Sunday, May 06, 2012

Gershom Hobart Jr.'s return from captivity

The following extract is taken from a letter in the Library of the
Massachusetts Historical Society, written by the Rev. John Cotton to
his wife at Plymouth, and dated "Election night Boston" (May 29, 1695).
It is found in the volume marked on the back, "Letters & Papers 1679 -
1700" (page 102), and gives very nearly the day of the release of the
Reverend Gershom Hobart's son, who was captured by the Indians at their
assault on the town, July 27, 1694. The writer says:

"Some Indians that went upon scoute have brought in 2 scalpes & 3 guns
& they conclude that the third gun had an owner whom they sorely
wounded or else they should not have found his gun: noe newes of the
snow frigat, it is greatly feared it is cast away upon rocks for want of a 
skilfull pilot: but the choice newes is that all the Easterne
sachims but one (at least most of them) are come to Pemaquid & have
brought in eight captives, confest their great evill in fighting against us; 
litle Gershom Hobart is one (tell his Aunt Bradford soe)
if an Easterly winde come they will be here by tomorrow this houre."

Gershom Hobart, Jr. was born undoubtedly at Groton, though the date of
his birth does not appear in the town records. He was married on Feb 26, 
1713/14 to Lydia Nutting, daughter of James and Lydia Nutting, born
on June 3, 1686. He probably was near the same age as his wife, which
would have made him a boy of eight or ten years old at the time of his
capture. For some other facts relating to the lad, see the first volume of 
this Series No. XII (p.6). 

Joseph Bradford of Plymouth was married to Jael Hobart, aunt of 
Gershom Hobart, Jr., and the allusion in the extract "tell his Aunt
Bradford so(e)," given above is to her.

Source: Historical Series by Dr. Samuel A. Green Vol II, 1890; p. 59

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Clayton and Sadie

Clayton Charles Britton

Sadie Stella Vasseur

From Clayton's autobiography:
Now an event took place [in 1920] that perhaps had strongly influenced future developments. I got a call in Edmunston from Sadie Vasseur inviting me to a leap year ball to be held on Friday night. I believe this was the day I got the call. At any rate there was no further passenger trains to Grand Falls that day and it was in the dead of winter. No cars were running in the winter in those days, so what to do. Grand Falls was 38 miles down river, and almost just might as well have been on the moon. However, a good looking gal had sent out a call and this young buck was going to find a way. It was alot of years later that I found that I wasn't the first choice. In fact it was sort of last chance thing. I sometimes wonder had I known that, would I have taken the chance it involved. Going down to the railroad station I found out they were making up a freight train going in that direction. But I had to sign a paper excusing the railroad of any responsibility because owing to the heavy snowfall the train would not stop in Grand Falls, nor slow down, for fear that they would not be able to keep going. 
So I spent the trip in the kaboose at the rear of the train and about 200 yards from the station I jumped into the deepest snow drift I could spot, and did a few loops before coming to a halt. After gathering myself together I found that outside of my dignity, nothing else was seriously damaged. There was still about six miles to walk before I could reach home and get ready for the big ball. Mother always prevailed upon me to wear the red label heavy wool underwear, so after a couple of dances you had to go outdoors to let the steam roll up your collar and let some of the sheep smell evaporate. 
My gal was dietician at the hospital. She looked real sharp that evening with her fiery red stockings and red slippers to match. I remember he rlong hair was done up in two braids, one over each ear. I'm not sure but I don't think I got a good night kiss for all my troubles which perhaps just wetted my appetite for another go at it. 
By spring [of 1922] I was going real well in the romance department, even though I was a dedicated protestant and Sadie was a catholic. Besides my horse eating away the most of her father's piazza post, which I tied her to, there was considerable competition from a guy named Nub Esty. When she worked at the hospital, he would wait until I had gone then show up with a bottle of olives or candy of some sort. One evening in the spring I put a stop to that coniving. She and I were walking up Broadway when we came upon Nub and another guy sitting on the grass by the sidewalk. My little girl plumped herself down on the grass beside them and said something like that was comfortable and guessed she would spend the evening there. That kid of curled my hair so I bid them goodnight and kept right on walking. I hadn't gone far when my little old gal came trotting to catch up with me, mad as a hornet. That came very near ending that romance on the spot, but I held out and gave her to understand that I shared my girl with nobody! 
That fall Wade Taylor and I decided to go hunting back to the Long Grade area. While waiting for a 2 o'clock train the night we left, I spent the evening on a couch in the hospital waiting room. I had my rifle leaning against a chair but I don't think that influenced Sadie and when I asked her to marry me, she accepted. I took cloud nine to the station.

The wedding:
I got a letter from Sadie saying that things were getting a bit sticky with her family and if we weren't going to get married right away she would take a job in a nursing home in New Jersey. That didn't set too well with me so I sent her some money and told her to get out to Mansfield fast. Though I was about to be 22 years old I still was pretty nervous about taking on a wife and all the problems that went with it. Just the same, I felt that I had wandered enough and needed to get settled down with some purpose in life. 
Sadie landed around the first of November, 1922 and we were married [in Mansfield, Massachusetts] on the eleventh in the Methodist Church by a saintly looking old preacher that seemed to please Sadie very much. I very stupidly figured I could not afford to go on a honeymoon with winter coming on and thought I'd better get in every day that I could. We went to a dance that night and had a special waltz played for us.

Gershom Hobart, 1645-1707

My 8th great grandfather, Gershom Hobart, was born to Reverent Peter Hobart and his wife, Elizabeth Ibrook, in Hingham, Massachusetts, in December 1645. Gershom followed the examples of his older brothers, Joshua and Jeremiah, and graduated from Harvard University.  His brothers Nehemiah and Japhet also received their degrees from Harvard the same year, in 1667.  After graduating, he returned to Hingham, where he was living when he made freeman at the May session of the General Court in 1673.

In April 1676, Gershom married Sarah Aldis in Dedham, Massachusetts, and they went on to have as many as 12 children together. 

In June 1677, John Cotton wrote to Increase Mather saying that he had employed Gershom to preach "because he was forced from his worke," and procured a contribution for him.  Because they looked "upon [Gershom] as low," the deacons made an additional gift from the church treasury, in addition to what John Cotton was already paying him.

Soon after, Gershom accompanied or followed the settlers, who, after the destruction of Groton by the Indians in 1676, returned in the spring of 1678.  On June 29, 1678, the settlers made him liberal grants of land and privileges, if he would "accept of ye call and come to settle among" them "to be ye Townes Minister & the churches officer." He was ordained as minister of the Congregational Church there on November 26, 1679.

In 1680, records show that Gershom was to be paid "seaventy pound for this year [1681]: ensuing and to pay him in corn Indian wheat Rye barley at price curant as the court stat it and in other provission as god blesse us withall and 30 cord of wood to be proportioned by the sellect men according to every mans proportion to be payd by the first of March." Later, his salary was reduced to 50 pounds, one quarter of it to be paid in money.

It appears that Gershom did not live harmoniously with his parishioners in Groton. They differed at first about the location of the new meetinghouse (the old one had been burned down by the Indians in 1676), and then about his salary.

In 1682 it was voted that "the salackt men doe mak and maintain pase and love one with an other in the town and ashpashaly with m. hubard [Hobart] in incoridging him in his work by forwarding won and other in being wiling to alow him honorabl maintanans as the law darackts in pay and they warn the in habitants to gather till thay be agreed with him and the salack men mak no rate till the town be agreed with him."

Unfortunately the disagreements over his salary continued, and in December 1685 it was voted that Gershom had "set himself at liberty from the said town as to any engagement from him as their minister as also he has freed the town from any engagement to refusing and slighting what what the said town had offered him for his salary." A vote was held to increase Gershom's salary, but it did not restore peace.  It seems the primary problem was a scarcity of money, and disagreement over whether corn and other supplies could be used by settler families to pay their portion of Gershom's salary.

Gershom decided to leave the town sometime in 1689, and the town made proposals to him to return in 1690 and again in 1693.

Gershom came back with his family sometime before January, 1694.  In July of that year, the Indians attacked the town again. They killed more than 20 people, and carried away more than a dozen. During the attack, "Mr. Gershom Hobart, the Minister of the Place, with part of his Family, was Remarkably preserved from falling into their Hands, when they made themselves the Masters of his House; though they Took Two of his Children, whereof the one was Killed, and the other [Gershom, Jr., my 7th great-grandfather] some time after happily Rescued out of his Captivity." A captive, who escaped from the Indians and arrived at Saco on April 25, 1695, reported that "Mr. Hobart's son Gershom is well at a new Fort a days journey above Nerigawag [Norridgewock], Master's name is Nassacombewit, a good Master, and Mistress."  A ransom was paid, and Gershom, Jr., was reunited with his family, after having spent about a year in slavery.

Gershom Sr. continued to preach in Groton until 1705. The town of Groton experienced many difficulties during that time.  A petition to the General Court from the town of Groton in January 1704 speaks of the "grat damidg & discoridgment and spashaly this last yere having lost so many parsons som killed some captivated and som ramoved and allso much corn & cattell and horses & hay wharby wee are gratly Impoverrished and brought vary low." The petition represents Gershom as having been "for above a yere uncapable of desspansing the ordinances of God," and that neighboring ministers advised them to "hyare another minister and to saport mr hubard [Hobart] and to make our adras to your honors...for we are so few & so por that we canot pay two ministers nathar are we willing to live without any." Twenty pounds were granted by the Court to the town of Groton to pay another minister and to "help them under the present Disability of their Pastor Mr. Hubbard [Hobart]."

Gershom died in Groton on December 19, 1707. His wife Sarah died on April 14, 1712.

Source: Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University.

Note: Groton, where Gershom preached and lived, is five minutes from our home.

Another note, about Gershom's brothers: Japhet, who graduated from Harvard the same year as Gershom, trained to be a medical doctor, and left on a ship for England as the ship doctor shortly after graduation.  His intention was to then continue on to the East Indies, but he was never heard from again. Family tradition states that Japhet "travelled into foreign parts, renounced his Religion, & became a Romanist, & died a Cardinal or some great Dignitary in the Church of Rome." The brother with whom Japhet and Gershom graduated, Nehemiah, went on to become a preacher in Newton, and a Senior Fellow at Harvard.  His obituary in the Boston News-Letter, stated that Nehemiah was "Senior Fellow of Harvard College, an excellent scholar, divine, and Christian; very much lamented throughout the whole Province." One of his successors at Harvard wrote that in Nehemiah "shone the scholar, the gentleman, and the Christian...An unshaken harmony subsisted between him and his people through life." He had a "serious and winning manner of address, which caused his congregation to hang upon his lips."