Genealogical and Family History
of the

Compiled under the editorial supervision of George Thomas Little, A. M., Litt. D.

New York

[Please see Index page for full citation.]

[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]

[Many families included in these genealogical records had their beginnings in Massachusetts.]


The early history of the Colbath family is, like that of many another (in truth we might say most others) shrouded in more or less of doubt and mystery. This is due partly to the fact of few records being kept in early days; partly to changes and wars that brought about the removal or destruction of those heads of families who were capable of handing down orally such valuable information; and to the serious loss by fire of those books and manuscripts in which matter bearing upon and relating to family, church and town history were recorded. Indeed, this latter cause, fire, is the fell destroyer that has blotted forever from the pages of history important and valuable data.
Southgate, in his "History of Scarborough, Maine," published in 1853 writes: "Several brothers bearing the surname Colbath came from England early in the eighteenth century and settled in various parts of New England."
Ridlon, in his "Saco Valley Families," claims that Scotland was the country from which the early Colbaths emigrated. He writes as follows: "The name Colbath, as now spelled in America, has undergone the mutilation common to nearly all surnames dating from an early period. We first find it as Calbreath, and later running through such changes as Galbreth, Galbraith, Colbraith, Kilbreth and Colbroth. The various forms of spelling may be attributed to the fancy of some cadets of the family who, as younger sons, established junior branches in new localities; and to such early scribes as received the pronunciation of names from men of foreign accent. The name originated in two Gaelic words, "Gall" and "Bhretan," meaning 'The Stranger Briton,' or as it were, 'Children of the Briton.'"
They were then evidently descendants of that great, splendid tribe of Brythorn Gauls, or, as the Romans called them, Britons, who invaded and conquered the English Isles some three hundred years before the Christian era, and gave the name of Great Britain to them for all time. Later, when the invading Saxon and Englishman came, they found in these Britons their fiercest foes. More than two centuries of the bitterest war was waged ere they were overcome, and then, only by the ever increasing hosts of the Saxon. Quoting again from Ridlon:
"As intimated, the families bearing these name are of Scottish derivation. The earliest of whom we have found mention were Gillispick Galbrait (1230 A.D.) and Arthur Galbrait (1296 A.D.), who swore fealty to King Edward I. William Galbraith is mentioned as a person 'of good account' in the middle of the fourteenth century. Cadets of the family early intermarried with the lordly houses of Douglass and Hamilton, and through such alliances became possessed of extensive estates in Scotland, where they have continued. During the time of the plantation of Ulster in the north of Ireland by Scottish families (1608 - 1620), several brothers named Calbreath or Galbraith, who had purchased extensive lands from Sir John Calyuhon, Laird of Luss, removed to that country. These lands, which were called the Manor of Corkagh, were sold in 1664, and two of the brothers, Humphrey and William Galbraith, were retained as agents of Bishop Spottiswood. Another of the brothers was Robert Galbraith. The present representatie of the family in Great Britain is John Samuel Galbraith, Esq., magistrate, high sheriff, justice of the peace, and doctor of laws. Heir presumptive his brother, Robert Galbraith. The family seat is Clanabogan, County Tyrone, Ireland."
Nason, the biogapher of Hon. Henry Wilson, late vice-president of the United States, says; "Wilson's ancestors, the Colbaths, were of excellent stock, largely from Argyleshire, in Scotland."
Burke's "Encyclopedia of Heraldry," the great authority in such matters, gives the family coat-of-arms. Bendy of six, argent and azure; on a chief sable, three crosses patee or. The simplicity of these amoral bearings would indicate a very early date; the use of a "chief" presupposes leadership by its bearer; and the pattee crosses point to the bearer being a participant in the crusades to the Holy Land and a member of the order of "Knights Templar."

"And on his breast a bloodie crosse he bore,
The deare remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweete sake that glorious badge he wore,
Upon his shield the like was also scored."

(I) So far as known, the earliest appearance of the name of Colbath in America is that of John Colbreath, who was one of the Scotch Presbyterians of the "North of Ireland," who petitioned "his Excellency Colonel Samuel Suitt, Gov. of New England," (Gov. Samuel Shute) "to assure his Excellency of their inclinations to transport themselves to his plantation upon obtaining suitable encouragement from him." While many of those names written nearly two hundred years ago (March 26, 1718) are nearly, some quite, obliterated, the name John Colbreath remains clear and distinct. The handwriting is almost identical with that of the early Colbath of Newington, now to be found upon legal papers, and gives satisfactory proof that he and George Colbath (Colbroth, or Colbreath), who was the ancestor - we believe the emigrant ancestor - of the New Hampshire line of Colbaths, were of the same family.
The next appearance of the name is found in Bradford, Mass. "Willian Mutt, Jane Colbreath, married May 30, 1723." Next we find a journal kept by Rev. Joseph Adams, who was pastor of the Newington church from Nov. 16, 1715 to the date of his death, May 20, 1783, this entry:
"1725 Sepr 19. Mary Coolbroth owned ye Covenant and was baptized."
"Item. James, Pitman, William & Joseph & Benjamin Sons & Susanna & Mehitabel Daughters wr baptized" 1728 Feb. 4, "George Coolbroth owned ye Covenant & was baptized."
We have but one earlier mention of George Colbath - the taxlist of Portsmouth, for the year 1727, shows John and George Colbath are taxpayers. As shown by an old deed, dated July 30, 1730, George Colbath bought land in Newington, of William and Abigial Cotton, of Portsmouth. Aug. 13, 1738, he was granted administration of the estate of his son George Colbath Jr., in which appointment he is styled "yeoman." April 14, 1752, he sold land in Newington "with the dwelling house and barn standing thereon," to his son Joseph Colbath, and his wife Mary Colbath joined in the conveyance. Thus we have positive evidence of the existence of eight person who were sons and daughters of George and Mary Colbath:
George, James, Pitman, William, Joseph, Benjamin, Susannah and Mehitable.

It is believed that John Coolbroth, ancestor of the Maine line of Coolbroths (or Colbaths) who settled in Scarborough, Maine, in 1730, married Sarah Harmm, Aug. 17, 1732, and died Sept. 15, 1774, was also son of George Colbath, sen., of Newington, New Hampshire.
It is of interest to note that three of these sturdy sons - Pitman, Joseph and Benjamin - served their King, under Colonel Samuel Moore, at the siege of Louisburg, in 1745. Later we find one of these sons, Benjamin, a revolutionary soldier, under Colonel Nathan Hale; he died in the service of his country March 10, 1778. Three sons of Benjamin - John, aged twenty-two years; Downing, aged seventeen years; and Dependence, aged sixteen years - with their father, served their country in her hour of need.

(II) James, second son of George and Mary Colbath, is thought to have been born about 1715. His wife, Olive Leighton, was the fifth child of Thomas and Deborah Leighton, of Newington. Her grandfather was Thomas, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Elder Hatevil Nutter, of Dover, N. H., and her great-grandparents were Joanna and Thomas Leighton (died Jan. 22, 1671), the English emigrants, who were married probably in England.
Children of James & Olive Colbath:
1. Leighton, baptized Dec. 1, 1739.
2. Independence.
3. Hunking, b. Feb. 17, 1743.
4. Deborah, b. Oct. 9, 1745.
5. Keziah _____.
6. Winthrop (the grandfather of the late Hon. Henry Wilson), b. June 16, 1751.
7. Amy, b. July 9, 1758.
8. Benning, b. May 28, 1762.
Jamse Colbath was a prosperous citizen of Newington, and with his brothers held various office of the town for many years. The deeds of convayance to and from James Colbath show that, in addition to his Newington real estate, he was for many years an extensive landholder in the town of Barnstead, New Hampshire. In the year 1748, with the consent of and "humbly" recommended by all the selectmen of his town, James Colbath sent the following:
"To the Honorable: The Court of Quarter Sessions now setting at Portsmouth, in the Province of New Hampshire, the Humble Petition of James Colbath:
Shewith that your Petitioner having a Gristmill near my Dwelling house which occasions my home to be much thronged with people, which come to the said mill, and there being no Publick house near putts me humbly requesting that the Honorable Court will allow your Petitioner the Liberty of Keeping a Public Tavern, and your Petitioner as in Duty bound shall ever pray.
Newington, March 7th, 1748-9."
This petition was granted unto James Colbath, and for many years after the "Publick Tavern" was a meeting place not alone for the grist mill folk, but for political and public gatherings, proving an ornament of public utility to the staid citizens of Newington. The Colbath home, located near the church, has been preserved, and is pointed out as one of the famous landmarks of the town. It is two-storied and painted, and is yet in use as a dwelling house.
In the yaer 1784-85, James and Olive, with their son Benning, removed to that part of Rochester, which is now Famington, and later to Middleton, where James and Olive died before 1800. They rest in the beautiful site of the family burial ground, upon a hillside of the Colbath farm.

(III) Benning Colbath, born May 28, 1762, died Sept. 7, 1824, married Mary Rollins, b. May 26, 1761, d. Aug. 9, 1825, daughter of Mary Huntress and Samuel Rollins, of Newington. She was directly descended from James "Rawlins" who emigrated to America in 1632, with the early settlers of Ipswich, Mass. (Samuel (4), Samuel (3), Joseph (2), James (1). So favorably is the name Rollins known in New Hampshire history that we need not dwell upon the sterling qualities of her character. She was a person of high aspirations and ideals. Her memory is sweetly sacred to her descendants, "even unto the third and fourth generation."
1. Betsey, born May 10, 1785.
2. Samuel, b. Feb. 10, 1788.
3. Mary H., b. May 6, 1791.
4. Benning, b. Nov. 17, 1795, died young.
5. Benjamin R., b. June 6, 1799.
6. Ephraim R., b. Dec. 24, 1802.
Benning Colbath was a man of weight and worth. In 1793 we find him one of the officials of his adopted town; and he remained in her service for more than twenty consecutive years as selectman and in the various offices in her gift.

(IV) Samuel, son of Benning Colbath, born Feb. 10, 1788, in Rochester; died Dec. 8, 1855, in Middleton, married June 8, 1809, Elizabeth CLARK, born May 24, 1788, died Dec. 24, 1867, buried in Middleton. Elizabeth Clark was one of those of whom it may be justly said:
"None knew her but to love her,
None named her but to praise."
A gentle Christian woman, whose daily life was one of prayer. She was born in Berwick, Maine, eldest child of Samuel and Abigail (Hanson) Clark, and died at the home of her only son, in New Durham, N.H. Her father, Samuel Clark, was born in Berwick, Maine, May 18, 1764; married May 23, 1786, Abigail, dau. of Ebenezer and Marth (Wentworth) Hanson. (Martha 5, Thomas 4, John 3, Ezekiel 2, William 1). He died Feb. 12, 1855, in St. Johnsbury Center, Vermont. Samuel Clark was a soldier of the revolution, enlisted before sixteen years of age May 3, 1780, and served as private in the regiment of Colonel Joseph Prime, under Captain Jedediah Goodwin. He received honorable discharge Nov. 2, 1780.
It is shown by the early records of the town of Middleton, N. H., that he was resident there as early as 1792, and was an extensive land holder. In 1810 he sold to Hatevil Knight, of Rochester, one hundred and thirty acres of land in New Durham, in which conveyance he is styled "gentleman." Later he sold his homestead farm and removed to St. Johnsbury, Vermont, with his son, Nathaniel Clark. It is proudly recalled by his descendants that on a visit to his son he made the journey from St. Johnsbury to Middleton, N. H. in a sleigh, when above ninety years of age.

Children of Samuel & Elizabeth Colbath:
Sabrina H.
Jeremiah Smith.
In 1816, directly succeeding his father Benning, we find Samuel Colbath one of the selectmen of Middleton, which office he held for many years. Not alone for his public service was he honored, but for the great moral worth of his character, his blameless life and his upright dealings with his fellow men.

(V) Jeremiah Smith Colbath was born Jan. 2, 1812, in Middleton, at what is now known as the "old Colbath Homestead." The house is quaint and picturesque, and is delightfully situated, overlooking, as it does, the vally of the Cocheco river and the city of Rochester, with a fine view of the distant hills. In the occupancy of the house, four genearions of Colbaths have preceded the present (1908) owner, Elizabeth Colbath Davis, who is of the sixth generation of Colbaths in America.
The subject of this biography early gave evidence of intellectual ability and great love of study, which were prominent traits through life even to its close. After a course in common school he taught under the instruction of Thomas Tash, the scholar and liguist, until he became a teacher. Being an only son, he did not long continue in this occupation; his duty call was to the farm, to comfort the declining years of his parents.
July 18, 1841, he united in marriage with Lydia Millet Webster, of New Durham. She was a beautiful and brilliant woman, who possessed great firmness and purity of mind. Like her husband, she had been a teacher in the public schools. To life's close was was to him -
"The heart which like a staff was one
For him to lean and rest upon,
The strongest on the longest day,"
With steadfast love."
Lydia Millet WEBSTER (1806-1889) was the daughter of Reuben (1771-1854) and Lydia Smith Webster (1771-1864), of New Durham. Lydia (Smith) Webster was the daughter of Lieut. John Smith (1732-1819) of Lubberland Durham; whose wife was Lydia Millet (1735-1821), daughter of Hon. Thomas Millet, of Dover. Ebenezer Smith, who was for twenty years president of the Strafford county bar, was of the family. Lydia (Smith) Webster was born Aug. 26, 1771, in Durham, N. H., on the shore of the lovely sheet of water known as Great Bay. A bride at the age of twenty-two years, she left her early home with all its beautiful evnrionments, to journey on horseback, with the husband of her choice, through the wilderness, and seek a home within its depths. A wise and loving mother, around her name cling tender memories. To her quick sympathy and the efficient aid of her ever helpful hand, her neighbors turned in the hour of their afflictions.

The children of Reuben & Lydia (Smith) Webster:
1. John, born May 12, 1794.
2. Stephen, b. July 26, 1796.
3. Abigail, b. Feb. 4, 1798.
4. Elizabeth, b. Dec. 30, 1801.
5. Valentine S., b. April 9, 1803.
6. Lydia M., b. Nov. 21, 1806.
7. Drusilla B., b. Jan. 5, 1811.
Lydia Millet Webster was distinctly of English blood, being directly descended form John Webster, born in England (died 1646), of Ipswich, Mass., on the paternal side; on the maternal, from George Smith, who came from old Haugh, in Chester county, England.
The military services of the family Webster are noteworthy. Two nephews - Joseph F. Webster and Henry S. (Webster) Willey, of Farmington - enlisted early and served honorably in the late rebellion. Her brother, Stephen (3) Webster (1796-1872), served in the war of 1812. Her grandfather, Stephen (2) Webster (1739-1827), was a revolutionary soldier from Oct. 4, 1775 to his discharge in 1781. He was honored by an invitation to Concord, N. H., at the time of the visit of General Lafayette to that city; and made the journey from New Durham on horseback, when above eighty-five years of age. This revolutionary soldier, who left endearments of home to fight in the battles of Bennington, Monmouth and Newtown, who gave four years of life to aid his country in her struggle for independence, had for wife a member of the distinguished Choate family of America. She was daughter of Jonathan and Elizabeth (Moody) Choate, and granddaughter of Reverend Benjamin Choats, who graduated from Harvard College, 1703; married Abigail Burnham, and settled in Kingston, N. H. in 1707. Anna (or Anne) Choate was born in Kingston, Dec. 20, 1751, and died Oct. 5, 1848, in Sandwich, N. H. Stephen Webster and Anna Choate were united in marriage in the year 1770, in the town of Moultonboro, N. H. The sacrifices of this devoted wife and mother through all the changes of war, are in the hidden past; oblivion covers her anxious watching and waiting; but time can never rob her of the renown of her ancestry; upon her memory radiates the honor of her husband's loyal service.
Stephen Webster, born in Salisbury, Mass., was son of Stephen and Hannah (Swett) Webster. He died Jan. 20, 1827, in New Durham, N. H. His father Stephen (1) Webster, born 1712, of Salisbury, Mass., was an officer in the French and Indian war. In the expedition again Crown Point (1755-56) he appears as "Captain in His Majesty's service." Wherever known the family Webster hs shown itself loyal to country, and fearless in the hour of danger. The famed Hannah Dustin was granddaughter of John (1) Webster, of Ipswich Mass.
Reuben Webster, father of Lydia Millet, was a prosperous farmer who had by energy and thrift won from the virgin forest the fertile farm upon which he reared his ambitious sons and daughters. One child blessed the marrige of Jeremiah Smith and Lydia Millet Colbath.
Beneath the roof of their cottage, within whose venerable walls had lived and loved, had joyed and sorrowed, four generations of her ancestors, on Friday, April 18, 1845, was born to these parents the wished-for daughter, their only child. She was named Elizabeth Lydia, for her grandmothers - Elizabeth Clark Colbath, and Lydia Smith Webster. Royal was her welcome, and from that hour she became the household idol. As time advanced and mentality grew she returned obedience and deep affection. The approval seen on the face of that dear mother was the law that governed her young life. When months were years, and seasons changed, and chill autumnal nights came on, fires were kindled in the wide-mouthed fireplace, within the spacious sitting room. As the evening lamps were lighted, and the unbroken circle of grandparents and of parents grouped beneath the firelight glow [trans. note: is this a tad over the top or is it just me?] she was gathered in her father's arms, while on her ear fell wondrous woodland takes - of bird or beast; of nest or lair; of babbling brook, or dark and silent river, along whose banks crept dusky forms with the stealthy tread of moccasined feet; of wigwam fires, and lurking foe, and of death of Pauqus - each so graphically told to please her infant fancy. Happy child of honored father, words may never show his worth. At two and one-half years shs was carried to the distrcit school, just beside the gateway leading to her home, where she learned to name at sight each letter of the English alphabet. As years rolled on she was kept in almost constant attendance on this and other schools, wherever she might return to her home at nightfall. At the age of twelve years she was placed under the tuition of Miss Martha Stoddard, whose moral influence and rigid thoroughness of her methods of teaching left an impression on the mind of the youthful pupil never to be effaced. One year later she entered the select school of Miss Caroline Knight, in the village of Rochester, N. H. Miss Knight, then in the prime of life, had been for thirty years a teacher. Many an eminent man of today recalls with interest hours of study under Miss Knights's tuition while fitting for his college course. Many an honored woman holds in grateful memory the moral and religious influence, the strict yet ever kindly discipline, of this school. Under such most excellent instruction, the subject of this mentioned remained to the close of her educational course.
Almost immediately she engaged in teaching, early in the city of Rochester, later in Famington, and in the towns of Middleton, Milton and New Durham. It was her habit to remain for several terms, sometimes for years, in the same school. In this work, she continued to the date of her marriage, May 1, 1873, to Thomas M. Davis, of Newfield, Maine. Mr. Davis was a man intellectually gifted, of wide experience and good address, keen and alert in business, his judgment was unerring in his moneyed intersts. Born Sept. 18, 1836, in Newfield, Maine, he died Dec. 9, 1901, in Westboro, Mass.
Following their marriage, a winter was enjoyed in the cities of New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and in travel through the "sunny South." Soon after their home coming Mrs. Davis returned to her position in the schoolroom, where she continued to the date of her father's decease, when the ever-increasing invalidiam of her widowed mother and the added care of her father's estate forced her to resign the work in which she had happily passed so many busy hours.
It is not now known by whom was erected the cottage, once the home of James and Olive Colbath, the great-grandparents of Hon. Henry Wilson, vice-president, U.S.A. The years which the Colbath descendants have owned and occupied, date well into the second century. More than one hundred years ago the first chimney of the old house was removed by Benning Colbath, and the one now seen erected. From time immemorial the Colbaths have been landholders; succeeding generations have been buyers until hundreds of acres are covered by the deeds of the present owner. With the turning tide in the commercial value of timber lands and country real estate, it has been found that profit may combine with pleasure in one's investments.

At the age of twenty-six years Jeremiah S. Colbath was appointed by Governor Isaac Hill justice of the peace for Stafford county, which office, but for a lapse of some three years, he retained through life. July 2, 1861, he was appointed appraiser of state prison property, and on the same date he was appointed justice of the peace and quorum. His was a busy life. Much time was given to literary research, and to preparing articles for publication. At his decease he left in manuscript and nearly ready for the publisher a history of his native town of Middleton. He engaged extensively in farming and was also noted as a land surveyor, to which employment he was often called. For many years he served his town as selectman; and in eight of those years was elected chairman of the baord. He was also supervisor of schools.
In the year 1865 he removed from his native Middleton to the town of New Durham, where he had by purchase become the owner of a large farm. In 1866 we find him in the service of his adopted town as one of the appraisers of her real estate. May 5 of the same year he was elected one of the investigating committee to examine her accounts. Thence on, we find him prominently in her service, as selectman, treasurer, and supervisor of schools. At the age of seventy years, while at Dover, N. H., as foreman of the jury on an important case, he was seized with fatal illness, and died in that city Oct. 1, 1882. Thus passed suddenly from life's active duties, while in full mental vigor, one who had ever been the soul of truth and honor. Kindly remembered, respected and beloved, he sleeps with his loved wife and honored dead upon the hillside at his early home in Middleton, New Hampshire.
"Warm summer sun,
Shine kindly here.
Warm Southern wind,
Blow softly here.
Green sod above
Lie light, lie light,
Good night, dear heart,
Good night, good night."

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