Saturday, November 2, 2013

Anthony, Zachariah and Thomas Sawyer

Old Falmouth 1754

Anthony Sawyer, age nineteen, was assigned along with his fellow  Militiamen to guard his Excellency, Governor, William Shirley, Esq, during a twelve day conference with the Norridgewalk and Penobscot Chiefs resulting in the Treaty of Falmouth.  The purpose of these proceedings was to bolster the tenuous relationship with the Indians to encourage them to act on behalf of the Governors of the colonies to encourage and persuade other Tribes to remain neutral in the continuing conflict between the French and the English.  This Treaty is one of many over 50 years of conflict since European pilgrims set foot in the new world.  The end result is that the seven year war that we know as the French and Indian War intensified that same year. 

Record of Muster Roll 1757
Anthony, and his brother Zachariah Sawyer served in the Back Cove Company of  Capt. Isaac Illsley.  There is also a Thomas Sawyer, who some present living relatives believe to be Anthony and Zachariah's younger brother.  However, most of the documentation I have been able to find, indicate that Thomas, born c. 1747/8, would have been a mere child of ten in 1757.  I surmise, this Thomas Sawyer,  may have been the youngest son of Isaac Sawyer, Sr, the uncle of the younger Sawyers.  This Thomas was born in 1711 and died in 1765.

Historical Digression

You'll forgive me for back tracking a bit.  I need to do this for myself as much as for anyone who reads this post.  The history of the East Deering/Back Cove Community is complicated and it is very difficult to try to create a picture of what life was like for these early settlers for several good reasons: the use and over-use of forenames, inaccurate records of births and deaths, records lost and the continuous conflicts between the Natives and the colonists, the impact of being a colony within a colony, the pressure of expansionism, and the effect of continuing war between the French and the British.

Ancient Falmouth was a large territory encompassing present day Falmouth, extending to today's neighboring cities of Portland and Westbrook, and extending into South Portland and Cape Elizabeth.  At one time, East Deering, North Deering and part of Portland down to Deering Oaks, belonged to Stroudwater (Westbrook).  During the mid 1700's, there was a re-settlement of Falmouth as conflicts with the Native Tribes lessened.

 "The population of Maine began to grow, encouraged by an open offer by Massachusetts of 100 acre- lots free to anyone who would settle the northern province.  The population doubled from 12,000 to 24,000 between 1743 and 1763.  By the end of the century, the number of Maine settlers had grown to more than 150,000."

 It seems that the Indian settlement at Presumpscot Falls was the last in the area, and the Indians, tired of their hunting and fishing grounds being encroached upon by the settlers who moved back into the region, and established their farms and homesteads,  moved more northward.  

Beginning in 1636, each town and village was required to form their own militia units for protection, as there was no standing army at the time.  Militiamen furnished their own weapons.  Many militia units or companies made up a regiment.

"There are many tales of the French and Indian Wars in other places such as New York and Massachusetts, but Maine was pretty bloody as well.  At one point, white settlers were driven from Maine as far back as York.  There were no white people north of York."
David Googins, President of Maine Military Historical Society 

 If  I imagined a bucolic setting where these early settlers lived, I was mistaken.  Something that Herb Adams said during his speech at the Dedication of Joseph Merrill's memorial stone resonated with me.  I paraphrase here:  these men, moved back and forth between being 'at the ready' for conflict as citizen soldiers, and their lives as fathers, grandfathers, husbands, farmers, land owners, laborers, merchants; all pioneers of a new land.  

Social Life

Life in the mid 1700's centered around the farms, the waterfront, and the church. It was hard work.  Baptism in the 1st Church of Falmouth seemed to establish residency and entitled men to the 100 acre lot for setting up their homesteads and farms. Women in their own right did not own property.  However, if a widow, a woman could own one third of her husbands estate in her own right and she could engage in selling and purchasing land.  We'll see an example of this later.

If you recall, Isaac Sawyer, Sr. arrived in Falmouth about 1720 and purchases land.  He brought his wife and  children to settle in Falmouth.  The oldest son, Isaac Sawyer , Jr.will become the father of Anthony, Zachariah and Thomas Sawyer and eight other children.

Theodore Sawyer, whom I referred to in earlier postings, writes extensively about the land purchases and sales of property which accounted for the settling of East Deering and Back Cove, and a bit of the history of our Grand Trunk Cemetery. All of these folks are involved and part of the story.

Zachariah Sawyer is the oldest son of Isaac, Jr. born c. 1733.  He was baptized in the 1st Church of Falmouth on June 10, 1733, and later married Sarah Knight there on August 27, 1754.  He was twenty-one, she was 19 years old.  They produced 10 children; although one child died early.   When Sarah died, Zachariah remarried Susanna Watson Skillings, widow of Isaac Skillings, on May 2, 1784, possibly in Gorham.

Zachariah's son Brackett Sawyer is buried along with his wife, Elizabeth Webb Sawyer, in the Grand Trunk Cemetery.  Brackett was born on March 4, 1775 and died on April 21, 1851.  He married Elizabeth on January 10, 1805 in Westbrook.  Elizabeth and Brackett produced six children, although one child died at the age of five years.  Brackett's occupation was that of 'housewright';i.e. carpenter.

Thomas Sawyer, born c. 1747/8, ( some records have him born in 1742), was also baptized at the 1st Church of Falmouth.  Thomas also marries a member of the Knight family as indicated by Theodore Sawyer.  Thomas marries Eunice Knight, born 1747, on May 15, 1768.  They produce six children.  An interesting fact is that Theodore Sawyer is descended  from both Anthony Sawyer and his brother Thomas.   (Note:  for those of you who may have picked up on my earlier mistake indicating he was descended from Hannah Sawyer,  here is Theodore's lineage; 'thanks!' to Mike Sawyer): Isaac Sawyer, Jr.>  Anthony Sawyer > Asa Sawyer > Simeon Knight Sawyer > Eugene Sawyer > Ted Sawyer.

Isaac Sawyer, Jr. >  Thomas Sawyer > Benjamin Sawyer > Lewis Bean Sawyer > Sophia Knight Sawyer > Eugene Sawyer > Ted Sawyer.

  I imagine that the close family ties to land ownership, and reliance on neighbors for security, as well as  membership in the church, brought about many of these marriages.

Anthony Sawyer, the second oldest of Isaac Sawyer, Jr's sons, accounts for most of the Sawyer family members buried in the Grand Trunk Cemetery.  Anthony was born on January 21, 1735 and died on June 21, 1804.  He was baptized at the 1st Church of Falmouth in 1735 and later married Susanna Marston there on November 7, 1755.  He was twenty years of age; she was 17.  They raised eleven children.  As previously indicated, Anthony served as a guard to Governor William Shirley at the Treaty of Falmouth in 1754.

Some of Anthony's living relatives say he was a Tory and supported the King.  This would not have been unusual.  However, later as the colonies move toward revolution, it raises questions for all the citizens of the colony within a colony.  Which side would they support.  Perhaps the most interesting document I've been able to find is the sale of Anthony's farm after his death by his wife and children to Simon Davis, a trader from Boston.  This is the first time that I was able to see all the names and occupations listed.  It lends a great deal of insight into some of the names that have become familiar and associated with our Grand Trunk Cemetery.

KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS, That we Susanna Sawyer, Widow Isaac Sawyer, merchant and Susanna and his in her right, Thomas Sawyer, Mariner John Sawyer, William Sawyer, Yeoman, Ephraim Sawyer, Mariner, Anthony Sawyer, Asa Sawyer, Joseph Sawyer, Robert Sawyer, Yeoman, Peter Brackett and Sarah his wife in her right, Amos Knight and Jane his wife in her right, all of Falmouth in the County of Cumberland, in consideration of the sum of two thousand dollars paid us by Simon Davis of Boston, in the County of Suffolk, Trader, the receipt whereof we do hereby acknowledge, do hereby give, grant, bargain, sell and convey unto him the said Simon Davis his heirs & assigns forever. A certain parcel of land, situated in said Falmouth containing forty seven acres and five eighth parts of an acre, together with the Dwelling house, Barn and other buildings, standing thereon, being the same land, that Anthony Sawyer, late of said Falmouth, Deceased, purchased of James Douty and of Isaac Knight by two several Deeds, that is of James Douty, nineteen acres and one half of an acre, and of Isaac Knight, twenty eight acres and one eighth of an acre, for the particular boundaries thereof, reference must be had to the said two deeds from James Douty and Isaac Knight duly executed and recorded in the Registry of deeds for said County of Cumberland, being the farm whereon the said Anthony Sawyer Deceased, lait lived, and which descended to us, as heirs at law to the said Anthony Sawyer, Deceased. Excepting and reserving however, half an acre of said land, sold by said Anthony in his life time to John Trip, also a small piece sold to Robert Knight for a Garden.
     TO HAVE AND TO HOLD, the said granted and bargained premises, with all the privileges and appurtenances thereof, to him the said
Simon Davis his heirs and assigns to his_and their use and behoof forever. And we do covenant with the said Simon Davis his heirs and assigns, that we are lawfully seized in fee of the premises, that they are free of all incumbrances, that we have good right to sell and convey the same to the said Simon Davis to hold as aforesaid, and that we will warrant and defend the same to the said Simon Davis his heirs a assigns forever against the lawful claims and demands of all persons.
     And we Susanna Sawyer, wife of said Thomas, Abigail wife of John, Tabitha wife of said William, Abigail wife of said Ephraim, Joanna wife of said Anthony, Sarah wife of said Asa, Charlotte wife of said Joseph and Elizabeth wife of said Robert do hereby relinquish all our right of dower in the premises.
     In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and Seals this thirty first day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand
eight hundred & four.
     Signed Sealed & delivered in the presence of us Moses Merrill,
     Simon Sawyer Witness to the signing of Susanna Sawyer Isaac Sawyer & Susannah Sawyer. Peter Brackett & Sarah Brackett, William Sawyer & Tabitha Sawyer
     William Sawyer
     Tabitha Sawyer
     Thomas Sawyer Jun'r. Witness to John Sawyer, Abigail Sawyer, Joseph Sawyer, Charlotte Sawyer, Robert Sawyer, Betsey Sawyer, Amos Knight and Jane Knight.
     Susannah (her X mark) Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Isaac Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Thomas Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Susanna Sawyer   (L.S.)
     John Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Abigail Sawyer   (L.S.)
     William Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Tabitha Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Ephraim Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Abigail (her X mark) Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Anthony Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Joanna Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Asa Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Sarah Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Joseph Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Charlotte Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Robert Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Betsey Sawyer   (L.S.)
     Peter Brackett   (L.S.)
     Sarah Brackett   (L.S.)
     Amos Knight 3d   (L.S.)
     Jane Knight   (L.S.)
     Cumberland S.S. January 1st, 1805.  Personally appeared Susanna Sawyer, Isaac Sawyer, Susannah Sawyer, Thomas Sawyer, Susanna Sawyer, John Sawyer, Abigail Sawyer, William Sawyer, Tabitha Sawyer, Anthony Sawyer, Joanna Sawyer, Asa Sawyer, Sarah Sawyer, Joseph Sawyer, Charlotte Sawyer, Robert Sawyer, Betsey Sawyer, Peter Brackett, Sarah Brackett, Amos Knight and Jane Knight personally appeared and ackowledged the within instrument to be their free act & deed.
     Before me,    Moses Merrill   Justice Peace
     Received August 13, 1811, and recorded from the Original    Pr   Elias Merrill   Reg r.

A Pause and a Reflection

I have decided that either I was asleep during American history or it had no real meaning, but for remembrance of some major events where I was able to make some tangible connections.  I think the primary reason why I am so committed to trying to create a picture,albeit, an incomplete one, of the history of these people and this time period is that it is a challenge worth pursuing.  These folks who lived more than two hundred years ago were part of the fabric of life in what is today Portland and the state of Maine.  Though we know so little about them, remembering them is important and they should not be forgotten.  Though our Grand Trunk Cemetery is not 'grand' like many others of the well cared for cemeteries around the state, we attempt to preserve and treat with dignity the  final resting place of these settlers , and try remember what we can learn about their lives,  and, once in a while, repeat their names. 

Someone sent me an e mail shortly after the Dedication ceremony congratulating Samantha and Kayla for undertaking the project and us, for putting together the ceremony. The final comment, however, bothered me.  This person felt the ceremony was more of a tribute to all of us rather than'old Joseph; he didn't do much!'  I wonder, do we measure a person's value based only on their'great' accomplishments?   I leave you with that final thought for now.  Would like to hear your thoughts.