Francis Atwater.

Atwater history and genealogy : comprising the results of seventy-seven years research by Rev. E.E. Atwater and the compiler (Volume 4) online

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Online LibraryFrancis AtwaterAtwater history and genealogy : comprising the results of seventy-seven years research by Rev. E.E. Atwater and the compiler (Volume 4) → online text (page 1 of 33)
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Atwater History and Genealogy

Comprising the Results of Seventy-Seven

Years Research by Rev. E. E.

Atwater and the Compiler

Information Not Found in This Volume Should
be Sought in Volumes I, II and III


Published by

The- Horton Printing Company

Meriden, Conn.



Ex-Senator Francis Atwati.r.

Printer, Publisher, Editor, Author of Several Histories and

( lenealogies, Founder of Newspapers, Railroad Builder,

Organizer of Banks and Industrial Companies;

Extensive Traveler and Compiler of This


<■ i * . ' »

* * « * I * t 4



(From Who's Who in America.)

Atwater, Francis, capitalist; b. Plymouth, Conn., Dec. 3, 1858;
s. Henry and Catherine (Fenn) A.; ed. Plymouth and Southing-
ton, pub. scli.; m. Helena J. Sellew, 1879. Learned printers'
trade, was foreman composing room Meriden Recorder, at 16;
founder and publisher Windemere Weekly Forum, Wallingford,
Conn., 1877-78 ; asst. foreman Hartford Courant, 1880; later mgr.
Red Bluff (Cal.) Sentinel; founder and publisher Meriden Sun-
day News; founded Meriden Daily Journal, 1880, and retired ;.s
president Journal Publishing Co., 1913; founded, 1 ( K)1, Havana
Journal (now Havana Post), first ail-American journal in Cuba;
bought and sold the New Britain Daily News: bought and sold
Waterbury Daily Republican ; ex-president Meriden, Southington
& Compounce Tramway ; president Washington State Colonization
Co. since 1905; ex-president Meriden, Middletown &• Cuilford
Electric Railway Co., 1909; ex-president Silver City Realty Co.
1911; founder, 1912, Puritan Trust Co.; elected director Broad-
way Rank and Trust Co., New Haven, 1913; organizer, 1914,
American Rank & Trust Co.. New Haven; organizer. East Hamp-
ton Bank & Trust Co., and director American Rank & Trust Co..
Wallingford Trust Co., and Torrington (Conn.) Trust Co. Mem
her Conn. Senate. 1906; tax collector, 1 ( 07, ex-president Meriden
Board of Trade; ex-member executive com. Am. Xat. Red Cross;
founder R'12. and president Clara Barton Memorial Association.
Author: Histories of Plymouth and Kent. Conn.. 1896; Atwater
History and Genealogy, 1901, Vol. II. 1906; Vol. HI, 1919;
Meriden Centennial Proceedings, \ l K)7 ; Personal Memoirs 1924;
History of Southington. 1925. Now retired. Address: 492
Whitney Ave., New Haven, Conn.



The history of David Atwater and his descendants cannot be
Lold in a few words. The first Atwaters to come to America
were David and Joshua and their sister Ann. Joshua became
prominent in Connecticut and Massachusetts affairs, was married,
had several children, but none to perpetuate the family name.
The sister Ann, who probably attended to the household duties
until the brothers married, is not mentioned afterwards. David,
the ancestor of all Atwaters in this country until a comparatively
recent date, left England in lo37. He was twenty-two years old
when he landed in America. He had buried his father in Novem-
ber, 1636, and his mother the following January, and thus being
liberated from filial duty joined the expedition of Kentish men
who had become "infected with distemper for the authorized
church." Their emigration is to be attributed to the discomfort
experienced by the English Puritans in their native land, rather
than to any attractiveness in this wilderness. It is impossible
for those who have been surrounded with the security, beauty
and plenty enjoyed by the posterity of these colonists, to conceive
of the same territory as it was seen by their ancestors when they
arrived, or as it presented itself to the eve of imagination when
Lhey decided to emigrate. This country is to its present inhabi-
tants their pleasant home; but the Englishmen in the seventeenth
century were uncomfortable in England, loved England as their
dear native land, and thought of America as a foreign country,
and as such, destitute of the attraction and charm which apper-
tains to the ideal of home.

Moreover, emigration to the new world was not mere exile
from a land they were reluctant to leave; it was exposure to suf-


fering by cold and hunger, to peril of death by shipwreck, by wild
beasts, and by treacherous savages. Such liabilities are, indeed.
not unattractive to men whom love ol adventure predominates;
but the English Puritans were in general as free from that resl
lessness of mind which seeks relief in excitement as any people
in the world, Religion, inclining them to sobriety and industry,
fostered the love of borne, of security and of comfort. Individ
uals among them may have been susceptible to love of adventure;
but as a class, the planters of New England were men not natur-
ally inclined to desert their homes, and themselves to
hardships and perils of the ocean and in the wilderness. On tne
contrary their training bad been such as inclined them to remain
in their native land. This is true of even the unmarried men,
like David and Joshua Atwater. but the reluctance to emigrate
was far greater when one must expose sister, wife and children
to hardships they were less able than the men to bear.

It was a great undertaking to prepare for a voyage across the
Atlantic and a permanent residence in the new world. The min-
isters could embark perhaps, with their books and household stuff,
but merchants and owners of real estate needed several months,
after deciding to emigrate, for the conversion of their assets into
money, or into merchandise suitable for the adventure in which
thev were engaging. Yet these young men, Joshua, who was a
mercer, disposed of his goods, while David sold the real estate to
which they had only been in possession of a short time, when the;,
joined a company which projected something more than emigra-
tion. They were not to scatter themselves when they disembarked,
among the different settlements already established in Mew Eng-
land, but to remain together anil lav the foundation for a new
and isolated community. lor this reason a more comprehensive
outfit was necessary than if they had expected to become incorpo
rated individually or collectively, in communities already planted.
In addition to the stores shipped by individuals, there must be
many things provided for the common good, by persons acting in
behalf of the whole company. There is evidence, that after the
expedition arrived in New Haven, its affairs were managed like
those of a joint stock association and. therefore, some ground for


believing that from the beginning, those who agreed to emigrate
in this company, or at least some of them, associated themselves
together as partners in the profit and loss of the adventure.

These early emigrants were advised to have victuals with them
for a "twelve-month," to bring good stores of clothing and bed-
ding; paper and linseed oil for the windows, with cotton yarn for
the lamps. They were taught to ballast the ships with iron, steel,
lead, nails, and other heavy articles of utility ; also bricks. One
Atwater house, supposed to have been built by Thomas, a son of
David, the emigrant, when torn down nearly 200 years later, had
bricks taken from it with "London" stamped upon them. The
bulk of the cargo carried consisted of wearing apparel, bedding,
food, tools, arms, ammunition and seed. Neat cattle and goats
were usually taken, sometimes horses. Two months was perhaps
the average time consumed in sailing from London to Boston in
the vessels of that day. A passage was, indeed, sometimes made
in less time, but in other instances was protracted to three months.
A vessel made but one round trip a year, leaving England in the
spring and arriving home in the autumn. Crowded cabins rend-
ered the passage uncomfortable, even when speedy ; but a pro-
tracted voyage often induced not only discomfort but disease.

It was in the summer of 1&37 that the Atwaters landed on the
coast near Boston. With others Joshua and David had heard
from the Pequot Indian war of the land west of the Connecticut
river. It was known in modern orthography as Quinnipiac.
Joshua was included in an exploring party to look this over. It
was too late in the year to send a report back to Boston and
build houses in sufficient numbers to shelter women and children,
so Joshua and six others remained through the winter, being

sheltered by a hut situated near a creek. We may imagine they
spent their time in hewing, clearing and sawing, in hunting and
trapping, and in collecting by means of barter with the natives,
beavers and other furs for the European market. What com-
munication they had that winter with those in Boston" must have
been by Indian runners who could easily perform such service.
It is probable they had commenced negotiations with the Indians
for their land, built huts and made all possible provision for the


arrival oi those who were to come in the spring, which included
David Atwater and his sister Ann.

It was on Friday when they left Boston, and. as they are said
to have spent a fortnight on the voyage, it was the latter pari of
the week when they arrived. On the Sabbath they worshiped
under an oak tree near the landing place. The purchase of the
land had probably been perfected in April though no written <\evd
was signed until the following November. The natives were,
therefore, expecting the large re-enforcement received by the six
Englishmen, one having died in the winter, with whom they w
now well acquainted. They welcomed the newcomers and were
pleased to have in their neighborhood a plantation of Englishmen,
to which they might retreat when molested by their enemies and
where they might barter their venisons, pelts and furs, for the
much admired tools and trinkets of the English. They, now for
the first time, saw English women and children and admired them
with great curiosity. The planters brought with them or pro
cured from Massachusetts, plants and seeds which soon yielded
what they had been accustomed to enjoy in England. Grains,
especially wheat, rye and peas were sown, and the reward was
most bountiful. Then came the fencing in of land, pounds and
pound keepers. David Atwater was appointed on a committee
to see that swine were not allowed to stray from home and to
provide penalties. Subsequently he appeared before the general
court to explain why his own hogs were allowed to run around

This was the beginning of what was termed for many years the
colon_\- of Xew Haven, The Quinnipiac river flowed through
meadow land, and for three miles were salt meadows on both
sides. It was near this river in whal was known as the Cedar
Hill district that David, the emigrant, took up his abiding place,
a farm oi some lot) acres. He was rated at this time as being
worth 500 pounds, which for those days was a good sized fortune.
The temporary shelters, which the first planters of Xew England
provided for their families till they could ered permanent dwell-
ings were of different kinds. Some planters carried tents with
them to the place chosen for the new home; sunn- built wigwams


like those of the natives. Either specie would suffice for sum-
mer, but for winter they usually built huts, as they called them,
similar to the later log cabins in the forests of the west, though,
in some instances, if not in most, they were roofed after the Eng
lish fashion of thatch. It was a peculiarity of New Haven that
cellars were used for temporary habitations. They were, as the
name suggests, partially underground and perhaps in most cases
on the hillside. Rev. Michael Wiggles worth, who came to Quin
nipiac with his parents in October, 1638, when he was seven year:,
old, describes the cellar in which the family spent the first winter,
as covered with earth on the roof. Such a covering might be
effectual to exclude the cold winter winds, but it was a poor pro
tection from heavy rains. When an old man he remembered how
he had, while asleep, been drenched with water permeating the
muddy roof and had been afflicted in consequence with a danger
ous illness.

The diet of the planters consisted chiefly of domestic products,
though it was only a short period before commerce with the West
Indies was started, when the tables of the wealthy were supplied
with sugar and foreign fruits. Indeed, there were many Atwaters
who engaged in trading with these islands, bringing rum and mo-
lasses in their own ships and exchanging commodities raised at
home and later mules and manufactured goods. These same At-
waters traded clocks in the south for the mules which the}' drove
north and held until ready to ship. Only a short time ago an old
barn in New Haven was pointed out to me as the place where the
mules were sheltered. Kine and sheep were few during the
early years of the Atwaters, but there was such an abundance of
game that the scarcity of mutton and beef was but a small incon-
venience. In towns venison brought in by English or Indian
hunters was usually to be obtained, and at the farms wild geese,
turkeys, pigeons, moose and deer were so plentiful that no house-
hold was without a bountiful supply. The rivers were full of
fish, while at the sea shore clams, oysters and mussels -could be
obtained for the gathering.

A brew house was an early requisite demanded by the settlers
and beer was as regularly on the table as bread. It is unnecessary


to state that it was not of the 2.7? variety, but had a good stiff
kick in it. Indeed, as late as my boyhood, it was customary to
serve a hot toddy (cider brandy, sugar and hot water") to the
minister when he made a friendly call. I well remember one
stately old gentleman, who wore the old fashioned stock instead
of a collar, when he came to our house one afternoon. It was
after he had been entertained by several parishioners when it
was noticed that it was not a reverential but another kind of
"spirit" that prompted his performance. I have no evidence that
a New England Atwater ever distilled spirits. The nearest ap
proach to one was a cider mill owned by my grandfather, the
product, a good share of which went to a still owned by a nearby
neighbor. The Atwaters, as old time merchants, sold both cider
brandy and West India rum. I do not believe they were teetol-
talers, but always had in the house and used liquor moder-
ately and with good judgment. There was no comparison in
quality of those days with the adulterated product of the present

It must have been some years after David settled in New-
Haven before he married Damaris Sayre, daughter of Thomas
Say re of Southampton, L. I. There is no tradition as to how or
when he met her. Indeed, it was not until 1881 that it was dis
covered who she was. A gentleman in looking over the probate
records of Southampton reading the will of Thomas Sayre, found
that he left forty shillings to his daughter "Damaris, wife of
David Atwater, of New Haven." Thomas Sayre was a native
of Bedfordshire, England. Two houses built by him and his son
Thomas about lo48 were still standing until a few years ago,
when' they were demolished. The Sayre family were of high
principles and as prominent as any on Long Island. David and
Damaris were the parents of ten children. The whole ten took
part in the early history of New Haven. The daughters married
men of prominence. The first child married when she was twen
tv years old, John Austin. Most of their children died young.
David, Joshua and John, however, had families whose descendants
are numerous.

The second daughter, named after her mother, also married in


her twentieth year. Her husband was John Punderson, only son
of Deacon and Margaret Punderson. The father was an early
immigrant. From him descended all the Pundersons in the country.
There were three John Pundersons deacons of the First church
in New Haven in succession.

David Atwater, the first son, married some one by the name of
Joanna, which to this day is all that is known of her. It is sup-
posed that he lived upon and cultivated a portion of the land orig-
inally assigned to his father. There was a two-story brick house
standing until burned ten years ago, which according to tradition,
this David built. The land is still in possession of his descend-
ants. He had two daughters who married Bradleys. His son
Joshua continued to cultivate the farm after his father's death.
The next son, Joshua, married Sarah Rockwell and settled in
\\ allingford. He died a comparatively young man. leaving no

John, the third son, married Abigail Mansfield. Pie took over
the farm left by his brother Joshua. Before doing so he had
learned to be a weaver and probably earned his living in New
Haven working at his trade. At any rate, he was ever after called
"Weaver." All of his children married except Mercy, whom I
found no record of except her birth. Xot one of them left
their native town, but all raised families that were an honor to
their community.

The fourth son was Jonathan. He married Ruth, daughter of
Rev. Jeremiah Peck. He had eleven children. He was the mer-
chant prince of Xew Haven, and his profits must have satisfied
his ambition. The inventory of his estate found in the probate
records, covers over eight closely written pages, and gives a var-
iety of objects, great and small, suggestive not only of wealth but
of the processes of its acquisition. There were several farms
with tracts of land amounting to four thousand acres; province
bills and interest bearing notes, a stock of merchandise for a re-
tail store, indicating barter in local produce and in manufactures
from beyond the seas, such as fine cutlery, broadcloth, Turkish
wrought cushions; a wardrobe containing a number of coats with
silver buttons; a gold seal ring, an ivory-headed cane and a gold


watch, and finally three negroes. I lis whole estate was appraised
at 15,323 pounds, which was nearly half as much as the official
valuation of all estates in New Haven. This inventory is full of
suggestions concerning the life of those early times. [ts lisl tells
of energy, industry and thrift. He lived to the ripe old age of
ninety-four years.

Abigail, the third daughter, married Nathaniel Jones, son of
Deputy Governor William Jones, who, like his brother-in-law .
John Punderson, was one of the prominent men of Xew Haven.
They had two daughters and one son.

Alary, the fourth daughter, married Ichabod Stow, son of Rev.
Samuel Stow and Hope Fletcher, and for her second husband
David Robinson. One daughter of Ichabod Stow married Jehiel
Hawley, whose daughter Esther married David Reecher, grand-
father of Henry Ward Beecher, the famous preacher.

The fifth son, Samuel, married Sarah Ailing. He was a farm-
er and cultivated a portion of the land which had belonged to his
father. He had a family of ten children. He was my projenitor.
My line was Samuel, Daniel, Samuel, Timothy, Wyllys, and Hen-
ry. The}' were all farmers, except my father who had learned
the trade of a stone mason and later became a contractor.

The youngest son of David was Ebenezer, who married Abigail
Heaton. The}' had three daughters and one son. He was a
tailor and lived in Xew Haven.

We have now accounted for the ten children of David Atwater.
He lived to see them all happily married and established as good
citizens, upright, honest and respected.

In the list of names of "Proprietors, Xew Haven, Conn., in
year 1685," appear the names of David Atwater, Senior; David
Atwater, Junior; John Atwater and Jonathan Atwater, the lasi
three being sons of David Atwater. Senior.

Besides the town lot assigned to him, as to each of the original
settlers, the plantation assigned to David Atwater in the original
division of lands among the planters was in the Neck, between
Mill and Quinnipiac rivers, at the north side of what is now the
city of Xew Haven. The general name of Cedar Hill has been
given to this region. Descendants of David Atwater still reside


there. The eldest male representative in each succeeding gener-
ation was born, and for a time, at least, resided there.

David Atwater died October 5, 1692. His wife died April 7.
1691. His will is dated a week later, April 14, 1691, with an
Appendix dated December 9, 1691. Examination of the will, in
connection with knowledge obtained from other sources, affords
information of interest to all bis descendants. One of his six
sons, Joshua, had removed to \\ allingford. One of his four
daughters, the eldest child, Mercy, who married John Austin,
appears not to have been then living by the terms of the will in
relation to her children.

There are special bequests of lands to each of the surviving rive
sons, David, John, Jonathan. Samuel and Ebenezer, determined
in relation to the portions of the estate already received by each.

Two of the sons had already been established in business in
New Haven, namely Jonathan, whose name appears in the list of
"Proprietors of New Haven, Conn., in year 1685." the bequests
to him being, in the words of the will, "besides what also he hath
already received," and the youngest son and child, Ebenezer.

The portions of the estate already received by these two sons
may be conjectured to have been the requisite money capital for
business, and possibly the town lot assigned to David in the orig-
inal division of the lands, with its improvements and the house
and land formerly owned and occupied by Joshua, on what was
known as Fleet street, bought by David from Joshua 19th June,
1665, after the removal of Joshua to Boston — which house is said
to have been occupied by the descendants of David more than two
hundred years — neither of these properties appearing in the in-
ventory of his estate in 1692. To each of the three remaining
sons there is a specific bequest of a homestead.

To David Atwater, Jr., whose name was in the list of Proprie-
tors in 1685, as follows:

"Item. 1 doe Ratify and Confirm to David Attwater, Junior,
my eldest son, my old House, Barn and Orchard, which he already
possesseth, and twelve acres, lying on both sides ye creek, ad-
joining to meadow of Isaac Turner's, and twenty acres of upland,
ten in ye Cornfield and ten in ye Neck, south of that peese of land
fensed in on ye west side of Road and ye Rock."


"Item. I doe give and bequeath unto my son, John An water,
ye House and accommodations at Wallingford, with ye Rights
and Privileges and appurtenances thereunto belonging, which I
bought formerly Kphraim Young's land, and one acre more ol
silt marsh of Samuel Potter, with two acres of meadow 1 had of
John Dod, next ye River, lying near my son David's."

To Samuel Atwater, whose name was not in the list of Pro-
prietors in 1685, as follows: "Item. For all the rest of my land: - ,
both uplands and meadow, with my dwelling house, barn and
other buildings, with the Orchard, privileges and appurtenances,
I give to my son, Samuel, to be to him and to his Heires foreve? .

"And for these lands and meadows, above mentioned, given to
my other sons, my will is that it be to them and to their Heirs
forever. And my further will is, if any sons see cause to sell
any of their lands, they shall first offer it to their Brothers, that
the_\- may have ye first refusal."

It would appear that there had been three divisions of lands to
the planters, according to their original agreement, the third di-
vision, as indicated in the inventory, being about one hundred
acres to him :

"Item: From my owne 3d Division, and what I had of my
son John, I give and bequeath unto my four sons, David, Jona-
than, Samuel and Ebenezer, to be equally divided between them.

"And for all ye Rest of my personal estate, movables and stock
of cattle, my will is it be equally divided between all my children,
at least to ye value of it, my Grandchildren, sons of my daughter
Austin, to be included for one share."

On the day of the marriage of Ebenezer, the youngest son and
child, to Abigail Heaton, which was the last of the marriages of
his ten children, David Atwater could doubtless relied that, upon
the execution of his will, each of his eight surviving children
would be established in life with a place of residence. On that
day, December 9, 1691, he recorded his great thoughtfulness and
equal care for all his children in an Appendix to his will, without

Online LibraryFrancis AtwaterAtwater history and genealogy : comprising the results of seventy-seven years research by Rev. E.E. Atwater and the compiler (Volume 4) → online text (page 1 of 33)