Carpe Diem!
Day, Allen, Williams, Klein and More of Our Family

 

The Williams Family Line
Remember, this information is a work in progress, subject to change as research develops

Introduction
I have found myself spending a lot of time on the Williams family, probably for a few reasons. When I started this hobby I had a certain number of primary resources, mostly documenting portions of the Day and Allen lines. This included the ancestry of Laura May Williams, my Great-Great-Grandmother.

With the Williams line, I was somewhat teased by lots of names and not much detail. A big gap also existed between when "the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock and brought two brothers of Wales nativity to the new found land of the west" (written by Plyn Williams) and the ancestors I could truly pinpoint. Add to this a rumor that we were descended from the famous Roger Williams of colonial days (apparently untrue) and I was completely intrigued.

Then, unlike many of the dead ends I have come to expect, there were actually some successful finds in my research and it developed into quite an interesting portrait of early New England life. Our portion of the Williams family also took part in a massive migration from New England to the Midwest in the 1830s, along with so many other families looking for new opportunities in new places.

The following is an overview, somewhat narrative, somewhat dry, of the Williams line as best as I can figure at this point in time. There are pictures of some of these family members on the pictures page (linked above) if you would like a visual accompaniment.

Migration from Norfolk, England to Roxbury, Mass. | Migration from Roxbury, Mass to Pomfret, CT | Capts. Isaac Williams Sr.and Jr.| Abijah Williams Sr. and Jr. and the Migration to Vermont |Migration from Vermont to Michigan |Modern History - Williams to Allen to Day

Migration from England to Roxbury, MA
Stephen Williams, son of Robert Williams from West Somerton, Norfolk, England, was born in Great Yarmouth, England (St. Nicholas Parish) around 1580. He and his wife, Margaret Cooke, had ten children. The eldest son was another Robert Williams born in 1608, also in Great Yarmouth. According to the Ancestry of Hattie J. Bruce (Michael Roman, 1992), "Robert was a cordwainer's apprentice [leatherworker] in Norwich from 1623 to 1630, when he became a freeman. In 1635 he was warden of the Guild of Cordwainers and Sealer of Leather for the city of Norwich." He married Elizabeth Stratton (or Stalham) and they lived in Norwich, England.

On 8 April 1637, Robert and Elizabeth emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Robert's wife '"was of a good family and had been delicately reared; and when her husband desired to come to America, though a truly religious woman, she dreaded the undertaking and shrank from the hardships to be encountered. While the subject was still under discussion, she had a dream fore-shadowing that if she went to America, she would become the mother of a long line of worthy ministers of the Gospel. The dream so impressed her that she rose up cheerfully and began to prepare to leave her home and kindred for the new and distant land." (This tradition was related and believed by one of her descendants, Mrs. Emily Williams of Wethersfield in the early part of the nineteenth century).

They traveled on the "John and Dorothy" or the "Rose of Yarmouth" (I believe the two ships sailed in tandem as their passenger lists are as one). The voyage took 2-1/2 months, they arrived on 20 June, 1637 in Boston. Robert was 28 years old at the time, Elizabeth was 29. According to the passenger list, they brought with them four or five children (Samuel, John, Elizabeth, and Debra) and two servants (listed as Mary Williams, aged 18, and Anne Williams, aged 15). One child, Mary, who was supposed to have been born in England in 1633, is not accounted for in the passenger list. The family settled in Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. "Robert Williams served as town clerk in Roxbury and also as a selectman in 1647 and 1653. His lands, as described in the town books in 1654, consisted of 135 acres." (H.J. Bruce Ancestry) He became known in Roxbury as "Robert the Immigrant" and is said to have lived to 100 years old (although it was more like 85).

Robert and Elizabeth's child Samuel became a shoemaker and then a deacon in Roxbury, MA, and eventually married Theodora Parke, daughter of Deacon William Parke. Samuel was instrumental in the formation of Pomfret, CT, and one of his grandchildren, Ebenezer was the first minister of that town. My branch of the Williams family descends from Samuel's brother Isaac, the first child born to Robert and Margaret after their journey to the colonies, in 1638.

Migration from Roxbury, MA to Pomfret, CT (and general history of the area)
According to The History of Windham County Connecticut 1600-1760 by Ellen D. Larned,

"The town of Roxbury was one of the most influential in Massachusetts Colony. 'The Roxbury people were the best that came from England,' and filled many of the highest offices in the colonial government. Nothing was lacking for their growth and prosperity but a larger area of territory, their 'limits being so scanty and not capable of enlargement' that several persons - 'not having received the same benefit of issuing forth as other towns have done, when it has pleased God to increase the inhabitants thereof in their posterity' - were compelled to move out of the town and the colony."

In 1684, it was decided that thirty families would move to a new settlement. While the Williams family was not one of the original thirty families, the above-mentioned Samuel Williams (son of Robert) was instrumental in surveying the land, setting boundaries, and acted on a committee that was "to issue any differences that may arise among [the new inhabitants]."

Although previously unsettled, the land of "New Roxbury" was actually within the limits of Connecticut's Windham County."When the Roxbury colonists took possession of the future Woodstock (New Roxbury's first town), the future Windham was already surveyed, divided, and distributed." A large tract of land had been bequeathed to sixteen gentlemen of Connecticut and that land was actually "divided and distributed four months previous to that of Woodstock, but its settlement was delayed by the disturbed condition of public affairs. Connecticut, like the other colonies, was suffering from the encroachments of King James...The spring of 1689 brought peace to the Colonists. James was deposed, William and Mary enthroned." Thus the settlement of Windham county began by settlers from Connecticut as well as Massachusetts.

Pomfret was laid out by Roxbury gentlemen in 1686 very soon after the creation of Woodstock. However, although it was ready for occupation, Indian Wars delayed its settlement until one Captain John Sabin of "New Roxbury, alias 'Woodstock'...had the courage to cross the line and establish himself in the northeast corner of Connecticut within the limits of the granted township." He is the first known settler of Pomfret, CT.

The first minister of Pomfret was Rev. Ebenezer Williams of Roxbury, MA, the grandson of Samuel Williams who immigrated with his parents from England. Rev. Ebenezer Williams is listed often and very respectably in Larned's book. "He was the son of Samuel Williams, and nephew of the Rev. John Williams of Deerfield...He was graduated from Harvard in 1709, and was twenty-five at the time of settlement." Apparently Rev. Ebenezer Williams was the top choice of the Pomfret inhabitants as they invited him specifically to "come preach with us for the space of six months." On 23 Dec 1713, "Mr. Williams arrived in Pomfret and began his ministrations, and soon made himself so agreeable to the people that long before the six months had expired, they were every way willing to accept him for their minister." He was officially chosen in 1714, and given a gift of two hundred acres of land.

"...the people agreeing 'that if the said Mr. Williams doth like the town, and will settle here in the work of the gospel ministry, they will give him one hundred and seventy pounds in money (in that day a British pound had the equivalent buying power of about $500 today), towards buying his land and building his house, and for his salary, sixty pounds yearly, for four years, and after that to rise twenty shillings yearly until it shall come to seventy pounds, and there to stand so long as he shall continue his ministerial labours among us."

In 1713, the Massachusetts boundary line was being settled and Woodstock was found to be within Connecticut limits. However, "beset by enemies at home and abroad, [Connecticut] was forced to yield it to the stronger colony, and allowed, Massachusetts, by formal agreement and covenant, to keep the towns laid out by her in Connecticut territory..." Eventually, the New Roxbury settlers in towns like Pomfret, Woodstock, and others, decided their allegiance to Connecticut would be in their interest. Their taxes would be lighter, their privileges greater. After much controversy, this allegiance became a reality and Pomfret was declared a part of Windham County, Connecticut around 1749.

Captains Isaac Williams Sr. and Jr. (to Pomfret)
Samuel Williams' younger brother Isaac was the first child of Robert and Elizabeth to be born in the New Land. He was born 1 Sep 1638 in Roxbury and became a military captain or lieutenant (listed in James Savage's History as "lieutenant freeman 1685"). He married Martha Parke, the daughter of Deacon William Parke (and sister to Samuel's wife Theodora) in Roxbury in 1660. According to the family history of Bob and Mary Beth Wheeler, "Isaac Williams moved to the western part of Cambridge Village, now Newton, about 1660. He took down the house that had been built there and built another one near the original house location; Isaac's house was torn down in 1818. He was a weaver, a Captain, a Selectman, and Representative [representing Newton in the General Court of Massachusetts] 1692, 1695, 1697, 1701, and 1705." Isaac was widowed in 1675 and went on to marry Judith (Hunt) Cooper, by whom he fathered four more children. Capt. Isaac Williams Sr. was buried under arms by the Company of Foot, Feb. 14, 1707.

Isaac and Martha had nine children including Rev. William Williams (who is listed in Savage as "H.C. [Harvard Class] 1683, minister of Hatfield, ancestor of a long line of distinguished clergy") and Isaac Jr., our ancestor. Isaac Jr. was born in Roxbury in 1661, grew up with his family in Newton, MA, where he married Elizabeth Hyde and had ten children. According to Allen Gilbertson's Genealogy, Isaac Jr. "was the captain of the local militia company. Probably after 1722, he moved to Roxbury, where he died June 27, 1739. His gravestone, in the old burying ground in Roxbury, has the following inscription: Here lyes the Body of Captn Isaac Williams. He Died the 27th of June 1 7 3 9 in the 78th Year of His Age."

Not much is recorded about Capt. Isaac Williams Jr. or his family. His fourth child, John, was born in Newton in 1689. John married Mary Goad in 1712 in Newton and had seven children, some of whom were born in Newton, and some in Pomfret. It seems the family moved from Newton, MA to Pomfret around 1720. John was the cousin of the above-mentioned Ebenezer Williams, first minister of Pomfret. There was a listing of the residents of Pomfret in 1731 and one John Williams is listed there, in the section "South of Mortlake and Purchase." It is unknown if this is our John Williams. There is also one Samuel Williams listed in the same section and this could have been John's brother, his first cousin, or a distant cousin. Both names seemed to be a popular within the family which makes it unclear just who is listed in that 'census'. We do know from the Barbour Collection of CT Vital Records for Pomfret lists many members of the Williams family, including the death of wife Mary (Goad) Williams. John's death is not recorded here, but he did die in Pomfret in 1765 and is buried in Sabin Cemetery there.

Abijah Williams Sr. and Jr. and the Migration to Vermont
John and Mary Williams' sixth child was Abijah Williams, born 1722 in Pomfret. There Abijah met Eunice Dana, and they conceived thirteen children, only two of whom survived full lives. Their first children were born twins and died at birth. Their next five children died either at birth or before the age of four. When Abijah Jr., their seventh child, came along, the parents were childless. They had four more children after Abijah Jr., some reaching up to age nine, but they are all recorded to have early deaths except the thirteenth and final child, Josiah. I have not found a death record for him, and it is assumed he survived and moved away from Pomfret. Abijah Williams Sr. is listed in the History of Windham as becoming a member of "The United Society for Propagating Christian and Useful Knowledge" (essentially a library) in 1756, and his gravesite lists him as a Revolutionary War Patriot. He was buried in Pomfret in 1781.

Abijah Jr. was born in 1758 in Pomfret. He married a woman from nearby Woodstock named Asenath. Her last name is listed either Hodges or Perrin. There are not clear records regarding her parentage and while the name Perrin (or Peryn) is very prominent in Windham County (particularly in the town of Woodstock), there is not much to be found regarding the name Hodges. Asenath Hodges is listed in the Woodstock Vital Records, but I have not seen the actual page and don't know what event is listed there. In various family trees her parents are often referred to as Amos & Jemima (Chaffee) Perrin. Based on conversations with other family members, it is believed that Jemima Chaffee was originally married to a Hodges, and when their daughter Asenath was about six years old, the father died and Jemima soon married Amos Perrin. Amos must have adopted Asenath and given her his name. Thus, Abijah Williams Jr. married Asenath Perrin in Woodstock in 1760.

Abijah Jr. and Asenath are listed in the 1790 census as living in Stockbridge, MA, very near to Woodstock, CT. They are listed as having two young sons (one was Albemarle) and one young daughter (Eunice) at that time. Abijah Jr is also recorded as having served in the Revolutionary War for two days in October 1780 ("on alarm at the Westward") and again for two days in November 1780 ("on alarm at Saratoga"). Sometime between 1790 and 1800, they moved to Vermont. I have not yet found the reason for this migration, or even the nature of Abijah's work, but thanks to the newly created federal census, we can track their residence every ten years. In 1800, 1810 and 1820, Abijah and his family could be found in Wells, Rutland County, VT. Abijah died in 1829 in Dorset, Bennington County, VT, and Asenath died three years later in the same town.

Migration from Vermont to Michigan
One of Abijah and Asenath's eight children was their son Albemarle, born in Wells in 1782. He married his wife Ruth Goodrich in 1803, and they settled in Dorset, VT. They had eight (maybe nine) children born in Vermont. According to a brief history written their son Plyn, Albemarle became a doctor in 1806 and was found dead in his buggy in 1830 in East Dorset, VT.

Around this time, there was great movement of peoples from the New England area to the new lands opening up around Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, etc. This was greatly due to the opening of the Erie Canal and the promise of new work in the abundant forests of the midwest. According to Ancestry Magazine (7/1/2000 - Archive July/August 2000 Vol. 18 No. 4 New England's Migration Fever: The Expansion of America Ralph J. Crandall, Ph.D.),

"The Erie Canal, which was opened in 1825, became the great highway from New England to the West. Manifests of canal boats in the 1830s often read, 'Flour, wool, and hides eastbound, farmers westbound.' In one month, four thousand farm families passed through the canal. Then, arriving in Buffalo, they boarded vessels to cross Lake Erie to Cleveland, Toledo, or Detroit then westward overland to Michigan, Wisconsin, or across the Mississippi into Iowa or points farther west."

Now widowed, Ruth (Goodrich) Williams bravely chose to move west with other families from Vermont. In 1837, she traveled with some of her children to Chester, Eaton County, MI and helped to establish one of the first communities in that new state. Daughter Laura stayed in the New England area. Sons Orton, Harvey, Isaac, John and Plyn can all be found in Michigan census records. Ruth lived in Michigan until her death in 1850.

Plyn Williams, seventh child of Ruth and Albemarle, was born in Vermont in 1828 and came to Michigan with his mother seven years after she was widowed. He can be found through census records in several different communities in Michigan: first in Chester, Eaton County, where his family first settled. Later, in 1850, he is found to be a shoemaker (as "Pluin") in Battle Creek, Calhoun County. In 1853, Plyn married Jane Mayo who was born in England and was raised in nearby Barry County, MI. In the 1850 census, Jane is shown to be living with the Bartlett family in Calhoun County so that is probably where Plyn and Jane met. (As an aside, Plyn and Jane's daughter Anna married one Charles Bartlett, so the families must have remained friends over the years.) Plyn writes in his family record that they moved to Ionia in 1854.

In 1865 he wrote home to his wife Jane as returned from Raleigh, NC in the Civil War. He was a part of the 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics Regiment, Company E. Their record of service matches up with his letter home and also mentions their involvement in several battles including "Sherman's March to the Sea" and the following campaign against Columbia, SC. That particular campaign proved that neither the Union nor the Confederacy were above the atrocities of war, as the entire city of Columbia was left in a heap of ashes. After the Carolina Campaign, his regiment moved to advance on Raleigh, NC where Confederate General Joseph Johnson ultimately surrendered (April 26, 1865). From Raleigh, Plyn's regiment was ordered back to Washington, DC by way of Richmond, VA. This is where he found a moment to write Jane. Considering the action he saw and the trials he had been through, the tone of his letter seems particularly banal. Perhaps he was sparing Jane the details of war. Her brother Thomas Mayo had been captured the previous year and died October 9, 1864 in Andersonville Prison in Georgia. A quiet letter about mules and cattle, assuring his wife that he does "not have to carry anything" was probably just what she wanted to hear, and a welcome break from the news of the time. I originally believed he lost his arm during that military service but according to his pension papers, his right arm was amputated Dec. 9,1881 as a result of an injury received on the Detroit, Lansing and Northern Railroad on the evening of the 8th day of October 1881.

In the 1880 census, we see him listed as "Flynn" Williams, living in Ionia, MI with his wife Jane, three of their children, a man named Cleon, and Jane's sister Emma Mayo. On this census, Plyn is listed as a baggage master at the age of 51. We do not have a death record for Plyn, but he is listed in the Ionia, MI City Directory for 1891 as a "Coroner, Pension Attorney, Notary Public & Grocer" at 426 Main St. He would have been about 62. In his pension papers, Plynn Williams is described as having Grey eyes, Dark hair and complexion. He was 5 ft 5 1/4 tall.We have a picture of him outside of his store, the door bearing"426" as listed in the directory although the exact year of the photo is unknown. His pension papers state that Jane died in 1892 and he remarried Rachael Patch, a widow, in 1893. He death is listed there as 1899 and Rachael applied for his pension in 1908.

Modern History - Williams to Bigelow to Allen to Day
Plyn and Jane Williams had at least four children, the youngest being daughter Laura May. She was born in 1863 in Ionia, MI where she met Henry S. Bigelow. They were married in Ionia and their three daughters, Ethel, Anna, and Laura (Pearl), were all born there. (According to family tradition, Anna worked as a seamstress in her teenage years with much skill.) Henry Bigelow worked for a railroad and was living in Ionia, then was transferred to Decatur, Illinois. From Decatur, he was transferred again to Missouri, then back to Decatur. This is where Anna met Guy Francis Allen.

After Anna and Guy were married, Guy got a job in Detroit and eventually went to work for Detroit Edison. He had three years of college at a small Presbyterian school in Decatur. He took pre-engineering courses, but did not continue. Most of his engineering skills were obtained on the job, and he ended up retiring in charge of the drafting department at Detroit Edison (according to the 1920 and 1930 census information, he worked as a structural engineer at a local power plant).

The family of Guy and Anna Allen resided in Detroit (lived off Grand River Ave., on the west side and a little north towards Lansing, on Vancouver Street) until about 1919. Then they settled in Royal Oak, Oakland County, MI where they raised their six children and stayed in that area throughout their lives. Guy died in the 1960s and Anna lived to be one month shy of 104 years old, in 1991.

Guy and Anna's eldest child was Jane Elizabeth Allen, my grandmother. Growing up in the depression, there was only enough money to send one child at a time to college. Being the eldest, Jane was sent off to Alma College, a small Presbyterian school in Gratiot County, MI. There she met and befriended Marion Day. Marion's brother James also attended Alma where he won Jane's heart. James graduated from Alma in 1935 and went on to the University of Michigan for his Masters in Chemistry. Jane received a BA from Alma, then taught library in Royal Oak. They married in 1937 in Royal Oak, MI, in the Allen backyard rose garden. One of James' professors had ties with Dow Chemical and recommended James for a position. They soon set up residence in Midland, MI where they lived for several years, raising five children. In the early 1950s, the Day family moved from Midland, MI to Stamford, CT where James continued his career. The five children, still living, have spread out from there and continued the family line for future generations to research.

 

 

   
  Pamela Klein
carpediem@manabeads.com