THE HERO OF THE CHARTER OAK
IN ANCIENT HARTFORD, CT
THE STUART HOMESTEAD AND THE CHARTER OAK
From a painting by Henry Bryan
The Colonial History of Hartford, Pg. 218
by Rev. William DeLoss Love, 1914
On the 31st of October, 1687, Governor Edmund Andros reached Hartford, in the hope of receiving the surrender of Connecticut's charter. He would have stopped at the inn, where the General Court was then convened. There was some conference concerning the matter in the "court chamber." Trumbull says: "The important affair was debated and kept in suspense, until the evening, when the charter was brought and laid upon the table, where the assembly were sitting. By this time, great numbers of the people were assembled, and men sufficiently bold to enterprise whatever might be necessary or expedient. The lights were instantly extinguished, and one Captain Wadsworth of Hartford, in the most silent and secret manner, carried off the charter, and secreted it in a large hollow tree, fronting the house of the Hon. Samuel Wyllys, then one of the magistrates of the colony. The people appeared all peaceable and orderly. The candles were officiously re-lighted; but the patent was gone, and no discovery could be made of it, or the person who had conveyed it away." Such was the story in his day. The tree was known in colonial times, and in 1780 esteemed sacred as that in which the charter was concealed. There is a tradition that, long before the coming of the English, the Indians were accustomed to hold their councils underneath its wide-spreading branches, and plant their crops when it put forth its leaves in the spring. Its age at the fall was computed by competent authority as nearly a thousand years. This famous tree stood on the estate that was owned and occupied by the Wyllys family for nearly two centuries. In 1823, it passed from the heirs of George Wyllys to Stephen Bulkeley, who built there one of those stately mansions, which formerly graced the streets of Hartford. He is said to have used much of the ancient frame of the Wyllys mansion. This property passed to Mr. Bulkeley's son-in-law, Hon. Isaac W. Stuart. The sacred oak fell August 21, 1856. The next day, it was the subject of several early photographs taken by N.A. Moore of Hartford, which are now in the collections of the Connecticut Historical Society.
1. Joseph WADSWORTH Capt. Son of William WADSWORTH & Elizabeth STONE. Born 1647/1650 in Hartford, Connecticut ®4. Died 1729 in Hartford, Connecticut ®4.
BARNARD, TALCOTT, WADSWORTH -- On page 322 of the 1846 edition of Hinman's "Puritan Settlers of Connecticut" appears this statement: "Wadsworth, Capt. Joseph, of Hartford, son of Hon. William, Sen'r., was born in 1650. He m. for his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Bartholomew Barnard, of Hartford; for his second wife he m. Mary, the widow of John Olcott. She had been the widow of Thomas Welles, a grandson of Governor Welles. Her maiden name was Mary Blackleach, daughter of John, Jr. His wife Elizabeth d. Oct. 26, 1710. His second wife Mary survived him. His children were all by his first wife."
The "Talcott Pedigree in England and America," compiled by SV Talcott, of Albany, was printed in 1876. On pages 35 and 36 of this work is a notice of Elizabeth, daughter of Lt.-Col. John Talcott of Hartford, and wife of Joseph Wadsworth. In this notice the statement is made regarding Wadsworth: "He married for his first wife Elizabeth, daughter of Bartholomew Barnard, who died Oct. 26, 1710, for his second, Elizabeth Talcott, and for his third Mary Blackleach, widow first of Thomas Wells, and second to John Olcott. His children were all by his first wife."
In the "Memorial History of Hartford Co., CT," printed in 1886, is a chapter on the "Original Proprietors" of Hartford, "based on materials collected by J. Hammond Trumbull." On page 265 of the first volume it is stated regarding Joseph Wadsworth, seventh child of William: "Joseph b. ab. 1647; this was Capt. Joseph, the hero of the Charter, a man of prominence, and some turbulence of character; freeman, 1676; Lt. in Philip's War, and afterward Capt. of the Hartford trainband. He m. Elizabeth dau. of Bartholomew Barnard, of Hartford; she d. Oct. 26, 1710, having been the mother of all his children; he m. (2) Elizabeth, dau. of Lt.-Col. John Talcott, and (3) Mary, dau. of John Blackleach of Wethersfield, who had been widow of Thomas Welles and John Olcott."
Was Joseph Wadsworth married more than twice and did he marry a daughter of Bartholomew Barnard?
Bartholomew Barnard made his will March 9, 1691, and in it bequeathed to his "daughters Eliza. Wadsworth, Sarah Steel and Mary Bunch." This will was presented to the Hartford Co. Court in April 1698, and is recorded in volume 6, reverse end, page 78 of the court records. Filed with the will, but not recorded, is the following affidavit:
"Thomas olcott Aged 28 years or ther Aboute testifieth as followeth that in the time of my father Barnards last sicknes that I se Elizibeth wodsworth the wife Thomas wodworth goe to his bed side and I heard hir say to him I haue heard something of your will and I under stand its Lik to go uery hard with John for ther is A grat many Dets for him to pay and I hear you haue giuen the cattell and the things to the girlls: And then my father Barnard Answered and said I thought of it before you spoke and it troubles me I wold haue my will taken and that pertickler alltred and I will haue my Dets payed and then the Rest tak it Amoungst you* and further I heard Elizabeth wodsworth Aged fforty six years or ther aboute testifiet to the Aboue writen
Sworne in Court Aprill the 15th, 1698
Attest Will Whiting Clerk"
The records of the Hartford County Court, volume 3, page 166, show that Thomas Wadsworth and his wife Elizabeth were married before December 6, 1677.
One of the appraisers of Barnard's estate was Joseph Wadsworth. It is suspected from this fact Hinman inferred that he was the one whom Barnard's daughter Elizabeth had married. A son-in-law would hardly have been appointed an appraiser, not being a disinterested party.
Document 47 in volume 4 of "Private Controversies" in the Connecticut State Library reads as follows:
"May 15th 1691: To the Hon. Gen. Assembly now siting in Hartford The humble petition of Jos: Talcott of Hartford in ther Maj. Colony of Connecticut in N: England, sheweth. yt where as Lift Coll: John Talcott, of fore sd towne & Colony; ye Honourd father of your poor petitioner, departed this life upon personall estate this Colony then being under ye Gouerm of his Excellency Sr. Edmon Andross Kt: aplycation was made to him by my brother in law lift Jos Wardsworth:* for leeters of Administration upon ye sd estate without which ther could be no legall desposall made, thereof. upon which aplycation, his Excellency granted ye same unto my honrd Uncl Samll Tallcott of wethersfeeld & Lift Jos Wardsworth of Hartford." The rest of the document relates to Talcott's claim to the whole of his father's real estate under the English law.
The records of Baptisms of the First or Centre Church of Hartford which begin in 1685, show that Joseph Wadsworth had a son Jonathan baptized Feb. 20, 1686-7. Capt. Joseph Wadsworth made his will Jul 6, 1723, which was probated March 2, 1730-1. By this will he gave to his son Joseph, besides other agreement with Brother Talcott."* He also gave property to his son Ichabod (Hartford Probate Records, vol. 11, reverse end, page 166.)
The records of burials in Hartford in possession of the Connecticut Historical Society show that Ichabod Wadsworth aged 90, was buried May 5, 1778, and that Joseph Wadsworth, aged 96, was buried August 25 of the same year, making them born about 1682 and 1688.
On page 33 of the reverse end of the first volume of Land records of the Town of Hartford, being the "Book of Distributions," is this entry: "Mrs. Elizabeth Wadsworth wife of Capt. Jos. Wadsworth dyed Octo 26, 1710." In his will before referred to Joseph Wadsworth says that "having given a jointure in full satisfaction to my wife Mary, I proceed to bequeath my estate to my children."
From the foregoing it will be seen that Elizabeth, daughter of Bartholomew Barnard, evidently became the wife of Thomas Wadsworth before December 6, 1677, and was still his wife in April 1698; that Joseph Wadsworth was married in 1682 or earlier, that in May 1691 he was a brother-in-law of Joseph Talcott, and that his wife Elizabeth, evidently Talcott's sister and the mother of his children, died in October 1710. Thus, for at least sixteen years from 1682 to 1698, both Thomas Wadsworth and Joseph Wadsworth were living in Hartford, each of them with a wife Elizabeth. The wife of the former being the daughter of Bartholomew Barnard, and the wife of the latter being the daughter of Lt. Col. John Talcott.
There is no evidence that Joseph Wadsworth was married more than twice, first, before 1683, to Elizabeth Talcott, who was the mother of his children, and who died October 26, 1710; and secondly, between April 1712 and May 6, 1722, to Widow Mary Olcott. --- Frank Farnsworth Stark ®136
Capt. Joseph died in 1729. His son Joseph was executor of his will. A jointure was made for his widow Mary, who survived him. To Jonathan he gave lands on the Windsor road, buildings, & c. To Ichabod he gave land in Soldiers' Field, Lower house lot with house and barn, four acres South meadow, sixty acres west of Windsor road &c. He gave his three grandchildren, the children of his daughter Elizabeth Marsh, viz. Jonathan, Joseph and Elizabeth Marsh, L10; and a sum to his daughter Hannah Cook, (wife of John Cook) -- Estate over L900 sterling. He made his will in 123, and gave Joseph Jr. his upper Neck land, where his son Joseph then lived, the upper lot in Long meadow, and four acres of land which joined his brother Talcott's land; also his lands in Coventry, &c.
Before tracing the children of Capt. Wadsworth, I here insert a few of the interesting facts connected with his taking and secreting the Charter given to Connecticut by Charles II, in an oak tree, in Hartford.
Capt. Joseph Wadsworth -- He it was, who on the night of the 31st of October, 1687, seized and secured the Charter of Connecticut when Sir Edmond Andros came to Hartford in order to wrest it by force from the freemen of this colony.
"The important affair," says Trumbull, "was debated and kept in suspense until the evening, when the Charter was brought and laid upon the table, where the Assembly was sitting. By this time great numbers of people were assembled, and men sufficiently bold to enterprise whatever might be necessary or expedient. The lights were instantly extinguished, and one Capt. Wadsworth of Hartford, in the most silent and secret manner, carried off the Charter, and secreted it in a large hollow tree, fronting the house of the Hon. Samuel Wyllys, then one of the magistrates of the colony. The people appeared all peaceable and orderly. The candles were officiously relighted, but the Patent was gone, and no discovery could be made of it, or of the person who conveyed it away." Hist. Conn. Vol. I. p. 391.
A subsequent act of the colony rewards Capt. Wadsworth for the service here described. He was a man of great boldness and energy of purpose. He had practical good sense and a capacity for business. The Records prove that he was frequently elected to represent Hartford in the General Assembly. While still but a young lieutenant in the train-bands of his native town, he served as one of the colonial legislators. He rendered also many important services to the town of Hartford as selectman, and as a member of committees for laying out roads, looking after the ferries and lands, and for many other municipal duties. From his frequent services of this nature, from his plain and popular manners, his ready address and resolute bearing, he seems to have possessed the full confidence of his fellow citizens. His acts prove him to have been an ardent lover of freedom, though he erred sometimes in carrying his own acts into excess when chafed by opposition or dislike. Once he was formally reprimanded, while a deputy in the Assembly, for words used in debate, which were "resented as declaring against the validity of certain acts of the Assembly, which were passed by both Houses separate, for their inconsistency with our Charter" -- but he "readily acknowledged his concern that what he had spoken had given any offense to the Assembly, whose Constitution and proceedings he had no intention to reflect upon." On another occasion he was fined ten pounds for using "reproachful words against Mr. Pikin," one of the Assistants, and saying "in the open Assembly that Mr. Pitkin's proceedings in the case were altogether unjust and illegal." This fine however was formally remitted. Upon still another occasion he was brought before the Court of Assistants, for having threatened, in a certain contingency, "to knock down Mr. Ichabod Wells, sheriff of the county of Hartford." When Col. Fletcher came from New York, Oct. 1691, to usurp the command of the Connecticut militia, Capt. Wadsworth silenced the reading of his commission by ordering the drums of the Hartford train-band to be beaten, and turning to Fletcher, who had interrupted him, said, "if I am interrupted again, I will make the sun shine through you in a moment." He spoke with such energy that no further attempts were made to read or to enlist men. Little accustomed to the spectacle of titled wealth and official arrogance, he was prepared to deem them when they met his eye in the shape of royal governors for Connecticut, as a usurpation on the privileges of his nature. He was just the man to awe Fletcher, and by a quick and daring plot to save the Charter.
He died in the year 1729, being about fourscore years of age, sound in mind, morals and estate. His will and inventory may be found in numbers 11 and 12 of the Probate Records at Hartford. His wife, three sons, and two daughters, survived him, and quite a number of his direct descendants are now living in Hartford. His brother, Hon. John, was sitting at the Council Board when Capt. Joseph took the Charter.
As strangers who visit Hartford, often through curiosity, inquire for the location of the Charter Oak, as the tree is familiarly called, I insert in this place, that it is yet standing in its green old age, (probably 400 years old) at the South East part of the city, upon that beautiful plat of land purchased by Gov. Wyllys in 1638, and occupied by that noble family while a single male heir remained living. It is now owned and occupied by Hon. I.W. Stuart, whose urbanity of manners and love of antiquities, causes him to treat all strangers with great kindness whose curiosity leads them there to view the oak. He has erected an iron fence about the tree to protect it against predators. ®184
He married Elizabeth TALCOTT, daughter of John TALCOTT V & Helena WAKEMAN. Born 21 Feb 1656 in Hartford, Connecticut ®4. Died 26 Oct 1710 in Hartford, Connecticut ®4.
They had the following children:
2 i. Elizabeth WADSWORTH
ii. Joseph WADSWORTH Jr.; Born 1682. Died 25 Aug 1778.
iii. Jonathan WADSWORTH; Died in Died Young.
iv. Ichabod WADSWORTH
v. Hannah WADSWORTH; She married John COOK
vi. Jonathan WADSWORTH
2. Elizabeth WADSWORTH. Daughter of Joseph WADSWORTH Capt. & Elizabeth TALCOTT. Born About 1684 in Hartford, Connecticut ®4. She married Capt. Jonathan MARSH, son of John MARSH III & Sarah LYMAN, 1714. Born 7 Aug 1688 in Hartford, Connecticut ®4. Died 1783.
Abt 1682 - Jonathan Marsh born to John & Sarah (Lyman) Marsh in Hartford, CT ®4
1716 - Jonathan Marsh married Elizabeth Wadsworth ®4
1783 - Jonathan Marsh died ®4
They had the following children:
3 i. Jonathan MARSH
ii. Joseph MARSH; Born 19 Jan 1717/1718 ®145.
iii. Elizabeth MARSH; Born 12 Feb 1720/1721.
She married Joseph WEBSTER ?, 1714.
iv. Sarah MARSH; Born 28 Jun 1724.
She married Abraham KELLOGG, 1714. Born About 1720.
v. John MARSH; Born 2 Jul 1727.
vi. Job MARSH; Born 8 Mar 1729/1730.
He married Lydia CHURCH, 1714.
vii. Moses MARSH; Born 1731.
He married Sarah MERRILL, 1714.
viii. Eunice MARSH; Born 1736.
She married Roger OLMSTED, 1714.
ix. Lois MARSH; Born 24 Oct 1742.
She first married Hugh WHITE, 1714.
She second married Rev. Eben DAVENPORT, 1714.
x. Hannah MARSH; Born 16 Oct 1746.
She married Thomas WADSWORTH, 1714.
3. Jonathan MARSH. Son of Capt. Jonathan MARSH & Elizabeth WADSWORTH. Born 23 Sep 1713 in Hartford, Connecticut.
1713 - born in Hartford, CT ®4
1 May 1715 - baptised (2nd Church Records, Hartford) ®145
He married Theodosia KELLOGG, daughter of Isaac KELLOGG & Mary WEBSTER, 4 Apr 1745 ®4 in New Hartford, Connecticut ®135. Born 7 Jun 1725 ®135 in New Hartford, Connecticut ®135.
They had the following children:
4 i. Cynthia MARSH
4. Cynthia MARSH. Daughter of Jonathan MARSH & Theodosia KELLOGG. Born 13 Apr 1765. Died 3 Mar 1840.
1765 - born
1791 - married New Hartford, Litchfield, Connecticut
1840 - died
She married Rufus NORTHWAY, son of Samuel NORTHWAY & Anna GARRETT, 13 Feb 1791 in New Hartford, Litchfield, Connecticut. Born 28 Feb 1769 in Hartford, Connecticut. Died 10 Feb 1840.
1769 - born in Hartford, Connecticut
1791 - married New Hartford, Litchfield, Connecticut ®4
1807 - daughter born in Trenton, New York
1840 - died
They had the following children:
5 i. Sylvia NORTHWAY
5. Sylvia NORTHWAY. Daughter of Rufus NORTHWAY & Cynthia MARSH. Born 9 Mar 1807 in Trenton, New York. Died 6 Apr 1891 in Ithaca, Thompson Co., New York.
Obituary from Ithaca, New York Newspaper 1891
WHITON - Entered into Rest from her home in Ithaca, New York, April 5th, aged 84 years, Sylvia Northway, wife of the late George Whiton. She and her husband united with the people of God, under the ministry of Dr. Wisner, during a powerful revival in 1827, and in their Christian home influenced a large circle of friends. Her earnest consecration to the service of the Master, her faith and love, were ripened through the trials and joys of a long and rich experience. The entire village will feel the loss of her lovely presence from the home to which sixty-seven years ago she came as a bride, and in which her beautiful married life of fifty-five years, and gentle, modest influence will be missed by the church, whose services she loved; by the poor, to whom she most unobtrusively ministered: by the circle of relatives, to whom her love was a benediction. Her illness was long and painful, but she was wonderfully supported by the presence of the Savior she loved, and the Comforter "bringing to her remembrance exceeding great and precious promises, and "holy hymn and psalms. She made every preparation for her departure, as if she were going on a journey, sending messages to friends far and near, often urging them to work earnestly for their Lord. It was her request that a notice of her death should appear in The Evangelist, which she had read from its earliest years.
1807 - born Trenton, New York
1824 - married New Hartford, Oneida Co., New York
lived in Ithaca, Tompkins Co., New York
1891 - died in Ithaca, Tompkins Co., New York
She married George WHITON, son of John WHITON & Mary GRISWOLD, 24 Feb 1824 in New Hartford, Oneida Co., New York. Born 20 Apr 1801 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Died 25 Nov 1878 in Ithaca, Thompson Co., New York. Occupation Cabinet Maker.
From Ithaca, New York Newspaper 1874
A GOLDEN WEDDING
One heart, one soul in both; whereof
good proof this day affords
A thoroughly enjoyable affair was the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the nuptials of Mr. and Mrs. George Whiton, at their cozy and comfortable residence on South Hill, last evening. Youth, manhood, and they whose heads were silvered o'er with age met to celebrate the happy event. Fifty years is a long period in human life for husband and wife to live together; and the commemoration of the expiration of a half century of married life, is as eminently fit and proper, as the occasions are rare. Highly interesting congratulatory letters were read from sympathizing relatives in Europe and the far west. The Rev. Mr. Tyler made some very interesting and appropriate remarks. Prayers and singing, interspersed with many pleasing reminiscences of the last 55 years by that venerable patriarch, Joseph Esty, in a manner and style that at times would cause a smile to brighten the faces of all present, and anon bid the willing tears to freely flow were marked and notable features of the entertainment. Music and a superb supper contributed much to the sensuous and stomachic enjoyments of the evening. We hope the bride and bridegroom - lovely and and noble in age - may yet linger many years on earth before departing to take their eternal rest. The presents were rich and appropriate, and we trust it is not improper for us to say, that we hope to see our venerable townsman, who was the recipient of that gold-headed cane, accept its friendly support as he walks about, in the future, the village he has lived so long to adorn.
Obituary from Ithaca Newsaper 1878
WHITON - In Ithaca, New York, on the morning of November 25th, 1878, Mr. George Whiton, born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, April 20th, 1801, after a painful illness, entered into the joy of his Lord, having lived a life of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
1801 - born Stockbridge, Berkshire Co., Massachusetts (western Mass.)
1819 - to Ithaca, Tompkins Co., New York
1824 - marriage New Hartford, Oneida Co., New York
1878 - died Ithaca, Tompkins Co., New York
They had the following children:
6 i. Rufus Henry WHITON
ii. Cynthia Marsh WHITON
iii. George Egbert WHITON
iv. Susan Mary WHITON
v. Catherine "Kate" Louise WHITON
Reference Note 4
LDS IGI/Ancestral Files
Reference Note 135
The History and Genealogy of the Gov. John Webster
Family of Connecticut, Rochester, NY 1915
Reference Note 136
Genealogies of Connecticut Families
New England Historical & Genealogical Register, 1983
Reference Note 145
Families of Early Hartford, CT
by Lucius Barnes Barbour, 1982
Published by Gen. Pub. Co., Inc.
Reference Note 184
First Puritan Settlers
Originally published 1846
Reprinted Gen. Publ. Co., 1968