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The family of Abigail Grimes Payne* and a Story of Loss

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Courtesy of Library of Congress

Connecticut Colony 1758, Courtesy of Library of Congress

*Abigail Grimes Payne: mother of Zerah Payne, Grandfather of Sarah Angeline Smith who married Calvin Croy.

Abigail Grimes was born into a family of original settlers in Connecticut, as was her husband, Samuel Payne. (More on his ancestors in the next post.) Her earliest known ancestor was her great-grandfather, Henry Grimes who settled in Hartford, Connecticut by 1645. How he came, as an indentured servant or as a freeman is unknown. His wife’s will indicates a marriage in about 1662, the same time in which he is listed as a surveyor in Hartford. He lived in the Hartford area until his death in about 1684. His wife Mary died in 1685 but not before providing for the well-being of her youngest daughters. Sarah, aged 13, went to Benjamin, her oldest son at age 22. John Watson (likely 16 year old Mary’s husband) was given guardianship of 4 year old Rebecca. Elizabeth, age 10, was given over to brother Joseph, age 17. This spoke to either his maturity or availability, as one other brother, John, age 19, was left unencumbered.[i]

On November 24, 1686, one year after the death of his mother, Joseph Grimes, Abigail’s grandfather, married Deborah Stebbins, daughter of John Stebbins, of New London, Connecticut.[ii] They lived in Wethersfield, Connecticut by 1694. Joseph’s was the earliest name found in Wethersfield records.[iii] (Note that this may be where his father, Henry, lived as well. Information says he lived “near” Hartford and Wethersfield, not yet named while Henry was surveying, is about 10 miles away.) His extensive and detailed will of November 1734 listed all his children, amounts allotted and land given. It is lengthy but interesting, indicating the precise home to be Stepney Parish, formed in 1722, which became Rocky Hill, Connecticut.[iv] You can access a transcription of the will here. Will of Joseph Grimes His fifth and youngest son, Christopher received the following allotment:

“I give to my son Christopher Grimes the other half of my lott at Copse Hill…,the north end of sd. Lott; and also the other half of my lott at Beaver Brook bounded as above mentioned…, the south side of sd. Lott; these pieces of land to him and his male heirs forever.[v]

Christopher, the father of Abigail, no doubt used this windfall to support a new life in Goshen, Connecticut by way of Wallingford. He had married Abigail Williams, also part of a founding Wethersfield family, who at sixteen was left in the care of her uncle, Jacob Williams, after her mother and father died. Abigail’s cousin, Ephraim, son of the Uncle who cared for her, owned 400 acres in Goshen.[vi]

Out of the Goshen Vital Records[vii], a sad tale emerges. By the time Christopher and Abigail Grimes moved to Goshen, they had four children, Honor, born 1726, Abraham, born 1732, Abigail, to be Samuel Payne’s wife and born 1735, and Lucretia, born 1736. A sickness, it seems, engulfed Goshen in the year of its official founding. On July 8th of that year their seven-year-old son Abraham died, nineteen days later thirteen-year-old Honor died, and finally, on September 4th of the same year their three-year-old daughter Lucretia died.

The depth of sorrow is unimaginable; the weight four-year-old Abigail bore being the only child to escape death, also unimaginable. Was she doted over or lost in the grieving? By May 14, 1740, a new focus came to the family. They named their newborn daughter Comfort. Soon after, July 3, 1745, a son named Abraham was born. No definitive record of the death of Christopher and Abigail exists. We do know that little Abraham eventually followed his sister, Abigail, and her husband, Samuel Payne, to Bennington, Vermont where he fought in the Revolution as well.

Note: An earlier blog included few references.

Revised Family sheet for New Haven:New Haven Family Sheets a PDF document Map access:

[i] A catalogue of the names of the first Puritan settlers of the colony of Connecticut. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004. Original data: Hinman, Royal Ralph, Hartford: Printed by E. Gleason, 1988.

Wethersfield Tombstone Inscriptions: Rocky Hill Inscriptions, pg 239-240.

Births, Marriages, & Deaths contained in the volume lettered “Original Distribution of the Town of Hartford.

[ii] The Pioneers of Massachusetts (1620-1650)

[iii] Families of Ancient Wethersfield, Connecticut.

[iv] More on this area and Joseph Grimes role in its formation found here.

[v] A Digest of the Early Connecticut Probate Records: 1732 to 1737, pg 273(from pg 14-3 December, 1734)

[vi] History of the town of Goshen, Connecticut: with genealogies and biographies based upon the records of Deacon Lewis Mills Norton., Rev. A.G. Hibbard, Hartford, Conn.: Press of The Case, Lockwood, & Brainard Co. 1897 (on line at Google Books)

[vii] Connecticut Town Birth Records, pre 1870 (Barbour Collection.) Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006.Orig: White, Lorraine Cook, ed. The Barbour collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records. Vol. 1-55 Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1994-2002


About croywright

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

2 responses »

  1. I descend from Lydia Grimes, wife of Lazarus Ives, Rev War patriot. Both died in Poestenkill, Rensselaer, N.Y. I believe her to be the daughter of Christopher Grimes and Abigail Williams. I’ve been keeping data about Ives, their wives and their lives, and I’ve recently opened the door to Lydia Grimes’ family. Your narrative about her family back to Henry Graham or Grimes is helpful. Thanks.
    May I ask how you find Henry in America in 1645? The first I’ve seen is 1661, when he was in Hartford.

    • It has been a while since I researched the Grimes and most came from the Barbour Collection. I am always led to knew discoveries when I go back to clarify my research so I will get back to you soon on your question…I have one other reader question to tackle first so be patient with me. I am actually editing my second book right now which derives from the life of the Payne side in New Haven, so a timely question.


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