Cortland County

**Note from VHT:   Please note the corrections submitted by David Crankshaw listed after the article.


Robert Potter, immigrant ancestor, came from Coventry in England, in 1634, and was admitted a freeman of Massachusetts, September 3, 1634. He is mentioned first as a farmer in Lynn, Massachusetts, and removed thence to Roxbury. He became a follower of Samuel Gorton, and, in 1637, he was one of those summoned before the general court for not conforming to the dictation of the church and other authorities. With Gorton and others Potter became one of the owners of a tract of land, purchased of the Indians, called Shawomett Purchase, in Rhode Island, afterwards named Warwick, in honor of the Earl of Warwick, who had befriended the exiles from Massachusetts. Gorton came from Groton, England. Potter was admitted an inhabitant of Aquidneck, Rhode Island, in 1638; on April 30, 1639, he and twenty-eight others signed the compact, on which the civil government of the town rested. Gorton, Potter and others agreed with the Friends in rejecting church ordinances, but differing in other points. The pioneers were not without their troubles in Rhode Island. Potter, Carden, Houlden and Shotten were ordered disarmed and disfranchised, March 16, 1642, for some religious reasons, it is presumed. In the same year Potter sold his house, at Portsmouth, to his brother-in-law, John Anthony. The persecution by the Boston bigots continued. In 1643 Robert Potter, with others of the Shawomett purchase, was notified to appear before the general court of Massachusetts, on an alleged complaint of Indians, from whom land was bought unjustly. The summons was not obeyed, the Rhode Island men denying jurisdiction. Captain Cook, with a company of soldiers, was then sent from Boston and besieged the settlers in a fortified house. In a parley it was then said "that they held blasphemous errors which they must repent of or go to Boston for trial." They were soon all taken to Boston, excepting Shotten, and seven of them, viz: Gorton, Wickes, Houlden, Potter, Carden, Weston and Warner, sentenced to be confined in different towns. At the time of their capture their wives and children were forced to betake themselves to the woods, and suffered hardships that resulted in the death of three women, one of whom was the wife of Robert Potter. In reality the sentence of the Puritan Inquisition was that they be condemned to death and executed, provided they attempted to escape or maintained their religious beliefs which were described as "blasphemous and abominable heresies." But the indignation of the general public at the cruelty of the punishment eventually caused their release or banishment. Gorton and some associates went to England to present the case to the commissioners of foreign plantations and naturally enough secured an order reinstating them in the property at Shawomett, and prohibiting further molestation from Massachusetts Bay Colony. Potter and others of Roxbury were excommunicated for supporting Mrs. Hutchinson.

In 1649 Mr. Potter was licensed to keep an inn; in 1651 he was a commissioner. He died in 1656, and left a small estate, over which his widow had some difficulties. She married (second) John Sanford, and she died in Boston, in 1686. Her will was dated March 16, 1686, and proved May 4, following. She bequeathed to the children of John Potter, and to others. His first wife was Isabel _______, who died in 1643, as related. Children of first wife: Elizabeth, born at Roxbury; Deliverance, at Portsmouth, 1637; Isabel, at Portsmouth, died August 26, 1724; John, mentioned below.

(II) John, son of Robert Potter, was born at Portsmouth, in 1639, died there in 1694. He was admitted a freeman in 1660. He was deputy to the general assembly from Portsmouth, in 1667-71-72-80-83. He served in a court martial, at Newport, for trial of certain Indians, charged with being engaged in King Philip's designs, August 24, 1676. He was assistant in 1685-86. He deeded land to his son Robert, October 10, 1687, and he and his son Robert sold land to John Anthony, April 28, 1688. He deeded also to sons Fisher and John and Samuel in 1692-93. He married (first) Ruth, daughter of Edward and Judith Fisher; (second) Sarah (Wright) Collins. Children by first wife, born at Warwick: Robert, March 5, 1665; Fisher, July 12, 1667; John, mentioned below; William, May 23, 1671; Samuel, January 10, 1672; Isabella, October 17, 1674; Ruth, November 29, 1676; Edward, November 25, 1678; Content, October 2, 1680.

(III) John (2), son of John (1) Potter, was born at Warwick, November 21, 1669, died February 5, 1711. He married Jane, daughter of Roger and Mary Burlingame. He was killed by the fall of a tree and his widow married, December 27, in the same year, his brother, Edward Potter. Each of the brothers had a son, John Potter, who grew to maturity, each having the same mother. The jury making an inquest on the death of Potter found him to be "Axcedentolly excesery" to his own death. It may be mentioned also that Thomas Fenner, assistant, refused to marry the widow to her husband's brother, on account of the relationship which under English law was a bar. Children of John Potter and wife Jane, born at Cranston: John, before 1695; Fisher, mentioned below; Mary; William; Amy, and Alice.

(IV) Fisher, son of John (2) Potter, was born September 29, 1706, at Cranston, Rhode Island, died April 28, 1789. He married, November 10, 1728, Mary Winsor, born 1707, died 1789, daughter of Samuel Jr. and Mercy (Harding or Harden) Winsor. Children, the five eldest born at Cranston, the four others at Scituate, Rhode Island: Philip, August 27, 1729; Samuel, January 10, 1731; Mary, December 23, 1733; Fisher, June 10, 1735; Jeremiah, March 3, 1737; Phebe, May 20, 1742; Christopher, mentioned below; John, November 11, 1747; Winsor, January 15, 1749.

(V) Christopher, son of Fisher Potter, was born at Scituate, Rhode Island, August 22, 1744, died July 23, 1822. He married, September 12, 1765, Wait Waterman, born 1750, died in 1835, daughter of Colonel John and Sally (Fenner) Waterman. Children, born at Scituate: William, April 5, 1766; Emor, July 23, 1767; Phebe, February 1, 1769; Pardon; Charles; Harden or Harding, mentioned below; Edward; Isaac D, April 8, 1786; James; Lillis.

(VI) Harden, or Harding, son of Christopher Potter, was born at Scituate, Rhode Island, June 8, 1779, died at Solon, now Taylor, New York, October 22, 1857. He came to New York state, when a young man, and made his home at Taylor, where he followed the occupation of farming until his death. He married Ruth Champion, of Stark, Herkimer county, New York, born May 8, 1790, died January 17, 1836, daughter of Dan and Ruth (Harris) Champion (see Champion V). Children: John, born November 10, 1808, died May 17, 1885; Daniel Champion, July 1, 1810, died May 9, 1826; Charles, November 28, 1811, died May 10, 1881; Joel, October 19, 1813, died January, 1908; Erastus, June 7, 1815, died July 17, 1896; Harris, born March 31, 1817, died September 22, 1885; Elisha, born August 22, 1819, died February 22, 1821; Philander, February 23, 1821, died April 14, 1901; Nelson, March 9, 1823, died June 18, 1895; Chauncy D., August 20, 1826, died June 16, 1869, solder in the civil war, Seventy-sixth New York Regiment; Elijah Champion, March 26, 1828, died September 27, 1855; Edmund, mentioned below; David King, born January 20, 1832.

(VII) Edmund, son of Harden, or Harding, Potter, was born in Solon, now Taylor, Cortland county, New York, September 20, 1830, died at Cortland, April 11, 1906. He was educated in the common schools and learned the trade of blacksmith. For many years he resided in Taylor and Cincinnatus, New York, and was, for some years employed by Kingman, Sturtevant &Larabie in the carriage business, as a blacksmith. When this firm moved the business to Binghamton, he went with them and worked there for ten years, in the same business. In 1893, he came to Cortland, and, for twelve years, was employed by the Cortland Carriage Company. He resided in Cortland the remainder of his life. In politics he was a Republican, and for twenty years, was postmaster of Taylor. He held the office of justice of the peace many years. He was an expert penman and used to give lessons in penmanship. He was a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church.

He married (first), November 30, 1854, Lillie Cole, of Solon, now Taylor, born in 1832, died April 28, 1861. He married (second), November 21, 1861, Jane Halbert, born June 26, 1823, died April 23, 1899. He married (third), September 27, 1901, Mrs. Hattie Chafield. Children by first wife: 1. Velma D., born October 16, 1852, died April 6, 1899, married Andrew Hutchinson; children: Edward A., Richard D., De Forrest, Harley, Albert Hutchinson. 2. Lucy Jane, born May 5, 1855, died September 25, 1874. 3. Lafrenza L., born June 23, 1859, died January 22, 1893. 4. Herbert Louie, mentioned below.

(VIII) Herbert Louie, son of Edmund Potter, was born at Cincinnatus, New York, April 20, 1861. He was educated in the district schools of Taylor, New York, and, for six years after leaving school, worked on a farm. He worked also, for a time, at the blacksmith trade. In 1888 he came to Cortland, New York, where he since made his home. For a year and a half he worked for the railroad company, and ten years for Wickwire Brothers. Since 1907 he has been in the trucking business, on his own account. He is a member of John L. Lewis Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of Cortland, and in politics is Republican. He is a communicant of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

He married, September 9, 1879, Alice M. Allen of Taylor, daughter of Amenzo W. and Mary Elizabeth (Angell) Allen. Children: 1. Waldo Roscoe, born June 20, 1881, an electrician, resides in Buffalo; married, in 1901, Celestia Suits; son, Herbert, born January, 1883; 2. Vivian Ruth, born August 17, 1887, lives with her parents.

          Entry done by Marilyn Lane on June 29, 1998

Note from David Crankshaw:
The lineage states...
Fisher Potter & Mary Windsor
      Christopher Potter & Wait Waterman
            Harden (Harding) Potter & Ruth Champion

It is a long perpetuated error. The lineages should read:

Fisher Potter & Mary Windsor
      Windsor Potter & Damaris Burlingame
            Hardin Potter and Ruth Champion

as opposed to Christopher & Wait Waterman as the middle generation. I stand by my statement and it took me a while to find the source. The source for the wrong lineage (i.e. Christopher) is Cutter's "Genealogies of Central NY" pg. 275. Because it was printed years ago, well circulated in a number of major libraries around the country, the error will continue to exist.

Let me go back to 1941. There was a Mrs. Robert Burns in Syracuse who had Potter's in Cortland County. She was contacted by a Roland E. Burdick of New York City who had the lineage correct. He also contacted the Cortland Historical Society (1941) and the historian quoted the Cutter's version. It was not until 1951, when a letter from Nelson (last name omitted from letter) dated 8 Jan. 1957, California, MO. I will quote in part...

"There is some errors in the records send as copied from Cutter's Gen. and I will try and straighten them out. First of all under the heading of Robert Potter. (Page 1) The line is OK down to Christopher5 and agrees exactly with Charles E. Potter's "Potter Families". Here there is an error, for Christopher5 did not marry Wait Waterman, it was his brother John who married Wait Waterman. It is also listed this way in the "Potter Families" and I feel sure that who ever copied the record for Cutter's misread the line. Christopher5 married Elizabeth Darnley. These two records are verified by the Vital Records of Scituate, R.I."

He then enclosed copies from the "Potter Families" which show in detail that #239 Christopher Potter, married Elizabeth Darnley and had children: William, Emor; Phebe; Pardon; Charles; Harden; Edward; Isaac; James; & Lillis.

Because the names Pardon, Charles & Harden are in this family, it is easy to see why they got confused.

But he included further... #241 Windsor Potter, mar. Damaris Burlingame and had: Pardon; Winsor; Edmund; Mercy; Jason; and Harding. It is this Harding where is added... "Res. Solon, NY, buried in Potter Hill Cemetery near Taylor, NY. Had a son, Elijah C. Potter, b. Solon, NY."

It will continue to be passed in error, because Cutter's is a frequently used source, but the vital statistics of Scituate, RI can prove me correct.

Letters are all on file at the Cortland County Historical Society, but so is Cutters. Hope that you will be able to post this. Thanks for listening.

Dave Crankshaw

          Corrections submitted by David Crankshaw

If you have any suggestions, please e-mail Tim Stowell

Created on or before 1 August 2000

LAST UPDATED: Saturday, 21-May-2011 13:58:12 MDT

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