page contains: Class divisions Puritanism in New England Who was the
Kimball? Madeline's obituary Yankee
Empire William Kimball Wight's diary From the Wight book Madeline's ashes John Wight's two wives Wight of Hareby
Story of School Fire
I have been looking at information on
the ancestors of the Abel family. Previously I wrote something about
the European aristocracy and their relationship to the Puritan New
Englanders and this included information on the Abel family as well
as the Cotton, Post and Hyde families. This time, in looking at this
family, I kept thinking about class.
Class in England is a very particular
thing. It has an element of money to it but that is not the primary
about money – it is about accent, attitude, education and breeding.
When one Englishman meets another, they immediately determine the
other person's class and the treat them accordingly. People can not
only identify most regional accents but can also identify the strata
– not just Yorkshire but whether rich farmer, rural laborer,
industrial worker etc. Class in England is a prejudice that goes as
deep as race in America or religion in Ireland. It was once absolute
and rigid but has softened and transformed over the last 1000 years,
but it is still there with a real edge. The source of this brand of
class is the Norman invasion. It was once about money (well, land
really) but it became about breeding and finally about education.
This class was transferred to North American with the very earliest
settlers in New England and the South. After a few generations, the
breeding became much less important than the money. But it appears
that the marriage of my grandparents was the first time that the
Wights or the Eastmans marriage outside the circle of families
springing from the early New Englanders – there was a marriage to a
mixed source Pennsylvanian family, the Krewsons. The Wights and
others came to America with the English class attitudes of the time
and kept those attitudes for several generations. What are the deep,
deep roots of 'class'?
It is said of the Vikings that they
robbed and plundered if they could. If that was not possible in some
places then they conquered and settled. And if that was not possible
they engaged in trade. Some Vikings settled in Northwest France and
became known as the Normans. From there they conquered southern
Italy, the British Isles, Mediterranean islands, the Holy Land, and
they became important mercenary armies in Spain and Byzantium. (the
Vikings that settled in Russia did not come through Normandy and some
came to Britain directly but we are only interested here in the
From Geoffrey Malaterra we have:
“Specially marked by cunning, despising their own inheritance in
the hope of winning a greater, eager after both gain and dominion,
given to imitation of all kinds, holding a certain mean between
lavishness and greediness, that is, perhaps uniting, as they
certainly did, these two seemingly opposite qualities. Their chief
men were specially lavish through their desire of good report. They
were, moreover, a race skillful in flattery, given to the study of
eloquence, so that the very boys were orators, a race altogether
unbridled unless held firmly down by the yoke of justice. They were
enduring of toil, hunger, and cold whenever fortune laid it on them,
given to hunting and hawking, delighting in the pleasure of horses,
and of all the weapons and grab of war. Their quick adaptability
expressed itself in the shrewd Norman willingness to take on local
men of talent, to marry the high-born local women; confidently
illiterate Norman masters used the literate clerks of the church for
their own purposes.” It is interesting that none of the kingdoms
that they held became 'Norman' places, the people remained French,
English, Irish, Italian etc. This seems to be because the Norman
always remained a bit aloof and sparse. Even in Normandy, the bulk of
the population spoke French.
In Normandy, they adopted the growing
feudal doctrines of the rest of northern France, and worked them,
both in Normandy and in England, into a functional hierarchical
system. They also adopted the administration and court systems of the
Saxons. The Norman warrior class was new and different from the old
French aristocracy, many of whom could trace their families back to
Carolingian times, while the Normans could seldom cite ancestors
before the beginning of the 11th century. Most knights remained poor
and land-hungry; by 1066, Normandy had been exporting fighting
horsemen for more than a generation. What usually set the Normans
apart from the people they lived among and ruled was arrogance and
Guillaume de Normandie (William the
Conqueror) gathered his own Norman knights, knights from France and
Scandinavia who wanted land and some English collaborators to invade
England. The number of invaders was small, 5000-8000. Families and
more knights came later but the numbers were never high, about 1% of
the population. The invasion seems in the history books like a quick
thing but it took many years to subdue the country. William
immediately claimed personal ownership of all England's land and all
landholders became his tenants. He took the lands of anyone who had
supported King Harold and gave it to his knights as rewards. These
initial confiscations led to revolts, which resulted in more
confiscations, in a cycle that continued virtually unbroken for five
terrible years. Then they became somewhat rarer but where anyone died
without heirs, revolted or otherwise disobeyed William, they had
their land confiscated and given to others. Daughters and widows that
came into possession of land were forced to marry (Normans chosen by
the King, of course). The land was given to knights but it was their
job to actually subdue it. It was these rewarded knights who actually
had to do the conquering of most of England and Wales. William also
kept his knights from becoming too powerful by giving them lands in
little bits all over the country. Soon the old Saxon nobility was
either displaced or assimilated and in 20 years after the conquest
there were only two large Saxon landlords left. No other medieval
European conquest of Christians by Christians had such devastating
consequences for the defeated ruling class.
There were many revolts (Kent, Wales,
Mercia, Northumbria etc.) and they were put down with such ferocity
that the pope (who was a supporter of William) demanded an
explanation. William's ferocious "Harrying of the North" in
1069-1070 had results that were still visible nearly 20 years later
at the Domesday survey when estate after estate in Yorkshire is
recorded as producing no revenue in 1085, because the land was
largely uncultivated waste. Immediately following the campaign it was
said that nothing lived between the Humber and the Tees, probably an
exageration but still chilling.
The conquest ended with a state of
enormous mutual fear and hatred between the common Saxon English and
their Norman noble lords. An essential feature of the Norman feudal
system was that political and economic relationships rested on
personalized power. This contrasts with bureaucratic forms of social
organisation, where the location and exercise of power are relatively
impersonal, found in institutions rather than with specific
individuals. Power in the feudal hierarchy was never far removed from
its basis in the use of violence. The Norman aristocracy had gained
power through the force of arms, had held on to it in the face of
continuing rebellion, and continued to be extremely sensitive to any
hint of insubordination.
Between 1066 and about 1200, the
nobility spoke Norman French and the native English spoke English.
There was practically no bilingualism (as seen in the lack of loan
words between the languages). When Normandy was lost to the English
crown in 1204, Parisian French rather than Norman French became the
language of the nobility for the next 100 years. Bilingualism was
still weak. Until Normandy was lost, the nobility were often absent
landlords, spending much of their time in Normandy and France. Then
between 1300 and 1400, bilingualism increased in both nobility and
native English, French loan words flooded into English and English
because the primary language of the nobility. The reasons for this
breakdown of the barriers were: the start of the 100 Years War with
France and therefore the strengthening of an English identity, the
Black Death that increased the power of ordinary people, and the
acceptance of English in courts.
So for about 300 years the nobility in
England was separated from the rest of the people, not sharing
identity, language, culture and not inter-marrying, very especially
not inter-marrying. (The exception being the Saxon women who had
estates were married by Normans). The mutual dislike and fear of the
other group simply grew during 300 years. Later, even after 800 years
the nobility and the gentry were still a people apart from the
ordinary population and they controlled the land, church, military,
courts, and government. The more important of them made up the House
of Lords and the lesser ones supplied the Members of Parliament. They
spoke with their own accent rather than their local dialects, their
were educated separately and they strictly did not marry outside
their group. Because the land holdings were often dispersed, the
nobility had very little local identity. They shared a country-wide
culture that was restricted to their class while the common people
had local cultures. It is only in the last 150 years that ordinary
people have started to share power. (But still Eton is the place to
go to school if you want to be an important person.)
Breeding was absolutely important to
the medieval nobility. But every youngest son of a youngest son of a
youngest son could not hold large tracts of land. There was a
movement downward from the Norman nobility; there was also a movement
upward from the wealthier farmers and townsmen; so there was after a
time, a transition group formed between the nobility and the poor
commoners. This group did not stay as a transition but took on a
character of their own. The wealthy purchased estates from the Tutors
during the dissolution of the monasteries. Larger farmers gained land
during the enclosures. It is this group that becomes the archetype of
the New England settler. They imitated the nobility as much as they
could especially in accent, leisure activities, acquiring land,
touchiness about insubordination and restricting marriage to their
own group. They were also different. The nobility was high-church but
the landed gentry tended to be low church or even non-conformist. The
nobility was more Tory while the landed gentry was more Whig
(especially following laissez-faire capitalism). Very few nobility
soiled their hands with commerce or industry and they had very little
to do with the towns and cities. These activities were the source of
wealth for the gentry but they still valued their land as a token of
higher status than money alone would give. They often valued
education more than the nobles. They families were as Saxon as they
were Norman. The English Civil War was fought behind a screen of
high-sounding words - claims of "rights" on either side,
claims of religious persecution, claims of God's will. But, in the
end, the English Civil War was really about this emergent gentry,
grabbing their share of the political action. And these were the
people that when thwarted by the establishment, made there way to New
England bringing their 'class system' with them. Like the nobility,
the landed gentry was very interested in genealogy, keeping good
records. The Wight Book and the many similar records are a indication
of that interest and in the habit of marrying with 'one's station'.
Puritans in Search
of a New Haven: 1630-1668
by ANDY MILLER
consciousness has been permeated with the idea that Puritans were
religious exiles from England fleeing religious persecution and
seeking a place where they could practice their particular brand of
Protestantism without fear of persecution or reprisal. There is much
to be said for the validity of this time-old story, simplified as it
may be. However, like most historical events, this migration was more
complex and multidimensional in nature than such a narrative might
Puritan’s motivations for emigrating
to New England were comprised of push/pull factors that pushed and
pulled them to migrate to a relatively unknown part of the world, and
these factors continued to influence their lives once they had
settled in New England. In fact, what these Puritans were running
from may have been secondary in importance to what they were running
towards –an envisioned covenant with God to establish a society
predicated on religious and moral virtue, which would serve as an
example to errant others. This was most famously articulated by the
Puritan minister John Winthrop when he said, “We shall be as a city
upon a hill, and the eyes of the world will be upon us.”
Moreover, for the Puritan
colonists, emigration to New England was not a static movement, not a
one-time action, but rather a continual process whereby some Puritans
considered further migration within New England as a necessary means
to maintain their theocratic cohesion as a community. I do not
propose to say that all Puritans continued to migrate once they
settled in New England, but a significant number of them did. One
such example of a community of migrants was the New Haven Colony.
Through a close examination of the Puritans who established the New
Haven Colony, a picture emerges of a community that was dynamic, of a
people who moved and changed both in terms of identity and location.
Puritan Exodus to New England
“As sure as God is God, God is
going from England” –Rev. Thomas Hooker
In the late 1620s and early
1630s the English Puritans began a watershed of emigration to New
England. This rate of emigration remained consistently high
throughout the 1630s and only ebbed in the mid 1640s with the Civil
Wars in England. During the period known as “The Great Migration”
of the 1630s and 1640s, some 20,000 Puritan colonists left England to
traverse the wide Atlantic Ocean to the wilderness of New England.
Leaving the familiarity of their hometowns to exile themselves in the
harsh environment of New England had to be a tremendous decision on
the part of these people, but they did not look at this venture in
the ways that one might expect. The Puritans believed that they were
fulfilling their religious calling as God’s “chosen” and
simultaneously escaping what they saw as a society that was headed
for disastrous social and economic consequences.
Historians have debated whether
or not this migration to New England was solely the result of their
desire to escape religious persecution, to found a theocratic utopia,
or to escape the social and political events that were emerging in
England. “Acting on the assumption that happy people do not
emigrate, historians have usually begun their histories of the Great
Migration by turning to whatever might have made...” people unhappy
in England at the time. Understanding the context for such a large
exodus of Puritans from England requires an understanding of the
socio-political climate in England in the early part of the
seventeenth century. I will briefly offer a background as to who
these people were, during the period in question, by touching upon
not only their religious context, but also what economic factors may
have prompted their emigration.
The term “Puritan” is a
difficult one to define, as its permutation has evolved since its
inception in the late 16th century, and for the purposes of this
paper I will avoid developing Puritans in terms of their religious
philosophy, but rather concentrate on their general social composite
as a community. In England during the reign of Charles, I,
(1625-1649) there was a growing segment of the population that
believed that the official Anglican Church was headed toward a brand
of Protestantism that was overly concerned with and corrupted by
ceremony, idolatry, and generally becoming too much like the
Catholic Church, which they disdained.
These people who objected to the trajectory of the Anglican Church,
known as Puritans, fell into two groups: those who wanted to reform
or “purify” the Anglican Church, and those who wanted to separate
King Charles I was vehemently
opposed to the Puritan movement. When he appointed William Laud as
Bishop of London (1628) and later Bishop of Canterbury (1633) the
Puritan reformers and separatists saw that as an obvious step toward
Catholicism and away from the Protestant faith. They felt that their
religious agency was in danger of being impinged upon if not
threatened outright, as they were becoming more and more alienated
from the civil and religious leadership of England. In fact, all
throughout England in the mid 1630s Puritan ministers were being
harassed by the Anglican Church hierarchy.
The Puritan sermons of the time
convey a sense that these emigrants were not so much running from
religious persecution as they were trying to avoid the cataclysmic
events that they believed to be in store for England. Ministers like
John Winthrop and John Cotton predicted the impending troubles and
downfall of English society, but none was as apocalyptic in nature as
Thomas Hooker’s 1631 sermon The Dangers of Desertion. This sermon
portrayed the horrors awaiting unfaithful England, and argued that
God had made New England “a refuge for his Noahs and his Lots, a
rock and a shelter for his righteous ones to run into.”
Concurrent with this religious
disenfranchisement and concern for what was to befall England,
English Puritans had suffered a very real stretch of economic
hardship throughout the 1620s, which may have had equally as much to
do with their predisposition towards emigration than did any
religious motivation. In the region of East Anglia, where many of the
Puritan emigrants of the 1630s were from, the 1620s had witnessed a
downturn in their regional economy, which was heavily dependent upon
the cloth trade. Compounded with the fact that there had been several
outbreaks of plague in London, Norwich, Sandwich, and many other
cities in the mid 1630s, one can begin to see a more complex picture
as to why there was such a monumental exodus of Puritans to New
England during this period. There seems to have been an outward
hostility towards these emigrants on the part of the Puritans still
in England, charging that the emigrants “had fled from England like
mice running from a crumbling house, anticipating its ruin, prudently
looking for their own safety, and treacherously giving up the defense
of the common cause of the Reformation”.
To look at this Puritan exodus
in solely religious terms, as historians have been apt to do for
generations, leaves the whole question of economic impetus aside.
These push/pull factors worked simultaneously to prompt the Puritan
migration to New England, and any “attempt to separate out one
cause from another appears not merely hopeless but unhistorical –a
badly posed question. ...The traditional either/or dichotomy –either
religion or economics –makes no sense.” In fact, among Puritans
such a dichotomy would not have even been considered. Their economic
or temporal well- being was entrenched in their spiritual well-being.
They saw the unprecedented hard times of the 1620s and 1630s as
evidence of God’s wrath against England. Again, turning to a sermon
of the time, William Gouge’s 1631 sermon, God’s Three Arrows ,
refers to “plague and famine as being two of the arrows that were
afflicting England after the bad harvests of the 1620s.”
Further Migration throughout New
One aspect of Puritan life in
New England that I find most intriguing is that they were a
transitory lot, moving from colony to colony, with a majority moving
on average between one and three times from their initial place of
settlement. This rate of mobility may, in large part, have had to do
with concerns such as economic viability, over- crowding in the
established colonial settlements, and/or a desire for religious
cohesion amidst perceived corruptive influences from other colonists
who were less strict in their interpretation of the Puritan ideology.
The Puritans of the New Haven colony, who I will
address later in this paper, left
Massachusetts and Connecticut to establish their own colony because
these former colonies seemed less entrenched in the theocratic
principles that were important to these “hard-liners”.
To get a picture of the rate
of mobility among the emigrant generation, refer to to the table,
which shows that among single men, the rate of mobility for those who
moved at least once after settling in New England was at 58.1%, and
for single women at 59.1%. For married men, although a bit lower,
they still moved at least once at a rate of 47.8 %, while married
women moved at 46.9%. The number does drop considerably for those
people who moved more than once. Men who moved twice were at 19.8%
and women at 14.4 percent. However, in the second generation mobility
did not follow this trajectory, and was considerably higher.
Mobility Rates of
Moved at Least Once
||Number who moved
||Percentage who moved
Number of moves
Because the family status of all who
moved is unknown, the total number of those whose family status is
known is not equal to the total number of females or males. The rate
of mobility among the second generation (the children of the emigrant
generation), which is not listed, further strengthens the argument
that the early colonists were a mobile people –especially those of
the second generation. “People born in New England before 1650
showed a somewhat greater geographic mobility than did their emigrant
predecessors. Well over half of them (56.6%) moved from one town to
another at least once.”16 When considering the New Haven Colony
this generational shift in mobility offers interesting insights into
who moved and begs for further inquiry into why the second
generation, in particular, would have been more disposed to move.
For the people of the New Haven
Colony examined in this paper, there were at least two movements to
be considered: the movement from their initial town of settlement in
either Massachusetts or Connecticut to the several towns in the New
Haven Colony, and then the movement of a large number of these
colonists to Newark, New Jersey in 1666-67. If the above figure and
statistics can be used as representative for the people of the New
Haven colony, then a clearer picture emerges of who went on to found
the colony at Newark, New Jersey. Approximately twenty percent of the
Newark founders would have been from the first generation, and the
rest would have been from the second generation of those born in New
With further study, and a more
detailed examination of the individuals who settled in the New Haven
Colony and further migrated on to Newark, New Jersey, one might
determine whether or not these people were representative of New
England colonists in general, or whether they were an exceptional
situation. In the time allowed for this study, I was unable to
determine whether or not the New Haven colonists followed this
statistical norm, or whether they deviated from the norm.
There were two primary routes of
migration through Massachusetts to the New Haven Colony: 1) inland,
through western Massachusetts, then southward through Connecticut;
and 2) seaward around the Cape into the Long Island Sound. The later
1666-67 migration from the New Haven Colony to New Jersey was
primarily through the Long Island Sound, along the coast of New York,
into the New York Harbor, and ultimately to Newark, New Jersey.
New Haven Colony
For those unfamiliar with the
New Haven colony, it was an independent colony on the Connecticut
coast during the period of 1638 until its annexation into the
Connecticut colony in 1665. During its brief twenty-seven years of
existence the New Haven Colony was perhaps the closest manifestation
of the Puritan ideal, wherein strict adherence to the Puritan
orthodoxy was maintained. Its brief existence supports the fact that
change and outside influences such as will be discussed in a later
section threatened the theocratic backbone and the very existence of
The New Haven Colony was a
project conceived by a London minister, John Davenport, his friend
Theophilus Eaton, and a party of followers who had emigrated with
them in 1637 on the ship “The Hector”.18 Upon arrival in New
England, they settled in Boston, where they stayed for about a year,
but soon decided that they would be economically and spiritually
better off forming their own colony. Reverend Davenport and his
followers found Boston to be a welcoming place, reuniting with many
people they had known back in England, and the people of Boston tried
to persuade them to remain as members of their colony. However, the
Massachusetts colony was too liberal and lax for their sensibilities,
and they desired to form a settlement where they could be free from
corruptive influences found in the Massachusetts colony.
When the Davenport party left
Boston in 1638 they drew a considerable number of Bostonians as well
as people from the outlying towns of Connecticut such as Wethersfield
with them. It has been said in various accounts that Rev. Davenport’s
reputation, dynamism as a minister, and the prospect of furthering
their economic circumstances, inspired these people to leave their
familiar surroundings and follow him. Other accounts attribute the
internal theological divisions within the Massachusetts colony as a
reason for the established colonists to remove with Davenport. One
such division was the debate over Anne Hutchinson and her unorthodox
ministering. She deeply divided the colonists in Boston, and some
were ready to leave Boston for the more orthodox views of Davenport
and his community.
Eaton and Davenport chose as a
site for their new settlement the Native American village of
Quinnipiac, which had recently been abandoned by the natives after
the Pequot War of 1637. The land was situated on the Connecticut
coast and at the mouth of the Quinnipiac River, which looked
promising for trade and economic viability. Davenport negotiated the
purchase of the land from the local Native Americans but failed to
procure a legal title and charter from the Crown, which would later
prove to be a source of controversy for the colony. Nevertheless, in
April 1638 Davenport and his followers settled at Quinnipiac and
began building their settlement. The exact population of New Haven at
its outset is not known for sure, but in 1639 there was a population
of seventy “freemen”, or members of the church who were afforded
all the privileges of citizenship under the rules of the settlement.
A list of these first New
Haven settlers was included in Robert Atwater Smith’s 1902 history
of New Haven Colony, which he gleaned from the early town records of
New Haven. This list will prove invaluable when attempting to
ascertain the origins and mobility rates of the early settlers of New
Haven Colony. Within the scope and time allowed for this study, such
a detailed exploration of these individuals proved to be
In the ensuing first few years
(1638-1643) the settlement grew from the initial town, which in 1640
changed its name to New Haven, to an actual colony that encompassed
the areas surrounding the town of New Haven. These outlying areas
came under its jurisdiction and included the towns of Stamford,
Milford, Guilford, and the Long Island coastal town of Southold. With
the inclusion of these other towns, in 1643 the New Haven Fundamental
Agreement was drawn up, which outlined the colony’s governance.
The New Haven Colony was the
archetype of a theocratic colony in that it restricted citizenship to
people who were full members of the church. It was governed by an
elite body of church members who were given special dispensations
such as land, suffrage, and a restrictive say as to who could be
admitted into their colony as freemen. What further distinguished the
New Haven Colony from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and others during
its twenty-seven years in existence was its conservative religious
adherence to Puritan theology. It was the most restrictive colony in
New England in terms of personal liberties and it rejected the
reformations that were being proposed in the 1640s by its neighboring
Another important town in the
New Haven colony was Milford, which was founded in 1639 and admitted
to the New Haven Colony in 1643. Much like the town of New Haven,
Milford’s early settlers were followers of a particular minister,
Rev. Peter Prudden, who also emigrated in 1637, bringing with him to
Boston a group of English Puritans. Like the followers of Davenport,
Prudden’s followers settled in Boston for nearly a year, but
envisioned a colony where “they might enjoy his pious and fervent
ministrations.” And, like Davenport, Prudden drew a considerable
number of followers from the surrounding areas of Massachusetts and
Connecticut with him to the new colony. During the period of 1639-40
Rev. Prudden also preached at Wethersfield Connecticut, “and
several of the people of Wethersfield became so attached to Mr.
Prudden that they followed him to Milford, and were among the first
and principal settlers of the town. Prudden’s reputation among his
fellow ministers was very high, and may be best exemplified by the
Rev. Cotton Mather, who upon Prudden’s death in 1656 remarked, “His
death was felt by the whole of the colonies as a fall of a pillar
which has made the whole fabric shake.”
If the New Haven Colony can be
said to be the most conservative among the Puritan colonies, then
within the colony itself, the town of Milford exemplified this
conservative way of life like no other. Throughout the period of
settlement until the late 1650s, the people of Milford can be argued
to have been the staunchest practitioners of the Puritan faith. One
such example of their conservative outlook was their adoption of what
would later be known as the “Connecticut Blue Laws”. These laws,
which were agreed upon by the town fathers, prescribed the behavior
and decorum of the citizenry, specifically in regards to the way in
which people observed the Sabbath day. This code of laws, though
initially unwritten, was solely based on religious observance and
moral rectitude, and laid the groundwork for the ways in which people
were to be governed in the town.
This conservative outlook and
rigid adherence to the church doctrines is further evidenced by “the
unusually high number of baptisms, with 67 recorded for the first
five years and another 155 until Prudden’s death. Likewise, most of
the children born to the founders were brought under the discipline
of the church.” Furthermore, the number of early settlers who were
full members of the church substantiates the fact that the settlers
of Milford took their religion very seriously. In the initial years
of settlement the church grew exponentially. “By the end of 1644 it
had added seventy-three new members, who with the original seven,
composed 82 percent of the men receiving land by November 1643, and
77 percent of the wives. A full 95% of all families had one spouse in
communion; 63% percent had both spouses receiving full communion”.
This high rate of church
membership continued throughout the 1640s, but after the initial
influx of settlers, church membership began to decline. This
“declension” was not a problem unique to Milford, but was
pervasive throughout the Puritan-based colonies. The reasons for this
decline in membership may in part stem from “the failure of many
newcomers who arrived after 1643 to take an active interest in the
church.” Or, perhaps, that the church membership was so exclusive
and restrictive in nature that new settlers found it hard to comply.
Another reason would be the way in which Puritans qualified full
church membership. “Unlike Anglican and Catholic churches of the
time, Puritan Churches did not hold that all community members should
be full church members. A true church, they believed, consisted not
of everyone, but of “the elect”. To become part of this “elect”
required a conversion experience, or profession of faith.
New Haven Colony Struggles
against Change and Ultimately for Survival
After the initial decades of
settlement, the New Haven Colony struggled to maintain its theocratic
ideals, and found it increasingly hard to stand firm in its adherence
to the Congregationalist model of government. In the late 1650s and
early 1660s the New Haven Colony experienced three distinct
challenges to its survival: waning church membership and the
resulting Half-Way Covenant; the restoration of King Charles II; and
the subsequent absorption of the New Haven Colony into the
Connecticut Colony. Each in its own way affected the colony
irreparably, ultimately prompting a large number of its inhabitants
to further migrate outside of the Connecticut River Valley.
The first of these challenges
to face the New Haven Colony was a divisive measure introduced in
1657 to address the waning church membership, the Half-Way Covenant.
After much debate, in 1662, the synod of the Congregationalist
churches of New England proposed allowing people who had not
experienced a religious conversion to become “half-way” members
of the church, which would also allow them to baptize their children
in the church. Most of the Puritans of the emigrating generation
(especially in the New Haven Colony) were vehemently opposed to such
an inclusion because they believed that people should convert and
become full members in the church before they were afforded the
benefits of baptism for their children.
The rancor of this debate was
most hotly contested in the New Haven Colony where hard-line
Puritanism ruled with an iron fist. The ruling elders and many of the
older generation could not conceive of allowing such a dilution of
their church, as was happening in the more liberal colonies
surrounding them. This, perhaps, became the impetus for further
migration among the Puritans of New Haven Colony, for it was also
about this time (circa 1662) that members of the New Haven Colony
sent representatives to the neighboring Dutch colony of New Amsterdam
to inquire about procuring a place in which they could resettle.
Concurrently with the debate
over the Half-Way Covenant, the Stuart monarchy was restored in 1660.
Charles II’s return to the English throne was an ominous event for
the Puritans of New England, especially those in the New Haven
Colony. With the fall of the Cromwell regime and largely
Puritan-based Parliament of the Interregnum, several of the key
participants in the overthrow of the monarchy had fled England in
exile. Two such exiles were judges who had served on the tribunal
that condemned King Charles, I, to death.
The Major-Generals Edward
Whalley and William Goffe left England and found refuge in New
England, and during the period of 1661 to 1662 they were harbored in
the town of Milford, by Micah Tompkins, one of the ruling elders in
the church. Tompkins kept the two judges in the cellar of his house
for over a year without them being detected, only the town elders
being aware of their existence. King Charles II, sent bounty hunters
to New England to arrest the judges so that they could be tried for
treason against the crown, but the Puritans of Milford, who were
sympathetic to the exiles’ cause
steadfastly refused to admit that they
knew the judges’ whereabouts. This complicity in aiding and
harboring the exiles certainly put the citizens of New Haven Colony
in a precarious situation; one that may have added to their imminent
desire to seek a new place to resettle.
The third, and perhaps most
resounding death knell for the people of the New Haven Colony came in
1662 when Charles II, with one decree, renounced their existence as a
colony, and forced to them to cede their independence to the colony
of Connecticut. This was an alarming development for the members of
the colony, as they were suspicious of what would befall their
theocratic based colony if they were annexed by the more liberal
Connecticut colony. Such an annexation would “jeopardize the purity
of the Church, according to the people of New Haven, and it was to
them an unendurable
condition; to accept it would have
meant a sacrifice of conscience.”
Before the fundamental conflict
could come to a head, a safety valve opened to the South of the New
Haven Colony. The Province of New Caesarea or (New Jersey) opened its
lands for settlement. “The new proprietors of the province were
Lord John Berkley and Sir George Carteret. The two aristocrats being
shrewd businessmen, capitalized on the situation faced by the people
of New Haven Colony and offered them a place to resettle that would
be free from civil interference.”
The members of the New Haven
Colony seized the opportunity to transplant their theocracy to a more
conducive climate, free from the interference of the King and free
from the corruptive influences of the surrounding colonies. In 1666 a
party from the town of Milford traveled down the Long Island Sound to
the banks of the Passaic River, to choose a site for settlement.
Arriving, the settlers encountered yet one more problem, the
Hackensack Indians. Although the colonists had obtained a proper
title from the proprietors, they had not bargained for a deed with
the Indians. In July of 1667 the Puritan settlers signed a bill of
sale with the Hackensack Indians, purchasing their settlement for
approximately $750.00 worth of goods.
Founding the Settlement of
The last hope for a theocracy
The first group of settlers who
migrated to the new settlement in 1667 was from the town of Milford.
Accordingly, they called the new settlement Milford. However, with
the arrival of people from the towns of Branford, Guilford, and New
Haven in 1668, it was agreed upon that they would rename the
settlement in honor of their first minister, Abraham Pierson.
Reverend Pierson was a native of Newark-On-Trent, England, so the
settlers adopted the name of Newark. A somewhat different, and
perhaps more romantic story relates that the name of Newark was
morphed from the term “New- Work”, as the settlers envisioned the
new settlement as their new work with God, and in the original
documents pertaining to the settlement, it was spelled “New Work”.
Regardless of the origin, the name Newark was established after the
arrival of their spiritual leader, Reverend Pierson, in 1668. The
settlement quickly grew to a population of approximately 75 settlers
by the end of 1668.
Initially, the settlers
conceived of Newark as their theocratic haven, where they could live
by their own covenant with God. They adopted the same sort of
theocratic structure as they had envisioned for the New Haven colony,
wherein they elected church elders to be in charge of the civic
affairs and restricted full church membership to those who had
experienced a religious conversion. In the early decades of
settlement, Newark seemed to afford its colonists their last hope of
a theocratic utopia, but as time passed and new settlers came, once
again, the theocratic cohesion which the Puritan colonists sought
became ever illusive. This was, then their last attempt at a separate
In examining the experiences of
the Puritan colonists of the New Haven Colony, taking into account
their migratory experience during the period of 1630-1668, it seems
clear that the motivations for emigration from England as well as
migration throughout New England were more complicated than what our
collective historical consciousness may suggest. It was not a simple
dichotomy between religion and economics factors, but an amalgam of
the two that prompted these Puritans to migrate.
One may further argue, as I
have maintained, that there was a complex system of factors that
pushed and pulled these Puritans to emigrate and move throughout New
England in addition to religion and economics. These Puritans were
also motivated by their apprehensions about what was happening
socially and politically around them at the time. They witnessed
social upheaval, the Civil Wars in England, as well as perceived
corruptive influences from others who maintained different religious
beliefs. It was the sum of all of these factors that influenced the
Puritans to search for a new haven.
The colony of New Haven
followed a clear trajectory in terms of motivations for further
migration, all three reasons which I have outlined: the Half-Way
Covenant and the resulting splintering of the
Congregationalist/theocratic structure of New England colonies; the
restoration of the monarchy; and ultimately their annexation by the
Connecticut Colony, which played vital roles in motivating these
particular Puritans to continue to migrate throughout the region.
Further investigation into New Haven Colony records might prove that
economics may have proven to be an equally motivating factor
for further migration than reasons
Who was the Kimball?
William Kimball Wight ( 1833-1903) was
my great grandfather. The Kimball in his name implies that he had
ancestors with the surname Kimball. But they are not in my family
tree. There is no Wight-Kimball wedding to be found. What do we know
about the family? If anyone knows the link, please let me know.
Two Kimball brothers, Richard and
Henry, came to America and all American Kimballs are thought to be
descended from them:
“Richard arrived in America aboard
the Elizabeth which had embarked from Ipswich, Suffolk England
on 10 Apr 1634, William Andrews, master. Included on the passenger
list were Richard, age 39, wife Ursula and children Henry age 15,
Elizabeth age 13, Richard age 11, Mary age 9, Martha age 5, John age
3 and Thomas age 1. The family apparently came with Richard's brother
Henry Kimball and Ursula's
mother (Martha) and brother's family (Thomas and Elizabeth, both age
Richard worked as a mechanic and wheelwright in Suffolk.
They settled in Watertown MA before moving to Ipswich, MA about 1637.
Richard was listed as a freeman in Watertown in 1635. He was a
selectman for Ipswich in 1645 and the surveyor of fences in 1653. He
later moved back to Watertown. Richard, being a wheelwright, removed
to Ispwich, Mass. in 1837, at the request of the inhabitants of that
town. All the Kimballs in the United States are believed to be
descendants of these two brothers.
Richard Kimball became one of
the prominent citizens of Ipswich, being frequently mentioned in its
records and dying there in 1675. Richard's will was dated 5 Mar 1674
and probated 28 Sep 1675. The inventory of his estate totaled £ 737,
3 shillings, 6 pence.”
Kimball - was born about 1595 in Rattlesden, Suffolk, Eng and
died on 22 Jun 1675; (will 5 Mar – 28 Sep) in Watertown. He was the
son of Henry Kimball. Richard married Ursula Scott in 1615 in Eng.
Ursula was born on 15 Feb 1597 in Rattlesden, Suffolk, Eng. She was
the daughter of Henry Scott and Martha Whatlock. She died before
Oct 1661 in Ipswich, Suffolk, Ma. Then Richard married Margaret
Cole on 23 Oct 1661 in America.
Children with Ursula Scott:
Kimball was born Feb 1614 in Hitcham, Suffolk, Eng and died
?d.s.p in Hitcham, Suffolk, Eng and was buried in Eng.
ii. Henry Kimball was born on
12Aug1615 in Rattlesden, Suffolk, Eng and died adm. 4Jun 1676 in
Wenham/Ipswich, Ma .
iii. Abigail Kimball was born Nov1617 in Rattlesden, Suffolk, Eng and
died on 19 Jun 1658 in Salisbury, Ma, USA . Abigail married John
Severance. John was born in 1615. He died on 9 Apr 1682 in Salisbury,
iv. Mary Kimball was born Apr1618/1625 in Rattlesden, Suffolk, Eng
and died on 12 Jul 1686. Mary married Robert Dutch. Robert was born
in Ipswich, Essex Co., Ma, USA. He died in 1686.
(Mary - One
source shows a birth date of Apr 1618; another (Jama Kimball) shows a
date of 1625.
Kimball was born about 1619 in Rattlesden, Suffolk, Eng.
Kimball was born about 1621 in Rattlesden, Suffolk, Eng and died Aft.
1675, prob.d.s.p . (Elizabeth - The record on Elizabeth Kimball
Severance shows her to be living in 1675, followed by notation "prob.
vii. Richard Kimball Jr. was born about 1623 in Rattlesden, Suffolk,
Eng and died on 26 May 1676 in Wentham, Ipswich, Essex Co., Ma, USA .
Richard married Mary Cooley. She died on 2 Sep 1672 .
Richard married Mary Gott in 1672/1673 in Ma, USA.
viii. Martha Kimball was born about
1629 in Rattlesden, Suffolk, Eng.
ix. John Kimball was born about 1631 in Rattlesden, Suffolk, Eng and
died on 6 May 1698 in Ipswich, Essex Co., , Ma, USA. John married
Mary Bradstreet about 1655. (Mary - came over on the same voyage in
the Elizabeth as Richard
Kimball, with her father Humphrey
Bradstreet and her mother Bridgett.
) Then John married Hannah Muncey.
x. Thomas Kimball was born about 1633 in Rattlesden, Suffolk, Eng and
died on 3 May 1676 in Bradford, Ma, USA; killed by Indians. Thomas
married Mary Smith. Mary was born about 1635. (Mary - Mary Smith
Kimball was living in 1782 in Bradford., MA. Mary and five children
were captured by the Indians who killed Thomas but were returned 13
Jun 1676.)( Thomas Kimball: wheelwright, Hampton, was son of Richard
and Ursula K. of Ipswich, Mass. P.
of M. Came from England with his parents in 1634. Resided in
Dover in the year 1657, as he deposed at Portsmouth, 28 June, 1678,
being then "about 57 years of age" Rem. to Hampton. Bought
land 15 Oct. 1658. Wife Mary; children, Elizabeth b. and d. 1658,
Richard b. Nov. 20, 1659.)
xi. Sarah Kimball was born about 1635
in Ipswich, Essex Co., , Ma, USA and died on 12 Jun 1690 in Ipswich,
Essex Co., , Ma, USA . Sarah married Edward Allen on
24 Nov 1658
in Ipswich, Essex Co., , Ma, USA. Edward was born in [Ipswitch].
xii. Benjamin Kimball was born about 1637 in Ipswich, Essex Co., ,
Ma, USA and died on 11 Jun 1696 in Bradford, Ma, USA . Benjamin
married Mercy Hazeltine on 16 Apr 1661 in Salisbury, Ma. She died on
5 Jan 1707/1708 in Bradford, Ma .
xiii. Caleb Kimball was born about 1639 in Ipswich, Essex Co., , Ma,
USA and died Imv. 23 Sep 1682 in Ipswich, Essex Co., , Ma, USA. Caleb
married Anna Hazeltine on 7 Nov 1660 in Ipswich, Essex Co., Ma, USA.
Anna was born on 1 Mar 1640 in Rowley, Ma, USA. She died on 9 Apr
1688 in Ipswich, Essex Co., Ma, USA .
Henry Kimball - was born on 12 Aug 1615 in Rattlesden,
Suffolk, Eng and died adm. 4 Jun 1676 in Wenham/Ipswich, Ma . He was
the son of Richard Kimball and Ursula Scott. Henry married Mary Wyatt
in 1640 in Wenham, MA. Mary was born in 1622 in Assington, Suffolk,
England. She was the daughter of John Wyatt and Martha Sheldrake. She
died on 12 Aug 1672 in Watertown, MA. Then Henry married Elizabeth
In the record of Henry Kimball, it shows, following the
information on his two marriages, the phrase "adm. 4 June 1676
Wentham, MA." We are not sure as to the meaning of this phrase;
it may have something to do with the date of death. Henry moved from
Watertown to Ipswich about 1646 and then to Wentham about 1655.
Children with Mary Wyatt:
i. Mary Kimball
was born on 26 Nov 1641 in Watertown, Ma, USA.
ii. Richard Kimball was born on 13 Oct 1643 in Watertown, Ma, USA and
died on 30 Jul 1715 in Wenham, MA . Richard married Rebecca Abbye on
13 May 1667. Rebecca was born about 1645.
Then Richard married
"Widow" Ford on 20 Nov 1706.
iii. John Kimball was born on 23 Dec 1645 in Watertown, Ma, USA and
died on 12 Oct 1723 in Amesbury, Ma, USA . John married Mary Jordan
on 8 Oct 1666 in Ipswich, Essex Co., Ma, USA.
Then John married
Mary Pressey on 9 Feb 1712/1713. Then John married Deborah Weed in
iv. Caleb Kimball I was born about 1647
in Ipswich, Essex Co., Ma, USA and died on 18 Sep 1675 in
v. Dorcas Kimball was born about 1649. Dorcas married Thomas Dow on
17 Dec 1668 in Bradford, Ma, USA. Thomas was born about 1640. He died
on 21 Jun 1676 in Haverhill. Ma, USA .
vi. Abigail Kimball was born about 1652. Abigail married John Wycome
on 14 May 1673 in Rowley, Ma, USA.
vii. Sarah Kimball was born about 1654. Sarah married Daniel Gage on
3 May 1675 in Bradford, Ma, USA. He died on 8 Nov 1705 in Bradford,
Ma, USA .
Viii. Henry Kimball Jr. was born about 1655. Henry married Hannah
Marsh on 14 Dec 1677 in Haverhill. Ma, USA. She died on 15 Mar
1696/1697 in Haverhill. Ma, USA . (Hannah Marsh was killed by Indians
15 Mar 1696/7. )
ix. Mehitable Kimball was born Aug 1657 and died on 7 Dec 1689 .
Mehitable married Thomas Stickney.
Kimball was born on 12 Nov 1659 in Wentham, Ipswich, Essex Co., Ma,
xi. Joseph Kimball was born on 20 Jan 1661/1662 in Wentham, Ipswich,
Essex Co., Ma, USA.
Joseph married Elizabeth Needham. (Joseph
Kimball was a mariner; lived in Boston, MA.)
xii Martha Kimball was born on 18 Aug 1664 in Wentham, Ipswich, Essex
Co., Ma, USA. Martha married Daniel Chase on 25 Aug 1683 in Newbury,
Ma, USA. Then Martha married Josiah Heath in 1713.
xiii. Deborah Kimball was born about 1668 in Wentham, Ipswich, Essex
Co., Ma, USA. Deborah married Donald Chase. Donald was born about
was where this information came from.
I have looked for female Kimballs
marrying Ballards or Griswolds and so far have found little:
1. Lucy Gear Kimball (1791-) married
Chester Griswold Fanning in Feb 1818. Last name is Fanning not
2. Volney Richard Kimball daughter
Ellen Griswolds (1842-) and a son Alonzo Griswold (1838-). I didn't
find why they had Griswold for second name.
3. An Abigail Kimball (Caleb, Benjamin, Benjamin, Jonathan, Benjamin,
Richard) born 1785, died Sept 1822, married 1807 Dr. John
McCrillis and settled in Meredith. Her children included Harriet
Stanley McCrillis who married Rufus W. Griswold, who was distinguished
as an editor and compiler. His "Poets and Poetry of America" reached 20
editions. This seems a little late but might be the connection.
Of course Kimball could have been the name of a grandmother rather than
Reid, 1929 - 2011
a wonderful mother, grandmother, sister, family member and friend,
passed away on Friday, December 16th. With her daughter
holding her hand, she peacefully slipped away to join her son Brian,
who predeceased her a few short years ago.
had a zest for life, which she shared with her family and friends. She
had an easy laugh and was always good for a fantastical story or
two. Madeline had a tremendous sense of humour and could get a room
full of people laughing along with her “at the drop of a hat”.
Madeline shared a love for writing, music, community and
justice and had a passion for teaching. She started her early career
as a substitute teacher, then became a life skills coach and
continued to provide advice and guidance on creative writing to
worked hard on the farm at Wilcox as a young woman, then moved to
Regina at the age of 50 and shared her passion for helping others
through work with the Saskatchewan Council for International
Development and with single mothers. In her retirement years,
Madeline continued to contribute to the community through her
involvement in numerous community-based organizations and programs;
including Soul’s Harbour, the Chili for Children Program and
is remembered by her three children; Larry (Kirstie) Day, Muriel
(Stuart) Garven, Warren Day and daughter-in-law Marsha
Delouchery-Day; the children’s father Dwight Day, her predeceased
husband Bob Reid’s family; her two sisters; Evelyn Wight and Eileen
(Ed) Law; her nine grandchildren, her three great-grandchildren and
numerous other family and friends.
service of remembrance will be held at the Regina Memorial Funeral
Home at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 20th. Her children
would like to invite all of Madeline’s family and friends to
and celebrate her life with them. In honour of Madeline, please wear
something purple on her day of remembrance and join us for pie and
ice cream. In lieu of flowers please donate to Circle Drive Special
Care Home, 3055 Preston Avenue South, Saskatoon, SK, S7T 1C3.
genes the key to the Yankee Empire? This is a question which Razib
Khan replied to in Discover Magazine. I take it with a grain of salt
but its interesting – its background to the Wight-Eastman families
who were pure New England Yankee until about 1900. Here is most of
That’s the question a commenter
poses, albeit with skepticism. First, the background here. New
England was a peculiar society for various demographic reasons. In
the early 17th century there was a mass migration of Puritan
Protestants from England to the colonies which later became New
England because of their religious dissent from the manner in which
the Stuart kings were changing the nature of the British Protestant
church.* Famously, these colonies were themselves not aiming to allow
for the flourishing of religious pluralism, with the exception of Rhone
Island. New England maintained established state churches
longer than other regions of the nation, down into the early decades
of the 19th century.
Between 1630 and 1640 about ~20,000
English arrived on the northeastern fringe of British settlement in
North America. With the rise of co-religionists to power in the
mid-17th century a minority of these emigres engaged in
reverse-migration. After the mid-17th century migration by and large
ceased. Unlike the Southern colonies these settlements did not have
the same opportunities for frontiersmen across a broad and ecological
diverse hinterland, and its cultural mores were decidedly more
constrained than the cosmopolitan Middle Atlantic. The growth in
population in New England from the low tends of thousands to close to
1 million in the late 18th century was
one of endogenous natural increase from the founding stock.
fertility regime persisted
down into the middle of the 19th century, as the core New England
region hit its Malthusian limit, and flooded over into upstate New
York, to the irritation of the older Dutch population in that region.
Eventually even New York was not enough, and New England swept out
across much of the Old Northwest. The last became the “ Yankee
Empire,” founded by Yankees, but later demographically supplemented
and superseded in its western reaches by immigrants from northwest
Europe who shared many of the same biases toward order and moral
probity which were the hallmarks of Yankees in the early Republic.
While the Yankees were waxing in
numbers, and arguably cultural influence, the first decades of the
American Republic also saw the waning of New England power and
influence in relation to the South in the domain of politics. This
led even to the aborted movement to secede from the union by the New
England states in the first decade of the century. By the time of
Andrew Jackson an ascendant Democrat configuration which aligned
Southern uplanders and lowlanders with elements of the Middle
Atlantic resistant to Yankee cultural pretension and demographic
expansion would coalesce and dominate American politics down to the
Civil War. It is illustrative that one of the prominent Northern
figures in this alliance, President Martin Van Buren, was of Dutch
New York background.
But this is a case where demographics
was ultimate destiny. Not only were the Yankees fecund, but
immigrants such as the German liberals fleeing the failures of the
tumult of 1848 were aligned with their anti-slavery enthusiasms
(though they often took umbrage at the anti-alcohol stance of the
Puritan moralists of the age, familiarizing the nation with beer in
the 1840s). The Southern political ascendancy was simply not tenable
in the face of Northern demographic robustness, fueled by both
fertility and immigration. Because of overreach on the part of the
Southern elite the segments of the Northern coalition which were
opposed to the Yankees eventually fractured (Martin Van Buren allowed
himself to be candidate for the anti-slavery Free Soil party at one
point). Though there remained Northern Democrats down to the Civil
War, often drawn from the “butternuts” whose ultimate origins
were in the Border South, that period saw the shift in national
politics from Democrat to Republican dominance (at least up the New
Deal). Curiously, the coalition was an inversion of the earlier
coalition, with Yankees now being integral constituents in a broader
Northern and Midwestern movement, and Southerners being marginalized
as the odd-men-out.
I review all this ethno-history
because I think that to a great extent it is part of the “Dark
Matter” of American political and social dynamics. Americans are
known as “Yankees” to the rest of the world, and yet the reality
is that the Yankee was one specific and very distinctive folkway on
the American scene. But, that folkway has been very influential,
often in a cryptic fashion.
New England in particular stands out
over the long historical scale. In
many ways of the all the colonies of Great Britain it was the most
peculiar in its relationship to the metropole.
Unlike Australia or Canada it was not an open frontier, rich
with natural resources which could absorb the demographic surplus of
Britain. Unlike India it was not a possible source of rents from
teeming culturally alien subjects. Unlike the South in the mid-19th
century there was no complementary trade relationship. In economic
terms New England was a potential and incipient rival to Old England.
In cultural and social terms it may have aped Old England, but its
“low church” Protestant orientation made it a throwback, and out
of step with a metropole which was becoming more comfortable with the
English Magisterial Reformation (which eventually led to the
emergence of Anglo-Catholicism in the 19th century). Like modern day
Japan, and England of its day, New England had to generate wealth
from its human capital, its own ingenuity. This resulted in an
inevitable conflict with the mother country, whose niche it was
attempting to occupy (albeit, with exceptions, such as the early 19th
century, before the rise of robust indigenous industry, and the
reliance on trade). Today the American republic has pushed England
aside as the center of the Anglosphere. And despite the romantic
allure of the frontier and the surfeit of natural resources, it is
ultimately defined by the spirit of Yankee ingenuity (rivaled by the
cowboy, whose violent individualist ethos seems straight out of the
Scots-Irish folklore of the South, transposed to the West).
What does this have to do with
genetics? Let’s go back to the initial colonial period. As
I’ve noted before: the Yankee colonies of New England engaged in
selective immigration policies.
Not only did they draw Puritan dissenters, but they were
biased toward nuclear family units of middling background. By
“middling,” that probably refers at least toward the upper
quarter of English society of the period. They were literate, with at
least some value-added skills. This is in contrast with the Irish
Catholic migration of the 19th century, which emptied out Ireland of
its tenant peasants (attempts to turn these Irish into yeoman farmers
in the Midwest failed, with fiascoes such as the consumption of their
seed corn and cattle over harsh Minnesota winters).
So the question is this: could
“middle class” values be heritable? Yes, to some
extent they are. Almost all behavioral tendencies are heritable to
Adoption studies are clear on that. But, is one generation of
selection sufficient to result in a long term shift?
...(I skip some genetic calculations
this is a case where there are so many uncertainties that I’m not
inclined to say much more than that it is possible, and that we may
have an answer in the coming decades with widespread genomic
But there’s another option, which is
on the face of it is more easy to take in because so many of the
parameters are well known and have been thoroughly examined. And
that’s cultural selection. While we have to guess
at the IQ distributions of the early Puritans, we know about the
distribution of their cultural tendencies. They were almost all
Calvinists, disproportionately literate. Because of its flexible
nature, culture can generate enormous inter-group differences in
phenotypic variation. The genetic difference between New England and
Virginia may have been small, but the cultural difference was wide
(e.g., Yankee thrift vs. Cavalier generosity). Yankees who relocated
to the South would assimilate Southern values, and the reverse (there
is some suggestion that South Carolinian John C. Calhoun’s
Unitarianism may have been influenced by his time at Yale, though
overall it was obviously acceptable to the Deist inclined Southern
elite of the period).
Before New England,
human societies had
an expectation that there would be a literate segment, and an
illiterate one. By and large the substantial majority would be
illiterate. In the Bronze Age world the scribal castes had almost a
magic power by virtue of their mastery of the abstruse cuneiform and
hieroglyph scripts. The rise of the alphabet (outside of East Asia)
made literacy more accessible, but it seems likely that the majority
of ancient populations, even in literary capitals such as Athens,
were functionally illiterate. A small minority was sufficient for the
production, dissemination, and propagation of literary works. Many
ancient books were written with the ultimate understanding that their
wider “reading” was going to occur in public forums where crowds
gathered to listen to a reader. The printing press changed this with
the possibility for at least nominal ownership of books by those with
marginal surplus, the middle class. By limiting migration to these
elements with the means to buy books, as well as an emphasis on
reading the Bible common to scriptural Protestants, you had a society
where the majority could be readers in the public forum.
What were the positive cultural
feedback loops generated? And what sort of cultural dampeners may
have allowed for the new stable cultural equilibrium to persist down
the centuries? These are open questions, but they need to be
explored. I’ll leave you with a map of public school expenditures
in 2003. In the 1840s and 1850s one of the more notable aspects of
the opening of the Western frontier with the huge difference between
states settled by Yankees, such as Michigan, and those settled by
Southerners, such as Arkansas. Both states were settled
contemporaneously, but while Michigan had numerous grammar schools,
Arkansas had hardly any.
William Kimball Wight's diary
Original in handwriting
of W.K. Wight is in possession of Harry William Wight grandson of
William K. Wight. William Kimball Wight died in Gibbon Nebraska in
December 1903, later in the same year as this trip. The trip was taken
with his new second wife, back to New York state where she was born.
After a hard week of
packing, boxing and baling & sorting our household goods with
Mrs. McMahon, L.E. Wight and G. Griswold, we (W.K. & wife) began
our drive east (or more properly our visiting trip) by driving to
Camped with H.P. Ludden &
family overnight. Had a nice visit & restful night. W. fine but
cool. So far Monkey behaved with good sense hardly winking at the one
“auto” we saw & little minding innumerable trolley cars with
which some of the streets were encumbered. Garfield & Douglas
parks were looking fine: the trees just in the act of putting on full
dress of green & the lawns in perfection. Everything conspired to
make our drive pleasant except street cars autos moving vans boys
girls dogs goats &c which filled Mollie with fears which bubbled
over with instructions to the driver which no doubt was the means of
landing us safely in Englewood.
This A.M. drove to
Hammond, Ind. via of South Chicago. S.C. has a fine harbor & is
quite noted as a manufacturing city. The drive to H. was on street
car tracks. The soil is far from agricultural --- all sand. H. surely
has a sandy foundation & the busiest streets are cumbered by
steam car crossings. Took lunch at H. P.M. drove to Merrillville, a
small town. Its one hotel presented a salon as the principle
attraction which indeed repeled us and we found good quarters for
ourselves with a maiden of uncertain age --- Angeline Glazier. Monkey
had good quarters near by. In coming to M.ville we followed explicit
directions of a man who claimed to know the way perfectly. His
directions proved to be as wrong as they were explicit. On reaching
Dyer we were put in the way of excaping much extra travel. Had gone
about four miles out of the way & found much sand. Passed through
a great variety of soil --- the roads are good in vicinity where soil
is good & poor where the soil is thin & almost worthless.
Dairing is the principle occupation in this portion of Ind. There is
many orchards and fruit does well.
Passed through Valparaise
and Westville. V. is a small little city in the midst of a find
country. Corn ground about half plowed --- some corn planted. Milk
the favority product. Lunched at noon at a farmers who took pity on
us & brought us a pitcher of good milk. No doubt his
symphathy was aroused by our pinched and starved looks. Mrs. W. has
an alcohol stove and does the cooking --- that is, tea & coffee
to a limited extent. P.M. passed through a fine farming section
reaching Laporte in good season, finding room in private house, Mrs.
Orr. L. is a bustling city some paved streets & street cars.
Sugar maples abound in all this section adorning the roadside of many
farms as well as the streets of city & town. W. fine.
Passed through village of
N.Carlysle on through So.Bend which is the largest city seen since
leaving Hammand and very nice --- street cars &c. Seven miles
east of So.B. we lunched at farm house & was made quite welcome
by a nice old lady (Widow Field). Towards night we lost our way after
passing Granger going a half mile which we retraced to our trail
where we were permitted remain over Sunday finding the family very
nice, name David Schneck.
The rest of yesterday
found us in good trim to take the road again. Reached the Ind. &
Mich. state line within a mile from our Sunday stop. Said line was
evidently buried in sand so we saw nothing of it. After leaving
Edwardsburg & Casseopolis two thriving villages to the rear, we
lunched at a farmers making coffee in carriage house. This P.M. we
passed through the midst of a dense forest of birch maple & some
walnut timber, extending for a mile or so. Reached Lawton on the Mich
cent RR in good time to put up for the night at the hotel. W. fine.
Four miles from Lawton
passed through the neat thriving village of Paw Paw. Seven miles
farther on at Gobleville was a thriving creamery. Good dairy country
--- roads sandy --- hill-sides set with grapes & some peaches.
Fed Monkey & lunched at farm house seven miles from Allegan where
we arrived at three o’clock finding Eliza & the Lilly family
Called at Dr. Albrights.
Took Eliza to drive P.M. Dr. Albright drove with me to Co. Infirmary
--- nice road & some fine land & buildings --- farmers seem
to be prosperous.
Went driving with Eliza
--- took in the manufacturing part of A. creamery which skims &
churns & also churns the cream from two other skimming stations
--- paper mills --- plow factory --- wood shop making writing desks
&c --- two flouring mills one run by water power & one by
electric power. Water works & electric lighting use the fine
water power made by a dam in the Allegan R. in the village of A.
Went with Sott & A.
to Base Line lake nine miles & caught a fine string of fish ---
Went to church with Eliza
at the Pres. ch. --- good sermon.
Mollie & I drove nine
miles to Mr. McDougal’s --- a family Mollie knew with years ago in
Fowlersville. They have a nice farm & good buildings. There is
good fishing in a small lake directly in front of their house about
thirty rods away a larger lake of 300 acres partly bounds their farm
on the north. It is also well stocked with fish. The portion of Mich.
we have passed through abounds in lakes many of them very
Went with Mr. L to the
fair ground to see his horse he has in training for a trotter. He
thinks the horse is a wonder. I think lots of people will never hear
of him. Went fishing with the horse trainer. Had a long walk along
the Allegan R. All the bites were mosquito bites.
P.M. went with Dr. A.
nine miles to Swan lake s.w. of A. Caught a fine lot of fish of which
the Dr. would take none. The Dr. & his wife contributed not a
little to the pleasure of our visit in Allegan. The Drs. wife was
Maggie McDougall. In all our drives in Ind. & Mich. we see much
stake & rider & also much old Virginia worm fence. In recent
years much woven wire fence is replacing the rail fences. All farmers
have stone-boulder & cobble for foundations. In many places where
the low places in the road have been filled much stone gathered from
the fields has been dumped along the sides of the track to hold the
Took E. to drive. She
seemed to enjoy our visit very much especially driving. She is as
busy as ever. Rheumatism causes her fingers to be clumsy se her
sewing is done with difficulty. Still she stitches away.
One o’clock P.M. we
left Allegan & our friends to drive to McD’s. A brisk thunder
storm drove us to take shelter in a barn two miles out of Allegan.
Had a pleasant visit with DcD’s leaving there.
Drove to Kalamazoo &
spent the night with the family of a daughter of McD. --- Garrison
--- K. is quite a manufacturing city of about forty thousand.
Drove to Athens passing
through Vixburg & Futton. V. is a RR town of no little importance
--- quite sandy. F. is a pretty little place of one street. Had a
good room and an indifferent bed at hotel. W. good.
Five miles from A. passed
through the nice thriving town of Union City on the St. Joe river a
few miles from which we passed the Hoduck roller mills, a branch of
the St. Joe furnishing power. This A.M. were forced to seek shelter
in a barn during a thunder storm. Called on Mrs. Nye (nee Nancy Bush)
one mile S. of Gerard. From 11 A.M. to two P.M. Mollie and Mrs. Nye
had a good time talking over their girlhood days spent in Fowlerville
N.Y. Mrs. Nye has no family having buried husband & three grown
daughters. A heavy shower detained us longer than we had planned to
call. Drove to Cold Water and by quick work reached the livery barn
just in time to be sheltered from a good downpour of rain soon after
three P.M. Procured a good room at the Park Hotel for the night &
procedded at once to house-keeping. C.W. is very nice --- on the
Southern Mich. RR. The principle streets are paved.
Drove through Hilsdale
Hudson & stayed with farmer Star 3 1/2 miles from Pittsford. The
rain came down as soon as we were in the house --- good quarters ---
nice people --- no children.
Passed through Pittsford
where is a prosperous co-op cheese factory --- then on thro Medina
which caused us to think of Jane. M. is a straggling town which
bloomed long ago & now gone to seed. Country quite rolling about
M. Just east of M. we accepted an urgent invitation to eat dinner
with farmer Polland. Morency on our way this P.M. is a pretty town
with street cars & some paved streets. M. is connected with
Toledo by trolly cars. Fine coutry about M. Put up over night 1-2
miles east of Oakshade with farmer Crittenden. The land about
Oakshade is sandy. 34 miles.
A.M. passed through the
towns of Ottoke Delta south edge of Swanton. Good graveled roads
until we reached Swanton when we struck sand five miles long & of
unfathomable depth --- very poor country --- just good for real
estate men to bleed city “suckers” with. Seeing a good new barn
we were made welcome to use a stall in which to feed Monkey. The
house was small but we were urged to spread our lunch on a table set
out for us while the family ate dinner in another room. The A.M. had
been windy & cold & we were glad to get by the fire. The
family had been just a month from the city & were enthusiastic
over learning the ways of the farmer. They will soon go back to the
city or starve but they do not know it now. Besides the parents this
family consists of seven children --- the eldest twelve youngest 2
years --- nice children & well behaved. P.M. passed through
Maumee on the M. river. Street cars and road travel use the same
bridge. Mollie declares it a horrible place and gave a sigh of relief
when we were safely over. The view of the river as we drove along the
bluff was fine. One mile below the bridge we turned east on the pike
(stone) running directly to Fremont. Reaching Lime city we found the
only hotel contained a salon and although forty miles had been left
behind we drove a mile farther & were fortunate in finding good
quarters with Farmer Brownhauser to remain over Sunday. W. cold &
wind N.E. 42 miles.
Quiet Sabbath with plenty
of good Methodist reading.
June 1 Mon.
Cold & rainy so did
Found the pike to Fremont
quite muddy with very little real good going. A few miles west of
Fremont oil wells are numerous for several miles on either side the
pike. Arrived at 319 Burchard Ave where Mr & Mrs Henry West made
us very welcome in the home of Dr. Truesdale son-in-law to the Wests.
Mrs. T. was in sanitorium at Cleveland. Fremont is a busy thriving
city of 10 thousand on the Sandusky river. The country is fine &
well improved. W. lowry & cool (28)
The Wests insisted on our
remaining with them today. With Mr & Mrs West we drove through
some of the finest streets & through the beautiful homestead of
Ex-Pres Hayes. The house is situated near the center of the estate
which consists of about 40 acres of native forest with here &
there evergreens set in the more open spaces along the drives. The
house is large & modest viewed from the outside. Bachelor Webb
Hayes owns & occupies the property. The drives through the estate
are free to the public. A suitable stone marks the grave of the horse
that carried Pres. Hayes during his service in the war --- 1861-1865.
On our drive we visited the grave of R.B. Hayes in the beautiful
cemetery appertaining to Fremont. The monument is very mice &
modest. The grave is in the center of a circular mound perhaps a
hundred feet in diameter in one of the many rolling portions of the
cemetery. The cemetery is well kept & F. may well be proud of it.
Dr. Truesdall is a large manufacturer of sterilized grape juice. The
make of 1902 was 22000 gallons. The court house is ample and stands
just above the business part of city on high ground seemingly planned
for the purpose. In the yard is mounted the old cannon “Mollie”
used against the British & Indians is 1813 Aug 1 & 2. There
are many interesting relicts in the library building, one a double
barrelled cannon of Spanish make in 1676 & one of Chinese make in
Left our good friends the
Wests & Fremont passing through Clyde Bellevue Norwalk & East
Townsend where no one could give us care over night so drove 3-4 mile
to R.R. town of Collins where good quarters awaited us. From F. the
trolley cars occupted the road side to Bellewiew. W file but
threatening rain. 38
Rained last night & a
little this morning which delayed starting. A little later than usual
we commenced our drive the w. threatening. About 9 a.m. we found
shelter in a barn from a heavy shower. Than proceeded through Wakeman
Tipton Obertin Elyrid Didgeville and put up at farmer --- good
quarters. The tolly cars pass on or near our route today. The dairy
market gardening are the chief occupation of the farmers. Passing
Oberlin at the noon hour the walks swarmed with students going to
dinner. O. is noted for little else besides her schools. R. fair. W
Passing through Dover 3
miles from where we passed the night we encountered no other town
before reaching Cleveland. Rocky River Bridge spans a deep valley.
The bridge is of stone arches with walls of stone to hold the earth
which forms the roadway. The view of the valley from the bridge is
fine. The street from the bridge to city is paved. Between team
traffic & street cars we found C. streets very busy & full
especially on the viaduct leading to the bridge crossing the Ouyahoya
river. As we reached the bridge it was turned to let a large
freighter pass which resulted in packing street cars and teams on
both sides of the bridge. Monkey behaved fine. C. has more autos than
us saw elsewhere. Cousin Hiram Wight lives on Noble road eight miles
E from public sq. in C. We passed E on Euclid Ave & by enquiry
found the street leading to cousin’s a mile & a half south. The
paving reached a little beyond the hights where the road was torn up
and we were obliged to the worst kind of a track between the street
the fence. The ruts were so deep as to endanger our buggy so Mother
got out & shanks horses flew being urged by the preliminaries of
what proved to be a heavy fall of rain with thunder & lightening.
Mollie found shelter in a house & luckily a man opened the barn
door for me to drive in just as the rain came in torrents. Waiting
nearly an hour the rain ceased just long enough for us to reach
Cousin’s where we were welcomed about 3 P.M. W.f. 28
Rained last night and
most of today. Roads muddy.
June Mon. 5
The trolly from Cleveland
to Chardon passes 3 minutes walk from Cousin’s which Mollie & I
took with the intention of calling at Mr. Gaylord’s at Euclid Ave.
4182 & also on the Ballard family on Republic St. Found the
Ballard family packing to move. The Gaylords had moved to the corner
of Euclid Ave. & Nodingham Road in Euclid. This P.M. called at
the home of one of Hiram’s daughters --- Mrs. Peddler. Have a very
pretty home. Mr. Peddler runs on the R.R. as an engineer.
Bid good bye to Cousin
Wight’s folks and drove about ten miles to call on the Gaylords.
The roads were very bad in places on account of the recent rains. The
drive along Euclid creek was very picturesque. Mrs. G. insisted on
our spending the day with them. They are a very hospitable family and
our visit with then is one of the very pleasing incidents of our
Left the Gaylord home on
foot to go to our horse at the livery a half mile away. Mrs G. walked
half way with us before bidding us God speed and enjoining us to
visit them whenever we should be passing through Cleveland. In
passing Menter we passed the well kept home & grounds of the late
President Gerfield. A few miles before reaching Painesville we were
fortunate in getting the privilege of feeding where a colored lady
brought tea and greens to the buggy where we were eating our lunch.
Reached the home of my boyhood friend Warren Bowen about five P.M.
where we were warmly welcomed. 29 w/f/
Left Perry & our
Bowen friends this morning when the weather looked uncertain &
threatening. The rain clouds passed away & we passed through
Geneva Ashtabula Kingsville Conneaut to West Springfield where we put
up for the night. A. has a fine wide high bridge which eliminated the
deep gully and high hills. C. has a high bridge building which will
cancel two bad hills. Called on Kate Sill as we passed her home. She
was a Kingsville acquaintance. She is still single old & wrinkled
but pleasant still. 41
Drove to Erie where we
remained over night with Mr. Hall. Mrs. Hall is daughter of Mrs.
Fielder (Mary West) who lives with her daughter Mrs. H.
Rained all last night and
rained this morning early. The weather giving promise of clearing up
we started just before nine o’clock. It soon began to drizzle and
kept it up most of the day sone of the time a little too much rain to
be called a drizzle. The trolly cars follow the highway along our way
so far. We put up early at Ripley for over Sunday. Natural gas is
abundant & cheap sone having their own wells.
A few miles E of Ripley
we encountered very bad roads especially in the hollows where the
road was being graded & widened for the trolly. The new filling
was soft & mushy from the recent rains. Silver Creek is near the
lake & the view is fine. Grape farming is followed all along the
days drive more than anything else. Many berries are raised. Passed
through Westfield Portland Brocton Fredonia Silver Creek &
brought up for the night at Irving. W.f. 41. Saw many loads of peas
hauled like hay to Fredonia Canning Co.
From Irvin to Buffalo the
country along the lake is rather poor & the recent rains left the
roads very rough. The streets reaching Genesee St were fine. Followed
G. street about 3 miles & crossed over south & east to Depue
putting up at D. Inn for the night. 38
Drove back to Genesee St
whcih we followed into Ratavia reaching Mr. Freeman’s at No.4 Elm
St. before 3 P.M. Good roads mostly fine land.
Mon. July 6
Took lunch near a small
lake --- Round Lake --- Monkey had a fine stall. Lady of the house
treated to fresh buttermilk. Bid good bye to the Buena Vista friends
& climbed the hill out of the valley & passed over a rough
country through Kanona Bath Savona to South Bradford where we spent
the night at grocery store & dwelling boarding ourselves. From
Savona we climbed a very high hill --- over a mile in lenght ---
Mollie on foot --- Crops are backward. Plenty of springs and watering
troughs by the road side. W.f.
From Bradford passed
through Monterey Townsend Watkins Hector Falls and spent the night at
N Hector. Took lunch & fed M at a farm a mile west of Watkins.
This mile proved to be all down a steep hill into Watkins a smart
little city at the south end of Seneca Lake with street cars & c.
The road from W. passes for some few miles on the bluff east side of
lake. The side hill in many places covered with grape vineyards ---
gradually the road bears towards Lake Cayuga until it is midway
between the lakes. A fine road passing through a fine & properous
country --- Seneca Co.
Wed July 8
From Hector passed thro
Lodi Ovid Fayette Seneca Falls crossing the marsh & the head of
Lake C. passing about four miles to farmer C.A. Lamb where we were
nicely entertained for the night. North of Seneca Falls went wrong
lost a little time & distance but added two hills to our list.
W.f. Rd last part hilly. The road across the marsh was fine made by
gravel hauled on. Lunched beside the road in the kindly shade of a
tree. Opened the first bottle of grape juice given by H. West at
Fremont Ohio. Farmers give much attention to dairying in this rough
country. Some of the side hill meadows are so steep that the hay is
gathered from the top of the hill down with breaks set so the hind
wheels slide. Hard road. 34 W.f.
Th. July 9
This morning drove one
mile south to old state road passing 3 miles north of Auburn on to
Syracuse where we stayed at the Manhatten. Fed M beside the road at a
creamery where we got a box to feed in. Road very hilly. 28.
Drove to Vernon where we
had good quarters at hotel. The road today passed via several towns
on the R.R. near by. Pretty fair country. Lunched by roadside in
shade. 36. W.f.
Sat. July 11
Passed through Rome, New
Hartford, Utica Herkimer & brought up at Little Falls where we
put up for over Sunday at the Foly House. Canal close to rear of
hotel. Six locks at L.F.
Mon July 13
Left our rather poor
quarters & drove something more than 40 miles to Akin passing
through Paletine Fonda & several small villages. The road passes
near the N.Y. Central R.R. along the valley of the Mohawk river.
There are a large number of abandoned houses. The valley is divided
between the river, canal, the highway & several tracks of R.R.s
so that farming land is badly cut up. The valleys are quite narrow
the hills high & wide. Steep hill sides are farmed --- the soil
thin & giving poor crops. 40. W.f.
Tues July 15
Drove to Albany where we
stayed over night near the capitol building at the Broderick H. 40.
Wed July 15
From Albany to Lebanon
near L.Springs. The road fair --- some hills & the scenery fine.
Lebanon Springs is quite a summer resort for city ‘quality’.
Somewhat showery today.
Th. July 16
Two miles on our way the
road begins to climb the Lebanon or Shaker mountain. Part way up the
M. a stone marks the line between N.Y. & Mass. The above states
joined in grading a road over the mountain making the grade easier
than many fills we find. The view form the mountain road is very fine
--- worth going miles to see. The road passes through the lands of a
Shaker settlement and just above their buildings. For a long distance
there are no farm houses as the S’s own all the land & live in
villages. This settlement owns 13000 acres. On reaching Pittsfield
at 11.30 A.M. Monkey was put in bern while we went to the cemetery to
look for the burial place of some of Mollie’s relives. The visit to
C. was quite satisfactory. Returning to town we satisfied our hunger
at a restaurant & were on our way at 3 P.M. Drove to Warrington
thinking to spend the night there. W. is only a station, only two or
three houses none of which could accomodate us & so were obliged
to drive four miles further to Backett most of the way after dark.
The Beckett House was well filled with summer boarders yet room to
spare for us. This P.M. the road was mostly in the valleys containing
Fri. July 17
After settling a high
toned bill we drove to Fairfield for putting up over night. Passed
through Chester Russel & Huntington in all of which were some
kind of manufacturing establishments. There is very little
agricultural land in our drive today. Every few miles the moutain
stream is harnessed to make baskets, boxes, paper, cotton cloth or
scrushed quartz. The N.Y. Central R.R. traverses the valley. We put
up at the hotel which stands high above the valley road but far below
the tops of the frowning mountains mostly covered by a great variety
of timber, shrubs & bushes --- huckleberries & berries of all
kinds. Many knobs are so completely formed of stone that little or no
vegetation can grow.
Sat. July 18
Arrived at he Vining home
at 11 A.M. passing through Westfield, a bustling city with street
cars. The soil mostly sandy & poor. Had a hearty welcome & a
good visit. Soon after noon it began to rain & kept it up off &
on all night.
Sun. July 19
Mr. & Mrs. Vining
went with us to call at Mr. Stur’s. Mrs. Stur was very poorly.
Looked bad as though not long to stay in this world.
Mon July 20
Left the Vinings shortly
before 8 A.M. Drove through Springfield to Indian Orchard for lunch
after which we drove to Ware for the night. Rather poor country ---
plenty of stone, sand & hills, good for nothing. It rained this
eve. 40 W threatening.
Tues July 21 (part
Heavy......clock A.M. the
rain ceased &......six miles on our way a hard th.....Lakeside H.
sheltered our outfit.....stay for dinner. After dinner....settled
that we did not drive...
From the Wight book
(From the book: The Wight Family Author: Danforth Phipps Wight: Call Number: CS71.W657
This book contains the history and genealogy of the Wight family of Massachusetts.
Bibliographic Information: Wight, Danforth Phipps. The Wight Family. T.R. Marvin. Boston 1848.)
The Records of the Town of Dedham,
Massachusetts, commence in 1635, and from this year is dated the
settlement of this place. In these Records, under the date of July
18th, 1637, or as it is there quaintly expressed, "The 18th of
ye 5th month, comonly called July 1637," are the names of twelve
persons who were admitted inhabitants of the town--in the words of
the Records, "producing certificates from the magistrates
subscribed unto our covenant accordingly."
One of these
persons, THOMAS WIGHT, was my ancestor. He was a native of the Isle
of Wight, England, and was driven from his country by the religious
persecutions of the time. The Records of the First Church in Dedham
commence with a history of the gathering of the church, written by
the Rev. John Allin, the first pastor, who was one of the eleven
persons admitted to the town with Thomas Wight at the date referred
to, in which he remarks of his associates in the township, "being
come together by divine providence from severall parts of England;
few of them knowne to one another before."
The life and
character of Thomas Wight can be known only from what is recorded of
him in the Town and Church Records. From these we learn that he came
here with a family. The rule adopted by the first settlers of Dedham
in the distribution of lands was, that a married man should receive
twelve acres, and an unmarried man eight acres. This grant was
considered a home lot, and other grounds were afterwards added. The
Town Records contain a list of "Lands granted unto sundry men,"
commencing with the first division after the incorporation of the
town in 1636. Among the earliest of these grants is one to Thomas
Wight, as follows:
"Thomas Wight twelve Acres more or lesse
made up good by an inlargemt rune in amongst ye Rockes & for
woode and timbr as it lyeth ye one side by the highwaye leading into
the Rockes for ye most pte & John Luson from that waye upon a
lyne Southwest unto ye brooke that compasseth said Wight and soe by
that Brooke as that side lyeth next John Luson towards the North. And
the other side lyeth by Anthony flisher throughout wth a c'rteyne p
cell of grounde for a Situacon of a house a yeard Roome & easemt
of water by the Brooke wth in the said Antho. flishers lyne as by the
marks & dooles app eth. The one head abutteth upon the waest
towards the East and the other upon John Lusons Rockes towards ye
west, the high waye leading towards the Ragged playne rung through
I add a few words respecting the boundary
lines to facilitate future inquiry. The estate of Anthony Fisher
passed ont of his family more than half a century ago, and is now the
property of Benjamin Bussey of Roxbury. John Luson's estate was sold
soon after his decease, and is now divided among a number of owners.
The highway, at that day, passed over the hill to the southeast of
where it now runs and adjoining the residence of Thomas Wight. The
outline of this grant will ever be easily traced by the "Rockes"
and the "Brooke."
This is the ground on which he
built a house and which has continued in the possession of his
descendants to the present time, being now owned in common by the
children of the late Ebenezer Wight. The house stood at the foot of a
little rise of land on the margin of the plain, on the northwest of
the brook and but little distance from it. The one first erected was
of slender material and thatched. The framed house which succeeded
this, after remaining nearly two centuries, was recently taken down.
To preserve the remembrance of this spot--where was the family hearth
two hundred years--the home of six successive generations--I have
this year (1840) planted on it an elm tree. To the pilgrim who, in
some future day tracing his descent from Thomas Wight, shall come up
to this spot in homage to the memory of his ancestors, to him I say,
"Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thon
standest is holy ground."
The Town Records confirm the
remark that Thomas Wight came here with a family. Under the date of
1652, only fifteen years after his arrival, is recorded a sale of
land from Thomas Wight "unto Henery Wight his sonne," and
also "unto John Wight his sonne." These names all refer to
the same family, as there is not on the Records any person of the
name of Wight, except Thomas Wight and his descendants.
addition to the twelve acres granted him for a homestead, are a
number of subsequent grants of "planting ground," woodland
and meadow. All grants of land were made by the town in town meeting
and are recorded, but are not easily traced out at this day. His
tillage land, besides his home lot now in the possession of his
descendants, consisted of fifteen acres on the east side of the
present public road, extending from the cross road bounding his home
lot nearly to the great common.
The inhabitants of Dedham
conducted the affairs of their community in general town meeting
three years after the incorporation of the town; but this
being found to be inconvenient on many accounts, in 1639 they
committed the management of their municipal interests to selectmen
Thomas Wight was elected selectman six years.
His name frequently occurs in the early Records. He took an active
part in the concerns of the town, and was repeatedly selected for the
performance of various public services. The last recorded instance of
his labors for the common weal is in 1650, when he, with others, was
deputed by the town to attend to the erection of a village for the
Indians at Natick. After this his name does not again appear in
connection with town affairs, and only on the lists made out from
time to time of the division of lands among the original proprietors,
and on the lists of persons assessed for the payment of the public
Henceforth his time and services were diverted into
other channels. After residing in Dedham fifteen years, he removed to
Medfield with a number of the Dedham people.
The Records of
the Town of Medfield commence with a town meeting held in Dedham,
November 14, 1649, "for the resolveing and concludeing upon
consideration of such things as concerne the village to be erected"
at the former place. At this meeting seven men were appointed, of
whom Thomas Wight was one, to take charge of the "erecting,
disposeing and government of the said village." A covenant was
drawn up by their direction and signed
by forty-three persons
who were about to remove to this "plantation," of which
number were Thomas Wight and his son John. The town of Dedham having
thus made provision for the favourable commencement of the new
settlement, which was begun almost entirely by persons who had
resided for a longer or shorter period within its present limits,
voluntarily relinquished all control over them, and Medfield was
incorporated in 1650.
Thomas Wight removed from Dedham to
Medfield at the close of the year 1652. His name is found in the
Medfield Records "att a general assembly" of the
inhabitants held December 31st of that year. All his family
accompanied him, except Henry, who remained on the paternal estate in
In the succeeding year, 1653, he was chosen selectman,
and was re-elected almost every year till his decease, a period of
twenty years. It is a high encomium upon his native strength of mind
and excellence of character, that, with no education, he should have
been requested by his fellow citizens in Dedham and Medfield, during
so many years, to take an active part in the management of town
affairs; for, in both these places, many of his associates in this
office were among the best educated and most influential
He lived to a good old age, saw the settlements
of Dedham and Medfield grow and flourish, and saw also go down to the
grave many of the first settlers of the former place.
March 17, 1674.
The character of Thomas Wight may be inferred from
the known incidents of his life. That he was respected by his fellow
citizens for his understanding and character, is evident from the
various public services they called him to perform. Among the first
settlers of New England, no man was invested with office by the
popular voice, or could attain to influence in society, unless he was
a man of inflexible integrity and ardent piety, and was devotedly
attached to their religious opinions. He was a Puritan--one of a
sect, to which we are indebted for most that is valuable in the
institutions and character of New England. The Puritans had their
faults, but they were the faults of the age in which they lived;
whilst their hatred to tyranny, their love of liberty, their
reverence for religion, and their political opinions--which were
essentially, practically republican--mark them as far in advance of
He left his home and country, not
impelled by worldly ambition, but burning with a holier fire. He came
when he had passed the midday of life, with wife and children around
him; when he had much to induce him to remain in his native land, and
much to persuade him not to peril his life and theirs on the ocean
and in the wilderness. But he estimated the things of this life as
dross, in comparison to the value of the possessions which he might
attain in the world to come, as unfolded to him in the Scriptures. To
interpret these by the light of his own mind; to conform his life to
their precepts, as they were impressed upon his understanding,
conceived to be the great duty of his life; and he severed the ties
which bound him to the homes and sepulchres of his fathers, and came
here that he might worship God according to the dictates of his own
conscience.--Such was Thomas Wight, more justly a source of pride to
his descendants than are to others the records of Heraldry.
was twice married.--His first wife came with him from England, and
was the mother of his children. She undoubtedly favoured his views
and opinions, as, without her aid, he could not have sought a new
home in a far distant and desert land. We know what were the
characters of the early mothers of New England, and we may well
conjecture she was like them. Her Christian name was Alice. She and
her husband were members of the church in Dedham. In the language of
the Records, "Thomas Wight and Alice his wife were received into
ye church ye 6th of ye 7 mo: 1640." There is this notice of her
death in the Medfield Records: "Alice Wight the wife of Thomas
Wight departed this life ye 15th. of July 1665."--His second
wife was Lydia Penneman, whom he married December 7th, 1665. She was
the widow of James Penneman of Boston, and sister of John Eliot, the
Apostle to the Indians.
Thomas and Alice Wight came to Dedham
with three sons born in England, and they had two sons and a daughter
born in this town. Their children were,
1. Henry born (???)
John " (???)
3. Thomas " (???)
4. Samuel "
February 5, 1639.
5. Mary (???)
6. Ephraim " January 27,
Madeline's daughter, Muriel, sent some photos and a
message in an email - “we sprinkled mom’s ashes on Tuesday, April 17th
at 4:00 p.m. in the valley outside of Regina. We wanted to make sure
that we did it in the early spring when the crocuses were in bloom. Mom
and Bob loved to go out in the spring in search of the wild crocus
flowers. It was a very special time for mom.” Here is one of the
photos, the croccus.
John Wight's two wives
My mother said once the John Wight (my
grandfather's grandfather 1808-1889) was married twice, to two
sisters. And that he thought they were both very intelligent, as he
told someone who was belittling female intelligence. Apparently
granddad witnessed the conversation when his grandfather John
lived with the family in Nebraska after he was widowed and old. I
always wondered about the second wife.
The mother of John's children was his
first wife, Sarah Ann Ballard 1815-1875 (sometimes Ballord). This
marriage is written in some sources as Wright rather than Wight which
is an error. She was John Wight's wife. Her parents were William
Lynde Ballard and Susannah Baldwin. One of Sarah Ann's sister was
Nancy Emeline (1817-1887) and she is recorded as the wife of Charles
Stickney. In another site John Wight is recorded to have two wives
'Ballard, Sarah A' and '?, Nancy E'. This Nancy is recorded in the
same source as having had another husband called Stickney. Nancy died
in Cambridge Ill and John in Gibbon Neb.
I assume that after Sarah died in 1875,
John married her sister Nancy, also widowed. They lived in Cambridge
until Nancy died in 1887. John then moved to his son's house in
Nebaska for the last couple of years of his life.
John and Nancy remind me a bit of
Clarence and Lois. It was probably a similar arrangement for their 12
years or so of marriage.
It is interesting that another child in
Sarah and Nancy's family was a brother Lewis Kimball. So that is the
family with the Kimball connection – well two families, Ballard, or
more probably, Baldwin.
Wight of Hareby
The information I had was that Thomas
Wight who came to Medfield Mass was born in Hereby Lincolnshire.
Unfortunately there is no Hereby in Lincolnshire. But there is a
Hareby. It seems to be swallowed up long ago by neighbouring parishes
but it was there (Hareby is
a small village and former civil parish now in the civil parish of
Bolingbroke, about 4 miles (6.4 km) west of the town of Spilsby,
Lincolnshire, England.). It has a mention in the Doomday Book but
that village is a medieval deserted village; the place, for a long
time, was a parish but not more than a hamlet, if that.
Looking at Hareby, there were references on
the web to a 'Wight of Hareby'. Looking at this reference it is clear
that our Thomas came from Hareby parish. There is information on his
parents too. Most of the information comes from Cathy Sorensen. Click
on the Google map screens to enlarge.
|Hareby by air
Parents of John Wight are unknown but
there are records of Anna Alice Bray's parents
John I Wight (Apr 1552 Hareby – 1582)
married Anna Alice Bray (1556 Hareby - 1582)
Robert Wight (1578 Hareby –
1618),Reverend married Elizabeth Fulshaw (1582 Hareby – 1620)
Thomas Wight (6 Dec 1607 Hareby-17 Mar
Gary Wight says “Born in Hareby,
Linclonshire, England in 1607 and met his future wife Alice Roundy of
the Isle of Wight. Thomas Wight was a poor minister and fell in love
with the wealthy Alice Roundy who's family refused to let them marry,
so they left and came to America.” Some say Alice's surname may
have been Pepper.
I will be add this and more to the
family tree soon.
Story of school fire
Here is a letter from Vira Krewson to Clarence Wight written in 1898
when Clarence was in the Spanish American war and Vira was teaching in
Gibbon Nebr., June, 7, ’98
Your welcome letter received, after, what seemed to me, an age. It
doesn’t seem like you are on the Pacific Coast, and on your way to the
Philipines Islands. I am living in hopes that something will turn up
and you won’t need to go any farther. I should think you would enjoy
the ride to California. It is quite romantic to ride in the car which
carried Lincoln’s body to Springfield.
My school was out two weeks ago last Thursday. We had rather an unusual
programme on the last day or what proved to be the last day. In the
afternoon a storm gathered up in the south. But as it had been damp and
rainy all day I thought little about it. Just a few moments before time
to let out school Mr. Jones came along. I left out the last spelling
class, and went home with him. I believe it was the only time I ever
let out early for a storm. We drove quite fast so as to reach home but
only got to the nearest house about 40 _d. away when it began to rain
so hard we had to stop in. It rained the hardest I ever saw it rain. In
a few moments Fred Fisher dashed upon the porch and said the school
house was on fire. It had been struck by lightening. The fire could not
be put out as it was caught up in the loft. They saved the desks,
books, and blinds. But the building burnt to the ground. There was
quite a large Insurance upon it, so they will build a new school house
this summer. If it had not burned it was terribly ruined and would have
cost quite a little to repair it. The whole south end was torn off,
about half the plastering and things were thrown around in fine shape.
The hooks to hang the maps on were thrown from one end to the other.
The thunder that afternoon did not seem as loud as I have heard it. I
was so worried, when it began to rain, about the children. I knew they
would get wet through. I could not see what made me let them go when it
looked so much like rain. I have often kept them a little later on
account of a storm, but I had never let them out early before. When the
school house was struck that solved the mystery. In our hurry to go
home we forgot to ring the bell after school as usual. And so many
thought we were all in the building yet. I guess we were out about 10
We had a little picnic Sat. Papa and Mama came up after me Sunday. We
started home Monday morning. I had to fill out the Classification
Record Monday before we started home. If you was a teacher you would
know that it took quite a little time. But they thought I could fill
that out in a little while. It took me three solid hours as hard as I
The Saturday after I came home Grace Brown of Kearney come down and (rest of letter missing)