Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Caleb Woodworth of Salisbury, Connecticut: Revolutionary Patriot? Part 2

In order to determine if Caleb Woodworth of Salisbury was a Revolutionary Patriot, I needed to determine if there was any merit to the original claim, that as an old man he served for 27 days at the Lexington Alarm. There definitely was a Caleb Woodworth who performed that service, but since he lived in Windham, Connecticut, I needed to determine if he was the same Caleb Woodworth who lived most of his life in Salisbury, CT. I had to see if for some reason, my Caleb had moved.

I first decided to try to determine a firm death date and place for Caleb, and could not: He did not leave a will (as per the Town Historian), and there is no known gravemarker or cemetery record for him or his wife. In addition, there was no indication of his death in the Salisbury church records.

The next step was to try to determine when Caleb could last be placed firmly in Salisbury, Connecticut. The town tax rolls showed that Caleb paid taxes regularly until 1773, the last year he appears on the Grand List for Salisbury.

Caleb had regular land transactions in Salisbury over the course of his life, and deeding property to his sons, including one very helpful deed to his son William, my ancestor, naming him as Caleb's son and stating William's residence at the time, Nine Partners, New York. The final land transaction I found for Caleb in Salisbury was recorded in 1775, however the deed itself was dated 26 March 1773, but not recorded until 23 August 1775. The witnesses were Caleb's sons, Cyrenius and Solomon, and the property was sold to Samuel Whitmore.

I checked with the town historian of Salisbury, who holds the volumes of Town Meeting Minutes. It turns out that the Minutes are all handwritten, and have never been indexed, so it was impossible to say when Caleb's last appearance was. She was able to send me two helpful items, though:
  • A list of the Freemen in Salisbury records, which contained the names of both Caleb and his son Cyrenius. There is a notation next to Cyrenius' name indicating that he took the Oath of Fidelity "at a legal Freemen's meeting held in Salisbury on the 16th day of September AD 1777." There is no such notation next to Caleb's name.
"Note A" next to Cyrenus' name indicates he took the Oath of Fidelity.

  • A copy of a small book of extracts from the Salisbury Town Meeting Minutes. The last mention of Caleb in this unindexed volume - which I read late into the night - is in 1769, and consists of this curios statement: "Voted that if this town is put to any cost by reason of the widow Hannah Owen and her child, then the selectmen are directed to put the bond against Caleb Woodworth for the security of this town in suit."
The Salisbury church helpfully provided me with the name of Hannah Owen's deceased husband, Joshua Woodworth Owen, a son of Caleb's sister Margaret Woodworth.

Finally, I searched area newspapers for mentions of Caleb Woodworth, but all I found was a reference to him on a list of Salisbury residents in a legal notice in 1771.

Finding nothing about Caleb after 1773 in Salisbury, there were two possible conclusions. The first is that he had died, sometime after 1773, but likely before 1777, when his son Cyrenius took the Oath of Fidelity, but Caleb, also a Freeman, did not.

The other possibility, of course, was that sometime after 1773,  Caleb moved to Windham.  I began my search with the 1790 Federal Census in Windham, to see if there were any Woodworths in the town at that time, and turned up a record for a "Catherine Woodward." She had two household members, both female. I was unable to locate anything further about her.  

1790 Federal Census listing for Catherine Woodward in Windham, Connecticut.

I checked with the Town Clerk of Windham, who searched the records and turned up this tantalizing tidbit: in 1776, a piece of land was purchased in Windham by a Caleb Woodworth from Elisha and Josiah Kingsley. Caleb is listed as "from Windham," and no wife is mentioned. Equally as unfortunate, no subsequent sale of the land was ever recorded. (The Town Clerk suggested that it might have been transferred later by an estate administrator and indexed under the administrator's name - in which case, good luck finding it.)

So there was a Caleb Woodworth, who served at Lexington in 1775 from the Town of Windham, and who bought property there the following year. However, neither record provides any detail that might identify him as being the Caleb of Salisbury - although I note that nothing about the dates eliminates the possibility that Caleb moved (after 1773, his final appearance in Salisbury).

The only other thought I had was this: If Caleb moved from Salisbury to Windham, at the age of 69 or more, the likeliest reason would be that he went to live with one of his children. I turned my attention next to Caleb and Jane's eleven children to see if any of them appeared in the Windham area:
  • Gershom (b. 1728) moved to New York State, where he served in the 16th Regiment, Albany Militia with brother William (b. 1735) during the revolution. There was a rather tantalizing clue in the records here: a Caleb Woodworth served alongside these two brothers. Further research, however, showed this to be Gershom's son Caleb, born 1763.
  • Jane (b. 1730) married Jacob Turner; he died in 1762; their son William provided supplies to the Revolutionary cause.
  • Ephraim (b. 1732) moved to the Saratoga, NY, area, where he served in 13th Regiment, Albany Militia. Brother Amos (b. 1741) served with him. 
  • Cyrenus (b. 1736) remained in Salisbury, where he took the Oath of Allegiance in 1777.
  • Freelove (b. 1738) married Jessie Chatfield; he may be the Jesse Chatfield who served alongside Ephraim and Amos Woodworth in the 13th Regiment, Albany Militia.
  • Sarah (b. 1743) married Jonathan Canfield, who may have served alongside brother-in-law Selah Woodworth  (b. 1750), according to Fulton County records. 
  • Deliverance (b. 1745) appears only on a birth record; nothing further.
  • Solomon (b. 1748) was killed in battle in Fulton County, NY in 1781.
Two things are clear: First, Caleb's family was unquestionably on the American side during the Revolution, and second, none of Caleb's family was near Windham. Only two of his children even remained in Connecticut, Jane and Cyrenus. I tried to track daughter Jane after her husband's death, since Killingworth is only about an hour from Windham, but it seems likely that Jane remained in the Killingworth area; her son, at least, continued to live there.

Although there are additional research possibilities, my sense is this: Caleb transferred much of his property to his sons (as shown in land records), and sold the rest, so there was no need for a will. His wife Jane is believed to have died in 1774, and Caleb falls off the tax rolls in 1773. It seems likely that around that time period, Caleb and his wife moved in with their son Cyrenus, who remained in Salisbury and is buried there at the Town Hill Cemetery.
Of course, there is always more searching that may turn up other information, or at least pinpoint his death date:
  • Church records in Windham may reveal more information about Caleb Woodworth and Catherine Woodward (who may not be connected at all)
  • Caleb Woodworth of Windham may be mentioned in another soldier's pension
  • Salisbury church records may help pinpoint Caleb's death date, if he served as a sponsor at a baptism, for example, or they took a membership listing
  • Salisbury land records may show Caleb witnessing deeds after 1773, which could help pinpoint his date of death
It seems likely, given his children's strong allegiance to the American cause during the Revolution, that Caleb Woodworth would have been a patriot, if he was alive at the time of the Revolution. Where would you search next?

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