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CONVERS/CONVERSE Family History

August 2012

The following line of Deacon Edward Convers1 was extracted from various sources including "Converse Family Settlements in America," by John J. Putnam, Tuttle Antiquarian Books, Inc. This page attempts to reconstruct the various New England lines that our line, that of Erastus Converse, Sr.1, has yet to be firmly tied into.

The New England line begins with Deacon Edward Convers1 of Essex, England who immigrated to Massachusetts, first settling in Charlestown and then in Woburn, Middlesex County. By 1716, grandson Samuel Convers3 broke away to Connecticut and fathered the line of Killingly/Thompson Parish in Windham County.

Vermont Background
Vermont had a population of 85,000 in 1790. This number rapidly increased to 218,000 in 1810 but in 1817 construction began on the Erie Canal which linked Albany to Buffalo, New York. Completed in 1825, the Erie Canal opened expansion into the Ohio River Valley by connecting new frontier farmland with commercial goods in New York. The canal dropped shipping costs between these two regions from $100 per ton to $10 per ton, but also set in motion a large migration from Vermont to Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. It was about this time that the line of Erastus Converse moved from Vermont to Pennsylvania.

Samuel's grandson Pain5 in turn branched off and moved to Bridport, Addison County, Vermont around 1781. It was likely in this area that Erastus Converse, Sr.1 was born. Erastus' father was recorded variously in "The Biographical History of Pottawattamie County, Iowa" as a pioneer of Vermont and as a "farmer of Plattsburg" (New York).

Although, after many years, I have yet to tie in our Erastus Converse line in with that of Deacon Edward Convers1, the prominence of Pain's family on the Vermont side of Lake Champlain, across from Plattsburg, New York, appears to highlight the most logical starting point. Additionally, Pain is known to have a son, Erastus (1780-1859), although he is not known to have left Bridport. Furthermore, Erastus' brother, Hamblin (1767-1847) had a two sons named Erastus, one born in 1800 and died two yeas later, the other born in 1806 and died in Bridport in 1859. Finally, a fourth Erastus, born about 1817 in Ohio, is connected with the family of Jeremiah Converse, Sr.6 (1761-1837), Pain's eldest son, who left Bridport and resettled in Madison County, Ohio by 1817.

So far, all but one Erastus Converse encountered traces back to Pain5: Erastus (1809-1889), the son of Lyman Converse of Windham County, Connecticut who moved to Lyme, Grafton County, New Hampshire; however, this Erastus is of a slightly younger age than ours and remained in New Hampshire through the 1880 census, likely up to his death in 1889.

The glaring omission in this migration is that so far I have no indication that Pain's descendants in Madison County, Ohio ever backtracked to Crawford County, Pennsylvania, where we pick up our Erastus family in 1830. Nonetheless, the migration of Pain's descendants into Ohio still offers the most fitting starting point, and as such, I will focus this family history on the lineage from Deacon Edward Convers1 down to Pain Converse5 and his children.

Deacon Edward CONVERS1 (1589/90-1663)

1. Deacon Edward Convers1 was born on January 30, variously reported between 1587/88 and 1589/90, in either Wakerley, Northamptonshire, or Navestock, Essex, England. Edward Convers first married Jane Clark in Wakerley. She died with no known children. Edward went on to marry Sarah (Smith) Parker on June 29, 1614, in Great Burstead, Essex County, and had as many as seven children:

11. Josiah Convers 30 Oct 1618 3 Feb 1689/1690 (71)
12. John Convers (1618-1619) --  -- 
13. James Convers 29 Nov 1620 10 May 1715 (94)
14. Mary Convers (1622) 2 Feb 1661/62  (40)
15. Sarah Convers 2 Jun 1623 30 Dec 1623 (6 mos.)
16. Samuel Convers2 12 Mar 1637/38 20 Feb 1668/69 (30)
17. Edward Convers (1639) --  -- 
Edward's Ancestry
Some researchers hold that he was the great-grandson of Richard Convers (~1480-1542) by John Convers (~1536-~1574) and Allen Convers (~1556-1639), but I have not joined in on that research yet so I'll leave it at that.

The children born in England prior to their emigration to Massachusetts are all believed to have been born in South Weald, Essex County.

Edward, Sarah, and children Josiah, John, James, and Mary, sailed from England with Governor John Winthrop aboard the ship Arbella in 1630 with 10 other ships and a total of about 700 settlers. They departed Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, on April 8 and on 12 June arrived in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, where a small Puritan settlement had been established in 1626, an offshoot of the Plymouth Colony. The Convers family first settled in Charlestown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, across the Charles River from Boston.

Gregorian Calendar

Great Britain and its colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752 when September 2 was decreed as September 14 to account for 12 days of accumulated errors under the Julian caldendar. Additionally the legal new year was moved up to January 1 from March 25 ("Lady Day"), when the new year was marked on that day. Prior to 1752, March 24, 1750 was followed by March 25, 1751. After 1752, Julian dates were noted as Old Style ("O.S.").

Furthermore, prior to 1752, when months were referred to numerically they generally denoted March as the "1st month".

Arbella
The Arbella was about 350 tons, nearly twice that of the Mayflower, which was laid down two decades earlier. It served as the flagship of Winthrop's Fleet of 11 ships. It was originally named the Eagle but was renamed for passenger Lady Arabella, daughter of Thomas Clinton, 3rd Earl of Lincoln, and wife of passenger Isaac Johnson.

The Convers family was Puritan and joined the First Church of Boston that was organized the year of their arrival. Two years later, the First Church of Charlestown was instituted and the family transferred to that church.

Edward became a freeman (voter) on May 18, 1631, and established the first ferry linking Charlestown and Boston in that year under authority of the General Court, the colonial legislature. He held the lease until 1640. Edward served as Selectman in Charlestown for five years and acted as Deputy to the General Court.

In 1644, the town of Woburn, Middlesex County, was organized and Edward was chosen by the church as one of the first two deacons of the Woburn church. Edward served on the Board of Selectmen until his death in 1663. In Woburn, Edward is credited with building the first dwelling and first bridge, the "Convers Bridge."

Sarah (Smith Parker) Convers died on January 14, 1661/62, in Woburn. She was in her late 60s.

Eight months later on September 9, 1662, Edward remarried to Joanna (Warren) Sprague, the widow of Lt. Ralph Sprague, who had died 11 years earlier. She was about 13 years younger than Edward.

Deacon Edward Convers died the following year on August 10, 1663, and is buried at the First Burial Ground of Woburn. He was about 74 years old. As no headstones prior to 1689/90 remain, a marker was placed there in 1961 by his descendants.

Joanna (Warren Sprague) Convers died 15 years later on February 24, 1679/80, in Woburn. She was about 77 years old.

Deacon Josiah CONVERS (1618-1689/90)

11. Deacon Josiah Convers (I) was born on October 30, 1618, in South Weald, Essex County, England. He sailed to Massachusetts with his parents and and three siblings in 1630 and married Esther Champney on March 26, 1651 in Woburn, Middlesex County. Esther was the daughter of Elder Richard Champney, the ruling elder of the First Cambridge Church. They had at least three children:

11x. Francis Convers --  --  -- 
11x. Lydia Convers --  --  -- 
11x. Josiah Convers (II) 15 Mar 1659/60 15 Jul 1717 (58)
"Indian Wars"
The "Indian Wars" refers to "King Philip's War" (1675-1676), a year-long struggle that erupted out of tensions with the Wampanoag tribes led by Grand Sachem Metacom, dubbed by the English as "King Phillip." Metacom's father and brother both held the position of sachem and dealt with the colonialists, but after their deaths in 1661 and 1662, respectively, Metacom took a more hostile stance. Metacom's translator and advisor, an Indian Christian convert named John Sassamon, warned the colonialists that the Wampanoags were preparing to attack the English settlements. He was murdered for his betrayal and the colonialists arrested three Wampanoags, tried them for the murder, and hanged them on June 8, 1675. Tensions gave way to violence and a year-long war broke out between the English and the Wampanoags, Podunks, Nipmuck, and Narragansett tribes in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Over 600 colonialists and 3,000 Indians died, many of disease, and most of the Indians were driven north and west into French territories.

Josiah moved from Charlestown to Woburn with his father in 1641 and became a freeman (voter) in 1651. He later ascended to deacon of the Church of Woburn in 1674.

Judging from Deacon Convers' later burial, he likely served as an officer during the "Indian Wars."

Deacon Josiah Convers died on February 3, 1689/90, in Woburn. He was about 71 years old and is buried among the officers of the "Indian Wars" at the First Burial Ground of Woburn and his headstone is the oldest surviving in the cemetery.

Esther (Champney) Convers died 24 years later on April 5, 1713. She was about 83 years old.

Lieutenant James CONVERSE (Sr.) (1620-1715)

12. Lieutenant James Convers (Sr.) was Christened on November 29, 1620, in South Weald, Essex County, England. He sailed to Massachusetts with his parents and and three siblings in 1630. He first settled in Charlestown, Suffolk County, on the north bank of the river opposite Boston, and was one of the signatores that established the town. In 1641 he resettled in Woburn, Middlesex County and married Anne Long on October 24, 1643. They had as many as ten children:

12A. Anna Convers 15 Jul 1644 30 Jan 1644/45 (6 mos.)
12B. James Convers (Jr.) 16 Nov 1645 8 Jul 1706 (60)
12C. Deborah Convers 26 Jul 1647 --  -- 
12D. Sarah Convers 21 Apr 1649 20 Feb 1691/92 (41)
12E. Rebecca Convers 15 May 1651 1733 (82)
12F. Lydia Convers 8 Mar 1652/53 20 May 1655 (2)
12G. Edward Convers 27 Feb 1654/55 26 Jul 1692 (38)
12H. Mary Convers 29 Dec 1656 6 Nov 1691 (34)
12I. Abigail Convers 13 Oct 1658 25 Jan 1689/90 (31)
12J. Ruth Convers 12 Feb 1660/61 --  -- 

Anne (Long) Convers died on August 10, 1691, in Woburn. She was 68 years old.

James married Anna Sparhawke, later that year, in Cambridge, Middlesex County.

Lieutenant James Convers (Sr.) died on May 10, 1715, in Woburn. He was 94 years old and the last surviving signatore of the Charlestown Town Orders. He is buried at the First Burial Ground of Woburn.

Mary (CONVERS THOMPSON) SHELDON (1622-)

13. Mary Convers was born about 1622 in South Weald, Essex County, England. She sailed to Massachusetts as a young girl with her parents and and three siblings in 1630. She married Simon Thompson on December 19, 1643, and had nine children. After Simon's death in 1658, she appears to have married John Sheldon and had one more son:

13x. Josiah Thompson --  --  -- 
13x. James Thompson --  --  -- 
13x. Samuel Thompson --  --  -- 
13x. Jonathan Thompson 4 Apr 1645 --  -- 
13x. Sarah Thompson 20 Feb 1646/47 --  -- 
13x. James Thompson 20 Mar 1648/49 4 Sep 1685 (37)
13x. Mary Thompson 25 Jan 1650/51 --  -- 
13x. Ann Thompson 10 Jul 1655 --  -- 
13x. Rebecca Thompson May 1658 --  -- 

13x. John Sheldon (Jr.) 24 Apr 1660 27 Aug 1724 (64)

Sergeant Samuel CONVERS (I)2 (1637/38-1668/69)

16. Sergeant Samuel Convers (I)2 was born on March 12, 1637/38, in Charlestown, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, the first Convers born in the New World. He married Judith Carter on June 8, 1660, in Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. They had at least two children:

161. Samuel Converse (II)3 4 Apr 1662 9 Feb 1731/32 (68)
162. Abigail Convers Apr 1665 14 Jul 1689 (24)

Samuel Convers carried the title of "sergeant," but so far I have not found the nature of his military service.

Sergeant Samuel Convers (I) died on February 20, 1668/69, in Woburn. He was about 31 years old.

Judith (Carter) Convers lived another ten years and died of small pox on October 3, 1678, in Charlestown, Suffolk County. She was about 37 years old.

Samuel CONVERSE (II)3 (1662-1731/32)

161. Samuel Converse (II)3 was born on April 4, 1662, in Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He married Dorcas Abigail Pain, probably before 1694 in Charlestown, Suffolk County. They had six children, all born in Woburn:

1611. Samuel Converse (III) 26 May 1694 --  -- 
1612. Edward Converse 25 Sep 1696 9 Jul 1784 (87)
1613. Thomas Converse (Sr.) 28 Oct 1699 (1760) (60)
1614. Dorcas Convers 1 Feb 1701/02 --  -- 
1615. Pain Converse (I)4 25 Nov 1706 10 Sep 1781 (74)
1616. Josiah Converse 20 Nov 1714 --  -- 
New England History

Samuel lived through tumultuous times. When he was 13 years old, New England settlers battled a confederation of Native Americans led by the Wampanoag in the so-called "King Philip's" (Chief Metacom) War (1675-1676) in which more than half of the 90 towns of New England were touched by war. Samuel's eldest brother Josiah likely served during the war.

England's Catholic King James II was deposed in 1688 by his Dutch Protestant son-in-law, William of Orange, and fled to France. William ascended the English throne as William III jointly with Queen Mary II and went to war with the Grand Alliance (League of Augsburg) against France in the Nine Years' War (1688-1697). The North American theater of this war, known as King William's War (1689–1697), the first of the French and Indian Wars, saw battles between the English and French in French Canada, Maine, and New Hampshire.

Finally, the mass hysteria of Salem Witch Trials (1692-1693), which took 19 lives, struck to the northeast of Woburn.

In 1710, the Converse family left Woburn and moved southwest to Thompson Parish, which at the time was erroneously considered to be in Massachusetts but later was ceded to modern-day Windham County, Connecticut. Here they purchased Richard Evans' northern farm as Evans removed to Providence, Rhode Island.[Larned 168]

Windham County
The northern tier of counties in modern-day Connecticut lay on the Massachusetts side of a 1642 survey but was claimed by Connecticut in its survey of 1695. The neighboring town of Woodstock, formerly New Roxbury, to the west of Thompson, had been confirmed to be part of Massachusetts in 1713 when the state line was setttled. The rest of the area became part of Windham County when it was established in 1726. Woodstock was later ceded by Worcester County, Massachusetts, to the Connecticut Colony in 1749. The modern town Thompson was established in 1785.

"The first settler in the vicinity of Quinnatisset Hill was Samuel Converse of Woburn, who secured a deed of land from Richard Evans in 1710, and with his wife and five sons settled about a mile south of the hill-top. The Killingly settlers were near him on the south, but northward to the old towns of Oxford and Mendon the country was savage wilderness, its rude paths only designated by marks on tree trunks. Mr. CONVERSE's dwelling-house stood near the Boston road, and furnished rest and entertainment to many a passing traveler."[Larned 174] "Quinnatisset, when thus assumed by Connecticut, was mostly a savage wilderness; its few settlers, Dresser, Howe, Jewett, Younglove, Converse and the squatter, Spalding--scattered along its southern and western borders."[Larned 176]

"Samuel Converse, for fifty pounds conveyed 'a part of High Plain, near Quinnatisset, to Urian Horsmor of Woodstock, in 1716."[Larned 177]

Samuel and four grown sons joined in to begin building the first meeting house in September 1728 in Thompson common. Son Edward was named one of the six supervisors to coordinate the raising of the meeting house and oversee exterior completion of it based on the Woodstock meeting house. It was completed 11 months later and services were first held in it on August 1. Finally, in February 1730 the church was officially formed with Marston Cabot as its pastor and with Samuel, Edward, and Thomas among the 28 signatories.[Larned 305-312]

Dorcas Abigail (Pain) Convers died in Thompson Parish.

Samuel Convers (II) died in Thompson Parish on February 9, 1731/32. He was about 68 years old.

Sources
  • Larned, Ellen Douglas. History of Windham County, Connecticut: 1600-1760. Worcester, Massachusetts: 1874

Samuel CONVERS (III) (1694-)

1611. Samuel Convers (III) was born on May 26, 1694, in Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He moved to Thompson Parish, Windham County, Connecticut, likely with his parents, either just before or soon after marrying Hannah Bartlett on December 11, 1716. They had five children, all born in Thompson Parish:

16111. Ruth Convers 28 May 1718 --  -- 
16112. Amwell Convers 20 Jun 1722 --  -- 
16113. Hannah Convers 12 Apr 1724 --  -- 
16114. Dorcas Convers 12 Apr 1724 21 Nov 1734 (10)
16115. Samuel Convers 30 Jun 1728 (Infancy) -- 

Hannah (Bartlett) Convers died just four months after their last child's birth, on November 2, 1728. She was about 28 years old.

Samuel remarried two years later to Sarah Atwell on May 5, 1731, in Thompson.

Ensign Edward CONVERS (1696-1784)

1612. Ensign Edward Convers was born on September 25, 1696, in Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He moved as a young adult with his parents to Thompson Parish, Windham County, Connecticut. There he married Elizabeth Cooper on August 6, 1717. They had nine children:

16121. James Convers (Sep 1719) 13 Dec 1753 (34)
16122. Edward Convers (II) 8 Nov 1720 9 Dec 1800 (80)
16123. Jonathan Convers (28 Apr 1723) --  -- 
16124. Jacob Convers 26 Feb 1726/27 --  -- 
16125. Asa Convers 30 Sep 1730 --  -- 
16126. Jesse Convers 30 Nov 1732 --  -- 
16127. Zacharias Convers 4 Apr 1736 --  -- 
16128. Elizabeth Convers 29 Mar 1738 --  -- 
16129. Susanna Convers 28 Oct 1741 Aug 1833 (91)

Elizabeth (Cooper) Convers died on February 19, 1776, in Thompson, Windham County, Connecticut. She was 76 years old.

Edward Convers died eight years later on July 9, 1784, in Thompson. He was 87 years old.

Thomas CONVERS (Sr.) (1699-~1760)

1613. Thomas Convers (Sr.) was born on October 28, 1699, in Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. He moved to Thompson Parish, Windham County, Connecticut with his parents in his late teens. There he married Martha Clough on April 11, 1723, and had three children before her untimely death in 1735. Two years later, Thomas remarried to Abigail Fay and had six children, all born in Windham County:

16131. Martha Convers (1727) --  -- 
16132. Ebenezer Convers 27 Jul 1730 8 May 1741 (10)
16133. Tabitha Convers 4 Jun 1732 Mar 1744/45 (11)

16134. Thomas Converse (Jr.) 5 Nov 1738 1809 (70)
16135. Samuel Converse 7 Aug 1740 --  -- 
16136. Abigail Converse 18 Nov 1744 --  -- 
16137. David Converse, Sr. 2 Jul 1746 1829 (83)
16138. Tabitha Converse 5 Mar 1748/49 --  -- 
16139. Joel Converse, Sr. 2 Sep 1750 29 Jun 1822 (71)

Martha (Clough) Convers died on June 18, 1735, at about the age of 32.

Thomas Convers died about 1760 in Thompson. He was about 60 years old.

Dorcas (CONVERS) WHITMORE (1701/02-)

1614. Dorcas Convers was born on February 1, 1701/02, in Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. She moved with her parents as a teenager to Thompson Parish, Windham County, Connecticut. There she married Daniel Whitmore and had 12 children, all born in Killingly, Windham County, Connecticut:

1614A. Margaret Whitmore 30 Dec 1723 --  -- 
1614B. Daniel Whitmore (Jr.) 18 Mar 1724/25 --  -- 
1614C. Dorcas Whitmore 7 Nov 1226 --  -- 
1614D. Martha Whitmore 20 May 1728 --  -- 
1614E. Josiah Whitmore 1 Mar 1729/30 --  -- 
1614F. Moses Whitmore 7 Oct 1731 --  -- 
1614G. Abigail Whitmore 5 Jul 1733 --  -- 
1614H. Aaron Whitmore 27 Mar 1735 --  -- 
1614I. Elizabeth Whitmore 13 Mar 1736/37 --  -- 
1614J. Mehitable Whitmore 20 May 1739 --  -- 
1614K. Thankful Whitmore 20 Dec 1740 --  -- 
1614L. Daniel Whitmore 25 Dec 1741 --  -- 

Pain CONVERS (I)4 (1706-1781)

1615. Pain Convers (I)4 was born in Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, on November 25, 1706. As a boy, he and his family moved to Thompson Parish, Windham County, Connecticut. There he married Mary Halford about 1733, and had four children, all born in Thompson Parish:

16151. Mary Convers 1 Aug 1734 --  -- 
16152. Pain Converse (II)5 28 Oct 1739 29 Mar 1800 (60)
16153. Bathsheba Convers 8 Dec 1741 --  -- 
16154. Stephen Convers, Sr. 5 Aug 1745 2 Oct 1823 (78)
Contemporary Events
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  • 1723-1750: Johann Sebastian Bach famed in Leipzig
  • 1723: Vivaldi's The Four Seasons
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  • 1752: Great Britain adopts the Gregorian calendar of 1582
  • 1753: Great Britain adopts January 1st as the first day of the year (formerly March 25th)
  • 1754-1763: French and Indian War between Great Britain and France erupts into the global Seven Years' War in 1756
  • 1755: Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language
  • 1760-1820: King George III
  • 1764: Gothic fiction emerges
  • 1773: Boston Tea Party; British blockade of Boston
  • 1774: First Continental Congress boycotts British goods
  • 1775-1783: American Revolutionary War
  • 1776: Declaration of Independence
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Pain Convers died in Thompson Parish on September 10, 1781, one month before Washington's victory over Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. Pain is buried at the West Thompson Cemetery in Windham County. He was 74 years old.

Mary (Halford) Convers died nine years later on April 5, 1790, in Thompson Parish. She was about 83 years old.


Pain CONVERSE (II)5 (1739-1800)

16152. Pain Converse (II)5 was born on October 28, 1739, in Thompson Parish, Windham County, Connecticut. He married Mary Lee on December 11, 1760, in Thompson Parish. They had as many as ten children, all born in Thompson Parish:

16152A. Jeremiah Converse, Sr. 4 Aug 1761 26 Jun 1837 (75)
16152B. Bernard Converse, Sr. 15 Jan 1764 17 Mar 1806 (42)
16152C. Elias Converse 15 Oct 1767 18 Feb 1840 (72)
16152D. Hamblin Converse 15 Oct 1767 9 Aug 1847 (79)
16152E. Levina Converse 8 Aug 1769 --  -- 
16152F. Alfred Converse 25 May 1772 18 Jan 1849 (76)
16152G. Orinda Converse 27 Nov 1774 1776 (1)
16152H. Pain Converse (III) 4 Jun 1777 Feb 1864 (86)
16152I. Erastus Converse 5 Oct 1780 1859 (78)
16152J. Gardner Converse 7 Apr 1782 12 Apr 1839 (57)

The Daughters of the American Revolution hold that Pain turned out at Killingly following the British clash with continental militia in the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. As an ensign he marched to the relief of Boston, but it is unclear whether or not he served directly in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17. Pain went on to rise to the rank of lieutenant and captian, and commanded a company of the 11th Regiment of Connecticut Militia, under Colonel Ebenezer Williams. He marched his company to reinforce Washington at New York (August-October 1776) and later continued on to command a company in the 4th Battalion of Connecticut State Troops under Colonel John Ely, whose battalion served in Rhode Island in 1777.[SR-NY]

Probably after Pain's mother died in 1790, the Converse family moved from Connecticut to Bridport, Addison County, Vermont. Many of their grown children also moved to Vermont as well. The following year Vermont was admitted as the 14th state of the United States after seceding from New York and declaring independence 14 years earlier.

Pain Converse (II) died at the age of 60 on March 29, 1800, in Bridport.

Mary (Lee) Converse died nine years later on December 13, 1809, in Bridport. She was about 75 years old.

Missing Link to Erastus?

Judging from the migration of this family to Vermont and later into New York and Ohio, we so far find the greatest likelihood that our line of Erastus Converse will be related. Furthermore, the appearance of the name "Erastus," for a son, and later grandsons, also strongly suggest a relation.

Sources
  • SR-NY: Year Book of the Sons of the Revolution in the State of New York. New York: Sons of the Revolution, New York Society, 1909