Wednesday, September 25, 2013

'WELL BELOVED' Samuel Blodgett, Sr. (1633-1720) Child Immigrant

DART-WHITNEY/Blodgett through child immigrant (1635)Samuel Sr. & Ruth Eggleton, Samuel Jr. & Hulda Simonds (daughter of Judith Phippen-Hayward, Indentured Servant), William & Sarah Hall, their daughter Amy & Joshua Whitney to Lucy who married Jonathan Dart.


 from Will of his father, Thomas Blodgett
"I Thomas Bloggett being at this time in my right mind, give to wife Susan my whole estate after my decease, as well within doors as without. She to bring vp my children in such learning & other things as is meete for them, & pay oldest son Daniel 15 pounds when one & twenty or in one month after her decease. To my 2d son Samuel 15 pounds, as above. To daughter Susanna 15 pounds. Should they have a father-in-law who does not treat them well my will is that the Deacons & our brother ffessington & our brother Edward Winchship, they or either of them should have power to see unto it & reforme it by one meanes or other. Written this 10th day of the 6th month 1641.  In presence of us Hereunto I set my hand."
possibly a namesake descendant
(From Dawes-Gates Ancestral Lines, Mary Walton Ferris, 1943 pages 92-94)
"Samuel Blodgett (Thomas) was born in England about 1633, was brought to Cambridge in infancy, (on the Increase in 1635) and at the age of about eleven, after his father's death, was taken to the Thompson home in Woburn where he grew to manhood, and in this town he lived until his death, on May 21, 1720, when he was recorded as Samuel, "senior" and was nearly eighty-seven. He married there on December 13, 1655, Ruth Eggleton, who died at Woburn on October 14, 1703.
Samuel must have acquired church membership and freemanship since he held various official positions culminating in that of deputy to the General Court in 1693. He had served the town locally as selectman in 1681, 1690-1, 1693, 1695-7 and 1703 and as commissioner "on the rate" (tax) in 1692. After the Indians killed John Nutting, husband of Sarah (Eggleton) sister of Ruth, Sarah came to Woburn to live with Ruth and Samuel Blodgett.

During the life of Samuel, and for many years beyond, Woburn and other early town experienced much of discontent and controversy over the various bridges in the colony. As early as 1648 the General Court had passed an order laying the expense of building and of repairing bridges, on the township within whole limits they stood. This was highly unsatisfactory for frequently the need and use of a given bridge would be greater by the residents of a more remote town (which was not on a water course, and consequently had no such expense) than by the near-by town which built and maintained it, so in 1655 that order was repealed and for a period of years bridge repairs were assessed not on one town alone, or indeed in a given county, but were apportioned among a number of towns which might at times use the bridge, or who business might profit because settlers from outlying sections used it.

*Cradock Bridge est.1638, Medford, MA
The bridge* over which Woburn had become so irritated crossed the Mystic River at Medford and in October, 1676, at a Woburn town meeting the selectmen were directed to ask the General Court to grant them "some case of their burden at Mistick Bridge." No such relief was obtained and subsequently repairs were neglected to such an extent that in 1675 Woburn was "presented" to the Court for the inattention and thereafter the town submitted to the inevitable until 1690. In October of that year the selectmen of Woburn, Reading and Malden joined in another petition to the Court and continued their pleas and protests through 1693. However, Woburn voters had demanded as early as 1691 that their selectmen "withstand (refrain from) - allowing anything more to the repairing of Mistick Bridge" assuring them that if it became necessary to go to the law about it, the town would pay the costs: and seemingly the officials refrained from making repairs until in December, 1693, the selectmen were ordered to send representatives to court on the 26th of that month to answer for this neglect. As a consequence, Samuel Blodgett, one of the selectmen, and Maj. James Converse appeared before the court and according to the instructions of their townsmen airily made answer "that Woburne was not concerned in the presentment of Mistick Bridge: neither would they do anything in order to the repairing thereof, except by Law they were forced thereto: and that they referred themselves to the law in that case: and so left the case for that time". If this move was intended to make a definite issue of the case it was successful, for the bold defiance only brought the command that representatives of the town should appear before an adjourned meeting of the court less than a month hence on January 23, 1693-4, reporting that the repairs had been made, or the town would be fine 5 pounds. This caused a ferment in the town and though Samuel Blodgett seems to have had no further official connection with the case, his personal feelings probably were disturbed for the rest of his life, for this conflict was carried on intermittently until 1761 when Medford agreed to accept a payment of 200 pounds from Woburn to free her, permanently, from further obligation.

view toward Boston from Rag Rock 1863
In 1671 Samuel had land laid out to him near Rag Rock by a neighbor William Locke, in 1672 they joined in buying thirty-seven acres in Woburn from William Johnson..."

from Will of stepfather James Thompson:
“…Lastly, --I do nominate and appoint my son Jonathan [who married Samuel’s sister, Susannah, both of whom grew up in his household] to be the sole Executor of this my whole will, and desire and ordeyne my Trustee and well beloved ffriends, Samuel Bloggett senr and John Mousall to be ovrseers of this my last will and Testament, 
and as a pledge of my love, I give to said Bloggett Mr. Rogers his book, and Mousall a payr of new Gloves.“In witness whereof I have hereunto sett (this last day of ffebruary in the year of our Lord, one thousand six hundred and eighty and one) my hand and seal.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

LEAVES, BRANCHES, AND REPLANTED ROOTS: Gazing upon the family tree (The Blodgett Family)

SMITH/DORT-WHITNEY/BLODGETT 1635 ImmigrantsThomas & Susanna Blodgett & sons
As I continue to climb the lush and ever-branching tree of my ancestors, I find myself pondering questions to which the answers will probably always be hidden within the dark canopy of time.  This is especially true of the question “why” families pulled up their roots, deeply anchored to ancient ancestral bedrock, carried them precariously across an ocean, and replanted them in the untilled soil of a wilderness far from home. 
For many, these roots would take hold in the coastal sands of Massachusetts Bay while our families defined their place in a new society, or like some, were carried along with an axe and a prayer to a place where old roots were grounded in the reality of new –and often treacherous- pioneer possibility.

History sometimes provides logical clues to “Why did our ancestors re-root us here?”  The Great Migration of the 1630’s brought a good number of our 10th and 11th great-grandparents to the bay colony of Massachusetts after England's King Charles I dissolved Parliament, effectively stifling Puritan leadership, reform, and dissention.  But the Puritans didn’t just fade away …they packed up their families and their bibles and they boarded ships bound for the Netherlands, Ireland, the Bahamas, and New England.  Here they endeavored to create the model for a ‘nation of saints’ founded on a strict, deeply religious and highly righteous bible-based society.  [Make no mistake, religious tolerance was not yet established in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Just look to ancestors like Roger Williams, among others who would not be welcomed for their differing Christian beliefs.]
Nearly half of the 20,000 or so English immigrants of this era came to New England from the counties of Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk.  Among them was the family of Thomas Blodgett from Haughley, a small ancient village close to Stowmarket in Suffolk.  Dr. Thomas Young, vicar at Stowmarket [and tutor to the Puritan poet, John Milton], was an emerging preacher of Presbyterian thought in a climate of strict conformity to high Anglicanism.  The influence that Young and other lecturers brought to the area must have had a profound effect on its reformist-minded citizens, including Thomas Blodgett. Thomas’ heritage was deeply rooted there with two young children buried alongside generations of his ancestors.  But on or shortly after the 13th of April, 1635, Thomas and his family left for America, never to return.  Son Daniel was only four and our direct ancestor Samuel, a mere toddler. 
The Winthrop ship, Increase, carried over 100 passengers –mostly young families with many children for the Blodgett boys to play with on the three thousand-mile voyage.  Of particular interest are the set of essential skills the men were bringing to a newly-colonized America:  plowright, joiner, husbandmen, carpenter, and butcher.  There was also a surgeon and a lawyer.  Even servants.  But other trades were represented, too, such as linen weavers, a clothier, and one glover, Thomas Blodgett.

The Blodgett family began their new life in a recently-established village called Newtowne (later to be named Cambridge) a few miles west of Boston.  The little town was already platted out in an orderly grid of streets that included house lots, common land, and planting fields on the outskirts.  Within a year, one of America’s first colleges, Harvard, was founded in Newtowne to train young men for ministry and leadership of the colony.  The liberal minister, Thomas Hooker had been chosen as pastor of Newtowne in 1633 but he quickly began to cause waves with the conservative early authorities of Massachusetts.  He asked and was granted permission in 1635 to take his flock of followers to Connecticut, just in time for the newly-arrived immigrants to purchase ready-made homes and lands from members of the departing Hooker band. 
In contrast to Reverend Hooker, the new pastor Thomas Shepard was not a proponent of religious toleration.  He strongly believed that ‘the Puritan way was God’s way.’  Pure and no waves.  This was the "soul-ravaging" pulpit message that guided Thomas in raising his young family in the early Newtowne church, the ‘FirstChurch at Cambridge’, when Thomas received his home allotment and status as freeman in 1636. 
The village of Newtowne (Harvard Square) in 1635, with the Great Bridge of 1660
We may have some idea of ‘why’ this branch of the Smith/Dort-Whitney family tree came to America, but we can only imagine the dreams that were unfolding for the young, growing family of Blodgett’s.  Sadly, just as their new life was taking root in American soil,Thomas Blodgett died at age 38.  His widow, Susanna remarried a widower, James Thompson, and she and the boys moved to Woburn to merge and increase their two families.
[This family line continues with the story of Thomas’ son Samuel –my 10th GGF- as the subject of the next blog.]