Francis Atwater.

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Atwater History
and Genealogy

ARMS AND CREST confirmed to Robert atwater of royton manor in lenham bv william






THE JOURN'.M. PUltl.I.SH I NG t(>Ml'.\NN ;,



'I'liis second volume of Atwater ITiston' and ( Icnealog^v, coni-
in.^-. as it does, only a few \ears after the first, seemed to the
author to he a necessary supplement, as so much adrlitional mat-
ter had heen accumulated, so man\- omissions filled in. and so
many corrections hrou.cjht to liiiht. that to him it hecame a dutv
he could not let i^o unfulfilled, knowing- that if not put into :i
]iermanent form of record while in his power to do so. much of
it would Ijc lost to the famih" forever.

Jt has heen found advisahle to reproduce in fidl the lineajre of
the Atwaters from David, the emij^rant. who with his hrother.
Joshua, came to .Vmerica in 1637. includiuir the last child horn,
or so many of the descendants as could he ascertained, if this
Aolume shall he incomplete the censure must rest upon the heads
of those who are ])erfectly indifferent to kindred, or devoid of the
courtesy that would take a few minutes to rej^ly to a polite in-
(|uiry. with return envelope and postatje i)rovided. Scattered
over this country and in Canada are hundreds of letters which.
if answered, woidd have, made this work ten times as rich in
family lore, to sa\ nothing' of niakini^' its pcdij^rec ])erfect.

In this connection, to the writer, it seems so strang'c that this
should he so. especially in a people uniformly kind, fjenerous.
ohlitrin^" and ,Qdod-hearted as T have found each and every one it
has heen my L;'ood fortune to hecome accpiainted with. ICven
those who under no circumstances would permit themselves to
write the desired information, when called u])on personally were
])rofuse in a])oloo-ies. and. in turn, so hospitahle and furnished
so nmch material, that it is hard to reconcile in one's mind they
could he the same persons possessing' such opposite characteristics.

Character sketches, which appeared in the first volume, are
omitted in the second, also the pedigrees of allied families. .\'<j


attcnii)t has been made to add anvtliing' to the exhaustive work
of the late Robert 11. Atwater on the F.iip^lish ancestry, though
by the kiiKhiess of Wilham C. Atwater, of Xew York, niore re-
cent ])ictures of the old ancestral Atwater homestead are printed,
including photographs of the rich carvings of pulpit and doors
extant in the sixteenth century, with a short description of the
town of Lenhani as he found it on two visits made to this quaint
old place in Kpi and 1902.

In company with Mr. F. F. Street, of Hartford, a relative of
the family of Mr. Elias B. Bishop, the writer on a bright May
<la\ visited the territory covered by Cedar Hill and Fast Rock
in .\ew Haven, which was formerly owned by the first David At-
water and later by his descendants, although in recent years most
of it has passed outsitle of the famil\. Mrs. T.ishop was (irace
Clarissa, daughter of Major Lyman Atwater, who in his day
was one of the most enterprising citizens Xew Haven could lay
claim to, perhaps one of his greatest undertakings being the
])uilding of a section of the old I'^armingtou canal, which ran
from Xew Haven through Mt. Carmel. Cheshire, Southington
and i'arniington into Western Massachusetts. Mrs. Bishop suc-
ceeded in possession of her father's home, and it was here that
Mr. Street passed most of his youthful days.

It was to live over for a few brief moments the scenes of those
times he desired to visit the old house, and to familiarize himself
with family reminiscences the writer was pleased to accept the
kind invitation to go along. Cedar Hill obtains its name from
having been covered with cedar trees, which no longer ago than
.Mr. Street's youth was really a forest of this variety. The hill,
composed mostl\ of sand, lias nearly disappeared: in the tir>t
place being graded for the street and the second cut into for
the ten-track-wide railroad w liicli occupies the ground. This was
taken from the farm of Medad .\twater. a brother of Lyman, the
house and Ixirn still remaining. If the barn could talk it could
tell that it was a busy mart when in its prime and ])layed an im-
portant part in the great West India trade which was plied with
Xew Haven, to the enrichment of manv of its old families. This


farm was the depot where droves of horses, mules and cattle were
placed until taken aboard ship. They came from the west on
foot, and finished their destination in sailing ships, many of
which were wholly or partly owned by members of the .\twater

Starting from Cedar Hill along Fleet street, now called State
street, for a distance of nearly two miles, all the houses and land
belonged to the family one hundred years ago. The old brick
house, supposed to have been built by the second David Atwater,
illustrated in the first volume, stood perhaps half wav in this
long stretch. From its outward appearance it may well be imag-
ined that it was very pretentious and aristocratic in its day and
no doubt the envy of the neighlxDrhood. The wind and storms
of 200 years did not affect its original strength, but in .\pril.
1905, it took fire and was totally destroyed in an hour's time.

The house visited by Mr. Street and the writer, it is conject-
ured, was built by David Atwater of the fourth generation, proba-
bly taking there in 1746 his young bride, Elizabeth, daughter of
John Bassett, who was the mother of his twelve children. It
then came to i\Iedad. then to "Major" Lyman, who transferred
it to his daughter. Grace Clarissa, who married Elias B. F'ishop.
We traversed it from room to room, stopping in each one. while
Mr. Street told interesting tales of his young life, dwelling par-
ticularly upon the sweet and motherly tenderness of Mrs. Bishop
as she smoothed out his pillow at night and left him to peaceful
dreams. Those memories he cherishes still, but only in sadness
and tears, for the good woman has gone to her Maker, and the
house, w^hile still standing, is onl\- an apology of its former days.
It is occupied but the hand of the goodwife is missing. It is in
good preservation so far as the wood work is concerned, and its
hardware, such as latches and hinges, forged b\ hand, is a mar-
vel of the black.smith's art. The children born in this house liv-
ing to be adults, both men and women, becaiue distinguished as
leaders in society, were highly educated, refined in taste, of un-
excelled manners, extremely hospitable, and of unblemished
characters. One of the sons, Lyman Hotchkiss. .son of Major
Lyman Atwater. was a gentleman of most scholarly attainments.

4 \ivv.\ii:k iiisiokv.

and was comicctc-d with I 'rincftoii collcj^a' as professor and vice-
president for nearly thirty years.

I'.Iiav I'.ishop. who married into the family and through his
wife hecanie the owner of the- larj^a- farm, hesides eultivatins;- it,
was an enterprising:^ and successful dealer in live stock, especiallv
in .sui)plyini^ hoth nudes and horses for thi' W e^t Indian traders of
Xew Haven in .L^reat numhers. .Mr. .Street tells the stor\ hut
doe> not vouch t'or its truth that the hus'iness he,i;an rather c(ueer-
ly. It seems in the early days of clock makinjj^ that ^'ankee ped-
dlers went .South and West to sell their time-pieces. .Monev he-
ins;- .scarce they hartered mules for clocks, and. it is said, in one
deal lifty nudes were taken for tifty clocks. Whether true or not
the husiness hecanie extensive and .Mr. T.ishop ])roved himself a
man of unconunon executive ahilitx in its manag-euHnt. He was
a ])uhlic spirited man. .and the world was hetter for havings him
a part of it.

.Mr. .Street relates the story told by ".Major" Lyman of an early
recollection of his home. C)n a very dark, stormy ni^q^ht there
was poundini.;- at the front door. ]<"ather. followed hv us boys,
oi)ened it when he was confronted by the sheritY. who asked in
a loud voice. "Have you seen anythinj^: of that d — d David .Aus-
tin.' ' lie was answered ".\o."" The sherilT coiuinucd. "the
cuss hrokr jail wlun the keeper took in his supi^er to-nip^ht and
he came this way." The ])erson referred to was the Rev. David
.\ustin. who had nm in debt to improve the .\'ew Haven green.
His creditors, not willing to wait for their money, had him put
in jail. The minister, anticipating the "line" storm had told his
servant to bring his saddle horse to the jail at su])per time the
first stormy night. .\t the oi)])ortune time he got behind his
jailer, rushed out of the door, locking it behind him. He rode
through rain, nnid and darkness to W^ethersfield, where he spent
a week with his sister. There he learned a reward was offered
for his capture. He immediatelx returned to the sheriff, claimed
the amount, was paid it. and in turn ]iaid his debts and was free.
.\ few yards southeast of the Lyman At water i)lace stands the
brick built by his brother. Rldad. to all outward appear-
ances in a good state of ])reservation. Some rods to the north

f"ut Xo. 1.
ATWATKK AXrKSTKAI. 1(.,M|.:, |.|.;mi\m_ kx, ;,..\ x I ,.

Cut Xo. 2.
ATWATKK AX(i:STK\I. IKiMi:, I .i:x 1 1 A M . KXCI.A \l ).

Ajtsr, Lw

Cut No. 3.

at\\a'II':r axcics'irai, uomi:, i.i:.\ ii am , i:\(;i, \xi>.


^■fc '■'., »

Cut Xo. .'..


Cut Xo. I.

A rwAi'iiK A.\( i;sri< \i. iiomi;.

FK(JXI" DOOR \\ll'[l .M()l)i;i<.\ I'.I.IXl KIC


Cut Xo. i\.

.\T\\.\\\:\< .\.\( i:siK.\i, iio.Mi:.
D<M)K (!Pi:.\i.\(; oir oi- main room lo i..\rM):<N

cm Xo. 7.
ATW.\ri:K .\.\(i:siK \i. iiomi;.

DOOR OPENING OUT <M" .\l.\l.\ KiicM m I \INI)K>-


M*T, V "

Tllri«n '/ •

AIWA I |;k II isKnn-

IS the home of Horace Atwater. an old g^entleman in his ei<,duy-
third year, when we visited him in the spring of 1905. He'' was
quite feeble, but conversed entertainingly about himself and other
members of the family he had known. He had always lived with-
in a few rods of where he was born, and in his younger years in
comnwn with his father, uncles and cousins, had drawn stone
from East Rock to New Haven to furnish hundretls of house
foundations and miles of the supporting walls for the railroad
cut. The whole of East Rock, except the roadwa\- and some
common land near the top. reserved for people to get stone free,
belonged to his family, and was sold to the city for park i)ur-
poses. His three sons live nearby, two being market gardeners.
One son. James M., lives on his great-uncle George's place, which
has a venerable large old elm its owner is justly proud of. I'ncle
George, when he died, left nearly all of his property, amounting
to some $22,000, to the insane poor of the town of Hamden.

In tracing the lineage of the North Carolina Atwaters there
was one amusing feature that should be told. To secure the
names of the family to write to. the different city and town di-
rectories were consulted. There were quite a number of Atwa-
ters who were slave owners, the slaves when freed taking the
name of the master to whom they formerly belonged. Xot know-
ing this fact, the names of several w-ere ascertained and written
to for their ancestry. Several replied, but in no instance did
they state their condition, nor was it ascertained until others had
been corresponded with. In this connection is printed an answer
to one einquiry :

"in your letter you wrote that you found children of Stephen Atwa-
ter in Norfolk, Va. Stephen Atwater was a negro who belonged to my
father and was my nurse when 1 was a child. He was a faithful slave
and with niy father's help and counsel he made a good living after
freed and now lives on his own farm and is respected by his neigh-
bors because of his good character. He is the last of my father's old
slaves now living and if he dies before I do I will attend his burial as
I have done all the old ones who have died. When the older negroes
die out and their influence ceases to be a force, the negro will not be re-
spected as his fathers were^ because of his unworthiness. Freedom to


th>3 average negro has been a curse. The morale of the race is bad —
bad iiKlt'til — because of tin- liu-k of restraint, ami it really seems the
tondi'iicy is toward barbarism. I am sorry to say it, but the philan-
tlnopists in the north who didn't understand the conditions estranged
the negro from the only influence which could have saved him — e. g.
the former slave owner. It may he, however, that under the guidance
of a Wise Providence it will work out right in the end.

"You will please pardon this digression. I wish you could know the
facts obtained by actual observation."

E. W. A.

The author is satisfied that lie has now traced out the pedigree
of the North Carolina family, which will be found nearly com-
plete. Jt is a pleasure to introduce them, for though divided for
some one hundred and twenty-five years, we find them contin-
uing in the same honest, sturdy way, that all Atwaters have ever

The following letter, accompanied by recent pictures of the
ancestral home in England, is self-explanatory :

Mr. Francis Atwater, Meriden, Conn.

l\Iy dear Mr. Atwater: — I visited England in 1901 and again in 1902
and on each occasion spent a most delightful day at Lenham. Lenham
as you know, is in Kent, on the line of the railway between London
and Dover, being perhaps fifty miles southeast of London. Kent is said
to be the garden spot of England and the drive from the railway sta-
tion to Royton Chapel is certainly a most beautiful one. The roads are
macadamized so that they are as hard and smooth and clean as a floor
and the vegetation seems most luxuriant, the lands being most carefully
cultivated. The Chapel is now a part of the estate of the Hon. Akers-
Douglas, who is the Home Secretary of Great Britain, being a member
of the English Cabinet.

The illustration in the 1901 edition of the genealogy fails to give any
conception of the beauty of the old Atwater homestead. It is one of
the most charming spots and ideally beautiful old buildings I have ever
«een and I succeeded in getting one or two fairly good photographs.
The house is one of great interest not only in the neighborhood but
through the entire section, being well known to English archaeologists
and being famed particularly for its oak. The carving in the oak pan-
eling, pilasters and mantel about the old fireplace being extremely beau-


Back of the house the land slopes to a small lake, being the only
piece of water in the neighV)orh()od, and from this lake very possibly the
family received their name. The whole situation is so ideal and rest-
ful, fields so smooth and green, the old house so comfortable that it
makes one marvel that Joshua and David Atwater could have ever left
such surroundings to go to London and then cross the ocean in a sail
boat to finally make their homes in such an inhospitable land as New
England was almost 300 years ago.

The house is at least one mile from the village and one can well feel
that the village of Lenham possibly has no greater population to-day
than it had 300 years ago. The streets, the houses, the very people, all
seem to breathe an atmosphere of two or three centuries ago. The origi-
nal church at Lenham was destroyed by fire in 1399. The present church
with its Norman towr was built immediately afterward. The carved
oak pulpit in this church, presented in 1622, as a carved date on the
sounding board overhead testifies, was given in that year by the At-
waters and Honeywoods, and from this pulpit the Vicar each Sunday
still represents the Church of England and preaches to a diminishing
flock. The whole neighborhood is so quaint, beautiful and interesting
and the Vicar of the church so hospitable that no descendant of David
Atwater should ever think of making a trip to England without going
down to Lenham and spend at least one day in the country from which
his first American ancestor came.

1 am much interested in the fact that you are getting out a second
volume of the genealogy and am pleased to send you some photographs
with films that I took three years ago at the old house in Lenham. I re-
gret that as it was quite cloudy I was unable to get as clear pictures
as would otherwise have been the case. For reference, I have numbered
each print. Nos. 1, 2 and 3 give views of the house itself and you can
readily see it is a beautiful relic of old English architecture. The house
is about ninety-five feet across the front and the brick wall shown in
No. 3 runs at right angles to the house, enclosing a rectangle that is
almost square. These pictures were taken late in the year. Earlier in
the summer the top of the wall is a continuous box of flowers flowing
down about it on either side. Picture 4 shows in detail the front door
with its modern electric bell. This door is solid oak, hand-carved, be-
ing one of the best examples in England of what is known as the Folded
Linen pattern. No 5 shows the mantel and carved oak work about the
fireplace in the main room, which you enter from the front door. The
artistic appearance of this fireplace has been ruined by being lined with
moden glazed tiles and having set up in it, as you see, a wood stove, with
its piece of pipe going up into the chimney.

No. 6 is a door on the light and No. 7 a door on the left of this fire-
place opening out of the main room to the laundry in the rear. I alsa


hfiul vmi two j>hot()giaiilis of tlii' jmlpit in the old Leuhaiii church which,
as you uotici' liy tlic inscription on the hack of one of the pictures, was
jiicscntcd t(i hiiih.i 111 cli'ircli hy 1 he A t \v:it <'is ami Jloueywoods in 1622.


Tlic wriUT .spent a pk-asanl lioiir willi Lcoiianl Alwalcr, oi
\\ estfit'ld, Mass., nuv Sunila\ cxxiiini^' in ( )cl(>l)rr, i</)5. Jlc was
then in his cighly-cighlh year, llis mind had somewhat failed,
but he narrated his early experiences in a very interesting man-
ner. W'lien a young man he peddled powder for a nearl)y mill,
lie was \er\ successful for those times and made enough in a
short while U) l)uy a two-horse team. lie then turned his at-
tention to selling whips, the maiuifactm"e of which the town of
W'estfield. Mass., has long been noted. At first he Ijought his
own stock and added a profit to suit himself. Later a manufac-
turer asked him to work for him on a salary. .Mr. At water was
agreeable, i)rovide(l the man woidd buy his team, which he did
at a ])rice of $500. This Mr. Atwater put in a building lot and
contracted for a house to he built thereon so that he would have
a "cage" w hen he should marr\ . His salar}' was $rxx). He
started with a two-horse team load of whips for Ohio where two
of his sisters lived. This was in the days of wildcat money when
out of some eighty banks in ( )hio, all but thirteen failed within
a short lime, lie spent se\eral months in that state but met with
no loss from this cause. In one instance he exchanged his "wild-
cat"" money into gold but a few (la\s before the bank failed.
There was $i.5<xi in anioujit which he carried in a sack in his
wagon. It was in his possession only a few da\s when at a tav-
ern he met a man from tlie east who had bought a farm but the
owner would onl\ accept g(^ld for his ])a\. The easterner of-
fered -Mr. .\. two and one-half per cent, if he would take his
riiiladelphia ])aper money in exchange for gold. The exchange
was made. .Mr. .\. put the bills in his iKKket and that night his
wagon was broken into, it being sup])osed the bag of gold was
still there. Mr. Atwater returned to Westfield to become a man-
ufactiu-er and when he retired from active life had been for .sev-
eral years the president of a large whip company.


pui-Pir IN r.i;.\ii.\M (I'lxc..) i una ii.

Presented by Atwaters and Iloneywoods in 1G22.

PULPIT I. \ i,i:mia.m (i:.\c..) ciunih.

Preseiitt'd by Atwators and Iloiu-ywoods in 1(122.


\ foundal^oni.


While oil a visit to the St. Louis exhiI)ition the- writer learned
of the tragic death of J>ertrani A. Atwater, son of John How-
man ( Xo. 1442), who was an artist of more than ordinary talent.
It seems he was engaged to a young lady who lived in luist St.
Louis. In preparation of his forthcoming naarriage he had fur-
nished a house in Chicago, harmonizing the furniture, carpels,
walls and decorations as only an educated taste for the heautiful
could, when he visited East St. Louis for the purpose nf settling
with his fiancee upon the happy daw I'.efore reaching the house
he was accosted hy a small hoy who desired to carry his grij).
Mr. Atwater. espying a barher shop close at hand, told the ur-
chin if he would wait until he was shaved he could have the job.
In the meantime the boy infomied his brother and a negro in re-
gard to the stranger. Then he returned and when Mr. .\twater
started buoyantly down the street with his helper he was con-
fronted with an order to throw up his hands just as he reached
a dark allev, the time Ijeing early evening. However instead of
complying he immediately reached into his pocket, seized his re-
volver and fired point blank at the brother who was onee of his
assailants, the bullet entering his head. In tiu-n the other hold-
up sh(^t Mr. Atwater. The shooting aroused the neighborhood,
and among those who hastened to the scene was the betrothed
young lady and her father, who immediately recognized the vic-
tim, but the assassin had accomplished his purpose and death
soon resulted. A search was made for the footpads, but without
success until groans were heard comin from an obscure quarter,
when the wounded brother was discoverel. Later, the U^y and
the negro were arrested. They were tried and as a result the lad
was imprisoned, the negro hung, and the wounded assailant sent
to state's prison for life. A few years later he was pardoned as
it was claimed he could not live long, which proved to be true as
he died on the journey before he reached home.

Francis .\tw.\ti:r.



The Atwater VAm can still be seen at the original "plantation"
of David Atwater, who came to America in 1636 in "the good
ship Hector," and in the "goodly company" of the Rev. John
Davenport. Theophiliis Eaton and others.

The tree was planted in 1746 by David Atwater, a descendant
of the original settler ; and on the old plantation at East Farms,
now Cedar Hill. Xcw Haven.

The diameter of the tree is fifteen feet. It is estimated the
circle of branches near the top is 300 feet. The height is ninety
feet. The elm was thirt\- years of age when the Revolutionary
war was declared and must have been a silent witness to many
remarkable events. If it could give us tales of the period, it
would speak of the ardent patriot David and of his equally pa-
triotic wife, Elizabeth.

Doubtless the tree felt the vibration of tlic three guns fired at
midnight of Sunday, July 4th. 1779, followed by the tramp of
men and boys, rushing to the city to resist the "British Invasion."

A\'ith them went David, who left his farm, taking with him
his "dutch horse and whiffietree, and with several friends went
to an armed vessel at the wharf, dismounted one of its six pound
guns, and hitching his horse to it. drew it to West Bridge and
fired shots at the enemy."

The old tree would tell of the passing of soldiers, weary and
discouraged ])y the hardships of war. It would not fail to re-
call the fact that "within the space of three weeks, 1,500 soldiers
and prisoners, rested in the shade of the elm to partake of the
bounty of the worthy and loyal lady, Elizabeth, and her patriotic
husband, David Atwater."

This statement was taken from an extract from the sermon by
Rev. Chauncey Whittlesey and Rev. Mr. Baird at the funeral of
Elizabeth Atwater in 1785.

Harriet B. Atwater.




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