Genealogical and Family History
STATE OF MAINE
Compiled under the editorial supervision of George Thomas Little, A. M., Litt. D.
LEWIS HISTORICAL PUBLISHING COMPANY
[Please see Index page for full citation.]
[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]
[Many families included in these genealogical records had their beginnings in Massachusetts.]
The Bracketts of Portland descended from very ancient ancestry in New Hampshire and from forbears who settled in Portland, Maine, while it was still known as Casco. Nearly all persons named Brackett who reside in either Maine or New Hampshire, and persons residing elsewhere whose forefathers of that name lived in either of these states, descended from the immigrant, Anthony Brackett, of Portsmouth.
(I) Anthony Brackett, who tradition states was a Scotchman, is supposed to have come to Little Harbor, near the mouth of the Piscataqua river, with the Scotchman, David Thompson, as early as 1623. His residence before 1649 is supposed to have been in the vicinity of Little Harbor and the "Piscatawa" house, on what is now called Oriorne's Point. From 1649 until his death he is known to have lived a mile or so south of the harbor, west of Sandy beach, on or near the stream, Saltwater brook, and on Brackett Lane, now Brackett road. In the year 1649 at a meeting of the selectmen, held Aug. 13, it was voted "by common consent" to grant a lot of lands to "Anthony Brakit," lying between the lands of Robert Pudington and William Berry "at the head of the Sandy Beach Fresh Reiver at the Western branch thereof." At a meeting of the inhabitants of the town held Jan. 13, 1652, a grant of thirty acres was voted to "Anthony Brackite." March 4th following, at a town meeting, the selectmen were directed "at the next fit time" to lay out the land unto the people at Sandy Beach, vid. unto William Berry, Anthony Brackit, Thomas Sevy, Francis Rand and James Johnson; March 17, 1653, a grant was made of land near Sandy beach by the people to various citizens, among whom was Anthony Brackett, "upland thirty ackers adjounge unto his hous and of Meadow 20 ackers more." March 20, 1656, he was granted "50 acres more land than his former grant to join with his house and to live in such form as it may close to his hous so that it be not in any Man's former grant." Feb. 3, 1660, 100 acres was granted to him as the head of a family "who had come to dwell in the town." In all he was granted over two hundred acres of land. March 31, 1650, he deeded land and buildings at Strawberry Bank (Portsmouth) to William Cotton. Perhaps he lived there before 1650. Sept. 19, 1678, he bought land at "Sandie Beach from Henry Sherburne."
Anthony Brackett was a member of the Episcopal church, and was one of the signers of a deed of glebe of fifty acres to the church in 1640. He has usually been disignated as "Anthony the Selectman." March 8, 1655, he was one of the selectmen for the ensuing year. In July following he signed a warrant for collection of a tax to pay the salary of the local minister and made his mark "A." His name is on the extant lists of those taxed to pay the minister's salary 1677-88; the tax, eighteen shillings, which he was assessed for the year 1688, is considerable in excess of the average amount of tax paid by his townsmen for the same purpose. In 1666 he subscribed one pound ten shillings toward the support of the minister. He was one of sixty-one settlers who signed a petition in 1665 when the king's commissioners came to settle certain causes of complaint in the colonies. On this petition he writes his name, and does not make his mark, as in the former case mentioned. The settlers of New Hampshire were not involved in any way with the Indians before 1675. During King Philip's war, which began that year, the resident tribes of New Hampshire remained on peaceful terms with their white neighbors, but the settlements in Maine were all destroyed, and their inhabitants killed, driven away or carried captive to Canada. Thomas Brackett, son of Anthony, who lived at Falmouth (Portland) Maine, was killed in August, 1676. His children were redeemed from captivity by their grandfather, with whom three of them resided for several years. In 1691 the depredations of the Indians, which had begun two or three years before in Maine, reached the settlement at Sandy Beach. On Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1691, a band of Indians descended on that place and killed twenty-one persons, among whom were Anthony Brackett and his wife, and captured two children of his son John Brackett. The headstones at the graves of Anthony and his wife are still (1908) to be seen on a little knoll in Rye near Saltwater brook. Sept. 11, 1691, only seventeen days before his death, Anthony Brackett made his will. He disposed of but little real estate by this instrument, as on July 20, 1686, he had deeded his farm and buildings at Sandy beach to his son John.
Anthony Brackett married, about 1635, and the records show that he was the head of a family in 1640.
Anthony, Elinor, Thomas, Jane and John.
(II) Thomas, second son of Anthony Brackett, was probably born at Sandy beach, then a part of Strawberry Bank (Portsmouth, New Hampshire), now a part of the town of Rye, about 1635, or earlier. Soon after 1662 he removed to Casco (Portland) Maine. Little is known of him before his marriage, after which event he became prominent in the town, and was one of the selectmen in 1672. His mother-in-law lived with him in 1671, during which year he agreed to maintain her and in consideration received from her a deed of land. This land was situated on the southerly side of the upper part of the Neck, and had been occupied by Michael Milton for several years. The house stood near where the Portland gas house now (1908) is. Thomas was a prosperous and leading citizen at the time of his death. While he was in office in 1672, his brother Anthony received a grant of four hundred acres of land.
Aug. 11, 1676, Indians appeared at Casco and captured Captain Anthony Brackett and his family, and then divided, a part passing around Back Cove, and a part upon the Neck. The first house in the course of the latter was that of Thomas Brackett, on the southerly side of the Neck. Between the houses of the two Bracketts was a virgin forest. The facts, selected from the conflicting accounts of the events of that day, seem to be that the Indians went along the northerly side of the Neck until they had passed the farm of Thomas Brackett. In their course they met John, the son of George Munjoy, and another, Isaac Wakely, and shot them. Others who were with or near them fled down the Neck to give the alarm, and thereupon the Indians retreated in the direction of Thomas Brackett's house. That morning three men were on their way to Anthony Brackett's to harvest grain. They probably rowed over the river from Purpoosuck Point and had left their canoe near Thomas Brackett's house. From that place they crossed the Neck toward Anthony's house, near enough to which they went to learn of the attack by the Indians on his family; the three hastened on to the Neck, perhaps over the course covered by the Indians, to give the alarm. On their way they heard guns fired "Whereby it seems two men (perhaps Munjoy and Wakely) were killed." Thereupon the three fled in the direction of Thomas Brackett's house to reach their canoe. The Indians reached the farm nearly at the same time as did the men, who saw Thomas Brackett shot down while at work in his field. Two of the men succeeded in reaching their canoe; the third, not so fleet of foot, hid in the marsh and witnessed the capture of Thomas Brackett's wife and children. The three men escaped. Among the Indians who were concerned in killing of Thomas Brackett was Megunnaway, one of the braves of King Philip, who was taken and shot by the whites the following February. All of the residents on the Neck except Thomas Brackett's family, John Munjoy and Isaac Wakely, succeeded in reaching Munjoy's garrison house, which stood on Munjoy's hill at the end of the Neck. From there they passed over to Bang's Island, then called Andrew's Island. In this attack the Indians killed, about Casco, eleven men and killed or captured twenty-three women and children.
Thomas Brackett was about forty years old at the time of his death. His wife is said to have died during the first year of her captivity. Their children, as previously stated, were ransomed by their grandfather Brackett.
Thomas Brackett married Mary, daughter of Michael Milton. Her mother, Elizabeth Milton, was a daughter of George Cheeve, one of the most prominent and best known settlers of Casco.
Children of Thomas and Mary (Milton) Brackett:
Joshua, Sarah, Samuel (probably) and Mary.
(III) Lieutenant Joshua, eldest child of Thomas and Mary (Milton) Brackett, was born in Falmouth, formerly Casco, now Portland. His father was killed by Indians and his mother died in captivity while he was still a child. After his capture with his mother, brother and sisters, Aug. 11, 1676, he remained a prisoner until redeeme by his grandfather, with whom he lived some time after returning from Canada. "Probably not until the close of the war did he reach his grandfather's house at Sandy beach. His mother had passed away; all the personal effects of his father had been destroyed; the farm and large tracts on the Neck alone remained to him, and when he arrived at an age to be able to cultivate and improve them, war commenced with the Indians, which, but for a short interval of peace, lasted for twenty-five years. From this condition of privation and destitution he rose to become one of the richest men in the province of his day." When the war of 1688 began he went to Falmouth and joined his uncle, Anthony Brackett. He was with Anthony when he fell, and took part in the battle which followed the attack. Soon afterward he returned to Sandy beach. A certificate of service dated April 1, 1697, shows that Joshua Brackett served as a soldier in the garrison at Oyster river (now Durham), New Hampshire, four weeks in 1696. At times during the war commencing in 1701 and ending in 1715, he was in the military service as occasion demanded, and was chosen lieutenant of a military company. During twenty-eight of the first forty-five years of his life there was continuous war with the Indians. Of those slain whom he had to mourn were his father, grandfather, grandmother, uncle, Captain Anthony Brackeet, uncle, Nathaniel Milton, uncle, Lieut. Thaddeus Clark, and cousin Seth Brackett; of his relatives who were made captives were his mother, who died while a prisoner, his brother, two sisters, the children of his uncle, John Brackett, and the children of his uncle, Anthony Brackett. There is evidence that he was engaged in the coast trade, whether as merchant or as transporter is not known; certain it is that he was owner of vessels; was also a manufacturer of lumber, owned a sawmill or two, owned one at Wadleigh's Falls in Strafford county, New Hampshire. He prospered and accumulated property in whatever branch of business he engaged. Early in his business life he purchased land and farms from their respective owners adjoining one another and bordering for miles along the stouthern shore of the Great bay. "These lands around the bay were far the best in town. And here the prudent Bracketts came and settled down." Beginning with a tract over the line in Stratham, the farm extended into the present town of Greenland, the southern shore of the bay being its northern limit; it is probably one of the most beautifully situated tracts of land in the state. In 1726, fifty years after his father's death, he applied for administration on his father's property. Two years later his sons, Joshua and Anthony, took possession of the old farm. About this time he became interested in Peak's Island and other landed property of the Milton estate. With his second cousin, Anthony Brackett, a son of Captain Anthony, "the good pilot and captain for his country," of Boston, he contested the claim of Rev. Thomas Smith and others to the Milton estate, and succeeded in fully establishing his own claim and Anthony's and got all but two-ninths of Peak's Island, and Joshua purchased Anthony's interest. In his will Joshua made to all his sons legacies and bequests sufficient to place each in a good financial condition.
Although Joshua's ancestors on both sides were or are believed to have been Episcopalians, he was Congregationalist, joining those of that faith when past middle age. His children were all baptized the day he united with the church. The grave of Joshua is on the home farm, and the tombstone bears the following inscription:
"Here Lies Mr. Joshua Brackett Who Died June 19: D. y. 1749, Aged 77 yes."
Joshua Brackett married Mary Weeks, born July 19, 1676, died in 1740, daughter of Leonard Weeks, who married Mary Haines, daughter of Samuel Haines, who was born about 1611 in England, and died in 1686; his wife was Elinor Neate.
John, Joshua, Thomas, Samuel, Anthony, Mary (died young), Abigail, Eleanor, James, Mary, Keziah, Margaret and Nathaniel.
(IV) Anthony, fifth son of Joshua and Mary (Weeks) Brackett, was born in Greenland, New Hampshire, Jan. 25, 1708. At eleven years of age he went to Falmouth to live. His father, Joshua Brackett, secured title to the large tract of land on the Neck, which he claimed as heir to his parents, and in the peaceful time following 1725 Anthony and his brother Joshua went to Falmouth and took possession of it. On the Neck Anthony had, in addition to other tracts, a farm on which he resided, which during his life much increased in value. He also owned the greater and more valuable portion of Peak's Island, and this he conveyed shortly before his death to his son Thomas; he also conveyed to him and to third parties tracts of land including the homestead. As his wife did not join in the conveyance of this property, in later years and up to a very recent date, the descendants of Anthony labored under the delusion that they might recover the land thus conveyed, now in the city of Portland and of great value.
Anthony and his brother Joshua were prominent in Falmouth in social and business affairs. Their estates extended from one side of the Neck to the other near its base. The house of Anthony stood at the corner of Danforth and Brackett streets in Portland, which latter street ran through his farm. The dwelling house of two stories, mentioned as the mansion house, faced the south; in front of it was an orchard on the slope of a hill. Joshua's house stood on Congress street near High street. This house, which was burned after his death, he built after he had resided for some years in a log house which stood where Gray street is. At the time of Anthony's marriage in 1733, the brothers lived in this log house. Their residence in Falmouth began in 1728. Between their houses was a swamp through which was a footpath. The division line between their estates was along Grove and Congress streets. Anthony's land included nearly all that on the southeast side of Congress street from about opposite Casco to Vaughn street, and a lot of nearly fifty acres on the westerly side of Grove street, running from Congress street to the poor farm. Joshua's land lay on the northwest side of Congress street, extending from Grove street easterly. The houses of the brothers, on the outskirts of the settlement, were in an exposed position and hostile Indians were seen in the swamp and near their houses on more than one occasion during the years 1744 to 1748, and a few years following 1755; but none of their buildings were burned, and no member of their families is known to have been harmed. Perhaps their escape from any damage was due to their preparedness and ability to protect themselves from foes.
On the roll of Captain James Milk's company, under date of May 10, 1757, appears the name of Anthony; in the alarm list of that company appears the name of Joshua. The latter was the older of the two; though at the time Anthony was fifty years of age, he was not too old for active duty in those days, while Joshua was available when the alarm was given of an expected attack by Indians.
Anthony died Sept. 10, 1784, aged seventy-seven, and was buried on his farm in what later became Summer street. His remains were later removed to the Brackett cemetery on Peak's Island.
Anthony Brackett married (first) in the First Congregational Church of Scarborough, Maine, by Rev. William Sergeant, Sarah Knight, Feb. 14, 1734. Six children. He married (second) Kerenhappuck Hicks, whose maiden name was Proctor, daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Brackett) Proctor. Their intentions of marriage were published Nov. 5, 1756. After the death of her husband, rooms in the mansion house were set apart for her use which she occupied for a few years, and then went to reside in Gorham, where she died at the home of a son of her daughter, Meribah, in 1822.
Children of Anthony Brackett:
John, Sarah, Thomas, James, Elizabeth, Anthony, Meribah, Joshua, Keziah, Samuel and Nathaniel.
(V) Thomas (2), second son of Anthony (2) and Sarah (Knight) Brackett, was born in Falmouth in May, 1744, died Dec. 13, 1815. He was the owner of a large estate, a farmer and also engaged in other pursuits. His father deeded him nearly all the estate which he had on the Neck and also the greater portion of Peak's Island. He resided on the island from an early date, and probably dwelt there during the revolutionary war. At that time there were only three dwellings on the island. When Captain Henry Mowatt with a British fleet on Oct. 16, 1775, arrived at Portland habor, he anchored near Peak's Island, in Hog roads, between Hog and House islands and in sight of Thomas Brackett's house.
Thomas Brackett married Dec. 9, 1762, Jane Hall, born in 1740, died May 10, 1810, daugther of Cornelius and Elizabeth (White) Hall, of Cherryfield.
John, Elizabeth, Sally, Patience, and Mary, next mentioned.
(VI) Mary, youngest child of Thomas and Jane (Hall) Brackett, was baptized June 9, 1776, and died Nov. 13, 1860. Her father sold her two acres of land in front of the present (1908) Mineral Spring House, Peak's Island. This house, which may have been built by her father, was her residence.
She married, Nov. 10, 1796, Joseph Reed, who died April 1, 1852. They were grandparents of the famous statesman Thomas Brackett Reed.