Killbuck Ohio, and moved to West Virginia before moving back to Guernsey County. Mary, as we have seen, moved to Killbuck in Holmes County.

William himself died in 1833, just seven years after the big move from New Hampshire. Hardly long enough to establish himself in his new state, although his move was one more step in the westward movement of the family.

William and Elizabeth lie side by side in the Keene Old Presbyterian cemetery.

William Bassetts' Wife

Elizabeth Stone Bassett gravestone in Keene, Ohio, Photo by Todd James Dean

William Bassett

Gravestone of William Bassett in Keene, Ohio. Photo by Todd James Dean at Find a Grave.com


How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher, the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, the daughter of
  • Hattie Stout Morgan, the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett Platt Morgan, the daughter of
  • William Bassett.

This has been a weekly post in the 52 Ancestors/52 Weeks Project started by Amy Johnson Crow at “No Story too Small.” Check out her weekly recap showing the list of participants for some ripping good stories.

Research Notes

  • History of Coshocton County: Its Past and Present 1740-1841 Compiled by N. N. Hill, Jr. (Available on line from Google Books.)
  • Birth, marriage and death dates come from original records found at Ancestry.com
  • Gravestones and burial information from FindaGrave.com
  • Information from family stories from Vera Stout Anderson and Harriette Anderson Kaser and family Bibles.
  • History of Keene, New Hampshire, 1874-1904 by Frank H. Whitcomb (1904)

Mary Bassett Platt Morgan and the Magazine

Mary Bassett Platt Morgan 1810-1890

Mary had been married to Jesse for only three years, and he was out galavanting around the country, riding on trains and steamboats, while she was left behind to take care of his two daughters from his first marriage, plus the baby Harriett (Hattie).

Now he had the gumption to tell her that she could not subscribe to her favorite (and only) magazine?? The nerve of that man! It was bad enough to be stuck in this small town without being cut off from a source of information about the larger world.

Mary Bassett was born in Keene New Hampshire, and when she was sixteen, her family traveled by horse and wagon to Ohio.  I always felt connected to Mary Bassett, because I knew from my mother and grandmother that she was a bookworm like me. It might have been hard for a young woman to leave behind the friends and familiar surroundings of New Hampshire, but I understood that as long as she had something to read, she would be all right.

She brought with her on that wagon a wooden chest –plain, but with beautifully mitered corners.  My Grandmother Vera Stout Anderson-Mary’s grand-daughter–let me look through the chest.  I loved going through the old clothes that my grandmother told me belonged to her mother and other ancestors. Some very old publications , including a home-bound set of Godey’s Lady’s Book lay in that chest. I told my grandmother that the only thing I wanted to inherit from her was that chest and its contents. And it sits in my entryway today.


Mary Bassett's chest

Mary Bassett’s chest traveled from New Hampshire to Keene Ohio on a wagon, and 140 years later from Ohio to Arizona on a moving van.

In 1826, the Bassetts joined a group of people from Keene New Hampshire who flocked to the new town of Keene, Ohio in Coshocton County. The people started several churches and the Keene Academy, a private school.

Mary was a teacher, apparently running her own school according to a mention in the History of Coshocton County. Mary grew up loving knowledge and admiring women who could take care of themselves, which would explain why as an adult, she loved Godey’s Lady’s Book.  When she was nineteen, she married a man, Ashiel Platt, who must have pleased her family very much, as he came from a religious family and had a good head for business. They had only one child, who died in infancy.

The couple moved to Holmes County, Ohio, but Ashiel Platt had land in Illinois as well as Ohio, and later in life, Mary discovered she was a substantial land owner. Unfortunately, Mr. Platt died when they had been married less than six years–around 1834. His will shows that he owned a general store in Killbuck.

Mary stayed in Killbuck, Ohio and eventually met her second husband, widower Jesse Morgan, whom she married in September, 1840 when she was thirty years old and he was thirty-five.  He brought  to the marriage two daughters, Malvina (1835) and Louise (1833).  My mother said that his two sons, Charles (1830) and Carlos (1832) stayed with relatives of his. Hattie and Jesse had one daughter together, Harriet (Hattie) Morgan born in August, 1842.  So in short order, Mary went from being alone to being the mother of three girls, and much of the time she was doing all the parenting of her “instant family.”  In 1842 the family consisted of a baby, a seven-year-old and a nine-year old.

Jesse started out as a school teacher, but took to the road, trading horses, and eventually I promise I will share with you the letters he sent Mary from the road. I wish I had pictures of a lot of my ancestors, but particularly Jesse. He must have been quite the charmer.  Next week, my brother has a story about Jesse that I think you’ll find intriguing. But for now, let’s just say that Jesse was not as successful at business as Mr. Platt.  Jesse’s income never seemed to meet his high hopes.

Mary took care of the children, and read the Bible and Godey’s Lady’s Book. Mary clipped some fashion plates from the magazine, which she probably used as a guide to make her own up-to-date clothing.

Mary Bassett's Godey's

Godey’s February 1843 fashion plate.


Explanation of the Plates (January 1843 Lady’s Godey’s Magazine, page 60).

Fig. 1–Dress of Thibet merino with six tucks, the tucks braided. Down the front a large braided fold, confined on the under side.

Fig. 2–Dress of gros de Brazil, with seven narrow flounces–each flounce edged with a bias fold.

Fig. 3–Dress of embroidered white tarietane muslin.

Fig. 4–Open dress of Altapacca poplin, trimmed with large silk cord.

Fig. 5–Dress of Turkish satin, laid in pleats or folds down the front–the folds caught at intervals with satin knots or clasps.  Neck and sleeves trimmed with deep rich lace, set on nearly plain, showing the pattern of the lace distinctly Head dress of broad satin ribbon, and flowers.

This fashion plate comes on the heels of a controversy. Mrs. Hale, the founder (with her husband) and editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, had hired an artist to adapt the fashion plates that came from France so that they reflected a more healthy female figure with less constriction of the waist.  Some people apparently objected that this made the pictures meaningless as examples of French fashion. Her editorial in the January issue includes a letter from Harriet Beecher Stowe in support of the new editorial policy. Beecher Stowe says:

Only persuade our young ladies they can look pretty and be comfortable and healthy besides, and comfort and health may then become a matter of some little attention with them.

But Godey’s definitely was not all about fashion. It was mostly about uplifting literature, poetry, and even musical compositions. Edgar Allan Poe wrote for Godey’s several times. Unfortunately, not in 1843, the issues that I have. Mrs. Hale supported the Temperance movement, healthy living and later even women’s suffrage. Godey’s was a far cry from the women’s magazines of today–“Lose 10 pounds overnight.” “What celebrity is sleeping with her brother-in-law?” “Ten steps to more kissable lips.”

Meanwhile, Jesse’s letters to Mary gave some hints that all was not well with the family financially. And in November, 1845, he wrote a chatty letter from Illinois, near the Mississippi River, to update her on his travels. Apparently he had been away from home for two months and he did not have much encouraging to say. But she must have been stunned to read this:

It is my wish that you do not take the Ladies Book out of the office after Dec. No. comes.

In other words, “Cancel your subscription. We can’t afford the $3.00 per annum rate.”

Mary must have been despondent. But she was a virtuous woman and an obedient wife. So she cancelled the subscription.

How do I know it meant so much to her? Because she kept the 1843 issues of her Godey’s (the year after her child, Harriet was born) packed away with other precious items in the chest that accompanied her from New Hampshire.  She added book-binding to her considerable other skills, and hand sewed the copies together, covering the front with the January 1843 cover and the back with the December 1843 cover.


She tucked the whole thing away in the chest that held her most precious treasures, and there it has stayed for 170 years.

Mary lived on to survive Jesse and claim the lands that she inherited from Mr. Platt.  She supported her self and her daughter on the income from her properties until Harriet married Dr. William Stout in 1872. Then she lived alone in Killbuck until her death in August 1890, enjoying her three grandchildren, and probably never tempted to marry again.

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher, is the
  • daughter of Harriette Anderson Kaser who is the
  • daughter of Vera Stout Anderson, who is the
  • daughter of Harriett Morgan Stout, who is the
  • daughter of Mary Bassett Platt Morgan.

This has been another post that is part of the #52 Ancestors initiative. To see more participants go to the website that started it all: No Story Too Small.


  • History of Coshocton County, Ohio: Its Past and Present, 1740-1881 By Albert Adams Graham (1881) (Available on line at Google Books.)
  • Information from family stories from Vera Stout Anderson and Harriette Anderson Kaser and family Bibles.
  • Photo copies of Jesse Morgan’s letters in the author’s possession.
  • Photographs  and artifacts shown belong to the author.