December 4, 2015

Benjamin Hanks & Abigail Heiford Descendants

Note:  There is no proof that Benjamin Hanks is related to Abraham Lincoln

All of the branches of the Hanks Family in England and America seem to have come from the town of Malmesbury in Wiltshire.  

The Hanks family was an inventive group. At one time, they became the Nations largest producers of silk by importing the first mulberry trees from England and planting them in Connecticut and raising silk worms. Soon they invented and improved the apparatus for making silk into thread and constructed the first powered silk mill in the United States. The family built numerous forges 

 Benjamin Hanks migrated to New England about 1699. Benjamin Hanks married about 1700 Abigail Heiford daughter of John Heiford and Abigail  Albins. There is some confusion with LDS on the marriage of Abigail Heiford to a Thomas Washburn, this was Abigail Atkins Heiford not her daughter Abigail Heiford.  Benjamin Hanks and Abigail Heiford had 12 children.  Abigail died in 1726 and Benjamin remarried Mary Corbison Ripley widow of William Ripley.

Benjamin Hanks, Jr. son of Benjamin Hanks and Abigail Heiford was born July 16, 1702. He married Mary White in Pembroke Marshfield, MA, 23 Apr. 1724. Mary was the daughter of John Hanks' good friend Richard White. They moved to Sasquish Island (now Sasquish Head). On 1 May 1746 Benjamin Hanks of Plymouth, yeoman, for 275 lbs., sold to Lazarus LeBaron of Plymouth, physician, the whole of Saquish Island, together with a pew in the North West Gallery in the Meeting House of the first Precinct in the Town of Plymouth said Pew is a Wall Pew being in Number 14, and 10 acres of land in Duxbury; and his wife Mary released her rights of dower.This deed was recorded 13 May 1746. (Plymouth Deeds,: 56.) About 1746 Benjamin Hanks moved with his family from Plymouth to Mansfield, CT, where he had bought land in 1737. There at Chestnut Hill, afterwards known as Hanks Hill, he built the spacious house which is still standing and has always been known as "The Mansion House." It is an old fashioned house, with fourteen rooms on the ground floor, a great Iron frame in the sitting room, and in the parlor beyond panels three feet wide, brought from England.The parish records of Mansfield show that Benjamin Hank's wife "Mary White Hanks united with the first Congregational Church in Mansfield in 1746 having that same year sold their pew, No. 14, of the Meeting House of the first precinct in Plymouth." In "The Mansion House" on Hanks Hill, Mansfield, Benjamin Hanks lived the remainder of his life, and there he died some forty years after his removal to Connecticut. At his death he owned considerable land and many cattle.

Benjamin Hanks died in 1787 and his wife Mary dies in 1772. 

Uriah Hanks  son of Benjamin Hanks and Mary White was born 1736.   He married Irene Case daughter of Benjamin Case and Mary Manning March 18, 1755.  Uriah Hanks was the son of Benjamin and Mary White. During the Revolution, he made gunlocks, and is eligible to be claimed as a DAR or SAR patriot.  Uriah was said to be a large man, 6' 4" tall and to have born a resemblance to Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln's mother was a Hanks, but not closely related.  Uriah died on July 4, 1809 in Mansfield, CT and is buried in Storrs.   Irene died in 1807.

Benjamin Hanks, III was born October 29, 1755 in Mansfield CT to Uriah Hanks and Irene Case.   He married Alice Hovey daughter of Daniel Hovey and Elizabeth Slapp about 1775 in Windham, CT. He served as a drummer in Revolutionary War. In addition to clock making business, carried on goldsmith trade; made stockings, looms, compasses, brass cannon and large church bells. In 1779 removed to Litchfield, where in 1780 he built his home from which he carried on his business until 1790. His home served as one of Litchfield's early hotels. Removed to Mansfield CT where he "continued to make Clocks and Bells." In 1793 sold Amherst church its first bell. Set up second foundry for bell casting in Troy NY with son Truman, under firm name of BENJAMIN HANKS & SON. Received exclusive rights at October session of 1783 General Assembly to sell clocks wound by air. 

It is recorded that Benjamin learned the clockmaking trade from Thomas Harland, a noted Norwich clockmaker. Benjamin must have arrived at Harland’s doorstep with a solid mechanical background because his service with Harland had to be unusually short. Harland doesn’t arrive in Norwich until 1773 and Benjamin is said have been in the Boston area just before April of 1775. Why, well it is recorded that Benjamin served as a drummer during the Revolution and, in that role, took part in the march to Lexington in response to Paul Revere’s alarm. Shortly after, he enlisted or was assigned into General Israel Putnam’s Third Connecticut Regiment. Putnam was originally from Danvers, Massachusetts and move to Pomfret, CT in order to peruse inexpensive land. Putnam rushed north when he received news of the Battle at Lexington and Concord and joined the Patriot cause. He was a primary figure at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Perhaps Benjamin knew Putnam from his time in Connecticut? During this tumultuous time in our Country’s history, Hanks is said to have spent time working in a foundry owned by Paul Revere during and after the war. And yet, he still had time to married Alice Hovey about 1775 in Windham CT. (Alice Hovey was born on 15 Dec 1754 in Mansfield Center CT, christened on 19 Jan 1755 in Mansfield Center CT and died in Troy NY.

By 1777, at the age of twenty-two, Benjamin Hanks advertises form Windham, Connecticut as a Clock and Watchmaker and that he continued in the metal-smith’s trade making (according to an advertisement from the late 1770s) spurs, buckles, beads, hilts, clocks and watches, as well as general silver and gold work. In 1780, Benjamin moves to Litchfield, CT and builds a house and shop at 39 South Street to carry on his businesses. It is in the town of Litchfield that he performs the following accomplishments. Shortly after the move Benjamin is awarded the contract to make the clock for the Old Dutch Church at Nassau and Liberty Streets in New York City. In 1783, he petitioned the General Assembly for a patent for his invention of a clock wound automatically by air, and in 1785 advertised his clocks, Church clocks, pneumatic clocks, watches with center sweep seconds, surveyors’ compasses, etc. In 1786 he established a foundry and began casting large church bells. On the 6th of August 1787, Benjamin installs a bell in the Litchfield meeting house. The original one was broken. This bell was paid for by the society. In early 1790 he set up a “Brazier’s business.” In 1790, Benjamin moves to Mansfield where he continued to make clocks, bells and carried on the woolen business. In 1808 he and his son Truman form a partnership in the bell business and build a foundry in Troy, NY. The foundry made an assortment of items, including tower clocks, surveying tools, and church bells. One young man apprenticed at the Hanks’ West Troy foundry was Andrew Meneely who would later establish his own foundry in Troy and become one of America’s leading bell-makers.   Meneely is also buried in the Rural Cemetery in a family lot on the Middle Ridge. On the 4th of November, Benjamin was granted a patent for “Molding and Casting bells.”

Benjamin died 14 December 1824 in West Troy NY.  He is bury in Menands, Albany County New York.  Alice died January 27, 1836 in Troy NY.

Horatio Hanks was born October 1790 in Windham, CT to Benjamin Hanks and Alice Hovey.  He was a twin to sister Marcia who married Isaac Ooothout.  He married Jershua Freeman daughter of Frederick Freeman and Abigail Thompson in 1811.  Jershua is a possible descendant of William Brewster.

In 1810 Horatio Hanks erected with his uncle Rodney Hanks the first silk mill in america, where they began the manufacture of sewing silk and twist by means of machinery made by themselves and propelled by water power.  Until 1816 he lived in Mansfield, Connecticut, when he moved to West Troy, New York, where his father, Col. Benjamin Hanks, and his brother Julius were engaged in manufacturing bells, clocks, and mathematical instruments.  He remained with them until 1818, when he moved to Auburn, N.Y., and established himself as a manufacturer of jewels, theodolitis, transits, surveyors' compasses and other mechanical instruments.

 About 1826 he returned to Troy and began the manufacture of steam engines.  He afterwards engaged in the same business in Mattawan, Albany and New York.  in 1836 he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and went into business with Lucien B. Hanks and Jonathan S. Niles who were doing a large business in putting up cotton presses throughout the South.  in 1838 he moved to New Berne, N.C., where he bought a large saw mill and where he invented and first used the buzz saw.  He died in 1838 in Missisippi of typhoid fever.  Jershua Freeman died about 1856.


Sophronia Charlotte Hanks was born 10 March 1813 in Mansfield CT to Horatio Hanks and Jershua Freeman.  She married Orrin Trufant  son of David Trufant and Lydia Beal of Weymouth on September 19 1833 in Craven County, North Carolina.  In 1837 a daughter Lydia was born.  They remained in North Carolina until about 1838 when her father died and the relocated to New York where a son Edwin was born in 1839.  By 1843 their son Edgar* was born in Weymouth, MA.    Tragically Lydia died in 1859 in Weymouth and Edwin was killed  on April 2, 1863 in Gettysburg, PA during the Civil War.  Sophronia died 1 March 1887 in Braintree, MA.  Orrin died 5 March 1865 in Braintree.  

*Great Great Grandfather of David Reynolds
See also

February 27, 2015

Murder in Wrentham

For over 25 years a grave stone in a graveyard behind an Italian restaurant in Wrentham MA haunted me.  On the gravestone were the words "Died from wounds received at the hands of her husband".  I wondered what happened that made the parents so angry as to put for all eternity these words on the stone of their beloved daughter.  She was only 21.  Today I discovered what happened.  The article of the times places blame on Caroline.  I want to note, the blame belongs in the hands of her husband and no other.  No matter what she might have done, she didn't deserve to die.  Census of 1860 George was in prison in Charlestown.

"Died Sept. 13, 1857 
from wounds received at
the hands of her husband”
From the Dedham Gazette on October 3, 1857:
"Caroline was killed by a shotgun blast to the chest in her mother’s home on West Street, on September 13, 1857, by her husband George who believed her to be unfaithful with a peddler by the name of Barrows.

George was a farm laborer, who worked on the farm of John A. Craig, Esg. a former Wrentham Selectman, who lived at 566 West Street.

He had previously separated from his wife after heated arguments but they were later re-united.

Caroline had know George from their schooldays. She had also known a somewhat older man, a peddler by the name of Barrows. At 20 years of age with with short curling hair, Caroline was considered beautiful, but had a bad reputation.

On the day of the murder George Lewis and the peddler Barrows had an argument and George went home in a rage, confronted his wife and struck her several times in the eye and face. She managed to escape with a horse and wagon and went to her mother’s home. George got a shotgun and followed her on his other horse. When George found his wife in the house he fired at her and missed, but the second shot hit her in the chest and knocked her to the floor. He then used the gun as a club and struck her in the head killing her outright.

When it was over he went to the farm of his employer and reported what he had done.

George R. Lewis was reportedly a mild and inoffensive man and had always Bourne a good character even though his mother had been divorced and married a black.

The sympathy of the people of Wrentham were with him at the time of the trial. He pled guilty to manslaughter.”

January 4, 2015

88 Years ago today.....

...this little boy was born.  

Remembering Dad January 4, 1930 - December 10, 2009