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Benjamin and Hannah
It seems like a long time since he left Connecticut. He was at the property over the last winter trying to get as much in order for the family as possible. On February 26, 1705, he had signed the papers and given Mr. Fitch the thirty pounds for his first farm in Connecticut. He had some regret leaving Massachusetts and the tradition their family had back in Woburn, where it was civilized. But, he thought “Dad is gone now, and it’s time for us to push on and strike out on our own.”
He had to admit to being a bit nervous about the French and Indian troubles, though. Queen Anne’s War, a continuing hassle between the French and the British, had really heated up with the massacre of 50 of the settlers and abduction of 100 more in Deerfield, Massachusetts, about 70 miles due west of Woburn, out in western Massachusetts. That was only a year ago. “But, I feel comfortable they won’t strike this far down in English territory”, he thought to himself. "On the other hand, this area is so new, we have the disadvantage of being outnumbered if they decide to pay us a visit. Mr. Fitch told me that I am only the eighteenth person he had sold property to in Canterbury, a township roughly 40 square miles."
“Whew, boy, we just missed that mudhole. I hope the second wagon misses it. The wife’s carrying our third child (Daniel). She needs as few bumps as possible on this trip.” He thinks to himself, as he continues the wagon down the path that is, at times, barely discernible as the grass is coming up early this spring.
“There it is!” he yells, and he points to the top of a hill with a distinctive tree on the peak. “There’s the hill I told you about.. our place is just on the other side. That’s where our cabin is”. “Well, it’s about time”, Hannah yells back, with that sly grin of hers.
Finally they round a clump of trees and there it is in front of them: the meadow, about 6 acres of an island in this forest, with the creek running along the north side. The cabin is on the far side. First, to be closer to the water from the creek, and second, to be further from the main path that stretches on down to Norwich to the south.
He hopes Hannah isn’t disappointed in the cabin. A few of the neighbors had been over that winter when it was fairly clear weather to help him with putting it up. The windows can be fitted fairly tight with the wooden slats he built. They can swing down into the window opening in bad weather and be hoisted up and propped open when it’s nice. He’s brought some hinges and some saw-milled wood with him from Woburn to try to fit a door to the opening of the cabin. He used pine tar on the roof, and had been successful in stopping all but about two or three leaks during a rain when he was staying there over the winter. One of the neighbors said that a Winslow fellow a few miles south was handy with roofs. “He’ll be most obliged to help, as long you follow the code, Benjamin,” he said. “Others help you out, you help others out. That’s the only way we’ll make it out here is if we all pull together.”
“One thing’s for sure, though,” he thought. “We ought to be comfortable with our shoes this winter. Hannah’s dad, Thomas Knowlton, Sr., is known all over Massachusetts as one of the top shoemakers around. And, he made us all fine new shoes for our move to Connecticut.”
“So much to do,” he thinks, as he jumps off the wagon and stretches his muscles, aching from the 4 day ride over 60 miles of rocks and creeks and bumps. “Have to plant the meadow with vegetables for ourselves and oats for animal feed. Have yet to build a barn to keep Sally, the cow, in. And, I want to clear as much land as possible for the crops we can plant in the fall. Then, clear more trees this winter before next spring planting. I’m sure glad I have the horses I do. I think they’ll do a good job pulling the tree stumps out. We’ll just have to make do for a lot this first year.”
“Hannah will keep teaching John May so he can at least read books. You know,” he thinks to himself, “I hear they’ve started something last spring over in Boston. Let’s see, what’d they call it? Yeah, The Boston News-Letter (first issue: April, 1704). It’s like the announcement flyers we’ve seen from time to time that folks have printed up. But, this fella’s got a unique idea. He’s going to print up something on a paper every single week about what’s going on in town. Calls it a newspaper. Quite a new-fangled idea, but it sure has caught on in Boston and got the folks in Woburn all in a tizzy. I hear they’re going to start one there before long. Sure, I’ll miss those kinds of new things going on in the world out here in the wilderness, but it’ll be worth it. My land. Our land. Where we can raise our kids the way we want and live the way we want and be out of the way of Parliament, the Indians, and the French. If the Lord be willing and give us some good weather so we’ll have some food over next winter, I think we’ll make it in fine shape.”
In the meantime, Hannah has gotten down from the second wagon. , She lifts John May down to be sure that he isn’t left on the wagon by himself, in case the horses get a mind of their own. Johnny May wants to start unharnessing the horses, but Benjamin tells him to leave them alone. He’s just too small. “You can help put up the harness in the house, and then help grooming the horses when I’m done unharnessing them.” Ben tells Johnny May. “In the meantime, come on in the house, everybody. Let me show it to ya!”
“This is smaller than our house in Woburn,” says Johnny as he pokes his head in the door. The house is all of 12 feet by 15 feet inside, with a fireplace in the middle of one wall. Little Benjamin squirts between their legs and jumps into the room. He starts running around the room, wanting to run and let loose after sitting on a hard wagin bench the last three days. Hannah walks through the opening where the door should be and looks at Ben. With that wry smile of hers, she says, “Well, I knew I should’a married a carpenter.” Ben replies “Are you making fun of my windows? Look the slats fit real good into the window openings.” He exclaims, half being serious, half mocking her wry sense of humor.. (Course, he didn’t mention the holes made in the slats to poke a rifle through if trouble were to arise. She had noticed them and hadn’t said anything.)
“Well”, Hannah said emphatically, “we best get to unloadin’. We’ll
need to get those iron supports out for hanging the cooking pots from so
that we can at least start heating up some water. And, Ben, is there enough
daylight left for you to go hunting for some live meat? I think we’re all
about tired of eating the dried foods that we packed from Woburn on the
trail.” Ben is shocked back into reality. “Leave it to Hannah to get to
what’s important – dinner on the table tonight,” he thinks. Yes, I better
get busy unloading the wagons. Only a couple of hours of sunlight left.
Should be able to get me a deer, if I’m lucky.”
They went on to have five more children: Ebenezer, Timothy, Hannah, Patience, and Henry Baldwin. Ebenezer died when he was only ten years old. Most of the next generation stayed in the general area of Canterbury. Although Daniel moved to Vermont late in his life. However, the grandchildren will start migrating shortly before the Revolution. Some of Daniel’s bunch (grandsons Elijah and Philip Turner Baldwin) will move over to Vermont. Some of John May’s kids will move on to be early settlers in north central Pennsylvania and south central New York. They will get caught up in the Wyoming massacre, at the time of the Revolution, only this time, the massacre is British and Indians against a primarily civilian population in north central Pennsylvania. One of his great-grandchildren will be abducted in that raid. Another great grandson (John Baldwin) will become a Congressman from Connecticut in the early 1800’s. And a great-great-great grandchild, Henry Gilbert Baldwin, will become an early pioneer to Kansas in 1868, after serving during the Civil War.
Where is Canterbury Connecticut? Canterbury, Connecticut is about 60 miles southwest of Woburn, Massachusetts, where Benjamin was born. It is approximately 30 miles inland (north) from Long Island Sound and directly west of Providence, Rhode Island by about 30 miles. It is almost midway between Hartford, CT and Providence, Rhode Island.
Where are Canterbury, Norwich, and Windham, Connecticut in relation to each other? These three towns will play an influence in, and be home to, various of Benjamin Baldwin's descendants over the next 100-200 years. All three of these towns are in relatively proximity to each other. They form a small triangle in the eastern side of Conn, close to the border with Rhode Island. Windham is about 10 miles west of Canterbury, Norwich is about 20 miles south of Canterbury.
What was going on in the world at this time? Benjamin Baldwin was born in 1672, about the time the French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet reach the headwaters of the Mississipi and start their exploration down the river to Arkansas. French troops devastate the Palatinate in Germany in 1674, setting the way for the great German Palatine migrations to America, Russia and other places in the world (see my Palatine page). The King Philip Indian Wars ended some ten years before he was born. But, another struggle, this one called Queen Anne's War, went on from 1704-1710, and was the setting for many atrocities by the French and Indians. Peter the Great became the Czar of Russia in 1689.
He married in Woburn, Massachusetts, approximately 1695, had two
children there and then departed for Connecticut about 1705. Delaware separated
from Pennsylvania and became a separate colony in 1703. By 1709, 14,000
Palatine Germans immigrated to America (100,000 will come during the 1700's
and 5 million during the 1800's). William Penn, the founding father of
Pennsylvania died in 1718. Peter the Great consolidated his empire over
all the Russia's in 1721. In 1732, George Washington was born. The biologist
and developer of the theory of evolution, Darwin, was born in 1731. Handel
and Bach were the biggest names in music in Europe in the 1730's. And,
in 1752, seven years before the death of Benjamin Baldwin, Benjamin Franklin
invented the lightning conductor!
Top of Page
The Home Town Page for Windham Co, Connecticut, with a current map.
The cemetery records for Benjamin and many in his family while they were in Connecticut is at this web page: Canterbury Death Records, From the Barbour Collection at the CT State Library.
The vital records of Norwich, CT are on-line, which show the marriage and births of children of Henry, son of Benjamin. (Henry > Benjamin).
One of Benjamin Baldwin's contemporaries as an early settler of Canterbury town of Windham county was a Cleveland family. Moses Cleveland, the founder of Cleveland, Ohio was a member of that family. We haven't found any ties of our family to the Cleveland's, but as an interesting aside, read the Story of the Western Reserve, The Quieting Act, and the part of Moses Cleveland in the Connecticut Land Company in the settlement of northeastern Ohio.
America's First Newspaper, began 24 Apr 1704, in Boston.
Nathan Hale (and also at this web page) was the Revolutionary War Hero who was immortalized by his words before he was hanged by the British for spying: "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country." Nathan Hale was born in Coventry, Conn, which is about 20 miles due east and a touch north of Canterbury, Connecticut, where our Baldwins were. Perhaps our ancestors knew him!
Benedict Arnold, hero and popular leader during the Revolution, who turned traitor for a few nuggets of gold, was born in Norwich, a few miles south of Canterbury, in 1741. He went to school in Canterbury. Many of Benjamin's grandkids were being born in this area during this period of time and no doubt were personally acquainted with Arnold, probably among the most famous traitors of all time.
Genweb Page for New London Co, Connecticut (there is a subpage for Norwich from here).
Elijah Baldwin, great grandson of Benjamin, fought in the Connecticut Line during the Revolution. Visit the Web Page for Connecticut Chapter of the Sons of the Revolution - Lots of good info there.
Copyright, Norris Taylor, 1997