Saturday, October 27, 2012

Scots-Irish; early settlers at Concord and the “Irish Fort”

This is the third Guest Blog that I did for Nutfield Genealogy Blog

The Advanced Guard, June 21, 1759 *

The Scots-Irish went many places after landing in Nutfield. They were considered squatters at Concord and built what may have been the first fort in the interior of New Hampshire. Previous forts were in place at the Seacoast to protect from foreign invasions and every community had garrison houses built for defense, but theirs seems to be the first called a fort.  The only fort before this was built for an injured soldier on the way to Lovewell’s fight in Pigwacket (Fryeburg Maine) in 1725 and was merely a “palisaded log cabin”. (This is quoted from one of the best books on the conflict; A Half-Century of Conflict by Francis Parkman. The injured soldier of Lovewell’s was Benjamin Kidder of Nutfield.) The Fort at #4 in Charlestown NH was built later.

We know the Scots-Irish were in Nutfield as early as 1719 and apparently some moved on to Concord by 1721-1722. This is mentioned in The military history of the state of New-Hampshire, from its settlement, in 1623, to the rebellion, in 1861: comprising an account of the stirring events connected therewith; biographical notices of many of the officers distinguished therein: and notes explanatory of the text by C. E. Potter. That reference states in the same chapter that the fort at Penacook (Concord) was there in 1722 when Massachusetts sent soldiers there to take command of it and drive off the Irish. How successful they were is open to debate and further research. They could be the families that settled in Dunbarton and surrounding towns like Bow. The History of Concord…by The Historic Commission and Lyford states that surveyors in 1722 found the Irish there and reported it to the authorities, claiming they had a grant from New Hampshire to make a settlement there. The Massachusetts government thought enough of this report to send a troop there to investigate. They did indeed find the Scots-Irish settled there and in the discussion of who had the power to hold or grant the land, the Scots-Irish spokesman, (a Mr. Houston) told Lt. Frie(or Frye) and his troop to remove themselves or they would drive them off. No one was removed and the Lieutenant sent back to Massachusetts for advice but it appears they stayed and surveyed the settlement on the west side of the river and the Irish maintained their homes in what is now East Concord. By 1724 they had erected a fort within 80 rods of Sewall’s farm “upon the interval on the east side of the river with a view to permanent occupation”. This was the “Irish Fort” and in 1725 the Indian hunter, Col. Tyng rested there on his way to scout for Indians in the Winnipesauke area. Since then this area has been know as the fort and encompasses East Concord which is near to New Hampshire’s current “Fort”, the National Guard base.

It seems though, that the Irish settlers were to be caught up in the fight between Massachusetts and New Hampshire for the rights to settle the land. They had long fought over the boundary between the two states and this was miles to the north but they both claimed it as their own. Even to the point where each sent surveyors to lay out the land and enticed settlers with money to settle there. Each state also granted lands and lots and in 1725, families from Andover, Haverhill and other Essex County towns started to settle on the west side of the river. Nothing more is said of the Irish in that publication. In Bouton’s History of Concord the Irish of Nutfield are mentioned as having a fort there prior to the grant by Massachusetts. One of the petitions even states that “as in the case of Nutfield, it would be a thing attended with too much difficulty to pretend to root them out, if they should get a foothold there”.
The Indian danger was present from the first settlements right up until the Revolutionary period. Some historians have called this Americas bloodiest conflict as it was deadlier per capita compared to the Civil War or the World Wars. At times referred to as the French and Indian wars, they can be defined by monarch and time period and relation to the European conflict they accompanied. No matter what you call it the period from first settlement to late Eighteenth Century was a warring time. Each village had to muster and drill and numerous lists of these soldiers are available. The Scots-Irish were not unaccustomed to this as they had endured the same fate before coming to America. Their history there is full of war stories. A full chapter of History of Londonderry is devoted to their turbulent times in the British Isles. Their names are scattered throughout the early rosters of Militia. It is no surprise that on settling at “Penacook” they built a fort for protection from the savages. Robert Rogers the famous Indian hunter and first leader of “Rangers” in the military was said to be Scots-Irish but there was debate over whether he was from Londonderry or Massachusetts.

Next time….more on the Scots in the local militias and offensive attacks on Louisburg Nova Scotia and Canada.



The histories mentioned in this article are:

History of Concord, New Hampshire: From the Original Grant in Seventeen Hundred and Twenty-five to the Opening of the Twentieth Century, by Concord (N.H.). City History Commission, Amos Hadley, Will B. Howe

The History of Concord: From Its First Grant in 1725, to the Organization of the City Government in 1853, with a History of the Ancient Penacooks ; the Whole Interspersed with Numerous Interesting Incidents and Anecdotes, Down to the Present Period, 1885 ; Embellished with Maps ; with Portraits of Distinguished Citizens, and Views of Ancient and Modern Residences by Nathaniel Bouton

The History of Londonderry, Comprising the Towns of Derry and Londonderry, N. H. by Edward Lutwyche Parker
* Based on primary source descriptions of the campaign, this painting depicts Major Robert Rogers and “Captain Jacobs” (an Indian) as they scout the forest ahead of General Jeffrey Amherst’s army on their way to capture Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) and other French posts on Lake Champlain. In the left background is the front of the Ranger column and on the right, in brown, is General Thomas Gage’s Light Infantry. In between, behind the flag is a British Regular officer and a lieutenant colonel of a Provincial regiment. Two of the Ranger companies are made up of Stockbridge Indians, captained by Jacob Cheeksaunkum (Captain Jacobs) and his son. (From Gary Zaboly and (Copyright © 2008 Fort at No. 4, All Rights Reserved)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Henry Tufts; black sheep of an otherwise respectable family.

                                I hope my Great-Grandfather forgives me. James Arthur Tufts I was a professor of English at Phillips Exeter Academy for 50 years and on local library boards to prevent Henry Tufts book from being bought for the public to read. Henry was not an ancestor of mine and his book is what I call barely historical fiction. It tells the tale of his life of criminal activities and “sufferings”. Titled; A Narrative of the Life, Adventures, Travels and Sufferings of Henry Tufts, Now Residing at Lemington, in the District of Maine, in Substance, as Compiled from His Own Mouth. The printing shop that originally printed it was burned down because they printed it but later it was edited and released by Edmund Lester Pearson in 1930 and in 1993 with an extensive introduction by Neal Keating.  It is available occasionally today from online sources. Some stated it was really written with Thomas Tash, a revolutionary hero and neighbor of Henry’s in Lee, NH. The book is now available as the second complete edition. Daniel Allie has transcribed the original book from a library copy and published it in 2017. It is available at Amazon or at his website henrytufts,com and his guest story

                                The story contains narrative of his first exploits stealing fruit from a neighbor’s orchard as a child and continues stealing whenever he needed throughout his life. He seemed proud of it, stole from his own family and found fault with those who would not lock things up. He fathered children with several women, even marrying them without leaving his previous wife. He joined the army and deserted when he got bored. At times this caught up with him and he was jailed but he prided himself with his ability to escape jails including Exeter, Dover, Berwick, Maine and in Massachusetts. He even was committed to death for offenses in Massachusetts and only was reprieved at the last moment and sent to the Castle prison in Boston. He later was moved to Salem where he escaped the last time fleeing to Maine where his wife and their children had established homes. He had spent time living with the Abenaki Indians to recover from an illness and learned the Indian method of medicine from Molly Ockett which he later performed for many others, perhaps making up for his many disgraces.

That is the short version. It barely details the full story. A quick internet search will bring up results for many books and articles where the book is mentioned. It is not bad if you look at it as entertainment or for a look into what life was like in the colonial era. The book Landmarks in Ancient Dover, New Hampshire by Mary Thompson describes him in her description of the Lee/Durham boundary line which ran through their farm. Notable Events in the History of Dover New Hampshire From the First Settlement in 1623 to 1865 by George Wadleigh is another. The full review of his book which I prefer appears in Harper's new monthly magazine Volume 76, Issues 451-456. This review by Thomas Wentworth Higginson really describes it better than I could. He details many of his exploits stealing horses and traveling the continent. Dennis Robinson of recently reviewed the book with no reference to respectable Tufts. Another recent blog can be seen here.

I would rather tell the story of the proud Tufts family that is filled with leaders in many fields. They were teachers, preachers, soldiers, and farmers, and all respectable members of society. Many Tufts continue to be leaders in society and serve their country proudly. Henry's book itself describes his family as Boston “Brahmin”. Most of us can trace our roots to Henry’s 2nd Great Grandfather; Peter Tufts, who came to Charlestown, Massachusetts from Norfolk County England around 1638. Henry’s grandfather was a respected Harvard educated preacher and his Uncle: Lieutenant Thomas Tufts of Greenland, New Hampshire was a teacher and Adjutant in the Colonial Militia in the siege of Louisburg, Nova Scotia in 1745 and died from illness acquired there. Colonel Henry Tufts (no direct relation) in the 1970's was the first head of the US Army Criminal Investigation Division. Descendants of Henry's family and his father’s family were early settlers of the Farmington, NH area and Limington, ME. There are many patriots and civic leaders in the families even today. . The best reference for this family is Tufts Kinsmen by Herbert Adams and the Tufts Kinsmen Association (2010 and earlier editions). It can be obtained by sending an e-mail to:

For more information:
J. Dennis Robinson "Henry Tufts wrote First American Criminal Biography" link

A Narrative of the Life, Adventures, Travels and Sufferings of Henry Tufts, now residing at Lemington, in the District of Maine, by Henry Tufts, printed by Samuel Bragg, 1807 (the original book can be seen at the Essex Institute, Salem, Massachusetts and at the New York Public Library) 1993 reprint available.

Generation 1) Peter Tufts (1617 - 1700) m. Mary Pierce

Generation 2) Peter Tufts Jr. (1648-1721) m. Elizabeth Lynde

generation 3) Thomas Tufts (1683 - 1733) m. Mary Lynde

Generation 4) Henry Tufts (1716 - 1780) m. Mary Wedgewood

Generation 4) Henry Tufts was born 24 June 1748 in Newmarket, New Hamphsire, and died 31 January 1831 in Limerick, Maine. He was married about 1770 in Durham, New Hampshire to Lydia Bickford, daughter of Joseph Bickford and Margery Unknown. In the Tufts Kinsmen he is listed as "vagabond, soldier AR, Indian doctor". 

Copyright 2012 Heather Wilkinson Rojo and Tom Tufts

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

John Tufts shipwreck story of Londonderry immigrants

Here is my first attempt at an article on ancestry that my fellow (and much more accomplished) blogger Heather Rojo was kind enough to include on her Nutfield Genealogy Blog:

By Tom Tufts

Has anyone ever heard of Londonderry or Windham immigrants from Ireland in 1737 being shipwrecked off Nova Scotia or Maine?

Sometimes it’s really not clear what records to believe. I have been researching Tufts families for a few years and come across a lot of great stories and records but often the stories are conflicting or unclear. I always tell people to seek out the actual records and cherish those as accurate, but are they really? We have all seen errors in census and written histories.


 John Tuffts or Tufts was clearly in Windham by 1748 when he married and then bought a farm in 1752 from John Morison (whose wife was Ann (Tufts) Morison-his second cousin). He married (first) Catherine Moore had a family in Windham and a second family with Mary Campbell in Belfast Maine. His history from then is quite clear as he was a miller, selectman and led the families that removed to settle what is now Belfast Maine. They were all clearly of Scots-Irish descent and their stories are in several town histories.

The Tufts historians have differed over John’s ancestry. The latest was Herbert Adams who worked for 50 years on Tufts history and his result was recently published by the Tufts Kinsmen Association as Tufts Kinsmen. He shows that this John came from Medford as most of our Tufts descended from Peter Tufts who came from England around 1638.  He even mentions the bible of Peter Tufts was handed down through John’s family.

Recently a genealogist sent me a note questioning this connection. She has a transcript of a story handed down through a branch of this family that he was actually from Ireland (Scots-Irish) and shipwrecked as a boy when coming to this country and orphaned. This reminded me I had seen a similar story in; Tufts Family History 1963 by Jay Franklin Tufts. That story is from a third branch of John’s family and very similar to the transcript.

The genealogist also sent a news article from the Boston Evening Post in 1737 which details the wreck of the Catherine off sable Island near Nova Scotia. It was from Portrush Ireland and headed for Boston with many families and said to be the “most richly laden that ever crossed the ocean”. Many perished but some were rescued and brought to “Piscataqua” (Portsmouth) and “thence to Londonderry”

So my quandary is who to believe. The shipwreck stories can’t be denied. While there are differences, there are too many similarities, and the story comes from 2 different branches of John’s descendents. The bible story, if accurate, would prove he was related to Peter Tufts but where’s the bible?  There are other details in Tufts Kinsmen which relate him as well, including estate benefits from relatives wills. The other note in Kinsmen that is interesting is under another John who was said to be Irish, not from Peter, who settled in West Brookfield MA. There he states a John Tufts did try to come from Ireland but perished in the wreck of the Catherine! He quotes the ships manifest and has the notation (NEJ) which is not in the bibliography.

I really wonder why this story isn’t written about in more local or family histories. If anyone has heard of a similar shipwreck story please share. It was quite dramatic as nearly half perished. John’s mother threw him her purse to him as she slipped below the waves and this haunted him for years. Three others who perished were “Messr.s Archibald, Charles Mcneal (Macneal?) and Mrs. Margaret Snell”. They could have been coming to join others of their family already in Nutfield.  John’s survival was said to be with a brother and sister. What happened to them? Would some family have taken them in? The mystery remains to be discovered.


Peter Tufts home and grave

Peter and Mary Tufts stone in Bell Rock Cemetery

Riverside Avenue Medford MA
When I do research on Tufts and others, I often try to find their resting place or old homestead. Depending on the generation it is often difficult to find some of the oldest homes and graves. So many Tufts and other families can trace their immigrant ancestor to Peter and Mary. It is remarkable that their home is still preserved and resting place is not gone like so many of that century.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tufts Ancestry

Most Tufts in America can trace their ancestry to Peter Tufts who came to America before 1638. He was clearly from England and according to Herbert Adams, the most thorough researcher; he was the son of Peter and Elizabeth Tufts of County Norfolk.  Adams devoted a large section of his book; Tufts Kinsmen to his research and conclusions including how the name came to be and Peter’s ancestry. I will save that story for another blog. I somehow like to just accept he was from England and leave it at that but there is much more to the story.

Other Tufts did come from England and from other places including Peter’s sisters who came to Malden and Charlestown Massachusetts possibly with Peter. Another early record states that a John Tufts did come to Hingham but apparently left no further record and may have died with no issue.

Peter’s sister Elizabeth married Thomas Lynde Jr. so many Lynde families can claim Tufts ancestry as well as the family of Peter’s sister Mary who married George Fowle who had eleven children. The first record of Peter was when he was admitted as a Freeman in Charlestown in 1638. The search for the ship he came on may never produce a result as the records are few but he may have come with his sister and the Lynde family in 1632 in the Griffin. Peter was certainly a man of some status as he had the capitol available to purchase several lands and farms and became a large landholder in what is now Medford and Malden but then was Charlestown or Mysticside. Peter was a farmer and also held some town offices including running the ferry across the Mystic river. He made enough money from this to purchase more land including some in Brookfield Massachusetts.

Peter married Mary Pierce and had a large family in Charlestown. The brick home he had built still survives as the oldest brick building in America. It can be seen on Riverside Avenue and is not far from Bell Rock Cemetery where Peter and many other family members are buried. Peter left many records I will share later.

PETER TUFTS, Goodman, yeoman, planter, ferryman, tythingman

b. 1617 in Tibenham, {Norfolk} England

d. 13, May 1700 in Charlestown [Somerville], {Suffolk} Mass.

m 1646 in Charlestown, {Suffolk} Mass.

to MARY PIERCE, Gudie, Mother

dau. of Thomas and Elizabeth (?) Pierce

b. 1626 in England

d. 10, Jan. 1702/3 in Charlestown [Somerville], {Middlesex} Mass.

had 1) Peter, 2) James, 3) Henry, 4) John, 5) Mary, 6) Jonathan, 7) Jonathan, 8) Martha, 9) Elizabeth, 10) John, 11) Mercy, 12) Sarah, 13) Persis, 14) Lydia



b. 1612 in Tibenham, {Norfolk}, England

d. 2, Sep. 1693 in Malden [Melrose], {Middlesex} Mass.

m. 1646 in Charlestown, {Suffolk} Mass.

to THOMAS LYNDE, Jr., yeoman, Selectman, Ensign, soldier KPW

son of Dea. Thomas and Margaret (                ) Lynde            

b.      Jan.   1612 in Dunstable, {Bedfordshire}, England

d. 15, Oct. 1693 in Malden [Melrose], {Middlesex} Mass.

had        1) Thomas (Jr.)                  b. 25, Mar. 1647 in Charlestown

2) John                 b. 1648 in Malden, Mass.

                3) Elizabeth        b. 20, Apr. 1650 in Malden, Mass.

                4) Joseph            b. 13, Dec. 1652 in Malden, Mass.

                5) Mary                                b.1654 in Malden, Mass.



b. 1614 in Tibenham, {Norfolk}, England

d. 15, Feb. 1676 in Charlestown, {Suffolk} Mass.

m. 1638 in                       

to GEORGE FOWLE, tanner

son of John and Hannah (Fuller) Fowle *

b. 27, Jan. 1610 in Sandhurst, {Kent} England

d. 19, Sep.1682 in Charlestown, {Middlesex} Mass.

had 1) Hannah                   b. 1638 in Concord, Mass.

       2) John                          b. 1639 in Concord, Mass.

       3) Mary                         b. 24, Nov. 1640 in Concord, Mass.

       4) Peter                         b.   2, Dec. 1641 in Concord, Mass.

       5) James                       b. 12, Mar. 1642/3 in Concord, Mass.

       6) Mary                         b.   9, Feb.  1644 in Concord, Mass.

       7) Abraham                 b. 1647 in Concord, Mass.

       8) Isaac †                      b. 1648 in Charlestown, Mass.

       9) Zachariah b. 1651 in Charlestown, Mass.

     10) Jacob                        b. 1653 in Charlestown, Mass.

     11) Elizabeth                 b. 27, Jan.    1655/6 in Charlestown, Mass.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tufts Family Genealogy Blog


This blog is mostly about the Tufts family in America descended from Peter Tufts who came to Charlestown Massachusetts from England before 1638. I hope to share many great stories of Tufts families and individuals. I also will share things I have found on other Tufts families besides Peter’s many descendants. They include Tufft families from Ireland and other areas of England and those that remain to be discovered. I will also explore the many other families related to the Tufts and share their stories as well. Hopefully this will include the family of my wife (Toland), and Staples, Bakers and Cummings from my mother’s ancestry.

Much of the information I have found on the Tufts comes from the research of Herbert Adams whose work was published by the Tufts Kinsmen Association in 2010 and his earlier edition of Tufts Kinsmen. Other resources will be credited for readers to discover original records. I try to be as thorough as possible in my research and will indicate anything less than fact. I have found that to be accurate, one has to see the original records and verify their accuracy. If errors exist I am always receptive to correction.

I hope people will feel free to comment on my blog and share information with others. If you feel you have a blog idea for me please let me know. There are many stories out there waiting to be shared. I will try and attend this at least once a week, but I know that may be affected by my many other interests.

I am Thomas Tufts. I grew up in Exeter NH and currently reside in Raymond NH. After 30 years of firefighting, I now enjoy my retirement by researching family history, specializing in the military Tufts and my direct ancestors to Peter Tufts, the immigrant. Please enjoy these stories about the Tufts and other families.