Saturday, March 19, 2011

Notable Women Ancestors: Elizabeth Martin Colman

Elizabeth was born on 12 June 1744 in Lunenburg, Massachusetts. She was the sixth of twelve children of John Martin and Elizabeth Thomson. The family had moved west from Ipswich about 1739. These were unsettled times on the "frontier" and Lunenburg was the fortified center of the region.

Her father died before she was twelve years old, and a month before the birth of her twin sisters, Prudence and Patience. He had been in the militia, but the cause of his death is not found. The family remained in the area and we must assume that her mother remarried, but the record has not been found. It is hard to imagine being a mother of 12 alone at any time, but somehow she went on. Elizabeth named David Goodridge as her guardian in documents filed with the Worcester County Courts. That is where her signature (above) was found. In 1762 her father’s property was probated and Elizabeth received a parcel of approximately 3.6 acres adjacent to the “widow’s wood lot.” In 1767 the property was transferred to David Goodridge.

When John Martin died his estate included a “note of James Colman.” Elizabeth married James’ son Job on 20 February 1766 in Lunenburg. Her sister Susannah married Job’s brother Benjamin Colman a few years later. Their first child, Mary, was born at or near Lunenburg on 15 October 1766. Son Samuel was born 28 September 1768 in Ashburnham. He was followed by Elizabeth on 11 August 1770.

About 1772 the family moved west to Shelburne. Another son, John, was born on 21 June of that year. Their farm was near the Deerfield River and neighbors included the Parker Dole family. Children born in Shelburne included Rachel Andrews born 21 June 1774 and Benjamin born 3 July 1776, who died just after his first birthday, on 18 August 1777. He was buried in the Shelburne hill cemetery. Other children were lost to an epidemic that summer, including neighbor Enoch Dole.

Job served in the Revolutionary War, marching with the Minutemen on 20 April 1775 for 15 days, and again for 36 days in 1777. The time he was away was short, but the uncertainty of the times must have weighed on the family.

Daughter Rhoda was born in Shelburne 18 May 1778, followed by Benjamin on 9 October 1780, Joseph Emerson on 21 December 1783, Zenus on 21 October 1785, and Zur on 15 June 1789. Elizabeth had borne 11 children before she was 46.

About 1796 the family moved north to Royer Road in the town of Heath, MA. There are reports that they may have operated a tavern. Their property was located at a crossroads known as "Colman's corner." Mary, Samuel, and Rachel had already married. Mary lived nearby with her husband Thomas Town and children. Samuel and Rachel had moved west to central New York state. Shortly after the turn of the seventeenth century Benjamin moved to Vermont and John may have followed to New York.

The Colman family was stricken by typhus, along with some neighbors, in 1805. That summer must have been unimaginably painful for Elizabeth. Rhoda died on 8 July at the age of 27; Zenus died on 2 August at the age of 20; Joseph Emerson died on 5 August at the age of 22. A month later her husband Job died on 2 September at the age of 64, and Elizabeth succumbed on 25 October 1895. She was 61 years old. No monuments mark their graves in the Shelburne hill cemetery. The youngest, Zur, was spared. He lived in Phelps, NY for a time and ended his life in Michigan.

A detailed inventory of the estate was performed and it paints a picture of their domestic life. There was livestock and a sleigh. Their home was populated by a looking glass, a clock, five beds, a chest, a large bible and psalm book, as well as a book of music. The table had seven plates, a fancy bowl, platter, butterboat, teapot. They had 14 sheets, towels and pillow cases. The image "one cotton sock, unfinished" brings a picture to mind of the knitting basket by the fire.


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  2. Sara, we are cousins! Distant cousins, of course, but cousins all the same. I am descended from Job and Elizabeth's daughter, Elizabeth who married David Beadle. She and David can be found in the 1800 census living in Otsego County, New York where her brother Samuel and his wife Nabby are living as well. David died at the age of 34 in 1802 and I have not been able to find the family until David's son David is married to Mary Millard in Farmington, Ontario, New York. From what I've found, I think Samuel and Elizabeth must have been very close. I would love to compare notes with you.

  3. Hooray! I love making the female connections. I see you have my friend Midge in your "circle." Are you on Facebook?

  4. Job's will includes his daughter Elizabeth Reed.