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Clarence Wight Stories
Wight pictures Winthrop Fleet Mary and John Bill Blandon on the Wights
is a picture (click on it to
enlarge) of Thomas Hooker and his followers reaching their new home in
Connecticut. Below is a bio from Britannia Biographies and a Hooker
family story about the man, by Alice Porter, Connecticut Magazine
July-August 1906. Note: Marfield is wrong, it should be Markfield.
From Britannia Biographies
On a wall near the cathedral in Chelmsford, Essex is a plaque, which
states, "Thomas Hooker, 1586-1647, Founder of the State of Connecticut,
Father of American Democracy."
Thomas Hooker was born of Puritan parents in the county of
Leicestershire in 1586. As a University student he studied first at
Queens College, Cambridge, but was later given a scholarship to
Emmanuel College. While there he was challenged to a personal Christian
faith through the encouragement of a fellow student.
After completing his studies he preached in various places. His
reputation as a gifted preacher spread through England causing the
folks of Chelmsford to invite him to be their "lecturer." As lecturer
he was to preach to the community on market days and assist in the
preaching on Sundays. Chelmsford had a reputation as a place full of
alehouses and drunkenness, but under the influence of Hooker's godly
preaching the town was changed for the better.
It was during this time that Archbishop William Laud became powerful.
As the head of the English Church he determined to restrict the liberty
of those preachers who did not strictly conform to his ideas. Though
many ministers testified to his integrity and peacefulness, Hooker was
ejected from his position in the Chelmsford Church.
Hooker set up a school in a nearby village. Here he trained children
and gave wise counsel to ministers from around the area. Laud continued
his harassment of Hooker, forcing him to flee the country. He preached
for a time in Holland, but then returned to England to join others who
were fleeing to the New World for religious freedom. Even as the ship
set sail Laud's henchmen were searching for him.
Thomas Hooker arrived in Massachusetts in 1633. For a time Thomas and
his family settled there while he served as the pastor of the 8th
church in that colony. The civil situation was not completely
harmonious between the leaders. John Cotton, another leader, wanted to
set up a community in which only men who were members of the church and
held property could vote. Thomas Hooker, like Cotton, wanted to build a
godly community, but he believed all the men should have a voice and a
This difference was settled when Thomas Hooker led about one hundred
people away to begin a new settlement, which is now called Hartford,
Connecticut. Later three settlements merged to form the Connecticut
Colony. This colony put Hooker's principles into practice when it
adopted the Fundamental Orders sometimes called the first written
Thomas never forgot the true source of his salvation and his success in
ministry. As he lay dying, someone said to him, "Sir, you are going to
receive the reward of all your labours." Thomas looked at him and
replied, "Brother, I am going to receive mercy."
Our thanks to Barbara Cross, Mission to the World, Chelmsford, England
From Alice Porter's article
It is my privilege and pleasure to write of an honored ancestor, the
well known New England divine, Rev. Thomas Hooker, who was born at
Marfield, Leicester County, England, probably about July 7th, 1586.
The little hamlet of Marfleld is one of the four towns which make up
the Parish of Tilton, whose records, previous to 1610, having perished,
it is impossible to ascertain the exact date of his birth. The common
place of worship for this parish was the noble old church of St. Peter,
built some time in the Twelfth Century and commanding a wide view over
one of the most beautiful portions of midland England. This church is
the place where Thomas Hooker was baptized, and where during his
boyhood he doubtless attended divine worship. One wonders to find so
beautiful and costly an edifice, with its embattled tower, containing
its peal of Jour bells and lofty spire in so quiet and rural a spot.
The grand old church of gray stone on the hill top, surrounded by the
graves of the rude forefathers, the wide stretching prospect of wooded
landscape and open fields, the small thatch covered village of Tilton,
and the little hamlet of Marfleld, embowered in trees down in a valley,
about a mile and a half away, is probably not much altered since Thomas
Hooker looked upon it as a boy.
The Hooker family seems to have been one of some note, as the parish
register and the records of the court of administration speak of the
father and brother respectively as "Mr. Hooker, gentleman,"
designations which at that date were given only to persons of some
social standing. Who his mother was is unknown, but she lived to see
her son become a preacher of note and the object of special hatred by
Archbishop Land, and banishment from the Kingdom.
The family life may have been comfortable and happy in the little
Marfield home, but it must have been comparatively narrow and limited,
the chief point of interest outside the concerns of home being the
church. At the age of 13 or 14 young Hooker was determined on getting
an education, and there is no doubt that the place of his training,
preparatory to the University, was the school at Market Bosworth. It
was just at this time that the great Puritan and antiPuritan conflict
was then in progress, and echoes of the stirring events connected with
these public matters must have reached Market Bosworth, and have been
the subject of frequent converse among the bright boys gathered there.
Hooker was about 18 years of age when he entered the University. Here,
then, at Cambridge as a student for certainly seven years, and as a
Fellow resident for some years more, Thomas Hooker was from the age of
18 to 28 or 30, in the midst of the most considerable actions in the
great events of the times.
There is a story of one of the incidents of his life about this time,
which may be of interest:
"On returning home, after his course of preparation for the ministry,
he found his friends and townsmen in a great state of excitement over
what was considered to be a haunted house. The house was a solitary
one, standing on the outskirts of the town, and had been empty for
several years, the owners being unable to rent or sell it, or even
persuade a care-taker to live in it, rent free.
"Strange sounds were heard from the house at night, and lights were
seen flashing from the windows, wierd shapes were seen by the terrified
watchers passing to and fro within the house, and it was rumored that
the Devil himself, in proper array, with horns, hoofs and tail, had
"This young clergyman, being of a bold nature, volunteered to sleep in
the house and ascertain the truth of the stories. In spite of the
entreaties of his friends he went to the house and to bed in a second
story room, his pistols on a table by his side.
"The early, part of the night passed quietly and he slept. soundly, but
by and by he was awakened, by the, certainty that some one, was, in the
room with him. Sitting up he, struck a Lght and there saw, gloweing at
him in the dim light the alarming figure of the Devil, standing
motionless at the foot of the bed.
"Without an, instant's hesitation our hero, seizing his pistols, sprang
from the bed `and threw, himself at the intruder. The Devil turned and
fled, the young clergyman after him. Down the stairs they. went,
through the house, until they reached the cellar stairs. Down went the
Devil and his: pursuer came tumbling after. reaching the ground just in
timc to see a square of light in the floor, through which the Devil was
disappearing. He grasped the edge of the trap door before it could be
fastened and dropped into the subterranean passage, which opened out
into a larger brightly lighted room. Here he found a number of men,
engaged in making counterfeit money, and to his horror he recognized
some of his friends and fellow townsmen, wellknown citizens, prominent
in church and business. They all clustered about the breathless Devil
and a hurried consultation was held, as to what should be done with
their unwelcome visitor.
"As soon as the latter had rec‚vered his breath he said. cooly:
`Gentlemen, it is publicly known that I slept in this house to-night,
and if I do not appear in the morning, this house will be razed to the
ground, and y,our secret be `discovered. If you will solemnly promise
to cease this wicked work for ten years from this night, I will on my
side solemnly promise you not to mention for, ten years what I have
learned to-night.' This was agreed tol and Thomas Hooker then returned
to ,his bed where he spent the rest of the night in peace.
"The next morning he,, reported that there was nothing uncanny about
the house and that he had found everything much to his taste.
"The house was soon, after rented, and nothing more was heard of the
ghost stories.. Time passed and the young minister joined the Puritans,
and came to America., When nearly 11 years passed Mr. Hooker received
from over the. sea: a package which contained' a magnificent silver
tankard with, the; inscription `‡ompliments of the, Devil.' The tankard
has been handed down for many' generations, a treasured heirloom."
Mr. Hooker was first, called to preach at Esher in Surrey, a small
place 16 miles, from Westminster Bridge, with, a scanty living of 40
pounds a year. Here he met and married his wife, a lady of culture and
worthy to be the companion of such a man.
About 1625 he accepted an invitation to establish himself as lecturer
at Chelmsford, Essex County. Here be labored for three years and many
people flocked to hear hith, some of great quality, among them being
the Earl of Warwick, who afterwards sheltered and befriended his family
when Mr. Hooker was forced to flee the country.
These lectures attracted the attention and displeasure of Land,
Archbishop of London, who, on account of Mr. Hooker's popularity with
the people, was anxious to silence him.
Shortly after this he was forced to lay down his ministry in Chelmsford
and retired to Little. Baddow where be kept a school in his own house.
Here he employed as an assistant John Elliott, afterward the celebrated
apostle to the Indians.
Land's vengeance pursued him and he was cited to appear before the High
Commission Court. On account of sickness he did not respond. His
friends gave bonds to the amount of 50 pounds, which they afterwards
paid, and Hooker secretly went aboard a vessel for Holland.
He was pursued, but the officer arrived at the sea shore just too late
for his arrest. He arrived safely in Holland, and was for an uncertain
period resident in Amsterdam, where he went to Delft and afterward to
But the state of things in Holland was unsatisfactory, and probably
before this negotiations had already been opened for him to go to New
England. As early as August, 1632, a company called Mr. Hooker's
company were already at Mt. Wallaston. Some time in 1833 Mr. Hooker
crossed over from Holland to England and after a very narrow escape
from arrest, be, with Mr. John Gotton, and the Rev. Samuel Stone, his
assistant, boarded the Griffin, at the Downs and concealed their
identity till they were well out at sea.
Eight weeks brought them to New England and brought Mr. Hooker and Mr.
Stone to the congregation waiting for them at Newtown, the place to
which the Braintree Company had been ordered to remove from their first
settlement at Mt. Wallaston. Mr. Hooker and Mr. Stone arrived in Boston
September 4th, 1633. They went at once to Newtown, and on the 11th of
October following, in connection with a "fast" were chosen Pastor and
Teacher; and thus the grave,, godly, and judicious Hooker and the
rhetorical Mr. Stone entered upon their work side by side. A house of
worship was erected, with the then very unusual appointment of a "bell
upon it." The church doubtless' prospered, as well as most of the new
churches of the country. Its minister was as honored as any man in the
colony, its prominent lay member, Mr. John Haynes, was chosen Governor
of Massachusetts in May, 1635, on which occasion he signalized his
liberality by declining to receive the usual salary of the office.
The town was apparently as prosperous and wealthy as any in the Bay,
but there was all along from very near the arrival of the Griffin's
Company, a certain uneasiness in respect to their situation, all the
causes of which are somewhat difficult to trace, and which at last,
culminated in the removal of nearly the entire membership of the church
and population of the town to Hartford, Conn.
The Newtown pilgrims struck out into the pathless woods. There were
hills to be climbed and streams to be forded, and morasses to be
crossed. Their guides were the compass and the Northern star. The
Pastor's wife, Mrs. Hooker, was carried in a litter because of her
infirmity. Men and women of refinement and delicate breeding turned
pioneers of untracked forests in search of a wilderness home. The
lowing of cattle sounding through the forest aisles, not to mention the
bleating of goats and the squealing of swine, summoned them to each
morning's advance. The day began and ended with the voice of prayer.
Their toilsome and devious way led them to near the mouth of the
Chicopee, not far from where the City of Springfield now stands.
Thence, down along the Connecticut was a comparatively straight and
The wide full river, flowing with a larger tide than now and swollen
with its northern snows, was crossed on rafts and rudely constructed
boats, and cheered by the sight of some pioneer attempts at habitation
and settlement, the Ark of the First Church of Hartford rested and the
weary pilgrims who bore it thither stood still.
Arriving upon the ground one of the earliest transactions was the
purchase of land from the Indians. A temporary structure was first
built to afford a meeting place for the people, and the first meeting
house was erected in 1638. The worshippers were seated by public
authorities according to their rank, men and women apart and on
The year 1638 witnessed the preliminary proceedings very imperfectly
recorded of one of the most interesting events in all civil history,
the establishment of a written constitution for the government of the
"The first written Constitution in the history of the Nations."
John Fiske says: "It was the first written Constitution known to
history, that created a government, and it marked the beginnings of
American democracy, of which Thomas Hooker deserves, more than any
other man, to be called the father.
The Pastor of the Hartford Church was Connecticut's great Legislator.
Mr. Hooker made the journey from Hartford to Boston and back on public
business certainly. three times through the trackless wilderness on
horse-back. After nine years of labor in Connecticut, an epidemical
sickness prevailed over the whole country, and the blow fell hard in
Many of the citizens of the town died and among them that faithful
servant of the Lord, Mr. Thomas Hooker, who for piety, wisdom, learning
and zeal might be compared with men of greatest note.
The fruits of his labors in both England's shall preserve an honorable
and happy remembrance of him forever.
He died July 7th, 1647, at the age of sixty-one. He is buried in the
old cemetery at the rear of the First Church of Hartford, in which such
splendid work has lately been done by the Ruth Wyllis Chapter, D. A. R.
They have cleared, restored and brought into view this cemetery, where
repose the bones of so many of Connecticut's early settlers.
The cemetery was entirely hidden from view by tall buildings
surrounding it, neglected, unseen, and forgotten. Through the efforts
of these women a large sum of money was raised with which the unsightly
buildings on one side of the cemetery were purchased and torn down,
thus bringing the sacred lot into view, and opening onto a street which
runs from Main Street to the Park.
The tangle of weeds that had overgrown the entire ground was mown down,
the broken stones mended and restored, and the place is now one of
beauty, with its trees and winding walks, and of great interest to all
who care to visit it. Here repose the mortal remains of the Rev. Thomas
Hooker, whose soul is with the just, and whose memory is that of one of
the greatest and best of men.
Three Women Saved
(Hannah (Moore) Drake and Nathaniel Bissell are names from early
Connecticut in our family tree. )
women, viz., the wives of Lieut. Filer, and of John Drake (Hannah
Moore), and of Nathaniel Lomas (Elizabeth Moore), having crossed
Connecticut River upon a necessary and neighborly account (undoubtedly
to attend a woman in labor - H.R.S.), and having done the work they
went for, were desiring to return home to their own families, the river
being at that time partly shut up with ice, old and new, and partly
open. There being some pains taken aforehand to cut a way through the
ice, the three women abovesaid got into a canoe, with whom also there
was Nathaniel Bissell and an Indian. There was likewise another canoe
with two men in it, that went before them to help them, in case they
should meet with any distress, which indeed quickly came upon them, for
just as they were getting out of the narrow passage between the ice,
being near the middle of the river, a greater part of the upper ice
came down upon them, and struck the end of the canoe and broke it to
pieces so that it quickly sunk under them. The Indian speedily got upon
the ice, but Nathaniel Bissell and the abovesaid women were left
floating in the middle of the river, being cut off from all manner of
human help besides what did arise from themselves, and the two men in
the little canoe, which was so small that three persons durst seldom,
if ever, venture into it. They were indeed discerned from one shore,
but the dangerous ice would not admit from either shore one to come to
them. All things thus circumstanced, the suddenness of the stroke and
distress (which is apt to amaze men especially when no less than life
is concerned), the extreme coldness of the weather, it being a sharp
season, that persons out of the water were in danger of freezing, the
inaptness of persons to help themselves, being mostly women, one big
with child, and near the time of her travail (who also was carried away
under the ice), the other as unskilled and inactive to do anything for
self-preservation as almost any could be, the waters deep, that there
was no hope of footing, no passage to either shore in any eye of
reason, neither with their little canoe, by reason of the ice, nor
without it, the ice without the loss of life, or wrong to health, was
counted in the day of it a remarkable Providence. To say how it was
done is difficult, yet, something of the manner of the deliverance may
be mentioned. The abovesaid Nathaniel Bissell, perceiving their danger
and being active in swimming, endeavored what might be the preservation
of himself and some others; he strove to have swam to the upper ice,
but the stream being too hard, he was forced downward to the lower ice,
where, by reason of the slipperyness of the ice, and disadvantage of
the stream, he found it difficult getting up; at length, by the good
hand of Providence, being gotten upon the ice, he saw one of the women
swimming down under the ice, and perceiving a hole or open place some
few rods below there, he watched and took her up as she swam along. The
other two women were in the river till the two men in the little canoe
came for their relief. At length all of them got their heads above
water, and had a little time to pause, though a long and difficult way
to any shore, but by getting their little canoe upon the ice, and
carrying one at a time over hazardous places they did (though in a long
while) get all safe to the shore from whence they
Reference: Increase Mather, Remarkable Providences Pub. 1684, p. 24. of
George Offer's edition, London. Above account was given 1670, Jan. 13.
of Merovingian, Norman and Plantagenet Kings
At first I was amused and skeptical of
the number of families that were finding they had very important
ancestors. I assumed that they were clutching at straws so that they
could have a nice family crest and the like. Slowly I found that there
were some family lines that appeared legitimate, based on good
It seems that a good number of Puritan immigrates to early
where from families of the minor gentry, professional and successful
business circles. This is believable because it took money to move and
settle in America and because it was easier to believe you were the
'elect of God' if you were in some way above most of the population. By
and large these early settlers were not the hoi polloi.
So in tracing back these New England families, many do not trail off
into obscurity but lead to actual nobles and kings. The most amazing
tree I have found so far is in the website http://www.renderplus.com/hartgen/
. Our ancestors on this site are in the Abell, Cotton, Hyde
families, especially Cotton and Hyde. There are many other less
A number of separate lines connect these families to the Kings of the
West Franks. This is a very important and well documented family. The
first recorded King of the West Franks was King Coldius II who was born
in 6AD, a contemporary of Julius Ceasar. The line carries down through
the Franks, Thuringians and other Germanic tribes to King Clovis I 'The
Great' of France 467-511. The line is mostly kings with a sprinkling of
Dukes. King Clovis had a brother Arnoldus of Saxon. Arnoldus gave rise
to the family of Martel. Over time the Frankish Kings became more
ceremonial and the real power rested with the Mayors of the Palace and
the Martel family held this honour. The Mayor Charles Martel is
important for defeating the Moor invasion at Tours. King Pepin I of
France took the crown as well as the power from the Mervingian king.
His son was Charles Charlemagne 747-813. Charlemagne conquered much of
Western Europe (areas in France, Germany, Italy, the low countries and
Austria) and his kingdom became the Holy Roman Empire. The empire was
shared amongst his heirs to give us the royal families of the French,
German and Italian areas of the Empire. The minor sons of both sides of
the family (old kings and the mayors/new kings) became the counts,
dukes and princes of here, there and everywhere.
The Counts of Orleans, Gatinais and Anjou were forefathers of the first
Plantagenet, Count Geoffrey 'the handsome' Plantagenet was a descendant
of Charlemagne. The Plantagenet kings of England trace back to him.
Some of our family lines go back to his son Henry II of England and to
Henry's brother Hamelin Plantagenet. The mother of Henry and Hamelin
was Queen Matilda, the daughter of Henry I of England and Matilda of
Scotland. This adds in the Norman and the Scottish royal families.
The Norman Dukes and Kings trace back to King Kronjotor of Kvenland who
was born in 160 in Finland. Generations later the line became rulers in
Norway. Count Rollo Rognvaldsson (846-932) was the one who conquered
Normany and married into the noble lines of Charlemagne through Duchess
Poppa of Normany. His descendants in the next few generations continued
to married into both Scandinavian (Swedish, Danish and Norwegian) and
French nobility. When William the Conquerer (1024-1087) added England
to the Norman lands, he brought with him a number of Scandinavian and
French knights who became the nobility of England. William's claim to
the English throne rested on his relationship to the previous English
royal house. Thus his line also went back the King Alfred the Great of
England. His wife was also related to the English kings.
King Henry I was a Norman King but his queen was from Scottish royalty.
This family is traced back to Flacha Srahteine born in 235. They became
Kings of Scotland with King Dongart (born 448). King Malcolm III of
Scotland was the father of Henry I's wife Mathilda.
There are also connections with the royalty of other Germanic tribes,
Celtic noble families, the Slavic/Scandinavian Russ nobility etc. These
families intermarried continuously; they were the nobility of all of
Europe; they rarely intermarried with the general population; their
younger children formed the gentry of Europe. They were the local
landholders and 'Lords of the Manor'. It is therefore not surprising
that the New Englanders, who were often minor gentry, should be able to
trace their families back to important peers and rulers.
I am not interested in tracing our families back to the middle ages.
There are too many opportunities to be wrong in the details to make the
details that interesting. What is interesting to me is that it is
possible to have a feeling for the nature of these early settlers in
New England. We know that they had the following characteristics.
(1) They were largely puritans who could not live with the compromises
that made the Church of England. Other puritans made the compromises
and stayed. The Tutor plan was to make a church that the Catholics
could feel at home with once they had shifted their loyalty from the
pope to the monarch. At the same time the Calvinist Puritan Protestants
could feel at home with once they had accepted the church's
It was a national church with a broad theology that could locally be
'high church' or 'low church'. Of course, there remained Catholics and
Puritans who could not accept the compromises necessary. The
non-conforming Catholics practiced underground and the Puritans
(2) They came largely from the minor gentry and were people of means.
Without this they could not have afforded to sail to America at that
time. They tended to be well educated.
(3) They had a sense of mission (although their visions often clashed
with each other). They tried to create model communities. They seemed
not only to believe they were the 'Elect of God' but that they had a
very special destiny in leaving Old England and coming to the new
world. They were definitely not pacifists.
For some generations after coming to America, the puritan families
intermarried in the relatively closed culture of New England. Our
Wight-Eastman ancestors were almost entirely from this stock.
War of 1812
At least 3 of our ancestors fought in
the war of 1812. Joshua Krewson and Jacob Osborn on the American side
and William Wight, somewhat unwillingly, on the Canadian side. The war
was a draw - although you can find both Americans and Canadians who
claim it was a victory for their side. There was not a winner and not a
loser, but there were a lot of things settled. It started with a
declaration of war by Congress and an America attack on the English
colonies in North America in June 1812 and it ended in December 1814 in
the Treaty of Ghent but fighting continued in the south until February
Technically this was an British war with the Americans, not a Canadian
one. Canada did not exist as a nation. But the English were busy
fighting the French in Europe when the Americans attacked and so it was
the Canadians who did the fighting until late in the conflict. It was
the US against the colonies (Upper Canada, Lower Canada, Nova Scotia,
Newfoundland, Bermuda), England and the Woodland Indians. The first
attack was repulsed with only 350 regular British troops with local
militias and Indians. It ended with the British taking Detroit. The
second attack was also defeated at Niagara. An attack on Montreal was
defeated. There were raids by the English navy along the eastern
seaboard including the burning of Washington. The naval battles in the
great lakes was something of a draw with the British holding lake
Ontario and the Americans holding lake Erie and Champlain. An British
attack on New York State was defeated. The Americans successfully
defended New Orleans. In the end, neither side could win decisively
against the other and so the peace more or less gave them the status
quo from before the war. In the process 6765 Americans were killed or
wounded and 4400 British and colonials.
What was the result?
1. The Americans learned a great deal about an
military. The American militia numbered 460,000 but very few actually
left their homes to fight in the war. After the war the navy was
strengthened and there came to be a regular federal military as well as
2. Two of the American reasons for declaring war
with neutral trade and impressment of Royal Navy deserters from
American ships back into the British Navy) ended in the middle of the
war when Napoleon was defeated.
3. Another reason for America declaring war was the
military support for American Indians defending tribal lands from
American settlers. This disappeared in the peace treaty when the
separation between the America Louisiana purchase land and the British
Rupert's Land and Quebec extension (Quebec Act of 1774) was made firm.
4. The idea that all the British colonies in North
should be part of the United States and that their populations would
welcome independence, was dead. Manifest Destiny applied only westward
and not to the north.
5. The Rideau Canal was built to make Canada less
6. The French in Lower Canada sided with the English
America (or with France for that matter). The America settlers in
Canada who were the majority of the English speakers in Upper Canada
also decided to support the British rather than the Americans. This
alignment of the Canadian English speakers and French speakers was the
founding idea leading to the nation of Canada. It was a surprise and
disappointment to the Americans, but it was accepted after the war that
there was Canadian nationalism. Laura Secord was the first Canadian
7. The Indians living south of the border with the
colonies lost in a big way. They had lost the means of defending their
lands and lost the lands to settlers. They would no longer be able to
obtain arms and support from Canada. The British had to give up the
idea of an Indian buffer state between America and Canada.
8. The French nature of much of central North
9. Antagonism between the Americans and the British
decrease so that within 50 years they could become allies rather than
enemies. All future questions were settled in a friendly manner. They
were and remained very important trading partners.
10. There was the first crack between New England
and the newer
states. New England opposed the war, provided no troops and money and
continued to trade with the enemy during the war. The British on the
other hand did not raid the New England coast but only the coasts
further south. Over time the war did unite Americans more closely than
before the war.
11. The Royal Navy blockade resulted in problems for
agriculture due to difficulty in exporting but local manufacture was
strengthened by difficulty in importing.
12. The English had to accept the growth of the
and merchant marine. One of the British aims was to reduce this rival
to the Royal Navy and the British merchant fleet.
13. The English finally accepted that the America
Independence was never going to be reversed and that the US had to be
treated with respect like any other powerful foreign state. To
Americans it was 'the second War of Independence'.
14. The border between Maine and New Brunswick was
not clear before the war and was not finalized until long after.
The most important result was that both Canadian colonies and America
learned how to get along. They have, more or less, managed to be
friendly ever since.
We do not know what Joshua Krewson or Jacob Osborn did in the war but
we can assume they were in militias. Most of the soldiers came from
areas like Ohio where there was great pressure for expansion into
Indian territories. William Wight had moved to Quebec earlier. This was
not unusual; many Americans had moved to Upper and Lower Canada
immediately before the war. He was not happy about being drafted into
the local militia and having to fight fellow Americans. The backbones
of the Lower Canadian militia were the Empire Loyalists who had come
north during the War of Independence and the French Canadians who
feared Protestantism and being crowded out of land along the St.
Lawrence by new American settlers. Many recent American settlers
supported the British, but it seems this was not where William Wight's
loyalties were. He felt American and had to fight against America. He
may even have had to serve under Salaberry, one of the Quebec heroes of
the war, rather than in a more English militia. After the war was over,
he quickly returned to Ohio.
One of our
ancestors was Polly
Griswold (1779-1864) who married William Wight (1882-1862). The
Griswold family was a very early New England name, but it took some
time for me to identify her branch of the family. First her name was
Mary, as most Pollys from years ago are. The Griswold family
genealogies had the name of her husband as Wright rather than Wight.
Finally there are four separate Griswold families and a good held of
confusion amongst them. This is sorted out in the updated genealogies
but many sources still have old errors.
English immigrates were
Michael Griswold of Wethersfield, Francis Griswold of Cambridge, Edward
Griswold of Killingworth and Matthew Griswold of Saybrook. Two, Edward
and Matthew, were brothers and the other two were distant cousins. They
all came from places in Warwickshire; Edward came from Kenilworth which
is a town that I lived very near for several years. "Kenilworth is a
small market town in Warwickshire, England. It is particularly noted
for the castle of that name founded in 1120 by Geoffrey de Clinton. The
castle passed by marriage (1359) to John of Gaunt, and to his son,
Henry IV, King of England. The castle continued a crown possession
until 1563, when Queen Elizabeth conferred it on Robert Dudley, Earl of
Leicester. Sir Walter Scott used the castle in his novel "Kenilworth"
as the setting for the romance between Robert Dudley and the
unfortunate Amy Robsart. It was near this historic spot that George
Griswold lived and reared his family. He had five sons, one of whom-the
youngest-was Edward Griswold. Edward and three of his brothers came to
America and settled in New England.
only Edward and Matthew were brothers, the other 2 were distant cousins
Edward, our ancestor, is described as follows in THE GRISWOLD FAMILY,
The First Five Generations in America. "Edward was baptized July 26,
1607 at Wooten Wawen, Warwickshire, England. He was the son of George
Griswold born Nov. 6, 1574 and his first wife Dousabel (possibly Leigh,
Lye, Ley) who was buried Aug. 28, 1615 at Wooten Wawen. Edward married
about 1628 Margaret (Surname unknown) who
was born about 1609, making
her 20 at the birth of her first child and 43 when her last child was
born. Margaret died Aug. 23, 1670 at Clinton, originally Killingworth,
Conn. Her gravestone marked "M. G. 1670" is the oldest stone in the
cemetery behind the Congregational Church in Clinton. However, it does
not show the patient devotion nor hardship endured in rearing her
family in that vast wilderness.
When the Rev. Ephraim Huit arrived in Windsor, Conn. with his
congregation about Aug. 17, 1639 to assist the Rev. John Warham, Edward
and Margaret Griswold, their four children, Francis, George, John and
Sarah; and Edward's brother, Matthew, were with the company. Mr. Huit
had been pastor at Knowle and Wroxall, Warwickshire, England; Wroxall
being a part of Kenilwroth Parish. A writer of note upon Religious
subjects and a powerful preacher of the Puritan Faith, he was censured
for his non-conformity and silenced by the bishop of Worcester. This no
doubt was the cause of his moving to New England with the company he
organised, of which both Edward and Matthew were members.
Edward speedily became prominant in the affairs of the new community
and was frequently mentioned in Colonial Records. He served as deputy
to the General Court from Aug. 18, 1658 - March 14, 1660 and again from
May 15, 1662 - March 11, 1663. In 1659 he was one of the men from
Windsor to build the fort at Springfield for Mr. Pynchon. He also
served as justice of the peace. Although he was granted land in
Poquonoc he did not move there until after the title of the indians had
been fully extinguished in 1642. He was resident there in 1649 with two
other families, John Bartlett and Thomas Holcomb. His home stood near
the highway at the top of the hill and contained 29 1/2 acres bounded
mostly south and west by Stony Brook and east by the river. His sons
George and Joseph received the homestead when he moved to Hannonassett
in 1663 with his son John and two daughters, Hannah Westover and
Deborah Beull, with their families.
.... Edward was one of the first settlers of present Clinton, Conn. and
doubtless suggested the name from Kenilworth Parish, England. He was
the most prominent man in the new settlement and must be given full
credit for first organising this community. He was its first deputy to
the General Court. He with his two sons-in-law, were recorded as
freemen in 1669.
Edward was instrumental in organising the first church and was its
first deacon. He frequently served on important civil matters; his
services, counsel and guidence evidently much sought. He also served on
the committee to establish a Latin School at New London.
Edward married (2) Sarah Dimond Bemis, daughter of John and Rebecca
(Bemis) Dimond and widow of James Bemis, Constable of New London,
died in 1665. "
Another account gives the following. "Mr. Edward Griswold came to
America at the time of the second visit of Mr. George Fenwick, at which
date, also, came a large number of new settlers to the Conn.
settlement. It was at a time when many of the gentry of England and
wealthy persons connected with the Warwick Patent were intending
removal hither; but the breaking out of the Scotch Rebellion compelled
King Charles to call a Parliament, and they stayed at home to carry on
their struggle with the King and Archbishop Laud. Mr. Griswold
undoubtedly came in the interest of some of these patentees. He was
attorney for Mr. St. Nicholas of Warwickshire, who had a house built in
Windsor, and also a tract of land "impaled" (fenced), as had Sir
Richard Saltonstall. The Rev. Ephraim Hit, who came, also in 1639, was
from the same parish, as, also, the Wyllys family, who settled at
Hartford.His first location in Windsor is not known; but he had a grant
of land in Poquonock, to which re removed, in 1649, accompanied by a
few families, who there found an "outpost" settlement. His residence at
Poquonock was on the site of the present dwelling of the heirs of the
late Eliphalet S. Ladd, and who, on the female side, are Griswold
descendants. The spot is a beautiful knoll which overlooks the brook on
the west, and the Tunxis River on the south and east. As soon as he had
fairly established his home, he began to take that active part i public
matters which was natural to a man of his character. In 1650 he built
the "Old Fort" at Springfield for Mr. Pyncheon; in 1656 he was a deputy
from Windsor to the General Court, and continued, with the exception of
one session, to represent the town until the reception of the charter
from King Charles. At this time he was the principal promoter of a new
settlement authorized by the court, called Hommonoscett, which lay
immediately west of Saybrook, and to which, about 1663, he removed with
his younger children, deeding to his sons, George and Joseph, who
remained behind, his Windsor lands, reserving a small life annuity
therefrom. The settlement was organized as a town in 1667 and received,
probably from him, the name of his old English home Kenilworth,
afterwards corrupted to Killingworth, and now known as Clinton. He was
the first deputy from Kenilworth and continued to be its magistrate and
representative for more than 20 years, 1662 to 1678-89, and 2was
succeeded by his son John.The Colonial Records show him to have been a
very active, influential member of the legislature -- pre-eminently one
of those men who, in the first half-century, did so much to make the
small colony of Connecticut so important a factor in American affairs.
As a member of Sessions, he had the pleasure of meeting with his
brother Matthew and his own son Francis; and there has, since that
time, rarely been an Assembly of Conn., in which some of their lineal
descendants have not been members. He was frequently a commissioner;
and in 1678, was on a committee for establishing a Latin school in New
London, and was first deacon of the Kenilworth church."
Another snippet: "EDWARD and Mathew Griswold were b. at Kenilworth, in
Warwickshire, England. According to a
deposition in the State records
of Hartford, Edward was born in 1607. They emigrated to this country
about 1640. Edward brought with him a wife, Margaret, and four
children. He settled at Windsor and was Representative from that place
1658-61. In 1664 he removed to Killingsworth as one of the leaders in
the settlement of that place and was its first Representative, and, no
doubt, gave name to the place, Killingsworth, answering to the popular
pronunciation of his native place in England. In 1678. when the County
Court took the conditions of the schools into consideration, he
represented Killingsworth in a committee of six " to see what could be
done towards establishing a Latin school at New Haven." His son,
Francis, brother, Matthew, and himself were Representatives in one
court. He died in 1691. Nothing can be learned of his wife, except that
her name was Margaret."
More recent work has shown Edward's wife's name as Margaret Hicks.
We are descended from his son Francis (not to be confused with Francis
Griswold of Cambridge, one of the four original settlers, as has often
happened). Our Francis was born in Kenilworth England and came to
America as a boy of 10. "Francis was a man of capacity and enterprise.
He first settled in Windsor and Poquonoc, then in Saybrook, and finally
in Norwich. He is listed as one of the first proprietors of Norwich
although few records exist before 1660. One of these is a notice of a
town meeting Jan. 7, 1655/6 at which Francis was present. He served as
deputy 1660-1671; was appointed on the Court Commission in 1661; and
was Lieutenant of the trainband. He is listed as Lieutenant just before
King Philip's War.
He died in October 1671 and was buried with his wife in the old
Post-Gager Cemetery over which there was a controversy between the town
authorities and the friends of history who desired this cemetery to be
left undisturbed. An interesting letter written by Benjamin Brewster of
Norwich, grandson of Elder William Brewster of Plymouth to his
brother-in-law, Daniel Wetherill, concerning Francis shows that people
in early times were as keen on business as those of a later date."
It has been shown that Francis did not married Mary Tracy as many
family trees show.
Francis' son Samuel is our ancestor. Miss Calkins says: "Samuel
Griswold became a married man at the age of twenty, following his
sisters in the flowing stream of youthful connections. Young people in
those days, scarcely waiting to reach maturity, chose their partners
and marched on with rapid and joyous steps to the temple of Hymen." The
wedding of Samuel and Susannah Huntington took place on her 17th
birthday. He died Dec. 9, 1740. His gravestone bears the following
epitaph: Here lies interred ye remains of Capt Samuel Griswold the
first Captain of the 2nd Company of train bands in Norwich. He was born
in Norwich Septr 1665 and died on ye 9th day of Decembr 1740 in the
76th year of his age."
Some Clarence Wight Stories
Frank and Fred were a team of find black Percherons, good to work, to
pull and to stand. One day I had them hitched to a wagon of empty
barrels ready to go for a load of drinking water from a well seven mile
north, as we had no well of our own at that time. I left them standing
for a minute to get something from the house. Mildred and Wayne who
were about five and six years old, climbed up into the wagon.
started the team. The horses realized that there was something
irregular and it scared them. They ran down the field as fast as they
could go. They narrowly missed a binder but straddled the fore carriage
which was connected to the main part of the machine by a 4 x 6 inch
beam. It seems a wonder that the wagon didn't upset then but the beam
broke allowing the wagon to right itself but the barrels were weaving
in all directions. Wayne took the lines and turned the team toward
home. They had run nearly half a mile. About half way back I met them,
said 'Whoa' and took them by the bridle checks. Their fright had
subsided quite a bit by then and they seemed relieved to have me take
over. Mildred and Wayne were not at all excited. Their mother and
sister and Grandma Wight were looking on from the house. I was running
after them. We hardly had time to get excited as the show only lasted a
very few minutes.
School Fire at Amherst Nebraska
On May 27, 1898, Elvira Krewson was conducting school at Amherst,
Nebraska where she was employed as teacher. A few minutes before time
to close school for the day, a cloud was observed apparently framing up
a thunder storm. The gentleman at whose house she boarded was observed
to be driving past so she dismissed school a few minutes early in order
that his children as well as herself could get a ride home. The storm
came on so quickly that she thought she had done wrong in turning the
children out and said, "Why did I send them out only to be drenched in
this downpour?" As though in an answer there came a bolt of lightening
striking the building and setting a fire which totally destroyed the
school and all the contents. Some heavy coat hooks from the end of the
room were thrown down among the seats. Whether dismissing school early
just to avoid disaster and probable tragedy be regarded as a
coincidence or as a Special Dispensation of Providence, it resulted in
enhanced respect for the teacher on the part of some of the children's
American Yesterday is the title of a book by Eric Sloan, in the course
of which he enumerates quite a number of occupations that have become
obsolete. One such was the harvesting of ice and
storing it in huge
icehouses for the supply of the refrigerators.
I worked at that vocation back about the turn of the century and
remember a great many situations connected with the work. When the
river ice became thick enough, usually 14 to 20 inches, it was laid off
in strips by means of a utensil called an ice-plow drawn by a horse.
These strips were just the width of a standard cake of ice. The plow
made a cut as deep as could be and leave enough support for the horse
and equipment. The cakes were then separated by means of a crowbar
called a spud, floated into a chute and skidded up into the icehouse by
horse power, rope and pulley. I remember one time a young man who was
working on the job stepped onto a cake he thought was attached but
which had been spudded loose. Of course it tipped up and dumped him in
the river. He went in over his head. As seen as he surfaced he mounted
his bicycled and pedaled rapidly away to his home about a mile and a
half away. He must have had a chilly ride in a subzero breeze but was
soon back in dry clothes.
One day when Mildred was here, Vira happened to spy a bid owl perched
in one of the trees in our shelter belt about ten rods north of the
house. Nothing very remarkable about an owl. It was about the size of a
turkey. But things are not always what they seem. As Vira and Mildred
looked at this big fellow, optical illusion made him look as though he
were sitting way out in the field beyond. Now the apparent bulk of an
object is in proportion to the cube of the distance or something like
that. When Vira first saw Mr. Owl she thought it was one of the cattle
out. She asked me and I assured her that they were all at the barn.
"Whatever can that be," she queried, "it's too big to be a dog."
Mildred took a look and said, "Why Mama it's an owl-l-l, the biggest
one I ever saw." The field glasses confirmed the identification but
gave no hint as to the distance away. Vira and Mildred started to put
on coats to go out and get a closer view. I told them it was just an
ordinary arctic owl closer to us than it appeared, but seeing is
believing with some good people and the illusion showed as owl as big
as a small cow. By the time they got bundled Mr. Owl flew over and lit
on a telephone pole. So ended the excitement of an owl as big as a cow.
No doubt the illusion was due to conditions. The tree limbs were
heavily coated with frost. Both foreground and background were pure
white and the owl was visible only from the upstairs window, frost and
snow blocking the view below.
When we went to our room that evening, the field glasses
were still on
the dresser. I said, "Those field glasses are spring just a little."
Vira picked them up with great concern saying, "Whatever could have
done that?" I replied, "Looking at that big owl."
A Trip in a Prairie Schooner
In the late summer or early fall of 1884 my father, mother, brother
Harold and I made a 200 mile trip from Kearney Nebraska to Ogallala.
Most of the way the wagon trail followed the right of way of the Union
Pacific railroad. We were in a covered wagon drawn by a team of gently
grays named Bill and Kate. At first they were terrified by passing
trains especially Bill but they soon got over that. We made about
twenty miles per day and laid up for Sunday as our folks took the
fourth commandment seriously in those days.
On that trip we saw a prairie-dog 'town', the first one I had over
seen. At one place we camped we were invited into the house and were
entertained by a man playing a violin, the first we boys had ever seen.
We saw a crew building a bridge across the Platte River. That was the
first time I had ever seen or heard a pile driver. We often saw
antelope on that trip and I saw a deer for the first time. It was on
that trip that I first heard of the Big Dipper. In the cities people
seldom see much of the stars, on the prairie we could tell direction by
looking at the Big Dipper.
My mother and Harold went back by train from a place called Roscoe just
a few miles east of Ogallala. There is a town there now but out at that
time just a siding and section house. We had to flag the train. Father
staying to do some breaking on some land he had there then. I stayed
with him and we drove back with Bill and Kate.
When my brother Harold and I were kids we had an old horse named
Prince. He was so tame that he was a regular pet. We thought a lot of
him and he liked us too. He was about twenty years old. I suppose he
had originally been gray but his hair was white as long as we could
remember. There was a place on each side of him where the harness
traces had worn away the hair and at these spots the hide was thin and
tender. Whenever we would rub one of these spots he would turn his bead
around and push us away but he was too kindhearted to bite. But one day
we played a trick on the old fellow. One of us on each side, one would
rub his tender spot and as he swung his head around that way the other
would rub the other side and so we kept him swinging his head back and
forth from one side to the other. Finally either I was too
Prince lost his patience and he gave Harold a nip with his teeth. I
think that was the only time that Prince ever bit anybody and we could
hardly blame him. When our family moved from Illinois out to Nebraska,
Prince must have been too old to be of much value but I don't think
anyone thought of leaving him. By the time he died of old age he must
have been over thirty years old. He was a good horse.
When I was a kid about eight or nine years old, my father one day sent
me on an errand. He had been working at the corn crib about twenty rods
from the house and finding need of the use of a hatchet told me to go
to the house and get it. I did so but the implement being now and shiny
I loitered on the way back beside a wooden chuck where there was a
convenient growth of grass and weeds. Pulling handfuls of this
vegetation I laid them on the chuck and chopped then up with the bright
new hatchet. As I was feeding one handful along to the cutting point I
pushed it a bit too far and the blade cut off the end of my left thumb.
It didn't bleed or hurt much. I just shut my hand over it and ran on to
deliver the hatchet. It was two or three days before anyone noticed my
blunted thumb. I hadn't told anyone about it. My mother was the first
to notice it. It wasn't very sore and soon healed. Like a lot of other
things it might easily have been a lot worse.
When Gaylord and Marjorie were little we lived on a farm in Nebraska in
the Platte River valley. That region was under-laid with a water table
contained in a subsoil or rather stratum of grave. Wells were easily
and cheaply made by driving a sandpoint down with a pope and pump
attached. We had a well at the house, one at the garden, one each at
the barn and hog lot. The last supplied water not only for watering the
hogs but also for a place for them to lie and keep cool as otherwise
hogs suffer in hot weather. There was a fence along beside the hog
wallow. One had there were some people visiting at our house. They had
a boy named Toby, about the size of our kids. While trying to show off
he was walking on the fence next to the hog wallow and fell in. Being
company he had on his Sunday attire. The ladies at the house fixed him
up with an outfit of Gaylord's duds and were heard to remark the "Toby
lost his balance." Gaylord and Marjorie wondered what Toby's balance
was, that he lost.
When Marjorie visited Nebraska last year she met Toby's aunt. They both
remember the occasion. No doubt Toby remembers it too.
One of our neighbors had a large stack of alfalfa get afire. It all
burned up but was afire for several days before being all consumed. He
said if he had thought it would burn so slowly he would have put down a
well there and got water to douse the fire.
The family of Mary Eastman and William K. Wight
Harold Mary Clarence Wm
Mary old & young
daughter May died at 18
||6 brothers in
Lucien Earle Lewis
Harold Guy Clarence
Harold Lucien Lewis
Guy Earle Clarence
Earle and Nat with children, Loreen and Donald
||I am not sure
of this group but I beleive it is Lucien and wife Eloise, Lotte (first
wife) and Harold, seated Lois and Guy.
is the Wight family in Gibbon saying goodbye to Clarence when he left
for Canada. The people were not identified and I cannot do it.
VI, Gaylord, Myrtle, Mildred, Clarence, Wyane
|And the other
clildren, Marjorie, May, Mildred, Calvin, Myrtle
||Guy and Lois's family:
Mildred, Lois, Edna, Margaret, Harold, Lottie
||Harold and Mabel's family
right: Glen, Eleanor, Bill
I have no picture of Mabel.
||I have no pictures of Lucien's family.
An ancestor, Robert Abell, was a passenger
Winthrop Fleet. In 1630, 11 ships carried 700 immigrants to
Massachusetts: Arbella, Ambrose, Jewel, Talbot, Charles, Mayflower
(not the famous one), William and Francis, Hopewell, Whale, Success
and Trial. The ships were seaworthy, the supplies ample (4 of the
ships carried only supplies and no passengers, the other 7 had both),
the leadership was good, the project was well planned and financed.
Passengers were selected for their mix of skills. After 9 months at
sea they arrived with almost all alive and settled in Salem Boston
was a large Puritan population in England who stayed in the Church of
England and tried to change its nature from the inside. In the 1620s
many became disillusioned with reforming the CofE and obtained a
Royal Charter in 1629 to form a colony at Massachusetts Bay. John
Winthrop was elected Governor of the Fleet and the Colony. A group of
about 300 Puritans were in the area from previous smaller fleets when
Winthrop arrived and took control of the colony. More fleets made the
journey and for 10 years of so, large numbers of Puritans came to
Massachusetts. Unlike the Pilgrims who left the CofE, the Puritans
remained nominally CofE and still hoped to change the church by their
made the 'City upon a Hill' speech which has echoed through American
politics. It is a reference to the book of Matthew: 'you are the
light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden'.
The idea was that the Puritans had a covenant with God (like that
between God and the people of Israel) and that the whole world was
watching the colony. The Puritan community believed it was specially
ordained by God. If Massachusetts succeeded it would be an example to
the world and if it failed it would be a disgrace to Puritans because
they must have broken the covenant. In order to not break faith with
God, they tried to maintain perfect order for themselves and any
other people within the colony. The result was not religious
tolerance but the opposite: a conservative, authoritarian,
aristocratic theocracy. The name Salem stands for that attitude.The wider meaning
of 'City upon a Hill' became 'America is good by definition'. It feeds
into ideas of Exceptionalism and of Manifest Destiny.
Gaylord family, who are among our Eastman-line ancestors, arrived in
America in 1630 aboard the 'Mary and John'. This ship was not part of
the Winthrop fleet but had some connection with that fleet and sailed
about the same time. It had made a previous trip in 1609 to Maine but
the colony failed to survive. And it made a number of later trips
after 1630. The passenger list is lost but attempts have been made to
establish who sailed. The Gaylords are one of the families that is
known for certain to have been aboard. They came from Crewkerne in
Somerset England. Almost all the passengers came from the West
Country, particularly Dorset, Somerset and Devon. The Mary and John
Clearing House A list shows:
JOHN, 30, Probably born in Somerset GAYLORD,
WILLIAM, 39, from Crewkerne, Somerset ____,
wife, 37, Crewkerne, Somerset Elizabeth
Gaylord, daughter, 14, Crewkerne, Somerset William
Gaylord, Jr., son, 12, Crewkerne, Somerset Samuel
Gaylord, son, 10, Crewkerne, Somerset
was William's brother. Another list also shows sons: John born 1621
and Walter 1626.
Eastman-line family names from early Connecticut also were among the
first settlers in Dorchester and probably on the 'John and Mary':
Grant, Ludlow, Newton, Smith, Southcott and Stoughton. The ship was
owned by Roger Ludlow.
Reverend John White, Vicar of Dorchester, England, who has been
generally and rightfully acclaimed as the sponsor of the earliest
Massachusetts settlement (Plymouth excepted), was the inspiration of
a movement which culminated in the gathering of nearly one hundred
and fifty persons in the counties of Dorset, Somerset, and Devon and
their agreement to emigrate in a body to Massachusetts whither he had
sent other groups in the previous six years. ... In describing this
Company he said that scarce a half-dozen of them were personally
known to each other prior to their assembling at the place of
embarkation in Plymouth. It may be assumed that these people, from
many parishes scattered over three counties, were moved by the same
urge to emigrate which animated those of the Winthrop Fleet, but it
is safe to say that the tales of 'religious persecution' of these
people was not a factor in their pilgrimage. The West Country was
free from it. ““The Mary and John made a good passage and
arrived at Nantasket May 30th without casualty. These one hundred and
forty passengers are generally known as the Dorchester Company, from
the place chosen for their settlement, and as they remained a
distinct body of colonists, and there are contemporary records to
identify most of them, it has been possible to compile a tentative
list of those who came on this pioneer ship. ..."“The Mary &
John left England in March of 1630 and arrived seventy days later, on
May 30, 1630, at the mouth of what is now Boston harbor, two weeks
before the Winthrop Fleet arrived. The ship's captain refused to sail
up the Charles river as planned, because he feared running the ship
aground in waters that he had no charts for. He instead left the
passengers in a desolate locale miles from their intended
destination. The settlers were forced to transport 150,000 pounds of
livestock, provisions and equipment 20 miles overland to their final
Clapp tells of the hardships that followed. They had little food, and
were forced to live on clams and fish. The men built small boats, and
the Indians came later with baskets of corn. "The place was a
wilderness," writes Roger Clap. "Fish was a good help to me
and to others. Bread was so scarce that I thought the very crusts
from my father's table would have been sweet; and when I could have
meal and salt and water boiled together, I asked, 'who could ask for
they lived for five or six years. Other boats arrived and other towns
were titled. But the life at Dorchester was not entirely congenial to
the lovers of liberty of the "Mary and John. The group of
settlements around Massachusetts Bay was dominated by clergymen and
officials of aristocratic tendencies. Their Governor, John Winthrop,
had little empathy with the common people. "The best part (of
the people)," he declared, "is always title least, and of
that best part, the wiser is always the lesser." And the
Reverend John Cotton put it more bluntly when he said, “Never did
God ordain democracy for the government of the church or the people.”
principles were repugnant to the people of the “Mary and John”,
who had come to America to escape such restraint. They had no wish to
interfere with the methods of worship of others, and they did not
wish others to interfere with them. Too, they were land-hungry, after
centuries of vassalage to the lords of the manors, leading hopeless
lives without chance of independence. Perhaps there were influenced
also, by the fact that a great smallpox epidemic had raged among the
Indians, killing off so many that they were not the menace that they
had been at the first. The settlers turned their attention toward the
fertile meadows of the Connecticut Valley.”
group under Roger Ludlow, set out and reached the Plymouth Trading
house that had been erected by William Holmes near the junction of
the Connecticut and the Farmington Rivers, early in the summer of
1635. A little later 60 men, women and children, with their “cows,
heifers and swine,” came overland from Dorchester. The winter was
severe and the food scarce, and many returned to Massachusetts, but
in the Spring they came back to Connecticut with their friends, and
by April 1636, most of the members of the Dorchester Church were
settled near the Farmington River, along the brow of the hill that
overlooks the “Great Meadow”. This in spite of the fact the
Plymouth people disputed their claim to the land. They built crude
shelters, dug out of the rising ground along the edge of the
riverbank. The rear end and the 2 sides were simply the earth itself,
with a front and a roof of beams. The town was later named Windsor.”
Pequot Indians were at war with everyone including other Indians.
When the colonists bravely sent a small armed group against the
overwhelming number of Pequots and won. It was a vicious war and
there was much bloodshed, but the colonists helped the peaceful
Indians to destroy the warlike Pequots and the colonists were
rewarded with land given to them by the Indians who they helped. The
Pequots had taken this land from the other Indians to begin with. The
Pequots were actually from far up north but were driven out by the
much stronger Huron tribe.”
OF CROCUS PLAINS by BILL
The year was
1900; the C.P.R. railroad was put through seven years previous
opening up the vast prairie region of southern Sask. Settlers from
the States and eastern Canada arrived in great numbers and in a
hectic 10 years most of the area was settled. The tough prairie sod
turned over to open up some of the greatest wheat land in the world.
In the years
1909 and 1910, three Wight brothers and their families arrived in
Lang from Nebraska seeking a new home in a new world and settling in
the Crocus Plains District 10 miles northeast of Lang.
Elosie Wight lived just west of us 1 1/2 miles, farmed and lived
there until 1924 when they moved to California, a son Harry and
daughter Ruby completed their family. As a teenager I remember their
auction sale prior to their departure, a cool winter day everyone
arriving by sleighs accompanied by their dogs who provided lots of
entertainment before the day ended. Elosie and Ruby were musical and
their talents were a big help in school and community endeavors. I
still remember each morning as we went by to school that great cheery
wave of Lucien’s. It seemed to start the day off right. Harry a
quiet but humorous young man when the occasion arose stayed in Sask,
married Gladys Steidl, farmed a few years. Later they moved to
British Columbia where they spent the rest of their lives. Harry was
back in 1971 to our Crocus Plains Homecoming and enjoyed meeting old
friends and relatives.
lived on down the road 1 mile and was married to Lottie Chapman who
died in 1914. Harold was a man of many talents, a telephone service
man whose advice was invaluable in those early years keeping our
rural telephone lines in operation and also a registered seen grower
in later years. Always a great help in the community, he lead the
choir at the services in our country school among many other
services. Our family became very good friends during the years of his
friendship with Mabel Forsythe whom he later married in 1923. Mabel,
I might add was my school teacher. They had three children, Bill,
Glen and Eleanor who are with us here today. They were quite young at
the time of Harold’s unfortunate death in 1931. Leaving the farm
after Harold’s death, Mabel married J.J. Howard living in Milestone
then settling permanently in Regina where she raised her family.
Later on she entered the commercial world until ill health forced her
Elvira Wight settled on the north edge of the district, the kids
alternating between two schools. But we more or less grew up together
sharing all the good and bad times, as some years we had a hard time
making ends meet. Clarence and Vi raised a large family with little
fuss but gave a lot of attention to each one. In this family
education was paramount.
all the girls became teachers before marrying and beginning lives of
their own. Wayne and Calvin returned to the States and entered the
business world becoming engineers in different companies, as their
work and families grew their visits home became less frequent.
Mildred and Myrtle married and moved to the States. Marjorie lived in
Regina and Saskatoon, in later years a frequent visitor to sister May
where on occasion we had some great times.
school principal for many years retired to become an elevator agent
in the little town we hauled our grain to. There Vera and he raised 3
girls. Later they moved to Regina where Gaylord became a collector
and piano tuner rising to the top in that profession. I and my
brothers had a special kinship with Gaylord, enjoying his friendship
through the years and all the pleasures we shared together. These
live on in our memories.
those days was a lot of hard work. It became a little easier after
the transition from horse to power farming, the automobile and other
conveniences. I remember an incident in the wet fall of 1926. The
roads were bad, the crop was big and every effort was made to get it
to market 98% by team and wagons roads became a nightmare. Clarence
or C.E. as we sometimes called him bought on of the first grain
trucks in the district, a Chev 1 1/2 ton. With a load on this day he
got within 1 mile of town and became tuck in the deep ruts and when
we came along Clarence was waiting for a tow. After the wheat was
unloaded, he came out of the little store with some cigars and pop in
appreciation of our help. I might add this happened more than once.
In those days it seemed we had more time to be neighbors resulting in
a better life for all.
are no early settlers left in Crocus Plains; the original Wight
families have been gone for years. Calvin still lives in the U.S.A.
and May, our hostess here today, are the only remaining ones left. I
wonder if we appreciate, like we should, the trials and tribulations
of our parents and pioneers of the day, making a good life for us
while being without all the modern conveniences we have today,
meanwhile contributing so much to the improvement and life of our
community. These are just a few of my fond memories of these people
who lived and helped to make our world a better place in which to
Blandon has died. He was a guest at a family reunion that my mother
hosted about 3 year’s ago. At the reunion, he gave this speech and
then gave mother these notes.
C.P.R. is the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Its connection with the
settlement of western Canada is that as the railway was built the
land was surveyed and made available for homesteading. However, our
grandparents were not homesteaders. They brought land shortly after
the homesteading land was all allocated. In the aftermath of the Reil
rebellion, the Meti were granted land. Much of the land was sold to
speculators who re-sold it to Americans. Our grandfather bought Meti
script land but there is some question in the family about whether he
know the origin of the title. It was only after his death, when the
estate was being settled, that his children found out that section 28
was originally script land. The exploitation of the Meti and the way
that they were relieved of their land is now a somewhat sensitive
Plains was not a town but a school and school district. The other
school district that is referred to was called Lakeview. Both no
longer exist. In the early days all the community activities
centered on the school. The local town and site of the elevator that
Gaylord ran was Bechard. The farmers from this area hauled grain and
shopped at one of Bechard, Lang or Gray. Elevators are very
distinctive buildings along the railways. This is where the grain is
accepted, graded and the purchase recorded. The grain is stored in
these buildings and loaded into railcars from their elevating
systems. The location of schools and groups of elevators etc. was all
laid out during the pre-settlement survey. Land was set aside in each
school district for the buildings and enough farm land to rent to
support the school. The railway companies got some of the land for
re-sale to pay for the building of the line and also land for railway
stations, elevators and towns.
and mother were married to Lang farmers. It was only later that they
lived in Regina.