Fortitude

Strawberries are ripe, hayfields are scalped and the sweet smell of wild rose fills the meadow air … along with a personal sense of accomplishment following a fruitful weekend trip to The Fort at No. 4.

There, in historic Charlestown, N.H., participants from far and wide converged for an entertaining French & Indian War battle re-enactment I attended with wife Joanne and grandson Jordan Steele Sanderson. The event drew quite a crowd — retired Recorder chum Donnie Phillips among them — on a perfect, sunny Saturday. Like me, Phillips may have ancestors who manned that fort at one time or another back in the day when wars were fought for survival, not oil and greed.

We picked up Jordie at our regular White River, Vt., rendezvous point and backtracked to Charlestown, t’otha side the rivva’ from Springfield, Vt., where the reconstructed, 2/3-acre, picketed fort was bustling with fascinating activity for any 5-year-old. When we exited our parked car, he was immediately confronted with an encampment of tents, roaming soldiers, natives and “suttlers,” kids too, all in period dress and inviting discussion while staging a fantasy Jordie was still playing out the next day, skulking around the yard, front and back and sides, with an old Red Ryder BB-gun his late father once proudly toted.

The kid was particularly impressed with the three-story watchtower overlooking the Connecticut River from the fortified village’s southwest corner. He demanded that I accompany him for a visit, up three flights of primitive ladder stairs. It was cool. He had to show me. Prior to that, what most captured his fancy was the upstairs bedroom of his ninth great-grandfather, Lt. Isaac Parker — one of No. 4’s original settlers, second in command to Capt. Phineas Stevens — who had a large, wheeled cannon standing next to his bed in the northeast corner of the fort, a shuttered hole in the wall to poke its barrel through. Jordie stood proudly next to it, bright smile, hand on the weapon for a photo I will cherish.

Later, during the hour-long “Seige of 1747” re-enactment, Jordie got to hear the thunderous, smoky roars of field cannons, some larger than others, along with the reports of flintlock rifles, marching music from fifes, drums and bagpipes, orders barked by Redcoat, Bluecoat and militia officers, and Native war screeches. “Are you a real Indian,” Jordie asked a passing, barebacked, copper-colored man sporting leather leggings, a leather powder bag strapped over his shoulder, and two eagle feathers tied into the back of his long, shiny black hair that seemed to match in color his warm, piercing eyes. “I am,” the man responded. “This was the home of my Abanaki people before they were scattered in all directions. Myself, I grew up with the Apaches in the Southwest. I came home.”

As they spoke, sun high, Jordie firing one appropriate, cognitive question after another, I stood on a gentle bluff overlooking the fertile riverside meadow, just listening, facing west, looking at two lush, green, end-to-end Vermont ridges across the glassy, blue-brown Connecticut. Although I had never physically been there, I knew I was not looking at the distinctive landscape for the first time. Yeah, I may be crazy, but I attribute that revelation to heritage and roots. No. 4 is in my blood, my soul, my core. I hope it will also someday similarly reside in Jordie. When trying to figure out life, its twists and turns, pains and pleasures, joys and heartaches, it never hurts to know who you are and where you came from. It’s settling. Can’t imagine folks who have no clue and never will. Such an unconquerable void, a gaping genealogical hole of emptiness, deprivation and shallow existence.

On our way out of the compound, I, of course, stopped in the gift shop to buy books about the site, including Rev. Henry Hamilton Saunderson’s familiar 1876 “History of Charlestown, N.H.,” which I have often perused online, always chasing information. Skimming through it later that night after a backyard cookout, I found an interesting item listed near the beginning of the chapter titled “Historical Miscellany.” It opens with a list of original No. 4 grantees, another list of original proprietors, a 1737 grid of the village plot, and a list of 1754 landowners. The addendum to that landowner list, an official document adjudicating the estate of “Widow (Rachel Parker) Sartwell and heirs” caught my attention upon noticing a familiar name. Two of the heirs were Adonijah Taylor and wife Rachel, above them two more who raised an immediate flag: Micah Fuller and wife Lois. The two women, Lois and Rachel, were sisters, daughters of Widow Parker and late husband Ensign Obadiah Sartwell, who was “killed by Indians while plowing” outside the fort on June 17, 1749. The Sartwell and Parker families came to No. 4 from Groton. Taylor was born in Leicester.

Adonijah Taylor has for years been to me a person of interest. In 1803, he sold his hillock home, farm and saw and grist mills in the southwest corner of Deerfield to my fifth great-grandfather, Deacon Thomas Sanderson of Whately, a prominent citizen and Revolutionary Lieutenant who found success as a tanner and cordwainer (shoemaker). Eight years after the transaction — following nearly 40 years of unsuccessful petitions by citizens from that irascible southwestern corner to uncooperative Deerfield selectmen — the good deacon was finally able to orchestrate the desired annexation of a sizeable chunk of Deerfield to Whately over hoarse Deerfield objections. It was a brilliantly orchestrated political power play by Sanderson, who had supported victorious Democratic-Republican Gov. Elbridge Gerry against defeated Federalist Christopher Gore in the 1810 election. Gerry was as decisively defeated in Deerfield as he had been victorious in Whately, and he likely did Sanderson and Whately voters a favor historian George Sheldon was still criticizing three generations later in his “History of Deerfield.” Sheldon, from one of the oldest Deerfield families, ripped state legislators for “knocking the town lines about hap-hazard to suit the landowners.”

Where I am next headed could be confusing to readers unfamiliar with local history, but the subject is clear to me and I’ll try to keep it simple. Because of their family connections through Fort No. 4 and Groton, not to mention Parker/Sartwell family links, I have for years suspected that Taylor and my Sanderson ancestor were friends and political allies long before the purchase/sale agreement for Taylor’s property. I have also long suspected that — like outspoken Taylor and many Sanderson brothers and brothers-in-law — Deacon Sanderson was a supporter of Daniel Shays during his brief insurrection against the state’s post-Revolution Federalist elite. My weekend trip to Charlestown solidified this theory and also solved an enduring local mystery surrounding the lineage of Sanderson’s oldest brother Joseph’s wife. It only took a few Internet queries for me to confirm that Joseph’s wife, Lois Fuller, was indeed a daughter of Micah and Lois Fuller listed above as heirs to Charlestown, N.H., Sartwell land. So now all those Joseph Sanderson/Lois Fuller descendants who followed the wild goose chase started by Sheldon’s irresponsible guess that Lois came from Hatfield, and whose searches have ever since borne no fruit, will be pleased to discover that Mayflower descendant Micah Fuller was in fact her father.

Back to Joseph Sanderson, many Shays Rebellion supporters moved to the frontiers of Vermont and New York State after the rebellion was quelled, some sooner than others. There was less structure and no taxes on the frontier. I believe Joseph Sanderson was one of these independent souls. By the turn of the 19th century, he apparently had had enough structure and sold to his farm to son Joseph, packing up his family and settling in Sangerfield, Oneida County, N.Y., where he and wife Lois are buried. Their Deerfield farm stood in Mill River, at or near the old Hillside Dairy farm across from White Birch Campgrounds.

I have over the years fielded many queries about Lois Sanderson’s lineage but have never been able to provide a satisfactory answer. For years that mystery has bothered me like an invisible bayberry thorn under my fingernail. But all it took in the end was a dose of Yankee perseverance and a simple trip to Fort No. 4. And, yes, how about that? Just as I had suspected, old Adonijah Taylor was right in the middle of it all. In fact, it could well be that Joseph and Lois met right there at her aunt and uncle’s home on Indian Hill, today Whately Glen. They came from Groton by way of The Fort at No. 4, a dangerous outpost isolated on our northern frontier, built to intercept Pioneer Valley intruders.

My next trip for little Jordie? How about Ticonderoga, Crown Point and Saratoga. We have deep roots and blood stains there, too.

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20 Responses to Fortitude

  1. Back up and running, Cindy. Your info is right, including Ruth Blood correction. Yes, Isaac is the Lt. at Fort No. 4. I don’t have time to chase it down right this minute but I worked with a man to photograph the original, hand-written Sunderland Congregational Church records more than a year ago and I’m quite sure Lois, wife of Lt. Isaac, became a member before 1760, when the danger in Charlestown, NH, was considerable. I got a better handle on the climate then and there recently by reading “A Narrative of the Captivity of Mrs. Johnson,” which lays it all out. I’ve recently retired and been on vacation twice, so haven’t had a chance to chase down your query. I haven’t forgotten it, though. Then this site expired and I had to recover it. Be patient. I’ll get to it. My curiosity was stirred by reading Johnson narrative but haven’t had a chance to cross reference Sunderland Church records, which may mean more to me now. It’s all there. My interest was piqued by the acceptance of Abraham Parker and, before him, by (I think) your Lois, who had (if memory serves me) arrived from a short stint back in Groton as well as a Willard woman from Fort No. 4. That’s all for now. TTYL

  2. Cindy Zielke

    Gary, I may have my Parker, Sanderson lines mixed up but after reading the blog above I thought I would try to clarify. I have James and Elizabeth LONG Parker as having sons, Joseph who married Hannah Blood and Samuel who married Abigail Laiken. Joseph and Hannah Parker had a son named Isaac b. 1680 who married Ruth Blood. They had a daughter named Ruth b. 1716 who married Joseph Sanderson b 1714. Is this Isaac the Lt. that you spoke of as one of Old Fort #4 earliest settler? His wife Ruth did not die until 1780. Samuel and Abigail LAIKEN Parker had Rachel Parker who married Obadiah Sawtelle. Joseph Sanderson and Ruth Parker had sons Joseph b 1741 and Deacon Thomas Sanderson b 1746. I have Deacon Thomas Sanderson having married first Mirriam Wait and they had one daughter and Mirriam died early in the marriage. Deacon Thomas Sanderson then married Lucy. Did they have any children? Rachel Parker and Obadiah Sawtelle had Rachel who married Adonijah Taylor and Lois who married Micah Fuller. If I understand correctly, Lois And Micah Fuller has a daughter Lois who married her father’s older brother? And they moved to Sangerfield, Oneida Co. NY? Adonijah Taylor’s son, Obadiah moved to Oneida Co. as well. Do you have vital records for Oneida Co? You are definitely my relative and I would like to sort this out.

  3. Yes, Cindy, I have the book, have long ago read it and was at the weekend Old Hawley Common site visit years back. I have for years suspected that the original Taylor land in Hawley was probably one of the two original lots Deacon Thomas Sanderson bought as an original proprietor of Hawley but have never researched it at Registry of Deeds. The land transfer was probably related in one way or another to the purchase of the Taylor mills on Indian Hill/Deerfield, now Whately Glen/Whately. Maybe a retirement project, which I would guess will come together or be refuted rather quickly.

  4. Cindy Zielke

    Harrison Parker’s History of Hawley, Massachusetts sheds some light on Shays Rebellion.

  5. Cindy Zielke

    I believe John Taylor, Adonijah’s son moved to Hawley, Massachusetts following the Revolutionary War. John was definitely involved in Shays Rebellion as he named a son after Shays. John’s brother, Eliphalet served all seven years in the Revolutionary War. Another brother, Solomon served and then moved to Rensselaer Co. NY. Many of the men from Hatfield area were also living in the Hawley area at the time John moved back and forth between Hawley and Deerfield. These men took pity on his plight and provided work for him so he would not starve. John’s brother Obadiah also moved to Rensselaer, NY before moving on to upper NY. ~ Old Fort No. 4 reenactments sound really interesting. I have wanted to learn more regarding Adonijah Taylor’s service there. I have been to Whately-Glen. Beautiful! The grist mill and saw mill that was once located in the glen is no longer there. I met a descendant of Adonijah’s son, John Taylor many years ago and she took me to see this area. The owner was reluctant to allow us access but did relented after she heard how far we had come to see the glen.

  6. Actually, my interest in Whately/Conway’s overwhelming support of Daniel Shays has been of late reignited after about 10 years of dormancy. The impetus is a new face on the Whately Historical Commission. I knew her as a teen, have from time to time bumped into her since, and now she’s retired and living in Hatfield. Her last job was librarian of the national genealogical library in DC, so she’s a great resource. Adonijah Taylor and sons were avowed Shaysites, thus the sale of their mill complex to my ggf, Deacon Thomas Sanderson in 1803, and the Taylors’ subsequent migration to Hawley and the hinterlands. Many Shaysites left for the north and west, some near, others far, settling in such places as Vermont and New York State, which had opened up after the Iroquois remained loyal to the English during the Revolution. Then, over time, they ended up in Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and, yes, Indiana. They kept moving west to escape the taxman and government oversight. I am hoping to soon find my way to retirement, when I’ll be able to address these subject more aggressively, which is not to say I haven’t already sunk much energy into learning all I can about my place. That includes deep history, which, unlike the historic period, seems infinite. Ah, yes, the lure of the unknown … always strong in my world.

  7. linda lowes

    Thank you, Gary, for the information. Sorry to hear time is taking it’s toll on our history. I appreciate the information and most definitely will contact you if I am able to get out that way. Thank you so much for what you do to keep our history alive!

    Linda

  8. Hi Linda,
    I don’t have any recent photos, and you likely wouldn’t want to see the place, which is lived in but quickly falling into ruin. Sad indeed. If you want to see it in its crowning glory, c. 1890, go to J.M Crafts “History of Whately,” which is available online. There’s a chapter on Whately Glen (previously Indian Hill) on Pages 340-46, followed by “The Sanderson Homestead” on Pages 347-49, with a photo opposite the Chapter XXII cover page. If ever in the area, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact me. I met some Taylor descendants last year and took them for a little ride.

  9. Linda Lowes

    Hello, Gary! I was wondering if you might have any pictures of the Adonijah Taylor site on the former Indian Hill. I think they would be a most interesting display at our future meeting of the Obadiah Taylor Descendants and Historical Association which will be held on Sunday, August 6th in Creston, IN. I would also like to print and share your article with my cousins and introduce them to your very informative and interesting web page. Thank you for any assistance you may offer.

  10. Yes, Barbara, by all means look me up when passing thru. Hit me with an email (gary@oldtavernfarm.com) and we’ll go from there. I’m always looking for an excuse to tour the Whately Glen, before that Sanderson’s Glen, before that Indian Hill. Perhaps Taylor’s Glen as well, though I can’t say I’ve ever in research seen it referenced that way. When the Taylors arrived and resided there, I believe it was still known as Indian Hill, a last refuge for local tribes driven from closer to the river a mile or two due east after the close of the French & Indian War (1763).

  11. Barbara Taylor

    Hello! As fate would have it, I recently came across your website in my search of Adonijah Taylor. I was surprised to see the post from Linda Lowes and interested in your response as Adonijah is my husbands (Charles Taylor) 5th ggf. He is descended thru the Indiana line. We live in Wisconsin and have been planning to visit the area of Deerfield, ect. the week of Sept. 27th. As we tried unsuccessfully to find the Taylor lands two years ago, we would be very pleased if you would be able to show us the Adonijah Taylor sites. Thanks!

  12. Hi Linda, interesting. I have an idea my Sandersons who came to Whately, MA ca. 1752 knew the Taylor/Sawtelle families, esp. the latter, which was prolific in Groton, MA. and mixed with my family. The Taylors seem to have drifted off from Deerfield/Whately after Shays’ Rebellion, which they supported. My people were also post-Revolutionary anti-federalists, which many Shays supporters became. People of this political stripe were also known as Jeffersonian Democrats, before that “Old Revolutionaries,” cut from the mold of Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, Dr. Thomas Young et al. The Taylors drifted off to Hawley MA, west of Deerfield, around the turn of the 19th century and apparently answered the call of Manifest Destiny as gov’t encroached on their “freedom” from frontier settlement to settlement, pushing them eventually clear across the land, including Indiana. Great to hear from you, Linda. If ever in the neighborhood, don’t hesitate to contact me and I can show you Taylor’s mills and the home Adonijah built before selling out to my fifth ggf, Dea. Thomas Sanderson of Whately. After settling into the former Taylor site, the good deacon was eventually, after many unsuccessful tries by his brother Joseph and others dating back to the 1770s, able to annex his section of Deerfield to Whately in 1811, following the defeat of federalist Governor Gore by Demorcrat-Republican (anti-federalist) Elbridge Gerry, the future James Madison VP. It was a political favor from the man whose name has been immortalized by the term Gerrymandering. Enough! Off I go.

  13. Linda Lowes

    Hi! I am a descendant of Adonijah Taylor and Rachel Sawtelle through their son, Obadiah Taylor. Obadiah is the only Revolutionary War soldier buried in Lake County, IN.

  14. jean sanders

    Gary: I have saved this for several years but I can never get into the Harvard U. library to seek out this information but supposedly Micah Fuller went through Upton MA (or Hopkinton) on his way “north” and he had some kind of land record here.

    Micah Fuller lease, 1744 April 23 HUY 26 Box 12, Folder 17
    Scope and Content: The printed date of the indenture is May 25, 1742.

  15. jean sanders

    I was hoping to follow up on Joeph and his son Levi…. is there anyone who has genealogy of Levi? Also, I am confused on Joseph’s son “Joseph” and I have it incorrect in my family tree and was hoping someone can correct me…. thanks
    jean sanders(on)
    jeanhaverhill@aol.com

  16. Well, Ken, you immediately captured my attention because I had a great-great aunt named Martha Almira Sanderson, who married a Belden from the Bradstreet section of Hatfield MA, lived to be more than 100 and held the town’s golden cane for many years. She died around 1980, born 1876. We called her Ant Mattie. Anyway, I went through the genealogies in Crafts History of Whately and Sheldon’s History of Deerfield and found just two other Almira Sandersons listed, none associated with your Joseph. One was Almira W., b. Feb.22, 1816 in Whately, dau. of Chester (Thomas, Joseph), m. Danl Williams and lived in Ashfield MA; the other was Almira Blossom. b. June 23, 1868, dau. Samuel (Isaac, Joseph) no husband listed. Isaac would have been your Joseph of Sangerfield’s younger brother. He lived in West Whately. I’m pretty sure I know his grave. Perhaps this is your Almira, potentially drawn to Sangerfield by her Uncle Joe. FYI, your Joseph had 12 children, Joseph Jr., who stayed behind and took over his father’s farm before the turn of the 19th century, Rhoda, Ruth, Levi, Lois, Paulina, Isaac, Jacob, Reuben, Anna, Terza, Elisha. Sheldon differs with Crafts on Terza, naming her Tizza. I would go with Crafts. He spent much more time researching the Whately Sandersons, and knew them well. That’s all I’ve got, Ken. Keep in touch. Nice to hear from you.

  17. Ken

    I’ve enjoyed reading about your escapades very much and will continue visiting your site. I found your web page while researching Joseph Sanderson of Sangerfield, Oneida County, New York. Great information. I’m trying to find out the names of his children and if he had a daughter named almira that married a Ransom Rood. I posted to your Tavern account also.

    Great writing, keep up the great work. Ken Rood

  18. Hi Sean,
    What you see is what you get as far as my research into Lois goes. I do not descend from Joseph himself, but younger brother Deacon Thomas. Because I am always pursuing genealogy, and because the question of Lois’ lineage had for years been a riddle that I had explored a little bit, I was excited to pin it down and did get some faraway feedback from appreciative descendants like yourself. I know where Joseph and Lois lived before moving to Sangerfield and would love to visit that NY State town but have not as of yet. Of course, I would love to “chat” about Sanderson genealogy anytime, trade notes, whatever. I live in the area and know all the graves, cellar holes and other archaeological sites, if you’re interested in that kind of stuff; also own a B&B in nearby Greenfield, if you’re ever passing through on a research mission. Thanks for the inquiry. I love these kinds of questions. Stay in touch.

  19. Sean

    I am a descendant of Lois Fuller and Joseph Sanderson and I’d love to hear more! Please drop me a line at the attached email if you get a chance, and thanks for this research!

  20. Sean

    Hi there –

    I am a Lois Fuller/Joseph Sanderson descendant, and I’d love to hear a little more about your sources! I’ll be happy to share whatever I have as well.

    Best,

    Sean

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