Asa Benjamin and the Revolutionary War

On May 4th, 1775, my 4th great grandfather enlisted in the Revolutionary War. Asa Benjamin joined at Worthington, MA. He served eight months as a private and was discharged on December 23, 1775. He re-enlisted and was discharged six times from first enlistment to his final discharge in 1781.

Asa was born in Preston, New London, CT in 1754. He descended from the Benjamin family that came to America with John Winthrop and the Great Puritan Migration in 1632.

It was during one of his re-enlistments that Benjamin transferred to Valley Forge, PA on March 19, 1778 and served in the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard protecting George Washington. The Guard was an elite group of soldiers who were chosen to protect against a surprise raid on Washington’s headquarters.

On March 11, 1776, General Washington issued the following orders:

“Head-Quarters, Cambridge March 11, 1776

The General is desirous of selecting a particular number of men as a guard for himself and baggage.  The Colonel or Commanding Officer of each of the established regiments, the artillery and riflemen excepted, will furnish him with four, that the number of wanted may be chosen out of them.  His Excellency depends upon the Colonels for good men, such as they can recommend for their sobriety, honesty and good behavior.  He wishes them to be from five feet eight inches to five feet ten inches, handsomely and well made, and as there is nothing in his eyes more desirable than cleanliness in a soldier, he desires that particular attention be made in the choice of such men as are clean and spruce.  They are to be at headquarters tomorrow precisely at 12 o’clock at noon, when the number wanted will be fixed upon.  The General neither wants them with uniforms nor arms, nor does he desire any man to be sent to him that is not perfectly willing or desirous of being in this Guard. – They should be drilled men.”

Commander in Chief Guard Flag

After serving for a few months in the Guard, Benjamin returned home to work on his farm. He soon re-enlisted and eventually earned the rank of lieutenant.

An historian talked to Asa’s great grandson, Reuben, who recalled having seen the old uniform that his ancestor had worn. “It was moth-eaten and worn and was hung in the barn. It was finally torn up as rags for some use around the farm. It may have been used in wiping off the spindles of the carriage when grease anew.”

Asa Benjamin and his family moved to Pierpont, Ashtabula Co., OH in 1811. He died on December 28, 1825 and is buried in the family plot in Pierpont’s  Hall Rd. (Sam Brown) Cemetery.

Benjamin Family Plot

Asa Benjamin Headstone

Working in the Mills

An aspect of researching my family history that really interests me is the occupations of my ancestors. A common occupation that crops up again and again is working in various types of mills.

My Harris family has a long history in the mills. Ezekial Harris owned a saw mill in Bedford, NY in the the mid 1700′s. Nelson Harris built a saw mill in Cato, WI and then in Forest Junction, WI in the 1850′s. It was Forest Junction’s first business and was later operated by his brother, Isaac. Nelson’s son, Orville, worked in the Cato mill and later was an engineer in at a flour mill in Appleton, WI.

Walter Kachelski came to America in 1870, and during his early years, was employed as a weaver in a woolen mill in Beaver Dam, WI

Reuben Perry Benjamin operated a saw mill in Pierpont, Ohio in the mid 1800′s

In 1897, Daniel Webster Allen build the first grist mill in Custer, MI.

In the mid-1800′s, Lysander Ormsby operated a stave mill in Deerfield, MI. Stave mills produced the narrow strips of wood that composed the sides of barrels.

Mystery Monday | February 21, 2011 – Asahel Cleveland

Today’s mystery involves my 3rd great grandfather, Asahel Cleveland.

Asahel was born in Worthington, Hampshire Co., MA on April 6, 1793. He was the youngest child of Newcomb Cleveland and Abigail Willis. Asahel and Priscilla Benjamin married on March 7, 1815 in Pierpont, OH.

The information I have states that Asahel died in Hancock County, IL on December 5, 1845. There is an Asahel Cleveland in the 1842 Illinois Tax Index for Nauvoo, which is in Hancock Co.

I would like to know where Asahel is buried. Priscilla is buried in the Old Burying Grounds in Pierpont.

Asahel is my 3rd great grandfather.

Today’s Tidbit | April 7, 1636

On April 7, 1636,  John Benjamin’s mansion was destroyed by fire. The location where his mansion stood is on a site now occupied by Harvard University.

John and his family arrived in Boston, MA in 1632. He was a part of John Winthrop’s Great Migration of Puritan settlers to America. They soon settled in Newtowne (Cambridge), MA. There, he purchased six acres of land and built a house. Governor Winthrop described it as “unsurpassed in elegance and comfort by any in the vicinity. It was a mansion of intelligence, refinement, religion, and hospitality, visited by the clergy of all denominations, and by the literati at home and abroad.” Gov. Winthrop designated him as Mr. Benjamin, the title Mister being rare in those days. There is a tradition that he brought a fine library from England.

John Benjamin is my 9th great grandfather. More about him and his family can be read here.

Thanksgiving Thursday

The Thanksgiving season, and these next several months, are a special time of the year in the history of my family. My 9th great grandfather, William Bradford, came to America on the Mayflower in November of 1620.

Partial Mayflower Passenger List - click to enlarge

Partial Mayflower Passenger List – click to enlarge

The ship left England in September and, after a grueling 66-day journey marked by disease, which claimed two lives, the ship dropped anchor inside the hook tip of Cape Cod. That first winter, half of the colonists perished. And then, in early spring, the colony’s first leader, John Carver, died. William was elected to succeed him as governor, and was subsequently re-elected thirty times, serving until he died in 1657. He had a reputation as a firm and fair leader. William was the second signer and primary architect of the Mayflower Compact.

William’s first wife, Dorothy, died on December 7, 1920 after falling overboard into the icy waters of Provincetown Harbor while the Mayflower was anchored. The Pilgrims had not yet made it to Plymouth. On August 14, 1623, he married my 9th great grandmother, Alice Carpenter Southworth. She came to Plymouth aboard the Anne in July 1623, following the death of her first husband. The description of their marriage sounds similar to that of the first Thanksgiving.

Thus began my English ancestry in America. Soon after, my Puritan ancestors arrived with the family names of Benjamin, Newcomb, Cleaveland, Ormsby, Harris, and many others.

I’m proud that my family has been in America for 389 years!

This Week’s Family Anniversaries | August 9 – August 15, 2009

William Salisbury, Jr. – Born August 14, 1659 in Dorchester, Suffolk, Massachusetts Bay Colony. He married Anna Cole on July 30th 1664 in Swansea, Bristol, Massachusetts Bay Colony. William is my 7th great grandfather.

Joseph Benjamin, III – Born August 15, 1699 in Preston, New London, Connecticut Colony. He married Deborah Clark on April 3, 1722 in Preston. Joseph is my 6th great grandfather.

Richard Ormsby and Sarah Upham – Married August 9, 1640 in Saco, York Co., Province of Maine. They are my 8th great grandparents.

William Bradford, III and Alice Carpenter – Married August 14, 1623 in Plymouth Colony. William was the second governor of the Plymouth Colony almost continuously from 1621 until 1656. William and Alice are my 9th great grandparents.

Mary “Polly” Bromley – Died August 10, 1845. She married Asa Benjamin on January 4, 1787 in Worthington, Hampshire Co., MA. Mary is buried in the Hall Rd. Cemetery in Pierpont, Ashtabula Co., OH. She is my 4th great grandmother.

Wilhelm Hau – Died August 12, 1884 in St. Joe, Marshfield Twp., Fond du Lac Co., WI. He came to America from Prussia in the 1860′s and married Kathrine Tuepper on January 12, 1869 in Mt. Calvery, Fond du Lac Co. He is buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Marshfield Twp. Wilhelm is my 2nd great grandfather.

Dorothy Louise Harris – Died August 13, 1972 in Clintonville, Waupaca Co., WI. She was born on July 17, 1900 in Appleton, Outagamie Co. Dorothy married Russell Bernard Weller in 1929. She is buried in St. Rose Cemetery in Clintonville. Dorothy is my grandmother.

Maria Katherine Michels – Died on August 14, 1923 in Johnsburg, Fond du Lac Co., WI. She was born in Germany and married Anton Fuhrmann on June 19, 1860 in Johnsburg. She is buried in St. John the Baptist Cemetery in Johnsburg. Maria is my 2nd great grandmother.

Henry Lawrence Heim – Died on August 15, 1959 and is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Chelsea, Washtenaw Co., MI. Henry married Vera Gage in 1916 in Jackson, Jackson Co., MI. He is my wife’s great grandfather.

This Week’s Family Anniversaries | June 14 – June 20, 2009

John Earl Harris – Born June 15, 1798 in Greenfield, Saratoga Co., NY. He married Nancy Ormsbee on November 1, 1820 in Greenfield. John Earl died on January 6, 1855 and is buried in Cato Heights Cemetery, Cato, Manitowoc Co., WI. He is my 3rd great grandfather.

Henry Lawrence Heim – Born June 20, 1890 in Sylvan Twp., Washtenaw Co., MI. He married Vera N. Gage on June 21, 1916 in Jackson, Jackson Co, MI. Henry died on August 15, 1959 and is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemtery, Chelsea, Washtenaw Co., WI. Henry and Vera Heim are my wife’s great grandparents.

Anton Fuhrman and Maria Katherine Michels – Married June 19, 1860 in Johnsburg, Fond du Lac Co., WI. They are my 2nd great grandparents.

John Benjamin – Died June 14, 1645 in Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was born about 1584 in Heathfield, Sussex, England. John married Abigail Eddy about 1619 in Cranbrook, Kent Co., England. He is my 9th great grandfather.