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Full text of "Record of the Stevens family presented to Charles Tracy Stevens and Emeline N. Upson"

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3 1833 00662 9197 

i^ CLEVELAND, ^^ \ 

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Hepriuted from tb6 oriKlnal docuiueutti by H. WAi.tu Lines, 
MEHiDEN, Conn., March, 1898, 



Unto you is tliis old manuscript most respectfully presented, 

not for the intrinsic value thereof, but as a memorial to be 

handed down to the latest posterity, that each 

one may see from whence he derived 

his pedigree, 

And here follows the regular line Family of Stevens : 

Timothy Stevens, bom in Bristol, Wales. 
Joseph Stevens, born in Hartford, Conn., in 1705. 
Elisha Stevens, born in Glastenbury, Conn., in 1752. 
Oliver Stevens, born in VVaterbury, Conn., 1782. 
Charles Tracy Stevens, born in Edmonston, N.Y., in 

To Miss Emeline M. Upson. 

This is most respectfully presented by her grandfather 
Oliver Stevens, fourth son of Elisha Stevens, who was five 
years in the revolutionary war, and was in the battle of Mon- 
mouth under Gen. Washington, and in the battle of the Brandy- 
wine under Gen. LaFayette, and under Gen. Washington at the 
taking of Lord Cornwallis at York Town, which secured the 
independence of the United States of America, and was in 
several oilier small engagements throughout the Colonies of 
Great Britain. He emigrated from Glastenbury, Conn., and 
was the eleventh son of Joseph Stevens, who was born in Hart- 
ford, Conn., but settled in Glastenbury, and was the third or 
fourth son of Timothy Stevens, who emigrated from Bristol, 
England, with three brothers, and landed in Boston, and was 
the first orthodox minister that was ever settled in Hartford,* 
as will be found in the late history of Connecticut, and who de- 

•Probably error of writer. Barber's History, page 520, says: Timothy 
Stephens, first minister at Glastenbury, ordained October — , 1693. Died April 
16th, 1725. 


— 4 — 

scended from an ancient family in Wales, who by deeds of 
valour unrler the reign of King Alfred l)ecame entitled to a 
coat of arms, which were (but I am not certain) a gold em- 
erald shield with cross swords and a tasseled . 

This is but a small part of the memorandum of Elisha 
Stevens' services in the army of the revolution of 1776, which 
planted the tree of liberty, whose branches in my humble 
opinion will extend in the course of 150 or 2CX) years lo the 
earth's remotest bounds, by which time all nations will have 
tasted of the blessed fruits thereof, and become completely 

This manuscript having never been discovered until after 
the death of the author, my father, which was in March 1813, 
and then it was so little thought of, that the heirs slung it into 
an old chest of drawers among some old writings which were 
considered to be of no value, and I, living in the state of New 
York at the time, had no knowledge of it until twenty years 
after. The Congress of the United States then having passed 
a law that all widows after 1833, of deceased husbands, should, 
by procuring sufficient evidence, draw half that their husbands 
were receiving when they were discharged from the army of 
the revolution. When the law was first enacted the rest of 
the heirs thought it to be impracticable, and when I was in- 
formed of the fact I immediately commenced my operations, 
and after a few days' or two weeks' hard toiling and grubbing 
my mother happened to recollect something about this book, 
and search was immediately made for it; and as illegible as 
it is and as poorly spelt, and, no doubt, much of it written 
in a hurry and bustle of a camp ground, it proved to be 
worth (with some other small testimony that is that she 
was married to my father in the time of the revolution) a 
little more than five hundred dollars, and as poor as it was 
written and as illegible and as unintelligible as it may appear 
to those who are not interested with the contents, it may be a 
sort of satisfaction to those descendants who are fond of and 
are undoubtedly right to feel a sort of pride to be able to trace 
their pedigree to the country from which they took their migra- 
tion. It is a gratification to me at this late day to think that I 

— 5 — 

have (unlike many Yankees) taken the pains, and can trace my 
pecUgree as far back, 1 think, as any otlier man in this country, 
with tolerable degree of certainty, and I never have found but 
one of my name who was capable of doing it any further back 
than the third generation. But my principal object, which is to 
transfer to my posterity the active part which my father and 
several of his brothers took in the hard struggle for that 
liberty which they and I sincerely hope under God may enjoy 
until the end of time ; it api^ears that my father began a journal, 
and for the want of time or several causes that interfered, he 
never was able to comi)lete it, f(jr he was in land service five 
years, and was not discharged until the fighting was all over, 
which was in 1782, and peace was ratified in 1783. 

I will now write, as near as my memory serves (which I 
think is in no way impaired), t^ie hi.^^tory of my father's 
services as related to me, and not only to me directly, but a 
great many long evenings I have sat in one corner of the fire- 
side and listened to their tales of hardship and some of their 
forced marches; they would talk over with as much glee as 
if they had been on a party of pleasure, and then again the 
extreme suffering that they witnessed and endured themselves, 
especially the fifth year of the war when by desertions and other 
distressing causes our army was reduced to about fifteen 
hundred (while the enemy had twenty thousand) effective 
men and then without food and clothing; there they would 
talk over with a great deal of feeling. When war was declared 
my father and three of his brothers, viz: Samuel, Joseph and 
Ashbell, went on board of different privateers. Ashbell was 
a lad of fourteen years old, was taken prisoner and carried to 
Halifax, and was never afterward heard from. Joseph, in 
the course of the war, was taken prisoner and died on board of 
the Jersey prison ship at Wallabout, where our navy yard now 
is on Long Island. Samuel, 1 believe, continued privateering 
more or less through the war, and at last became master of a 
vessel. My father, coming off from a cruise, landed at New 
London, hearing of the death of his wife and his youngest son 
Oliver (after whom I was named), returned home to Glasten- 
bury on the Connecticut river, settled his affairs, left directions 

— 6 — 

about his two little surviving boys, Elisha and David, and en- 
listed into the land service during the war; and as it respects the 
battle of the Rrandywine, what he has neglected in writing, I 
shall make up the deiiciency as I received it verbally from his 
own mouth, after I had arrived to the stature of a man. The 
British landed here under cover of their cannon, which was 
loaded with canister, grape and chain shot, togt-lher with bomb 
shells, plowing in every direction. On. LaFayettc commanded 
and led his men into action in solid columns, and the fire took 
such effect that it would cut a swarth right through and sweep 
down whole companies as it were in an instant, upon which our 
men could close and fill up the vacancy and in an instant have 
the same fate ; the General got wounded and our army retreated. 
This has the name of being the hardest fought battle, accord- 
ing to the duration of time, of any during the whole course of 
the war. The next, which was the battle of Germantown, 
does not vary much from what T have heard him relate, except 
that Gen. Stevens paid too much attention to an old church 
which was of but little consequence, as it contained but about 
250 British and Tories, and by which means he lost the victory 
and his reputation. The next, in June, 1778, was the battle 
of Monmouth, of which I perceive he has but a small sketch. 
As 1 have heard him in conversation with other old soldiers 
who were in the action, that the day after Gen. Lee commenced 
the attack, the action became general, and was strongly con- 
tested through the day until both sides were overcome with 
heat and so exhausted that they left the field of liattle, and 
neither gained the victory; and further T don't recollect much 
about him, except he was some time at West Point, sometimes 
skirmishing about in the Middle States under LaFayette or 
Count DcKalb, and the last and great movement he was under 
Washington at Kingsbridge, who was at that time rallying all 
his forces at different stations contiguous to New York, as 
though he was going to maVe a desperate rush to retake it from 
the enemv. as it was then in their possesion, and to carry out 
his design more complete he had letters intercepted which fell 
into the hands of the enemy which confirmed their opinion 
that this was his intention, and the time arrived when every 
thing was properly arranged ; every man was ordered under 

— 7 — 

arms at sundown and crossed the Hudson river above New 
York in the night, and the next morning at dayHght they were 
all under way for Yorktown in Virginia, where lay Cornwallis 
with the flower of the British army in America, and Count 
DeEstang, according to previous arrangements, had left Klunle 
Island with the French fleet, and arrived in the Chesapeake the 
day previous to the arrival of Washington with his army by land, 
so that they were now prepared to make a simultaneous attack 
upon the enemy, both by land and sea. They fought one day 
with the enemy, and the evening found them loosing ground", 
and plead for an armistice for the term of thirty days; but 
there was but twenty-four hours allowed, for Washington did 
not mean to allow Cornwallis an opportunity of obtaining rein- 
forcements from Lord Howe who then was in New York with 
a large army and a powerful fleet. The enemy improved every 
moment of these twenty-four hours in making additions to their 
fortifications, but as soon as they were up the French fleet 
opened a heavy fire upon them, and Gen. Washington attacked 
them with heavy artillery and small arms at every vulnerable 
point by land, which in the course of half a day of hard fight- 
ing his Lordship thought it most prudent, however mortifying 
it was, to surrender to the despised rebel Yankees, as he had 
formerly pleased to call them ; on making out the terms of 
surrender his Lordship requested one indulgence, that is, that 
they should not be compelled to march out of their own encamp- 
ment under the tune of "Yankee Doodle,"as this was a tune 
composed by the British as a disgrace to the Yankees; but Gen. 
Washington left that to his generals to decide upon, and they 
agreed that they should be favored with the tune, as it was of 
their own composition, and one that they had much delighted 
in. Thus fell fourteen thousand of his Britannic Majesty's 
troops into the hands of the Americans, together with all their 
arms, ammunition and baggage, and what of the l^ritish fleet 
there was, were surrendered to the French. This was the finish- 
ing stroke of eight years of hard struggle for liberty, and your 
grandfather, Elisha Stevens, had as much to do with it as any 
other man, according to his capacity, for he was seven long 
years in the service of his country both by sea and land and 

— 8 — 

after the ratification of the treaty of peace he was honorably 
discharp^cd at West Point and returned liome. Much unhke 
very many young men, who, when tliey enlist into tlie army, go 
in with unblemished characters but when they return home 
they will have imliibed all the bad habits of a soldier's life; but 
when he and those of his brothers (John, Elijah, David and 
James) who survived the tup^ of war, returned with unblemish- 
ed characters, exccptinj^: my uncle IClijah, he was somewhat 
given to drink, but I suppose died a reformed man. My uncle 
Peter he was in the army, but being young he stayed at home 
to raise produce, but after the war he settled in Vermont, 
raised a large family and became very rich. Uncle Thomas 
had not much to do with the war, but was very useful in ship- 
building at Glastenbury and he had two sons that were also in 
the same business. My uncle Daniel had lived in Philadelphia 
from the time he was fourteen years of age, had followed the 
Liverpool trade until he had become immensely rich, and when 
the British took Philadelphia, he had two heavy ships and a 
wholesale store of goods, all of which fell into the hands of 
the enemy; but after the war, he, together with his sons, soon 
recovered and became men of wealth. Uncle Elijah moved 
from Glastenbury (which I have as yet omitted to mention, is 
the native place of my grandfather and all my uncles on my 
father's side) to Vermont where he raised a family of boys, 
and some of them, I understand, have done well. Uncle 
Samuel, after accumulating a handsome property by seafaring, 
settled in Lanesborough, Mass., raised three sons; and they 
were men of brst class. Uncle James moved to Eowville, N. 
Y., where he raised two sons. Uncle Joseph, who died on 
board of the prison ship, I think left two sons, and, for what 
I know now, live in Glastenbury. My uncle John moved to San- 
dersficld, Mass., and, I think, every one of my uncles were pro- 
fessors of religion, and were all firm supporters of good society 
and well established republican government. My father was a 
man six feet in height, well proportioned and of undaunted 
courage, and commanded respect amongst all classes of people 
of every age and was very fond of giving good advice to young 
people of both sexes, was very liberal to the poor, but in this 

case he was careful not to let his left hand know what his 
right hand did. He was a firm supporter of the preaching of 
the gospel and very public spirited and was for more than 
twenty years in some public business; he was very systematic 
in his family, which was large, for he commonly had eight or 
ten besides his own children. His hours of devotion were 
regularly attended, both night and morning, and holy time, 
twenty hours, was strictly kept for the Sabbath by his family, 
apprentices, journeyman and the stranger that was within his 
gates. He was deacon of the Congregational Church for about 
thirty years. He carried on the largest business of tanning, 
currying and shoe making of any man in the county of New 
Haven, and, I believe, of any in the state. He was somewhat 
illiterate, but of a powerful mind. Besides raising a large 
family, he accumulated a handsome property. He had three 
children by his first wife: Elisha, who settled in Lowville, N. 
Y., and had three sons and one daughter; David, who settled 
in his native town, VVaterbury, and had three sons and five 
daughters; Oliver, who died an infant. By his second wife he 
had eleven children, eight sons and three daughters, viz: Oliver 
(which is myself), Ashbell, Rebecka, Ransom, Barzilla, Milton, 
Clarissa, Hershall, Harvey, Alfred, Minerva, all of whom lived 
to have families but two, Barzilla and Harvey, the oldest of 
which till he was sixteen, and me and our children are all 
scattered about the State, except David and Ashbell they settled 
in their native town, VVaterbury ; but some of their children 
have moved to Alabama and four of Ashbell's have gone to 
Cincinnati, Ohio. 

I must be excused, in my haste I have omitted one other 
engagement my father was in which was a severe one, under 
Gen. Gates at Camden with Lord Cornwallis, and which Gates 
lost by mismanagement, and with it all the glory and honor he 
had acquired by taking Burgoyne and his ten thousand men at 
Saratoga, at the northward ; so, of course, his northern laurels 
dwindled into southern willows. And now, Charles Tracy, as 
you are my fifth and youngest son, and I cannot do by you as 
I would were it in my power, I take some satisfaction in leav- 
ing this behind me with you as a sort of legacy, not for nny in- 


— 10 — 

trinsic value h\it as a memorial that }'our ancesters had the 
honor of taking an active part in the great struggle for that 
liberty we are now enjoying, and which your descendants dow n 
for generations to come, no douhl, notwithstanding the rough 
appearance of this old manuscript, will esteem to be worth 
possessing, some on account of its antiquity, and some on ac- 
count of its information they can receive from, as it respects 
their pedigree, and from what country they came from on the 
other sifle of the great waters. I myself was born in Water- 
bury, New Haven county, Connecticut, and am the fourth son 
of Elisha Stevens, who was born in Glastenbury, Conn., and 
was the fifth son of Joseph Stevens who was born in Hartford, 
and, if I am not mistaken, he was one of seven or eight son3 
(now I am coming to where I do know from all old writings 
which are now extant in some parts of the State unless they 
have been lost). Timothy Stevens who was the first orthodox 
minister that was ever settled in Hartford, Conn., as I have 
seen from some of my ancestors' writings, and it is also men- 
tioned in one of the histories of Connecticut, and my father 
had some books, such as law books, etc., that his grandfather 
Timothy brought from England, that was printed in the reign 
of Queen Anne, King James the Second. This my great- 
grandfather, Timothy Stevens, was one of three brothers who 
came over from Bristol in Wales into Boston. One by the 
name of Samuel settled in New Hampshire. Joseph, the third, 
was a sea- faring man and married in Boston. My great- 
grandfather received his education at the famous University 
in Oxford, England. These three brothers were the descend- 
ants of an ancient family in Wales, where but a few years ago 
stood the ruins of an ancient castle in the time of the feudal 
system, when each great T^rd had his particular coat of arms, 
and as many armed tenants as his estate would with princely 
dignity maintain. The Stevens coat of arms were an enameled 
shield, a brawny arm with an uplifted broad sword, tasseied 
hurlbent, and the head, neck and shoulders of a horse, well 
caparisoned. And now all these descendants who shall for 
ages to come feel anyways interested in this little narrative. 

— 11 — 

I do not hesitate in the least in affirming that the foregoing 
is substantially true (although somewhat abridged), and as I 
received it from my father, and some books belonging to my 
great-grandfather, printed in England. 


A. D. 1844.