Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Pomeroy at the American Museum of Natural History

I need a break from cleaning my desk. So many fascinating things land on it, and if you’re a genealogist you know that you never actually finish researching. So things tend to pile up. I’ve been working on the pile for almost three hours now, so it was a pleasant surprise to receive an e-mail from Mai Q., a Research Services Librarian in the Department of Library Services at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. I had sent them an e-mail just yesterday and am quite impressed at the how quickly I got a response.

So why, you ask, did I e-mail the Museum? Well, let me tell you! Bill’s wife Sandra had e-mailed me a digital photo that her daughter-in-law had taken at the museum on a recent visit. The photo was a plaque that read “A Gift from Daniel E. Pomeroy”. Only part of the item that Daniel gifted was visible on the photo, and it read “PLAINS”. From the looks of the image, I guessed it was one of the Museum’s famous dioramas. I went out to the Museum’s website and browsed the diorama images, but I couldn’t pull up all the images. I did see one entitled “Serengeti Plains”, but without the image, couldn’t be sure this was it. I also checked our database for a Daniel E. Pomeroy and found a Daniel E. Pomeroy, born May 1868 in PA, son of Newton Merrick and Annis A. Pomeroy who lived in Englewood, NJ in between 1900 and 1928 and who was the Vice President of the Bankers Trust Company in New York City, and who, on 29 Jun 1928, was appointed to a committee at the Republican National Campaign meeting at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC. Was this the same Daniel E. Pomeroy who donated funds (or items) for the Serengeti Plains diorama at the American Museum of Natural History? I knew I didn’t know, and I hoped that the Museum would know, so I contacted the Department of Library Services.

Thank goodness for librarians! In one day I had my answer. Mai Q., not only sent me information about Daniel’s support of the Museum, but also his obituary! According to the Roy Chapman Andrews Papers, Daniel E. Pomeroy was elected a Life Member of the Museum for “contributing funds for carrying on an ornithological survey of Ecuador. On November 9, 1925, at a meeting of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Pomeroy was elected an Associate Founder for his generous contribution for the collecting and preparing of a group for the African hall of the museum, and, in recognition of his generosity and especially of his genuine interest in the development of the Museum.” In 1926 he was elected a Trustee of the Museum. In 1931 he was elected a Benefactor of the Museum. The report goes on to say that “In 1926 through the generosity of Mr. Pomeroy and Mr. George Eastman and Colonel Daniel B. Wentz, Mr. Carl Akeley of the Museum staff left for Africa in search of additional specimens for the African Hall. He was accompanied by Mrs. Akeley and joined later by Messrs. Pomeroy, Eastman and Wentz. They secured a splendid series of specimens for the Africa Hall groups which far surpassed expectations.” The report also states that “Mr. Pomeroy has served as First Vice-President and as a Member of the Executive Committee of The American Museum of Natural History Planetarium Authority since its foundation in 1933.”

The obituary confirmed that this generous Daniel E. Pomeroy, was indeed the son of Newton Merrick and Annis A. Pomeroy. The following obituary ran in the New York Times on Friday, March 26, 1965:

Was Jersey G.O.P. Official – Naturalist and Sportsman.
Special to The New York Times.

Daniel E. Pomeroy, a New York financier and naturalist who twice served as the vice chairman of the Republican National Committee, died at his home in Sea Island, Ga., yesterday. He was 96 years old.

Mr. Pomeroy, who lived in Englewood, N.J., at 47 Beech Road, was a former vice president of the Bankers Trust Company and a member of its board of directors at his death. He had been active in New Jersey politics, serving for 21 years as a member of the state’s Republican committee.

An avid naturalist and big-game hunter, Mr. Pomeroy also served as a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History of New York for 11 years and was a member of the Eastman Expedition to British East Africa in 1926.

On that expedition, he worked closely with George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, and Carl F. Akeley, the sculptor and mananologist, in collecting data and specimens for the African Hall of the museum...”

I would like to personally thank Daniel E. Pomeroy for his generous support of this wonderful museum. I have fond childhood memories of days spent at the museum. I wasn’t hunting Pomeroys back then, though!

Monday, November 14, 2011

How I Fell in Love with Southampton, Massachusetts...

My husband Jerry and I had the pleasure of spending this past weekend in Southampton, MA. We made the trip to review the site planned for a new Pomeroy Anvil Monument in the town. It’s confession time, folks. I now must admit that I have been unfairly Medad Pomeroy/Northampton-centric, and had not given Southampton the credit it deserves for its part in Pomeroy history. But I have seen the error of my ways, and I now get stars in my eyes when I think of Caleb Pomeroy. To be honest, Northampton and Westhampton will always have a special place in my heart, but luckily there’s room for Southampton! (And now I’m getting curious about Easthampton...)

Jerry and I met with Ruth Ann B., Mark R., Ed C. and Jackie S. at Conant Park on College Highway. The park is large, beautifully maintained and well used. The monument will be placed between the fountain and the School House. After talking logistics, Ruth Ann, Jackie, Jerry and I went across the street to the Clark Chapman House, the home of the Southampton Historical Society. The house was built by Sardis Pomeroy Chapman for his wife, Dotty Searle in 1827. Sardis was a shoe and boot maker, an abolitionist and in later life, an avid genealogist. He traced his wife’s Searle line, and much of his research on the Pomeroys of Southampton has been incorporated into the A.A. Pomeroy genealogies. The house was deeded to the Historical Society in 1971 by the Clark family.

Bob K., the President of the Historic Society and Jodi C. gave us a fascinating tour of the barn and house and the many treasures housed within. At every turn I found another reference to the Pomeroys. A portion of the Pomeroy Tavern sign is hung in the dining room, two samplers created by young Pomeroy women are hung in the front room, a scrapbook signed by a young Pomeroy woman is also in the front (sitting) room. Objects and information about past residents of Southampton abound, and many of these surnames were familiar to me as related to the Pomeroys. Displayed in the stairwell of the house is an extremely well preserved Civil War flag. A child’s bedroom is filled with toys and memorabilia, a room dedicated to Southampton servicemen includes examples of uniforms, and an interesting room upstairs holds some of the collections of some of the more interesting people in town, including the journals of Dr. Gridley and part of the Native American artifact collection of Mitta Piper Swasey. When Bob brought out a transcribed copy of the journals of Reverend Judd and his son, I was hooked. I could have happily spent the next several days reading these amazing documents!

What impressed me the most about this museum was the fact that much of its contents were donated by the citizens of Southampton. That is a telling example of the importance and pride that this community takes in the history of their town. Ruth Ann took Jerry and me to the Center Cemetery, founded in 1738. This cemetery was hit hard by the recent early snowstorm, but much work had already been done to clean up the debris. Here again we found evidence of the town’s commitment to historic preservation. New flat granite markers were being placed near the worn stones of soldiers and others. These stones will ensure that people visiting the Cemetery in the future will be able to find their ancestors and read what was on the original markers.

Ruth Ann then took us for a drive around the historic district of the town, and down Pomeroy Meadow Road, named after Caleb Pomeroy. Each early home in the historic district has is marked with the year the house was built, and the name of the person who built it. My head was swimming with Pomeroys! Ruth Ann also told us about the library, and I’m dying to go back to Southampton and check out the library’s local history collection. I could easily spend a week here, doing research and walking down these streets so filled with history and ambience. I look forward to returning to Southampton and heartily urge anyone with roots in this town to plan a visit. This town is a real treasure.

Right now we are planning a July 4th 2011 dedication of the monument. I will keep everyone informed of the particulars as they get ironed out. It would be wonderful to have a big turnout of Pomeroy descendants at the event, and I can guarantee that you will fall in love with Southampton as I did!


By Barbara Dix, Town of Schroeppel Historian
Edited by Alethea Connolly
Excerpts from the Phoenix Register May 20, 2011

A long time ago I acquired a small diary written in 1884. There was not a name to identify the author, nor a place where it was written. I later identified the author as Cora Patrick and located the family in official Phoenix village records.

As a teacher, I found it very interesting to see that she was studying such diverse courses as philosophy, astronomy, rhetoric (speaking) and English literature, as well as practicing singing and piano. She was almost always with her friends at school, at her house and at their houses for overnight visits. They visited social events at each of the churches in the village. Her work at home was ironing, cleaning and sewing. She made her first muffins for tea that summer!

The diary had been first acquired at the “Pomeroy auction in Baldwinsville”. For years this was all I knew about what I referred to as the “Pomeroy Connection”. This didn’t mean much to me until March 2009 when I started to work as a research assistant on the A. A. Pomeroy Book Project. Lo and behold I realized that Cora’s husband H. D. Pomeroy was the well-known local mechanical engineer and inventor, Harry Dwight Pomeroy. Much later, I found that his older brother had married a relative of my husband.

We do know that Harry D. was born in Cortland and brought up in Syracuse so Cora might have met him through a mutual friend. He apparently was a clever and very inventive young man, as he was awarded a patent for improving a chain-making machine along with his employer, Ralph G. Barnes and his fellow worker, Earnest W. Keyes.


Published in the Phoenix Register July 1, 2011

Two of the earliest entries in the Cora Patrick diary (1884), that I wrote about two weeks ago, mention the name of Leah Sweet.

“. . . . It has stormed nearly all day and looks like winter now. I was going to Leah go Sweet’s party but it storms dredfuly (sic) and the roads are so bad.” January 3, 1884 “Leah Sweet called here this morning, her party is postponed until tonight all the boys were there last night but no girls. I intend to tonight. Kirk said if it stormed, he would come after me.” January 4, 1884.

I had an opportunity to see a lovely Empire style book or china cabinet that probably belonged to Leah’s family. It has come down in the Merriam/Burton family and now is to belong to a member of the DenBlyker family and it will be moving to Boston. I was thrilled to be able to see it before it leaves this area. Pat Henjes’ son will become the new owner and I was able to see it in the home of Cindy and Dick Burton who are the present owners. What a joy to see families value the local heritage.


Tuesday, a colleague and I visited, for the first time, Mrs. Audrey Ketcham, widow of Cora Patrick Pomeroy’s grandson, Richard Ketcham. Cora wrote the diary and went to school in Phoenix. Mrs. Ketcham’s daughter, Holly, owns Cora’s high school ring, which is the first such ring that I have ever seen. It is a gold ring, made of flat rather than round gold, with a black stone. A graceful script “85” is engraved in the stone, highlighted in gold and it fits Holly perfectly.

The Ketchams were very interested in the Pomeroy family history and visited Cooperstown where there is a locked Pomeroy Room. The room was opened to them and Mrs. Ketcham was able to copy two of the family recipes she found there. Later she made them and proudly served them to the family. She laughed as she told us the story and said, “ I was embarrassed because they were so bland they were tasteless!”

I was interested in a picture of Harry with a French horn because I used to play the French horn. Mrs. Ketcham said the family story was that Harry had once played with John Phillip Sousa. We are researching that story, but I have seen various statements that confirm that he was a respected musician in Syracuse and Cortland. A newspaper article states he was director of a chorus in the Cortland area around the turn of the 20th century.

One of our goals, at the American Pomeroy Historic Genealogical Association, is to update and republish the A.A. Pomeroy genealogy book published in 1912. In the course of this work we are finding and will find more answers to many of the questions that remain concerning the Pomeroy family.

For information or to discuss your connection with Cora Patrick or Harry D. Pomeroy, please contact me at 695-6641 or click here to e-mail me.

Published by permission of The Phoenix Register.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

1840 US Federal Census Indexing Error on Ancestry.com

Just found this, and had to let everyone know. If you're looking for Westhampton, Hampshire County, Massachusetts in the 1840 U.S. Federal Census on Ancestry.com and can't find it, look under "North Hampton" (make sure to add the space between North and Hampton). Westhampton has been incorrectly indexed by Ancestry.com as North Hampton. This same error occurs on Heritage Quest.

Also, the last page (or rightly, the second to last page) of the Westhampton census is incorrectly combined with the Norwich census (incorrectly spelled "Norwick"). It is on the last page of the "Norwick" census.

Monday, November 7, 2011

News to Me! Ralph Pomeroy’s Marital Connections

Just this morning I read an e-mail from a Pomeroy descendant wishing to learn more about Ralph Pomeroy, the U.S. Paymaster during the Revolutionary War, and son of Reverend Benjamin Pomeroy and Abigail Wheelock, who hailed from Connecticut. He asked whether we had any information about Ralph’s wife Eunice Belden and their offspring, and asked what we knew of Ralph’s Revolutionary War Service.

Upon reviewing our database, I realized that we had rather sketchy information about Ralph’s wife, so I sought to learn more. We knew, from A.A. Pomeroy’s book The History and Genealogy of the Pomeroy Family, that Eunice Belden was born about 1744, the daughter of Thomas Belden and Ruth Wyllys Lord. Eunice had been married to a Mr. Gardner prior to her marriage to Ralph Pomeroy on 31 Jan 1770. The book The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records, Vol 1-55, edited by Lorraine Cook (Baltimore; Genealogical Publishing Company, 2002) confirmed the marriage date and gave Hartford, CT as the place of marriage. The book also recorded Eunice Belding’s marriage to William Gardiner in Hartford on 21 Oct 1764, and identified the birth of a son James William Gardiner on 19 Oct 1765, and gave a date of death for William of 8 Jun 1766, all in Hartford.

The book Historical Catalogue of the First Church in Hartford, 1633-1885, (Hartford; Published by the First Church of Hartford, 1885), found on googlebooks, also confirmed the 21 Oct 1764 marriage date of William Gardiner & Eunice Belding. Another book Families of Early Hartford, Connecticut, by Lucius Barnes Barbour (Baltimore; Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2001) also found on googlebooks, gave some additional detail to the families of William Gardiner, Eunice Belden and Ralph Pomeroy. On page 256 was found the following statement: “William Gardiner s[on] of Dr. Sylvester Gardiner of Boston or son of John & Mary (Taylor) Gardiner b Mch 1742 died June 9, 1766 ae 24 (HTR) of wounds blowing up of school house bur Center Ch by Rev. Roger Viets. William Gardiner m Eunice Beldding, sister of Ruth Belden, Oct 21, 1764 (1 Ch Rec) (HTR). She mar/ 2 Ralph Pomeroy Jan 31, 1770 (1 Ch Rec) (HTR.)? James William s of William Gardiner bp Nov 24, 1765 (Viets Rec) b Oct 19, 1765 (HTR).”

Page 46 gave information about Eunice Belden/Belding’s parentage: “Thomas Belden of Wethersfield m Ruth (Wyllys) Lord wid of Richard Lord d of Hezekiah Wyllys. Children: Eunice Belden b 1744 m/1 Oct 21, 1764 William Gardiner blown up in schoolhouse May 23, 1766 m/2 Jan 31, 1770 Ralph Pomeroy. Ruth Belden b 1747 m/1 Jan 31, 1765 Capt John Stoughton m/2 Samuel Wyllys.” Page 699 gives additional information about Samuel Wyllys: “Gen. Samuel Wyllys s of George & Mary (Woodbridge) bp Jan 7, 1738-9 (1 Ch Rec) died June 9, 1823 mar Feb 3, 1777 (HTR) Ruth (Belden) Stoughton widow of John Stoughton. She died Sept 2, 1807, dau of Thomas Belden and Ruth (Wyllys) Lord. Census 1790 – 2-3-3-0-0. Children: Oliver St. John b Nov 9, 1777 (HTR), Samuel Hobard b Aug 16, 1784 (HTR) died Mch 5, 1797 ae 12 bur Center Ch, Mary Woodbridge b May 19, 1785 (HTR) m John M. Gannett, William Alfred b Feb 3, 1790 (HTR).

“Yale College 1758; went to England 1764 and remained there for six years; in 1771 he became the first captain of the First Company of Governor’s Foot Guard; in 1774 Colonel of the First Regiment; he served through the Revolutionary War as Colonel of a Connecticut regiment; was town clerk of Hartford 1796-1805; held other town offices, and was Major-General of the Connecticut Militia. He succeeded his father as Secretary of State 1796, and held the office until 1809. His wife was Ruth dau of Thomas Belden & Ruth (Wyllys) Lord and widow of Capt. John Stoughton whom she m Jan 22, 1765. He died Nov 25, 1766. Brewster Gen p 89 says Lucy Brewster (dau of Elisha & Lucy (Yeomans) Brewster of Mddtn born May 30, 1745 m Oct 11, 1764 as 1st wife of Samuel Wyllys of Hfd. (See Wolcott Mem p 216).”

Page 459 gave a short bio on Ralph Pomeroy: “Ralph Pomeroy s of Rev. Dr. Benjamin mar Jan 31, 1770 (HTR, 1 Ch Rec) Eunice (Belding) Gardiner widow of William Gardiner. She was dau of Thomas Belden and Ruth (Wyllys) Lord. Census 1790 – 4-1-3-1-2. Children: Infant/Abigail b Mch 17, 177- (HTR) died Apl 20, 1779 (HTR) bur Center Ch., Ralph b. Dec 1, 1771 (HTR) died Jan 10/11, 1792 ae 20 (2 Ch Rec) bur Center Ch., George b Dec 1, 1773 (HTR) died July 20, 1799 (HTR), Eunice b Nov 25, 1776 (HTR) m/1 Rev Amos Bassett Y.C. 1784 m/2 ( ) White, Frederick b. Aug 16, 1781 (HTR), Elizabeth b May 24, 1784 (HTR).
Eunice Pomeroy (Hfd) m Rev. Amos Bassett (Hebron Jan 19, 1802 (2 Ch Rec.).”

So, if I have read the above information correctly, Eunice Belden’s mother was a Wyllys, and her sister Ruth married General Samuel Wyllys. Was the mother of Ruth and Eunice related to Ruth’s second husband? Also, I have become fairly familiar with the Samuel Wyllys Pomeroys who were early settlers of Pomeroy, OH. Could this explain the reason for the use of this name? Sure, General Samuel Wyllys was well known at his time, and the name could have been given to a child because a famous name was thought to honor the originator and to communicate the hope of future greatness in the child. So, we don’t know for sure why Eleazar Wheelock Pomeroy and MARY WYLLYS (!?!) named their eldest son Samuel Wyllys Pomeroy, but, my goodness, Eleazer Wheelock Pomeroy was the brother of Ralph Pomeroy, and his wife, Mary Wyllys the daughter of Colonel George Wyllys, whom I believe was also the father of Samuel Wyllys. Small world.

The most interesting information I have found in my half-day research into the family of Eunice Belden was found in the book A History of The Episcopal Church in Narragansett Rhode Island, Including a History of Other Episcopal Churches in the State, by Wilkins Updike (Boston; The Merrymount Press, 1907) also found on googlebooks. On page 101 starts “Mars. Anstis Lee’s narrative of a Horseback Journey to Connecticut, in 1791. Written about 1845, when Mrs. Lee was in her eightieth year.” If you didn’t already think that most 18th Century inhabitants of the Colonies were related, read this:

“On one of the first days of May, 1791, in pursuance of previous arrangement, my oldest brother, Daniel Updike (who lately died at East Greenwich, in June 1842, at the advanced age of 81 years) and myself started on a visit to Connecticut.

“We left our father’s house, the residence of the late Lodowick Updike, near Wickford, on horseback, on Monday Morning.... We arrived at Plainfield village late in the afternoon and lodged at Judge Robert Lightfoot’s that night. The Judge had been a resident of Newport for many years before his removal to Plainfield. He was an intimate friend of my father and had visited our mansion in the days of my grandfather, Daniel Updike, for twenty seven years the Colony Attorney-General of Rhode Island... On Tuesday, after breakfast, we cordially shook hands with our friend and, with his benediction, left for Hartford. We passed through Canterbury and Windham and lodged that night at a public house in Bolton, kept by one Mr. White, twelve miles short of Hartford. We rose early, on Wednesday, arrived at Hartford, put up at Bull’s Tavern (sign of the Bunch of Guilded Grapes) and took breakfast on bloated salmon... While we were at breakfast, Mr. Ralph Pomeroy came to take us to his house, on a street leading from the main street, somewhere near where the Episcopal Church then stood. Mr. Pomeroy married the widow of William Gardiner, who was killed in the explosion of the Powder House, at Hartford, on celebrating the repeal of the Stamp Act. William Gardiner was brother to my mother and married Miss Eunice Belden, having by her one son named James, who died at Hartford some twenty or thirty years ago. William had kept an apothecary and grocery store at that town. He was brought up by his uncle, Dr. Sylvester Gardiner, of Boston, and established in business by his father, the late John Gardiner, a brother of the Doctor, but had not kept store long before the explosion. Mr. Pomeroy had been a commissary in the Revolutionary War, was a good person of a man and practiced law, at Hartford, with repute, as I understood. He had been frequently at my father’s, in Rhode Island, previously to this visit of ours. Mr. Pomeroy had four children by this marriage, Samuel, Ralph, Eunice and Elizabeth.

“This being the day before the General Election, the deputies and Presbyterian ministers began to arrive. By afternoon the city seemed to be full, when the Governor, Mr. Wolcott, was expected to arrive. To witness his entrance and the accompanying parade, Mr. Pomeroy took us to the house of General Wyllys, which stood opposite, or nearly so, to the State House. General Wyllys was the son of old Colonel Wyllys. He appeared to be a fine gentleman, aged about forty. His wife was Elizabeth Belden and sister of Mrs. Pomeroy, that being the reason we were carried there to witness the ceremonies preparatory to the election...

“Friday afternoon, the day after the election, we spent, upon invitation, with Colonel Wyllys, who lived at the Charter Oak place, an ancient looking mansion, that stood in a square by itself. From it was a splendid view, overlooking the Connecticut River and the city. The great oak was right before it. We were shewn the gardens and the grounds, which were beautiful and tastefully arranged with many flowers in full bloom. Colonel Wyllys was uncle to Mrs. Pomeroy. He was an old man, I should think over seventy, thin and spare, with red baize bound around his legs, probably on account of gout. He was a widower, and his son’s wife, a portly woman, probably about thirty years old, kept his house. She had two little children, say, one seven and the other five years old. Whether her husband was living or not, I don’t know. Mrs. Strong, the Colonel’s daughter, was also with him, having no children... President Stiles and Colonel Ingersoll, the Attorney-General of Connecticut, and several other gentlemen took tea at Colonel Wyllys’s. President Stiles and my brother conversed nearly an hour, very intimately together, respecting Rhode Island. The President had been settled over a Congregational Church, in Newport, many years, and was much in Narragansett, at the house of Colonel Francis Willet, uncle to my mother. I remember seeing Dr. Stiles once at St. Paul’s Church, Narragansett, when Dr. Smith, afterwards President of the Cheshire Academy, was rector. My father was introduced to him after service...”

What an incredible narrative! I like the fact that a young woman had the freedom (possibly because of her father’s wealth and stature) to travel with her brother and meet so many interesting and important individuals. Mrs. Lee stated that “Colonel Wyllys was uncle to Mrs. Pomeroy.” It seems likely that the Colonel Wyllys to which Mrs. Lee referred, was George Wyllys, born abt 1710, father of Mary Wyllys who married Eleazar Pomeroy. George Wyllys’ father was Hezekiah Wyllys, and his sister was Ruth Wyllys, who married first Richard Lord, then second, Thomas Belden. Colonel George Wyllys was the father of General Samuel Wyllys who married Ruth Belden, daughter of Thomas Belden and Ruth Wyllys, and sister of Eunice Belden/Belding who married second, Ralph Pomeroy. Who knew?!

Note to self: do additional research on wife or wives of Colonel George Wyllys – A.A. Pomeroy states that Elizabeth Whiting was the mother of Mary Wyllys, but much of the research found today points to Mary Woodbridge as mother of Mary. Also, look into the history of Hartford after the repeal of the Stamp Act. Did the school house blow up, or was it the Powder House? Can we find proof that William Gardiner died in this accident? And last, but not least, get all this information into our database so we can make sense of all the connections!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Only A Being of Senseless Existence: A Father-Son Conflict Has Drastic Consequences in Early 19th Century New England

by Kate Corbett Pollack

The tragedy experienced by the Spaulding family of Buckland, Massachusetts did not stop with epidemic disease. Although that was likely a defining aspect of their lives, in the background something very strange was occurring - the incarceration of young Josiah Spaulding Jr., who was kept in a cage in the family’s home.

Josiah Spaulding, Jr. was born in 1786 in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, to Reverend Josiah Spaulding and Mary Williams. One source indicates that he was the only surviving child of a premature triplet birth. He would be the Reverend’s only son. Reverend Spaulding had gone to Uxbridge to be ordained as a minister in 1782 after graduating from Yale in 1778. He began a career preaching there, but it was cut short, and he was dismissed on Oct 2, 1787. It seems the Reverend’s hard-line Calvinist theology was not readily accepted by his parishioners. According to History of the Churches and Ministers in Franklin County, Mass. by Reverend Theophilus Packard, there was an objection raised in Uxbridge about Reverend Spaulding’s belief that God “foreordained every thought, word and action” of human beings. The entry for Reverend Spaulding in Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College states regarding Uxbridge, “It is surmised that his unpopularity was due to his Calvinistic theology.” It would not be the first time someone disagreed with Reverend Spaulding’s ideas, which were fast becoming old-fashioned in post-revolutionary America.

From Uxbridge, the Reverend and his small family (which also included daughter Mary, born April 17th, 1785 who would later marry Isaac Pomeroy of Southampton) traveled to Worthington, where Reverend Spaulding was installed as a minister on August 21, 1788. He was not well received there, either, and was dismissed in 1794. The History of the Town of Worthington reports that “He was evidently somewhat eccentric, though a man of full ordinary powers of mind.” Charges were made against the reverend in Worthington, but none were substantiated after being reviewed by an independent counsel. To be fair, Worthington at this time had difficulty with other ministers for reasons that were not necessarily their fault, and the town seemed to be disorganized and divisive. However, it was clear that the townspeople were not happy with Reverend Spaulding. (Interestingly, Spaulding’s successor was Reverend Jonathan Law Pomeroy, who fit in very well at Worthington and went on to have a successful career there).

Reverend Spaulding’s experiences at Worthington and Uxbridge would begin to fade into the past after he accepted a position as minister of the Congregational Church at Buckland, in 1794. He would remain there until his death in 1823 - much revered and admired by the citizens of the town. Reverend Spaulding had finally found his place. Buckland, located in the picturesque Connecticut River Valley, must have seemed a beautiful oasis for the troubled reverend and his family. By this time the Spaulding family had grown. Two daughters, Nancy and Deborah had been born in Worthington. The arrival of daughter Lydia, born in Buckland in 1797, made the family complete. Reverend Spaulding settled into his role as Buckland’s minister, and the family into their home at the parsonage. The years following the Spaulding family’s arrival in Buckland were quiet.

Josiah Spaulding, Jr. was 8 years old when the family moved to Buckland. As the son of a minister, there were certain expectations for his behavior and achievement. His father was highly educated, and his mother was also from an educated family in Taunton. She was the daughter of a judge, and from a town that produced many important people in her time. Both parents expected great things from Josiah, their only son.

Childhood for Josiah was marked by the usual mischief that young boys often cause; playing pranks on the family, and acting up in school. This was certainly out of line for the son of a reverend, but Josiah’s behavior became calmer as he matured, and he prepared to enter prestigious Willams College, in nearby Williamstown. Reverend Spaulding had ties to the school, and served on the boards of several academic institutions in the area. Despite his father’s connections, Josiah was not accepted at Williams College and was told to study harder. By the time Josiah was in his early twenties, it did not seem likely that he was going to be accepted to college at all, and his father secured him a teaching job at a school in nearby Plainfield. Josiah’s difficulty with his studies does not seem to be related to his intellect, however.

In March of 1808, Josiah received a letter from his friend Ezra Fisk, who was studying at Williams College. Josiah was 22, and Ezra was 23.

Worthy Friend,
Agreeable to your request and my own inclination I embrace the first opportunity for opening an epistolary correspondence with you, a correspondence which I hope will not soon be forgotten.

Ezra continued to write about the nice time he had in Buckland, visiting Josiah and the Spaulding family, and mentions Williams College. He seems genuinely impressed with and interested in a friendship with Josiah:

I cannot but anticipate some future enjoyment arising not from the friendship founded on the ever veering and fluctuating affections of self interest or the vain gloss of outward appearances, but from that which is founded on those undeniable affections which shall cement together with a bond never to be sundered.

Sadly, Ezra would not be able to develop a friendship or continue his correspondence with Josiah for much longer. Ezra went on to graduate from Williams College in 1809, and received his Doctor of Divinity from Hamilton College in 1825. He was later the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Goshen, New York for many years. This was the type of life Reverend Spaulding no doubt envisioned for Josiah, and one Josiah could have possibly achieved- if it were not for the conflict between father and son.

Reverend Josiah’s strict Calvinist beliefs could not be swayed even slightly. He believed fervently in Calvinist doctrine and would not entertain anything else. Evidence of this can be seen in the reverend’s 367-page book, Universalism Confounds and Destroys Itself, written in 1805, in which he passionately disputes Universalism to the letter. It is not just Universalism that Reverend Spaulding disagreed with; it was any religion or school of thought other than his own interpretation of Calvinism. Clearly his beliefs had already caused problems for him, resulting in his dismissal from Worthington and Uxbridge.

The ideas of predestination, total inherited depravity and limited atonement were difficult for many people to believe, and by the early 1800s Calvinism had fallen out of vogue. Buckland, in its isolated rural setting, may have been an easier place for Reverend Spaulding’s rigid Orthodox theology to be accepted, as there was little exposure to anything else. Josiah Jr., like many adult children, had his own thoughts on religion, and they differed from his father’s. He had been exposed to a different generation, with its more lighthearted ideas-like those of his friend Ezra Fisk, who would become a Presbyterian.

Letters from 1808 between Josiah and Reverend Spaulding indicate that the young man had an intelligence that matched his father’s, and that he was able to debate him. Reverend Spaulding writes to Josiah in a letter dated May, 1808:

I think that you, nor any of us, ought to despair, or to doubt the mercy of God, we may be guilty of great sin in this way. There is the same ground and the same obligation for one to hope in the fullness of divine grace as another. We must, however, be truly penitent, and our hope that of the just, or it will wholly fail us.

Josiah’s response, dated June 15th, 1808:

You think that I, or no one, ought to despair in the mercy of God, nor doubt his goodness…I think this is true, but all the impenitent ought to doubt, while they remain in sin, that they shall not be saved unless they repent, not surely doubt in Christ, but in their own salvation without repentance …I think there ought to be great care taken to examine to our minds to whether they are penitent or impenitent. I fear that I am not so faithful as my duty requires...

Josiah’s ideas on penitence differ from his father’s. Reverend Spaulding believed in predestination. Josiah feels that a person can repent and be saved, an idea shared by contemporaries like Ezra Fisk, and common today.

Shortly after this letter was written, Josiah Spaulding Jr. was dismissed from his position at Plainfield, and returned to Buckland to live at home. Relations between Josiah and his father became increasingly tense, and neighbors reportedly heard them having terrible fights. Reverend Spaulding felt, as he later reported to his parishioners, that he had no choice but to chain his son to the floor of his bedroom, for he had completely lost his mind. Josiah was able to escape the chains after a year of rubbing them together to break them. He headed towards the barn, in a possible attempt to steal a horse and make his escape. Reverend Spaulding, alerted by daughter Lydia, tried to stop his son and a fight ensued. A strong neighbor assisted the Reverend in apprehending Josiah, and he was returned to the home. Reverend Spaulding then commissioned a large cage to be built by the local blacksmith. Josiah was forced inside, and would remain in it until his death at age 79. The cage became the ultimate manifestation of Reverend Spaulding’s desire to control his son.

Had Josiah lost his mind, or did he serve to remind his father of his own failures in his early career, and anger him by disagreeing with his religious doctrine? When Reverend Spaulding lost a Congregationalist to Universalism, he was so upset that he carried a sermon in his pocket for a year, written for that person, in hopes of winning him back should he see him again. Nearly every biography of Reverend Spaulding calls him “eccentric”, and his fiery attack on Universalism in his book is evidence of how seriously he took Calvinism. Is it possible that his only son choosing to rebel against and reject this doctrine was the last straw for Reverend Spaulding? Calvinism was being rejected all over New England during this time. Josiah may have shown wrath towards his father and genuinely frightened him during their disagreements.

It is also possible that Josiah developed an emotional issue as a result of being treated with such a heavy hand as he matured to adulthood. It is difficult to say what, exactly, led to him to be chained to the floor and later caged, but with his father’s respectable position in the village and in western Massachusetts as a religious and academic leader, one can see how he could get away with it. During this time period, a father’s authority was simply not questioned and insanity was thought of as being a test from God, as were all illnesses. Friends of Reverend Spaulding’s speak of his son as a trial for the poor man, his cross to bear.

Josiah was kept caged in the Spaulding home until 1823, when Reverend Spaulding and Mary Williams both died within months of each other. Josiah was then transferred to the home of his sister Lydia, who had married the wealthy Ezra Howes, later a U.S. representative. Lydia was made to care for her caged brother until her death in 1836. Ezra married a woman named Lois Warriner in 1837, and she took Lydia’s place as Josiah’s caretaker. Lois and Josiah got along. She cooked his favorite foods, and the two were said to have something of a friendship. By this time, Josiah was no longer able to stand or walk upright. Josiah outlived the Howes and was transferred to the county poorhouse, where he remained until his death in 1867.

Newspaper articles from 1866 and 1868 report that Josiah was a “raving maniac”, who had tried to murder his parents and sister Lydia.

Just as he was nearly ready for college, being 21 years of age, he became violently and hopelessly deranged. The first public outbreak of insanity was at church, on Sunday, while his father was at prayer, when he suddenly threw the psalm book at his mother's head. (From the Springfield Daily Republican, 1868)

Whether this is true or not, ideas of ‘insanity’ have clearly changed over time. There is little evidence that Josiah did much beyond throwing the psalm book. It does seem very possible that he was a distracted student, and spoiled by his parents growing up, which may have caused him to act out, but there is not much to support the image of him as a ‘raving maniac’.

Spaulding family letters in the photocopied collection of the APHGA do not mention Josiah Spaulding, Jr. after he was incarcerated in his parent’s home. His sister Mary Spaulding Pomeroy, who wrote to him before the incarceration, does not mention him in any further letters. He is not spoken of by his relatives after 1808. Mary had her own trials (see APHGA September, 2011 blog post, Calvinism and Epidemic Disease in the Sussana Cole Letters), and died young, as did all Josiah’s sisters. Josiah outlived the entire family by many years, managing to avoid the infectious diseases that killed them.

It is hard not to wonder what his four sisters thought of their only brother being kept in a cage and if it compounded their already tragic lives. Their letters, which speak of their painful trials, so marked by death and despair, take on a different light when one is also aware of what was happening to their only brother, whom they never speak of. Surely the image of him caged and desperate must have haunted them. And what was Josiah’s experience of his sisters’ tragedy? If in fact Josiah was not insane, and was as lucid as a caged person could hope to be, could he comprehend their loss and sadness? Was he aware of the tragedies of his sister’s lives, and the deaths of their children? And did he ever see his friend Ezra Fisk again? With further research, it may be possible to answer some of these questions, including the question of Josiah’s insanity.

An anonymous letter to the editor of the Springfield Daily Republican, April 20th, 1868, describes a visit to Josiah Spaulding:

…And, when later, the fall before he died, a gentleman visited him on purpose to observe the effect of more than three score years of insanity, he was surprised to find so noble a specimen of a man still left. Nothing soft and flabby in his countenance, no remote sign of idiocy, but a piercing gray eye, a broad forehead, firmness and resolution marked on all his features, impressing the visitor with wonder at the strong and quick, though deranged mind before him.

Josiah Spaulding ends his 1808 letter to his father, written shortly before he would be chained up, by quoting a poem, The Dying Mary Ann, by Betsy Fitch:

But what, shall I, a wretch, complain,
Or Charge my God with counsel vain?
And shall I dare repine?
Afraid to die, too vile to live;
My God, a trembling wretch forgive,
And let they mercy shine.

Many thanks to researcher Pat Whipple for her help with this article.


Baldwin, Thomas W., compiler, Vital Records of Uxbridge Massachusetts to the Year 1850. Boston, Mass.: Wright & Potter Printing Company, 1916. P. 144, 308

Dexter, Franklin Bowditch, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College: With Annals of the College History Vol. IV, July 1778-June, 1792 New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1907. P.55-58

James Clay Rice, Rev. John Hatch Bisbee and C.K. Brewster, History of the Town of Worthington From Its First Settlement to 1874, Springfield, Massachusetts: Clark W. Bryan & Company, 1874. P. 28-9, 103.

Packard, Rev. Theophilus, Jr. A History of the Churches and Ministers and of Franklin Association in Franklin County, Mass. Boston: S.K. Whipple and Company, 1854. p.15-18, 53-59, 367, 429.

Vital Records of Worthington, Massachusetts to the year 1850 published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Boston, Mass., 1911. P.62.

“Centennial Celebration of Sanderson Academy, Ashfield Mass. June 16th and 17th, 1921 Address by Frederick L. Greene, Esq. President of the Board of Trustees.” http://www.ashfieldhistorical.org/green.html p. 1-3

Buckland Centennial, September 10, 1879: Addresses, Poems, Songs, &c. Massachusetts, 1879. P.16, 23-4.

Springfield Daily Republican. Springfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts, September 18, 1866.

Perry, Neil L. “’Raving Maniac’ of Buckland Spent 57 Years in Cage” The Springfield Union, Thursday, 18 December 1966. P. 18 col 1-4

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Was Mary Ann (Coe) Pomeroy in Le Roy, NY between 1816 and 1822?

It’s been a busy week and a half, and I’ve finally found a few minutes to report on our trip to Le Roy, NY. Lee and I spent three days at the Le Roy Historical Society and Jell-O Museum, an hour at the Myrtle Street Cemetery and a few hours at the Woodward Memorial Library in Le Roy, searching for any clue that Mary Ann (Coe) Pomeroy and her sons Francis and Edwin Pomeroy were in Le Roy between late 1816 and 1822.

Mary Ann’s older brother, Martin O. Coe, and his wife Clara (Hatch) Coe had moved to Le Roy by 1812, Martin having served at Black Rock and in the area during the War of 1812. Mary Ann and Martin’s father Ithamar Coe, with his wife and several children, moved to Le Roy by November 1816, when Ithamar was installed and ordained as a deacon of the First Presbyterian Church of Le Roy.

Mary Ann and husband Spencer Pomeroy had signed a “Cancel of Marriage Contract” on 19 Oct 1816 in Pompey, NY. This was not a legal divorce, as at the time divorces could only be obtained through the Chancery Court of New York State. The essence of the “contract” is that Spencer and “Mariam” “disannull the marriage covenant” between them and that Spencer gives “Mariam” the “liberty and full right to marry and live with any one that she may make her choice”. This contract puts me in mind of notices found in newspapers during this time period where a husband states that as his wife has left his bed and board that he is no longer financially responsible for her, but the lack of wording regarding the financial aspects of this annulment or contract make me wonder why such a document was drawn up and signed by the parties. One theory that we are pursuing is that Mary Ann planned to move with her children to Le Roy along with her parents and siblings. A notice of a letter remaining in the Sandusky, OH Post Office for “Mariann Pomroy” as of 31 Dec 1822, and published in the Sandusky Clarion 15 Jan 1823, is the earliest evidence of Mary Ann’s removal to Huron County, Ohio.

1820 US Federal Census research has been inconclusive, as Mary Ann has not been identified as a head of household. Her husband, Spencer Pomeroy was found in the 1820 US Federal Census in Manlius, NY as head of household with two free white females, one aged between 26 and 45, and the other aged 45 and upwards. We surmise that the older female was Spencer’s mother, Sarah L. (Allen) Pomeroy. The younger female is the correct age range to be Mary Ann (who was born 8 Jun 1790 in Ballstown, NY), but where are her sons Francis and Edwin? Francis W. Pomeroy, born 12 Aug 1807 in Pompey, would have been about 13 years old, and Edwin V. Pomeroy, born 10 Oct 1809 in Pompey, would have been about 11 years old. It seems likely that they would have been living with their parents at this age.

Ithamar Coe is listed as head of household in Le Roy, NY according to the 1820 US Federal Census. This enumeration, dated 20 Feb 1821 lists the following people in the household: 1 free white male of 10 through 16; 1 free white male of 16 through 26; 1 free white male of 45 and upwards; 1 free white female of 10 through 16; 1 free white female of 26 through 45; and one free white female of 45 and upwards. The older male and female are likely Ithamar Coe and his wife Sarah (Ball) Coe. As Ithamar and Sarah had several children, it is important to rule them out when trying to figure out who the remaining four people in the household were.

Ithamar and Sarah’s oldest child, Sally Phoebe Coe, born 1 May 1784 in MA, married Colonel Anson Hungerford 12 Sep 1802 in Clinton, NY. He was born 21 Sep 1779 in Farmington, CT and died 12 Jul 1864 in Watertown, NY. She died 15 Aug 1859 in Watertown. Anson Hungerford was enumerated in the 1820 US Federal Census as head of household in Watertown. The number of people in this household is consistent with what we know about this family.

Ithamar and Sarah’s second child was Martin Oliver Coe, mentioned above. Martin was born 24 Sep 1786 in Ballstown, NY and married Clara Hatch (born 14 May 1790 in Pawlet, VT) 15 Sep 1810 in Pompey, NY. He was enumerated in the 1820 US Federal Census as head of household in Le Roy. The number of people in his household is consistent with what we know of his family.

Leicester Coe, the third child of Ithamar and Sarah, was born 1 Jun 1788, probably in Ballstown, NY. Very little is known of Leicester (or Lester) and we suspect he may have died as a child or young man. If he were living in 1821 (when the Le Roy census was taken), he would have been 32 years old, which makes it unlikely that he was the free white male enumerated in the Ithamar Coe household between the ages of 10 and 16, or the free white male between the ages 16 through 26.

Persis Matilda Coe, the fifth child of Ithamar and Sarah (Ball) Coe, was born 25 Feb 1794, probably in Clinton, NY. She married Dr. Benjamin Bliss on 21 Sep 1817. Benjamin Bliss is enumerated in the 1820 US Federal Census in Le Roy, NY as head of household, on the same page with Ithamar Coe and Martin O. Coe. The number of people in his household is consistent with what we know of this family.

Sophia Coe, the 6th child of Ithamar and Sarah (Ball) Coe, was born 28 Jun 1797. She married William Morgan 28 Oct 1819, probably in Le Roy. William Morgan is enumerated in the 1820 US Federal Census as head of household in Le Roy, NY. His household appears to contain people who are additional to his immediate family. Listed in the household were 1 free white male under 10 (likely William and Sophia’s son Gustavus Adolphus Morgan, born about 1821); 1 free white male of 10 through 16; 1 free white male of 16 through 26 (likely William Morgan, born 31 May 1797); 1 free white female of 16 through 26 (likely Sophia Coe); 1 free white female of 45 and upwards. We do not know who the free white male of 10 through 16 or the free white female of 45 and upwards was.

Orman Coe was the 7th child of Ithamar and Sarah (Ball) Coe, and was born 28 Apr 1799 in Paris, NY. He married Ruth Jane Rowe (Born 29 Dec 1806 in Paris), on 28 Sep 1829. He is likely the free white male of 16 through 26 who is listed in Ithamar Coe’s household according to the 1820 U.S. Federal Census.

Seth Coe, the youngest child of Ithamar and Sarah (Ball) Coe, was born 22 Mar 1801 and died 11 Aug 1819. This rules him out of any 1820 census enumeration.

So, could Mary Ann (Coe) Pomeroy and her two sons, Francis W. and Edwin V. Pomeroy be living with her family in Le Roy when the 1820 US Federal Census was taken on 20 Feb 1821? At that date, Mary Ann would have been 30 years old, her son Francis would have been 14 and her son Edwin would have been 11. Mary Ann was the right age to have been the free white female of 26 through 45 in the Ithamar Coe household, and either of her sons would have been the right age to be the free white male of 10 through 16 in that same household. Additionally, either of her two sons would have been the right age to be the free white male of 10 through 16 found in the William Morgan household. But how can we know this for sure? While several of our researchers had visited the Le Roy Historical Society and Jell-O Museum a few years back, Lee and I decided to make an additional trip based on our continuing research of the Coe and allied families in Le Roy during the time that we are trying to locate Mary Ann and her sons.

I had done some previous research on the history of Le Roy, concentrating on the makeup of the town during the time that Martin and Ithamar settled there. I was looking for other families who had come to Le Roy from Pompey, NY, hoping to find a connection between them and the Coe family. I identified the following families who were in Pompey prior to moving to Le Roy: the Daniel Judd family; the Timothy Hatch family (father of Clara who married Martin O. Coe); the Joseph Annin family; the Levi Farnham family; and the Salmon Butler family. It is interesting that another Coe family (if related, very distantly) also settled early in Le Roy. I additionally looked for people of families that left Le Roy to settle in Huron County, OH around the same time that Mary Ann and he children seemed to move there. To that end, we found a Pixley family in Le Roy who may have been related to the Reuben Pixley family that settled early in Pompey and later moved to Huron County, Ohio.

The Le Roy Historical Society has an impressive collection of primary and secondary source records relating to the history of Le Roy and surrounding communities. Lee and I reviewed scrapbooks, ledgers, diaries, vertical files, genealogies, school records, letters and reminiscences of early settlers, scholarly journals, maps and books during our visit. Although we did not find any specific references to Mary Ann (Coe) Pomeroy, or her sons Francis and Edwin, we did find some additional information about the Coe family and the Pompey families we were interested in. One interesting source identified Ithamar Coe’s half brother, Luther Coe, as teaching school in Le Roy during the winter of 1803 – 1804. While we knew that Luther had come out to Le Roy, this is our earliest reference to him in this place.

We really enjoyed our visit to the Historical Society, and want to thank their welcoming staff members. I was quite surprised to see how many people visited the Jell-O Museum – the place was humming! We would also like to personally thank Lynne Belluscio, the Curator of the Historical Society and Jell-O Museum, and would like to recommend that any Le Roy area researchers consider visiting this unique and resource packed museum and historical society. They’re open every day from April 1st through Dec 31st and on weekdays from January 1st through March 31st.

Lee and I took 292 photographs while in Le Roy, now we will start the arduous process of transcribing and reviewing the information we found, and adding this to our databases and to the Mary Ann Coe book. Well, it looks like winter has come early to the Northeast, so it’s the perfect time to settle down in front of the computer screen and start typing!

Oh, before I forget, Le Roy, NY will be celebrating its bicentennial next year. If I remember correctly, the date of the celebration will be Friday, June 8, 2012. For more information, contact Lynne at the Jell-O Museum. We’ll be attending, and hope to see you there!