Wednesday, March 9, 2016

James Ackley (1678-1746) and His Family

From time to time I plan on covering each of Nicholas' children and their families in a little more depth. Since James was my 6th great grandfather and I am most familiar with him, he gets to go first.

James Ackley was the ninth of ten children born to Nicholas and Hannah Ackley. He was born about 1677 or 1678, presumably in Haddam, Connecticut, and died on 19 Sep 1746 in East Haddam, Connecticut [10]. His birth year is estimated based on his age at death given on his tombstone - the inscription said he was in his 69th year of age.

James married his wife Elizabeth around 1706 according to marriage records on Ancestry [1]. According to Elizabeth's headstone, she died on 19 Sep 1755 (9 years to the day after her husband) in her 66th year, which would make her birth year about 1689 or 1690 [10]. This marriage record gives her maiden name as Comedy, which is the most frequently occurring name I have seen for her online. However, none of the published genealogies such as Dawes-Gates give a last name for her, and there just aren't any other records for an Elizabeth Comedy online that I can find. Find-A-Grave has her last name as Cowdrey, with a birth date of 6 Oct 1689 in Reading, Massachusetts. There is an Elizabeth Cowdery with that birth date in a published genealogy for the Cowdrey family, but it is doubtful that this Elizabeth Cowdery could be James' wife because she married Timothy Goodwin in 1708 [2].

Apparently James could read and write, or at the very least sign his name; his signature appears on his father's will as well as his own will, while several of his siblings just made their mark - an "X" next to their names. Here is his signature from his will:



Although there is no definitive documentation concerning James' occupation, it is logical to conclude that he was a farmer, as were many people in colonial times. Many of the items listed in the estate inventory in his probate documentation are farm-related -- cows, horses, a yoke of oxen, a yoke of steers, farm implements, as well as a barn [9].

James and Elizabeth were buried in Old Cove Burying Ground in East Haddam, Connecticut. Here are pictures of their headstones:





Children


James and Elizabeth had seven children, all of whom were mentioned in James' will [9].  Their children were:

1. James Ackley was born 17 Jul 1707 in East Haddam, Connecticut [11], and died 31 Dec 1777 in East Hampton, Connecticut [14]. James was married twice. First he married Naomi Gaines about 1732 in East Haddam, Connecticut. His second wife was Sarah Gates, whom he married on 28 Oct 1742 in Middletown, Connecticut [22].

James and Naomi had one son:

   a. James Ackley was born 18 Jan 1739 in East Haddam, Connecticut [19].

James and Sarah had three children:

   a. Sarah Ackley was born on 15 Sep 1743 in Middletown, Connecticut [19].
   b. Naomi Ackley was born 14 Aug 1745 in Middletown, Connecticut [19].
   c. Samuel Ackley was born 2 Sep 1747 in Middletown, Connecticut [19].

2. Nicholas Ackley was born 16 Dec 1708 in East Haddam, Connecticut [11], and died about 1763 [13]. Nicholas married twice. His first wife was Jerusha ?. His second wife was Sarah Wilson. Nicholas and Jerusha had three children:

   a. Jeremiah Ackley was born on 26 Sep 1742 in Colchester, Connecticut [13], [24], and died in Feb 1817 in Lancaster, New York [13]. He married Sarah Woodson.
   b. Jerusha Ackley was born on 30 Dec 1744 in Colchester, Connecticut [24].
   c. Sarah Ackley was born on 5 Nov 1749 in Colchester, Connecticut [24].

Nicholas and Sarah had two children:

   a. Lewis Ackley was born 5 Jan 1758 in Colchester, Connecticut [17].
   b. Nicholas Ackley was born 2 Jun 1762 in Colchester, Connecticut [17].

3. Nathaniel Ackley was born 7 Nov 1712 in East Haddam, Connecticut [11], [21], and died 18 Sep 1794 in Millington, Connecticut [10],[13]. Nathaniel was married twice. His first wife, and the mother of all of his children, was Mary Williams. They were married 16 Apr 1734 in East Haddam, Connecticut [15]. Mary's birth date is unknown. She died before 20 Dec 1792 in Milllington, Connecticut (this date is established by Nathaniel's marriage to Hannah Smith). Nathaniel married the widow Hannah Smith at the age of 80 on 20 Dec 1792 in East Haddam, Connecticut [16]. Nathaniel and Mary had the following children:

   a. Mary Ackley was born 27 May 1735 in East Haddam, Connecticut [13], [21], and died 14 Jul 1764 in East Haddam, Connecticut [13].
   b. Ruth Ackley was born 3 Dec 1737 in East Haddam, Connecticut [13], [21].
   c. Nathaniel Ackley was born 19 Apr 1740 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17], [21], and died 2 Dec 1759 in East Haddam, Connecticut [18], [21].
   d. Elizabeth Ackley was born 16 Mar 1745 in East Haddam, Connecticut [13],[19], [21], and died in 1832 in New Haven, Connecticut [13].
   e. Henry Ackley was born 1 Sep 1747 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17], [21].
   f. Lidia Ackley was born 28 Aug 1749 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17], [21], and died 12 Feb 1826 in East Haddam, Connecticut [14].
   g. Ephraim Ackley was born 25 Feb 1751/52 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17], [21], and died 12 Oct 1822 [20].
   h. Candis Ackley was born 20 Jul 1756 in East Haddam, Connecticut [13], [21].
   i. Warren Ackley was born 17 Oct 1758 in East Haddam, Connecticut [13], [21].

4. Gideon Ackley was born 14 Apr 1716 in East Haddam, Connecticut [12], and died 1 Dec 1803 in East Haddam, Connecticut [14]. Gideon was married twice. He first married Hannah Andrews on 24 Mar 1737 in East Haddam, Connecticut [15]. His second marriage was to Deborah Rowley on 27 Oct 1763 in East Haddam, Connecticut [16]. 

Hannah and Gideon had three daughters:
   a. Thankful Ackley was born 1 Jun 1737 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17].
   b. Abigail Ackley was born 29 Nov 1738 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17].
   c. Hannah Ackley was born 18 Mar 1742 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17].

Deborah and Gideon had two daughters:
   a. Deborah Ackley was born 13 Jun 1766 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17].
   b. Mary Ackley was born 14 Sep 1767 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17].

5. Desire Ackley was born 24 Feb 1717 in East Haddam, Connecticut [12], and died in 1788 [13]. Desire marred Acquillah Calkins on 27 May 1741 in Hebron, Connecticut [16]. Desire and Acquillah had nine children:

   a. Abigail Calkins was born 7 Jun 1742 in Hebron, Connecticut [17].
   b. Nathaniel Calkins was born 9 Feb 1743 in Hebron, Connecticut [17].
   c. James Calkins was born about 1745 [14].
   d. Abigail Calkins was born 18 Sep 1748 in Colchester, Connecticut [17].
   e. Desire Calkins was born 11 Nov 1750 in Colchester, Connecticut.
   f. Hannah Calkins was born 19 Aug 1754 in Colchester, Connecticut [17].
   g. Hannah Calkins was born in Nov 1755.
   h. Molly Callkins was born 19 Jun 1759 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17].
   i. Lucy Calkins was born 1 May 1762 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17].

6. Elizabeth Ackley was born 16 Jan 1722 in East Haddam, Connecticut [12], and died Mar 1795 [13]. Elizabeth married Richard Andrews on 10 Jul 1740 in East Haddam, Connecticut [16]. Elizabeth and Richard had eight children:

   a. Esther Andrews was born on 15 Jun 1738 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17].
   b. Eleanor Andrews was born on 10 May 1741 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17].
   c. Asahel Andrews was born on 20 Feb 1742 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17].
   d. Mary Andrews was born on 7 Aug 1745 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17].
   e. John Andrews was born on 17 Jul 1746 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17] and died 24 Oct 1809 in East Haddam, Connecticut [18].
   f. Elizabeth Andrews was born on 24 Jun 1750 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17].
   g. Joseph Andrews was born on 3 Nov 1752 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17].
   h. Abigail Andrews was born on 25 Apr 1755 in East Haddam, Connecticut [17].

7. Benajah Ackley was born 10 Jul 1729 in East Haddam, Connecticut [12]. Benajah married Lurany Bill on 21 May 1747 in Lebanon-Goshen, Connecticut [16]. Benajah and Lurany had two children:

   a. Adonijah Ackley was born 1 Feb 1750 [13] and died 4 Aug 1751 [13].
   b. Benajah Ackley was born about 1755. He died 16 May 1830 in Whiting, Maine [23].

Witchcraft Accusers


Although the witchcraft crisis in Salem, Massachusetts in the late 1600s is more well-known, Connecticut had its share of accusations and trials. James and Elizabeth were caught up in the witchcraft hysteria in 1724. Elizabeth claimed she had been "hagridden [tormented] and pinched" by the shape of Sarah Spencer, and James threatened to retaliate. Sarah sued James and Elizabeth for the sum of 500 pounds for defamation (a fortune at the time); the court awarded her 5 pounds. James and Elizabeth appealed and the award was reduced to one shilling, and James and Elizabeth were found not insane. This case was the last witchcraft trial held in Connecticut. [5] [6] [7] [8]

An interesting aspect of this case is that Sarah Spencer, the widow of William Spencer, was James Ackley's sister.


Slave Owner


Yes, you read that heading correctly, James Ackley was a slave owner. When I was reading through his will and probate documents, I found the following among the estate inventory papers:


The line that is boxed in says: "one negro woman 50-0-0 one negro girl 50-0-0   100-0-0". The monetary units used here are pounds, shillings, and pence, so each of these woman was valued at 50 pounds for a total of 100 pounds. The total value of the estate listed in the probate documents was 288-2-8, so these two women made up over one-third of the value of the estate. It is not clear from the will if these women were given to his wife or one of the children upon his death.

When I read that, I had to do some research to find out how prevalent slavery was in the north -- I guess naively I didn't realize there had been slaves in the north at all. I found a website about slavery in the north developed by historian Douglas Harper. According to the website, there were slaves in all of the original 13 colonies, and Connecticut had the most in New England:
"... on the eve of the Revolution, Connecticut had the largest number of slaves (6,464) in New England. ... All the principal families of Norwich, Hartford, and New Haven were said to have one or two slaves. By 1774, half of all the ministers, lawyers, and public officials owned slaves, and a third of all the doctors. But Connecticut's large slave population apparently was based in the middle class. More people had the opportunity to own slaves than in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, so more did so." [3]
The ConnecticutHistory.org website had this to say about slavery in Connecticut:


"Slavery in Connecticut dates as far back as the mid-1600s. Connecticut’s growing agricultural industry fostered slavery’s expansion, and by the time of the American Revolution, Connecticut had the largest number of slaves in New England. After the war, new ideas about freedom and the rights of men brought about the movement to end slavery in the US. In contrast to neighboring states, however, Connecticut emancipated its slaves very slowly and cautiously, claiming it wanted to ensure the process respected property rights and did not disrupt civic order. Connecticut passed the Gradual Abolition Act of 1784, but this act did not emancipate any enslaved persons, only those who would be born into slavery and only after they reached the age of 25. This gradual process meant that slavery in Connecticut did not officially end until 1848—long after many other Northern states had abolished the practice." [4]
This goes to show you that when you are researching your family history, you have to be prepared to discover the bad things, as well as the good things, about your ancestors. I have to admit that this discovery was quite a shock to me personally -- one of my direct line Ackley ancestors participated in one of the most shameful practices in American history -- owning another human being. But, you don't get to pick your ancestors; so you can only try to live your own life as honorably as possible and hope that your actions stand the test of time.


Discussion Questions


  • Does anyone have any good documentation on the last name for James' wife Elizabeth?
  • Is anyone a descendant of James?
  • What is your reaction to the news that James was a slave owner?


Link of the Day


Here is the link to the website on slavery in the north; there are pages on states other than Connecticut:

http://slavenorth.com



Quote of the Day


"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal."

--Henry Ford



Sources


  1. Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
  2. Mehling, Mary Bryant Alverson, Cowdrey-Cowdery-Cowdray genealogy : William Cowdrey of Lynn, Massachusetts, 1630, and his descendants (New York: F. Allaben Genealogical Co.,1911)
  3. http://slavenorth.com/connecticut.htm
  4. http://connecticuthistory.org/topics-page/slavery-and-abolition/
  5. Taylor, John M., The Witchcraft Delusion in Colonial Connecticut, 1647-1697 (New York: The Grafton Press, 1908), p. 155.
  6. Tomlinson, R.G., Witchraft Trials of Connecticut (Hartford: The Bond Press, 1978), p. 65-66.
  7. Karlsen, Carol F., The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998), p. 45.
  8. American Historical Magazine, Vol. I, January, 1906-November, 1906 (New York: The Publishing Society of New York, 1906), p. 237.
  9. Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, Utah: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
  10. Ferris, Mary Walton, Dawes-Gates Ancestral Lines: A Memorial Volume Containing the American Ancestry of Mary Beman (Gates) Dawes Vol. II (Wisconsin: Cuneo Press, 1931), p. 33-54.
  11. “First Book East Haddam Land Records”, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume XI, Samuel G. Drake, Editor. (Boston: C. Benjamin Richardson, 1857), p. 273-278.
  12. “First Book East Haddam Land Records”, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume XII, Samuel G. Drake, Editor. (Boston: C. Benjamin Richardson, 1858), p. 42-47.
  13. Ancestry.com. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
  14. Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Deaths and Burials Index, 1650-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, Utah: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
  15. Ancestry.com. Connecticut, Town Marriage Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.
  16. Ancestry.com. Early Connecticut Marriages [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
  17. Ancestry.com. Connecticut Town Birth Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.
  18. Ancestry.com. Connecticut Town Death Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.
  19. "Connecticut Births and Christenings, 1649-1906," database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F77D-LQ2 : accessed 7 February 2016)
  20. Winton, Caroll Ackley, Ackley & Winton Genealogy and Allied Lines (1949).
  21. East Haddam (Connecticut). Registrar of Vital Statistics, Records of births, marriages, and deaths, 1687-1915 (Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1984, 1987)
  22. "Connecticut Marriages, 1630-1997," database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F7LW-FPG : accessed 7 February 2016)
  23. Death Notice for Benajah Ackley, Eastport Sentinel, Volume XII, Issue 43, 2 Jun 1830, p. 3.
  24. Hinman, Royal Ralph, Catalogue of the Names of the First Puritan Settlers of the Colony of Connecticut (Hartford, Connecticut: E. Gleanson, 1846), p. 110.



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Where in the World Do Ackleys Live?

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