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Category Archives: Payne Family History

A Bennington, Vermont Thank You

 

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Jonah Spivak, happy promoter of Bennington and its history, standing at the Tory Redoubt.

Finally I am at my computer, having crawled out from books thick with facts and rich with wonder … my escape from a bone-deep writing inertia. So, first: a tribute to the highlight of my New England excursion, visiting the home sites of my ancestor Samuel Payne.

 

I saw the typical and less typical sites—traveled the road from Lexington to Concord where the American Revolution began; sat on the banks of Walden Pond with my new copy of Walden; walked the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Hubbardton in Vermont; and wandered around the Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. (Haven’t been? Go … very tourista, but oh so interesting!)

The highlight of my trip, though, was meeting Jonah Spivak who honored me with an all-encompassing tour of the sites of the Battle of Bennington. The battle took place in New York just over the border from Vermont near Bennington.

First, I commend and thank Jonah for his generosity. He gave his time to someone he didn’t know who arrived from across the nation, California no less, claiming an interest in Bennington’s history. He and his friends were expert in the area’s history; I was a novice at best. He took a chance.

We met for lunch at the delicious Tap House at Catamount Glass where he answered my every question. He loves the human stories and he is an entertaining storyteller. The stories he told highlighted the local nuance of the Revolutionary War conflict—the animosity between “Yorkers” and settlers on the Grants (the New Hampshire Grants which would become Vermont); the brother against brother divide created by the conflict; the strategic importance of each actor and setting in the story.

 

Bennington Monument

Colonel Seth Warner’s Statue at the Bennington Battle Monument in Bennington, VT

And then there was the physical tour. My husband and I had already spent a lovely afternoon walking around the Bennington Battle Monument and its environs, so he drove me first to the Tory Redoubt, pointing out important places along the way. Next we climbed a little knoll to where the British opposition forces had (likely) first placed their three-pounder cannons. We walked the Hessian Hill, and he took time to orient me to north and south. The original map of the battle drawn Desmaretz Durnford places north not at the top of the page, but to the right side of the page. (include map here)

Dunford Battle of Bennington

Position of the Detachment under Lieut. Col. Baum and attacks of the Enemy on the 16th August at Walmscock near Bennington courtesy of Library of Congress, Map Division (with north oriented to the right on the map)

I got it! Then we traveled to the site of the second battle where he pointed out the rocky ledge mentioned in original accounts. The knowledge I gained, in combination with the physical sense of place, enhanced everything I knew and would learn about the battle and the times.

 

It was a good lesson for me—for all of us—in the importance of taking a chance on a stranger and sharing what we know. Besides, it was just plain fun meeting someone with a common enthusiasm. And because of it my understanding of this unique time in our Nation’s history increased exponentially.

Here is a list of books he recommended (or I discovered) that bring the important (and often overlooked) history of the New Hampshire Grants and their role in the Revolutionary War to life.

  1. War over Walloomscoick by Phillip Lord, Jr., New York State Museum Bulletin No. 473 (The University of the State of New York, State Education Department) This is an amazing book on many levels. It details the Durnford map and uses it to explain cultural details of the times as well as key aspects of the battle. I was fascinated! If you have an interest in the 1700’s in general the detail in it is worth the price. BUT, it isn’t easy to find. I finally entered the bulletin number and it popped up on Amazon through a used-book vendor.
  2. No Turning Point: The Saratoga Campaign in Perspective by Theodore Corbett (part of the Campaigns and Commanders Series through University of Oklahoma Press: Norman) Note: He calls it a “perspective” and it is definitely written from his perspective. His choice of adjectives and verbs carries editorial weight. Colonial militiamen are called “rebels” and the Green Mountain Boys, he says, instituted a “reign of terror.” Still, the viewpoint is a valuable juxtaposition to the usually localized populist bent of our histories. I particularly found the British efforts at “pacification” of the Vermonters interesting, as well as the conflicting loyalties found town by town, and the skirmishes within the region preceeding the Battle of Bennington.
  3. The Battle of Bennington: Soldiers and Civilians by Michael P. Gabriel (The History Press, Charleston, SC) I love this kind of book! Gabriel took artifacts of the period, including letters, pension applications, first-person accounts and interview, to paint a picture of the conflict—before, during, and after the battle. The accounts are laid out with short introductory narrative. The human reveals the confusion, assumptions, and excuses interwoven into the factual accounting. A great way to illuminate history.
  4. The Revolutionary War in Bennington County: A History and Guide by Richard B. Smith (The History Press, Charleston, SC) Based on the number of book tags, this book ranked high in usefulness. Smith divides the book into a history of the area during the revolution, an excellent overview for a novice like me, and a tour of the key landmarks. Again I found the commentary accompanying the “tours” insightful. But as a tourist in Bennington, driving its roads, I was pretty lost, and opportunities to turn out and really see the places he mentions was near to impossible. Luckily, he gives tours. Unluckily, I wasn’t able to attend one. (And, luckily, I met Jonah on line!)
  5. Honorable mentions and books still to be read: Chipman and Sparks Memoir of Colonel Seth Warner/The Life of Colonel Ethan Allen, Ethan Allen’s Reason, and Moses Robinson and The Founding of Vermont by Robert A Mello (hard to find). And Jonah says, “Richard Ketchum’s Saratoga is suggested reading … it covers the whole of the 1777 campaign, but contains a really excellent chapter on the Battle of Bennington and one of the best descriptions of the battle. I’d also be remiss to not mention the book by Phil Holland, The Battle of Bennington and the Bennington Battle Monument which is a very nice short book and included one gem of information regarding the existence of a cannon on the American side!”

IF you love history, and IF you are unfamiliar with the unique history of Vermont, the Canadian “invasion,” or the Battle of Bennington, I urge you to investigate. How little I knew about this fascinating period and place, and how thankful I am to Jonah Spivak for being my “boots on the ground.”

 

On Research, Vermont, and a Vacation Announcement

 

vermontgovrecords01waltrich_0009

Find the details of people’s lives, including specific ancestors, in records of the time.

 

Pinch time! After this posting, I retire for one month to work on the upcoming publication of The Scattering of Stone. Taking a book to publication takes time, and the time is near (exact date not yet known). I just received the completed edits for Scattering, my multi-period American historical fiction novel set in Pennsylvania and Ohio at the end of the eighteenth century. Editing takes careful, line-by-line, word-by-word attention, so I’ll be (happily) busy for a while.

Included in the month hiatus is a trip to New England to research my third book set in 1775-1778, Bennington, Vermont. (And, yes, it’s a pleasure trip, too.) I’ll write about my adventures when I return.

But, for now, let’s talk research! Namely, out-of-print books on line! Genealogy, history, or historical fiction researchers alike, this is an amazing tool. If you’ve read my blog, you’ve heard it me say it before, but REALLY—.

Here’s one more example: the details of the ill will, distrust, fear, and chaos in the midst of war. The document? The Records of the Council of Safety and Governor and Council of the State of Vermont, Vol. I edited by E.P. Walton, Montpelier: Steam Press, 1873. (The bold in these quotes is mine.)

Ill will? Or what do you do with a strong-willed woman?

Arlington, 28 May 1778 “Whereas it has been represented to this Council that the wife of Jeremiah French late of Manchester (now in armes with the Enemy) is very turbulent & Troublesome where she now is, & refuses to obey orders…You are hereby Commanded to Take said Woman and her children…& Transport them to Head-quarters at Rutland & there diliver them to the commanding officer who will order a party of the men…[so] she can go to the enemy in order to git to her husband…” Records, pg. 260

Distrust? September 1777 (after the Battle of Bennington) through early 1778 the council recorded entry after entry dealing with local “enemies” who sided with England, imposing deportations to enemy lines, fines, confiscation of property, passes of travel, or oaths of allegiance. These matters so encumbered the docket that a March 1778 council resolution gave the majority of these duties to the captains guarding Tory jails. An example:

Vermont Council of Safety, 3d September 1777 “Francis Breakenridge is permitted to Return home, & Remain on his father’s home farm, and if found off to expect 39 Lashes of the Beach Seal, until further orders from this Council.” Records, pg. 155

Fear and chaos?

Vermont Council of Safety, Bennington, 28 July 1777 “Whereas the inhabitants of the northwesterly part of this State have been necessitated to remove their families by the encroachment of the enemy, and some are removed to the states of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut:…request such men to return and assist in defending this and the United States of America from the ravages of the enemy…” Records, pg. 138

Oh! And an ancestor in the mix!

Bennington, 6 October 1777 “We are informed that Mr. S. Payne of Sunderland has in his Custody one yoke of oxen the Property of this State which we desire youd Take into Custody immediately.” Addressed to Commissioners of Sequestration Records, pg. 186

Go deep! It’s worth the dig!

And look for great blogs like A Writer of History by MK Todd. (Okay, you can include my blog, as well.) I remember reading the Bernard Cornwell quote she used in her most recent post (found here), and I thank her for reminding me of it. I love Bernard Cornwell’s rousing stories! No matter your research, in fiction, the story’s the thing.

“The most important thing, the all important thing, is to get the story right. Write, rewrite, rewrite again, and do not worry about anything except story. It is story, story, story. That is your business. Your job is not to educate readers on the finer points of Elizabethan diplomacy or Napoleonic warfare, your job is to divert and amuse people who have had a hard day at work. What will get you published? Not style, not research, but story. Once the story is right, everything else will follow.” B. Cornwell

Samuel Payne in Sunderland, Vermont

 

 

Sunderland D Ramsey collection

Sunderland, Bennington County, Vermont Map from David Rumsey Map Collection; Beers, Fredrick W., 1869; Atlas of Bennington County, VT.;Beers, Ellis, & Soule, NY.

I am currently obsessed with Bennington County, Vermont—in particular the township of Sunderland. My reasons?

  1. Samuel Payne, my 4 times great-grandfather[i] lived in Sunderland.
  2. My work in progress fictionalizes Samuel’s time in Sunderland during the Revolutionary War.
  3. My husband and I travel to New England in October, and Bennington is one of our stops.

As usual, the deeper I dig into an area the more details I uncover. Consequently, I’m deep into smallpox and early inoculation, the Green Mountain Boys, the impact of the Revolutionary War on the area, and the conflict between New York and New Hampshire Colonies over the Grants. A stickler for original sources, I am devouring (slowly—it’s a huge banquet) the town records for Sunderland, Manchester, and Bennington found via FamilySearch Wiki. If you have ancestors from Bennington County, I highly recommended these resources.

When I started searching the Sunderland records (See my first post and second post.), I got so excited by what I found that I neglected the first commandment of research—thoroughly document sources. In this case, I omitted the image number for my information, making it hard to return to it. So, back I went to the Family History Center, the only place I can access these records.

This time while carefully documenting, I also worked through the documents more systematically. The Sunderland records are not chronological, have multiple page numbering systems, and mix ear marks, town minutes, vital records, and land records. They require a page-by-page skim and scan approach. And PRESTO!

I found the record for Samuel Payne’s land purchase in Sunderland, Vermont. As I’ve said too many times, I LOVE LAND RECORDS. You can discover so much. Here is an annotated version of Samuel’s deed[ii] to highlight what one land deed can reveal. Note: (?)=illegible I omitted a large section of legal verification in the interest of clarity, but you can find the complete transcript here. Samuel Payne_s deed for land purchase in SunderlandAn endnote corresponds to each bolded portion of the deed.

“Know all men by these (?) that I Stephen Washburn of Sunderland in the County Albany and Province of New York yoman[iii] for aand in consideration of the sum of Sixty Eight pound[iv] Lawfull money to me is paid By Samuel Payen of Williamstown in the County of Burkshire In the Province of the Massetchuset Bay yoman[v] the Receipt where of I do hereby acknowledge & have given granted Bargained (?) and convey and confirm to him the said Samuel Payen his heirs and assign for Ever all my Right title interest claim and Demand I leave of two Lots of Land lying in Sunderland in County and province of P commonly known by No 14 and 21 and also part of the fifty acre lot No 6[vi] Beginning upon the North end of the Lot No 14 Containing ten acres by the same (?) or side all being of the same Division of fifty acre Lots of Land in P township with a Dwelling House[vii] …THIS SECTION OMITTED.

In witness where of I have here unto set my hand on this Seventeeth Day of September in the year one thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy two[viii] and the twelth year of his Magisty Reign (signed) Stephen Washborn in presence of Gideon Brownson Cornelie Brownson

Sign Sealed and Delivered

The (?) of Fifty acre Lots is (?) between the twenty Seventeeth and Eighteenth Lines

Bennington April 29th 1789 then the within named Stephen Washburn personally appearing acknowledged the within instrument to Be his free act and Deed[ix]

This deed ReceivedMarch 6th 1790 by Abner Hill Town clerk[x]

An analysis of lots (see photos) confirms that Samuel Payne lived at the confluence of Batten Kill and Mill Creek. A town history mentioned that Samuel Payne was the first to run a grist mill near the northwest corner of Sunderland, and I had deduced that he would have lived on Mill Brook. A comparison of the lot map and a map of old Sunderland above shows this well.

Scan 1 copy Sunderland lots

A lot plan of Sunderland found at Vermont Maps and Plans. I have enhanced the numbering and outlined the land lots mentioned in the deed. According to the information found at the site “Sunderland was created by a New Hampshire grant in 1761. Princetown, a New York patent (“paper town”) of 1765, was in the area of present Arlington, Dorset, Sunderland and Manchester.”

One more mystery yet unsolved: when did he sell this land? I was unable to find two deeds referenced in the index in which he sold to an Amos Brownson and an Amos Chipman. I wrote to Sunderland’s clerk for advice and have a few ideas of my own.

Meanwhile, back to the Family History Center—did I say I have a new obsession?

[i] Through my father, Ralph Croy, son of Justus Croy, son of Sarah Angelina Smith Croy, daughter of Sephronia Payne Smith, daughter of Zerah Payne, son of Samuel

[ii] Sunderland Town Records Deeds, Vol 3, 1760-1815; image 323; FamilySearch filmed 8 September 1952 [accessed on-line at Family Research Center, Prather, CA on 24 August 2017]

[iii] The original owner, Stephen Washburn, likely owned the land under New York charter when Sunderland was considered by New York as part of Albany County.

[iv] The land (110 acres) cost 68 pounds in 1772.

[v] Confirms other documents from Williamstown records and town histories putting Samuel Payne in Williamstown before moving to Sunderland.

[vi] Samuel Payen (Payne) purchased lots 14, 21 and part of 6 in Sunderland (and likely because of the dispute the province of the Sunderland land was left with a P, neither New York or New Hampshire.)

[vii] The property he bought already had a dwelling house.

[viii] Samuel bought this land on September 17, 1772.

[ix] Stephen Washburn had to appear when Samuel finally entered his deed in the town records April 29, 1789, likely concerned that his property be acknowledged before Vermont became a state. He also had bought property in Panton, Vermont in 1788 (see this post).

[x] I’ve gotten to know and appreciate Abner Hill quite well as I’ve read the town records including his unique spellings and offhand organization.

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. https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Main_Page 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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Ohio_Canal

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 Ancestry.com, 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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=507197
[i] Will Records, 1811-1912; Probate Place: Coshocton, Ohio. Ancestry.com. Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [accessed April 2016]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com 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 https://archive.org/details/oklahomaspiritof00np