York #2624

James York (1614-1683)

Born in England.  Arrived possibly in Virginia in 1635 before quickly moving on to Massachusetts and subsequently settled in Connecticut and

Joannah (1618-1685)

Born in England.  Arrived in Massachusetts before about 1637 and subsequently settled in Connecticut.

York #2624

Much of the history recounted here is from History of the Town of Stonington, County of New London, Connecticut: from its first settlement in 1649 to 1900 by Richard Anson Wheeler (Press of the Day Publishing Company) 1900.  This book is an excellent source for families that settled in Stonington, Connecticut and contains a tremendous amount of information for many families in the 1600s.  My account is also supplemented with other sources.

On 20 Jun 1635, at 21 years of age James York embarked from England on board the Philip (Richard Morgan, Master), one of about forty-two passengers who were to be transported from England to Virginia.  From this we deduce that he was born in 1614.  The passengers had been previously examined by the minister of Gravesend as to their conformity to the orders and discipline of the Church of England and had taken the oath of allegiance.  It is not known at what place in Virginia Capt. Morgan landed his passengers, or whether he landed them in that colony at all. If they were landed in Virginia, James York did not remain there long.  Soon after his arrival in this country, he doubtless came north, whether by land or sea, we do not know, but the first record we have of him is in Braintree, Massachusetts.

In about 1637, James York married Joannah [surname unknown].  The exact date or place of this marriage is not known.  The presumed English origins, early life and many other details of Joannah’s life have not been recorded.

Of the four founders of the town of Stonington, Connecticut, I am descended from three of them: Thomas Minor, Walter Palmer and Thomas Stanton.  The fourth founder was William Chesebrough. The historical marker located on Rt 1 between Mystic and Stonington tells of the founding of the town.

Of the four founders of the town of Stonington, Connecticut, I am descended from three of them: Thomas Minor, Walter Palmer and Thomas Stanton. The fourth founder was William Chesebrough. The historical marker located on Rt 1 between Mystic and Stonington tells of the founding of the town.

James York came to Stonington, Connecticut, in the year 1660, when this town was under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, and called by the name of Southertown.  He settled on grants of land which then included the present farm of Gideon P. Chesebrough, east of Anguilla or Wequetequock brook, also the farm of Erastus D. Miner and the Simon Rhodes place, now owned by Clark Chapman[1], and there he built a home on the north side of the then Indian path, now known as the Old Post Road.  He lived there for the remainder of his life, dying in 1683.  His widow, Joannah, died in 1685.

The children of James York and Joannah are:

  1. Abigail, born about 1638 or 1639 and died 9 Mar 1725.  She married John Beebe of New London, Connecticut.  Their children were John, Benjamin and Rebecca Beebe.  Rebecca Beebe married Richard Shaw of Easthampton.
  2. James York (Jr.), born 14 Jun 1648 and died 26 Oct 1676.  At a County Court held 5 June 1677, an inventory of his estate was filed, and his widow appeared in Court and was appointed to administer his estate.

James York (Jr.) doubtless came to Stonington with his father as a boy, as his name is mentioned in several records before 1672.  In that year he sold his estate in Boston, where he had been engaged in business, and settled in Stonington.  On 15 Jan 1667, one hundred acres of land were laid out to him, and he also received land for services in the Indian wars[2].  He was made freeman in Connecticut in 1673.  On 19 Jan 1669 in Stonington he married Deborah Bell, daughter of Thomas Bell and Anne CulverDeborah was born 29 Nov 1650 in Boston, Massachusetts.  After James’ death, she married (2nd) Henry Elliot on 12 Mar 1679, and she had other children with him.

The children of James York (Jr.) and Deborah Bell are listed as follows: (1) Deborah, born 8 Jan 1670 and died 21 Feb 1672; (2) James, born 17 Dec 1672; (3) William, born 26 Jul 1674 and; (4) Thomas York, see below.

The children of Deborah Bell and Henry Elliot are: Deborah (1680), Anna (1681), Hopestill (1684), Mary (1687), Dorothy (1688), Elizabeth (1690), Henry (1693) and Joseph (1694).

Thomas York, the youngest child of James York (Jr.) and Deborah Bell was born 17 Oct 1676, in Stonington, Connecticut, where on 3 Jan 1704 he married Mary BrownMary was born there on 26 May 1683, the daughter of Thomas Brown and Hannah Collins.

The children of Thomas York and Mary Brown are: (1) William York, see below; (2) Mary, born 17 Oct 1710; (3) Thankful, born 23 Apr 1712; (4) Thomas, born 24 Jan 1714; (5) John, born 16 Mar 1716; (6) Joseph, born 22 Jan 1718; (7) Deborah, born 13 Jan 1720; (8) Collins, born 1722 and (9) Bell, born 1725.

William York was born 3 Oct 1705 and died in 1743.  On 18 May 1727 he married (1st) Comfort Burdick, who was born in Stonington in 1694 and died there 22 Jul 1730.  On 22 Feb 1730 William married (2nd) Hannah Palmer, who was born 31 May 1694 and died 25 Jan 1739.  The children of William York and Hannah Palmer are: (1) Amos York, see below; (2) Mary, born 30 Apr 1732 and (3) Jonathan, born 29 Aug 1735.

Wyoming Valley is a region of northeastern Pennsylvania. It is also known as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, after its principal cities.

Amos York was born 15 Oct 1730 in Stonington, Connecticut and died 30 Oct 1778 in Voluntown, Connecticut.  In 1752 he married Lucretia Minor, the daughter of Manassah Minor and Keziah Geer of Voluntown, Connecticut.  Lucretia was born 16 Feb 1733 at Voluntown, New London, Connecticut and died 3 Oct 1821 at Wyalusing, Bradford County, Pennsylvania.  In 1773, Amos and his family moved to Wyoming (Bradford County, Pennsylvania) and then to Wyalusing about 1774, becoming an early pioneer of that area of northeastern Pennsylvania.  The experiences of Amos and his family at the time of the Revolutionary War are recounted in the book Pioneer and Patriot Families of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, 1770-1800: including history (1615-1800), marriages (1776-1850), soldiers of the revolution, ministers, justices, original officers and all matters relating to early times by Clement F. Heverly (published in two volumes: 1913 & 1915),  as follows:

 In 1773 he [Amos] removed with his family to Wyoming [Pennsylvania], thence to Wyalusing about 1774.  Here he had carried on his improvements with much success.  He had erected a good log house, a log barn and had a considerable stock of horses, cattle, sheep and hogs, and had raised sufficient quantities or grain for their support.  Upon the breaking out of the Revolutionary War he was known as an active and ardent Whig, which arrayed against him the enmity of his Tory neighbors.  Apprehending trouble from the Indians, in the fall of 1777 he went to Wyoming to seek the advice of friends and make arrangements for the removal of his family.  At Wyoming it was thought that there would be no danger from the savages in the winter, and if in the spring they continued to favor the interest of the British there would be he ample time to seek the protection of the lower settlements. The capture of some of his neighbors occasioned new alarm, but there seemed to be no alternative but run the risk of being undisturbed until spring.

On February 12 and 13, 1778, there occurred a severe snowstorm.  Each evening a Negro from the old Indian town came to Mr. York’s on a trifling excuse and remained until late in the evening.  On the 14th the storm ceased, and Mr. York determined to find out the reason for the negro’s strange conduct.  Immediately after breakfast, he set out on horseback on an errand to Mr. Pauling’s. Without suspicion, he entered the house of this supposed friend and received a cordial welcome.  But it was the malicious welcome of a treacherous enemy. Between 40 and 50 Indians, led on by Parshall Terry, Jr. and Tom Green, Tories, who had arrived in the settlement and were waiting there during the storm.  The moment they saw Mr. York, they gave, the war whoop, and his white neighbor told him that he was their prisoner.

Terry and Green accompanied, by twelve of the savages, repaired with Mr. York to his house for plunder. Mrs. York, with the devotion of a wife and mother, made a most touching plea with Terry and Green for the safety of her husband and the protection of her family. ‘”Then,” says a daughter of Mr. York, “they drove the cattle into the road, stripped the house of everything of value they could carry away, broke open the chests, tied up the plunder in sheets and blankets, and put the bundles on the backs of the men.  Father had to take a pack of his own goods.  When they got prepared to start, my father asked permission to speak to his wife.  He took her by the hand but did not speak. When the company started my father was compelled to walk, carry a bundle and assist in driving his cattle, while his favorite riding mare carried Terry.”  The journey was one of indescribable suffering from exposure to the cold as well as from grief of mind. Mr. York was taken to Canada, subsequently exchanged and returned to his old home in Connecticut, where hearing of the disastrous battle of Wyoming, and learning nothing of his family, he fell sick of fever and died (October 30, 1778), eleven days before his family reached him.

The helpless family – a mother and eight children her son nine years of age and her youngest child only eight months old, were thus left in the depth of winter without protection and with but little clothing, bedding and provisions.  They remained here three weeks, when Captain Buck arrived and escorted them to Wyoming.  Mrs. York was a witness of the horrible battle, in which her son-in-law, Capt. Aholiah Buck, was killed, leaving her widowed daughter with an infant four months old. As soon as it was safe to do so she set out with her son, eight daughters and orphan grand-child for her home in Connecticut.  On the way, her youngest child died, and Mrs, York was compelled to bury it with her own hands. In narrating their flight to Connecticut, a daughter, Sarah, says: “When we were at the North river, where General Washington lay, an officer informed him there was a woman in distress.  Washington ordered her to he brought to his tent. She told him her story, and Washington gave her fifty dollars.  But we did not need money to bear traveling expenses, for the people on the road treated us with great sympathy and kindness.”  In 1785, Mrs. York and her children returned, to their old home in Wyalusing, occupying a 600-acre tract, which had been conveyed to her father, Manasseh Minor, who was one of the original stockholders in the Susquehanna Company.  “Mrs. York was a woman a remarkable energy, deep piety, and ardently attached to the doctrines of the Presbyterian church, of which she was the nursing mother.”  She was born February 16, 1733; died October, 1821.

Depiction of the Battle of Wyoming by Alonzo Chappel, 1858 (in the collection of the Chicago Historical Society)

The Battle of Wyoming was an encounter during the American Revolutionary War between American Patriots and Loyalists accompanied by Iroquois raiders that took place in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania on 3 Jul 1778.  The encounter was a decisive victory for the British (Loyalists and Iroquois).  More than three hundred Patriots were killed in the battle.  After the battle allegations circulated that the Iroquois raiders hunted and killed fleeing Patriots before torturing to death thirty to forty who had surrendered.

In 1777, British General John Burgoyne led a campaign to gain control of the Hudson River in the American Revolutionary War.  Burgoyne was forced to surrender after the Battles of Saratoga in October, and news of his surrender prompted France to enter the war as an American ally.  Concerned that the French might attempt to retake parts of New France that had been lost in the French and Indian War (something they did not know the Franco-American Treaty of Alliance specifically forbade), the British adopted a defensive stance in Quebec and recruited Loyalists and Indians to engage in a frontier war along the northern and western borders of the Thirteen Colonies.  Colonel John Butler recruited a regiment of Loyalists for the effort, while Seneca chiefs Sayenqueraghta and Cornplanter recruited primarily Senecas, and Joseph Brant recruited primarily Mohawks for what essentially became a guerrilla war against frontier settlers.  By April 1778, the Seneca were raiding settlements on the Allegheny and Susquehanna Rivers, and by early June these three groups met at the Indian village of Tioga, New York, where Butler and the Senecas decided to attack the Wyoming Valley, while Brant and the Mohawks (who had already raided Cobleskill in May) went after communities further north.  American military leaders, including Washington and Lafayette, also sought to recruit Iroquois, primarily as a diversion to keep the British in Quebec busy.  Their recruitment attempts met with more limited success, with Oneidas and Tuscaroras declaring their support (since the Seneca, Mohawk, and other western Iroquois were now their enemies).

The British arrived in the valley on 30 Jun 1778, having alerted the settlers to their approach by killing three men working at an unprotected gristmill on 28 June.  The next day Colonel Butler sent a surrender summons to the militia forces at Wintermute’s (Wintermoot) fort.  Terms were arranged that the defenders, after surrendering the fort with all their arms and stores, would be released on the condition that they would not again bear arms during the war.  On 3 July, the British saw that the defenders were gathering in great numbers outside of Forty Fort.  William Caldwell was destroying Jenkin’s fort, and when the Americans were still a mile away Butler set up an ambush and directed that Fort Wintermute be set on fire.  The Americans, thinking this was a retreat, advanced rapidly.  Butler instructed the Seneca to lie flat on the ground to avoid observation.  The Americans advanced to within one hundred yards of the rangers and fired three times.  The Seneca came out of their positions, fired a volley, and attacked the Americans in close combat.

Accounts indicate that the moment of contact was followed by a sharp battle lasting about 45 minutes.  An order to reposition the Patriot line turned into a frantic rout when the inexperienced Patriot militia panicked.  This ended the battle and triggered the Iroquois hunt for survivors.  Only sixty of the Americans managed to escape, and only five were taken prisoner.  Some of the victorious Loyalists and Iroquois killed and tortured an unknown number of prisoners and fleeing soldiers.  Butler reported that 227 American scalps were taken.

Out of 1,000 men available, John Butler reported only two Loyalist Rangers and one Indian killed, and eight Indians wounded.  He claimed that his force took 227 scalps, burned 1,000 houses, and carried off 1,000 cattle plus many sheep and hogs.  Of the 60 Continentals and 300 militiamen involved, only about 60 escaped the disaster.  The Iroquois were enraged at the accusations of atrocities which they said they had not committed, as well as at the militia taking arms after being paroled.  This would have tragic consequences at the Cherry Valley massacre later that year.  Reports of the massacres of prisoners and atrocities at Wyoming infuriated the American public.  Afterward, Colonel Thomas Hartley arrived with Hartley’s Additional Continental Regiment to defend the valley in the hope that the remaining crops might be harvested.  They were joined by a few militia companies, including that of Captain Dennison, who violated his parole to join the force.  In September, Hartley and Dennison ascended the east branch of the Susquehanna with 130 soldiers, destroying Indian villages as far as Tioga and recovering a large amount of plunder taken during the raid.  They skirmished with the hostile Indians and withdrew when they learned that Joseph Brant was assembling a large force at Unadilla.

In summer 1779, the Sullivan Expedition commissioned by General George Washington methodically destroyed 40 Iroquois villages and an enormous quantity of corn and vegetables throughout upstate New York.  The Iroquois never recovered from the damage inflicted by John Sullivan’s soldiers, but it did not stop the Indians from mounting costly raids until the end of the war.

Legacy: The massacre was depicted by the Scottish poet Thomas Campbell in his 1809 poem “Gertrude of Wyoming”.  Because of the atrocities involved, Campbell described Joseph Brant as a “monster” in the poem, although it was later determined that Brant was not present.  Brant was at Oquaga on the day of the attack.  The western state of Wyoming received its name from the U.S. Congress when it joined the Union in 1890, much to the puzzlement of its residents.  Ohio Congressman J. M. Ashley suggested the name supposedly because he liked the poem by Campbell.

The Wyoming Monument – Luzerne County, Pennsylvania

The battle and massacre is commemorated each year by the Wyoming Commemorative Association, a local non-profit organization, which holds a ceremony on the grounds of the Battle of Wyoming Monument.  The commemorative ceremonies began in 1878, to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle and massacre.  The principal speaker at the event was President Rutherford B. Hayes.  The annual program has continued each year since then on the grounds of the Wyoming Monument.  One hundred and seventy-eight names of Patriots killed in the battle are listed on the Wyoming Monument, as well as the names of about a dozen militiamen who were killed or died in captivity a day or so prior to the main battle.  A possible explanation for the difference between the number of names on the monument (178) and the reported number of scalps taken in the battle (227) is that allegedly a large number of civilians (perhaps as many as 200) – instead of surrendering to Colonel Butler – elected to flee and died of exposure in a swamp known as the “Shades of Death” after the battle.  Thus possibly the extra 50 to 60 scalps could have been taken from either the 100 unmustered volunteers or the civilians who died of exposure.

The Wyoming Monument in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania marks the gravesite of the bones of victims of the Wyoming Massacre of 3 Jul 1778.  It was not until 22 Oct 1778 that a recovery party felt the region safe enough to return to begin recovery of the bodies of those slain in the battle.  The remains were gathered and interred in a common grave, only to be dug up again at public ceremonies in 1832 – ceremonies attended by some of the then elderly survivors of the massacre.  In 1833, the bones were re-interred in a vault under the present monument.  On 2 Aug 2008, the monument was struck by lightning, causing some damage and putting the monument in need of repairs.  In 2010, the restoration began and the monument, completely repaired and restored, was rededicated at the annual celebration of the Wyoming Commemorative Association on 4 Jul 2011.

Manasseh Miner York monument: Wysox Cemetery, Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Inscription: "S/o Amos, 62y 2m 15d" (Source - Wysox Church Cemetery, by Victor Charles Detty, Copyright 1939)

Manasseh Miner York monument: Wysox Cemetery, Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Inscription: “S/o Amos, 62y 2m 15d” (Source – Wysox Church Cemetery, by Victor Charles Detty, Copyright 1939)

The son of Amos York and Lucretia Minor is Manasseh Minor York[3] (1767-1830).  He was a Presbyterian minister, and Clement F. Heverly (cited above) relates the following:

 [He] became a man of great usefulness and noted as a Presbyterian minister. He was abundant in labors. He wrought with his hands, taught school, preached through a large section of country not only on the Sabbath, but through the week gathered the children for catechetical instruction, and older persons for Bible study.  He occupied an extensive field, preaching regularly at Towanda, Wysox, Wyalusing, Black Walnut and occasionally at out stations.

In 1792, Manasseh Minor York married Rebecca Elizabeth Arnold (1772-1845) of Black Walnut, Pennsylvania.  Nothing is known of her family.  Manasseh died in Wysox, Pennsylvania in 1830, and Rebecca died in Byron, Illinois in 1845.

The daughter of Manasseh Minor York and Rebecca Elizabeth Arnold is Lucretia York (1804-1887), who married Fayette B. Hamlin (1812-1866) in 1833.  The family migrated from Pennsylvania to Illinois before 1850, and Fayette Hamlin died in Belvedere, Illinois in 1866.  Lucretia continued on to Iowa after her husband’s death, and died in Manchester, Iowa in 1887.  Their lineage continues under the heading of James Hamlin (Hamblen) (1608-1690).

[1] As of 1900

[2] The name of James York appears on list of the English volunteers in the Narragansett War as prepared by a committee for the purpose of securing a grant of land for their services, as follows (many of these are ancestors of mine discussed elsewhere on this website): Capt. George Denison, Sgt. John Frink, Capt. John Stanton, Capt, Samuel Mason, Rev. James Noyes, Lieut. Thomas Minor, Samuel Youmans, John Fish, George Denison, Jr., William Denison, Nathaniel Beebe, Henry Stevens, Edmund Fanning, Thomas Fanning, John Bennett, William Bennett, Ezekiel Main, William Wheeler, Gersham Palmer, Samuel Stanton, Daniel Stanton, Manasseh Minor, Joseph Stanton, JAMES YORK, Henry Bennett, Capt. James Pendleton, Robert Holmes, Thomas Bell, Henry Elliott, Isaac Wheeler,John Gallup, Nathaniel Chesebrough, Ephraim Minor, Joseph Minor, Samuel Minor, John Ashcroft, Edmund Fanning, Jr., John Denison William Billings and Samuel Fish. This list appears in Wheeler’s History of the Town of Stonington (p. 22-23), cited above.

[3] Manasseh is a descendant of three of the offspring of Walter Palmer: Grace, his 3rd g-grandmother; Rebecca, his 2nd g-grandmother and Nehemiah, his 2nd g-grandfather.  He is also descended from both of Walter’s wives, Elizabeth Ann and Rebecca Short.  Of course, all these people are my ancestors as well.


One comment

  • Darral Payne

    Interesting article. Although I reds of Lucretia’s journey many years ago, the history of Stoneington was new. Meannessa Minor was my third g-grandfather as his daughter, Mary married Hiram Payne.

    thank you

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