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Of Ancestors in Early New England and New York

Louis Lehmann 2010


"So you're Lou Lehmann? One my descendants, are you? And you want to poke around to see what you can find out about my life and the lives of my kinfolk. Hoping that your children or grandchildren might care about such things? Well, none of you are going to learn much about our lives just by listening to me or to any other ancestral ghosts. You'd have to go through what we went through. Think any of you would be up to it? Could you work even half as hard as we did? Could you load up a family of eleven onto an oxcart and move them hundreds of miles out of Massachusetts and into New York? Could you make your own furniture? Could you even survive in a wilderness where you don't know where your next meal is coming from? Could you trust your neighbors to pitch in and help you when you need them?

No you couldn't. You couldn't begin to do what I and your Willis ancestors and their kin had to do. We had none of that so-called 'technology.' We didn't sit on our butts for hours every day in front of a computer. We used washboards instead of those fancy machines that wash your dishes in clothes. We had carriages with horses instead of motors. We got by without those big carriages that fly through the sky. We worked hard but we enjoyed just being with family and friends because we didn't have those silly boxes that hypnotize you with sounds and pictures. We used candles and lamps instead of pushing a button or flipping a switch.. We didn't have wires that let you talk to people far away so we wrote letters. Now don't tell me how all that stuff gets things done faster and easier. I can see that but I also see how it muddles your life with confusion. And for all those inventions around you, do you think your world is safer than the one I lived in? I don't. You live in a very different world and at a very different time. So you're not going to understand my life just by listening to what I tell you.

But don't fret. I'm going to talk with you anyway about what you've learned from your Willis ancestors and from other ancestral relatives. Why? Because you are family, no matter how muddled you may be. And just maybe you can learn a few things about life from us ancestral spirits that you can't learn from all that stuff in your world. Yes, I've found out a lot about many of your ancestors from their ghosts during the 129 years since my death. So let's start taking a look at some of those who have populated your family tree.


"First of all, Lou Lehmann, let's get a few things straight. It's thanks to your great-grandfather, Henry Ewing, that you even have any Willis ancestors. Henry married my grand-daughter, Augusta Willis, in 1855. I'll have more to say about that later but right now we'll start by looking at what you've discovered about the lives of some of your earliest American ancestors.

You found that most of your Willis ancestors lived in Massachusetts before I moved my his family to New York in 1819. Then it didn't take you long to find out that my name was spelled in different ways at different times - Willis, Willys, Wyllys, Wyllis. The earliest Willis you found was John Willis whom you guessed came to America from England around 1635-37. But nobody knows that for sure. (1)

Anyway you do know that he held some town offices in Massachusetts at Duxbury in 1637 and at Bridgewater in 1650, and that he was listed in 1643 as "one of those from Duxborrow - able to bear arms. (2) (3) Sometimes he was a juror. Once he was a juror during a murder trial in 1648. Alice Bishop was hanged after being found guilty of killing her daughter, Martha Clarke. Part of the coroner's report gave you some idea of how gruesome it must have been for John Willis and the other jurors to hear.

".........coming into the house of the said Richard Bishop, wee saw at the foot of a lader which leadeth into an upper chamber, much blood; and going up all of us into the chamber, wee found a woman child, of about foure yeares of age, lying in her shifte uppon her left cheeke, with her throat cut with divers gashes crose wayes, the wind pipe cut and suke into the throat downward, and a bloody knife lyin to the side of the child, with which knife all of us judge, and the said Allis hath confessed to five of us, att one time, that shee murdered the child with the said knife." (4)

You wondered how sick John Willis might have felt when he heard that and you guessed that he was probably very glad to get home to his wife and children after that trial. His wife? You learned that she was Elizabeth Hodgekin, that she married John in 1637, and that they had eight children - John, Nathaniel, Joseph, Comfort, Benjamin, Hannah, Elizabeth, and Sarah. , one of whom was your ancestor, Joseph Willis. But there's been more written about Comfort Willis than the others. He was a soldier in that ugly war with that Indian they called "King Phillip." All right, all right. I can guess what's going on in your head. You're remembering that his real name was Metacomet and that he suspected the Plymouth people of poisoning his brother. And you've read how the Indians resented the ways that the colonists used the land. Well, whatever caused the war, John Willis's family was right in the middle of it. It's said that Comfort Willis penned a note about the war in 1676. The first part of that note says that John Willis (or maybe his son - same name) was one of those who first saw some approaching Indians before turning to Comfort Willis for help.

"On Saturday Capt Hayward, Sgt Packard, John Willis and Isaac Harris went out to see if the Indians were coming down upon them and they saw an Indian which made them think the enemy was at hand, and they immediately impressed Comfort Willis and Joseph Edson to go post to the Governor the same day at night to tell him of it. And he went to Plymouth with them next day to send Capt. Church with his company. And Captain Church went with his company to Monopauset [ a large pond in Halifax] on the Sabbath and came no further that day, and he told them he would meet them next day." (5)

The rest of that note talks about how Comfort and some of his friends went out to fight the Indians - without any help from Captain Benjamin Church who is so famous as an Indian fighter.

"...... And Comfort Willis and Joseph Edson came home at night and told their friends of it, and Ensign Haward, Samuel Edson, Josiah Edson, Joseph Edson, John Washburn, Samuel Washburn, Thomas Washburn, John Field, Nicholas Byram, Samuel Allen, Samuel Allen, Jun. John Gordon, John Haward, John Packard, John Ames, Comfort Willis, Guido Bailey, Nathaniel Hayward, John Whitman, John Hayward, and Samuel Leach, went out on Monday, supposing to meet with Capt. Church; but they came upon the enemy and fought with them and took seventeen of them alive and also much plunder. And they all returned, and not one of them fell by the enemy ; and received no help from Church." (6)

So what do you think of Comfort Willis and his friends out there fighting Indians without your famous Captain Benjamin Church? Oh yes, I know all about how that Captain Church was a brother to one of your other ancestors, Joseph Church. And how their father, Richard Church, married Elizabeth Warren, daughter of Richard Warren, one of the Mayflower passengers. Well, maybe the great Captain Benjamin Church was a Mayflower descendant and an Indian fighter but it seems to me that Comfort Willis and his men fought the Indians just fine without him. Ah, I know what you're thinking, Louis. About how the whites mistreated the Indians. People have been arguing about that for hundreds of years. But there's always two sides to every argument and there were plenty of killings done by both the whites and the Indians. And whatever you think of those Indian wars, they were a part of the life faced by the early Willises and their neighbors.

You didn't find as much information about your own ancestor, Joseph Willis, as you did about his brother, Comfort. But I saw how excited you got when you found out that he married a Sarah Lincoln in 1670. (7) Hah! You though you might get hooked up in some way with the family of Abraham Lincoln. And you tried every way you could to find a connection. But no such luck for you. Finally you had to admit that there was no link. Serves you right, Louis. You're not always going to be finding famous people in your family lines. Nor should you. You can learn a lot from plain folks like me and others in your Willis lines.

Take Joseph Willis's son, Jeremiah. He was one of your ancestors who was just "plain folks." He married Rebecca Stimson in 1705 and they had eight children, including your ancestor, Seth Willis, who was my grandfather. Their other children were Jeremiah, Jedidiah, John, Solomon, Jonathan, Mehitabel, and Rachel. The older Jeremiah was a blacksmith at Dorchester in 1717. You didn't find him doing anything famous but you knew that he was a man who grieved. Because you found that when he sold some of his land in 1759, he kept back a part of it where he had buried one of his children. (8)

Nothing special about that poor child. Nobody remembers anything about him - or her. Was the child a boy or a girl? How old? No one knows. There is no record. But just like so many fathers whose children died during those times, Jeremiah buried the child on his land and mourned. Have you wondered how many other Willises might lie in the ground near that unknown child? Maybe even Jeremiah himself? Just one of the many mysteries in your family history.

From all your readings, I suppose you know that Jeremiah's first wife, Rebecca Stimson, apparently died sometime before Oct 4, 1742 because that's when he married his second wife, Remember Tupper, the widow of Thomas Tupper. Before Thomas's death in 1739, he and Remember had eight children: Mayhew, Seth, Joanna, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, and Benjamin The best remembered was Benjamin, best remembered as General Benjamin Tupper. Look at the following account and you will see that Jeremiah Willis's step-son, General Benjamin Tupper was not only a hero in the Revolutionary War but was also one of the early citizens of Chesterfield, Massachusetts where I raised my family before moving them to New York.

"January 8, 1764. Benjamin Tupper joined the Congregational Church of Easton. A few months after this he moved to Chesterfield where he was an active citizen and became the first deacon of the church. On the breaking out of the Revolutionary War he was a lieutenant of militia. He proceeded at once to Springfield and dispersed the Supreme Court of Crown, then in session there. He then marched to Roxbury and was at once made a major in Colonel Fellow's regiment. About the middle of July, 1755, he made an expedition with muffled oars to Castle Island, burned the lighthouse and brought off considerable property though the British fleet was not far off. The British endeavored to rebuild the lighthouse but while the work of restoration was in progress, Major Tupper embarked some men in Whale-boats, taking some field-pieces with them. They arrived at the lighthouse about two o-clock in the morning and attacked the guard, killed the officers and for privates and captured the rest of the troops. Having demolished the works they were about to depart but the tide left them and the Major himself was attacked by the enemy's boats. But sinking one of the boats with his field-piece, he escaped with the loss of one man killed and one wounded. He killed and captured fifty-three of the enemy; and among the captures were ten Tories who were immediately sent to Springfield jail. This brave and successful attack won great praise.. Washington thanked Major Tupper the next day in general orders. Jefferson saw in it 'the adventurous genius and intrepidity of the New Englanders and the British Admiral said that ;no one act of the siege caused so much chagrin in London as the destruction of the lighthouse and it was the theme of the most biting sarcasm." (9)

I'm sure you're not surprised that General Benjamin Tupper was one of the leaders in our little Chesterfield community. But we had others thee who had been soldiering long before Tupper. One of them was my grandfather, Seth Willis. Ah, there was a man who had more than his share of glory, shame, and tragedy.

You figured that Seth Willis was born in 1720 when his death notice told you that he was eighty-seven when he died in 1807. (10) The earliest information you discovered about him was that he was one of the three thousand Massachusetts soldiers in the 1745 British expedition against Louisbourg. (11) Not knowing anything about Louisbourg, you looked it up and found that it was then a small fortress town held by the French on the southeast side of Cape Breton Island above Nova Scotia. In those days folks said it was one of th strongest forts in the world.

You don't really know what Seth Willis did during that siege but you've wondered if he might have been one of the four hundred men who set fire on May 2 to the supplies that the French had stored in the hills outside of the fort. Or could he have been one of the soldiers making a thousand scaling ladders as the British prepared to attack. Well, whatever he did, you can be quite sure that he was a proud man when the French surrendered Louisbourg. (12)

After Louisbourg Seth decided to get married. You found a record that on May 31, 1746, he declared his intention of marrying Phoebe Keith. But then you found another record than on Nov. 22, 1746, he declared his intention to marry Phoebe Keith's widowed sister, Silence Smith. (13) Finally you found a record that he married Silence in Easton on Dec. 18, 1746. (14) You don't know what to make of all that. You know that Phoebe went on to marry Daniel White and you know that Silence was the widow of Benjamin Smith. You are wondering if Benjamin might have died in 1746, sometime between May 31 and Nov 22, leaving Silence with some children and a need for a man to be their father. But you have no evidence. So for all of your computer records and microfilms and books, it's still a mystery to you. Why did Seth start out intending to marry Phoebe but ended up marrying her sister? Did Seth and Phoebe have a falling out? Was the family so concerned about Silence as a widow that they might have insisted that Seth marry Silence instead of Phoebe? As it is with many other questions about the Willises, you may never know. But whatever the reason, Seth and Silence were my grandparents and your ancestors. And of course Seth's marriage also made you a descendant of the Scottish Keith family.

Yes, Seth's wife, Silence, and her sister, Phoebe, were daughters of Josiah Keith, whose 1717 house is still standing in North Easton, Massachusetts. And of course they were also granddaughters of Rev. James Keith, the first minister of the church in Bridgewater. He was preaching there when Comfort Willis and Benjamin Church were fighting the Indians during King Phillip's war. People listened to Rev. Keith, especially in 1676 when King Phillip was killed by Alderman, a Pocasset Indian who accompanied Benjamin Church in the final hunt for Phillip. After all the bloodshed by both side, some people wanted to kill all of the Indian prisoners that had been captured. Yes, all of them, including Philip's nine-year old son, Metom. That's how angry people were. Ready to murder children. But Rev. Keith was one of the few people who spoke out favoring mercy for the boy. Well, that might have saved his life and I suppose it was for the best. But do you wonder if it was much of a favor when you remember that the wretched child was then shipped off to the West Indies to be sold into slavery. (15) (16) Have you ever wondered if he might have been better off dead?

Disgraceful? Yes, but that's how it was in those days and King Phillip's War wasn't the only war where disgraceful things happened. There was plenty of shame to go around in the French and Indian War. Especially when General Braddock marched to Fort Duquesne in 1755. You read all about that because one of your ancestral uncles was there with Braddock. (17) From your readings you know how badly that fool Braddock mismanaged that dismal campaign. His army included George Washington as well as your ancestral uncle, William Ewing, who is said to have been Braddock's adjutant.. That fool Braddock insisted on organizing his men as if they were on European battlefield rather than in an American wilderness, making them sitting ducks for ambush by the French and Indians. Yet he was no coward. He had four horses shot out from under him and then died after falling from the fifth horse. Washington was luckier. . Two horses were killed under him and his clothes were partly torn from his back by bullets. And your William Ewing? Who knows what he did or didn't do in that battle. Nobody wrote about him. But many wrote about how the campaign was a disaster for the British and the colonials. Out of their total force of 1373 all but 459 were killed or wounded. As for the 86 officers, only 23 of them escaped injury. (18) So far as you know, William Ewing was one of the lucky twenty-three.

You don't know that any Willises were at Fort Duquesne but you do know that Seth Willis was back again as a colonial soldier some years after he was married. Fighting for another fool - General Abercrombie. You found Seth listed as one of the twenty-four Easton men enlisted on April 13, 1758 under Captain James Andrews in Colonel Thomas Doty's regiment for service with Abercrombie's forces at Crown Point or Ticonderoga. Then when you read the following account of the battle, you wondered if my grandfather acted in a soldierly way or in a disgraceful manner.

"These troops had part in a most inglorious campaign. It was not their fault, however. Before Fort Carillon, at Ticonderoga, they fought with desperate valor. But while Montcalm in the thick of danger cheered on his men and directed the defense in person, the English Commander Abercrombie skulked out of sight; and after the defeat, though his forces still outnumbered Montcalm's fourfold, he beat a disgraceful retreat. We are not therefore surprised that several of our Easton soldiers deserted. This was not before, nor was it in face of, a battle. They deserted at Half-Moon, then a station and now a town at the junction of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers. Lieut. Benjamin Williams was sent after them, who found and brought them back. For their punishment, seven shillings were docked from their wages and given to Lieutenant Williams. He brought back sixty-four deserters, and received for the service twenty-two pounds, eight shillings. Why so light a penalty was inflicted for so grave a military offence does not appear; either the discipline was very defective, or what is more probable and pleasanter for us to believe, it was not a case of genuine desertion " (19)

There you have it, Louis. Was my grandfather, Seth Willis, one of those Easton soldiers who deserted. You'd like to think he wasn't but you don't know. And I'm not going to tell you. Keeps you more humble when you don't know everything. Ah, but when you read one of the descriptions of that battle, you figured that he was one of the 5900 provincial soldiers who were with the 6300 British regulars at Lake George. And this account gave you some idea of what his life might have been like in that campaign. (20)

"... These militiamen of course were mostly raw and untrained soldiers, though some of them had seen service in previous campaigns of the war..... Gambling by soldiers was frowned on most severely; any man caught in the at was to be given three hundred lashes without bothering to hold a court martial.... eight hundred bateaux and ninety whaleboats had been hauled by soldiers on low-wheeled trucks over the portage from the Hudson River to Lake George. Various camp activities were ordered while the troops were awaiting word to launch their boats. Some regiments turned out to early-morning target practice, while those

How do you think my grandfather felt about soldiers being threatened with 300 lashes for gambling. Now you're wondering if he gambled. Once again, I'm not going to tell you. But you might well guess that he was one of the soldiers moving those boats because you can bet that the British regulars would have had the militia men do it. Whatever weapon Seth had, he must have been in one of those 900 boats that went down Lake George on July 5, 1758. Now take another look at that account of the battle to see just how stupid Abercrombie was as a commander

"Everything collapsed into confusion, some of the troops continuing to advance, while others returned to the landing place. Firing broke out toward late afternoon, but there was no enemy, it was merely ?British firing at other elements of their own forces. In short, all was chaos and night fell upon a scared and disorganized army....Daylight restored courage and all the troops were drawn back to the landing place, moved over to the eastern shore, and the expedition advanced down the portage road without meeting any opposition.. Abercrombie's main army camped that night on the open ground... perhaps a mile and a half from the French defenses... Abercrombie was misled by a young officer's inaccurate report that the Fre3nch defenses were weak, scorned to use artillery and ordered a frontal attack by his infantry. Abercrombie himself apparently never went within a mile of the log wall (where sharpened points of trees had been erected to repel attackers)... His sole leadership throughout the entire action seems to have been merely the ordering of another attack as soon as he learned of the failure of the previous assault.. The initial British attack was made in the worst possible way, an uncoordinated attack by several regiments in long lines, three deep each regiment attacked in a long thin line as soon as it was ready, regardless of the movements of its neighbor...."

Abercrombie lost a lot of men, 1610 killed, wounded, and missing. The French lost 377 out of their four thousands. Yet at the end Abercrombie still had a lot more men than the French had. And he still had all his artillery but he was too stupid to use it. If he had, he could have smashed down the wall of the fort and another attack might have won the day. But that dunce was not up to any more fighting. (21) A sad day for his men. No wonder some of the militia men deserted.

Not only did Seth have to suffer under the command of that idiot, Abercrombie, but he apparently got involved in a bitter dispute with Samuel Blodgett, a sutler who supplied clothing to the soldiers. When you heard this, you looked up "sutler" and learned that this was someone like a storekeeper who provided supplies to soldiers in or near a military camp. (22)

(23). Grandfather's dispute with Blodgett went on for eight years. It was about 1765 when Blodgett said that in 1758 he supplied clothing to Seth who refused to pay him. Blodgett then sued Seth but didn't appear at the trial where Seth said he never had the good, never gave any receipt, and said he could not write. When the court favored Seth . Blodgett's attorney appealed the decision but once again didn't appear at the trial so the court again favored Grandfather.

That wasn't the end of it. Blodgett pleaded for a new trial, insisting that he was told after the trial that the Jury acted upon a "gross mistake" described as "The paper on the backside of which the sd Willis had given his receit aforesd imparted an Order (from the sd Willis's Capn for the value of the particulars recd ) upon your Petr and that order was not signed & that fact together with the sd Willis's affirming he never signd the Receipt nor ever recd anything from your Petr who was presented to the Court as a Cheat and Willis declaring Blodgett had refused to swear to his Account when Willis offerd to pay him, if he would swear the receipt was just. The jury quite misunderstood the Case by reason your Petr was absent and could not explain the affair nor confront the sd Willis and so they considered your Petr to be a bad man & gave the case against him so that your Petr has greatly sufferd in his good name & caracter as well as the loss of a most Just Debt with large costs & charges...".

That stubborn Blodgett wasted eight years trying to get 38 shillings from Seth Willis. Seems he was more concerned about his reputation than the money. I don't know why he bothered about that because he was a rich man by 1766. He had a successful store, did some lumber business, bought some land, built a saw-mill, and owned a farm. (24) Much later he got to be a judge up in New Hampshire. He even raised a cargo from a sunken ship in 1783, using some contraption that he invented. Then he went to England to try it but it didn't work. By 1793 he was in New Hampshire where he spent a lot of money building a canal. Then he had money problems and for a while was jailed because of debts. Maybe that served him right after eight years of bothering my grandfather.

Anyway Louis, don't think that Seth Willis and William Ewing were your only ancestral relatives serving in the French and Indian War. My father-in-law, Amariah Dana, was a soldier in the Seventh Company, Fourth Regiment of Connecticut Troops. in 1759. (25) You haven't found out what he did during that war but that's how it is with most everything that you're exploring. You find bits and pieces about ancestors and their lives but you won't find everything. Just as well. I wouldn't want you to be a know-it-all. Be thankful for what you do learn.

We need to talk more about the sad events in Seth Willis's life. But first let's see what you have learned about Amariah Dana ,who not only fought in the French and Indian War but also did a lot of fighting in the Revolutionary War. He was a real patriot, even naming my wife "Freedom Dana." But after we talk about him, let's not forget that you had other kinfolk who also fought against the British, like my other grandfather, Hezekiah Mehuren and Freedom's uncle, Colonel John May.



Amariah Dana was born in 1738 at Pomfret, Connecticut, where he married Dorothy May in 1763, just four years after his service in the French and Indian War. They joined the church there the next year when their first child, Ezra, was born. Over the next six years, four more children; Lucinda, Eleazer, Dorothy, and Lucretia; were born as the colonies moved closer toward the time of Revolution. (26)

Amariah Dana probably wasn't thinking revolution when, he got hold of land through one of those New Hampshire grants a couple of years before he married Dorothy May. He might have just wanted to settle down and work a small farm. But getting tangled up with those land grants was trouble because the British governor, Benning Wentworth, used those New Hampshire land grants to cheat people. Your ancestral uncle, William Ewing, got caught in a similar land mess. (27) And you know from your readings that New Yorkers tried to get those grant holders to buy their land all over again. That's about when Ethan Allen gathered his "Green Mountain Boys, including Amariah Dana, to fight them off. (28) (29) (30)

They weren't the only rebels and those land grants weren't the only issues.

People also got mad about taxes, especially that Stamp Act in 1765,. What nerve!. Forcing folks to buy expensive stamps for their legal papers.. That's when the "Sons of Liberty" got started. . Oh, there was lots of anger - all headed for bloodshed. And sure enough, five years later British soldiers killed four men and wounded seven in Boston. People don't forget things like that. For the next thirteen it was remembered every fifth of March when somebody would give a speech in Boston's Old South Meeting House - until 1783 when they changed it to Fourth of July speeches. But that so-called "massacre" wasn't the only trouble in Boston. There was that Boston Tea Party in 1773. Fifty men dressed up like Indians. And one of them was your ancestral uncle, Colonel John May. uncle to Amariah Dana's wife. (31)

He and the rest of those men boarded three ships, cut open more than 300 chests of tea, and dumped it overboard. After that we were headed toward war. Patrick Henry knew that when he spoke out in 1775. (32)

"It is too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery. The war is inevitable and let it come. The next gale that weeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms. I know not what course others may take but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."

That Patrick Henry knew what he was talking about. War did come in 1775 when General Gage sent 800 redcoats to Lexington where they were supposed to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock before going on to Concord where patriots had stored some military supplies. Every schoolboy knows what happened then. Yes, Paul Revere saw the lantern signal in Boston's North Church belfry, sending him on his way to tell everybody that the British were coming. So when the redcoats got to Lexington on April 19, they were met by Captain John Parker and fifty minute-men. You've heard Parker's famous words.

"Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon; but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here."

And stand they did. That's where it all began. Eight minute-men were killed and ten were wounded. At Concord, more than 400 minute-men turned back the British regulars. By noon the British were hightailing it back to Boston. Next day Governor Gage was hemmed in at Boston by an army of 16,000 patriots. And one of the minute-men there was my grandfather, Hezekiah Mehuren. (33)

We've already talked about Amariah Dana connecting with Ethan Allen and the "Green Mountain Boys," but you're not sure when or where. Was it in Pomfret, Connecticut, where he might have been trying to protect his land grant? If he was up against the Crown then, that could have been a bad time for Amariah. If so, it wasn't his only bad time at Pomfret. Both of his parents died there in 1770. (34) Three years later Amariah moved his pregnant wife and family from Pomfret to Amherst, Massachusetts. Now maybe that move had nothing to do with land grant problems but who knows? If such troubles forced him to move, he very well could have been bitter and angry toward the Crown, especially when his baby daughter, Lucretia, fell under a wagon wheel when they were going through Belchertown. How painful it must have been when they had to bury the poor babe there. But they had to move on and they did. They settled in Amherst where Dorothy Dana gave birth to another baby girl in October, 1773. They named her Lucretia too, in memory of the poor baby killed at Belchertown. (35)

Did all those events have anything to do with Amariah joining up with Ethan Allen? Maybe and maybe not. But whatever the reason he did hook up with Ethan and his "Green Mountain Boys," helping them to capture Fort Ticonderoga. (36) (37) Now isn't that a much better story than what happened in that same area back in 1758 when my poor grandfather, Seth Willis, was fighting with the British against the French. So let's take a look at how Amariah Dana might have gotten involved with all that.

Amariah may have been recruited by Colonel John Brown, a young lawyer in Pittsfield who wanted Ethan Allen and the "Green Mountain Boys" to take Fort Ticonderoga as soon as any fighting broke out. (38) Brown gathered up a bunch of Massachusetts men. Some say about forty. Others say more. (39) Whatever the number, it's likely that Amariah Dana was one of them. They joined with another sixteen men who came up from Connecticut, commanded by Colonel Samuel Parsons. This was probably around May, 1775, just two weeks after Amariah's daughter, Mary, was born. Then they all went to the Catamount Tavern in Bennington where they joined the leaders of the "Green Mountain Boys" to plan what they were going to do next. From there they went to Richard Bentley's farmhouse at Castleton where they assembled, organized, and made some more plans. And maybe that's where it was decided that the Massachusetts men would be commanded by Colonel James Easton. After that meeting, Ethan Allen went on ahead to spy out the land. While he was out doing that, some of the men were sent to Skenesboro to capture Major Philip Skene, a big Tory landholder in those part, and then to find some boats for crossing the lake. (40) (41)

You're wondering if Amariah Dana might have been with those soldiers going after Major Skein. But maybe he was with all those who stayed back at Bentley's farmhouse and were there when Benedict Arnold arrived. Arnold busted into the room where Ethan Allen was making plan, waving a fancy commission around and demanding command of the force. Can you picture what happened when the two of them went outside to announce that to Amariah and all those other men who didn't give a hoot about the commission even if it was from the Massachusetts Provincial Congress's Committee of Safety. They didn't care that it said that Arnold could raise a force, appoint officers, and go on to take Fort Ticonderoga so he could capture some cannon. Yes, it must have been some scene. Here's one of the stories about what happened:

"Colonel Arnold strode into the place where Ethan was laying out his plan, produced his commission and announced that he had come to take command. Ethan looked at Arnold and the paper. It was a fine commission, written in an ornate hand on long paper. Ethan had no such commission. All he had was a document from the Connecticut legislature. So Ethan nodded and asked Colonel Arnold to come outside, so Ethan might say a few words to explain the change to the troops. Colonel Arnold was gratified. He followed Ethan, who was dressed in his ragged Green Mountain Boys uniform. (Ethan was one of the few who had any uniform at all) and they moved among the Boys, who were squatting and sitting among their campfires. Summoning them with his loudest voice, Ethan explained that the handsome debonair colonel had come to lead them all into battle and he showed the commission. The plan would be the same. The pay would be the same, about two dollars per man. Only the command would be different. The Boys in their buckskins scrutinized the cockatoo colonel in the blue uniform, and in a very leisurely way got up and began to stack their arms, the symbol of a camp at rest. It was their announcement of their intention. Colonel Arnold watched, at first in unconcern and then in growing dismay as the import of the action grew on him. The Boys began to speak up. They were not going to serve under some pipsqueak ordered from Boston. Ethan Allen was their colonel and had been for four years. Arnold still wanted that command - the glory was there to be seized. Then Ethan said no, he was not going to jeopardize the success of the expedition, and Arnold could not have command. But here is what Ethan would do; Arnold could walk with him and see what happened, though he was not to interfere." (42)

You don't know one way or another but when you read that piece, you did like the thought that your 4th great-grandfather might have been one of the men who spoke up and object to Arnold. In that spirit you enjoyed this more colorful version.

"He appears to have told Ethan curtly that the Committee had ordered him to take charge of the expedition. An imperious manner was not the thing to try on Colonel Allen. Exactly what happened next has been lost in one hundred and sixty-five years of controversy but it is certain that a violent row ensued. Ethan vowed, by God, that he had been elected to lead the attack. Arnold, proud as a peacock and dressed much like one, waved his commission from Cambridge. Somebody, doubtless old Peleg Sunderland, suggested hanging 'the fancy barstard,' and men shouted that if they were not to be commanded by their own officers, the hell with the War, if that was what is was; they would shoulder their arms and go home. Knowing they had no time to spare and that a controversy might wreck the expedition, Ethan and his second in command, Easton, told the unruly soldiers that Allen should lead them. Privately, it would appear from the record, Allen gave Arnold permission to march with him at the head of the column." (43)

From that account you might guess that Amariah Dana was about ready to head back to Amherst if Arnold took command. But it seem that he and Allen worked out some sort of compromise. It was a shaky sort of truce and Arnold tried again to take over when they got to Fort Ticonderoga. And you're not really sure how large their force was when they got there. The Dana genealogy sources say that Amariah was one of 63 men at Ticonderoga. Other sources say that around eighty men were with Ethan Allen when he took the fort. (44) (45) (46) (47)

"After the invasion force of some eighty men had landed on the shore near the fortress... Colonel Arnold stuck in his horn again. He stepped forward and demanded that he command the attack. An now Colonel Allen, his nerves already much frayed, exploded. 'By God, sir,' he roared, laying hand to his sword, 'I'll have you to understand I am in command here!' Then turning to Amos Callender, one of his old Green Mountain Boys, Ethan asked, 'What shall I do with this damned rascal? Shall I put him under guard?' But Ethan took no further step just then. There wasn't time if the attack was to be a surprise. Stepping to front and center of his army, the tall commander delivered a brief army-style pep talk, full of bombastic praise for his gallant troops. He told the Boys that they were the scourge and terror of all arbitrary power. He said that the fortress before them must be taken quickly, once the attack was begun. He called it a desperate attempt which none but the bravest of men would dare undertake at all and gave the faint-hearted a chance to get out before it was too late... 'You that will undertake voluntarily,' he said, 'will poise your firelocks.' Up went an assortment of rifles, pistols, fowling pieces, blunderbusses, clubs, hangers, hunting knives. It is doubtful if a greater range of weapons was used in any engagement of the Revolution. Ethan looked the mob over and was content. 'Forward march,' he ordered. He was at the head of the column with Arnold beside him, the only figure of military appearance in the lot." (48)

What kind of a weapon do you suppose Amariah had? Probably a good one because he knew what he was doing as a solider, having gotten a taste of it during the French and Indian War. You can imagine that he might have relished the thought of attacking the British after all that trouble with his land grant. And this tale gives you an idea of how eager the "Green Mountain Boys" were to take them on.

"When they entered the fort, the men were at best pseudo-soldiers. Now, even though they had not tasted blood, they became as wild as the Indians. Some of them were accustomed to fighting. Howling 'No quarter!' and imitating the war cries of Mohawks, they tore through the parade ground to batter at the many doors of the barracks. Bedlam had come to Ticonderoga." (49)

Can you picture my father-in-law whooping it up like an Indian and changing through the fort looking for redcoats. What a sight Amariah must have been that day! Could he have been the one that the British soldier lunged at in the next part of this story. If so, he would have been right on the spot to see Ethan Allen confronting the sleepy British lieutenant who came out without any pants on.

"One brave but careless redcoat came out of the guardroom to lunge at an invader with his fixed bayonet. Ethan saw the move and fetched the redcoat a terrific swipe over the head with the flat of his sword, felling him to the ground. A heavy comb in the man's hair saved his skull. Quarter, quarter!" he begged. Ethan poised is sword as if to run the man through, then thought better of it. 'Take me to your commander,' he bellowed. The fallen man jumped to his feet to lead the way to the foot of a short stairway to the upper portion of the west barracks. 'The officers' quarters are there," he said.

With a leap like a catamount, Ethan started up the stairs.. 'Come out of there, you sons of British bitches,' he called in a right clear voice. As he spoke the door opened revealing an officer wearing coat and waistcoat and a pair of drawers. He carried his breeches over one arm. The apparition was not, as Ethan believed, the fort's commander. It was Lieutenant Jocelyn Feltham, second in command to Captain Delaplace.

The pantless lieutenant faced enough trouble on the stairs to have made many an officer lose his head. There was the gigantic figure of Allen with a sword , not seen every day. Next to Allen was the very military Colonel Arnold. And back of Arnold, crowing the stairs, was a mob of shouting, howling wild men, every one of them displaying arms and most them crying aloud for British blood." (50)

Amariah very well might have been one of those shouting that he wanted to kill some redcoats. Or maybe he was just laughing at the sight of a lieutenant minus his pants and trying to keep his dignity while talking to Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, and a mob of Allen's followers. Amariah may not have been impressed by the sight of that lieutenant but he surely must have been impressed by Ethan Allen's colorful language.

"The lieutenant was as brave as they came. He remained cool. Stalling for time in the hope that his garrison would rally and begin shooting into the invaders, he asked for silence which was accorded. Then he spoke. 'By what authority have you entered His Majesty's fort? he demanded.... Then Colonel Ethan Allen... let him have it. 'In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress,' he answered with some dignity. (51)

Lieutenant Feltham...continued to stall for time, still hoping that his soldiers would appear below stairs and run these hoodlums out of the fort. 'Who are you people?' he began, 'and who - '

Ethan leaped to the landing beside Feltham. 'By God,' he swore, 'I shall have possession of this fort and all the effects of George the Third!' And he waved his great sword over and around the lieutenant' head. The mob below stairs set up a shouting. The leveled their muskets at the one lone and trouserless redcoat while Ethan ripped out a series of oaths so shocking that his own men listened in rapt wonder. 'And if you don't immediately comply,' he concluded, 'no man, woman or child shall be left alive in this goddam place.'

Feltham replied correctly that he was not the commander. Sensing now that the man he wanted to see was in the room behind Feltham, Ethan started to batter in the door. Arnold dissuaded him and presently Captain Delplace, fully dressed, came out. Shoving Feltham into the upper room and placing two sentries, Allen and Arnold took Delaplace below to discuss affairs. While these events were going forward, the invaders had broken into all the barrack rooms, finding several redcoats still in bed. The garrison's arms were collected and thrown into a room and a guard set. Captain Delaplace was ordered to parade his men without arms, which was done. Ticonderoga was taken, the first British position to fall." (52)

So what do you think Amariah and all those other men did after they secured the fort? Think they curled up quietly for a nap? Hah! Not very likely. No, they probably celebrated, getting drunk on the British liquor supplies and generally raising hell.

"The attention of the victors, naturally enough, was first directed not to the ordnance captured, but to the vast stores of rum in the fort. The door leading to the private cellar of Captain Delaplace was quickly breached by strong thirsty men wielding musket butts and artillery rammers. It yielded an even ninety gallons of strong excellent stuff. The garrison's issue rum stores were also attacked with vigor.. With things running so smoothly, Colonel Allen, Colonel Easton, and John Brown bellied around the ex-commandant's tale tin the officers' quarters. They filled mugs to the brim and tossed them down in the manner of two-fisted drinking men. The rank and file went hog-wild. Yelling like crazed devils, they ran everywhere through the fort, breaking into every room, cellar, shed and cupboard, plundering or scattering whatever they happened on The twenty-odd women and children must have been frightened out of their wits but there was then or later no charge of ill-treatment in this quarter." (53)

Amariah and his fellow soldiers weren't the only ones celebrating. Folks from all over the countryside came into the fort when they heard all the commotion. This account sound like they got caught in the spirit of the festivities and had a wild time

"By now more than two hundred American swarmed in and around the fort and they wee joined throughout the day by country folk from near-by farms, come to see what was up. Soldiers and farmers fell downstairs, tumbled off walls; broke jugs, bottles, windows. Matthew Lyon, the ebullient Irish-Yankee, who later became a national character, felt that .something special was needed to mark the day. Fetching a bucket of powder from the magazine, he poured it down the gullet of Old Sow, a thirteen-inch mortar, and let her go. It was a blast so mighty, legend has it, that the fort fairly rocked and five patriots, snoozing dead drunk in Delaplace's cellar, were immediately revived and were able to finish the day on their feet, much to the credit of the Green Mountain Boys." (54)

I suppose that Amariah and just about everybody else was having a fine old time. Except for one unhappy man, Benedict Arnold. As a disciplined army officer, he just couldn't understand the "Green Mountain Boys." He must have hated the way they treated him.

"Colonel Arnold was aghast at the pillage and drunkenness. He attempted to put a stop to it and to force some degree of discipline but to no avail. And later he reported that Colonel Allen was 'a proper man to head his own wild people' but was wholly unfit for military command. Arnold again brought up the matter as to his own 'rightful' command of the fort, pointing out that Allen had no commission at all. Hot words passed between the two colonels. The convivial soldiers also took a hand, and again they declared that if Ethan was not their commander, then by God, they'd up and go home, the whole lot of them - an empty threat so long as the liquor held out... Colonel Arnold put in some very bad hours. The soldiers hooted him, called him vile names, and he wrote in his memorandum book that at least two of them fired their muskets in a manner to send balls whistling close by him." (55)

How about that? Now we speculate that my father-in-law might have been one of those shooting at Benedict Arnold. Who knows? But considering what a traitor Arnold turned out to be later on, maybe it would have been just as well for Amariah or some other patriot to kill him. I'd bet they were all getting fed up with Arnold's repeated posturing and his efforts to take command away from their cherished Ethan Allen. Bet that as it may, Arnold did manage to gather some new recruits a few days later. With those as his new command, he left Allen and set off on his own, capturing the single remaining British sloop on the lake at the little village of St. Jean on May 18. Coming back on that boat, he met Ethan and ninety of his mean in a fleet. They were headed toward St. Jean, intending to occupy and hold it. That was against Arnold's opinion that the adventure was useless and not practical since the American now controlled the lake. Despite Arnold's advice, Allen and his men arrived at St. Jean and learned that some British troops were advancing toward the village. At first they decided to ambush the redcoats but then decided against it. Then they crossed the Richelieu River and encamped for the night. But the next morning they woke up to a volley of grapeshot and musketry from British artillery. They fled to their boats and all but three escaped. (56)

Once again you can only wonder if Amariah Dana among those in that expedition. And you do n't know exactly when he left Ethan Allen and went back to his home in Amherst. You know only that by May 22 Ethan's St. Jean's expedition was back at Crown Point while Arnold was at Ticonderoga. And you know that his men had been steadily departing for their homes and that in another week they were all gone, leaving Allen with no command. (57)

Anyway Amariah was probably back with his family by the end of May, perhaps enjoying a well-deserved rest. Ah, but do you wonder if he might have been tempted to be part of the next great battle of the Revolution? For it was only weeks later that more than a thousand British and more than four hundred patriots were killed and wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill in Charlestown. (58)No, Amariah was not there but he must have been intensely interested in it. Not just because it was an important battle but because part of the battleground had once belonged to his mother's uncle, Edward Sumner. (59) You learned that from this account.

"Immediately after the Battle of Bunker Hill... some trees in Edward Sumner's orchard... were cut down, sharpened to points and then so placed as pickets to protect the portions exposed to attack. Five hundred men and officers constituted the main and picket guard for this line where Edward Sumner once lived so peacefully. (60)

It wasn't too long after Bunker Hill that Amariah Dana was back in action. This time he was a Revolutionary War soldier with Captain James Hendrick's company in Charlestown on Jan 13, 1776, less than a week after he death of his twelve year old son, Ezra.. Six months later the Declaration of Independence was signed. That must have inspired Amariah to name my wife "Freedom Dana" when she was born about sixteen months later on May 2, 1777. Her birth didn't slow down Amariah's soldiering.. Five days after that event he enlisted again, serving two months before returning home where he remained for the next five weeks until he joined up again. But this time for only three days, responding to an alarm. (61)

No record of any other military service for Amariah. You don't know what he did during the rest of 177, that awful year when Washington's men suffered through Valley Forge. So many men with bloody, bar, frost-bitten feet. So much sickness. Feisty as Amariah was, he might not have survived that winter. But he wasn't there. And you have no idea what he did in 1778. But you do know that his wife, Dorothy, died of dropsy the next year, Dec 9, 1779, after bearing Amariah eight children. My poor wife. Freedom was only about two and a half years old when her mother died. Amariah was left with six motherless children, That must about when he decided to let one of his wife's relatives adopt six-year old Lucretia. Why little Lucretia? Do you suppose it had anything to do with her being named after that poor baby Lucretia that fell under the wagon wheel? Maybe her name brought back painful memories for Amariah. But maybe the decision had nothing to do with that. And who was the relative of Amariah's wife who adopted the second Lucretia. Why none other than her uncle, Colonel John May of Boston Tea Party fame.

Amariah soon realized that he needed another wife to help raise all those children. So he married Ruth Williams in 1780 and had eight more children (62)


After being with Ethan Allen and soldiering in the Revolution, you would think that Amariah would have had enough of rebellion. But not my father-in-law. Amariah and his grown son, Eleazer, were both active in Shays Rebellion. You got some idea of why they did so when you read about how Daniel Shays led a rebellion by farmers in western Massachusetts ho were sick of the high taxes, the unstable currency, and the expenses of lawsuits in land disputes. For Amariah, such mismanagement of government might have been just as galling as the land-grabbing actions of the New Yorkers years earlier.

On August 19, 1786, Shays' rebel mobs stormed the courthouse in Northampton to prevent the trial and imprisonment of debtors. Then in September Shays and 600 armed farmers stormed the courthouse in Springfield. Amariah and Eleazer could have been with Shays during either or both of those courthouse attacks. And maybe they were with him on January 25, 1787, when he led 2000 rebels to Springfield to storm the arsenal. The rebels were subdued, captured and sentenced to death but were later pardoned. Amariah and Eleazar were very possibly among those because they both took an oath of allegiance in February, 1787, probably as a condition pardon after their actions in the rebellion. (63) (64)

Amariah might have come close to execution in 1787 but he seems to have settled down after that. He was probably as patriotic as ever in 1812 when that second war with Britain broke out. At age 74, he was then much too old to fight again. However his son, Joseph, and his grandson, Austin, were soldiers in that war. (65)

Amariah Dana's second wife, Ruth Williams, died of dropsy on April 14, 1822. You don't have any information about how he lived his next eight years but you do know that he was living with his son, Joseph, at Amherst in 1830 and that he died on October 29th of that year at the ripe old age of ninety-two. You visited his grave in the South Amherst cemetery in 1993. (66)



I've notice that as you've studied how your Willis ancestors moved from the Stoughton/Easton area of Norfolk county to western Massachusetts, you've learned to pay more attention to little pieces of information. Like what you read about Seth Willis living in North Easton not far from Josiah Keith's family. So they were neighbors. Josiah's daughter, Silence, was a young widow when Seth married her in 1746, having married Benjamin Smith in 1739. (67)

You don't know when Seth and Silence moved to Worthington in western Massachusetts but you are guessing that it was probably around 1774 which was the year of Seth's last land sale. (68) You also know that they were in Worthington in 1790, as was their son, Amasa, who married Hezekiah Mehurin' daughter, Maria. And of course Amasa and Maria were my parents. Hezekiah was among the first settlers of Worthington after 1764 and his wife, Abigail, was one of the first people recorded in the Worthington church. (69) (70)

You also saw that another of your ancestors, Reverend Stephen Tracy, from nearby Partridgeville, had one of his daughters, Susanna, baptized in the Worthington Congregational Church on 24 May 1778. She was a sister to Mary Tracy who married Titus Doolittle. Their daughter, Sarah, married my son, Russell and they became your great-great grandparents. So you see you have a lot of ancestors connected with the Worthington church. (71)

Louis, I know that on one of the walls in your home, you've got a picture of the present Congregational Church in Worthington that replaced the large colonial steepled church that burned in 1887. I remember that older church and many other things about Worthington. Especially the story that the old settlers told about the cave on Goffe Hill. They said that three men had once come there and lived in the cave, probably in the winter of 1677 and 1678. One of them died and the other two went north.... The story was that the three men were three of the judges who signed the death warrant of King Charles I and then fled to New England when King Charles II was restored to the throne - Edward Whalley, William Goffe, and John Dixwell. Ah, that story reminds you of your visit to a cave in New Haven where Whalley and Goffe hid because you knew that the cave was on land that once belonged to another one fo your ancestors, Richard Sperry, who helped hid and feed the regicides. And you read somewhere that when they left New Haven, they went north to Hadley and that a third regicide, John Dixwell, joined them there but later went back to New haven. But all of that was many years before any of your Willis or Mehurin ancestors lived in those parts. In fact it was about a hundred years before Seth Willis suffered some terrible misfortunes in his old age. (72) (73)

Reading the records of the Congregational Church in Worthington, you found an entry dated July 7, 1789, which recorded the church's concern with some incident in which Eli Metcalf was accused of cheating Seth Willis . (74) (75)

Examining earlier church records, you saw that Metcalf joined the church in 1774, was accused of lying in 1785, and in 1786, confessed to the church his fault "for uttering a false report about himself, or for calling himself a Doctor or professed physician." Looking ahead you found that the church minutes for August 17, 1789 provided more details about Eli Metcalf's conduct toward Seth Willis.

"The Chh met according to adjournment at 9:00 o-clock A.M. at the Meeting House, and whereas Eli Metcalf then stood charges, by the aforesaid Complaint, with injustice and fraud in keeping back a part of what was charitably bestowed on or for the above named S. Willis and entrusted to the care of said Metcalf to deliver to said Willis, who was then in needy circumstance on account of his dwelling house, household furniture, provision &c being consumed by fire, which took place about the close of the year 1788: Willis was committed a few weeks after this.." (76)

You were saddened to learn that my grandfather's house burned down, leaving him a pauper. And you were shocked to learn that Eli Metcalf cheated him out of money that was donated for his welfare. lost everything when his house burned down. Finally you puzzled over the last sentence is this part of the church minutes. What was the "commitment" of Seth Willis? You wondered if my grandfather was committed to an almshouse or whether the sentence merely meant that he was committed to the welfare of the church. Who knows? . Anyway from further reading of the church minutes, you learned that the church supported the charge against Metcalf and also charged him for being a liar. (77).

Yes, the Worthington church saw that Eli Metcalf did indeed cheat my grandfather. Reading further in those church records you found there was a second admonition by the church to Metalf over his keeping money that was supposed to go to Set Willis. Looks like that first admonition didn't do much good. Metcalf must not have been truly penitent. And this was still a hot topic for the church. They weren't about to forget it. But they did want to give Metcalf another chance to own up and repent. So they did the second admonition a month after the first. (78)

You'd think that Metcalf would have learned his lesson by then. But it's plain that he didn't. Even though he was given nine months in which to repent. So it was in the summer of 1790 when the church got together again. The minutes for June 24 showed that Metcalf hadn't yet satisfied the church for the offenses proved against him though he had been "kindly and faithfully warned and admonished hor his Offences once and again" The church then voted to have the pastor write up an act of Excommunication which was put before them on July 11. (79)

I remember hearing a lot talk about that excommunication when I was about ten. I thought it served Metcalf right for the shameful way he cheated my grandfather. But you're wondering what happened next, after the ex-communication was delivered. There is nothing more about matter in the rest of 1790 church records. But the 1790 census told you that Seth Willis was living in Worthington with one female, probably his wife. My father, Amasa. Willis, is also listed on that census with two other males, both under 16, and three females. (80)

Not long ago you learned of a sad sequel to the life of Seth Willis. You knew that his daughter, Silence, had married John Fenton at Worthington in 1776 and apparently moved some time after that to Rutland, Vermont. (81) (82) Misfortune and tragedy by fire seemed to follow Seth's daughter and son-in-law into Rutland, Vermont. On July 19th, 1799, John Fenton's barn was "struck by the lightning, and consumed with a considerable quantity of hay." (83) But the most tragic event occurred in 1818 when John lost his life and Silence was seriously injured when their home was destroyed by fire as related in the following newspaper account: (84)

"From the Rutland Herald, of Wednesday, we copy the following melancholly event: - On Sunday morning, between the hours of 3 and 4 o'clock, the family of Mr. John Fenton, of this town, were awakened by the burning of flames in their dwelling - Unable to secure an article of clothing, they were compelled to buffet the wintry storm in a mere nightly attire. In this situation, Mrs. Fenton, a feeble lady of near 70, ran to her son's a distance of between 30 and 40 rods for assistance. In a similar attire, her son repaired to the scene of conflagration; but only to witness a spectacle more awful than the mere destruction of an earthly tenement. - Notwithstanding the first escape of the family from the house, and the almost hopeless prospect presented of preserving any thing from the devouring element, it seems Mr. F. thought it advisable to attempt the rescue of certain articles of property. He again entered: but not to return! Suffocated, as is supposed, by smoke, he was unable to extricate himself. The scanty assistance then present, and the want of knowledge as to what part of the house he was in, rendered it impossible to afford him relief. Indeed, human aid could not, probably, have preserved him. After the falling of the building, and the extinguishing of a part of the fire, his body was discovered on a remnant of the lower floor, though nearly consumed. Being found near the place where a window had been, it is conjectured that he attempted to escape through it; but that suffocation ensued ere he could raise the sash. Mr. F. was in his 69th year of age, and a man of unblemished character. His loss is deeply lamented. The fir is supposed to have originated from embers which were taken up in a wooden vessel the afternoon preceeding, and which were placed in a back part of the house. Another warning to persons to be cautious how they deposit their ashes. The hands and feet of the family, we understand, were frozen- the feet of Mrs. Fenton and of a young man who lived in the house severely. We are happy to learn that many donations have already been made to the sufferers. A charitable disposition which so pre-eminently characterizes the citizens of this town, we hope will continue to be manifest."

There were other changed in the family during that same general period. From the Worthington church records for October 31, 1790, you learned that my mother's parents, Hezekiah and Abigail Mahurin, were no longer in that community. From other records you found that they had moved to Middletown in Rutland county, Vermont, were Hezekiah apparently died about 1806. (85) (86)

During those years my father's household was growing. So were my responsibilities as the oldest son. By 1790 I had two younger brothers, Lyman and Elijah, and three younger sisters; Meriam, Maria, and Silence. We were all still living in Worthington in 1797 when my father bought land there from Timothy Moeech. But four years later I left the nest when I married Freedom Dana. (87) (88) When you examined a number of land records, you figured out that Freedom and I moved from Worthington to nearby Chesterfield in 1803. (89) And when you read a history of the families of Chesterfield, you found that most of my children were born there. By 1803 I had three daughters - Abigail, Lucretia, and Silence. Poor little Silence died at the end of August of that year. My namesake son, Rufus, was born in 1806. Those were the four children we had by 1807 when Grandfather Seth died. (90)

My grandfather, Seth Willis was eighty-seven years old when he died on September 2, 1807. That was seventeen years after Eli Metcalf was ex-communicated for swindling him. His death was recorded in the Worthington church records but the history of the families of Chesterfield said that he died in that town. You had hoped that you might settle the location question when you visited Chesterfield in 1993 but that was not to be. You found that many of the tombstones in the old Ireland Street cemetery were missing and that over the years neighboring farmers had taken them to use for walkways or for construction. What a shameful thing to do with tombstones that families put up to remember their loved ones! (91)

Going back to the Worthington church records, you saw the following record that Eli Metcalf came back to the church five days after Seth Willis died and convinced them that he was finally repenting that he had cheated my grandfather. (92)

"Sept 7, 1807... Mr. Eli Metcalf made a public confession of the sins for which he was excommunicated many years ago, and was restored to his former standing in the church.

Seventeen years of excommunication before he confessed! And then only after my grandfather had died. Do you wonder why it took him so long to repent? Did Grandfather's death have much to do with Metcalf's repentance? Was Metacalf really as penitent as the church thought he was. Did my grandfather ever forgive him? You'll never really know, will you? More mysteries.

What do you think about a Congregational church excommunicating one of its members? Unusual? Ah, but you must remember that in my grandfather's time, the affairs of the Parish in Worthington were managed and conducted by the town in regular town meetings, acting in the double capacity of town and parish. The covenant members agreed that they would watch over their Brethern and that when any Brother was offended with anyone of the church he shall not complain until has laboured with the one he is offended with in a Gospel way. That means that before Newcomb Cleveland brought his complaint to the church, he must have tried to talk with Eli Metcalf about his shameful treatment of Seth Willis. (93)

As you read those old church minutes, you saw that church members admonished those who were not attending church. But some of the Worthington men were not easily intimidated by such admonitions. One of these was Timothy Meech whom my father knew well. He bought land from Timothy in 1797 and then sold land to him in 1806. (94) Meech joined the church in 1780 but did not attend. (95) He was an independent man and not at all impressed by the church's admonitions. That's evident from this description. (96)

"Apparently the members of the Brotherhood were a contentious lot and pretty independent... One such man was Timothy Meeck. At the meeting in February of 1782, a committee was chosen to admonish Brother Meeck for the first time, and in March they reported that in February they had called upon Meeck 'to inquire of the reasons of his absenting himself (from church) as he had not attended once since he had joined.' To which he replied:

'No, nor I never intend to have any more concern with this church than I would with the Devil.'

"Either at this time or at another meeting with the committee he is reported to have said, 'And, by God, I'll say 'by God' whenever I want, by God.'

"In February, a year later, the church meeting voted that Meeck be rejected by the church and excluded all the privileges for withdrawing and absenting himself at sundry times when the Moderator had requested him to tarry and do business and for his 'Daring and presumptuous and extravagant talk and behaviour, and, after being properly admonished, for his obstinacy in refusing to make satisfaction for his disorderly walk."

That was Meech, all right. Not about to let church folks or anybody else tell him what to do or not to do. But in truth, what the Worthington church did with their admonishments and excommunications was mild compared to what some other Massachusetts churches and towns did in earlier times. You're read some accounts of worse practices. (97)

"Anyone who should dare to speculate too freely about the nature of Christ, or the philosophy of the plan of salvation, or to express a doubt as to the plenary inspiration of every word between the two covers of the Bible, was subject to fine and imprisonment. The tithing-man still arrested Sabbath-breakers and shut them up in the town-cage in the marketplace; he stopped all unnecessary riding or driving on Sunday, and hauled people off to the meeting-house whether they would or not."

Eli Metcalf's punishment was nothing compared to what he might have faced in a town with such a tithing master. Ah, some folks might have thought that he belonged in a town cage. But maybe he suffered enough from those seventeen years of excommunication. He was probably shunned and scorned by most of the people in Worthington. And in our own Chesterfield community, none of the Willises had much good to say about him.

You don't know what became of Seth Willis's wife, Silence. You do know from your examination of the 1810 census that she wasn't in my father's household where my two brothers, Elijah and Lyman, and two of my sisters were living. Nor was she in my household where Freedom and I were raising five children, all under ten. Abigail was eight years old, Lucretia was seven, Rufus Jr was five, Russell was four, and John was one. (98) (99)

After 1810 Freedom and I had two more daughters. Silence was born in January, 1812, a few months before the second war with England broke out. We baptized her with the name "Silence" in memory of our little daughter of the same name who died in 1803. Then our youngest daughter, Wealthy, was born in December, 1813. It wasn't long after that when I started thinking about moving the family out to New York. I learned that a lot of land in western New York was being sold on easy terms which was about all that I could then afford. Well, we didn't have much but I decided it was too good an opportunity to pass up. (100) So my father and I packed up the families and moved in the winter of 1818 to Little Valley.


Louis, you can't imagine how hard that ox-sled trip was when my father and I moved our families to New York. So here's a story about me that tells you something about what we faced making that trip and getting settled in what was then really just a wilderness:

"Rufus Wyllys settled on lot 30, 1819. He was born in Massachusetts, 1780, and moved from that State a distance of 500 miles, upon an ox-sled, being twenty-three days on the road. The sled carried the family of eleven persons and all their worldly effects. John Wyllys, a son, says their bread for much of the time was obtained by pounding corn on a block of wood. They would try and pound it fine enough to get out a little fine meal for a "Johnny" cake for breakfast, make the same for dinner, and the same for supper, if they found the cows. For a table, for several years, they used a slab split from a large cucumber log, (101) with four holes bored in the corners, into which logs were driven; and the only chairs were made in the same rude manner. "Catamounts" were used for bedsteads. At first they had to go to Fredonia to mill. Afterwards, Kent's Mill was built on the headwaters of the Connewango. Their usual mode of going to mill was with an ox team, drawing a crotch. Afterwards they dug a canoe from a pine log, and carried their grists in that on the Connewango. Mr. Wyllys and Samuel Farlee built a sawmill on Elm Creek in 1823. ........John Wyllys, a son, lives on lot 27, aged sixty-nine years, having lived in town fifty-nine years, and with one exception is the oldest resident of Connewango. In speaking of the customs of the pioneer times he says, "It was against the rule of the neighborhood for any one to build a chimney until they had first burned out three logs of the house. (102)

Life was wild and dangerous for us and for our few neighbors. During our first winter there, Sampson Crooker's wife had to use a pair of tongs to kill a wildcat that was invading her hen roost. Bears and wolves were always a problem. John Darling got trapped overnight by wolves one evening when he was out boiling maple sap (103)

All of us in that area struggled during those early years, but things gradually got better for our family after Sam and I built that sawmill. With a lot of hard work over many years, we eventually got to a place where we had a comfortable living. We weren't rich, not by a long shot. But far better than when we first came to New York.

From census records you got an idea of who was on our farm in 1820. Freedom and I were raising Rufus Jr, Russell, John, Silence, Wealthy, Abigail, and Lucretia. And you saw that our neighbors included my brother, Lyman, Daniel Grover and Thomas Darling. Another neighbor was Cyrus Childs, who was the third man to settle in Connewango. His wife, Miriam, had been born in Worthington. (104) (105)

As our children grew up, most of them got married. Abigail married Daniel Grover's son, Lewis.. Alvin, the first of their twelve children, was born about 1829. Rufus Jr married Dorcas Darling in 1830, about the same time when Lucretia married John Seaman. Russell married Sarah Doolittle in 1834. By 1836 Wealthy and Hiram Seager were married. And by 1839 Rufus Jr. had moved his family to Ohio. In 1850 Lucretia's family was living in Michigan. Three years later, Rufus Jr had left Ohio and also moved to Michigan.

Then it wasn't too many years until the Civil War broke out. Five of my grandsons were in that war. Four of them were Abigail Grover's children. In 1861 Gustavus Grover and Delos Grover both enlisted in Co. K, of the 64th New York Volunteers. Both got out in 1863. Gustavus's regiment was in the battles at Fair Oaks, Williamsburg, Second Bull Run, and Portsmouth. He was wounded and was then mustered out at a convalescent hospital in Virginia. (106) William Grover and Elisha Grover both went into artillery. William was in the Company A. 13th New York Heavy Artillery in 1864 and 1865. (107) Elisha was in Company G of the 7th Regiment , New York Heavy Artillery. The fifth grandson in the war was Russell's son, my namesake, Rufus T. Willis. He was 19 in August, 1864 in Company A, New York 13th Heavy Artillery Regiment and was mustered out ten months later at Norfolk, Virginia. (108).

Freedom and I are proud of all our children. Our oldest ,Abigail, married Lewis Grover, a school teacher who was so large that a special chair had to be made for him. Four of their sons were soldiers in the Civil War. (109)

Lucretia married John Seaman and moved to Michigan where they had a farm. Rufus Jr and his wife, Dorcas Darling, also moved to Michigan and farmed. You did hear a tale that he got interested in the Mormon religion, left his family for a time and moved to Nauvoo where the Mormons wanted him to sign over his farm. The story goes that she refused, he gave up his Mormon beliefs, and returned to his family. Well, I'm not going to confirm or deny that story. So it's just one more thing for you to wonder about. (110) As for our other children, Wealthy Willis, married Hiram Seager. They lived near us in New York where they too farmed. John and Silence never married but they too remained in New York for the rest of their lives. Russell married Sarah Doolittle . Sometime between 1860 and 1870, they moved to Missouri where Russell died in 1879. (111)

Sarah moved back to New York where she lived in 1880 in a household with John and Silence, very close to the home where Hiram and Wealthy were living. . (112)

Russell and Sarah's only daughter, Augusta, remained in New York where she had married Henry Ewing in 1855. Their oldest son, Frank (your grandfather), was born a year later. Let's talk about him. He was educated at Ellington Academy, studied for the bar with a lawyer in Dunkirk, New York, and was admitted to practice in 1878. (113)

Two years later he was a boarder in the household of his uncle, Edson Augustus Willis, at Clarion, Marion County, Kansas. (114) But then he decided his prospects might be better elsewhere, so he moved to Stillwater, Minnesota in 1881. Thee he married Lila Jenkins in 1883 and practiced law in Stillwater until 1888 when he moved his family to St. Paul, where he continued his career as a lawyer. His first two children were born in St. Paul, Gail Louise in 1889 and Earl in 1891. Then Lila died in 1894, leaving Frank as a young widowed father. That was when Henry and Augusta moved to St. Paul to help him care for the two little children. (115) They took Augusta's 82 year old mother, Sarah Willis, with them. That didn't turn out very well because Henry died of stomach cancer in August of that same year. A year later Frank had his mother, his grandmother, and his two brothers; Arthur and Sidney, living in his household. Earl and Louise were being cared for in the home of young woman, Carrie Lawson, living in the same neighborhood.. (116)

It must have been a terrible time for your grandfather. He married Julia Ewing two years later in Taylors Falls, where Julia, and her sister, Anna, were spending the summer. (117) (118)You have guessed that since they were both Methodists, they might have met in church.

About a year later, Frank's grandmother, Sarah Willis, died in St. Paul. She is buried there in Oakland Cemetery. And since she is the your most recent of your Willis-named ancestors to die, this is where I shall end my talk with you. I have said enough. Now I will encourage you to continue trying to learn what you can from stories of your ancestors. And no matter how much you learn, there will always be more to discover.


Blodgett, Samuel - biographical information.


Chaffin, Wm. History of Easton Cambridge. 1886. 163-165, 251-253, 299-300.

Child, Hamilton. "Gazetteer and Business Directory of Cattaraugus County, New York for 1874-5" Syracuse. 1874. 34-38.

Chittenden, Lucius E. "Annual Address Before the Vermont Historical Society Delivered at Montpelier, VT, Oct 8, 1872" Rutland, Tuttle, & Co.

Connecticut: Barbour Collection. "Pomfret, CT Vital Records. Vol. I." Page 34

Dana, Elizabeth. The Dana Family in America. 1956

Dawes-Gates ancestral lines : a memorial volume containing the American ancestry of Rufus R. Dawes [ ]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc.,Page 586 Downloaded on 24 Nov 2008

Ewing, Frank: Richardson, Harris; Gilbert, Philip; Lewis, G.W, Memorial of Frank H. Ewing.. By Bar Association of Ramsey County, Minnesota (BMS.R183. Ramsey County Bar Association Papers. Located in the Archives/Manuscripts Division of the Minnesota Historical Society. Undated.)

Ewing, Frank. Personal interview, 20 April 1990, in Randolph, New York, with Frank Anderson, son of Cora Ewing Anderson (Frank Ewing's sister).

Ewing, Frank: Unmarked newspaper clipping about wedding of Julia Lois Spates and. Frank H. Ewing

Fenton, Kathleen provided a copy of a 1766 petition by Samuel Blodgett to the Governor and General Court of Massachusetts. Kathleen Fenton has been carefully and thoroughly researching the life of Seth Willis for some time.

Fife, Margaret Ewing in Early America. Ed by J.R. McMichael. Clan Ewing in America. 2003. Pp 45-46

Fiske, John. The American Revolution. Vol I Houghton, Mifflin. 1891. . 15-28, 37, 65-72, 81-91, 146-154

Fiske, John. The Beginnings of New England. Houghton Mifflin. 1889. 221-223, 238-39

Fiske, John. The Critical Period of American History. .1888. 78-79, 190-198

Fiske, J. New France and New England. Houghton, Mifflin, & Co. Boston. 225-233, 247-265

Grover, Lewis. Biographical Information . GROVERS in CONNEWANGO

Hamilton, E.P. Fort Ticonderoga: Key to a Continent. Little, Brown.1964. 72-86 105 -118

Holbrook, Steward. Ethan Allen. Binsfords & Mort, Publ. Portland, Oregon. 1958

Holland, Josiah. History of western Massachusetts : the counties of Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire; vol. 2, part 3 Holland, Josiah Gilbert, 1819-1881

Hoyt, Edwin. The Damnest Yankees. Stephen Greene Press. Brattleboro, VT. 1976. 13-19, 24-39, 68-79 , 96

Hudson, C. "Louisbourg Soldiers." New England Historical and Genealogical Register and Antiquarian Journal. Vol. XXV No. 3 July, 1871 253

Huron, Francis. "Hugh Mahurin of Taunton, Massachusetts" NEHGS Apr 1982 . p. 120

Kansas: Census: 1880 Marion County. Catlin Dist 256

Keith, Ziba. A Genealogy of the Descendants of Benjamin Keith. Brockton, Massachusetts. 1889. 11

Morse, Rev. Abner. A Genealogical Register of the Descendants of Several Ancient Puritans. Vol II Boston 1859. 185

Massachusetts: Bridgewater. "Vital Records of Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Vol II Marriages and Deaths". NEHGR 1916. 253 Hezekiah Mahurin and Abigail Dickerman married at Bridgewater on Aug 7, 1760.

Massachusetts: Chesterfield Census: 1810. Chesterfield, Massachusetts

Massachusetts: Chesterfield. History and Genealogy of the Families of Chesterfield, Massachusetts: 417 - 418

Massachusetts: Chesterfield. . Ireland Street Cemetery, Chesterfield, Massachusetts. Tombstone inscriptions

Massachusetts: Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Vol VII of the Second Series. pages 157-158. Downloaded 12 Feb 2010 http

Massachusetts: Easton. Vital Records of Easton, Mass. 1697-1847. FHL Film # 1.059.951

Massachusetts: Halifax. Vital Records of Halifax, Mass. p,.34.

Massachusetts: Hampshire County. Grantee Card Index for Hampshire County, Massachusetts: 1787-1986. Bk. 12, P. 309. 1797

Massachusetts: Hampshire County Grantee Card Index for Hampshire County, Massachusetts: 1787-1986: Bk 21, P. 233. 1803; Bk. 22. P. 13. 1801; Bk. 21, P. 194. 1803

Massachusetts: Hampshire County. Grantee Card Index. Hampshire County, Massachusetts. 1787-1906. Bk 24. P. 353 1806. FHL Film #1653121; and Bk 12. P. 309. 1797. FHL Film #1684888

Massachusetts: Paper: Political Repository. August 06, 1799 Genealogy Bank. Downloaded 22 Feb 2010 http://www.genealogybank

Massachusetts. Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary . War, 10:141, 607

Massachusetts: Stoughton Land Record - Seth Willis to Joseph Gilbert.

Massachusetts: Stoughton. The Record of Births, Marriages, and Deaths and Intentions of Marriage in the Town of Stoughton from 1727 to 1800. 57, 58, 272.

Massachusetts; Worthington: Census 1800 Worthington, Massachusetts

Massachusetts: Worthington. Church Records of Worthington, Massachusetts - 1771-1850 - FHL Film 0234571;

Massachusetts: Worthington. "Papers on the History of Worthington." Worthington Historical Society. 1983. 83-84

.Massachusetts: Worthington. Vital Records of Worthington, Massachusetts to 1850. 159

Military: 11th Census of U.S. ~ 1890 Transcribed, Compiled, Updated and Submitted by Jeff Ward. Special Schedule Surviving Soldiers. Downloaded 7 Mar 2010.

Minnesota: Census 1895 Minnesota State Census Ramsey County St. Paul

Mitchell, Nahum. History of Bridgewater. Boston. 1840. 208, 251

Missouri: Pike County, Missouri Deaths, 1878-1904 (<>)

Moody, Rev. George. The South Worthington Parish 56-57

New Hampshire: " History of Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire" hillsborough/manchester/book/chap22.html

New Hampshire: "The New Hampshire Grants" Vol XXVI Town Charter, Vol III. Ed. - A.S. Batchellor Concord. 1895.

New Hampshire Grants: "Genealogical Research - Methods and Sources" Vol I - American Society of Genealogists. p. 131. Discussion of the background of the New Hampshire grants as a context for conflict

New York: Cattaraugus County. History of Cattaraugus Co., New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers. [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data: Ellis, Franklin,. History of Cattaraugus Co., New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers.. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts, 1879. Pages 27, 215-216


New York: Connewango. Census: 1820 Connewango, N.Y. Page 34

New York: Connewango, Census 1880 Connewango, Cattaraugus, NY

New York: Military. Report of the Adjutant-General. Downloaded 4 Mar 2010

Smith, J. "Families of Amherst, Mass.. Vol I. Amherst Historical Commission. 185-187

Stratton, Eugene. Plymouth Colony Ancestry Publishing. 1986. 159-160, 442

Sumner, Edward. was a brother to George Sumner who married Ann Tucker. Their daughter, Mary, married Samuel Dana. They wee parents of Amariah Dana

Vermont: Census. 1790. Rutland, VT.

Vermont Paper: Northern Sentinel. . February 27, 1818 Genealogy Bank. Date: Downloaded 22 Feb 2010 http://www.genealogybank

Vermont State Papers. William Ewing's 1774 land dispute petition is recorded in Manuscript Vermont State Papers (MsVtSP), Vol. 21, p. 8.

Welchley, Mark. "Theories on the English Origin of Deacon John Willis

1610-1692 , England and Massachusetts" Posted April, 2009 on Public Member Stories,

Willis, Amasa. The 1760 birth year for Amasa Willis is derived from his tombstone inscription in Portage County, Ohio, which indicates that he was 88 years old when he died in 1848.

Willis, Rufus.. The story about Rufus Willis Jr. and the Mormon religion was shared with me by Katherine Fenton, a distant cousin

Willis, Warrington. "Certain Willises and their Wives." 1917

Wyllys, Roselle. "Wyllys Family History" Manuscript, NEHGS in Boston. 9-11.

1. Reaching no conclusions, Mark Welchley posted various theories on about the English Origin of Deacon John Willis in April, 2009. A John Willis was born in Chettle Parish, Dorsetshire, about 1600 or 1610. A John Willis, age 29, came to New England on the ship "Paul" which sailed from Gravesend London, England 3 Apr 1635, a claim also asserted by Warrington Willis, "Certain Willises and Their Wives." and by the Dorchester Atheneum, ( A John Willis has been said to have been certified by the minister of St. Kathrins "nere to Tower of London," before sailing to New England. There is a church in London called "Saint Katherine By the Tower." The church register shows the christening of a Johy Wyllis 4 Oct 1601, son of Richard Wyllis. (4) A John Willes was christened 23 May 1610 at St. Botolph Bishopsgate, son of Thomas Willes. (5) A John Willis was born in 1610 the son of Thomas Willis who was born in 1575 in Fenny Compton, Warwickshire, England. (6) A John Willis was born 1630 in Halford, Warwickshire, England, the son of Thomas Willis..

2. Morse, Rev. Abner. A Genealogical Register of the Descendants of Several Ancient Puritans. Vol II Boston 1859. 185

3. Stratton, Eugene. Plymouth Colony Ancestry Publishing. 1986 Page 442

4. Stratton, Eugene. Plymouth Colony Ancestry Publishing. 1986. 159-160

5. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Vol VII of the Second Series. pages 157-158. Downloaded 12 Feb 2010

6. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Vol VII of the Second Series. pages 157-158.

7. Willis, Warrington. "Certain Willises and their Wives." 1917

8. Wyllys, Roselle. "Wyllys Family History" Manuscript at NEHGS in Boston. Pp 9-11.

9. Chaffin, Wm. History of Easton Cambridge. 1886. 251-253

10. Vital Records of Worthington, Massachusetts to 1850. 159

11. Hudson, C. "Louisbourg Soldiers." New England Historical and Genealogical Register and Antiquarian Journal. Vol. XXV No. 3 July, 1871 253

12. Fiske, J. New France and New England. Houghton, Mifflin, & Co. Boston. 225-233

13. Mitchell, Nahum. History of Bridgewater. Boston. 1840. 208

14. The Record of Births, Marriages, and Deaths and Intentions of Marriage in the Town of Stoughton from 1727 to 1800. 57, 58, 272.

15. Keith, Ziba. A Genealogy of the Descendants of Benjamin Keith. Brockton, Massachusetts. 1889. 11

16. Fiske, J. The Beginnings of New England. Houghton Mifflin. 1889. 238-39

17. William Ewing's service with Braddock at Duquesne is discussed in Fife, Margaret Ewing in Early America. Ed by J.R. McMichael. Clan Ewing in America. 2003. Pp 45-46

18. Fiske, J. New France and New England Houghton-Mifflin. 1902. 247-265

19. Chaffee, Wm. History of Easton Cambridge. 1886. 163-65

20. Hamilton, E.P. Fort Ticonderoga: Key to a Continent. Little, Brown. 1964. 72-86.

21. Hamilton, E.P. Fort Ticonderoga: Key to a Continent. Little, Brown. 1964. 72-86

22. . During the time of his dispute with Seth Willis, Samuel Blodgett had already achieved some recognition by sketching the Battle of Lake George (Sept 8, 1755). The drawings were then engraved and published in 1756 and are now preserved in the Williams College Libraries, Archives and Special Collections. An accompanying notation states that ... "Samuel Blodgett (1724-1807), serving as sutler in Johnson's force, had viewed the conflict at Lake George from his position near the English cannon.

23. All of the information concerning the dispute between Seth Willis and Samuel Blodgett comes from a copy of a 1766 petition by Samuel Blodgett to the Governor and General Court of Massachusetts, pleading for a new trial. The transcribed copy of the original petition was provided to Louis Lehmann by Kathleen Fenton, who has been carefully and thoroughly researching the life of Seth Willis for some time.

24. . " History of Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire" hillsborough/manchester/book/chap22.html

25. "Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society Vol X. 1905." pp 167-168. A 1759 muster roll shows Amariah Dana in the Seventh Company, commanded by Captain David Holmes., in the Fourth Regiment, commanded by Colonel Eleazar Fitch. .

26. Vital records of Pomfret, Windham county, CT. (Barbour Collection Vol 1), p. 93.

27. William Ewing's 1774 land dispute petition is recorded in Manuscript Vermont State Papers (MsVtSP), Vol. 21, p. 8.

28. Hoyt. E.P. The Damnest Yankees. Brattleboro, VT. 1976. 13-19, 24-39, 68-79

29. Smith, J. "Families of Amherst, MA.. Vol I. Amherst Historical Commission. 185-87

30. Amariah Dana is listed as one of the Grantees of Pomfret - July 8, 1761. "The New Hampshire Grants" Vol XXVI Town Charter, Vol III. Ed. - A.S. Batchellor Concord. 1895

31. Colonel John May 's sister, Dorothy May (wife to Amariah Dana) was Louis Lehmann's 4th great-grandmother. Colonel John May's participation in the Boston Tea Party is discussed in Dawes-Gates ancestral lines : a memorial volume containing the American ancestry of Rufus R. Dawes [database on-line - ]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. It is also discussed in "Tea Leaves Being a Collection of Letters and Documents relating to the shipment of Tea to the American Colonies in the year 1773, by the East India Tea Company. (With introduction, notes, and biographical notices of the Boston Tea Party) Downloaded on 24 Nov 2008

32. Fiske, J. The American Revolution. Vol I . 15-26, 65-72, 81-91

33. Hezekiah Mehuren served several periods in the Revolutionary War, from Worthington, Massachusetts: three times as a private in Captain Ebenezer Webber's Company; as a minuteman for fourteen days on the alarm of 19 April 1775 ; from 17 December 1776 to 20 March 1777; and also a few months later from 20 September 1777 to 14 October 1777 on an expedition to Stillwater. He also served as a private in Lieutenant Constant Webster's Company from 15 August 1777 to 23 August 1777 on an expedition to Bennington to reinforce the army under General Stark and to conduct prisoners from Bennington"...... Sources..... Mass. Soldiers and Sailors of the Rev. War, 10:141, 607; Huron, Francis. "Hugh Mahurin of Taunton, Massachusetts" NEHGS Apr 1982 . p. 120)

34. Amariah Dana's father, Samuel died 22 Aug 1770 Samuel's death was less than four months after the death of Amariah's mother, Mary (Sumner) Dana on 28 April 1770 (Barbour Collection. "Pomfret, CT Vital Records. Vol. I." Page 34.)

35. The death and burial of infant Lucretia Dana at Belchertown on 9 March 1773 is recorded in "Families of Amherst, Massachusetts" Vol I.. Compiled by James A. Smith. Amherst Historical Commission. 185-187

36. According to "Families of Amherst, Massachusetts," compiled by James A. Smith", Amariah Dana, then 37 years old, was one of the "Green Mountain Boys" with Ethan Allen at the taking of Fort Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775, a year after the Boston Tea Party. Just how and when Amariah developed his relationship with Ethan Allen is not clear. But it may well have been related to Amariah's problems with the New Hampshire Grants. The "Green Mountain Boys" formed as a reaction to New York making grants of land already settled by other settlers who had received their land grants between 1749-1764, from New Hampshire's Governor Benning Wentworth who assumed that the Province of New Hampshire extended to a line drawn northward from the western boundaries of Connecticut and Massachusetts. (Sources - Chittenden, Lucius E. "Annual Address Before the Vermont Historical Society Delivered at Montpelier, VT, Oct 8, 1872" Rutland, Tuttle, & Co.) As one of the grantees, Amariah Dana probably found title of his land disputed - leading to Amariah eventually joining Ethan Allen's "Green Mountain Boys

37. The background of the New Hampshire grants as a context for conflict is described in "Genealogical Research - Methods and Sources" Vol I - American Soc. of Genealogists. p. 131

38. Hamilton, Edward P. Fort Ticonderoga: Key to a Continent. Little,Brown. 1964. 105

39. Ethan Allen wrote to the Massachusetts Provential Congress......... "I have to inform You with Pleasure Unfelt Before that on breake of Day of the 10th of may 1775 by the Order of the General Assembly of the Colony of Connecticut, Took the Fortress of Ticonderoga by Storm - the soldiary was Composed of about one hundred Green Mountain Boys and Near Fifty Veteran Soldiers from the Province of Massachusetts Bay, the Latter was under the Command of Col James Easton who behaved with Great Zeal and fortitude." Source: Holbrook, Steward. Ethan Allen. Binsfords & Mort, Publ. Portland, Oregon. 1958

40. Hamilton, Edward P. Fort Ticonderoga: Key to a Continent. 105-114.

41. "Families of Amherst, Massachusetts: Vol I." Comp. by James Smith. 185-187

42. Hoyt, Edwin. The Damnest Yankees. Stephen Greene Press. Brattleboro, VT. 1976. 96

43. Holbrook, Stewart Ethan Allen. 1958

44. Dana, Elizabeth. The Dana Family in America. 1956

45. Hamilton, Edward P. Fort Ticonderoga: Key to a Continent. Little, Brown. 110-111

46. Hoyt, Edwin. The Damnest Yankees. Brattleboro, VT. 1976. 96

47. Holbrook, Stewart Ethan Allen. 1958 10-11

48. Holbrook, Stewart. Ethan Allen. 10-11

49. Holbrook, Stewart. Ethan Allen. 11-12

50. Holbrook, Stewart. Ethan Allen. 12

51. In his memoirs, Ethan Allen wrote that he said In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress. However Lieutenant Feltham, in his official British report, asserted that Allen said, Come out of there, you damned old rat! , invoking either the deity nor Congress. (Source: "The First American Victory: Ethan Allen Takes Fort Ticonderoga"

52. Holbrook, Stewart. Ethan Allen. 13-14

53. Holbrook, Stewart. Ethan Allen. 14-15

54. Holbrook, Stewart. Ethan Allen. 15

55. Holbrook, Stewart. Ethan Allen. 11-16

56. Hamilton, Edward P. Fort Ticonderoga: Key to a Continent. 1964. 115-118

57. Hamilton, Edward P. Fort Ticonderoga: Key to a Continent. 1964. 117-118

58. On June 17, 1775, 1054 British and 449 Americans were killed and wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill in Charlestown. (Source - Fiske, John. The American Revolution.. Vol I Houghton, Mifflin, & Co. 1891. 146-154

59. Edward Sumner was a brother to George Sumner who married Ann Tucker. Their daughter, Mary, married Samuel Dana. They wee parents of Amariah Dana.

60. Dawes-Gates ancestral lines : a memorial volume containing the American ancestry of Rufus R. Dawes Vol I & II[ ]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Page 586

61. Amariah Dana served with Captain James Hendricks' company in Charlestown on Jan 13, 1776. He was a private in Captain John Thompson's company in Colonel Leonard's Hampshire regiment from May 7 to July, 1777. He joined Lieutenant Noah Dickinson's company in Colonel Elisha Porter's Hampshire regiment in response to a three day alarm at New Providence from Aug 18 to Aug 21, 1777. (Sources: Dana, Elizabeth. The Dana Family in America. 1956; and Smith, J. "Families of Amherst, Mass.. Vol I. Amherst Historical Commission. 185-87)

62. 1780 was also the year in which Rufus Wyllis was born as well as being the year in which Rufus's grandfather, Hezekiah Mehurin, had his namesake son baptized in the Congregational Church at Worthington, Massachusetts. (Sources: Smith, J. "Families of Amherst, Mass.. Vol I. Amherst Historical Commission. 185-87; 1850 census for Connewango, New York, which lists Rufus Wyllis as age 70, born in Massachusetts; History of Cattaraugus County, New York; Church Records of Worthington, Massachusetts - 1771-1850 - FHL Film @0234571; Fiske, John. The American Revolution. Vol II 26-28.)

63. Smith, J. "Families of Amherst, Mass.. Vol I". 185-87

64. Fiske, John. The Critical Period of American History. .1888. 190-198

65. Amariah Dana's son, Joseph, was a private in Captain John Taylor's militia company when it was posted at Boston in 1814. His grandson was Austin, oldest son of Eleazer Dana. (Source - Smith, J. "Families of Amherst, Mass.. Vol I". 185-87)

66. Smith, J. "Families of Amherst, Mass.. Vol I". 185-87

67. The home of Seth Willis was in Easton "east of the Bay road close to the Stoughton line" (Source Chaffin, Wm. History of Easton. Cambridge. 1886. 299-300. Josiah Keith's 1717 house is still standing in North Easton. Silence Keith's 1739 marriage to Benjamin Smith is in Vital Records of Halifax, Mass. p,.34. Her 1746 marriage to Seth Willis is in Vital Records of Easton, Mass. 1697-1847. FHL Film # 1.059.951.

68. Land record - Seth Willis to Joseph Gilbert. Seth Willis (no wife's signature) of Stoughton, Suffolk county, laborer, sold to Joseph Gilbert of Easton, yeoman for one pound " a certain tract on right of land which is ye fifth part of ye right origanly the right of Hezekiah (Hore/Hoar) of Taunton...with all futter divisions in ye commons and undivided land in Taunton north purchase Proprietor's Land. - Stoughton Land Records

69. Holland, Josiah. History of western Massachusetts : the counties of Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire; vol. 2, part 3 Holland, Josiah Gilbert, 1819-1881

70. Church records, Worthington, Massachusetts, 1771-1850 FHL Film # 234577 Item 5

71. Church records, Worthington, Massachusetts, 1771-1850 FHL Film #234577 Item 5

72. Fiske, John. The Beginnings of New England. 1889 221-223

73. Moody, Rev. George. The South Worthington Parish 56-57

74. " July 7, 1789...At a Chh meeting duly warned .or met for said purpose, Newcomb Cleveland, a brother of this Chh, presented a Complaint to the Chh against Eli Metcalf a Brother of this Chh for said Metcalf's unjust and fraudulant conduct toward Seth Willis an inhabitant of this town. Which fraudulent conduct of said Metcalf is fully set forth in the Complaint which may be seen on file. Eli Metcalf, the accused, being before cited by the Pastor and being then present before Chh, pleaded not guilty to the Complaint brought against him." Church records, Worthington, Massachusetts, 1771-1850

75. Newcomb Cleveland and Seth Willis listed as neighbors on 1790 census for Worthington

76. Church records, Worthington, Massachusetts, 1771-1850

77. "... and whereas N. Cleveland aforesaid produced a written account of all th articles of Clothing, provision &c which said Metcalf delivered to said Willis and said Metcalf had acknowledged before Chh at their last Meeting, that said account was just: The aforesaid Committee were accordingly called on to make their Report to the Chh. Whereupon Capt. Marsh and Sylvenus Parsons of said committee reported that they had been to those places where said Metcalf begged alms for said Willis: they therefore produced accounts and Depositions solemnly attested by those persons who charitably gave things to said Metcalf for him to deliver to said Willis, and by comparing the accounts produced by said Committee to the above account of what Said Metcalf had delivered to said Willis, it appears in the judgment of the Chh that said Metcalf had begged and received for the use of said Willis, to the amount of a considerable value more than he had delivered to said Willis or given any account of to him. The Chh then after hearing both parties from 9 o'clock AM. To 12 o'clock then adjourned to 1 o'clock P.M. Then hearing again from 1 o'clock PM to 4 P.M. Voted that the Complaint of Newcomb Cleveland against Eli Metcalf was supported, or that said Complaint was just. Furthermore the said Metcalf was in the judgement of the Chh proved to be guilty of equivocating and departing from the truth before the Chh on or during the aforesaid trial before the Chh. The Chh then voted that Eli Metcalf receive and admonition by their Pastor in the name of the Chh, if he did not then become truly penitent, that he receive the second admonition. The Meeting was then dissolved. ................. Attest Josiah Spalding, Pastor..... N.B. The Depositions and Accounts referred to above may be seen on file. The first admonition of the Chh to Eli Metcalf referred to as above was delivered to him in the presence of Mr. Curtis, a neighbor of his, delivered one day on the next week after the above said Chh meeting of Aug 27, 1789......... Delivered by me, Josiah Spalding, Pastor. Church records, Worthington, Massachusetts, 1771-1850

78. "Sept 24, 1789. The second admonition being drawn up in writing was delivered to Eli Metcalf for his offenses as recorded above. Delivered in the presence of Daniel Woodard, a member of the chh one day in the last week in Dec. 1789" Church records, Worthington, Massachusetts, 1771-1850

79. "The church of Christ in Worthington. To our Brother Eli Metcalf of this town...Whereas at a Chh Meeting Aug 27, 1789. We unanimously judged you to be guilty of injustice and Fraud in keeping a part to yourself of what was charitably bestowed on Seth Willis of this town and committed to your care to deliver to him: which crime with the aggravated circumstances of it was committed by you about the middle of Jan. 1789, as set fort hin the Complaint exhibited to us against you by our Brother Newcomb Cleveland, on the 7th July, 1789, and at the above said Meeting of Aug 17, was in our view, proved against you by full and impartial evidence or evidences: and at the same time you was unanimously judged by us to be guilty of equivocating, evading, and departing from the truth in the above said trial, and whereas we have, as we hope, kindly and faithfully admonished you once and again of this your wickedness, also used all that forbearance, lenity, and candour, and tryed every method with you which our holy profession requires: and you still remain obstinate; and in your pretended Confesstion which you sent in to us dated Sept 11, 1789 appear to us to plead innocent as to your conduct to Seth Willis: your obstancy and inpenetency for your above named wickedness also appears in your neglecting to attend publick worship with us at the House of God...This therefor is, in the Name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, wholly to cut you off from all Christian Fellowship of Chh priveledges with us, and finally to give you up, and consider you as an heathen man and publican: or have us kind of friendly society of communion with you, till you manifest a spirit of humiliation and repentance according to the nature of your offences, or until you give Christian satisfaction to us, to the publick, and to Seth Willis whom you thus injured. We are persuaded that faithfulness for the honor of the Redeemer's cause, faithfulness for your immortal interest, and faithfulness in bearing publick testimony against every publick injury to the4 cause of the poor and indigent; justifies us in proceeding with you in this last, and so painful act of Excommunication; which duty of our is so clearly enhoined on us in God's word. And if you are not wholly past feeling this, we humbly trust, must awaken a sense of conviction in you, and work repentance in you; and for this we greatly long you in the bowels of Jesus Christ: We therefor must leave you in the hands of that God whose Grace is all sufficient; hoping that we shall ever pray both in probate and in publick for you, that you may be recovered, and your precious soul saved in the day of the Lord. Humbly believing yet what we bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven, which God grant for Jesus sake. Amen..... The Chh being together this day July 11, 1790 and unanimously voted the above to be their act and proceeding against the aforesaid Eli Metcalf: that it be Recorded among the Ch Records; and that a copy of it be sent to the Offender. Also unanimously voted that it be read publickly or before the whole Congregation on the sabbath and that a copy of it be sent to the Rev. Pastor of the Chh at Northampton, for him to read to said Chh and Congregation if he shall think proper... By order of the Chh... Josiah Spalding, Pastor..... A copy of the above was delivered to Eli Metalf in the presence of Mr. Garner, his neighbor, Aug 17, 1790.... Pr me J. Spalding, Pastor." Church records, Worthington, Massachusetts, 1771-1850

80. Census 1800 Worthington, Massachusetts

81. "Vital Records of Worthington, Massachusetts."

82. Census. 1790. Rutland, VT. John Fenton - Two males 16+, One male under 16, Five females

83. August 06, 1799 Massachusetts Paper: Political Repository. Genealogy Bank. Date: Downloaded 22 Feb 2010 http://www.genealogybank.

84. February 27, 1818 Vermont Paper: Northern Sentinel. Genealogy Bank. Date: Downloaded 22 Feb 2010 http://www.genealogybank.

85. Worthington, Massachusetts church records for 1790 include this entry. "Recommendations of members from this church to other sister churches"... "Wife of Hezekiah Mahurin to Middletown" Source: "Church Records - Congregational Church of Christ, Worthington, Massachusetts, 1771-1850. FHL Film # 0234571

86. The 1790 census for Middletown in Rutland county, Vermont, lists three Mahurin households: Hezekiah - Two males 16+, One male under 16, and three females; John Mahurin - One male 16+ and one female; Jonathan Mahurin - One male 16+, One male under 16, and two females.

87. Grantee Card Index for Hampshire County, Massachusetts: 1787-1986. Bk. 12, P. 309. 1797

88. History and Genealogy of the Families of Chesterfield, Massachusetts: 417 - 418

89. Amasa Willis and Rufus Willis lived in Worthington when they bought land in Chesterfield from Barnabus Cole on Oct 20, 1801. Rufus Willis purchased land in the Chesterfield/Norwich area from Robert Starkweather in 1803, the same year in which Amasa and Rufus sold land in that area to the Boston Bank. Sources: Grantee Card Index for Hampshire County, Massachusetts: 1787-1986: Bk 21, P. 233. 1803; Bk. 22. P. 13. 1801; Bk. 21, P. 194. 1803

90. In History and Genealogy of the Families of Chesterfield, Massachusetts: 417 - 418, Abigail Willis's birth is listed as March 10, 1802, Lucretia's birth is listed as April 19, 1803, and Silence's death is listed as August 31, 1803.

91. The only Wyllis stones remaining in the Ireland Street cemetery are those of Elijah Willis ( brother to Rufus Willis) who died 16 Feb 1874 at age 85 and his wives - Susanna, died Aug 5, 1850, 64 yrs; and Laura P, died July 13, 1854, 51 years

92. "Church Records - Congregational Church of Christ, Worthington, Massachusetts. 1771 - 1850" FHL Film #0234571.

93. "Papers on the History of Worthington." Worthington Historical Society. 1983. 83

94. Grantee Card Index. Hampshire County, Massachusetts. 1787-1906. Bk 24. P. 353 1806. FHL Film #1653121; and Bk 12. P. 309. 1797. FHL Film #1684888

95. "Church Records - Congregational Church of Christ, Worthington, Massachusetts. 1771 - 1850" FHL Film #0234571

96. "Papers on the History of Worthington" Worthington Historical Society. 1983. 84.

97. Fiske, John. The Critical Period in American History. 1888. 78-79

98. Census: 1810. Chesterfield, Massachusetts

99. History and Genealogy of the Families of Chesterfield, Massachusetts. . Pp 417-418

100. Recognizing that many potential buyers could not make advance payment, the company articled the lands for ten years, requiring only a small down payment. "In 1815 the books of the Holland Land Company included the name of Rufus Wyllys as a land-holder in the town of Connewango" History of Cattaraugus Co., New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers. [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data: Ellis, Franklin,. History of Cattaraugus Co., New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers.. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts, 1879. pages 31, 214

101. A cucumber tree is a species of the magnolia page 27 History of Cattaraugus County L.N. Everts, pub. Philadelphia. 1879. Page 27

102. This story does not mention how Rufus and his family might have built their first dwelling which probably was a "cabin of logs, with stick chimney, and window of oiled paper" History of Cattaraugus County L.N. Everts, 1879. pp 27, 215

103. History of Cattaraugus Co., New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers. [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data: Ellis, Franklin,. History of Cattaraugus Co., New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers.. Philadelphia: L.H. Everts, 1879. Pages 215-216

104. Census: 1820 Connewango, N.Y. Page 34

105. Child, Hamilton. "Gazetteer and Business Directory of Cattaraugus County, New York for 1874-5" Syracuse. 1874. 34-38.

106. New York: Report of the Adjutant-General. Downloaded 4 Mar 2010

107. 11th Census of U.S. ~ 1890 Transcribed, Compiled, Updated and Submitted by Jeff Ward. Special Schedule Surviving Soldiers. Downloaded 7 Mar 2010.

108. New York: Report of the Adjutant-General. Downloaded 4 Mar 2010

109. . . Louis Grover taught one of the first terms of school in what is now Leon Center. He is said to have been of such stature that a special teacher's chair had to be made for him. He also built and operated one of the first grist and saw mills in Connewango, on Mill Creek Road, near the old Cooper Farm. Close by, was the home where his children were born and raised. Four or five of his sons and one daughter went west. Four of his sons served in the Civil War. GROVERS in CONNEWANGO

110. The story about Rufus Willis and the Mormon religion was shared with me by Katherine Fenton, a distant cousin.

111. Pike County, Missouri Deaths, 1878-1904 (<>).

112. Census 1880 Connewango, Cattaraugus, NY

113. Richardson, Harris; Gilbert, Philip; Lewis, G.W, Memorial of Frank H. Ewing.. By Bar Association of Ramsey County, Minnesota (BMS.R183. Ramsey County Bar Association Papers. Located in the Archives/Manuscripts Division of the Minnesota Historical Society. Undated.)

114. Census: 1880 Kansas, Marion Catlin Dist 256

115. Personal interview, 20 April 1990, in Randolph, New York, with Frank Anderson, son of Cora Ewing Anderson (Frank Ewing's sister). "Your grandfather's parents moved to St. Paul to help him care for his children after his wife died."

116. Census 1895 Minnesota State Census Ramsey County St. Paul

117. Richardson, Harris; Gilbert, Philip; Lewis, G.W, Memorial of Frank H. Ewing.. By Bar Association of Ramsey County, Minnesota (BMS.R183. Ramsey County Bar Association Papers

118. Unmarked newspaper clipping "Miss Julia Lois Spates and Mr. Frank H. Ewing were married at noon Thursday at Taylors Falls where the bride and her sister have been spending the summer.... Mr and Mrs. Ewing left on the evening train for Washington, D.C., and the sea coast."