Andover, Connecticut

Monday, February 13, 2012

Our Curious Connections to Nicholas Holt

I ran across this interesting little tid-bit concerning the family of Ada (Rockwell) Hotchkiss (see July 2010 post) and thought it was worth sharing. 

I first encountered the name Nicholas Holt when I was searching for grave stones in Norfolk, CT.  The stone for my Sixth Great-Grandmother, Ada's father's Great-Grandmother, reads: "Lydia, wife first of Jedediah Phelps then of Nicholas Holt..."

(picture taken Jul 2010 by SEM)

I didn't think much of it at the time, but I took the picture and made a note of it.  Every once in a while I would be doing research and would run across "she later married Nicholas Holt" or something to that effect, and I would think, "Oh, yeah.  I remember her grave stone. Nicholas Holt." 

Last week, I was reading part of a book on the history of Norfolk when I ran across that very phrase:  "she later married Nicholas Holt" and I thought, "Oh, yeah, she's..." I went to her profile on but there was no grave picture, so I decided I would upload the one I had taken (even though I thought I had already done that). I soon discovered that I had already uploaded it, but to a different person. I was talking about two different grandmothers, both of whom married Nicholas Holt as their second husband!  The one I was reading about in this book was not Lydia but Sarah (Phelps) Bingham, my Fifth Great-Grandmother and Ada's mother's Grandmother.

So, who was this Nicholas Holt?  He was born in 1755 in East Haven, CT but moved to Norfolk with his parents when he was a child.  He enlisted in the revolutionary army as a teenager and was soon on the Campaign to Quebec.  It was at Lake George that he fell sick with smallpox. To avoid death, he jumped into the freezing waters of Lake George which quelled the smallpox but led to a severe cold.  Swelling in his hip caused him to be disabled for the rest of his life.

(picture from
He returned to Norfolk after serving in the Revolution and married his first wife, Keturah Pratt.  They had ten children together and she died in February 1798.  With five children under the age of fifteen, he married his second wife, Sarah (Phelps) Bingham in February 1799.  She had been married to Ozias Bingham, my Sixth Great-Grandfather with whom she had five children.  Some records indicate Ozias and Sarah were divorced and other records say he abandoned his CT family.  Either way, Ozias ended up in Wysox, Pennsylvania where by all accounts he lived a respectable life with his second family, living to the age of 90. 

While Sarah and Nicholas had no children together, Sarah raised the youngest of Nicholas & Keturah's children.  Her children with Ozias were probably all near adulthood by the time she married Nicholas.  They remained married until 1821 when she died at the age of 67.

Nicholas next married Lydia (Gaylord) Phelps, his third wife, in 1824.  She was the widow of Jedediah Phelps, my Fifth Great-Grandfather and brother of Sarah (Phelps) Bingham Holt, the second wife of Nicholas.  Are you confused yet?  Maybe this will help:

Brilliant Chart created by SEM
I think this makes him my Step Fifth Great-Grandfather and Step Sixth Great-Grandfather - or maybe it's Fifth Great-Stepgrandfather and Sixth Great-Stepgrandfather.  I'm not sure which is the correct termininology to use!

Either way, Nicholas was a respected member of the Congregational Church in Norfolk and served two terms representing his town in the Connectictut Legislature. He died in 1832 at the age of 77. He wasn't our direct ancestor but we can still honor him and remember his multiple connections to our family.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Reverend Thomas Hooker

The First American Democrat

Tenth Great-Grandfather
Immigrant Ancestor

1. Reverend Thomas Hooker
+ Suzanna
2. Reverend Samuel Hooker
+ Mary Willet
3. John Hooker
+ Abigail Standley
4. Hezekiah Hooker
+ Abigail Curtis
5. James Hooker
+ Dorothy Parmalee
6. Thomas Hooker
+ Ruth Parmalee
7. Dr. Thomas Gould Hooker
+ Esther Sweet
8. Thomas Edwin Hooker
+ Lucy Hyde
9. Marus Edwin Hooker
+ Elizabeth Rosenburg
10. Jennie Estella Hooker
+ John Emil Dahlquist, Sr.
11. John Emil Dahlquist, Jr.
+ Florence Mary Bowman
12. Debra Florence Dahlquist
+ Edward (Ned) Deck Munson
13. Scott Edward Munson

In my first post for this blog, I alluded to the fact that I grew up knowing that I was a direct descendant of the Reverend Thomas Hooker, one of the most prominent of the New England puritan ministers and a leader in the founding of Hartford, Connecticut.  I decided that before posting about some additional ancestors who are closely connected to him, that I ought to at least give a brief account of his life and the lasting impact of his ministry. If you do a Google search you will discover a great deal more about his life and legacy.

Statue of Thomas Hooker in Hartford
(picture from

Thomas Hooker was born in England about 1586. He attended Emmauel College in Cambridge, England where he studied for the ministry. He was a gifted preacher and soon held a position at the St. Mary's Church in Chelmsford, England.  It was there that Arch-Bishop William Laud objected to some of his puritan teachings which were considered contrary to the established Church of England.  Though 50 of his fellow clergy signed a petition in support of his ministry and character, Thomas Hooker found himself in more and more trouble with the Arch-Bishop. In 1630, he was to be put on trial before an Ecclesiastical Court, but instead fled to Holland.

Plaque found in St. Mary's Church
(picture from

He returned to England in 1633, but before being arrested, he fled once more with his family and a group of friends. This time, his destination was not Holland, but the New World.  He arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts in the ship Griffin on September 3, 1633, just 13 short years after the Mayflower had landed there with the Pilgrims. 

Plaque located in Cambridge, MA
(picture from Wikipedia)

Thomas Hooker and his followers settled in Newtowne, Massachusetts where he was chosen to be the Pastor.  (Newtowne was later renamed Cambridge and is currently the sight of Harvard Square.)  There are several reasons Thomas Hooker and his followers decided to seek a new home only a couple years after arriving there.  First, it was getting crowded.  More and more people were arriving in Massachusetts every year.  Arch-Bishop Laud was on a rampage, and many Puritan ministers and their followers were fleeing the persecution in England. Secondly, Thomas Hooker had some theological disagreements with the church leaders in Hartford.  Reverend John Cotton was the most prominant minister in Boston at  the time, and there was friction between the two.  The third, and I believe, primary reason for his move is best described by Walter Seth Logan, a fellow Hooker Descendant, in a paper he wrote in 1905:

"He moved from Massachusetts to Connecticut for the same reason that he had moved from England to Holland and from Holland to America, to find a place not so much where he could worship God as he chose as to work out his own destiny for himself and to found a real democracy for himself and for his devoted followers.  He moved from the valley of Charles to the valley of Connecticut to escape from government theocratic in its origin and inevitably aristocratic in its nature, to a place where a real democratic government could be established - where the people could rule... Well may we claim for Thomas Hooker the title - to my mind the noblest title ever borne by the son of woman - the First American Democrat"

Statue commemorating the Puritan journey to Hartford
(picture taken in July 2010 by SEM)

Plaque which accompanies statue
(picture taken in July 2010 by SEM)

In 1636, Thomas Hooker led about 100 of his followers: men, women and children, on a 100 mile journey through the wilderness of Massachusetts and Connecticut to the site of a small Dutch trading post on the Connecticut River.  There they settled, and Hartford was born.

Center Church in Hartford - Thomas Hooker was the first Pastor
(picture taken in July 2010 by SEM)

By 1638, the settlements at Hartford, Windsor and Wethersfield had created a General Court (legislature) together and established the Connecticut Colony. On May 31, 1638, Thomas Hooker preached the opening serman at a  meeting of that court convened to frame a set of laws to govern the colony.  The themes of that sermon were used in establishing the new written constitution.  Among them: the choice of leaders belongs to the people, public service is a trust to be used for the good of the people and the public has the right to limit the power of their leaders.  He ends his sermon with the statement, "As God has given us liberty let us take it." These were some radical ideas at the time, but they became the foundation for the new Connecticut Constitution and later for the Constitution of the United States.

Thomas Hooker's name appears on the Founder's Monument in Hartford
(picture taken in July 2010 by SEM)

Thomas Hooker lived another eight years under the government that he helped establish.  Connecticut thrived as a Colony and today Thomas Hooker can be remembered for his part in History.

Table marking the burial location of Thomas Hooker reads:
(picture taken July 2010 by SEM)
As a side note: sorry guys, but there is no connection between the man Thomas Hooker and the Connecticut brewing company that carries his name. As a Puritan Minister, he would probably be horrified to know that his name was being used to promote alcoholic beverages.  When he arrived in Chelmsford, England, it was a town known for it's wild ale houses and pubs.  His public teachings there were credited with helping transform it to a more "respectable" community.

I on the other hand love the Hooker Brewing Company and love the idea that I am imbibing in a beverage that brings me great joy and is named for my tenth great-grandfather :)
Thomas Hooker Brewing Company
(picture from