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.]
This family, by reason of its achievements in war and letters has secured a niche in the hall of fame second to none other in American history. It has undergone transmutation of orthography twenty-two times, but it is still the same blood that existed in the Yorkshire valleys. The storn-center of nonconformity in England in the seventeenth century was in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire. Yorkshire bordered it on the north, from which the Washingtons dated. This was the Wadsworth homeland. The names of persecution reached over into that county and drove the unorthodox away. The name Wadsworth means literally wood-court. Some odd fellow in the dim remotely past held court in the woods, and thereby hangs a name.
The family was originally Norman. It had a coat-of-arms dating from the battle of Cressy, fought Aug. 6, 1346. It was "Wadsworth: Yorkshire, gules, three fleur d'lis, stalked and sliipped, argent." The wreath is two stipres of gold lace twisted into a circular cord. The crest, a terrestrial globe, winged pp', an eagle rising, or. From the shield rises the closed hamlet, which by its shape and position indicates that the Wadsworths were neither king, noble or knight, but plain esquire. The wreath is placed over the hamlet, from the center of which springs the crest, the winged globe, and the golden eagle rising therefrom, while the scroll below the shield bears the legend "Aquila non captat musicas."
In the time of Cromwell some of the family decided with the Republicans and a part stood by the Royalists. The Cromwellians went to America and founded a family, and the supporters of the House of Stuart to Yorkshire and became woolen manufacturers. There were Wadsworths at the battle of Waterloo. Of course the first to be mentioned in this line is the great poet, Longfellow. Others are Captain Joseph, of Charter Oak fame, who preserved the liberties of Connecticut, the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Wadsworth, president of Harvard College, and General James S. Wadsworth, of New York.
(I) Christopher Wadsworth came over in the ship "Lion," Capt. Pierce, eight weeks from England, and landed on Sunday, Sept. 16, 1632. He resided in Duxbury, and was a great man for those days, extremely passionate and eccentric withal. It is said that after he got his hay in the barn one season, a bolt of lightning descended and set fire and consumed it. The next year, when he got his hay all housed, the appearance of the heavens threatened another tempest similar to the one of the year before. He ran into the house, got a firebrand and ignited his own hay, swearing "he meant to get ahead of the Almighty this time." He was a blunt, honest, peppery man. Xtofer, as he signed his name, was a Puritan, and not a Pilgrim Father. The distinction is that the latter belonged to the poorer and laboring class and were Separatists in religion, while the Puritans were of the mroe well-to-do portion, with some literary culture, and clung to the National church, though breaking away from some of its forms and ceremonies.
He early took a prominent part in the affairs of the town. He was a deputy, selectman, representative, surveyor, constable, was on the board of commissioners to revise the ordinances of the colony, all of which shows him to have been a man of worth and consequence. His will bears date of July 31, 1777. He married Grace Cole.
Samuel, Joseph, Mary and John.
(II) Deacon John, the youngest son of Christopher and Grace (Cole) Wadsworth, was born in 1638, and died in 1700 in Duxbury. He lived on the homestead of his father. He married Abigail Andrews, born in 1667, died in 1723.
Mary, Abigail, John, Christopher, Ichabod, Isaac, Lydia, Sarah, Grace, Hopstill and Mercy.
(III) John (2), eldest son of Deacon John (1) and Abigail (Andrews) Wadsworth, was born and always lived in Duxbury, his birth being in 1671, and his death in 1750.
He married Mercy Wiswell in 1704. She died in 1716, at the early age of thirty-six, and he married (second) Mary Verdie in 1718.
John, Urrah, Dorothy, Ichabod, Peleg, and Mary by 2d wife.
(IV) Deacon Peleg, fourth son of John (2) and Mercy (Wiswell) Wadsworth, was born in Duxbury in 1715, died in 1774. He married Susannah Sampson.
Zilpha (died in infancy), Sephas, Jeptha, Zilpha, Peleg, Uriah, Ira, Welthea, Dura and Lucy.
(V) General Peleg (2), son of Deacon Peleg (1) and Susannah (Sampson) Wadsworth, was born May 6, 1748, in Duxbury, and died in Hiram, Maine, in 1824. He graduated from Harvard College in 1769, being then twenty-one. A classmate of his was Chief-Justice Theophilus Parsons, of the Massachusetts supreme court. Following graduation he taught school in Plymouth, Mass. The murmurings of discontent had long been heard in the colonies, and now broke out in open revolt against the unbearable oppression of the mother country. Young Wadsworth's bosom was fired with the sense of injustice prevailing, and he was elected a committee of correspondence in Plympton, Sept. 26, 1774. He recruited a company of minute-men of which he was made captain, and joined Colonel Cotton's regiment to dislodge Balfour's army at Marshfield, who retreated. Capt. Wadsworth was with Col. Cotton at Dorchester Heights, and his detachment assited in the throwing up of entrenchments there. In March, 1776, he was appointed aide to General Ward. It was the heroic bearing and intrepid soldiery of these troops, and the unassailable character of the breastworks at the Heights, that caused the evacuation of Howe from Boston, and in the construction of these works out young hero bore a leading part. In 1776 Capt. Wadsworth was engineer under General Thomas, and was made adjutant-general of Massachusetts in 1778. The next year the British sent a fleet to occupy Bagaduc, now Castine, Maine, at the mouth of the Penobscot. A sea force under Commodore Saltonstall, of Connecticut, and a land detachment under General Lovell, with General Wadsworth second in command, was transported there to intercept the enemy. The land attack of the Americans upon the British was one of the most daring and truly heroic achievements of the whole war. In 1780 General Wadsworth, with a force of six-hundred men, was placed in command of the entire Maine coast, to protect it from the occasional assaults and inroads of the British, to which it was subject by reason of its exposed situation and long-unguarded coastline. In this arduous, trying and comprehensive position he performed the duties thereof with remarkable fortitude, unceasing vigilance, completeness of detail and fidelity to military tactics, the Torys gaining no permanent foothold with him watching the coast. The terms of enlistment of his men having expired, they returned to their homes, and he was left with a paltry guard of six soldiers. The British at Castine hearing of his precarious predicament, sent Lieut. Stockton with twenty-five men to capture him. He was attacked at midnight, Feb. 18, 1781. In his night clothes, with a brace of pistols, a fusee and a blunderbuss, he defended himself single-handed against his overpoering assailants, driving them off at first. They approached by another entrance. He headed off a score of men with his bayonet, but on being hit by a bullet in the elbow, his ammunition exhausted and himself disabled, he surrendered. Lieut. Stockton congratulated him on his stubborn resistance against fearful odds. He was hurried on foot to a vessel. It was intensely cold and he became exhausted from overexertion and loss of blood, and was placed upon a horse until he reached the boat-landing. He was imprisoned in Fort George. For two weeks he was in terrible suspense, as he knew not the fate of his family, but was allowed to write to the governor of Massachusetts, and thus learned of their complete safety. After two months' imprisonment he was visited by a friend of his, and informed that it was hinted he was to be tried and executed. He gave his barber one dollar for a gimlet, with which he bored holes around a pine ceiling, filling them up with chrewed bread. On June 18th, after four months confinement, during a terrible thunderstorm that drove the sentinels to cover, he cut the holes he had bored with a penknife, and with a compaion, Major Burton, escaped. He let himself down the walls of the fort, twenty feet high, by means of his blanket, torn into strips and tied together. In the darkness he became separated from Major Burton, and waded a mile across the cove, which was up to his armpits. The next morning he found the major and they soon reached Fort George settlements.
In 1784 he removed to Portland, Maine, and built the first brick house ever erected in the Forest city, the bricks having been shipped from Philadelphia. The house, of colonial pattern, is still (1908) standing on Congress street, and is owned by the Maine Historical Society, which keeps it open for visitors, and its contents and condition are preserved as it ws when the poet Longfellow lived there. In this house the Hon. Stephen Longfellow, the poet's father, lived, and the poet himself, though he was born elsewhere in the city.
General Wadsworth was a trader in Portland. He was president of the convention that met to consult on the expediency of a separation from Massachusetts. In 1792 he was in the Mass. senate, and elected to congress from the Maine district the same year, with which he was honored with seven consecutive re-elections. In 1790 he purchased of Mass. seven thousand acres of land which now comprise the present township of Hiram, Maine, and thither he removed in 1807, building a mansion which is still standing. He named the town Hiram in honor of King Hiram of Tyre, who was the most excellent grand master of the Masonic body. General Wadsworth was a Free Mason. There he engaged extensively in agriculture, raising one thousand bushels of corn in one season on burnt ground.
Gen. Wadsworth and his wife were members of the Congregational church. On a plateau along the sinuous and sea-bound Saco stands the family mansion, and near it sleeps in his last long sleep the honored and battle-scarred veteran whose watchword had been duty, to which he ever, in whatever circumstances in life he found himself placed, bent all his might and energies to faithfully fulfill.
He married Elizabeth Bartlett, who traced her lineage to the "Mayflower." The sons and daughters of this noble and fame-abiding couple were numerous, as became the custom of the age, who were strong in the manly strength and the womanly graces of their forebears.
1. Alexander S., died in infancy.
2. Charles Lee.
3. Zilpah, married the Hon. Stephen Longfellow and was the mother of the poet.
4.- 9. John, Elizabeth, Lucia, Henry, Alexander, Scammel, George, Samuel B. and Peleg.
(VI) Samuel Bartlett, seventh son of General Wadsworth, was born Sept. 1, 1791, in Portland, and died at Eastport in 1874, where he resided. He married Elizabeth Harrington, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1823.
Elizabeth H., Annie H., Mary N., Samuel L., Edward H. and Lucia.
(VII) Mary N., third daughter of Samuel Bartlett and Elizabeth (Harrington) Wadsworth, was born in 1827, and married Charles C. Norton, of Eastport in 1848.
1. Minnie Wadsworth, married Oliver E. Wood, formerly military attache to the embassy at Japan, and who now (1908) resides in Washington, D. C.
2. George Winterton, who lives in New York City.
4. Jenney Ritchie, married Charles A. Paine, and is now postmistress at Eastport.