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Category Archives: Payne Family History

Details of 4x Great-grandfather Samuel Payne in Sunderland, Bennington County, Vermont

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Sm Payne cattle mark vol 1 Sunderland blogThis past week I drove six-miles to our local Family History Center. Lucky right? And I live in a rural community. The ease of access amazes me. More amazing? I’d never been there.

I had discovered digital images for Sunderland, Vermont land records on the FamilySearch. Having pinpointed the date Samuel Payne bought land in Addison, Vermont after leaving Bennington County, VT, I was anxious to confirm that he had lived in Sunderland as I suspected. This based on a brief mention I discovered in a history of the township. My double-click gave me this message:

“These images are viewable: When using the site at a family history center.

I went, of course, and the trip introduced me to some wonderful, like-minded genealogists, while my exploration of the land records netted amazing results. What a boon! Besides confirming, on a major historical note, that Ethan Allen and his brother Ira Allen purchased a wealth of land in Sunderland right after the Revolutionary War (Volume 3, pg 23-25), I found out Samuel Payne was one of the early settlers there.

Here is what I discovered in the first unnumbered pages of Volume 3 which began with earmarks and Council minutes then moved on to 1784 land records…odd:

  • On March 29, 1774 Samuel Pane (Payne), Abel Blanchard, and Daniel Comstock were on a committee to sell the Scott lot
  • On April 27, 1777 Samuel Payen (Payne) registered his mark with the clerk: a crop in the left ear and a half-penny in the upper side of the right (more on that below!)
  • On March 8, 1778 Samuel Pane (Payne) was on a committee with John Lee, and Charles Everts to survey for a highway

The first pages of Volume 3 are filled with pages of cattle heads, 5 to a page, some heads were unclaimed and some, like Samuel’s, were claimed and dated. I had never seen this before, but townsmen were required to mark all of their cattle (by this meaning all cows, pigs, and sheep) with a mark registered with the town clerk. A short explanation specific to Connecticut Colony can be found here. My research indicates it was a common practice in the colonies allowing them to distinguish animals both in a free range environment and in circumstances where a cow, pig, or sheepherder tended all the township’s animals.

The early volumes (1-5) are a confusing mixture of Council Meeting minutes, early vital records of individual families, land records, and ear-marks with records from disparate years right next to each other on the pages. Because of the mishmash, I found the index of minimal use. For example, land records for Samuel Payne should appear in Volume 1, pages 63, 67, and 87 but I couldn’t find them there. I must have looked four times! And Ira Allen’s land records in Volume 1 should appear on page 221, but there are not that many pages in the volume. I have more work to do—see you next week!

The Payne Family in Vermont or How to Find Information beyond Name Searches

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Once again the e-mails I receive from other researchers, have spurred me to reevaluate my research, including how I proceed. I’m inspecting the Payne family of Vermont in greater depth, since they (and consequently the Green Mountain Boys and the battle of Bennington) are the inspiration for my next book. I know Samuel Payne lived in Bennington, Vermont because his name is mentioned in histories of Sunderland, Vermont and because of his military record spanning 1777 and 1781(see this post). Afterwards, he appears in the 1790 Federal Census in Panton, Addison County, Vermont.


So, the big question is: When exactly did the family make the move from Bennington to Panton? The answer came by doggedly following the trail laid out through FamilySearch Wiki, indexes, and records. Name searches revealed none of this information.

Before I began my search, I knew who (Samuel Payne), where (Panton, VT) and when (between 1781 and 1790). I outline my process below.

  1. FamilySearch Wiki: Go to the wiki for the place you are interested in researching. In my case, Panton, VT had the actual deeds and grants beginning in 1761. Wow![i]
  2. The resource includes an index, but I didn’t know this when I began. The resource looked like this Deeds, town and vital records, v. 2 1784-1793 Deeds, v. 0 1784 Deeds, town and vital records, v. 3 1792-1801 Deeds, town and vital records, v. 4 1801-1825 But when I clicked on it, I went to the very first page and an index was there,[ii] along with Volume I, not mentioned above: Panton Proprietors Record 1761- 1837. It looked like this:
    Index of Panton S Pain

    Look carefully: 4th entry down on left and 6th down on right.


  3. Now I have page numbers for my search, but those are not the IMAGE pages. I need to estimate the image page by dividing the page number of the document by 2 (there are two pages for each image) and adding the pages before the NUMBERED pages begin. Hope you are following me. Anyway, I estimated, searched, and found these:deed image 64 p 113 Panton S Payen copy

land record of Samuel Payen copyThe question answered: Samuel Payne bought land in Panton first on May 1, 1788 (21 acres) and again on June 14, 1788 (35 acres). The land was situated along Otter Creek. Using a similar method of discovery I went to v. 4 and found the deed (Pg. 477) in which he sold a single parcel of 75 acres on Otter Creek to Edward Gray on November 3, 1812. This indicates he likely purchased about 20 acres of land to make the full parcel after the summer of 1788.

Of course, now I needed a great map! Check out the one above from, where else, the Library of Congress.

[i] A note: some of these digital images are only available for viewing at a Family History Center. Panton’s were available on-line. Bennington’s require a Family History Center. Luckily one is just down the road from me, so I’ll be visiting soon.

[ii] An aside regarding indexes in Ancestry: often a name search leads to an index, but search the record. Often it is a complete record and the actual document is found on later pages.


ONE FOR THE ROAD TO OHIO: breaking down brick walls…

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The Ohio Erie Canal went right by Canal Lewisville, Coshocton County, OH

I head to Ohio this coming week for the Ohio Genealogical Conference and two weeks of research and discovery. At the conference, I will be inducted into the Society of Civil War Families of Ohio. Now, I’ve acquired numerous awards and certificates in my life and was never  big on ceremony, certificates, or standard celebrations, but this is different. It isn’t for me. It is for the seven men, the sons of Jacob Croy and Margaret Pugh Croy, who served with the Ohio Volunteers in the Civil War. I wrote a series of articles regarding them. To read more, click “Civil War” to the right of this post.

So my “One for the Road” comes out my work, in advance of my trip, fine tuning and organizing my research. My lesson, oft repeated, I repeat once more. It’s important.

Keep returning to your brick walls, those ancestors with typical names (or dusty pasts); the ones who elude you. Why? Okay, I know you’ve heard it before, but here it is again. New information is uncovered, discovered, and digitalized all the time.

When I plugged Henry Smith into, I expected little, but got a treasure. Henry, the father of my great grandmother, Sarah Angeline Payne Smith who married Calvin Croy (my great grandfather and one of the Civil War brothers mentioned above), left a will.[i] It was one of the new probate records recently added to Ancestry.

Look what returning to Henry uncovered:

  • On 1 March 1883 the will of Henry Smith of Tuscarawas Township, Coshocton County, OH was filed with the court.
  • In the will he bequeathed “to my beloved wife Sephrona Smith the lot and house in which we live numbered (154) and 155) the one half of each lot divided east and west, South half and situated in the town of Canal Lewisville, Coshocton, State of Ohio…”
  • Sephrona (Sephronia in some records) had full rights to the land “to sell and convey or otherwise control…according to her own judgement.”
  • The will was signed in his own hand on 3 May 1879.

So never stop looking! With this find, I go to Ohio with confirmation of their home in Canal Lewisville, along with lot numbers. Can’t wait to get there!

Picture from Public Domain,
[i] Will Records, 1811-1912; Probate Place: Coshocton, Ohio. Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [accessed April 2016]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Ohio County, District and Probate Courts.

A Memorial Day Tribute

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Albert Lloydcroy ww1

On this Memorial Day, I remember Albert Lloyd Croy, the only extended family member to die in battle. He died at the World War I Battle of the Argonne Forest on the first day of the campaign, September 26, 1918. Commanded by General Pershing, the battle, on the notorious Western Front, resulted in 26,277 killed and 95,786 injured, the worst of the war. Albert had joined the army only one year before his death and left behind two children, Norvin Albert, and Margaret. He was 31 years old.

Other family members who served in war include:

Revolutionary War

  • Jacob Croy (about 1759-about 1806,)
  • Samuel Payne (1733-1813)

Civil War

World War I

  • Albert Lloyd Croy (1887-1918)
  • Gardner Lester Croy (1890-1920)
  • David Harrison Croy (1892-1944)

World War II

  • Ralph Lewis Croy (1912-2004)
  • Attilio DeBernardi (1919-1976)

…and my mother, still living, a member of the Women’s Army Corp (WAC)

To those currently unknown to me and not represented here, I give my apologies.

The pictures shown here are from The Oklahoma Spirit compiled by Welch and Aldride, Historical Publishing Co. Oklahoma City, OK 1926 and can be found here

Family History, or Historical Fiction-Write it!

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“It is Ordered, That if any man shall commit Fornication with any single woman, they shall be punished, either by enjoyning marriage, or fine, or corporall punishment, any, or all these, as the Court Magistrates, or Plantation Court duly considering the case with the circumstances, shall judge most agreeable to the word of God.” From New Haven Code of 1656

It happens. You immerse yourself in discovering the history of your family, their names, their homes, their births, deaths, marriages, their children. You collect source information to verify your discoveries. Every genealogy how-to book and blog emphasizes the importance of sourcing, evidence, and documentation. There are “bibles” written to the task, certification you can acquire, and a Genealogical Proof Standard, a GPS. Trust me, I get it. Look to my family blog and you will see my effort (imperfect) at documentation and my struggle for balance.

But still it happens. You dig deeper. A single piece of information begs a question, makes you wonder. So now you spend time reading old county histories from the before the Civil War or tracing the movement of a single company from battle to battle during the Civil War. You fill a folder with old maps, bookmark sites that trace the history of changing state and county lines, and fly around on GoogleEarth, marking the exact coordinates of a particular homestead. All this, designated good practice by the gurus of genealogy, doesn’t quite still your itch.

“A good story is always more dazzling than a broken piece of truth.” Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale

It cannot be ignored. Other questions beat away at the facts. How did it feel to lose every child but one and name the next born Comfort? How did he die, and why, after twenty years and another marriage, did her gravestone name him as her husband? How do you try to protect a new born child named after a son killed in the Revolutionary War, while your husband and brother continue to serve?

It happens. The emotions, the mysteries, their stories call you. You long to toss down the anchor of fact and dive into the world of fiction.

“They weren’t true stories; they were better than that.”Alice Hoffman, The Story Sisters

I say, “Go for it!” And as long as you label it fiction, indulge yourself, enter into your imaginings, and build a world. I drifted off into the felt lives of the characters I met right from the beginning as I researched and then wrote my first family history. (You can find links to my efforts on each page of this blog with the fiction always in italics.) I reimagined the life of one Bedford County, Pennsylvania family that expanded into a short book now in the final (?) editing stages. The process of writing it actually reveled holes in my research and clarified where I should look next.

Allow yourself you imagine, find your own stories to infuse with emotion. In later posts, I will offer a few thoughts on the topic of fictionalizing family history. But for now…

I found two amazing volumes of New Haven, Connecticut history, actual transcriptions from early New Haven records. They informed my research on the Payne family, and, while I found no new information beyond that found on the “New Haven” page above, I have to mention those volumes here-for the amazing stories!

Peruse these kernels. They provide excellent jumping off places for an historical story based on my own family. Which mystery-ridden facts from your family history might spark a bit of your own historical fiction?

First, in the Records of the Colony and Plantation of New-Haven, from 1638 to 1649, Volume 1 edited by Charles Jeremy Hoadly, Hartford: Case, Tiffany and Co. 1857

  • 173 “Bamfeild Bell being reproved by Wm Paine for singing profane songs, answered and said, you are one of the holy bretheren that will lye for advantage.
  • Pg 188 “Forasmuch as much damadge hath come to the quarters adjoyninge to the Oystershelfeild by some mens lots being unfenced, as namely Wm Payne and Wm Blayden, the courts call upon them to get their lotts fenced and gave them leave to take some of the trees on the common wth the tanners have felled for barke, but in the meane time they are to pay for all damadge wth comes by their default.”
  • 310 “Further Wm Payne was complained off for not comminge time enough one Lords day morning and evening, but seing it appeared he was very neare before the drume had don beating, and considering the distance at wch he lives & he saith he could not heare the first drum, the court saw cause to moderate the fine, & was fined for both but 1 pence.”
  • 371 “William Paine was called to make goode the charge wch he laide upon Seriant Munson last courte, wch was that he presented some for comeing late on the Lords daye wth their armes but not others, thoughe they offended equaly alike.”
  • 501“William Paine propounded to ye court that he might be freed from bringing his armes one ye Lords day and lecture dayes, because he lives farr of and hath three small children, and his wife is lame and cannot help to bring ye children.
  • And this important note to be played out in the next volume: 169-171 An extended account of servant John Frost lighting fire to his master’s barn and burning it down. When asked for his reason, he stated that, “he…did it by way of revenge, because his master had aboute six weekes before whipped him…” His punishment, “that considering he was young, (aboute fourteen yeares of age,) and also somewhat childish in his way, agreed to spare his life,…should be a servant for one and twenty yeares from this time…weare a halter about his necke and a small light lock upon his legg,…that he stand in the pillory such a space of time as the magistrats shall thinke fit…”

Finally, from Records of the colony of jurisdiction of New Haven: from May, 1653 to the union: together with the New Haven code of 1656. Harford Conn.: Case, Lockwood and Co., 1858

  • “Willm Payne appeared to make complaint against John Frost for some sinfull miscarriages towards his children & some others. …That John Frost be corporally punished by whipping, &for his inveiglements by gift, as shee saith, & he makes no proof to ye contrary, but graunts yt he made love to her without the knowledge and consent of her parents, that he pay forty shillings as a fine ye jurisdiction, according to law. And for Mercy Payne, that shee alsoe be corporally punished by whipping, for her sinfull compliance with him in such wickedness, as herself confesseth.”

The New Haven code included in this volume also speaks, well, volumes. Facts, maybe, but these facts are infused with insights into character, worldview, and crisis that would make a great story, maybe MY next great story. What have you discovered?

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


A Revolutionary War Tragedy and Two Sons Named Zerah

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Data on a page, or a story of family sorrow?

Data on a page, or a story of family sorrow?

Samuel Payne and Abigail Grimes Payne are my 4x great grandfather and grandmother. His son, Zerah, had a daughter, Sephronia, who gave birth to my great grandmother Sarah Angeline Smith who married Calvin Croy.

Not long after the Battle of Bennington (August 16, 1777,) in Bennington, Vermont on November 29, 1777, Samuel Payne joined the “Green Mountain Boys” (formally the Continental Troop under Captain William McCune (McCun) in the Battalion of Forces commanded by Col. Seth Warner.) The enlistment originally was for a three-year term, but family tragedy intervened.[i]

In April of 1778 on the 22nd and 23rd, his oldest son, sixteen years old Zerah Payne, signed up along with 17 other young men to serve the newly formed Vermont Militia. (Vermont, less than a year before in July, had become a separate independent republic.) Who knows to what purpose they were employed, likely some necessary form of manual labor “of Capt. Comstock’s company …by order from Governor Chittenden.” He received 3 shillings 4 pence for the duty and it wet his eager young appetite for more.

When Capt. William Hutchins formed the Provential troops in service of the United States on May 1, 1778, Zerah (Zeruah Pain in the record) enlisted for a seven month term. He was seventeen and a half and was killed on May 26, 1778. No official record exists as to how this occurred. There were no major battles or even minor skirmishes recorded with Captain Hutchins’ Company during that timeline. So perhaps the “family lore” is correct. (Note that it could not be “before the Battle of Bennington” as that battle occurred long before his death.)

“The story is handed down in the family that he was killed by the accidental discharge of a comrade gun before the Battle of Bennington. The village men and boys were getting such weapons as they had ordered and one boy had a very decrepid (sic) and superannuated gun which the other boys were laughing at and making jokes. The owner, in fun picked up the lock, which was detatched (sic) from the barrel and merely held it on the barrel and aimed it at the group about him. The barrel was loaded, and he snapped the trigger and by some strange chance, the load was discharged killing Zerah.”[ii]

No matter how the death occurred, the pain of loss is great. And the pain of an untimely and early death of a beloved child is beyond measure. Samuel’s wife Abigail, to accentuate the stress, was five months pregnant. Samuel arranged an early release on July 15, 1778. In September of that year, Abigail gave birth to a son.[iii]

Much later, on July 1, 1781, Samuel enlisted in the Vermont Militia along with his second born son, seventeen year-old Jared, since Zerah’s death, his oldest boy. They served in Capt. Daniel Comstock’s Company in the Battalion of Infantry commanded by Samuel Fletcher in the service of the State of Vermont.[iv] Samuel enlisted for 150 days and earned 11 pounds 16 shillings, while Jared served for 171 days earning ll pounds 8 shillings. Note that for twenty-one fewer days of duty Samuel earned 8 shillings more indicating that Samuel in some way earned more through some type of greater responsibility. While the period in which they served saw no major conflicts in Vermont, it was a pivotal point in the Revolutionary War eventually leading to winning of the war.[v]

And that son who celebrated his third birthday while his father and brother served with Capt. Comstock? They named him Zerah. He grew to be a boot maker moving with his wife Amy first to Zaneville and then Coshocton County, Ohio. He is my 3x great grandfather.

[i] All Military information from: NARA M881. Compiled service records of soldiers who served in the American Army during the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783.

[ii] Notes of Rosa Belle Phelps Gordon from personal collection

[iii] Edmund West, comp.. Family Data Collection – Births [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2001.

[iv] Vermont became a state on March 4, 1791 but the copy of the original record indicated “state,” a likely error.

[v] See this link for a better understanding of the import of 1781