The look back firmly documents Edward and Sarah Watkins living in Boston with the first recorded births of the union, a son, Edward, 10 January 1683.* Also, according to genealogist Walter Kendall Watkins, viewing and quoting the baptismal record; “Sarah Watkins, the mother, took the baptismal covenant in 1689 at the Old South Church, Boston and was baptized 15 July 1689, with her children, Edward, Samuel and George.” There were five additional sons, including Thaddeus, our ancestor, whose baptismal record also resides in this church.
This church that figures so prominently in the early history of the colonies is the church of John the eldest son of John and Priscilla Alden and his descendants. It is where Benjamin Franklin was baptized. It was the church of many patriots of the Revolution, notably Sam Adams whose wife was a Checkley, possibly the family of Sarah Watkins. We know she at least listed her residence as with them. The congregation met in the meeting house that witnessed the planning and Sam Adams’ “whoops” beginning the “Boston Tea Party.”
Public records in Boston granting Sarah, “a widow in poor circumstances” abatement of taxes indicate that Edward died in or about 1701. There is no record suggesting that Sarah remarried and indeed the Dorchester, Massachusetts First Church records; “Owned or Renewed Covenant, May 1708–Sarah Watkins.”
Some may find it interesting that this Puritan church once it took on the designation Congregational has stood firmly orthodox in that belief, as apparently has our family with some of each generation through my own having membership in this denomination.
We trace to Thaddeus Watkins, the youngest son of Edward and Sarah. He was born 27 March 1700. As a young adult, in the company of or joining later older brothers William and Nehemiah, he emigrated to Ashford, Connecticut. “Nehemiah Watkins appeared in Ashford, Connecticut in 1716 with his brother William, and became one of the proprietors 5 March 1718.” (W. K. Watkins) “William Watkins and his brother, Nehemiah were two of the forty-five persons who gave bonds, drew lots and were admitted proprietors of Ashford, Connecticut in 1718 “— History of Windham County, Connecticut.
Indicating their status as farmers, they were described as “yeomen” in the contemporaneous histories. Even for those days it seems something of an achievement for the sons of a single mother “in poor circumstances.”
Our ancestor Thaddeus’ marriage record in 1724 to Anne Humphrey confirms his presence in Ashford, Connecticut by that date. Anne was the daughter of “Woodstock Pioneer” and “planter” Arthur Humphrey born about 1663 in Woodstock, Ct. and Rachel Rice was born in 1664 in Dedham, Ma. Anne was sister to Mehitable Humphrey who had married Thaddeus’ older brother William in 1717 or 1718. Their brother Arthur, son of Arthur Humphrey of Woodstock, was also among those 1718 proprietors of Ashford, Connecticut.
The modern times picture on the left is of the is of the famous and ancient Ashford Oak. It was surely living at the time the young Watkins brothers as proprietors were a part of the early history of the town.
Thaddeus and Anne Watkins had six children, three boys and three girls. Our ancestor John was the oldest son . He was born 2 March 1725. He married Hannah Fletcher 26 October 1749. John Watkins died 8 October 1756 during service as company clerk, Capt. John Slapp, in the Crown Point expedition of the French and Indian Wars.
Hannah Fletcher was the descendant of Robert Fletcher of Yorkshire, England first known in Concord, Ma in 1636. There is still in existence a home built by Fletcher family member, Deacon Joseph Fletcher near 300 years ago. It is lovingly cared for by its current private owners.
Photo is at the courtesy o f Claudia Novak. She is the current owner and resident of the Dunstable, MA. home. She includes an interesting history of the home and references to the history of the building.
Fletcher Hill Farm
John Watkins’ only surviving children were John and Nathan. They are named in their grandfather Thaddeus’ will. This second John Watkins is our ancestor. He married Mary Scarborough in about 1776. Both John Watkins and Mary’s father, John Scarborough, are certified by the DAR/SAR as having served in the Army for Independence from the New England colonies. The Scarborough family traces to the Roxbury, Ma. area by 1636. Sometime after their marriage John and Mary Watkins removed to Pomfret in what later became the state of Vermont.
John and Mary Scarborough Watkins had eight children. All are listed in the 1790 census of Pomfret. Their eldest son, also named John, (III), became a physician and remained in Pomfret, Vermont throughout his life. He was married to Mary Tarr Honey Eaton, widow of Ebenezer Eaton about 1820. Mary is the first of our ancestors to leave us written words and contemporaneous accounts of activities.
According to her granddaughter, Emma,** Mary T Honey was born to Wm Honey and Elizabeth Senter in 1798 in Woburn, Ma. The Wm. Honey family moved to the Nashua New Hampshire region sometime afterwards. Also according to Emma the Senters were “orthodox Congregational” and came from Barnstable on Cape Cod and Woburn, Ma. to New Hampshire (Nashua). Diverse family sources indicate some of the Senters also served in the Army for Independence. I cannot confirm this and seek any information readers may have.
I have traced Wm. Honey to New Hampshire but not yet added it to the data base. A quotation from the book A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans on an Access Genealogy website gives an account and genealogical information regarding Henry Honey who was descended from Mary T. Honey’s brother or uncle. The Honeys went on to some prominence in Kansas. We have only one letter, that from John Badger, likely a half brother or perhaps step brother to Joseph, from Kansas after the move just before the Civil War.
Two children were born to John (III) and Mary Tarr Honey Watkins; Stephen Decatur Watkins 11 March 1821 and Diana (to become Ayres), 1823. “I have heard Grandmother say she loved Dr. Watkins best of her husbands. They lived about 1/4 mile from Deacon Harris’ whose wife petted Father when 3 & 4 years old: she used to watch him running away from home, flying down the hill to their house & once a turkey chased him: when his baby sister was a few days old Dr. Watkins brought another Dr. into see her, who asked her name & when the father said he had named her ‘Diana’ the visitor said ‘Well before I would name a child for a heathen goddess.,’ as a child. Father was called Decatur & Dick a good deal. I have heard Grandmother say ‘Dick Watkins‘”—- Emma Watkins Reynolds to “Dear Rolla and Ellen” Aug. 27, 1924, Prairie Tree Letters pp 194-197
Upon John Watkins’ death 12 October 1828 (following the custom of the time) his two children were appointed guardians; Stephen, John Dana; and Diana, Ora Paul. Their mother Mary Watkins married Benjamin Howard. There were two boys from this union, John and Nathan Orlen, half brothers to Stephen and Diana.
“Grandmother said she married Ben Howard because he had a house & a few acres of land, & she thought it would make a home where she could have her children with her, Diana’s guardian was one Ora Paul but she apparently lived with Grandmother (Elizabeth Senter-Honey- Badger & Stephen with his guardian most of the time.”-— Emma Watkins Reynolds to “Dear Rolla and Ellen” Aug. 27, 1924, Prairie Tree Letters pp 194-197. While Diana lived with her Grandmother Senter/Honey/Badger. Stephen went to live with John Dana. Great Grandfather Rolla states Stephen used the term “indentured” to describe the arrangement with Dana. He also indicates that his father Stephen spoke fondly of Dana. There is in the collection original letters one by John Dana and others mentioning Dana’s confirming bequests to Stephen as a descendant from John Watkins and John Scarborough.
As the Watkins were going about being part of the early history of New England, building families and towns in a culture of schools and church, the same can be said for our grandmother’s Kendall line. By best research carried out by her brother James Logan Kendall and her son James Robert (our father’s brother) the Kendalls arrived in America about the same time as the Watkins, perhaps a little earlier. For them it was to the land of the Chesapeake Bay, first Kent Island then tidewater Virginia. I will eventually include this genealogy tracing their moves to the Ohio River shore and then Oklahoma. but for now researchers must rely on what is available in print in manuscript form.***
* W. K. and R. A. Watkins believed that Edward was a son of Andrew Watkins of Roxbury, Massachusetts. However Bickford could find no primary source to lend more than tenuous support to making that assumption. I leave the intrigue of his origins open to future research
+ Bickford, Jayne; Watkins, A Beginning Genealogy
** Great, great Aunt Emma Watkins Reynolds was a genuine bridging figure. In her letters she records first hand accounts of conversations she had as a child with both her grandmother Mary Honey and great grandmother Elizabeth Senter. She was 14 and 11, respectively when they died. There is documentation for most family information she communicated to her brother, our great grandfather Rolandus. She lived beyond and made notes of my birth and that of David. Watkins, All of her letters may be found in our book; W. Lorraine and David C.; Prairie Tree Letters, p. 194-197
*** Kendall, James Logan; Historical and Genealogical Sketches of Some Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana Families