A Moss (Morse, Morss, Mors ) Family Line

By Mildred Mignon Matthews  

The Moss family has been traced back to 1521 in Cotheridge, Wiltshire , England by members of the Morse (Moss, Morss, Mors ) Society.  This group of family members, most distantly related, has been working together on the family history since 1892.  They publish a newsletter, have annual reunions and actively continue the search for more connections and information about the family.  While there may be more variations of the name, these are the names that I know are being used by the same family.   

The Morse Society traces four lines of descent.  The subject of this Moss Family Biography is the lineage of John Moss.  John was my ancestor and I have researched the line from him to my own family.  Although this is a very small piece of the Moss history, I hope that it may shed some light on the story of this American family.  

John, the emigrant, was born in Cotheridge, Wiltshire , England to John Moss (1572) and Elizabeth Browning (1576).  I have found no siblings, but in the Memorial of the Morses, by the Rev. Abner Morse, the author, speculates on some other emigrants who may be related to him.

From the above reference:  “Of the time and place of John Moss' birth and the date of his arrival in New England , we have no certain information.  If he had attained his majority when admitted a member of the General Court, 1639-1640, he was born as early as 1619, which would have made him 89 years old in 1708, when he, as is alleged, removed from Wallingford .  But as his removal at that age is improbable, and as none of his children or grandchildren is known to have attained so great an age, he was probably born earlier than 1622.”

Again, from the Memorial of the Morses: “He doubtless arrived in New Haven (sometime) in 1638.  The first record of him was dated February 18, 1639/40 , when he signed a social compact as one of the proprietors and planters, and was admitted as a member of the General Court.  At this time, he was probably a minor.  Upon the formation of the government he took an oath, July 1, 1644 , to support the same.  He resided in New Haven  thirty years.  Perceiving that the time had arrived for enlargement of her settlements, he was one of the foremost to undertake the settlement of Wallingford as it appears from the following record of New Haven , originating the plantation at that place.”

Clearly, it was difficult to pin down exact dates in those days, but Rev. Morse is considered to be one of the experts on the Morse/Moss clan during those times.

King Philip’s War started in 1675 and lasted many years.  John Moss, the emigrant, fought in that war and received a land grant as an award.  Later in life, he served on the committee for fortifications, according to Families of Ancient New Haven .

It is well documented that he was one of the founders of the Colonies of New Haven and later Wallingford , Connecticut.  The Memorial of the Morses also states that “John Moss was a godly Puritan”. 

1st Generation in the New World :  John Moss married Abigail Charles on January 18, 1639 in New Haven Connecticut and they had ten children.  The children are John, John, Samuel, Abigail, Joseph, Ephraim, Mary, Mercy, Elizabeth and Isaac.  I think it likely that the first John (b. 1637/38) probably died in infancy.  In those times, it was common to name a newborn after a deceased infant. 

2nd Generation:  John Moss (b. 1650), son of the emigrant, and Martha Lathrop (b. 1656/57), also of New London , Connecticut , were married on December 12, 1677 .  Martha was the granddaughter of the Rev. John Lathrop, founder of Barnstable, Cape Cod, MA.  They had ten children, and the children were Isaac, Mary, Ester, Deacon Samuel, John, Martha, Solomon, Mary, Israel and Benjamin.

3rd Generation:  Isaac Moss (b. 1692) lived at 10 Mile River, Cheshire, Connecticut.  He married Hannah Royce in 1717 and they had eight children.  The children were Elihu, Herman, Hannah, Orwell, Jesse, Mehetabel, Isaac and Herman.  The first Herman only lived to be three years old. 

4th Generation:  Elihu (b. 1731) married Ester Clark on February 23, 1758 and they had eleven children.  The children were Elihu, Thankful, Ester, Eunice, Elvira, Justice, Job, Perse, Manly, Diantha, and Royce.  Elihu changed his name to Morse for reasons unknown.  His father was Isaac Moss and his son was Elihu Moss; but, he chose to use Morse.  He fought in the French and Indian Wars, serving the 4th Company, 4th Connecticut Regiment.  He also served as Lieutenant over a company of 38 Volunteer Minute Men, raised in the town of Farmington, Connecticut, on January 15, 1777, in the War of the Revolution.

5th Generation:  Elihu Moss (b 1767), the son of Elihu Morse, married Hannah Tyler about 1789 and they had ten children.  The children were Elihu, Emma, Justin, Thankful, Jesse, Justin, Reuben, Jesse, Diantha and Amaryllas.  Elihu and Hannah emigrated to West Durham, Greene County, NY, probably before 1797, which would have made the son, Elihu, five or six years old at the time.  One writer has speculated that the emigration occurred after a son died.  I don’t have all of the death dates, but it appears that one Jesse and one Justin died in infancy.  

    Hannah Tyler

From Beers' History of Greene County :  Elihu Moss came from Connecticut soon after and settled where Mrs. Daniel Ingraham lives.  The house stood where the stone blacksmith shop is.  His wife was Hannah Tyler and they had three sons and five daughters.  Elihu, the eldest son, bought the farm now occupied to Mrs. Reynolds.  He had two sons: Orwell lives in West Durham and Reuben lives at Cornwallsville.  Both are farmers by occupation and both are active in church and Sunday-school work.  Orwell has a son, Elihu, who is worthy heir to the favorite name, Elihu.  The other members of both these families are worthy young people.”

6th Generation:  Elihu Moss (b. 1791) married Betsy Warriner and they had five children.  The children were Orwell Alonzo, Olive Warriner, Marinda, Reuben, and Emme Bascom. 

7th Generation:  Orwell Alonzo Moss (b. 1822) married Sophronia Lathrop Brand on October 9, 1845 and they had five children.  The children were Eunice Loretta, Alice Elizabeth, Mary Ellen, Elihu Allen, and Carrie Sophronia.  Orwell and Sophronia had a farm on Cochrane Road off the Susquehanna Turnpike.  Their home is still standing and inhabited. Sophronia died on December 26, 1864 and Orwell married her sister, Eliza Lathrop Brand of Durham, on October 7, 1866. Orwell and Eliza had only two children and they were Minnie Cordelia and William (known as Willie).  Willie died at the age of three.  There has been some confusion on the part of family researchers about the mother of Minnie Cordelia Moss.  Sophronia died in December of 1864 and Minnie was born in October 1868; therefore, she could not have been Minnie’s mother. 

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            Eunice Brand,              Moss Homestead             Minnie Cordelia         Carrie Sophronia
   nee Wattles                   on Cochrane Rd                         Moss                               Moss
 mother of Sophronia                                                                                                         
and Carrie Brand                                                                                                              

8th Generation:  Minnie Cordelia Moss married William Tompkins Matthews on October 11, 1895 and they had three children, according to the 1910 census, with only two living.  They were Harry Allen Matthews and Hattie Rosalia Matthews.  Since the third child was not named, nor is a birth date known, it is assumed that it was stillborn.  William Matthews purchased property in 1902 on what is now known as Koss Road in Jewett, which is where he probably brought his bride, Minnie Moss, and where their children were likely born.  It is also the house in which Minnie died in 1925.  The house went to Harry Allen when William remarried on the death of Minnie, so three of their grandchildren were born there too.  The house is no longer there, but some of the families remain on the property in other dwellings. 

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William Tompkins             The Matthews      
Matthews Family                 Homestead      

Minnie Moss Matthews’ children, Hattie Rosalia and Harry Allen, married and had children, but the Moss name only remained as the middle name of Wallace Moss McLain, son of Hattie Rosalia Matthews McLain.  Hattie and Lester McLain, her husband, had three other children; Minnie, Anna and Donald.  Harry Allen married Mildred Lois Finn and they had three children, Harry, Nellie and Mildred Mignon.  Needless to say, many of the children married and had children of their own.  The Moss name disappeared from our line at this point in time, but the DNA continues and the Moss blood runs though our veins.

Many descendents of this illustrious family still reside in Greene County, New York, even though they do not all share the surname of Moss; but, the extended family can probably be found in every one of the United States.  Our Moss ancestors were among the founders of America; they were farmers and tradesmen, they served as civic officials, they fought in various wars, and some of them died in the service of their country.  They worked hard to make a good life for their families and they certainly did “go forth and multiply”.  We have good reason to be very proud to be descended from such people.


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