Monday, February 4, 2013

Tufts’ ancestors: The Labaree family

I find it interesting that at least three of my original immigrant ancestors were named Peter: Peter Tufts, the first Tufts came from England; my Grandfather Staples’ immigrant ancestor, Peter Staples, came from England to Kittery, Maine; and Peter Labaree arrived in Salem, Massachusetts from France. All arrived before 1700.
My ancestor Jonas Tufts of Charlestown, NH married Sarah Labaree. Her grandfather, Peter Labaree (not Peter the immigrant mentioned above), was one of the first settlers of Charlestown, New Hampshire in 1750.  In 1754, he was captured by Indians.
Peter Labaree was born April 21, 1724 in Salem, Massachusetts. His father, Peter the immigrant, (1690-1740) was a French Huguenot who escaped religious persecution in France and settled in Salem. Many people have searched for more information on Peter the immigrant, but few records have been found. The history of the Huguenot persecution in France and where they escaped to is written in many references. Captive Peter (1724-1803) was early employed as a ship’s carpenter and married Ruth Putnam in 1746. (My ancestor John Tufts married Mary Putnam also of Salem. I have yet to make the connection between them.) Peter and Ruth had 9 children. The first 2 children were born in Salem and made the trip on horseback to Charlestown, NH about 1750. They are mentioned frequently in The History of Charlestown NH….1876, by Henry Hamilton Saunderson

Peter Labaree’s descendants compiled a rare book detailing the families he left and his story. History of the descendants of Peter Labaree, Charlestown, New Hampshire: genealogies and sketches of families from the French and Indian War of 1754 to the present time by Jane Labaree.  There are photocopies of this book available and it can be found at the Tuck Library in Concord, (part of the NH Historical There is also a diary kept by Peter, but I do not know where it is. I believe pages of it are privately held. If anyone has information on the diary, please let me know.

The best story I have found about his capture is A Narrative of the Captivity of Mrs. Johnson:  Together with a Narrative of James Johnson, Indian Captive of Charlestown, NH – 1757, a very well-written, easy-to-follow account written by Peter’s fellow captive, Mrs. Susanna Willard Johnson.

The story of their capture and trip to Canada is eventful. Mrs. Johnson gave birth to a child while on the trail (and named her Captive). The Indians were brutal but showed compassion for the mother. (They also knew they would receive more ransom money in Montreal if the captives lived.) Mrs. Johnson was eventually was settled in St. Francis, a large Abenaki village in Quebec. In 1757, she returned to America after suffering severely in Canadian jails. Her husband was James Johnson, a soldier, who also returned and was killed at Fort Ticonderoga in 1758.

Peter Labaree escaped from Montreal in a much different manner than Mrs. Johnson. Peter was indentured to a carpenter in Canada and won his freedom in three years time, but because of the French and Indian conflict, he was held as a prisoner of war. He finally made his escape and travelled on foot through New York in the most difficult of circumstances, unable to build fires or travel the usual Indian routes due to fear of recapture.  In 1757, Peter returned to Charlestown and his wife.

 Another descriptive version of this story can be found in Historical address at the dedication of a monument in Charlestown, N.H. 1870 by Benjamin Labaree. The address, which is quite lengthy, details some of the history of Charlestown and stories of the captivity. The audience must have had quite a bit of patience to sit through it but it’s great to read about the era, and Mr. Labaree was an eloquent scholar. Photocopies of this book can also be found from online sources (eBay).

Labaree farmhouse Charlestown NH


Peter and Ruth raised their family of nine children in a home Peter purchased in 1780. While some later families settled in Canada and Vermont, the old homestead was held in the family for many generations.  Peter and Ruth’s son Benjamin lived and died at the old home and had it moved closer to the road. His son, James, had the brick home built in 1830. It was last in posession of his grandson Carl Carey, but was finally sold out of the family in 1905.
For many years a grandfather clock was maintained in the home. It was built in 1780 by Stephen Hassam who also made numerous steeple clocks in the Connecticut River Valley. The “Labaree hall clock” was handed down from the Labaree to the Tufts family, and is still in working condition today.  A painting of one Labaree has also made it to the Tufts family but we have not determined if it is Peter the captive or one of the Benjamin Labaree descendants. Benjamin Woods Labaree of Newburyport, MA suggests it is the portrait is of Benjamin Labaree who was the president of Middlebury College from 1840 to 1866. He was also the author of the address at the dedication of the monument (above). This line of the Labaree family is full of very accomplished educators.

Peter and Ruth’s graves are in the old cemetery in Charlestown, where the monument dedicated to the captives is located.



Sarah Labaree Tufts was born May 1, 1799, daughter of Benjamin and Hannah (Farwell) Labaree. She died in 1893. Here is some information about Sarah Labaree Tufts:
“She died on her Ninety-Fourth birthday and the Seventieth anniversary of her marriage. She possessed a buoyant and radiant nature, responsive, communicative, sympathetic, with an overflow of greeting and hearty recognition at her own door, and never laying aside her active participation in the great charities of her own communion. She was an active reader and listened to reading with great avidity. She was a constant and consistent member of the Congregational Church in Walpole. We record with special interest, as one of her last benefactions, her generous gift toward the restoration of the house of God in Walpole. She had served many years in the Sabbath School as a teacher of rare intelligence of an enterprising and independent study of the word of god while her loyalty to her denominational tenets remained steadfast to the end. (” History of the descendants of Peter Labaree, Charlestown, New Hampshire: genealogies and sketches of families from the French and Indian War of 1754 to the present time by Jane Labaree.)
Robeson/Tufts home; Walpole NH
Tufts Kinsmen 2010 quote:
b.   1, Sep. 1798 in Charlestown [Somerville], Mass.
d.   3, Sep. 1879 in Walpole, N. H.
m   1, May  1823 in Charlestown, N. H.
dau of Dr. Benjamin and Hannah (Farwell) Labaree
b.   1, May 1799 in Littleton, N. H.
d.   1, May 1893 in Walpole, N. H.
had 1) Timothy, 2) Sarah, 3) James, 4) Martha F., 5) Clarissa J., 6) Susan
   JONAS originally moved to South Charlestown, N. H. where he owned a large brick house which stood on the meadow. His wife, Sarah, was a descendant of Peter Labaree who was captured by Indians with the Johnson family in 1754 and taken to Canada.  She was sister to Rev. Benjamin Labaree, who was President of Middlebury College for 20 years. They first moved to Prospect Street in Walpole but in 1876 Jonas bought the widow Susan Robeson’s house on Westminster St. East, corner of Elm, a home as steeped in patriotism as Barbara[Frietchie] . The story is told in the Walpole history: On the night of Mrs. Robeson’s death it so happened that there was to be a brilliant torch light procession to encourage the election of Abraham Lincoln for president (first term).  Every house around the Common was to be brightly lighted. As the twilight settled down, she asked why her windows were not lighted. When it was explained that she would perhaps rest better in a dimly lighted room, she smiled and said “Let every panel of glass in every window of this house be lighted at once if there are candles enough in town to do it.”  She died before morning. [HWAL 1:120]  Jonas was described as parsimonious.  His daughters had but one silk summer dress between them.  After he died, widowed Sarah is said to have blossomed out!
Labaree website:
and blog:
Nutfield genealogy also has brief story on the fort at Charlestown: