Elizabeth Walton: A Journey of a Thousand Miles… (52 Ancestors #28)

Elizabeth Walton is one of my ancestors who had been captured by Indians toward the end of the Revolutionary War.  I’ve already posted some details on this ordeal when I wrote about Elizabeth’s daughter, Rebecca, so I’ll try not to repeat myself here.  I will, however, highlight a few things that show just how much Elizabeth traveled in her lifetime.  She was apparently a woman of strong constitution.

Elizabeth Walton was born on May 27, 1725 in Byberry, Pennsylvania (now part of Philadelphia).  Her parents were Benjamin and Rebecca Walton.  She was the eldest of nine children.1,2  The family were Quakers, and there are some good records of the births of all of the Walton children.

On November 30, 1752, Elizabeth married Bryan Peart.1,3  He died just five years later.1,6  Elizabeth had three children with Bryan:  Benjamin (1753), Rebecca (1754-1757), and Thomas (1756).1,4,5

Elizabeth married Benjamin Gilbert on August 17, 1760.1,7  They had four children together:  Jesse (1761), Rebecca (1763), Abner (1766), and Elizabeth (1767).1,8

Benjamin had a home and grist mill in Byberry, and the family lived there until 1775, when Benjamin decided to move to the Pennsylvania frontier.  Benjamin, Elizabeth, and their children moved to a farm located on Mahoning Creek (about 4 miles west of Lehighton) in Penn Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania.1

On the 25th Day of the 4th Month, 1780, the Gilbert family were taken captive by Indians and marched toward Fort Niagara.  Elizabeth was 55 at the time.  She was allowed to ride a horse some of the way, but most of the journey was on foot.  The family traveled approximately 300 miles to the Fort from their home.  It took them a month to get there.  Along the way, Elizabeth had been beaten several times, for not being able to keep up and to protect her children from receiving a beating.1

Shortly after arriving at the fort, Elizabeth, Benjamin, and their son Jesse were surrendered to Colonel Johnson, who was the Superintendent of Indiana Affairs.  Although they had been released, they stayed near the fort to try to secure the release of the other children.  They at last set off for Montreal by boat, about 350 miles away.  Elizabeth’s husband died along the way and was buried under an oak tree near Coteau-du-Lac, Quebec, Canada.  After the last child was released in 1782, the remaining family members traveled to Byberry.  This journey, of about 700 miles, was made by boat and wagon, and took five weeks to complete.1

Elizabeth stayed in Byberry with her family and did not return to the farm.  It was said that “in spite of the sorrows and hardships she had experienced, she still retained her cheerful disposition.”1

In 1791, Jesse and his wife and children moved to Fallowfield (about halfway between Philadelphia and Lancaster).  Elizabeth moved in with them.  She lived with Jesse until he moved to Lampeter.1

Walton, William. A Narrative of the Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family, Who Were Taken by the Indians in the Spring of 1780. Third Edition. Philadelphia: Printed by John Richards, 1848. pp. 174-175.

Walton, William. A Narrative of the Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family, Who Were Taken by the Indians in the Spring of 1780. Third Edition. Philadelphia: Printed by John Richards, 1848. pp. 174-175.


Sources

1.   Walton, William, and Frank H. Severance. “Memoirs of the Captives.” The Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family, 1780-83. Reprinted from the Original Edition of 1784. Cleveland: Burrows Brothers, 1904. Print.

2.  Ancestry.com.  U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 (database on-line).  Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.  Pennsylvania, Montgomery, Abington Monthly Meeting, Minutes, 1629-1812.  p.77.

3.  Ancestry.com.  Pennsylvania, Marriage Records, 1700-1821 (database on-line).  Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.  Swedes’ Church, Philadelphia, 1750-1810.  p.481.

4.  Ancestry.com.  U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 (database on-line).  Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.  Pennsylvania, Montgomery, Abington Monthly Meeting, Births and Deaths, 1682-1809, Vol. 1.  p.67.

5.  Ancestry.com.  U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 (database on-line).  Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.  Pennsylvania, Chester, New Garden Monthly Meeting, Births, 1684-1850/Births and Deaths, 1719-1839/Membership, 1797.  p.8.

6.  Ancestry.com.  U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 (database on-line).  Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.  Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Byberry Monthly Meeting, Deaths, 1736-1791.  p.2.

7.  Ancestry.com.  Pennsylvania, Marriage Records, 1700-1821 (database on-line).  Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.  Pennsylvania Marriage Licenses, Prior to 1790.  p.229.

8.  Ancestry.com.  U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 (database on-line).  Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.  Pennsylvania, Montgomery, Abington Monthly Meeting, Men’s Minutes, 1774-1782, Vol. 5.  p.69.

Benjamin Gilbert: He Who Wrestled with God (52 Ancestors #20)

Benjamin Gilbert was one of my Quaker ancestors.  As such, I’ll be including the dates as they were written in the various records.  The Quaker calendar was different before 1753.  Unless otherwise cited, all information in this post is from The Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family, 1780-83 by William Walton and Frank H. Severance (1904).

Benjamin was born to Joseph and Rachel (Livezey) Gilbert in 1711.  He married, first, Sarah Mason in the sixth month, 1731, and, second, Elizabeth (Walton) Peart in 1761.

The children of Benjamin and Sarah were Rachel, Abigail, Sarah, Joseph, Benjamin, John, Sarah, Joshua, and Caleb.

U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, Abington, Montgomery, Pennsylvania, Ancestry.com

U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, Abington, Montgomery, Pennsylvania, Ancestry.com

The children of Benjamin and Elizabeth were Jesse, Rebecca, Abner, and Elizabeth.

In Rebecca Gilbert‘s story, I related some of the events of the Gilbert family’s capture by Indians.  Just after his release from captivity, on his way home, Benjamin died on a boat in the middle of the St. Lawrence River on the eighth day of the sixth month, 1780.  He was buried under an oak tree outside the fort at Coeur de Lac (Coteau du Lac), Canada.

From the tales told in the aforementioned book, it seems that Benjamin was a very good man.  Even so, he had some trouble with alcohol.  This trouble resulted in his being disowned by the Society of Friends twice during his life.

The first occurrence was while he lived in Richland, Pennsylvania.  He was disowned by the Society in the eleventh month, 1744/5.  They cited that he was “sometimes addicted to drinking spirituous liquors to excess.”  Being filled with remorse, he acknowledged and apologized for his behavior and was reinstated in the sixth month, 1749.

Shortly thereafter, Benjamin and his family removed to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and transferred their membership to the local Meeting.  Benjamin’s first wife, Sarah, died in the twelfth month, 1759.  This caused “irregularities” in Benjamin’s conduct that resulted in his being disowned in the sixth month, 1760.

Benjamin attempted a reconciliation with the Society in 1770, but the Friends thought it best that he remain on probation.  During this probation, Benjamin wrote and published A Discourse, showing that there can be no Salvation to that Soul who doth not know a being made perfect in this Life; A Discourse on Universal Redemption, wherein it is proved (by Scripture and Reason) that it is impossible; A Further Discourse upon Perfection and Universal Redemption; A Discourse upon what is called Original Sin; A Discourse upon Election and Reprobation; and A further Discourse on Baptism, in answer to two Sermons on Water Baptism.

In his first volume, Benjamin gives an account of his religious experience:

I was visited in the early part of my life, with the tender love of God; so that I could never get clear of that lively impression; though I often rebelled against it, and fell into practices that were destructive to body and soul to divert myself from this Divine Teacher.  And although this served my turn for a time, until the cool of the day came, and then I would hear the voice of the merciful God again, reproving me for sin:  and sometimes I have given up to it, joined with it, and took up a resolution to mend my ways by forsaking my sins, and living a more circumspect life.  And in this state I found joy and peace with God.

But for want of watchfulness I sustained loss; that is, by not taking care to keep from looking back on my former delights with a hankering mind.  So I gradually fell into my former lusts and pleasures, and went into greater extremes than before.  In this state I was like the troubled sea whose raging waves cast up mire and dirt.  In this way I continued, until I was met in a narrow lane, as Balaam was, so that I could not turn to the right hand, nor the left.  I saw that I must give up to the known will of God in my heart, or I must be shut out of his favour to all eternity.  This was a time of sore trial indeed.  Although the merciful God opened the way to heaven for me, yet it appeared afar off, and the way hard and difficult for me to walk in.  And when I looked the other way, I saw nothing but torment to be my portion forever; and that I must be hurried into it in an ignominious manner, if I did not give up to God’s will.

In this deplorable state the great and blessed God had compassion upon me, and drew the eye of my mind to himself (in the very same manner that I had beheld him in the days of my youth, and at times ever since), and gave me some ease, by refreshing my soul with His tender love, and also renewed my hopes of salvation.  In this state, I was willing to give up all – I was willing to forsake all.  I thought if the Lord would preserve me from sinning against Him, I did not care what I suffered, or where my lot was cast.  In this disposition, I found access to God, through His dear Son, my Saviour; and a blessed time it was.  I prayed to God to preserve me from sinning, and (if He pleased) to forgive all my past sins.  And I think I have not passed one day since, without feeling more or less of His Divine goodness in my soul.

Benjamin then moved, with his second wife and their children, to the wilderness near Blue Mountain, on Mahoning Creek in Northampton County, Pennsylvania.  In the fourth month, 1776, Benjamin went to visit friends and attended the monthly meeting.  He was reinstated to the Society of Friends, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also received.  At the next monthly meeting, his four children with Elizabeth were received as members of the Abington Meeting.

Frontispiece from The Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family, 1780-83 by William Walton and Frank H. Severance (1904).

Frontispiece from The Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family, 1780-83 by William Walton and Frank H. Severance (1904).

Rebecca Gilbert: Quaker Daughter, Seneca Daughter (52 Ancestors #07)

Rebecca Gilbert is my favorite ancestor to research.  I feel close to her, not because we have any similarities, but because she is the first ancestor of mine who had a story that I could read.  All I had in the beginning of my research was a pedigree chart from my grandmother and a handful of notes.  One day, after Sunday lunch, my grandpa told me he had a book about my sixth great grandmother, Rebecca Gilbert.  The book was Captured by the Indians:  The Seldom Told Stories of Horatio Jones and the Benjamin Gilbert Family by George Henry Harris and William Walton (2003).  He lent it to me and, as I read and learned about what she had gone through, she became real to me.  She was no longer just a name on a pedigree chart.  I wanted to learn more about her, but I wasn’t entirely sure where to start.

A few months later, I was helping a patron at work who wanted to research Native American ancestry.  It was then that I noticed a smallish, red bound book with gilt lettering on the spine, which read, “Gilbert Narrative.”  When the patron had finished, I took my break and went back for the book.  The book was The Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family, 1780-83 by William Walton and Frank H. Severance (1904).  This one included a copy of the original text, plus an illustration of Benjamin being led off by Indians, a photograph of the Gilbert homestead in Byberry, the ancestry of Benjamin Gilbert, memoirs of the surviving captives, a family tree for Benjamin’s children, and historical notes.  It should have contained a map of their travels, but it had long since been torn out.

Suddenly, I had more information about my sixth great grandmother.  It had been right under my nose for two years.  I spent my breaks over the next week reading this book and writing things down.  This reprint also included a bibliography of all related publications.  Since this book differed so much from the one my grandfather had shown me, I wondered what other editions might reveal.  I began my search for these other books.  Luckily, Internet Archive had digitized some of them.  They have recently added the original as well.

Each one has something to add to the story, whether for the best or not.  Before I begin the story I should note that the family were Quakers and they never used the names of the days of the week or the months of the year since most of those names were derived from the names of pagan gods.  They also had an old and new style of dating, which can be confusing at times.  I’m writing the dates here exactly as they appear in the text.

The basic story of the Gilbert family is that the family were surprised at about sunrise on the 25th day of the 4th month, 1780 by a party of eleven Indians.  These Indians were Rowland Monteur and John Monteur (Mohawk); Samuel Harris, John Huston, and John Huston, Jr. (Cayuga); John Fox (Delaware); and five unnamed Seneca.  They raided and burned all of the buildings on the property.  They took captive fifteen people:  Benjamin Gilbert and his wife, Elizabeth; their children, Joseph, Jesse, Rebecca, Abner, and Elizabeth; Jesse’s wife, Sarah; Elizabeth’s sons from a previous marriage, Thomas and Benjamin Peart; Benjamin Peart’s wife, Elizabeth, and their daughter, Elizabeth; Benjamin Gilbert’s nephew, Benjamin Gilbert; Abigail Dodson, a neighbor’s daughter; and Andrew Harrigar, a hired hand.

The Indians bound their hands and forced the captives to walk northward toward Fort Niagara.  The journey was difficult, with little rest and not much to eat.  Andrew Harrigar managed to escape on the tenth day.  On the 24th day of the 5th month, Colonel Guy Johnson and Colonel Butler secured the release of Benjamin and Elizabeth Gilbert and their son, Jesse.  The rest of the captives were given over to various Indian families.  Rebecca and her cousin, Benjamin, were given to Rowland Monteur and his wife, who was the daughter of the Seneca Chief Siangorochti (Sayenqueraghta) and a Cayuga mother of high rank.  They lived with the Seneca on Buffalo Creek (Buffalo River), about four miles from Fort Erie.  They were adopted into the family of Siangorochti as replacements for family members that had been killed.  The story, according to William Walton, another of Rebecca’s cousins, is that Benjamin was happy in his new life while Rebecca suffered much and only wanted to get back home.

Another account, given by Rebecca’s fourth great grandson, Everitt Kirk Harris, states that “she was reluctant to leave her adopted relatives and customs.”  This account was passed down through the family.

Regardless of the conditions, there are some facts.  Benjamin Gilbert, Rebecca’s father, died on the 8th day of the 6th month, 1780.  Her adopted father, Rowland Monteur, died in September of 1781 (according to Severance’s notes).  Rebecca and Benjamin were released on the 1st day of the 6th month, 1782, and sailed for Montreal two days later.  They were the last two members of the Gilbert family to be released.  The entire surviving Gilbert family arrived in Byberry, Pennsylvania on the 28th day of the 9th month, 1782.

Walton’s third edition gives a synopsis of Rebecca’s life after returning home.

Walton, William.  A Narrative of the Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family, Who Were Taken by the Indians in the Spring of 1780.  Third Edition.  Philadelphia:  Printed by John Richards, 1848.  pp. 222-223.

Walton, William. A Narrative of the Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and His Family, Who Were Taken by the Indians in the Spring of 1780. Third Edition. Philadelphia: Printed by John Richards, 1848. pp. 222-223.

Rebecca’s will names only nine children:  Elizabeth, William, Joseph, Rachel, Rebecca, Hannah, Charles, George, and John.

Last Will and Testament of Rebecca Rakestraw, 5 Jul 1841

Last Will and Testament of Rebecca Rakestraw, 5 Jul 1841

I feel as though I have a complete story for Rebecca.  I am, however, left with a question.  Why are only nine of Rebecca’s eleven children named in her will?  Only three possible reasons come immediately to mind.  Either the person who wrote the synopsis was incorrect and there were only nine children, the other two children died without heirs before the date of the will, or Rebecca did not count them as her children for some reason.  Even though I have a fairly complete story for Rebecca, I continue to look for information.  One item on my bucket list is to follow the path that Rebecca and her family followed.  At the very least, I want to see the monument in The Seneca Indian Park in Buffalo, New York.  I found an image of the plaque recently.

First White Women Monument, Seneca Indian Park, Buffalo, New York, Ancestry.com.

First White Women Monument, Seneca Indian Park, Buffalo, New York, Ancestry.com.