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Samuel Payne and Family: Before his Revolutionary War Enlistment

Catamount Tavern where Colonel Stark planned for the Battle of Bennington

Catamount Tavern where Colonel Stark planned for the Battle of Bennington

In the previous posts we explored the family of Zerah Payne and Amy Felch Payne in Coshocton County, Ohio. Their granddaughter, Sarah Angeline Smith, married Calvin Croy, my great grandfather. Zerah Payne was the son of Samuel Payne.

I devote this post to Samuel’s story as I can best cipher it from analysis of various mentions of him in the Williamstown history from 1907[i].Samuel was born (1733) in Woodbridge, New Haven, Connecticut to William Payne II and Ester Carnes Payne. He married Amy Grimes (Graham) from Wethersfield, Connecticut in 1757.[ii] Samuel was a busy if somewhat restless man with decent resources for speculation. His first child, Lavinia (also called Lorena) was born in 1758 “in the Nine Partners,” this being a section of Dutchess County set aside for land speculation and lot division in 1697. This coincides with the mention in the Williamstown, Massachusetts records that “Warren, a yeoman, sold to Samuel Payn, Of Dutchess County, New York, carpenter…” the land noted in the quote below. He was considered “enterprising and apparently well-to-do” buying at least an additional 200 acres and mill rights, though he never developed a mill and soon sold the rights. The Williamstown history indicates that

“In June, 1761, Gideon Warren…sold to Samuel Payen, for 6 pounds, ‘two acres on Green river, part of a lot known as No. 30, beginning at the N.W. corner of M.L. 47, thence North 20 rods, thence East 16 rods across Green river, thence South 20 rods on the east side of the river, thence West across the river 16 rods to the place of beginning, with privilege of flowing the river bank as hie up as ye top of ye upper falls’; ‘and also a strip of land two rods wide by the west side of said river beginning at the north side of said land I sold to said Payn, and running north by said river to the mouth of the brook (Phebe’s Brook), and up the hill to the lot now enclosed and so out to the main road or Highway, to be a highway for the use of the town.’ This was a very important deed. Gideon Warren and Samuel Payen solved the mill question, opened up Water Street into Main just as it runs to-day…”

I propose the following timeline for Samuel and Abigail Payne’s residences based on birth and Williamstown historical information.

  • First Samuel’s place of birth, Woodbridge, New Haven, Conn., and Abigail Grimes Wethersfield, Conn.
  • Then, Dutchess County, New York in the “Nine Partners” after his marriage in 1757
  • Back to New Haven by 1761 (where the first Zerah Payne was born on September 26, 1761)
  • Soon after the birth of this son he brought his family to Williamstown, Massachusetts where he had bought land on June 1, 1761

Things seemed quite domestic in Williamstown for a while, a time when Abigail bore five more children: son Jared (1763,) daughters Kulvah (1766,) Asenath (1768,) Cloe (1770,) and son Amase (1772.)

Battle of Bennington Map from 1777

Battle of Bennington Map from 1777

Then came the Revolutionary War and the threat, in August of 1777, to Bennington, Vermont just over the border from Williamstown, Massachusetts. General John Burgoyne was working his way south, invading New York and attempting to cut off the “rebel” forces and regain control of New York Colony. Short on supplies, he sent Colonel Fredrick Baum and his Hessian troops on a foraging expedition to Bennington. Vermont’s Council of Safety called out for help and John Stark and about 1,500 troops from New Hampshire responded. They fought off the first on-slot but Hessian reinforcements arrived. Responding reinforcements from Saratoga reached the battle ground in the form of Seth Warner’s Vermont Regiment of the Continental Army commonly called “The Green Mountain Boys.” The Continentals won a resounding victory that eventually led to the surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga. The following accounting gives a perspective of the battle from viewpoint of the Williamstown community.

“A circumstance that will commemorate forever the old log schoolhouse of West Hoosac was the assembling within it of the pious women of Williamstown on the afternoon of Aug. 16, 1777, to pray for the safety and victory of their fathers and brothers and kinsfolk in the battle of Bennington, then raging. The sharp and credible tradition is, that there were not men enough left in the entire town ‘to put out a fir.’ The boom of cannon to the northward was occasionally heard by the participants while the meeting was in progress; their fears were deepened by the sight of women and children in wagons and on foot, with their little valuables snatched up, hurrying past towards places of safety from Bennington and Pownal; and their hearts were filled to the full with gratitude when, in the edge of the Saturday evening, a swift horseman, said to have been sent by Major Isaac Stratton, of South Williamstown, from the field of fight, rode past the schoolhouse into the anxious hamlet, announcing a great victory, and so breaking up a unique prayer-meeting that had lasted for hours without intermission.” From Origins in Williamstown written 1892

From the above quote we can assume that Samuel played a civilian roll in the Battle of Bennington. Soon after the battle, on November 29, 1777, Samuel Payne enlisted with Warner’s Regiment for a three-year term. Tragedy (or at least it can be assumed) cut his service short. (Revolutionary War documentation to follow in the next post.)

Next post: The Payne family experience of the Revolutionary War and the aftermath.

[i] Vital records of Williamstown, Massachusetts to the year 1850.Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1907

[ii] Families of Ancient New Haven, Vol 1-3 Baltimore, MD, USA Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 1981 (originals from New Haven colony Historical Society New Haven Conn.)

About croywright

The author, a writer of history and historical fiction, always yearned to go back in time.

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