Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

May 17, 2010 – Rogers Family of New London, CT May 17, 2010

So I spent some time today going through a few different sources trying to Make sense out of which members of the Rogers Family lived and or were buried at the Rogers Cemetery at Mamacock Farm.  I went through the Diary of Joshua Hempstead which mentions the farm and Rogers family quite a bit and also the book The Rogerenes (both available on google books).  I started with James Rogers (My 7th Great Grandfather. 1615-1687).  Using the books to track his movements in the New London area.  James was already a wealthy man before he came to the New London area.  Gov. Winthrop seems to have enticed him to come to the area and asked him to come run his mill.  This is the Old Winthrop Mill that is still in existence located at 8 Mill Street, New London, CT.  (Check it out on an aerial map.  The mill is below a section of 95 where the South bound lanes are above the mill on one side and the North bound lanes are above it on the other side.  You can see how they built around it.)   Here is a picture of the mill. 

 The mill is located up the creek from the opening of Winthrop Cove.  The Governor had his house on Winthrop Neck at the site of the present Winthrop Elementary School.  The Gov. sold James Rogers a piece of land close to the mill for him to build a stone house on.   James lived in this house for some time, raising his family there.  James gives this house to his some Samuel upon his marriage.  At the same time, he gives Sam the family bakery.  This is about 1662.   

So James Sr. must have seen this time coming and had back in 1660 purchased a farm 5 miles south of there at The Great Neck on Jordans Cove on the Long Island Sound and moved there in 1662 after giving the house by the mill to son Sam.    This area is in present day Waterford in the same area that the West Neck Cemetery and the Old Rogers Cemetery are in with the farm and house down in the Shore Road Area somewhere. 

James Sr. didn’t live at this farm long as he gave it to his son Joseph less than one year after moving in.  It seems to coincide with Joseph’s marriage so may have been a gift for that occasion.  He gave him the farm “and lands at Great Neck”.  …. This information I got out of The Rogerenes.  It conflicts with info I got from a book called Waterford and Independence 1776-1976.   It says that James gave a house located at 11 Magonk Point to hs son Jonathan (not Joseph).  Here is that book’s info….James Rogers House 

On page 21 of The Rogerenes it says:  “James Rogers, senior, a prosperous and esteemed business man of Milford, Conn., had dealings in New London as early as 1656, and soon after became a resident. Says Miss Caulkins: —He soon acquired property and influence and was much employed, both in civil and ecclesiastical affairs. He was six times representative to the General Court. Mr. Winthrop had encouraged his settlement in the plantation and had accommodated him with a portion of his own house lot next the mill, on which Rogers built a dwelling house of stone. He was a baker on a large scale, often furnishing biscuit for seamen and for colonial troops, and between 1660 and 1670 had a greater interest in the trade of the port than any other person in the place. His landed possessions were very extensive, consisting of several hundred acres on the Great Neck, the fine tract of land at Mohegan, called the Pamechaug Farm, several house lots in town and 2,400 acres east of the river, which he held in partnership with Col. Pyncheon of Springfield.1 Perhaps no one of the early settlers of New London numbers at the present day so great a throng of descendants. 

The Great Neck is still in midsummer beauty, with delicate touches of autumnal brightness, when the hospitable mansion of James Rogers is reopened to the friends who were here on a like 

I’m Not quite sure where James Sr. went after he left the Great Neck /Pamechaug Farm.  Still working on that one.  He may have gone to live at Mamacock Farm but I haven’t found any evidence of that yet. YET. 

So where does Mamacock Farm come in?  Well it looks like James bought Mamacock farm back when he moved to the New London Area.  He then built the stone house by the mill to be close to his business ventures but not very close as it seems to the original farm that he bought.  He must have owned it all this time but it is next mentioned as a gift from James to his son John Rogers Sr (founder of the Rogerenes) upon his marriage to Elizabeth Griswold.    If you don’t know the story of John and Elizabeth, go to The Rogerenes and read it.  Let’s just say, it doesn’t end well.   The night before their wedding John sends a letter to Elizabeth giving her his Mamacock Farm.  This letter always makes me pause for a moment.  This seems to me a gesture of true love as he had no reason to give her a farm that he was getting for his marriage.  Woman didn’t own the family farm if the husband was still living and even after he died it usually went to the male heir bypassing the widow.  He must have really loved her, which is all the more sad considering how their love story ended.  I digress. 

So John and Elizabeth marry on October 17, 1670.  But instead of bringing her back to the farm-house that was built by the previous owner of the farm Mr. Blinnman,  John builds her a new “commodious” house that is close to the Mohegan Road.  The front room of the house is 20×20 with big fireplaces in every room both below and above. 

By 1674, John Rogers Sr. still resides at Mamacock with Elizabeth but travells quite a bit to Newport and other places.  It is that this time that he has his religious awakening and starts to go against the established church. On page 127 of The Rogerenes is a great quote. “The conversion of John Rogers was directly preceded by one of those sudden and powerful convictions of sin so frequently exemplified in all ages of the Christian church, and so well agreeing with Scriptural statements regarding the new birth.”   Like I said, things didn’t end well.  Elizabeth goes on with him for a while but when her folks find out he’s broken from the church, they want none of it for their daughter.  A long arguement ensues and on page 13o it says “Even as she rides away, hope must be hers that, after the happy home is left desolate, her husband will yeild to her entreaties.  Not so with him as he sees depart the light and joy of Mamacock, aye, Mamacock itself which he has given her.  He drinks the very dregs of this cup without recoil.  He parts with wife and children and lands for His name’s sake”.  

It next says “Although his own home is deserted and he will no more go cheerily to Blackhall, there is still a place where dear faces light at his coming.  It is his father’s house.”   This says to me that he father, James Sr. was not living at Mamacock farm after he gave it to John and Elizabeth.  This was in 1674. 

So where was James Sr. living at this time?  Well it goes on to say on page 130 “At this time, the home of James Rogers is upon the Great Neck. By some business agreement, his son Joseph resigned to his father, in 1670, the lands upon this Neck which had been given him in 1666. In this year (1674), his father reconfirms to him the property bought of Obadiah Bruen, by Robin Hood’s Bay. The younger children, Jonathan and Elizabeth, are still at home with their parents. Bathsheba and her family are living near, on the Great Neck, as are also Captain James and his family.”  This may be how in the other book on Waterford it says that James gave he house in Great Neck (Waterford) to his son Jonathan. 

So what happened to Mamacock while he left it.  Well the Griswalds were trying to lay claim to it.  Elizabeth had filed for divorce on the grounds that John was a heretic.  On page 131 it says: “Although John may still lay some claim to Mamacock farm, while awaiting legal action on the part of the Griswolds, it can be no home to him in these days of bitter bereavement. Warm hearts welcome him to his father’s house, by the wide blue Sound, and here he takes up his abode. Never a man of his temperament but loved the sea and the wind, the sun and the storm, the field and the wood. All of these are here. Here, too, is his “boat,” evidently as much a part of the man as his horse. No man but has a horse for these primitive distances, and in this family will be none but the best of steeds and boats in plenty.” 

John’s troubles now start.  He is in and out of jail for his beliefs as he is very out spoken.  I’m not going to go into details of his woes as I’m trying to stay focused on where they were living and moving around.  On page 133 it says: “Although John Rogers has been a member of the Sabbatarian church but a few weeks, he is already pastor of a little church on the Great Neck (under the Newport church) of which his father, mother, brothers and sisters are devout attendants, together with servants of the family and neighbors who have become interested in the new departure. Who will preach to this little congregation, while its young pastor is in Hartford awaiting the issue of the Griswold vengeance? Of those who have received baptism, James is upon the “high seas,” in pursuance of his calling, and Jonathan is but a youth of twenty. Yet Mr. James Rogers does not permit the Seventh Day Sabbath of Christ and His disciples to pass unobserved. The little congregation gather at his house,as usual, and sit in reverent silence, as in the presence of the Lord.l Perchance the Holy Spirit will inspire some among them to speak or to pray. They are not thus gathered because this is the Quaker custom, for they are not Quakers; they are simply following a distinct command of the Master and awaiting the fulfilment of one of His promises.”  From this we can add that James Rogers Sr. was allowing them to hold “Church” in his home on the Great Neck. 

An interesting note in The Rogerenes says on page 139: The hesitation of the New London church in dealing with the Rogeres can readily be understood.  Mr. James Rogers is the prinipal taxpayer, his rates for church and ministry are largest of all, to say nothing of those of his sons.  Not only this, but the family has been one of the most respected in the town”  Always seems to come down to money doesn’t it. 

On page 139-140 (the year is 1676) it says: The Great Neck is still in midsummer beauty, with delicate touches of autumnal brightness, when the hospitable mansion of James Rogers is reopened to the friends who were here on a like mission in the chilly days of winter”   It goes on to talk of James Rogers’ baptism by his house in Great Neck. “In front of the house lies the wide, blue Sound. It is easy to picture the scene, as the earnest, gray-haired man and his wife and daughter accompany Elder Hiscox down the white slope of the beach to the emblem of cleansing that comes to meet them. No event in the past busy career of James Rogers can have seemed half so momentous as the present undertaking. There are doubtless here present not a few spectators, some of them from the church he has renounced, to whom this baptism is as novel as it is questionable; but they must confess to its solemnity and a consciousness that the rite in Christ’s day was of a similar character. Those who came to smile have surely forgotten that purpose, as the waters close over the man who has been so honorable and honored a citizen, and who, despite the ridicule and the censure, has only been seeking to obey the commands of the Master, and, through much study, pious consideration and fervent prayer, has decided upon so serious a departure from the New England practice.” 

So back to Mamacock.  On page 144 it says: “Besides the arraignment of the Rogers family at the June court, as previously described, a suit is brought by Matthew Griswold for damages to the amount of £300. A part of this sum is for the Mamacock farm, which John Rogers very naturally declined to deliver up to the marshal on demand of the divorced wife, which refusal is denominated by Mr. Griswold in this suit a “breach of covenant.”  So when all is said and done John Rogers Sr. retains Mamacock Farm from the clutches of his In-Laws. 

Back at Great Neck, it says on pave 149: In March, 1678, Jonathan is married to Naomi; he brings her to the Great Neck, to a handsome farm by the shore, provided for them by his father, close bordering the home farms of his father and brothers.2 This is an affectionate family group, despite some few differences in religious belief. It is evident enough to these logicians that He who commanded men to love even their enemies, allowed no lack of affection on the part of relatives, for any cause.”  So I’m thinking we’re talking about at least 3 houses here on the Great Neck.  James Sr. Jonathan, James Jr. and ??.  What about John Rogers Sr? Is he still living at his father’s house? 

On page 155 it says:  “1683. In this year occurs the death of Richard Smith, husband of Bathsheba. Also the will of James Rogers is written, at his dictation, by his son John. In this year James Rogers confirms to his son Joseph all his lands at “Poquoig or Robin Hood’s Bay,” within certain boundaries of fence, ledge and “dry pond.” This land appears to be a part of the gift of land returned by Joseph to his father, in 1670.” 

On page 160 it says: “1687.In December, 1687, “Elizabeth, former wife of John Rogers,” resigns her claim to Mamacock, on condition of certain payments, in instalments, signing herself, “Elizabeth, daughter of Matthew Griswold” (New London Records.)” 

On page 163 it says: (1688) “For some years previous to the date of his death, the home farm of James Rogers was upon that beautiful portion of the shore lands of the Great Neck called Goshen, and here his widow continues to reside. His son Jonathan’s place is adjoining on the south. Captain James lives in the same vicinity, and is now to have the Goshen farm lands, under the will. Although Bathsheba has a farm in this locality, received from her father, she appears to be living – with her children -at her mother’s, and her brother John is there also, with a life right in the house, under the will. Samuel Beebe resides in the same neighborhood, and Joseph at his Bruen place, near by, on Robin Hood’s Bay.” 

On page 166 it says: (1690) ” let us take a general glance at the Rogers family, and first at the enterprising and wealthy Samuel Rogers, allied by marriage to some of the most prominent Congregational church members in the colony, yet himself appearing to cultivate no intimate association with the New London church, the reason for which may well be divined. He is now making active preparations for leaving New London altogether, as soon as his son Samuel is old enough to assume control of the bakery, having chosen for his future home a large tract of land in the romantic wilds of Mohegan (New London “North Parish,” now Montville). He is a great favorite with the Mohegan chief, Owaneco, son of Uncas. The popularity of Samuel Rogers with the Indians is but one of many indications of the amiable and conciliatory character of this man. His simply standing aloof from the church against whose autocratic dictum his father and brothers judged it their duty to so strenuously rebel is characteristic of the man.On the Great Neck, Jonathan Rogers and his wife, and those of their particular persuasion, are quietly holding their meetings on Saturday, paying their Congregational church rates with regularity, ” 

On page 170, after the death of James Rogers Sr., things seem to start to fall apart at Great Neck as to the division of his lands among his family.  It says: ”  In July, 1692, there is copied upon the land records a disposition by the widow of James Rogers of certain alleged rights in her husband’s estate, viz.: such rights as would have been hers by the will had there been no codicil thereto. In this document she claims a certain thirteen acres of land on the Great Neck 1 to dispose of as she “sees fit,” also all “moveables” left by her husband, with the exception of £10 willed therefrom to her daughter Elizabeth Beebe. She states that she has already sold one-half of this thirteen acres to her son-in-law, Samuel Beebe. By this singular document, she not only completely ignores the codicil to her husband’s will (already acknowledged by herself, by the other heirs and by the probate court), but her recorded deed of trust, by which, in 1688, she placed her entire life interest in the estate in charge of John and Bathsheba, whose guardianship under the will had also, by agreement of all the children, been confirmed by the General Court. In the month previous to this singular act of the widow, the committee appointed by the court, to divide the estate according to the will, announced their division, adding “when John and Bathsheba shall pay out of the moveable estate 1 to Eliz. Beebe the sum of £10,” “if the widow so order,” the remainder of the estate, real and personal, shall “remain under the care and management of John and Bathsheba during their mother’s life for her honorable maintainance,” also that, after decease of the widow, the real estate and what shall remain of the personal estate be disposed of according to the will of the testator.”  It goes on and on about problems with the will. 

On pages 174-175 it says: “In this year, 1693, another difficulty occurs regarding the settlement of the James Rogers estate. The persons appointed to divide the land among the children according to the terms of the will have given Jonathan a farm, “with house thereon,” which was included in the lands given to Joseph by his father in 1666. Joseph (as has been shown) resigned all of this gift of land to his father in 1670, but the latter redeeded the most (or supposedly all) of it back to him in 1683. Joseph appears to have understood that this farm was included in the second deed of gift, and it is probable that his father supposed it to have been thus included, by the terms of the deed. Upon examination, however, the committee have decided that this farm remains a part of the estate of the testator, and, by the terms of the will regarding the division of the residue of land between James and Jonathan, it falls to Jonathan. Naturally, Jonathan has nothing to do but to take what is accorded to him by the decision of those to whom the division has been intrusted, who have divided it to the best of their knowledge and ability. Although Joseph is in much the same position, acquiescence in his case is far less easy. He does not find any fault with the will, but simply claims this farm as his own by the deed of gift of his father, and arbiters are appointed to decide the matter. These men appear to labor under no small difficulty in concluding to which of the two the farm should really belong, but finally decide in favor of Jonathan. Joseph is unwilling to abide by this decision, asserting that some of the evidence on the other side has not been of a fair character.1 Consequently the case is reopened, with considerable favor shown, on the part of the court, to the representations of Joseph. Jonathan’s part in the case is to present evidence in favor of his right to the property awarded to him; so that he cannot be said to have gone to law in the matter.  (This attempt of Joseph to regain a farm he had supposed to be his own, is the sole “contention regarding boundaries,” which was ascribed by Miss Caulkins to the “children.” It in no way concerns the executor, who had no part whatever in designating the boundaries or dividing the land. Joseph appears to have hesitated at first to make any move in the matter; the opening protest was made in 1692 by his wife, in regard to the deed by which her husband returned to his father (in 1670) the first gift of land.1)” 

On page 194 it says: Year 1698 “The death of Elizabeth, widow of James, has recently occurred.3 John Rogers has changed his home from the Great Neck to Mamacock farm, North Parish. His sister Bathsheba has also removed to the North Parish, to a place called Fox’s Mills, from the mills owned and carried on by her husband, Samuel Fox.” 

On page 195-196 it says: (1698) “It must be sweet to breathe again the open air of freedom, and such air as blows over Mamacock; purest breezes from river and from sea, fragrant with the breath of piney woods, of pastures filled with flowers and herbs, and of fields of new-mown hay, mingled with the wholesome odor of seaweed cast by the tide upon Mamacock shore.Not far from the house, towards the river, in a broad hollow in the greensward, bordered on the north by a wooded cliff and commanding a view of the river and craggy Mamacock peninsula, is a clear, running stream and pool of spring water. Here yet (1698) the Indians come as of old, with free leave of the owner, to eat clams, as also on Mamacock peninsula, at both of which places the powdered white shells in the soil will verify the tradition for more than two hundred years to come. In this river are fish to tempt the palate of an epicure, and trout abound in the neighboring streams. A strong-built, white-sailed boat is a part of this lovely scene, and such a boat will still be found here for many years to come. (See “Hempstead Diary” for mention of boat.) ”  Shortly after his return to Mamacock, he marries one of his servant Girls, Mary Ransford. 

On page 200 it says: ” 1700.By some agreement the house at Mamacock, cattle on the place, and other farm property, are under the joint ownership of John, Sr., and John, Jr.; the one has as much right to the house and the farm stock as the other. It now appears that the junior partner has himself been intending to furnish a mistress for the house at Mamacock. In January, 1700, seven months after the marriage of his father, he brings home his bride and is forced to place her in the awkward position of one of two mistresses. The young woman who now enters upon this highly romantic and gravely dramatic scene is one with whom John Rogers, Sr., can find no fault, being none other than his niece, Bathsheba, daughter of his faithful and beloved sister of the same name.    In spite of the difficulties sure to ensue, John, Sr., cannot but welcome this favorite niece to Mamacock. Not so with Mary. Whatever estimable and attractive qualities the latter may possess, here is a situation calculated to prove whether or not she is capable of the amount of passion and jealousy that has so often transformed a usually sensible and agreeable woman into the semblance of a Jezebel. The birth of a son to Mary, at this trying period, does not better the situation. Even so courageous a man as John Rogers might well stand appalled at the probable consequences of this venturesome marriage. When he brought Mary home and directed his servants to obey her as their mistress,l he in no wise calculated upon her being thus, even partially, set aside. He stands manfully by her, as best he may, though with the evident intention that she shall refrain from any abuse of his son’s rights in the case. ” 

Suffice it to say, John Rogers Sr was unlucky in love again.  He had problems with the legitimacy of his marriage to Mary as he had never really gotten an official divorce decree from Elizabeth.  Never mind that Elizabeth had remarried.  Mary was arrested and recanted her marriage in the end and under pressure from the courts said that she had been living in sin with John and their children were illegitimate.  On page 205 it says: (1703) “The court takes no notice of this appeal. Mary is returned to Block Island and the children to Mamacock. Proof will appear, however, that she is not forgotten nor neglected. Even after her marriage to another man, and years after this hopeless separation, she will say nothing but good of him who first called her his wife and acted faithfully towards her a husband’s part.” 

On page 207 it says: (1703) “During the respite from graver cares, John Rogers has enough to busy him at Mamacock, outside of his duties as preacher and pastor, in caring for the place (in unison with John, Jr.) and other business interests, making shoes, writing books, and attending to the welfare and training of his two little children, to whom he must be both father and mother. John and Bathsheba have a third child now. So here are five little ones in the home at Mamacock. And there is Mary at Block Island. She came from across the sea, and is likely to have only the one friend in America.” 

On page 209 -210 it says: (1705) “At this time, as for some five years previous, a youth by the name of Peter Pratt is a frequent inmate of the family at Mamacock. This is none other than the son of Elizabeth Griswold by her second husband. Elizabeth could not keep her son John from fellowship with his father, and it appears that she cannot keep from the same fellowship her son by Peter Pratt. This is not wholly explainable by the fact that Peter admires and is fond of his half-brother, John (see part I., Chapter IV.). Were not the senior master at Mamacock genial and hospitable, Peter Pratt’s freedom at this house could not be of the character described (by himself), neither would he be likely (as is, by his own account, afterwards the case) to espouse the cause of John Rogers, Sr., so heartily as to receive baptism at his hands, and go so far in that following as to be imprisoned with other Rogerenes.  According to his own statement, this young man was present at the County Court in 1699, when John Rogers appeared there with Mary Ransford and took her for his wife. He seems at that time to have been studying law in New London, and making Mamacock his headquarters.” 

On page 213 it says: (1707) “The home farm of John Bolles is half a mile south of that of John Rogers, on the same (Norwich) road, on a height of land known as Foxen’s Hill (later Bolles Hill), directly overlooking the town of New London, with a further view of Long Island Sound.3 He has lived for years in the near neighborhood of John Rogers, and has been one of his personal acquaintances and friends.”Well that’s enough for tonight.  I’ll pick this up again tomorrow.


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