Monday, July 4, 2016

Those Morbidly Obese Old Men and Their Flying Machines

Andrew Naramor, born in 1836, was the son of Nathaniel Colton and Nancy Baker Naramor, and the grandson of Dr. Nathaniel Naramor.  He was a farmer who evidently had a mechanical bent and had gained some success as an inventor, patenting an improved hay rack, for example.  He also seems to have dabbled a bit in poetry, although here his efforts are perhaps more charitably judged relative to the Vogons.  Interested readers may decide for themselves, below.

When he was sixty years old, some seven years before Kitty Hawk, he sought to get ahead of the Wright brothers with his own human-powered flying machine.  Surviving newspaper accounts attempt, and fail, to paint a picture of it, but one is left with the impression that it must have looked rather like a meeting between Icarus and Big Bird:  it had two large wings, which were strapped to the arms, and two "sails" (described as being "somewhat like the feet of a duck") which were strapped to the feet, as well as a large rudder for steering.

The test flight took place in the middle of February, in Michigan.  The intrepid inventor climbed up to the roof of a barnyard shed, cautiously crept to the edge, spread his wings and . . . discovered that gravity's not a beach, but it sounds something like that.

It is at this point that the newspaper accounts mention that Andrew weighed some 300 pounds.

Incredibly, although he spent time in the hospital with injuries that were originally feared to be fatal, he survived the ordeal, and in fact lived for another eight years, although he never attempted flying again.


We Won the Revolution, So Let's All Move to Canada

One of the odder and lesser-known postscripts to the American Revolution was the brief attempt to heal divisions between the British Empire and her former American colonies by making large grants of land in Quebec (then called Lower Canada) available to American settlers.  The program was instituted in 1792 by the new Lieutenant Governor of the province, Sir Alured Clarke, and originally had two aims:  (1) to reward Loyalists who had fled to Canada as a result of the Revolution, and (2) to increase settlement there as a deterrent to any American designs on its northern neighbor.  However, under the influence of William Smith, chief justice of Lower Canada and chairman of the Executive Council’s land committee, most of the warrants to survey new townships under this program ended up being issued to Americans, many of whom had displayed anything but Loyalist sympathies in the previous conflict, in accordance with Smith’s belief that American settlement was the surest way to patch up the recent rift in the Empire.

From the Americans’ point of view, the prospect of a free grant of 200 acres of land (1,200 acres for the leaders of the settlement) was a powerful inducement to swear allegiance once more to George III.  As has been recounted elsewhere, Nathaniel Naramore twice fought on the side of the Massachusetts militia during the Burgoyne campaign of 1777.  But almost before the ink was dry on Alured’s proclamation, he and Jonathan Fassett (also a man with less than sterling Loyalist credentials, having been an early associate of Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys) were petitioning to have a new town, to be named Ponsonby, surveyed and granted to them and to their associates.

These associates, numbering 190 in all, included a number of Nathaniel’s former neighbors from Goshen, Massachusetts, as well as his two younger brothers Joseph and Alpheus and his cousin Justin Naramore from Pittsfield.  Conspicuously leading the list, and called out for special attention to “His Excellency and Council” were the “good Loyalists” Abijah Hawley, and the brothers George and Gould Buck.  It is unclear whether Abijah was related to Justin Naramore’s Hawley in-laws, but the Bucks were intermarried with some distant Parsons cousins of Nathaniel’s sister-in-law Rebecca Parsons Naramore.  Whether these relationships played any part in the drafting of Abijah and the Bucks for the cause is unknown, although it makes for interesting speculation.  Another point of interest is that Gould Buck is a direct ancestor of John Wayne – his great-great-great-grandfather, in fact.

In any event, as might be expected, the project to promote a closer union with the United States by opening the doors to settlement by former rebels soon ran into serious headwinds from many on the council, and by 1795 the scheme was effectively dead.  But Nathaniel already had other plans.  After marrying Molly May in Goshen in 1789, he had brought his new bride north to the newly-founded town of Georgia, Vermont, where she was one of the first members of the Congregational Church and he was the town’s first constable.  But despite being “universally esteemed, both as a physician and a citizen” (as a history written more than 70 years later would recall), in 1795 the young family picked up stakes and headed for what was then the frontier country of the Genesee in western New York state.  In January of 1796, Nathaniel bought the western half of lot no. 61 in what is now the town of Avon, and bought the remaining half in 1803.  The property is still a working farm in the town, located on the north side of  Route 20 just a little ways east of the locally famous Tom Wahl’s restaurant.

Nathaniel makes two appearances, in quasi-Natty Bumpo guise, in the Eli Granger diaries (  Granger records a geese-hunting trip to Braddock’s Bay on March 18, 1797 with “Parks and Dr. Narrimore”, and  on August 3rd of that year records that “Dr. Narrimore came to visit Dan [Rowe]” who had been “taken with a Fevor that is common to the Country”.  Very likely this was the so-called “Genesee Fever”; the early settlement of the Rochester area was plagued by malaria from the swampland around the Genesee River.

In response to a 1797 New York law, Nathaniel, who had most likely apprenticed with a country doctor in the Goshen area, was required to prove that he was qualified to practice medicine in the state.  As a result, Timothy Hosmer, the Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, filed the following certification:

These may Certify that Doct. Nathaniel Naramor has Resided in This Town upwards of Four Year and has been in the Practice of Phisic and I am perfectly Satisfyed with his abilities as a Phisician

Coming from Judge Hosmer, who had been a surgeon with the Continental Army on General Washington’s staff, this was no faint praise.

The last known record of Nathaniel is from May 30, 1804, when his name appears on a jury list for the town of Hartford (now Avon).  He died from unknown causes in 1809 and is buried in the main Avon cemetery.  The stone is now gone, but its former presence is attested by a 1946 cemetery survey, which recorded the grave marker for one “Doots” N. Naramor (even then, the stone must have been seriously weathered, with the transcriber evidently mis-reading “Doots” for “Doctr.”)  After Nathaniel’s death, his oldest son Chester assumed responsibility for the family, moving one town over to Caledonia, where they remained for the next 25 years or so.  Chester was one of the New York militia who were taken prisoner at the ill-fated Battle of Buffalo in June of 1813.  In the mid-1830s, Chester and his family went west to Kangley, Illinois, where his son, Elisha Gilbert Naramor, became a prosperous farmer.

The next-oldest son, Horace Naramor, appears never to have married, and eventually settled at Batavia, NY where he was a well-known manufacturer of grain cradles for many years.  He died sometime after 1868.  Although there is a Naramore Drive in Batavia today, it is in a newer development, and its name has no connection with Horace.

The third son, Jeremiah Naramor, also seems not to have married, and died in Utica, Michigan in 1836, where he had moved with his younger brother, Nathaniel Colton Naramor, and their mother, Mary (May) Naramor, who died there in 1840.  Nathaniel C. Naramor married Nancy Baker and had several children.  They have numerous descendants today in Michigan and elsewhere, and the distinctive spelling of their last name marks them out as descendants of Dr. Nathaniel.

  • Thomas (ca. 1640 - ca. 1690) -> Samuel (ca. 1680 - ca. 1754) -> Samuel (1706 - 1789) -> Samuel (1730 - 1777) -> Nathaniel (1757 - 1809)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Captain Richard Narramore (c. 1650 - c. 1698)

Although this blog was supposed to concern itself only with the descendants of Thomas Narramore (c. 1640 - c. 1690), there was another Narramore who swashed and buckled his way across the late 17th-century colonial stage and who now refuses to be ignored.  This is the infamous Captain Richard Narramore, who is commonly supposed to have been the brother of Thomas and the progenitor of the Southern branch of the Narramore family in the United States.  There's also that little matter of piracy on the high seas, which briefly landed him in trouble with the royal governor of Massachusetts in 1687.

In point of fact, I don't happen to believe any of these things about Richard.  He may indeed have been Thomas' brother, but the evidence is at best circumstantial:  they were both about the same age, appeared in Boston records at about the same time, and were engaged in maritime occupations.  The same could probably be said about a large portion of Boston's population at that time, which is another way of saying that their shared surname is the only significant connection between them; the records themselves give no hint of any interaction between them or their families.  On slightly firmer evidentiary ground, rather than being the ancestor of a large and vibrant group of American Narramores, it seems more likely that he was a genealogical dead end.  And as for being a pirate - well, it's a colorful story, but the best (or worst, depending on your point of view) that the records have to say about it is that he didn't exactly hang out with the Sunday-go-to-meeting set.  Probably not unique to a merchant ship-captain of that time and place.

A recent query about Richard on the World Narramore Family Facebook group prompted me to pull together all of the miscellaneous pieces of information I'd acquired on him over the years and to give some thought as to how they might fit together.  To be frank, the facts are few, and how they fit together is anyone's guess.  What follows are the facts I have and the guesses I've made from them.  If anyone has additional facts or different interpretations, please feel free to make use of the comments section.

Richard's first documented appearance in the colonies is in 1676, when Boston records show the birth of a son, John, to Richard and Ann Narramore on September 10th of that year.  As with Thomas and Hannah, no record of Richard and Ann's marriage exists, but also as with Thomas and Hannah, probate records supply key pieces of the missing information.  Specifically, the will of one William Waters, made in Boston in 1684, mentions real estate "which I have already made over to my three daughters for my life".   The daughters in question were Mary, wife of John Sellman; Urith, wife of John Nicks; and Ann, wife of Richard Narramore.  Keep the Nicks name in mind, as it will show up again later.

In November 1678, both Thomas and Richard appear on the list of those who took the Oath of Allegiance to King Charles II in Boston.  For what it's worth - possibly nothing - their names are greatly separated on the very long list.

Richard is in Boston tax records for both of the years 1687 and 1688.  It's hard to say without further research, but it doesn't appear that he lived in close proximity to Thomas (nor, again, is that necessarily significant).

Our first knowledge of Richard's occupation is gleaned from Suffolk county deeds, where he is mentioned in passing as being a ship captain.  Book 14 of the registry of deeds records that one John Bond, as surety for a debt owed to Nicholas Paige, pledged his half-interest in the ketch Sparrow to Paige.  The debt was to be repaid by the last day of May, 1687, or sooner, "if the ketch Sparrow, of which Richard Norrimore is master, returns before that time".

The return of the Sparrow to Boston in the summer of 1687 turned out to be a matter of great interest not just to Messrs. Bond and Paige, but to the royal authorities there as well.  The original records of what befell Captain Narramore and his passengers are to be found in the Massachusetts Archives (the so-called "Felt Collection", after the Rev. Joseph Felt who organized and assembled it), portions of which have appeared in various print sources, but the full story is best told in Dow and Edmond's "The Pirates of the New England Coast 1630 - 1730".  They do such a good job, in fact, that there is no need to attempt to retell it here, and the interested reader is instead simply referred to Google Books.   A reading of the events makes it clear that Richard was never himself suspected of piracy; instead, he was a ship-captain who in at least this one instance tried to make a little extra money on the side by providing discreet passage for a group of shady characters and their very probably ill-gotten gains. It is also interesting to note that two of the supposed pirates were said to have been dropped off at Damaris Cove, an island off the coast of what is now Maine, and the place from which Richard's in-laws hailed.

In any event, nothing of substance ever came of the matter and Richard was soon back at his normal trade.  Boston port records show the departure of the two-gun brigantine Resolution, captained by Richard Narramore with a crew of five, for South Carolina in October 1687.  But it may be that the piracy matter had left a bad taste for Richard in Boston, as the 1688 tax list is the last record we have of him there.

It is also at about this time, or just shortly afterward, that he begins showing up in the records of the then relatively new English settlement at Charleston, South Carolina.  Volume One of The Proprietary Records of South Carolina records a bill of sale from Edward Rawlings of Berkeley County, vintner, to Richard Norramore, mariner, for "a negro woman named Rose"; the sale price being thirty pounds and ten shillings sterling.  The date of the sale appears to have been in late 1690 or early 1691.

On June 15, 1693, Richard Norrimore and William Baker, mariners, sold the ketch Bristol, formerly called the Elizabeth, and "now lying before Charles Towne in Ashly River in Carolina, whereof . . . Richard Abram is now master" for the sum of 150 pounds.  It seems that Richard may have been moving up in the world, going from being a captain of vessels owned by others to a ship-owner himself.  Perhaps flush with this cash, Richard purchased (more of a long-term rental, actually) lots 143 and 144 at "Charles Towne" the following year.  In modern Charleston, these lots front on King Street, and comprise much of the area between Price's Alley and Ladson Street, including Weims Court.

One curiosity here is that although Richard is referred to as "of Carolina" and "of the county of Berkley in the said Province" in these records, his wife Ann seems never to have left Boston.  In any event, there is no record of her in the Carolinas, and in early 1692, right in the middle of the period that Richard was setting himself up in Charleston, we find Ann buying land on Hanover Street in Boston.  This is the last record we have of her until the settlement of her estate, in Boston, in 1700.

Another curiosity from this time period is the marriage of a Richard "Narrennore" and Ann Burden in Barbados in 1691.  Based on the long correspondence in the comments section below, I am pretty well persuaded that "Narrennore" is a mis-spelling of "Narramore", but am doubtful that this was the same Richard.  For all we know, he may well have had a woman in every port, but adultery seems far more likely than bigamy, especially given the close ties between Charleston, Barbados and Boston at that time.  Still, with the death of "Hannah Narrennore" (presumably the now-married Ann Burden) in Barbados early in 1692, there is no further mention of Barbados Richard, so the possibility that he and Charleston Richard were one and the same, though slim, still exists.

Following the ship sale and lot purchase, Richard makes two minor appearances in South Carolina court records, both in 1697.  In the first of these, he is described as "Commander of the Bridgateen Carrolina", while in the second, "cash monies received from Capt. Richard Norramore" are mentioned in an inventory of the estate of Robert Rhimer.  It is at this point that Richard exits from the written record.

Somewhere out on the internet (so of course it must be true) there is a supposed 1725 census of Charleston showing Richard Narramore as living there at that time.  Don't believe it.  Rather than being a 1725 census, it was instead taken from a list that was compiled in 1725 of the owners of the original lots in Charleston.  By 1725, only Richard's ghost would have been walking the streets of Charleston.  The evidence strongly suggests that he died not long after the last (1697) mention of him noted above.

This evidence is buried in amongst the probate records of Suffolk county, Massachusetts, where there is a sadly truncated file containing only a single document:  a petition of Urith Nix, sister of Ann Narramore, "late of Boston, widow", asking that administration of Ann's estate be granted to Ann's brother-in-law, John Dollen.  The petition is dated May 14, 1700.  The simplest explanation is that Richard died in 1698, give or take a few months, and that his widow Ann, who had probably remained in Boston with her sisters' family, herself died shortly afterwards.   That there is no mention of any children in the probate record is not conclusive, but it does tend to support the theory that the couple's only known son, John, was either himself dead or out of contact in England by that time.

It would thus seem that the first Narramore migration to South Carolina was of short duration, lasting only through the 1690s.  By the time of the Revolutionary War, there would be a new family of Narramores, headed by Edward Narramore, in the Kershaw District of the state, but that line's migration has now been definitively traced as being southward from North Carolina, where a William Narramore (probably Edward's father) can be found in records going back to the 1750s.



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Narramores in the Saratoga Campaign - Part 1

In the summer of 1777, a large British invasion force led by General "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne moved southward from Canada through the Champlain Valley, heading for Albany.  There, they expected to be joined by two other forces, one coming north up the Hudson from New York, and a smaller one coming eastwards from Lake Ontario through the Mohawk Valley.  With the Hudson-Champlain corridor under British control, New England would be cut off from the rest of the colonies and caught in a stranglehold.

Standing in Burgoyne's way was the fort at Ticonderoga, sometimes called the "Gibraltar of North America".  Located on the western side of the narrows of Lake Champlain, it dominated the choke point of access to nearby Lake George and, from there, to the Hudson.  Burgoyne knew that in order to reach Albany he would have to go through Ticonderoga.

The Americans knew this as well and had been hard at work strengthening the defenses, which included building a whole new set of fortifications on the opposite shore of Lake Champlain, on heights that were now, in keeping with the spirit of the day, called Mount Independence.  The two fortifications were joined by a floating bridge, with a log-and-chain boom thrown across the lake to prevent British ships from passing.  In the minds of the American political and military classes, and in the mind of the American public at large, it was inconceivable that Ticonderoga could fall.

But there were chinks - gaping holes, in fact - in the defensive armor, and General Arthur St. Clair, who arrived to take command of the fort in mid-June (at just about the same time as Burgoyne was setting out from Canada) was acutely aware of them.  "If the enemy intend to attack us", he wrote to General Philip Schuyler from Ticonderoga on June 13th, "we are very ill-prepared to receive them".  He was referring to the number of troops (less than 2,500 fit for duty where it was estimated that 10,000 were required to adequately man both forts), their quality (his disdain for the militia units - "who go off whenever they please" - was quite evident and, as matters turned out, well-justified) and the lack of adequate equipment and supplies.

And yet, despite all of these weaknesses, the Americans might have been able to check Burgoyne's advance at Ticonderoga had it not been for the one fatal flaw that everyone - well, almost everyone - had overlooked.  When Colonel John Trumbull had made an examination of the site in 1776, he noticed that the entire position was dominated by a lofty eminence, Mount Defiance, at its center.  As with the site's former French and English commanders, the current American command gave it no thought, believing that it was too distant as well as being unscalable, but Trumbull was able to demonstrate otherwise.  Nevertheless, his warnings went unheeded, and Mount Defiance was left unoccupied.

When Burgoyne's brigadier general Simon Fraser arrived on the scene in early July of 1777, he likewise quickly realized the mountain's strategic importance and, unaware of Trumbull's previous recommendation, wondered why, considering all the battles that had previously been fought at Ticonderoga, "it never occurred to any person to occupy it".  It wasn't easy - it took a detachment of axemen and a work party of some four hundred men to clear a way to the top - but it was done.  By July 5th a battery of twelve-pound cannon was established on Mount Defiance.  Overnight, the American position had become untenable, and St. Clair gave the order to retreat.

Among the American defenders stationed at Mount Independence that day were two regiments of Hampshire County Massachusetts militia:  Colonel Leonard's regiment, led by its lieutenant colonel, Jonathan Hale, and Colonel Wells' regiment, led by its lieutenant colonel, Ezra May.  The Mays and the Narramores had been neighbors going back some twenty years, first in Woodstock, Connecticut, and now in Goshen, Massachusetts, and the connection between the two families would be further strengthened in 1789, when Nathaniel Naramore married Ezra May's daughter, Molly.  But all that was far in the future in July 1777, when nineteen year-old Nathaniel was getting his first taste of military experience under the command of his future father-in-law.  In a strange twist, however, it was not the first time that a young Narramore was in military service at Ticonderoga:  nineteen years earlier, almost to the day, Nathaniel's uncle, Joseph Narramore, had taken part in the disastrous British assault on Ticonderoga as a private in the Third Connecticut Regiment of colonial militia under General James Abercrombie.

Looking back, it is all too easy to gloss over the rough patches and idealize our Revolutionary War forbears, but whatever Nathaniel's own motivations and actions may have been (and in point of fact, we know absolutely nothing about either), there was nothing special in general about the militia units that Massachusetts had sent to the defense of Ticonderoga.  As with any group of men, some were brave, and some not so.  Some, no doubt, had joined out of a sense of patriotism and for the love and defense of their country, but others joined because they needed the money, or because they were compelled to do so (alhough it doesn't figure prominently in the history books, in the alarms attending Burgoyne's advance, the Massachusetts General Court imposed drafts, which had legal teeth to them).  As a whole, the militia's behavior at Ticonderoga, and during the retreat that followed, was, to be frank, something less than stellar.

On the evening of July 5th, with Burgoyne at the doorstep and in a spectacular instance of lousy timing, the two lieutenant colonels of the Massachusetts militia took the opportunity to inform General St. Clair that their units considered their terms of enlistment to be up - although, for a small bounty, the men might be induced to stay.  The units had been raised in early May for a term of two months, but St. Clair had insisted that the clock started with their arrival for duty, and not when they marched from home.  The militia insisted otherwise.  St. Clair managed to put them off for the time being, but it was to be only a short delay.

On the retreat along the military road to Castleton on July 6th, the two militia units were in constant disorder.  They had had enough of the army, and wanted to go home.  At one point, things got so bad with Lt. Col. Hale and his men that General Poor had to order forty of his Continentals to make ready to fire on them if they would not get back in the line of march.  In Castleton on July 7th, St. Clair had had enough:  he paraded the two Massachusetts regiments and, in an emotional address, shamed them into staying with the army "as long as there was any prospect of immediate danger from the enemy".  But again, it was only a short reprieve, and by the time the army reached Manchester, St. Clair dismissed them in disgrace.

And so ended, rather ignominiously, Nathaniel Naramore's first term of service in the Massachusetts militia.  But a second chance was not long in coming - and this time, the militia would do much better.

  • Thomas (ca. 1640 - ca. 1690) -> Samuel (ca. 1680 - ca. 1754) -> Samuel (1706 - 1789) -> Samuel (1730 - 1777) -> Nathaniel (1757 - 1809)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Articles of Agreement (1746)

Samuel Narramore was born about 1680, probably at Boston, although no birth record exists.  He was the son of Thomas and Hannah Narramore, as evidenced by records of Boston's Second Church, which show his baptism there on May 29, 1681, the same day on which his mother Hannah became a member of the church.  He joined the church himself in January 1703 and in 1705, then "of Charlestown", he married at Lynn, Massachusetts, Rachel Paul, daughter of John and Lydia (Jenkins) Paul.  Samuel and Rachel settled on land that Rachel had inherited from her parents, land that is now in Saugus but at the time straddled the Lynn/Boston line. 

Doubtless drawn by the lure of cheaper land, Samuel and some of his neighbors pulled up stakes in the 1720s and moved to the town of Killingly in what was then the sparsely settled wilderness of northeastern Connecticut.  His two oldest daughters, Hannah and Sarah, remained behind, with Hannah marrying Joseph Downing at Lynn in 1738 and Sarah marrying a former neighbor of the Narramores, Samuel Breeden, in 1730.  The road on which they lived still bears the family's name - Breedens Lane, in the town of Revere - and three generations of their descendants, the last of whom died in 1877, bore the name Samuel Narramore Breeden.

The oldest son, also named Samuel, soon followed his parents to Killingly, after first marrying Lydia Davis in Boston in 1727.  Samuel and Rachel had four younger children, the last (John) born in 1722, but only two of them are known to have survived to adulthood:  Lydia and Mary, who were both baptized in 1738 in the Congregational Church that their father had helped to organize in Killingly's North Society (later to become the town of Thompson) in 1730.  This is the last known record of Lydia, but Mary married James Dike, of neighboring Dudley, Massachusetts, in 1742.

Getting on in years, Samuel and Rachel made an agreement in 1746 with their new son-in-law to rent him their house and farm, and to give him all their personal property at their deaths, on the condition that he would care for them at their home for the remainder of their lives.  Samuel, his signature noticeably shakier than in 1746, sold his land to James Dike in December of 1750; there is no mention of Rachel, who had likely pre-deceased him by this point.  A note on the deed indicates that it was received for record on February 9, 1751, but was "to be keept on file till ye Grantors Deseas".  On October 15, 1754, the deed was officially recorded.  According to Dike family tradition, Samuel and Rachel were buried in the little family burying ground on the farm, although the earliest burials were marked only by rough fieldstones.  The cemetery today is at the intersection of Gawron and Brandy Hill Roads in Thompson, and is well kept, with a gated fieldstone wall surrounding it.

The former Narramore farm remained in the Dike family for several generations.  The original document by which Samuel and Rachel rented their property to James Dike in return for his promise of care and maintenance was preserved among the Dike family papers, and the text of it is reproduced below.

Artakels of a Greement and a Covenant made and agreed apon by and with Samuel Narrowmore of Killingsley in the Count(y) of Windham In the Colloney of Connectticut In New England Weaver and Rachal his wife and James Dick of said Killingsley husbandman do by these presents agree and  Covenant togather to wet the sd Samuel Narrowmore Douth Let farme Let and Demise and Devise unto the said James Dick his house and all his Lands In the sd Killingsley with all the preveledges and appurtainances thereto belonging for the full time that is of his natuerel Life here apon Earth and the Life of Rachale his wife Even tel it shall please God to Take them Both out of the Land of the Liveing to have and to hold the same free and Clereley so Long with all the Benefets thereof and the sd Samuell Narrowmore Douth and Rachal his wife Douth agree and Covenant with the said James Dick he being thare Loveing Son In Law that marid there daughter Mary that he the said James Dick shall have all his Moveable Estate that he the sd Samuel Narrowmore now hath and Rachal his wife at there Decease that is to Say one feather Bed and all the Bed Close with all the furnetuer thereto Belonging tow plain Chestes and an Iron pot and hucks that hold about two pails full two Sider Barels a fier Lice and tongs a Lombe and all the weaveing gears a Cow and a Calfe a mare and Colt and five sheep and what So Ever other Estate that the said Samuel Narrowmor hath that is moveable then or now In possession or Revartion or Rachel his wife to be the said James Dicks and his heires forever and the sd James Dick to have the use of all the moveables for the maintainance of the sd Samuel Narrowmore and Rachel his wife as here after mentioned and the sd James Dick to have all the In Crese of the stock he keeping them winter and sumer and furtheare more the sd James Dick Douth In Consideration for the Rent of the sd house and Lande and the moveables above mentioned Douth agree and Covenant by these presents to and with the sd Samuel Narrowmore and Rachel his wife his Honoured Fathare and Mothere In law to Maintaine them Dureing there naturel Lives with meet Drink washing and Loging and all Close and all Nessasaris of Life he the sd Samuel Narrowmore Remaining In the House with the said James Dick seutable a Cording to there age and Degree and to the fullfilment of the above written agreement and Covenant the sd James Dick Douth In gage and promise him selfe and heires Executors and administrators by these presents to fullfil. In Confarmation of this agreement and Covenant made by these presents and in witness hereof the sd Samuell Narrowmore and Rachel Narrowmore his wife and the sd James Dick have set to our hands and seales this fifth Day of November anno Dom:  1746

Samuell Neremoer
Rachel her x mark Narrowmore
James Dike

Signed sealed and Delivered
In presents of us witnesses

Henery Pollok
Joseph Cady

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Scattering of the Family

Samuel and Lydia (Davis) Naramore, who had come from Boston to what is now the town of Thompson in northeastern Connecticut, were the parents of six children (five survived to adulthood) who were born there between 1730 and 1744.  None of them remained in Connecticut.  One son, Joseph, settled in New Hampshire, while the remaining children - Samuel, John, Joshua and Mehitable - set off one by one for western Massachusetts.  By the time of Samuel's death in 1789, his grandchildren were in four states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and what would soon become Vermont) and were poised to take their part in the great westward migrations that were about to be unleashed by the opening up of the frontiers.

John (b. 1735) was the first to leave the nest, followed closely by his younger brother Joshua (b. 1743), the two of them playing a sort of game of leapfrog through the Connecticut River Valley and the Berkshires.  Although listed as being "of Woodstock" at the time of his marriage in 1760, John was in Northampton the following year and in what would later become the town of Goshen by 1764.  By this time, it seems, younger brother Joshua was in Pittsfield, although he had probably spent some time in Northampton as well, since records of the First Church in Northampton show that returned there to marry Hannah Bridgman in March of 1765.  In any event, the brothers were soon reunited:  after a short stopover in Lanesboro, John purchased land adjacent to his brother's in Pittsfield in 1772.  Their sister Mehitable was there also, although it is uncertain whether she had come with her brother Joshua or had joined him there later.  In fact, it is uncertain whether she was still alive in 1772, since there is no known record of her after intentions of marriage between her and Joseph Wright were published in Pittsfield in 1769.

The two oldest children, Samuel (b. 1730) and Joseph (b. ca. 1732) remained in Connecticut the longest.  Joseph purchased a farm of fifty-seven acres in Winchester, New Hampshire in 1772, although evidently not moving there right away, since his last child was born in Pomfret, Connecticut in 1773.  Samuel, meanwhile, had purchased land in what would become the town of Goshen, Massachusetts as early as 1765, but was likewise slow in leaving Connecticut.  He was put in charge of the roads in West Woodstock in 1773, and an early 1775 deed in which he purchased additional land in Goshen still shows him as being "of Woodstock".  He was clearly in Goshen by 1777, however, since it is from there that he enlisted in the Massachusetts militia as part of the Saratoga campaign.

As the Revolutionary War drew to a close, there were thus three vibrant new colonies of Naramores:  at Winchester, New Hampshire, and at Goshen and Pittsfield in Massachusetts.  The Pittsfield colony would soon dissipate, however, as most of John Naramore's family had crossed over the border into Columbia County, New York by 1784 (as has been recounted elsewhere, John's oldest son Asa settled in Charlotte, Vermont at aboout the same time).  Meanwhile, Joshua Naramore was killed in 1784 while cutting timber and his oldest two sons, Joel and Justin, soon headed north, first to Hampton, New York, and then from there into Vermont, Joel to Benson in Rutland County and Justin to Underhill in Chittenden County.  In the very early years of the new century, his third and last son, Elias, left Pittsfield for Chenango County, New York.  By 1805, the Naramore family had left Pittsfield.

The Goshen settlement thrived until brought to a sudden and tragic end in 1854.  Although Samuel's oldest son, Nathaniel, soon left for Vermont and then for the Genesee Country in western New York, his three younger sons, Thaddeus, Alpheus and Joseph all remained and raised large families.  But emigration and early mortality eventually whittled the Naramores in Goshen down to a single family, that of Alpheus' son, Franklin Naramore.  Still, it was a large family and he was a leading citizen of the town, and in 1850 it would have seemed to all observers that the Naramores had a long and prosperous future ahead of them in Goshen.  But it was not to be.  Within the space of a few weeks, Franklin and four of his children were wiped out by dysentery.

  • Note:  there are several websites that incorrectly list the elder Samuel's deathdate as 1773, possibly through confusing him with his son of the same name and because the last known record of the younger Samuel in Connecticut was of his being put in charge of the roads in West Woodstock in 1773.  But the Killingly and Thompson Town Records (Thompson was officially set off from Killingly in 1785) tell the true story.  Although exact death dates are not given, the records show that Samuel and Lydia Narramore became wards of the town in 1778, and the last record of money paid "for keeping Samuel Naramore & wife" ends at January 8, 1781, which is then followed by a record of payment "for making a coffin for Samuel Narramore's wife".  Similarly, a record of payment "for keeping Samuel Naramore to 1st of Jan. 1789" is followed by one "for keeping Samuel Naramore 5 weeks - funeral charges also".

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Curse of the Naramores - Part 4

Joshua Naramore, the last child of John and Tabitha (Newell) Naramore, was born on September 18, 1784 in the little hamlet of New Britain in the town of Chatham, Columbia County, New York.  Although by then living in New Baltimore, Joshua returned to Chatham to marry Anna Carpenter, daughter of Oliver and Joanna Carpenter, on December 26, 1823.  Not long after their marriage, they moved to the town of Lee, in Oneida county, where they remained for nearly thirty years and where their four children, Mary, Samuel, David and Elizabeth were born.  In the 1860s, they moved to the nearby town of Westmoreland.  Anna died there on January 11, 1866, while Joshua, conspicuously escaping the Curse of the Naramores, lasted another seventeen years, dying in Westmoreland on April 4, 1883 in the ninety-ninth year of his age.

His eldest son, Samuel, was not so fortunate.  Like his uncle of the same name, he took up the miller's trade, but with more success, and worked for many years at the Ridge Mills in Rome, New York.  In 1868, he headed west and became the foreman of a flour mill in Owasso, Michigan.  On the evening of October 24th, 1877, after all the workers had gone home for the day, he took a lantern in hand and went up to the second floor to investigate  what appeared to be a clogged spout.  On his way back, he attempted to shortcut a path between an elevator spout and a gear-wheel that was running about four feet off the floor.  The space between them was very narrow, and his clothing became caught in the gears.  He soon found himself inextricably wedged there, with the wheel revolving against his side, grinding off the flesh from his hipbone and over the abdomen.

Alerted by the strange sound of the machinery, the owners, who were in the office, soon shut everything down and extricated Samuel from where he had been trapped, but they were too late.  Samuel was horribly lacerated across his midsection and had been partially disembowelled.  He lingered for only a week, dying on the 31st of October, 1877.  He left a widow and five children, the youngest of whom was only nine.

  • Thomas (ca. 1640 - ca. 1690) -> Samuel (ca. 1680 - ca. 1754) -> Samuel (1706 - 1789) -> John (1735 - ca. 1815) -> Joshua (1784 - 1883) -> Samuel (1827 - 1877)