Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

18 Oct 2017: The Wheel on the Mill goes Round and Round … annoying the groundhog October 18, 2017

You’ll have to pardon my first attempts at video. I’m more of a photographer than a videographer.  Anyway, although the Old Town Mill  in New London is closed, I was able to get the city to open it up for me.  I’d never been inside, but wasn’t expecting much, but when Judy from City Hall met me, I got the grand tour!  She even turned on the wheel for me! Pretty awesome! The Old Town mill was originally operated by my Rogers family ancestor, John Rogers.

The inside is super cool! It has a two grind stones for grinding corn.  I visited two other grist mills on my trip but they were only single grinding operations.

Me in front of the Old Town Mill in New London.

As soon as you come in the front door, off the left is a platform.  Up top are the two grinding stones.  Down below are the gears and the big thing I can only describe as long and barrel-shaped that is the lever the wheel turns on the inside of the building.  (see video of that below)

Just inside the front door of the Old Town Mill

Grindstone #1 is in its housing.

Grindstone #2, not in housing

Judy showing me where they stored the corn that was to be ground in the mill.

Gears below the grind stones. Not operational yet. They’re waiting on a grant to raise the money to fix it next.

Most of the original mill burned down when Benedict Arnold burned New London, but some pieces of the structure they believe are original. If you look at the beam that runs along the ceiling, you can see how originally, it was post and beam construction, but when it was rebuilt, they didn’t use the notches, but laid new beams on top of the beams.

The exterior of the building and the flume have already been rebuilt by grant money.

The Flume

And now for the video.  First is of the wheel where it enters the building below the grind stones.

The mill … on.

Side view of the wheel.

The wheel and my little furry friend. I think he was annoyed we turned it on.

Want to see the mill operating for yourself? Check it out this Saturday. Sure with I was still in town to go.  Looks like a lot of fun.  If you go, let me know how it was.



3 Oct 2017: On my Genealogy Vacation … a mural to remember October 3, 2017

I arrived in the Mystic, CT area last night!  Long drive from Orlando! Today I went to New London to visit City Hall in search of Land Grant records for Thomas Wells, the oldest of the known Wells in my family.  According to The History of New London (Page 60) He had a land grant dated Feb 16, 1649/50.

Although the N.L. Historical Society pointed to the City Hall when I asked them for info on land grants, City Hall pointed me to the State Library in Hartford as they sent all the records there.  So, no joy at City Hall … that is until I walked back into the entry hall and spotted this wonderful mural on the wall.

Mural in City Hall

According to the mural, it’s a representation of the city and the plots of land and owners as they were before Benedict Arnold burned the city in 1781.

You can even see the Town Mill that was previously operated by John Rogers.  This is the town mill that still stands today under the I-95 overpass.

The Old Town Mill in New London

Here are some closeups I took of portions of the map:

Lower Mamacock

First Church and Burial Ground

North of Winthrop’s Cove

New London City Hall

Cool map! Hope you enjoy!



17 Aug 2017: Planning a trip to my homeland August 17, 2017

It’s that time of year again when I get to blow this pop stand and head north.  YAY!! I’ll be up in CT/RI on vacation the beginning of October and have started my list of things to do and places to see. HOWEVER, my list is incomplete.

Read to the VERY BOTTOM for things I need help/suggestions for.

Visit Randall & Lois Wells’ graves in Hopkinton, RI.  My annual pilgrimage to my 4th great grandparent’s graves back in the woods.  Let’s face it, not too many of us still can even find them. I usually visit John Rogers grave on the grounds of Connecticut College as well.

Take my favorite hike.  There’s a great Nature Conservancy trail up to Long Pond in Hopkinton. Super scenic, like something out of Lord of the Rings.  There’s a timelessness to the landscape there that seems untouched, like some native American tribe from long ago could come strolling around a boulder.

Visit Mystic Pizza in Mystic, CT.  I know, the cheesiest and most wonderful of the chic flicks of the 80’s.  Not only that, the pizza is like … totally awesome (to quote the 80’s) Not sure how well it will fare now that I’ve had gastric bypass, but I’m willing to give it a shot. It’s worth a visit if for nothing but to inhale deeply and take in the scent of wonderful food.  Plus it’s a location I used a few times in my novels so it’s fun to visit.  I ever wrote some of my books sitting at the table in the bay windows up front.

Speaking of food …. I’m also planning meals at Abbots in Noank, CT and Ford’s Lobsters in Noank. I plan on being so tired of lobster by the time I drive out of New England that it will hold me for a long time!

Visit the Lighthouse Museum in Stonington.  Yes, the infamous lighthouse that is the setting for my third novel. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it and knew I had to feature it in a book.  I’ll also spend time roaming the streets of picturesque Stonington.

Visit B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill in Mystic.  Again, after my gastric bypass surgery, this should be an interesting experience.  I love their apple baked goods and plan on sampling quite a bit.

Visit Oak Grove Cemetery in Ashaway.  Not only my future resting place, but also the current resting place for a good portion of my mom’s side of the family.  I always stop in to pay my respects but also to inspect the condition of our stones and do any necessary cleaning of them that may need to be done.

Fulfilling any Findagrave.com photo requests that are online for the area. Need any photos taken of a headstone in the area? I’ll be checking them out while I’m up there to see who I can help out.  I also plan on updating FAG.com on new burials in Oak Grove and finishing adding photos of all the stones.

Visiting Kenyon’s Grist Mill in West Kingston, RI. I’ve never been to a grist mill before so I’m looking forward to learning something new. I’m also in the market for some corn meal to make me some Johnny Cakes upon my return to FL.  

Popping over to Stonington Vineyards to buy a case of my favorite wine of theirs. Sadly, I can’t get it here in Orlando. Also sadly, gastric bypass severely limits how much alcohol I can drink, so that case will last me a couple of year!

Shop Craigslist.com for cool stuff in people’s basements! Sounds odd, but I bought a cool old trunk off of Craigslist last time I was up there from some couple in Ashaway. I’m on the hunt for cool antiques. I’m also looking for some good antique stores to visit if you know of any you can suggest. Not the shiny, all cleaned up kind of antiques, but the paint chipping off, just pulled out of the barn kind. Will also be looking for yard sales and estate sales as well.

If time permits, I’d like to visit Mystic Aquarium.  Haven’t been there since I was a kid.

Pop into the Mystic Seaport Gift Shop.  I’ll be honest and say I’ve been to the Seaport enough that I don’t need to go again …. for a long time, but the gift shop is awesome! I love the book section up stairs too. Always worth a visit.

Get out on the water.  No plans finalized for this yet, but I will get out on the water for a few hours, if not longer. I did a sunset sail out of Mystic a few years back that I could do again, but ideally I’d love to take sailing lessons.  I’m just having a hard time finding a place to do that so late in the year.  Seems sailing season ends the week before I arrive!!!

A day at the Coggeshall Farm Museum in Bristol, RI.  I can’t wait to spend some time here so I can do some research on farm life in the late 1700s.  Valuable info I can weave into my stories of the vampire, Randall Wells!!

St. Edmund’s Severed Arm.  Yes, you read me right. This one just has to be seen to be believed, at least by me.  It’s in Mystic and apparently on display.


I’m looking for:

  • Good antique stores/malls. Ones that sell reasonably priced items of local origin. Items that are not all spit and polished, but need love and have chipped paint.
  • Scenic hiking trails (other than my favorite up to Long Pond in Hopkinton.)
  • Restaurants that serve good local cuisine.  Rhode Island Clam Chowder?  Johnny Cakes?
  • How can I get out on the water?  Boat tours you can suggest.  I’d even be up for whale watching. Ideally I’d love to take a sailing lesson or two.
  • Know of any places of local history interest like Kenyon’s Grist Mill? I love to learn about local history.
  • If you know where I can buy a courting candle, you’re my new best friend!!!



From Bruce: “Know you are connected to the Crandall family. Think about a trip north of Mystic to Canterbury, CT (Windham Co.) to the Prudence Crandall museum. Check their hours – I don’t think they are open every day.”  Thanks, Bruce.  I’ll add the museum to my list of possibles.  I’m sure a trip there would make a nice subject for a blog post.

From Wayne:  “Hi Jennifer – I too am a direct descendant of Samuel Hubbard (my mother is a Burdick), living now in southern RI. We are distant cousins. If you haven’t been, you might consider seeing the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace in Saunderstown, and maybe taking the Francis Fleet Whale Watch out of Galillee. BTW, white corn meal is ubiquitous here! Wayne”  Thanks Wayne. I’ve added the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace to my list. Looks really cool. Sadly, Frances Fleet Whale Watching closes in September so they won’t be open.  Too bad, they looked ideal.


6 Dec 2015: Colonial Park … A Southern Cemetery with Family Connections December 6, 2015

Last weekend I went up to Savannah, Georgia for my cousin’s wedding.  Of course Savannah is known for many things, among them for its great cemeteries.  Partially publicized by books such as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I visited two of Savannah’s historic cemeteries.   One of the things I love about visiting cemeteries in different parts of the country is to see how many different approaches one can take to bury someone.  In this, Savannah did not disappoint.

One of the cemeteries I visited was the old Colonial Cemetery, called Colonial Park, which is located just on the edge of the historic section of town where the famous squares are located.



P1050317One of the things I loved about this cemetery is that it’s a park.  People just strolled in off the street and walked around.  There was none of the stiff formality of a place of the dead, but a warm coziness that the people of Savannah seem to have with those that have lived in their city before them.  I have to say, I really liked that a lot.

Now let’s get on to our family connection to Colonial Park.  I was wandering around taking pictures when I came across this:



20151129_151511Yes, I know, look how they set the headstones in the brick like that.  Talk about cool.  But it was the marker beside it that caught my eye.  “William Scarbrough, Promoter of the First Transatlantic Steamship.”  I’m not history genius but I remember our family history pretty well and sure as can be, when I got back to my hotel and looked it up, my fourth cousin four times removed, Stevens Rogers, was on the very ship they’re talking about on this plaque, the Savannah.  How on earth did I remember that?  Because he has one of my favorite headstones and it happens to have a carving of that very same ship, the Savannah, on it.  Here’s a photo of it in Cedar Grove Cemetery in New London, CT:

Rogers - Stevens Rogers Captain 1Did William Scarbrough of Savannah, GA know my cousin Stevens Rogers? Odds are pretty good they did.  So that’s our family connection to Colonial Park.

Now I’ll share some pictures I took of the interesting ways they are preserving old stones here:


Wooden Frame


Metal Braces


Cement Inlay

There must be a lot of stones that have been dislodged from their grave sites, because the brick back wall of the cemetery is something of an art project, a collage of homeless stones.  It’s beautiful and sad at the same time.  Here’s some photos so you can see what I’m talking about:


For Blog 1

For Blog 2

For Blog 3

I’ll also share some pictures of some odd and beautiful stones I found.  The first one has to be about the largest stone I’ve come across.  I put my cell phone on top of it to give you an idea of the scale of it.


This next one has lovely imagery carved in it.  I love the detail on the woman’s dress:


This carver was apparently getting paid by the word!!!!


This carver apparently didn’t believe in under doing it!  It’s got so many design elements in it, it should be a little garish, but I like it.


I have the feeling that in life no one ever accused Archibald Bulloch of being understated.  Check out his grave:


Here’s some other neat carvings I found:

For Blog 5

For Blog 6

With this one, I had to wonder which came first, the headstone or the brick monument.  It almost looked like the cut up the white headstone to the oval shape you see now to set it in the brick.

For Blog 4

Well, I hope you enjoyed your tour through Colonial Park and are inspired to stop in a visit for yourself should you ever find yourself in the lovely city of Savannah.



20 Sept 2015: Rev. John Maxson 1714-1778 September 20, 2015

I’ve been spending my morning cleaning out my email inbox.  Between emails about my books and genealogy stuff, I tend to get backed up and have to spend a day untangling the web that is my in and to do boxes.  While weeding through my emails from findagrave.com, I found that someone had fulfilled a photo request for a great family member of mine, the Reverend John Maxson, born 1714 and died 1778.

Here’s the photo they kindly provided:

John Maxson: 1714-1778 Common Burying Ground, Newport, RI

John Maxson: 1714-1778 Common Burying Ground, Newport, RI

Isn’t it a lovely example of the carving used at the time?  John is buried in the Common Burying Ground in Newport, RI.  He is my First Cousin 7 times removed (Being the son of Johnathan Maxson and Content Rogers.)  John married Tacy Lucy Rogers (1715-1753) who was my 5th Great Grandaunt (being the daughter of Jonathan Rogers Jr and Judith Potter)

Here’s a link to John’s memorial page on Findagrave.com:  CLICK HERE FOR LINK

On the Rogers sides of their families John and Tacy were not only husband and wife, but first cousins as well.  I keep telling my friends that marrying your first cousin wasn’t uncommon back in the 1700’s but they don’t believe me.  I site that in Jane Austen’s books it happens quite a bit, but still … they think it’s weird.  Weird it is today, but back then, not so much.

Anyway, as I said above, I got this photo through findagrave.com.  If you’re familiar with this site, as a member (which is free) you can go on a memorial of a person and if there is no photo of their headstone posted, you can request a photo.  when you do this, it sends the request out to other members on the site who live in the area of that cemetery.  If you’re lucky, one of them will trot on over to the cemetery and take a photo that they will then post on the site for you.  You then get an email alerting you that your request has ben fulfilled.  Hence my cleaning out my email inbox and find old John there.



2 July 2015: The Rogers family and the Rogerenes July 2, 2015

Today I thought I’d post another interesting Rogers Family item I found while cleaning up my Genealogy files on my hard drive. I keep the vast majority of my genealogy computer files on a portable hard drive, which has come in handy when I’ve bought a new laptop. However, it’s been a while since I’ve backed it up and I’ve been spending a little time every day cleaning and organizing the files. Seems I’ve been a little neglectful of my files over the past year or so. Lots of little items that needed organizing and/or pasting onto profiles in my RootsMagic genealogy program.

In the meantime, here’s a little history of the Rogers family as it relates to the Rogerenes.

The Rogerenes: Some Hitherto Unpublished Annals Belonging to the Colonial History of Connecticut, By John Rogers Bolles, Anna Bolles Williams, 1904. Part II: History of the Rogerenes, starting Page 121

AMONG noticeable young men in the Colony of Connecticut, previous to 1640, is James Rogers.1 His name first appears on record at New Haven, but shortly after, in 1637, he is a soldier from Saybrook in the Pequot war.2 He is next at Stratford, where he acquires considerable real estate and marries Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel Rowland, a landed proprietor of that place, who eventually leaves a valuable estate to his grandson, Samuel Rogers, and presumably other property to his daughter, who seems to have been an only child. A few years later, James Rogers appears at Milford. His wife joins the Congregational church there in 1645, and he himself joins this church in 1652.

He has evidently been a baker on a large scale for some time previous to 1655, at which date complaint is made to the General

1 The parentage and native place of James Rogers remain undiscovered. He may, or may not, have been the James Rogers who came over in the Increase (Hotten). There were several of the same name and date in New England. There is a tradition in the New London family, which can be traced as far back as 1750, that James Rogers of New London was a grandson, or greatgrandson, of John Rogers the martyr. Up to this date (1904) no proof has been found to substantiate this claim. The same claim has been made by descendants of other first settlers of the name of Rogers, and their traditions are also proven to have been of early date. These long-standing and very persistent traditions may possibly be explained by some future discovery.

2 1679– James Rogers sells Thos. Parker 50 A. of land that were granted James Rogers of N. London, by the Gen. Court, he being a Pequot soldier. – New London Land Records.

Also in “Memorial History of Hartford,” by J. Hammond Trumbull (pub. 1886), p. 81, is a chapter on the Pequot war, by Rev. Increase N. Tarbox, which names the men from Saybrook, viz. “John Underhill, Edward Pattison, James Rogers, Edward Lay, John Gallup and John Wood.”

Page 122

Court in regard to a quantity of biscuit furnished by him, which was exported to Virginia and the Barbadoes, upon which occasion he states that the flour furnished by the miller for this bread was not properly ground. The miller substantially admits that he did not at that time understand the correct manner of grinding.

In the course of ten years, Milford proves too small a port for the operations of this enterprising and energetic man, whose business includes supplies to seamen and troops. Governor Winthrop is holding out inducements for him to settle at New London. In 1656 he is empowered by the General Court to sell his warehouse at Milford, with his other property, provided said building be used only as a warehouse. He now begins to purchase valuable lands and houses at New London, and so continues for many years, frequently adding some choice house-lot, Indian clearing, meadow-land, pasture or woodland to his possessions. In 1659 he sells to Francis Hall, an attorney of Fairfield, “all” his “lands, commons and houses in Stratford, Milford and New Haven.” – (History of Stratford. )

At New London, in addition to his large baking business, he has charge of the town mill, by lease from Governor Winthrop, at the head of an inlet called Winthrop’s Cove and forming Winthrop’s Neck, which neck comprises the home lot of the governor. That James Rogers may build his house near the mill,1 the Governor conveys to him a piece of his own land adjoining, upon which Mr. Rogers builds a stone dwelling. He also builds a stone bakery by the cove and has a wharf at this point.2

The long Main street of the town takes a sharp turn around the

1 An ancient mill built in 1728, on or very near the site of the first mill, is still standing (see “Hempstead Diary,” page 200). Less than fifty years ago, the cove was a beautiful sheet of water commencing just in front of the mill, separated from it by little more than the width of the winding street, and from thence stretching out in rippling, shining currents to the river. This cove has been so filled in of recent years that considerable imagination must be exercised to reproduce the ancient sweep of clear, blue water known as Winthrop’s Cove.

2 In 1664 he gave his son Samuel land “by the mill” “west side of my wharf.”

Page 123-4

head of the cove, past the mill and to the house of the Governor, the latter standing on the east side of the cove, within a stone’s throw of the mill.

The native forest is all around, broken here and there by a patch of pasture or planting ground. One of the main roads leading into the neighboring country runs southerly five miles to the Great Neck, a large, level tract of land bordering Long Island Sound. Another principal country road runs northerly from the mill, rises a long hill, and, after the first two or three miles, is scarcely more than an Indian trail, extending five miles to Mohegan, the headquarters of Uncas and his tribe. Upon this road are occasional glimpses, through the trees, of the “Great River” (later the Thames).

James Rogers is soon not only the principal business man of this port, but, next to the Governor, the richest man in the colony. His property in the colony much exceeds that of the Governor. He is prominent in town and church affairs, he and his wife having joined the New London church; also frequently an assistant at the Superior Court and deputy at the General Court. His children are receiving a superior education for the time, as becomes their father’s means and station. Life and activity are all about these growing youth, at the bakery, at the mill, at the wharf. Many are the social comings and goings, not only to and from the Governor’s house,1 just beside them, but to and from their own house. His extensive business dealings and his attendance at court have brought James Rogers in contact with intelligent and prosperous men all over the colony, among whom he is a peer. His education is good, if not superior, for the time. He numbers among his personal friends some of the principal planters in this colony and neighboring colonies.


In 1666 James Rogers retires from active business. His sons Samuel and Joseph are capable young men past their majority.

Samuel is well fitted to take charge of the bakery. Joseph inclines to the life of a country gentleman. John, an active youth of eighteen, is the scholar of the family. He writes his father’s deeds and other business documents, which indicates some knowledge of the law. Besides being sons of a rich man, these are exceptionally capable young men. That there is no stain upon their reputations is indicated by the favor with which they are regarded by certain parents of marriageable daughters. In this year occurs the marriage of Samuel to the daughter of Thomas Stanton, who is a prominent man in the colony and interpreter between the General Court and the Indians. The parents of each make a handsome settlement upon the young people, James Rogers giving his son the stone dwelling-house and the bakery. This young man has recently sold the farm received from his grandfather, Samuel Rowland. Having also grants from the town and lands from his father (to say nothing of gifts from Owaneco), together with a flourishing business, Samuel Rogers is a rich man at an early age.

Somewhat before the marriage of Samuel, his father, in anticipation of this event, established himself upon the Great Neck, on a farm bought in 1660, of a prominent settler named Obadiah Bruen. This is one of the old Indian planting grounds so valuable in these forest days. Yet James Rogers does not reside long on the beautiful bank of Robin Hood’s Bay (now Jordan Cove), for in this same year his son Joseph, not yet twenty-one years of age, receives this place, “the farm where I now dwell” and also “all my other lands on the Great Neck,” as a gift from his father. All the “other lands” being valuable, this is a large settlement. (It appears to mark the year of Joseph’s marriage, although the exact date and also the name of the bride are unknown. The residence of James Rogers for the next few years is uncertain; it is not unlikely that he takes up his abode in one of his houses in town, or possibly at the Mamacock farm, on the Mohegan road and the “Great River,” which place was formerly granted by the town to the Rev. Mr. Blinman, and, upon the latter’s removal from New London, was purchased by Mr. Rogers.)

Page 125-126


How far from the mind of the young lover, when, on the night before the happy day when he is to call Elizabeth his bride, he pens the writing1 which is to give her the Mamacock farm, recently presented to him by his father, is a thought of anything that can part them until death itself. To this writing he adds: “I do here farther engage not to carry her out of the colony of Connecticut.” This sentence goes to prove the great fondness of the parents for this daughter, her own loving desire to live always near them, and the ready compliance of the young lover with their wishes. He marries her at Blackhall, October 17, and takes her to the beautiful river farm which upon that day becomes her own. He does not take her to the farmhouse built by Mr. Blinman, but to a new and commodious dwelling, close by the Mohegan road, whose front room is 20 by 20, and whose big fireplaces, in every room, below and above, will rob the wintry blasts of their terror . The marriage settlement upon the young couple, by James Rogers and Matthew Griswold, includes provisions, furniture, horses, sheep, and kine.1

Page 126


Although John Rogers resides at Mamacock farm, he is by no means wholly occupied in the care of that place; a young man of his means has capable servants. As for years past, he is actively interested in business, both for his father and himself. At Newport, in the year 1674, he meets with members of the little Sabbatarian church of that place, recently started by a few devout and earnest students of the Bible, who having, some years before, perceived that certain customs of the Congregational churches have no precedent or authority in Scripture, resolved to follow these customs no longer, but to be guided solely by the example and pre-

1 See same “Book of Crimes and Misdemeanors” for Marriage Settlement.

2 In after life he was accustomed to say that it was the richest cargo he ever shipped and the best bargain he ever made. – History of New London.

It was a frequent custom in those days, for persons emigrating to the colonies to pay the expenses of their passage by selling their services for a term after landing. Such passengers were called “redemptioners.” Thus, Captain James actually purchased, as the term was, his wife Mary.

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cepts of Christ and his apostles. In attempting to carry out this resolve, they renounced and denounced sprinkling and infant baptism and attached themselves to the First Baptist Church of Newport. About 1665, they were led, by the teachings of Stephen Mumford, a Sabbatarian from England, to discern in the first day Sabbath the authority of man and not of God. Under this persuasion, the little company came out of the First Baptist Church, of Newport, and formed the Sabbatarian Church of that place. Mr. Thomas Hiscox is pastor of this little church, and Mr. Samuel Hubbard and his wife (formerly among the founders of the First Congregational Church of Springfield, Mass.) are among its chief members. During this year, under the preaching and teachings of this church, John Rogers is converted.

Hitherto this young man and his wife Elizabeth have been members of the regular church, as ordinary membership is accounted, and their two children have been baptized in that church, at New London. If children of professed Christians, baptized in childhood, lead an outwardly moral life, attend the stated worship and otherwise conform to the various church usages, this is sufficient to constitute them, as young men and young women, members in good and regular standing. The daughter of Elder Matthew Griswold has been as ignorant of the work of regeneration as has been the son of James Rogers.

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. Although leading a prominently active business life, in a seaport town, from early youth, and thus thrown among all classes of men and subjected to many temptations, this young man has given no outward sign of any lack of entire probity. Whatever his lapses from exact virtue, they have occasioned him no serious thought, until, by the power of this conversion, he perceives himself a sinner. Under this deep conviction the memory of a certain youthful error weighs heavily upon his conscience.

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He has at this time one confidant, his loving, sympathetic and deeply interested young wife, who cordially welcomes the new light from Newport. In the candid fervor of his soul, he tells her all, even the worst he knows of himself, and that he feels in his heart that, by God’s free grace, through the purifying blood of Jesus Christ, even his greatest sin is washed away and forgiven.

Does this young woman turn, with horror and aversion, from the portrayal of this young man’s secret sin? By no means.1 She is not only filled with sympathy for his deep sorrow and contrition, but rejoices with him in his change of heart and quickened conscience. More than this, understanding that even one as pure as herself may be thus convicted of sin and thus forgiven and reborn, she joins with him in prayer that such may be her experience also. They study the New Testament together, and she finds, as he has said, that there is here no mention of a change from a seventh to a first day Sabbath, and no apparent warrant for infant baptism, but the contrary; the command being first to believe and then to be baptized. Other things they find quite contrary to the Congregational way. In her ardor, she joins with him to openly declare these errors in the prevailing belief and customs.

Little is the wonder that to Elder Matthew Griswold and his wife the news that their daughter and her husband are openly condemning the usages of the powerful church of which they, and all their relatives, are such prominent members, comes like a thunderbolt. Their own daughter is condemning even the grand Puritan Sabbath and proposes to work hereafter upon that sacred day and to worship upon Saturday. They find that her husband has led Elizabeth into this madness. They accuse and upbraid him, they reason and plead with him. But all in vain. He declares to them his full conviction that this is the call and enlightenment of the Lord himself. Moreover, was it not the leading resolve of the

1 The account given by their son of this joint conviction of John Rogers and his wife furnishes evidence of a considerable period in which they were in full friendship and accord after the disclosure made to the wife. For account, see Part I, Chapter III.

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first Puritans to be guided and ruled only by the Word of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ? Did they not warn their followers to maintain a jealous watchfulness against any belief, decree or form of worship not founded upon the Scriptures? Did they not urge each to search these Scriptures for himself? He has searched these Scriptures, and Elizabeth with him, and they have found a most astonishing difference between the precepts and example of Christ and the practice and teachings of the Congregational church.

Elder Matthew Griswold is ready with counter arguments on the Presbyterian side. But “the main instrument” by which Elizabeth is restored to her former church allegiance is her mother, the daughter of Henry Wolcott. This lady is sister of Simon Wolcott, who is considered one of the handsomest, most accomplished and most attractive gentlemen of his day. Although she may have similar charms and be a mother whose judgment a daughter would highly respect, yet she is evidently one of the last from whom could be expected any deviation, in belief or practice, from the teachings and customs of her father’s house. That her daughter has been led to adopt the notions of these erratic Baptists is, to her mind, a disgrace unspeakable. She soon succeeds in convincing Elizabeth that this is no influence of the Holy Spirit, as declared by John Rogers, but a device of the Evil One himself. Under such powerful counter representations, on the part of her relatives and acquaintances, as well as by later consideration of the social disgrace attendant upon her singular course, Elizabeth is finally led to publicly recant her recently avowed belief, despite the pleadings of her husband. At the same time, she passionately beseeches him to recant also, declaring that unless he will renounce the evil spirit by which he has been led, she cannot continue to live with him. He, fully persuaded that he has been influenced by the very Spirit of God, declares that he cannot disobey the divine voice within his soul.

One sad day, after such a scene as imagination can well picture, this young wife prepares herself, her little girl of two years and her baby boy, for the journey to Blackhall, with the friends who have

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come to accompany her. Even as she rides away, hope must be hers that, after the happy home is left desolate, her husband will yield 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. Well he knows in his heart, that for him can be no turning. And what can he now expect of the Griswolds?

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. Here are appreciative listeners to the story of his recent experiences and convictions; father and mother, brothers and sisters, are for his sake reading the Bible anew. They find exact Scripture warrant for his sudden, deep conviction of sin and for his certainty that God has heard his fervent prayers, forgiven his sins and bestowed upon him a new heart. They find no Scripture warrant for a Sabbath upon the first day of the week, nor for baptism of other than believers, nor for a specially learned and aristocratic ministry. They, moreover, see no authority for the use of civil power to compel persons to religious observances, and such as were unknown to the early church, and no good excuse for the inculcating of doctrines and practices contrary to the teachings of Christ and his apostles. Shortly, James, the young shipmaster, has an experience similar to that of his brother, as has also an Indian by the name of Japhet. This Indian is an intelligent and esteemed servant in the family of James Rogers, Sr.

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.

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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.

Near the close of this eventful year, Mr. James Rogers sends for Mr. John Crandall to visit at his house. Mr. Crandall has, for some time, been elder of the Baptist church at Westerly, an offshoot of the Baptist church of Newport. He has recently gone over with his flock to the Sabbatarian church of Newport. If the subject of possible persecution in Connecticut is brought up, who can better inspire the new converts with courage for such an ordeal than he who has been imprisoned and whipped in Boston for daring to avow his disbelief in infant baptism and his adherence to the primitive mode by immersion? The conference is so satisfactory, that Mi. Crandall baptizes John Rogers, his brother James, and the servant Japhet. – (Letter of Mr. Hubbard.)

News of the baptism of these young men into the Anabaptist faith by Mr. Crandall, at their father’s house, increases the comment and excitement already started in the town. The minister, Mr. Simon Bradstreet, expresses a hope that the church will “take a course” with the Rogers family. The Congregational churches at large are greatly alarmed at this startling innovation in Connecticut. The tidings travel fast to Blackhall, dispelling any lingering hope that John Rogers may repent of his erratic course. Immediately after this occurrence, his wife, by the aid of her friends, takes steps towards securing a divorce and the guardianship of her children. From her present standpoint, her feelings and action are simply human, even, in a sense, womanly. He who is to suffer will be the last to upbraid her, his blame will be for

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those who won her from his view to theirs, from the simple word of Scripture to the iron dictates of popular ecclesiasticism. If John Rogers and his friends know anything as yet of the plot on the part of the Griswolds to make the very depth of his repentance for an error of his unregenerate youth an instrument for his utter disgrace and bereavement, their minds are not absorbed at this time with matters of such worldly moment.


In March, 1675, James Rogers, Sr., and his family send for Elder Hiscox, Mr. Samuel Hubbard and his son Clarke, of the Sabbatarian church of Newport, to visit them. Before the completion of this visit, Jonathan Rogers (twenty years of age) is baptized. Following this baptism, John, James, Japhet and Jonathan are received as members of the Sabbatarian church of Newport, by prayer and laying on of hands. (Letter of Mr. Hubbard.)

This consummation of John’s resolves brings matters to a hasty issue on the part of the Griswolds, in lines already planned. There is no law by which a divorce can be granted on account of difference in religious views. In some way this young man’s character must be impugned, and so seriously as to afford plausible grounds for divorcement. How fortunate that, at the time of his conversion, he made so entire a confidant of his wife. Fortunate, also, that his confession was a blot that may easily be darkened, with no hindrance to swearing to the blot. At this time, the young woman’s excited imagination can easily magnify that which did not appear so serious in the calm and loving days at Mamacock, even as with tear-wet eyes he told the sorrowful story of his contrition. Thus are laid before the judges of the General Court, representations to the effect that this is no fit man to be the husband of Elizabeth, daughter of Matthew Griswold. The judges, lawmakers and magistrates of Connecticut belong to the Congregational order – the only élite and powerful circle of the time; this, taken in connection with the unfavorable light in which the

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Rogerses are now regarded in such quarters, is greatly to the Griswold advantage.

Yet, despite aversion and alarm on the part of the ruling dignitaries regarding the new departure and the highly colored petition that has been presented to the court by the daughter of Matthew Griswold, there is such evident proof that the petitioner is indulging an intensity of bitterness bordering upon hatred towards the man who has refused, even for her sake, to conform to popular belief and usages, that the judges hesitate to take her testimony, even under oath. Moreover, the only serious charge in this document rests solely upon the alleged declaration of John Rogers against himself, in a private conference with his wife. This charge, however, being represented in the character of a crime 1 (under the early laws), is sufficient for his arrest. Very soon after his reception into the Sabbatarian church, the young man is seized and sent to Hartford for imprisonment, pending the decision of the grand jury.

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,

1 There were, on the law books, so-called capital crimes which were never punished as such. “Man-stealing” was a so-called capital crime, yet we shall find, further on, that it was punishable by an ordinary fine. No mention is made on the court records or files of the crime of which John Rogers was accused by the Griswolds, on charge of which he was examined at Hartford. No record was made of this matter, and we have only vague mention on the court files of the petition of Elizabeth for this divorce by which to even conjecture the nature of the charge.

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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.

William Edmundson, the Quaker preacher, driven by a storm into New London harbor on a Saturday in May, 1675, goes ashore there and endeavors to gather a meeting, but is prevented by the authorities. Hearing there are some Baptists five miles from town, who hold their meetings upon that day, he feels impressed with a desire to visit them. Meeting with two men of friendly inclinations, who are willing to accompany him, he goes to the Great Neck and finds there this little congregation, assembled as described, “with their servants and negroes,” 2 sitting in silence. At first (according to his account) they appear disturbed at the arrival of such unexpected guests; but, upon finding this stranger only a friendly Quaker, they welcome them cordially.

After sitting with them a short time in silence, the Quaker begins to question them in regard to their belief and to expound to them some of the Quaker doctrines. He sees they are desirous of a knowledge of God and finds them very “ready” in the Scriptures. He endeavors to convince them that after the coming of Christ a Sabbath was no longer enjoined, Christ having ended the law and being the rest of His people; also that the ordinance of water baptism should long ago have ended, being superseded by the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Although in no way convinced (as is afterwards fully demonstrated), they listen courteously to his arguments and to the prayer that follows. Not only so, but, by his declaration, they are “very tender and loving.” The next day, this zealous Quaker, having obtained leave of a man in New London, who is well inclined towards the Quakers, to hold a meeting at his

1 Here is an apparent variation, at the outset, from the Newport church.

2 By negroes is meant negro and Indian servants or slaves, of which there were a number in the Rogers family, the slaves being held for a term of years.

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house, finds among his audience several of the little congregation on the Great Neck. In the midst of this meeting, the constable and other officers appear, and break it up forcibly, with rough handling and abuse, much to the indignation of those who have been anxious to give Mr. Edmundson a fair hearing.

The week after his visit to New London, Mr. Edmundson is at an inn in Hartford, where he improves an opportunity to present certain Quaker doctrines to some of those stopping there, and judges that he has offered unanswerable arguments in proof that every man has a measure of the Spirit of Christ. Suddenly, a young man in the audience rises and argues so ably upon the other side as to destroy the effect of Mr. Edmundson’s discourse. This leads the latter to a private interview’ with his opponent, whose name he finds to be John Rogers, and who proves to be “pastor” of the people whose meeting he had attended at New London, on the Great Neck. He also learns from this pastor that he was summoned to Hartford, to appear before the Assembly, for the reason that, since he became a Baptist, the father of his wife, who is of the ruling church, had been violently set against him and was, endeavoring to secure a divorce for his daughter on plea of a confession made to her by himself regarding “an ill fact” in his past life, “before he was her husband and while he was one of their church,” with which, “under sorrow and trouble of mind,” he “had acquainted her” and “which she had divulged to her father.”

Mr. Edmundson informs the young man that he has been with his people at New London and “found them loving and tender.” -(Journal of Mr. Edmundson.)

Since John Rogers remains at the inn for the night, he is evidently just released from custody. So interwoven were truth and misrepresentation in this case, that either admission or denial of the main charge must have been difficult, if not impossible, on the part of the accused. Moreover, there is for this young man, now and henceforth, no law, precedent or example, save such as he finds in the New Testament, through his Lord and Master. That Master, being asked to declare whether he was or was not the King

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of the Jews, a question of many possible phases and requiring such answer as his judges neither could nor would comprehend, answered only by silence. Ought this young man to repeat before these judges the exact statement made to his wife, in the sacred precincts of his own home, even if they would take the word of a despised Anabaptist like himself? It is not difficult to see the young man’s position and respect his entire silence, despite all efforts to make him speak out in regard to the accusation made by his wife in her petition.1

The case before the grand jury having depended solely upon the word of a woman resolved upon divorce and seeking ground for it, they returned that they “find not the bill,” and John Rogers was discharged from custody. Yet, in view of the representations of Elizabeth in her petition regarding her unwillingness, for the alleged reasons, to remain this young man’s wife, backed by powerful influence in her favor, the court gave her permission to remain with her children at her father’s for the present, “for comfort and preservation” until a decision be rendered regarding the divorce, by the General Court in October. No pains will be spared by the friends of Elizabeth to secure a favorable decision from this court.

The Rev. Mr. Bradstreet, bitter in his prejudice against the young man by whose influence has occurred such a departure from the Congregational church as that of James Rogers and his family and such precedent for the spread of anti-presbyterian views outside of Rhode Island, writes in his journal at this date: “He is now at liberty, but I believe he will not escape God’s judgment, though he has man’s.”

Mr. Bradstreet reveals in his journal knowledge that the charge advanced against this young man related to a period previous to

1 That John Rogers could not be induced to either admit or deny the charge presented for the purpose of obtaining the divorce, is from a statement to that effect made by Peter Pratt, in “The Prey Taken from the Strong.” This is one of the few statements made in that pamphlet, which seem likely to be true and are not invalidated by proof to the contrary. It will be seen that, at a later date, this attitude of complete silence is frequent with the Rogerenes, before the court.

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his marriage and conversion, and rested upon a confession that he had made to his wife under conviction of sin and belief in the saving power of Christ, which cleanses the vilest sinner.1 Yet knowing this, he says: “I believe he will not escape God’s judgment.” Truly New England Puritan theology and the theology of the New Testament are strangely at variance in these days.

1 May 25, 1675. ” The testimony against him was his own wife – to whom he told it all with his own mouth, and not in trouble of mind, but in a boasting manner as of free grace, yt he was pardoned. This was much about ye time he fell into yt cursed opinion of anabaptism.” – Journal of Mr. Bradstreet. (See “New England Genealogical and Historical Register,” Vol. 9, p. 47.)

With above compare: –

After it pleased God, through His rich grace in Christ Jesus, to take the guilt of my sins from my conscience and to send the Spirit of His Son into my heart, whereby he did reveal unto me His love and His acceptance of me in Jesus Christ, this unspeakable mercy did greatly engage my heart to love God and diligently to search the Scriptures, that thereby I might know how to serve God acceptably, for then I soon became a seeker how to worship God.” – Epistle of John Rogers to the Seventh Day Baptists.

“And the coming to witness-the truth of those Scriptures, by God’s giving him a new heart and another spirit, and by remitting the guilt of his sins, did greatly engage him to love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself.” – John Rogers, Jr. – Reply to Peter Pratt.


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30 June 2015: The sordid divorce of John Rogers and Elizabeth Griswold June 30, 2015

I love how you sometimes come across genealogy info in the strangest places, like books on the institution of marriage.  Case in point … see below.  While cleaning out my genealogy files, I came across this item I must have stumbled across some time back.  An interesting telling of the divorce of John Rogers  Sr. (1648-1721) (my 6th great-grandfather) from his first wife, Elizabeth Griswold (1652-1727) (my 6th great-grandmother).

A History of Matrimonial Institutions, by George Elliot Howard, Ph.D.  Volume Two, 1904, Page 356-357

The case of Elizabeth Rogers is of special interest; for it is much to be feared that the worthy deputies and magistrates regarded “free thinking” as a sufficient cause for dissolution of wedlock.  In 1675 she laid her petition before the court of assistants, which found “some difficulties as to a present issue final.”  Yet the case being one which called “for compassion to the woman under so great distress and hazard,” it was referred for settlement to the general court, Mrs. Rogers having liberty meanwhile to dwell with her father.  Accordingly, at its next session the assembly, accepting the “allegations and proofes presented to clear the righteousness of her desires,” released Elizabeth from her “conjugall bond.”  A year later provision is made for alimony with custody of children; and now at last the reason for Goodwife Rogers’s “great distress and hazard,” thus far carefully omitted from the record, is clearly divulged.  “Her husband,” runs the order, “being so hettridox in his opinion and practice,” and having even “in open Court declared that he did utterly renounce all the visible worship of New England, and professedly declare against the Christian Sabboth as to a mere invention,” the court grads the mother and her father, Matthew Griswold, the care and custody of the children “to be brought up and nurtured by them (in the admonition and fear of the Lord),” also ordering John Rogers to pay “towards the maintenance of his children, the sume of twenty pownds” in four equal annual instalments.  In case “he fayle of payment, the reversion of the land by sayd John Rogers made over to Elizabeth his late wife, at Mamcock” is to be held security.

Here’s a PDF Copy of the pages in the book:  History of Matrimonial Institutions – John Rogers and Liz Griswold Divorce

Just another glance into the lives of our ancestors.  I have to say I was surprised to see that John had to pay alimony/child support.  Didn’t even realize that had those things back in the 1600’s.  Whoda thunk!

before I sign off, I’ll mention that my latest novel is due out on Amazon on Friday!!  Don’t forget to check out If Love is a Lie by Jennifer Geoghan for part of your summer reading!


Three More Days!  Until If Love is a Lie is released on Amazon!!

Three More Days! Until If Love is a Lie is released on Amazon!!