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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


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.)

What is True?

Major General Henry Knox Was he a direct relation? Highly unlikely!

Major General Henry Knox
Was he a direct relation? Highly unlikely!

I imply nothing ethereal in the title’s question. Evidence/documentation is the mantra of genealogy. But what is a preponderance of evidence, scientific or otherwise? A great blog delving into this debate can be found here[i], but the following account, I think, exposes the issue with concrete experience.

I focused my investigation of late into the ancestors of Zerah Paine and Amy Felch Payne, discussed in the previous two posts (on a personal note, my 3xgreat grandparents.) Three lines of research presented themselves. First, the interesting little biography in The History of Coshocton County quoted below. The next source was information from the …Ancient New Haven and Vital Records of Williamstown Massachusetts that provided an extensive lineage of the Payne (Payen, Paine, Payn…variously spelled) family. Finally, I discovered a notation on a Find-a-grave link giving the birth and death dates of Samuel and his wife, Abigail Grimes(Graham) that sited a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) number. So, how trustworthy are each of these pieces of information, or, more accurately, what do you choose to trust?

“Mr. Markley was married July 9, 1842 to Miss Selina, daughter of Lera and Ann (Felch) Payne. Mrs. Markley’s grandmother was Sarah Knox, sister of General Knox. They are the parents of fourteen children, nine of whom are deceased, viz: Caroline, William F., Cristena Frances, George E., Charles D., Mary Melissa, Judge Harper, Lily May, and Edward; and five living, viz: Samuel Asberry, Minerva Catherine, Emma, Annie E. and David, Jr.” [ii]

History and biography books encompassing a particular community were quite popular from the late 1800’s into the 1940’s. Inaccuracies are rampant. Use them as a touchstone but don’t take them as truth, though the Coshocton one is generally very good. I am acquainted with a local historian who found one of these histories containing blatant slander, all because of a rivalry between two families and the fact that the slandered gentleman wouldn’t pay for his spot in the history! Right away, in the Coshocton history, I noted the incorrect spelling of the parents of Selina Payne Markley (Zerah and Amy are the correct spelling.[iii]) as well as Samuel’s middle name (correctly Asbury.) I can’t account for all of the deceased children (Caroline, William F., George E., Charles D., Lily May and Edward) though I find it logical since they may have died in childbirth. And the Knox connection? Unlikely. General Henry Knox had many brothers and sisters but all died before adulthood except three, two brother and a sister (Peter, William, Hannah.[iv]) I searched for nieces with the name Sarah as well, but no luck. Conclusions? The note on Knox was likely a bit of pomp or wishful thinking. True? Not likely.

Next, there are the books delineating the research of genealogical societies of early historic places. I base most of my information regarding the ancestry of Samuel and Amy Felch Payne on these.[v] Given the limited records available before 1790, I rely on these as the baseline for my research and then search for historical verification of the information along with vital records it. I find they match well so, given the quality of the researchers who created these volumes and their proximity to the sources, both in place and time, I chose to believe. Note, I said, “Choose.” True? Possibly, I’d even go so far as probably.

Lastly, the Find-a-grave information that gives the birth and death dates and places of Amy Grimes Paine and Samuel Paine (the site spelling) sites a DAR number.[vi] The site does not provide a place of burial but is a “Global, Find A Grave Index for Non-Burials.” The post uses the DAR information as the basis of the memorial. Good genealogy says to verify everything beyond actual gravestone information. I tried but could not. I went to the DAR site where the number noted is used to determine “lineal descent from Patriots of the American Revolution.” In my research I often find errors in these applications and wondered at their accuracy, so it interested me to see the following message posted clearly on their site.

“The databases contain DAR proprietary information which should under no circumstances be redistributed to others; assembled or collected for purposes other than DAR membership or for citation in genealogical scholarship; or reproduced, published or posted in any form whatsoever.”

  Well, what can I say? True? Possibly.

So what is a lover of family history to do? Enjoy the stories. Learn the history that surrounds them and those grand souls that occupied it. Don’t get too hung up on absolutes. Value the true along with the probable and possible. The stories are amazing! My next posts will contain a few.


[ii] N.N. Hill, Jr. Ed., History of Coshocton County Ohio: Its Past and Present, (Newark, Ohio: A.A. Graham & Co., 1881) Pg 743

[iii] That statement is itself relative as there are many spellings on census data and beyond. I usually rely on the spellings on gravemarkers or government documents like draft records, not census records as they vary radically. If census records are all I have I use the most frequent and most complete record.

[iv] Based on correspondence found on DAR web site and NARA. There are numerous histories on line. Check this one.

[v] all available on Original data from

  • Record of the colony and plantation of New Haven, from 1638 to 1649. Hartford: Printed by Case, Tiffany and Co., for the editor, 1857
  • Vital records of Williamstown, Massachusetts to the year 1850.Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1907
  • The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records. Vol 1-55 Baltimore, MD, USA Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994-2002
  • Families of Ancient New Haven, Vol 1-3 Baltimore, MD, USA Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 1981 (orginals from New Haven colony Historical Society New Haven Conn.)

[vi] Find it here.


How Calvin and Sarah Met (or the Geographical History of the Payne, Markley, and Croy Families)


Coshocton County Townships

Coshocton County Townships

Coshocton County, Ohio was formed out of Muskingum County in 1811.

The above map should help process things as we move along. (If I name a township in this post without indicating a county, assume Coshocton County, Ohio.)

 As noted in the previous post, to understand how Calvin Croy and Sarah Angeline Smith met and married, you must follow the couple’s family connections in Coshocton County. We were introduced to Sarah’s mother, Sephronia Payne Smith, and father, Henry Smith, in the last post. In this post I attempt to mine the family relationships of the Sephronia’s family and the Croy family in Coshocton County, Ohio. The goal: explain how the paths of Calvin and Sarah crossed (with some interesting diversions in between.)

The Payne’s lived in Coshocton County from at least 1820 when Sephronia’s father moved there with his shoe and boot repair business. (More on them in the previous post.) Their children, known and living into adulthood, were Samuel Felch (1810-1868,) Sarah (1812-1903,) Sephronia (1823-1903,) Selena (1826-between 1901-1910,) and William (between 1828-1834-about 1869.) Let’s take a look at the marriages, migration, and life experiences of these children.

The story is the sad but resilient tale of pioneer life. Zerah Payne and Fredrick Markley lived near each other in Tuscarawas Township in 1820. Fredrick Markley, died in 1828 leaving his wife, Rachel, with Nathan (11,) David (9,) Selena (5,) an unknown female, and Catherine (1.) The Payne family had also suffered a loss with Zerah Payne dying in1831. David Markley married Selena Payne on June 9, 1843 (Yes, Selena, just to make it confusing, each family had a Selena.) By 1850 David and Selena lived with her sister, Sephronia Payne Smith and Henry Smith, in Licking County, Ohio just southwest of Pike Township.

The rest of the Markley children connected in some way to the Payne family by 1850. Samuel Felch Payne had first married an Elizabeth Rice in Coshocton on March 4, 1830. Before 1850, Elizabeth died and Samuel then married Selena Markley, September 16, 1850. He likely met Selena Markley because she was living next to (or near) Samuel’s mother Amy Payne in Jackson Township. (Selena Markley is listed in two places in Jackson Township, Dwelling 301 next to Amy Payne who cared for Samuel’s son James, and # 278.) Then, on March 4, 1852 William Payne married Catherine Markley. Following me so far??? Samuel, William, and Selena Payne married Selena, Catherine, and David Markley.

After their marriages, in about 1858, Samuel and William Payne took off with their families to farm in Vincennes, Knox, Indiana. Samuel’s mother Amy Payne had died before 1860. They took the Markley matriarch, Rachel Markley, with them but after 1860 no record exists for her. Their hopes and dreams were not realized in Indiana. Illness ravaged them. On February 10, 1866, Selena Markley Payne died. Then, on January 17, 1868, Samuel Felch Payne died. Their son Gibson died about that time as well. The rest of children were shipped out to family, three to David and Selina and one to Catherine. Finally, in late 1869, William Payne died along with their son, Thomas. Catherine Markley Payne returned home to where everyone now lived in Canal Lewisville along the border of Tuscarawas and Keene Township.

With the deaths of Samuel and William, only the daughters were left. In 1870, two of them, Sephronia Smith and Selina Markley, lived three houses apart and between them lived Samuel Payne’s children Rachel, Eliza, and Burd. In the Smith house lived Sarah Angeline.

Coshocton County and Canal Lewisville figures geographically into the lives of the Croy family as well. In the late 1830’s, as documented in previous posts, Andrew Croy and his sons moved to Coshocton County with the growth of the Eerie/Ohio Canal. Jacob Croy, father of Calvin, lived in Mill Creek and White Eyes Townships. Most important to this story is the brother who stayed and settled in Lafayette Township, David Croy. Woodworking ran in the family. Father Andrew owned a sawmill in White Eyes Township. David, followed his footsteps and worked as a sawyer in White Eyes and Lafayette Townships. His son Robert followed suit, working as a sawyer in 1870 and then as a sawyer in 1880 in Keene Township.

No, I didn’t forget the original title of the post: How Calvin and Sarah met. After the Civil War, Calvin was living with his brother Nathan down in Fairfield Township, Washington County, near Marietta, on the homestead with his father and mother where he is listed as a laborer in 1870. Then his father died in 1872.

As noted two posts back, Calvin had a restless spirit. It is likely that he jumped at the chance to move out from under his older brother’s shadow and go work with his cousin in Keene Township. They may have even formed a business together. At any rate, by 1880 Calvin was working as a sawyer in Keene Township. He and Sarah lived only 24 houses apart from cousin Robert Croy. (How close were they to Canal Lewisville? My grandfather, Justus Croy, born on October 10, 1879 lists Lewisville as his place of birth on the World War I draft card.)

By the way, when searching your family be careful and check the originals carefully. I found error in the transcription of  townships, names, and households from the original. An 1820 census included two to three townships on each page and all were listed as one township! Needless to say, but I will, my brain is fried. I’m happy to return to fiction for a few days!

And look at this! Written in 1881, this History of Coshocton County contains a hint as to the parentage of Amy Felch, someone I had no definitive information on before. Yes, the piece contains some errors, but not many. And THAT is where I go next, following Zerah Payne and Amy Felch Payne back in time and ancestry. See ya then!

“MARKLEY DAVID, Tuscarawas township; farmer; was born October 13, 1819, in this township; son of Frederick and Rachel (Cartmill) Markley. David’s father came to Coshocton county in 1803 and located in Bethlehem township on the Walhonding river. His ancestors came from Maryland and are of German descent. David’s father died when the boy was but nine years old, from which age Mr. Markley has depended entirely on his own industry and management for success, and it is but just to state here that he has by honest and judicious economy obtained an ample competence for his family and himself, and to do a liberal share in assisting in all charitable and religious enterprises of his neighborhood. He also takes a live interest in education. Mr. Markley was married July 9, 1842, to Miss Selina, daughter of Lera and Ann (Felch) Payne. Mrs. Markley’s grandmother was Sarah Knox, sister of General Knox. They are the parents of fourteen children, nine of whom are deceased, viz: Caroline, William F., Christena Frances, George E., Charles D., Mary Melissa, Judge Harper, Lily May and Edward; and five living, viz: Samuel Asberry, Minerva Catherine, Emma, Annie E. and David, Jr.”

 Information for this post taken from:
  • com census data for Ohio between 1820 and 1880 and Vincennes, Knox, Indiana 1860, 1870 (Yes, I know I didn’t use the “official” style…look back to other posts. I do know how.)
  • Marriage information comes from Marriages, Coshocton County, Ohio, 1811-1930. Provo, UT: Originally compiled by Miriam C. Hunter Coshocton Public Library, 1991.
  • N. Hill, Jr. Ed., History of Coshocton County Ohio: Its Past and Present, (Newark, Ohio: A.A. Graham & Co., 1881) Pg 743
  • Note: repeating family names given for numerous children are Samuel, Asbury, Judge, Justus, Amy

The family of Sarah Angeline Smith Croy: Her Grandparents Come West


Sarah Angeline Smith Croy and Calvin Harrison Croy about 1900 Buck, Oklahoma

Sarah Angeline Smith Croy and Calvin Harrison Croy about 1898 Buck, Oklahoma (inscription on back of photo…conflicts with Federal Census records showing they didn’t move from Pleasanton, Kansas to Oklahoma until after June 9, 1900

“Historical information is by its nature difficult to obtain, limited, unreliable, contradictory, imperfectly preserved and subject to differing interpretations.” James Tanner

This quote provides an excellent preface to any of my posts. For those interested in genealogy, Tanner’s blog provides an interesting, and slightly divergent from the mainstream, point of view.

But on to “the family.”

Calvin Croy met Sarah Angeline Smith sometime between 1870 and winter of 1872. (They married December 12, 1872.) Sarah’s family had recently moved to Keene Township in Coshocton County, Ohio. They had moved from Perry Township, Licking County where her father, Henry Smith, was a blacksmith and were returning to the county where her mother, Sephronia Payne, grew up. The two townships are very near each other, no more than four townships apart.

Little evidence exists regarding the family background of Henry Smith. Because the name is so common, uncovering his the family background has been, so far, unsuccessful. He came from Virginia according to the census records of 1850-1850-1880 Federal Census records. It is possible that Henry had married before since he was 21 years older than Sephronia. Sephronia’s sister, Sarah, married Everhart Smith. A connection might exist there, but for now any other details of Henry’s background remains a mystery.

Records provide a nice trail for following the family of Sarah Angeline’s mother, Sephronia Payne Smith. Her parents were Zerah Payne (variously spelled Paine, Payen, and Payne but on death and marriage notices most often Payne) and Amy (Amey) Felch Payne.

Zerah came from Vermont, where he married Amy Felch, May 30, 1808. The place they married would later become part of Hall County, Maine. Amy was born in Massachusetts. They must have moved back there after their marriage because later census records for their first-born son, Samuel Felch Payne, name Massachusetts as his birth place. Again based on census records, their second born child, Sarah Payne (Smith,) was born in Pennsylvania about 1812. It seems they were on the move west. (Note: I scanned every 1810 Federal Census record for any Payne variant and found nothing. They may have been living with Amy’s family while in Massachusetts.)

By February 14, 1814 the Paynes reached Ohio. On that date Zerah placed an advertisement for his shoe and boot business in a Zaneville newspaper. The 1820 Ohio census places them in Tuscarawas Township, Coshocton County, Ohio with three males under ten and one female under ten. (Ancestry misnamed him Tyesa Paine in the search record.) Just down the road lived the Benjamin Markley family. The lives of this family along with the Croy and Smith families would intersect through the years.

Coshocton County, Ohio served as the crossroads of the lives of these four families over the next sixty years. I will tackle those complicated relationships in my next post.

Note: Other projects call me right now so I’ve chosen not to include all detailed references in this post. Should you be interested in them, follow the clues inserted within or email me. Also, I rectified a few errors in the original family sheet found here. Ohio family sheets 1-17-2015