Albert Deane Richardson.

A personal history of Ulysses S. Grant: and sketch of Schuyler Colfax online

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finished with the pencil instead of the plow. One house
is still standing which was built in 1633, and at the "rais-
ing" of which, perhaps, Matthew Grant assisted.

In his day, Dorchester Plantation was a rude settlement
of a few log cabins, straggling over most of the territory now
embraced in Milton, Canton, Stoughton, Sharon, and South
Boston. The salt marshes afforded excellent subsistence
for the famishing cattle of the immigrants, but they them-
selves suffered for want of food. Their first meal was of
fish without any bread, and for months, they endured
many hardships. Says Roger Clap : " The place was a wil-
derness. Fish was a good help to me and to others. Bread
was so scarce that I thought the very crusts from my fa-
ther's table would have been sweet ; and when I could
have meal and salt and water boiled together, I asked,
' Who would ask for better?' "

Among the settlers of Dorchester, were several elderly
gentlemen of good estate in England, three men of military
experience, and two stockholders of the London Company
which held the Massachusetts Bay Charter. The Charter
had been drafted for a trading company rather than for a
government, so the control of the settlement vested only in
the stockholders. But the Puritans would not permit Dor-
chester to be governed by two men, and the Court of Massa-
chusetts Bay bestowed freemanship upon twenty-four col-
onists within a month after the arrival of the Mary and
John, Freemanship was an important endowment, secur-
ing to its recipients large tracts of land and making them
members of the General Court. This unique tribunal was
a sort of colonial town meeting for local government,* as
the representative system was not yet in vogue and the col-
ony was almost a pure democracy. The principal qualifi-
cation for freemanship seems to have been piety, or at least
church membership ; and Matthew Grant received it, with
many others, after he had lived in America for one year.

* The Massachusetts Legislature is still popularly known as the " Qeneral Court"

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1635.] A Quaint Old EpiTAPn. 21

Writers in 1633, describe Dorchester Plantation as having
"abundant hay-ground, fair corn-fields, and pleasant gar-
dens, with many cattle, sheep, and swine," though the in-
habitants still subsisted largely upon fish.

Among the settlers was Humphrey Atherton, who, a
train band captain eke had been in famous London town.
He became a leading military spirit of the settlement, for pro-
motion is rapid in new countries, and his ambition was ulti-
n^ately gratified by a major-generalship. He was the first
captain of the "Ancient and Honorable Artillery," a milita-
ry organization of note still existing in Boston. In the
third or fourth year of the colony he died. His memory
was honored by an imposing military funeral — which
Matthew Grant doubtless attended — and his tombstone
was illuminated by the quaint epitaph :

*' Here lies our Captain and M^or; of Suffolk was withall ;
A goodly Magistrate was He, and Major -generalL
Two Troops of Horses with Him came such Worth his Love did crave ;
Ten Companies of Foot also .monrning marchfed to his Grave.
Let all that read be sure to keep the Faith as He has done ;
With Christ He lives now crowned ; His Name is Humphrey Atherton."

When Matthew had been four years in America, Pris-
ciUa, his wife, died, and left four children, the youngest an
infant. The next year, 1635, nearly half of the first Dor-
chester settlers went to establish new homes in the wilder-
ness of the Connecticut Valley, far beyond the confines of
civilization. Early historians give as reasons for this second
migration, a "hankering after new lands," which were
fertile and grassy, while those of Dorchester were rocky
and heavily wooded ; better opportunities for trading in furs
with the Indians ; and fears lest Connecticut should fall into
the hands of the Dutch, who were attempting to settle it.

Matthew Grant — now restless and lonely — went with the
rest. Reaching the present site of Windsor, half-way be-
tween Springfield and Hartford, and already settled by an
offshoot from the Plymouth Colony, they were entertained
by the pioneers, and, after examining the country, deter-
mined to stay. The settlers from Plymouth resented this as
ungenerous ; but the Dorchester people persisted, and even

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22 FiGHTiKG Famine and Indians. [isss.

drove away another party of twenty from Massachusetts
Bay, likewise desirous of remaining.

Matthew Grant and his companions spent the summer in
felling trees and building log-houses. Their families re-
mained behind in Dorchester, and in October, several of
the men went back for them. Sending their household
goods by ship around through Long Island Sound, to come
up the Connecticut, they started on their return to Windsor,
by land, the babies and invalids on horseback, and men
and women walking, and driving their cattle through the

Winter set in early. By the middle of November the
river was fast frozen, and the snow deep. The overland
emigrants suffered much, and were obliged to leave their
cattle in the woods, where many died, while the rest lived .
on acorns until spring. Reaching the Windsor settlement,
the travelers were appalled to learn that the ship, with
their provisions, was imprisoned in the river below. Seven- ';
teen went back to Massachusetts Bay in despair, while * ■
those who remained subsisted chiefly on nuts and acorns.
At length a party of seventy — ^men, women, and children — -
started for the ship, which had frozen in twenty miles -t
above the river's mouth, that they might live on her sup- ' ^:
plies. But before they reached her, she was released by ;^y
the spring thaw ; so they returned to their settlement, "'
Vhich at first they called New Dorchester, but finally named -. ;^

They carried their lives in their hands. Like all frontier- '^h
men, they were reckless of their own safety, but prudent '^l
for their wives and children. As soon as their families -^is
arrived, they built a palisade, a quadrangle three-quarters '^^;:j
of a mile long, to protect them against Indians. Those who %ih-
had houses or lots outside, left them and moved in. Matthew f^
Grant had cleared six acres, but abandoned it all except the ^'^ tii.
little piece on which his log-dweUing stood, within the ^ap.
palisade, and next to the old Windsor town-house. For >;jof
ninety years the colonists suffered constantly from Indians. '%k()^
At home, in the field, in the meeting-house, nowhere were '^^e<l j
they secure. ^, tie

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1637.] Surveyor, Town Clerk, and Church Clerk. 23

*' Honest Matthew Grant '' filled a large place in the set-
tlement. He was elected one of two surveyors, to overlook
the construction and preservation of highways, and con-
tinned in that office for the greater part of his life. The
roads and farm boundaries were very crooked and involved,
and real estate plentiful and cheap. After working hard all
day at surveying, Matthew used to say, **I would not
accept all the land I have bounded to-day as pay for my
day's work."

He was also town clerk for many years. His auto-
graph constantly api)ears on the Windsor records, to au-
thenticate public documents. In 1637, the driven-out
Massachusetts people sold their tract to this colony. Ap-
pended to the deed is a long note describing the land, and
signed *' Matthew Grant, Recorder." He seems to have
taken a just pride in his own integrity. In a land suit, ill
1676, in a deposition stUl preserved in the State archives at
Hartford, he testified in somewhat nebulous rhetoric : —

**If any question my uprightness and legal acting about our town affairs,
that 1 have been employed in a measure of land and getting out of lots of
men which has been done by me from our first beginning here come next
September is forty yere. I never got out any land to any man until I knew
he had a grant to it from the townsmen, and town's approbation, or to
recording after the book was turned. I am chose near twenty-three years
sinoe. I can say with a cleare conscience I have been careful to do nothing
upon one roan's desire."

He was a Puritan of the Puritans. A schism arose in
the church about the old minister, Wareham, who had come
with the colonists from Dorchester, and, in his old age, was
thought a little rigid and narrow even for those days. So
a party of townspeople established a parish under a younger
and more liberal divine named Woodbridge. They de-
sired to have this entered upon the town records; but
Matthew Grant, apparently alarmed at the degeneracy and
growing impiety of the times, refused to write it. The new
church people, however, were men of authority, and seem
to have demanded the book to enter the fact themselves.
At all events, the record stands in a strange handwrit-
ing, with a note appended in Matthew's well-known chi-

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24 Matthew Grant's Church Record, [i^^i

rography explaining the aflFair, and indirectly protesting
against it.

The Windsor records, in the library of the Connecticut
Historical Society, show that he was clerk of the cliurch
until his de«ath. Matthew's brief business-like entries are
open to criticism, for he studied conciseness in letters as
well as in words, and did not put himself to unnecessary
trouble in the use of the parts of speech. The sexes are
classified as "menkind," and '^womenkind," and daughter
is given as ' ' darter. ' ' Dates of sacraments, baptisms, church
admissions, suspensions, and indebtedness to the deacons
for bread and wine, are recorded. There are. also allusions
to the flood of 1639, and to a subscription for sufferers in
King Philip's War, to which Matthew and his son both
contributed. There was little fighting south of Springfield ;
but it was at Hadley, only a few miles above, that Indians
attacked while the settlers were at church, and ail old man
with white flowing beard — whom they at first supposed an
angel, but who proved to be one of the fugitive judges of
Charles the First — suddenly appeared from the forest and
led the worshipers to victory.

Matthew's immediate successor as church clerk, was less
concise and business-like, but more sentimental, and wrote
invocations like this: "1685. The Lord make the next
year a good year." ' ' 1688. Not so much as one added to the
church this year, and as many died out of it as were added
the year before. The good Lord awaken and humble us !"

Among the passengers by the Mary and John was Wil-
liam Rockwell, an elderly man of good estate, who brought
Susannah, his wife, and eight children. He also came to
Windsor, where he was first deacon of the church. In 1640
he died. Five years later, and ten years after the loss of
his first wife, Matthew Grant was married to Susannah
Rockwell. He was forty-four years old, and she forty-
three, and they began housekeeping with the fair start
of twelve children. They lived together twenty-one years.
She died November 14, 1666, and he December 16, 1681, at
the age of eighty, outliving her fifteen years, and spending
the close of his Ufe with his youngest son, John.

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1754.] An Umbrella as a Weapon. 25

n. Samuel, Matthew's second son, was bom in Dorches-
ter, November 12, 1631. When four years old he removed
with his father to Windsor, where he lived and died. He
left eight children, all bearing Biblical names.

III. Samuel (second), first child of the above, was bom
in Windsor, April 20, 1659. On coming to manhood, he
moved to East Windsor, just across the river. There he
lived and died, leaving nine children, of whom seven bore
Biblical names.

IV. Noah, first child of the above by a second marriage,
was bom in Windsor, December 16, 1692. During his life-
time the portion of Windsor in which he resided was set off to
Tolland. From his wife' s family descended Samuel Hunting-
ton, one of the first Supreme Judges and afterward Governor
of Ohio. He resided near Painesville, in that State, and a
story, at least entertaining, has been handed down, that once,
riding homeward through the woods just before dark, he
was set upon by a pack of wolves. He had no weapon but
a great umbrella. Whenever his snarling pursuers came too
near, he would suddenly spread this open and send them
flying back. Then putting spurs to his fleet horse, he out-
stripped them for a few minutes. Thus he finally got home
in safety, bearing only the frame and shreds of his opportune

V. Noah (second), eldest child of the above, was born
in Tolland, July 12, 1718. He married Susannah Delano, of
the family from which Columbus Delano, late a Representa-
tive in Congress from Ohio, is descended. About 1750 Noah
moved to the adjoining town of Coventry. Soon after began
the final struggle between the French and English for su-
premacy on the American Continent, in which he and his
brother Solomon both served.

The old French and Indian War of our great-grand-
lathers! — ^how dim and remote the antiquity, in which it
now seems hidden ! The first blood was shed in Western
Pennsylvania, under Major George Washington, in 1754.
The next year occurred the ambush and slaughter of the
English and Americans, under Braddock, ten miles from
Pittsburg, in which every officer but Washington, now a

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26 Solomon Gbant makes his Will. [1755.

colonel, was killed or wounded. One night a week later, in
the deep woods, by a glowing torchlight, the young American
colonel read the funeral service of the English Church over
the corpse of Braddock. Four years after came the dramatic
battle of the Heights of Abraham, in which Wolfe and Mont-
calm gave up their lives, and won a sure place in history.

Before entering the service, Solomon Grant, who was a
bachelor, thirty years old, made his will, giving his real
estate to Noah, or, in the event of Noah's death, to Ms eld-
est son, and so on in entail forever.

The curious document ran thus: —

In the namo of God, Amen, the eighth day of September, ▲. i>. 1755.

I, Solomon Grant of Coventry, in the Ooxrnty of Windham and Colony
of Connecticut, in Kew England, being about going on the expedition against
Crown Point, and also of perfect mind and memory, Thanks be to God there-
for, calling into mind the mortality of my body, and knowing that it is ap-
pointed for all men once to die, do make and ordiun this my last Will and
Testament, that is to say. Principally, and first of all, — I give and recom-
mend my Soul into the hands of God that gave it, and my body I recommend
to the earth, to be buried in decent Christian burial, at the discretion of my
Executor, nothing doubting but at the General Resurrection I shall receive
the same again, by the mighty power of God, and as touching such worldly
Estate, wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me in this life

I give, devise, and dispose of the same, in the following manner and form,

Imprimis, I give and devise unto my well-beloved Brother, Noah Grant,
all and every part of my real estate during his natural life. At his decease
I give the whole of said estate to my said brother's oldest son then surviv-
ing, and at his decease to the next oldest male heir, and so on, to be an
estate entail, in manner aforesaid, successively from one generation to another
to the latest posterity.

Item, I give and bequeath unto my well-beloved Brother, Adoniram
Grant, after my debts and funeral expenses are paid, and also he paying
what I shall hereafter bequeath, the whole of my movable estate.

Item, I give and bequeath unto my well-beloved Sister, Martha Price,
one hundred pounds in old tenor bills of credit, to be paid out of my movable

Item, I give and bequeath to my well-beloved brothers, Benjamin and
Elias Buell, each of them twenty pounds, in old tenor bills of credit, to be
out of my movable estate.

Item, I give and bequeath to my well-beloved sister, Abigal Baell, ten
pounds in old tenor bills of credit, to be paid out of my movable estate.

Item. I give and bequeath onto my well-beloved Brother, Samuel Bnell,

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1766.] Noah Gbakt's Handweiting. 27












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28 Solomon anb Noah Geant Killed. [i''*8-

^ve poondfl, in old tenor bills of credit, to be paid out of my movable

Item. I give and bequeath to my well-beloved Sister, Hannah Kimball,
five pounds in old tenor bills of credit, to be paid out of my movable

Item. I give and bequeath unto the Second Society of Coventry afore-
said two hundred pounds in old tenor bills of credit, for the use and benefit
of the School in said Society, to be paid out of my movable estate.

All the above Legacies to be paid by my Executor after named, within the
space of one year after my decease.

I do hereby constitute, make, and ordain, my well-beloved Brother, Adon-
iram Grant, to be ray sole Executor of this my last Will and Testament, and
I do hereby disallow, revoke, and disannul all and every other former Testa-
ments, Legacies, Bequests, and Executors, by me, in any way before
named, Batifying and Oonfirming this and no other to be my last Will and

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and
year above written.

Solomon Grant, [l. b.]

Signed, Sealed, Published, Pronounced,

and Declared by the said Solomon

Grant, as his last Will and Testament,

in the presence of us, the Subscribers,

Phinsas Stboko, Jb.,
Oaleb Faibchild,
OziAS Stbono.

The inventory accompanying gave the property as about
nine hundred pounds sterling. The brothers were both
killed in an'engagement near Oswego, New York, Septem-
ber 20, 1756.

Noah and his brother were in different companies,
Noah a captain, and Solomon a lieutenant. The original
muster-roll of Noah's company is still preserved in his own
handwriting, headed by his own name as captain, and dated
March 26, 1755. There was no military prejudice against
color in those days, for two privates on the muster-roll are
designated: ''Prince, negro," and ''Jupiter, negro.'

VI. Noah (third), son of the above, was born in Coventry,
Connecticut, on the twenty-third of June, 1748. The subse-
quent change in our calendar from Old Style to New, brought
his birthday on the fourth of July, to the keen satisfaction of
Noah, who had inherited the patriotic and military tastes of

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1790] NoAfl Grant in the Revolution. 29

his father. After marrying Anna Buell, of the family from
which sprang General Don Carlos Buell, Noah went into
the army at the first drum-beat of the conflict for Indepen-
dence. He was a lieutenant of militia at the battle of Lex-
ington, and served through the entire Revolutionary War,
coming out with the rank of captain.

When he returned from the war, the Connecticut Valley,
which, a hundred and fifty years earlier, his ancestor Mat-
thew had found a howling wilderness, was dotted with
towns, villages, and farms, and filled with an industrious,
thrifty people. Brissot, who wrote in 1788, says : " Nature
and art have spread out all their treasures to make it the
Paradise of the United States. Nevertheless, in this State
there is much land to sell. What is the reason ? The prin-
cipal one is the desire of emigration to the West. The de-
sire to do better has empoisoned the joys even of the inhab-
itants of Connecticut."

Noah Grant returned to a desolate home. His wife had
died, leaving him two sons, Solomon and Peter. Under
this affliction, aggravated by the restlessness which army
life leaves, in 1790 he succumbed to the prevailing emigra-
tion fever, and removed to Westmoreland County, Pennsyl-
vania, settling near Greensburg, on the Monongahela River.
Twenty miles below was Pittsburg, then a frontier post of
only five hundred inhabitants, but already boasting a news-
paper, 77ie Pittsburg Gazette^ which is still in existence.
The people dwelt in log-houses, and there was a little
garrison at Fort Pitt, where the Monongahela and Alle-
ghany unite to form the Ohio.

In the French and Indian War, a certain Major Grant
with eight hundred Scots, had fought the Indians on an
acclivity east of the town, which is called Grant's Hill to
this day. Hence possibly the tradition of Scotch descent in
the Grant family, who may have erroneously supposed this
Scotch major of Pittsburg to be of their kith and kin.

A rough mail carriage had just begun to run to Philadel-
phia, though there was no turnpike, and roads were horri-
ble. Most travelers journeyed on horseback, spending the
nights at taverns, where lodging and meals were twenty-

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80 Settles in Western Pennsylvania. [it94.

five cents each. The horseback trip from Philadelphia oc-
cupied eight or ten days. Freights over the same ront^
cost forty-five shillings per hundred- weight.

Westmoreland County is a rough mountainous region,
whose people, though at the outset of the Revolution on
the verge of war with their Virginia neighbors about the
boundary between the two States, and during its progress
suffering greatly from Indian attacks, had been intensely
loyal to the national cause. After the war, the great tide of
emigration from New England to the Northwest Territory
(Ohio), swept directly through it. Emigrants would cross the
AUeghanies, and then embark in canoes on the " Yock '' or
Youghiogheny River, float down it and the Monongahela to
Pittsburg, stop there a few hours for supplies, and then
glide down the Ohio into the deeper wilderness beyond.

The people of Westmoreland lived largely upon venison
and potatoes, though cattle were plentiful, and the new land
produced com abundantly. They shipped cider and beer
down the river to Ohio and Kentucky, and made enormous
quantities of whisky, supplying much of the South and West.
They raised flax from whit^h the women wove clothing for
their entire families. Iron mines in the vicinity of Pittsburg
were already attracting attention ; glass and iron manufac-
tories were springing up, and some oil wells had been dis-
covered. They were not deemed valuable, however, but
simply regarded as curiosities. The woods still abounded
in whip-poor-wills, owls, bears, and panthers, and often in
hostile Indians. There was no money in the region, and its
entire business was conducted through barter.

Such was the f^ountry and society in which Noah Grant
settled. On the fourth of March, 1792, two years after his
arrival, he married a widow named Rachael Kelly, by whom
he had seven childi^en, five of whom are now living, their
ages ranging from sixty-five to seventy-five years.

VII. Jesse Eoot Grant, fourth child of the above, was
bom January 23, 1794. He was named for Jesse Root,
many years Chief- Justice of the Supreme Court of Connec-

Koah Grant, still restless, lived only nine years in Penn-

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I'Jw.] Removes to the Ohio Wilderness. 31

sylyania. In April, 1799, again he folded his tent like the
Arab, and as silently stole away — ^into a new wilderness.
Wagons were then little used ; the river, alive with travel
and commerce, was the great thoroughfare. At high water
crafts went from Pittsburg to the present site of Cairo,
at the mouth of the Ohio, in twenty days, but in summer
the voyage sometimes consumed ten weeks.

The river vessels floated with the current, were flat-bot-
tomed, and of two classes : trading boats, bound for Ken-
tucky and New Orleans, and loaded with whisky, flour,
apples, cider, apple-brandy, earthenware, iron, and glass ;
and family boats, of emigrants, carrying farming utensils,
household goods, cattle, horses, men, women, and children.

In a boat of the latter class, Noah Grant and his wife
embarked with their five young children, a horse, two cows,
cooking utensils, and all the rest of their worldly goods.
Their craft was snug, and a part of it was roofed. Bidding
adieu to their old home, they floated down the Monongahela
and then down the fair Ohio, whose banks were already
dotted by a few farms. They did not stop at night, but
glided on through the darkness, one watching while the
others slept.

Forty-flve miles below Pittsburg and two below the
Pennsylvania line, they landed at the little settlement of
Fawcettstown, now Liverpool, Columbiana County, Ohio.
The river here, half a mile wide, at low water is almost ford-
able, but in spring very high, fall of driftwood, and dotted
with stem- wheel steamers, pushing black coal barges before

Online LibraryAlbert Deane RichardsonA personal history of Ulysses S. Grant: and sketch of Schuyler Colfax → online text (page 3 of 50)