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By Rodger M. Wood
2011 Woodworth Reunion, Griswold CT
You missed a good time if you weren’t at the 2011 Woodworth family reunion June 12 – June 16th in Griswold, CT. From registration on Sunday night to close out Thursday morning, over 55 family members and spouses talked about Woodworth genealogy, checked out records, romped through home sites, cemeteries, and bonded together for lots of fun.
Day One – Columbia and Coventry, CT
Lebanon Crank or Columbia CT
Monday morning, we started out for Columbia, CT, which was formerly known as Lebanon Crank. Our sixth and seventh great grandfathers, Joseph Woodworth (1671 – 1745), and Jedediah Woodworth (1699 – 1777) left Little Compton, RI to settle there between the years, 1726 – 1734. Joseph’s oldest son, Joseph Woodworth (1696-1750), also settled there about 1734. Lebanon merchant, Thomas Newcomb verified their presence in the town between the years from 1733 to 1738 in his account book.
A Benjamin Woodworth also settled in the northeast part or Alder Road area of Lebanon in 1703, and joined the First Church of Lebanon, but soon, tired of walking over hill and dale to get to church on Sundays, joined the North Society of Lebanon Crank, which established the Second Church of Lebanon in 1716 on the other side of the hill.
A Third Church of Lebanon or Goshen Church was established in Columbia in in 1800, or four years before Lebanon Crank was incorporated into Columbia in 1804.
Columbia Town Hall
At the Columbia town office, town administrator, Jonathan Luiz, greeted and filled us in about Columbia historical resources, and the beautiful Columbia Lake, which the American Tread Company sprung in 1933 from a spring, which our ancestors probably drank from when they first settled there in the early 1700s.
Columbia Historical Society
At the Columbia Historical Society, we checked cemetery records for Woodworth graves in the Columbia Burying Ground and the Old Yard. We found a burial record for Benjamin Woodworth and Jedediah Woodworth in the Old Yard, so we headed there next.
Old Yard Cemetery
Jedediah Woodworth Grave Site
It took a while, but finally we found the our patriarch Jedediah Woodworth’s grave site under a big oak tree next to a stone wall midway back on the north side of the Old Yard.
His grave was guarded by a large worn tombstone, which read, “Jedediah Woodworth (1699 – 1777), He finished a most exemplary life, November 11, 1777, aged 78.” Woodworth was hyphenated, with “Worth” appearing on the line below “Wood,” and making the tombstone name more difficult to identify, while walking around, quickly glancing at only the last names on the many tombstones in the cemetery.
There were no other Woodworth markers nearby his grave, but I’d guess that his wife Margaret Torrey, who died about 1751 after the birth of her youngest daughter Margaret, was probably buried alongside him, as the Old Yard was established with its first interment in 1725.
Jedediah’s son William Woodworth, our New England planter 5th great grandfather, died in 1767 in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, and his grandson, our fourth great grandfather, Timothy Woodworth died in Royalton, VT in 1839 and both were buried in those faraway locations.
Other lineal ancestors were not buried there.
I didn’t find the graves of Jedediah’s father Joseph or his brother Joseph in either of the Columbia cemeteries. Both cemeteries were functional when the father died in 1745 and the brother in 1750.
A tombstone for his oldest son Constant Woodworth, who died of small pox only six months before him in April, 1777, was found on the front lawn of a house in the Alder Street area, where we believe the Woodworth homestead and Second Church of Lebanon were located.
Jedediah’s youngest son, Jedediah Woodworth Jr. (1739 – 1823), who probably inherited the Jedediah Woodworth homestead because all of his brothers had passed away before his father’s death in 1777, lived in Columbia until his death January 5, 1823 and may be buried in the Old Yard somewhere too.
Benjamin Woodworth (1772 – 1856).
We also found the grave of Benjamin Woodworth (1772 – 1856) and his wife Mary (Tichnor) in the third row back from the Old Yard gate. Benjamin was the son of James Woodworth (1733 -1812), grandson of Benjamin Woodworth (1689 -1729) and great grandson of Benjamin Woodworth (1649 – 1728), who was reputed to have been the first Woodworth to settle in the northeast section of Lebanon in 1703 and was certainly would have been on the committee that prompted the establishment of the Second Church of Lebanon.
Coventry, CT – Home of Nathan Hale
After Columbia, many of the Woodworth Family met at Lakeview Restaurant in Coventry CT, where we ate outdoors and enjoyed the view of beautiful Lake Wangumbaug.
Coventry was the birthplace of American hero Nathan Hale, whose dying words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” inspired us in youth.
Nathan Hale Cemetery
Our ancestors in the Albert P. Woodworth (1834 – 1926) Branch settled in Coventry, CT in the 1800s so after lunch our next stop was the Nathan Hale Cemetery, where we paid our respects at Albert’s gravesite.
While the cemetery is named the “Nathan Hale Cemetery,” it is not because Hale was buried there. There is a large monument honoring Hale at the front of the cemetery, but the patriot hero was hanged for his spy activities during the Battle of Long Island at 66th St. and 3rd AV in New York City. The British left his body hanging from the tree for three days as an example to others who may want to become colonial spies, and buried him somewhere near that spot.
Nathan Hale Homestead
Joanne and I were so inspired by the Nathan Hale story that we went to see his family homestead a few miles down the road from the cemetery. Nathan Hale never lived in the big red house on the grounds as his father, step mother and 12 brothers and sisters moved into the house a month after he was hanged. The homestead moderator told us, however, that Nathan and 8 brothers and sisters lived in the little shack with an outhouse to the left across from the big house when growing up.
We enjoyed an informative tour of the large roomy Hale house and went back to Griswold for a discussion of the Woodworth DNA Program at the hotel to end the day.
Day Two – Lebanon, CT
We headed to Lebanon, CT, where many Woodworths settled after a migration from Scituate, MA, to Little Compton RI.
Lebanon Historical Society
Original Proprietors of Lebanon, CT 1734
Our first stop was the Lebanon Historical Society, where we were treated royally and granted access to many historical records, one of which was a March 10, 1704 record of the original Lebanon proprietors. If I am deciphering one of the names correctly, a signer on that record and one of the proprietors was our 7th great grandfather, Joseph Woodworth (1671 – 1745). While he may have the property there in 1704, I don’t think he or his sons relocated to Lebanon Crank until 1726 or later.
The museum exhibits were informative about Lebanon’s early history. The town was founded in 1700 and served as an important supply depot for the colonists during the American Revolution. Connecticut troops drilled on the large common across the street from the historical society building.
Lyman High School Exhibit
One of the exhibits commemorated a Lyman High School. Our fourth great grandfather Timothy Woodworth married Eunice Lyman, daughter of Jabez Lyman (1702 – 1784), granddaughter of Samuel Lyman (1676-1708) and great granddaughter of Samuel Lyman (1647 – 1708), who was granted a large parcel of land in Lebanon Crank for his exploits fighting the Pequot Indians and for whom I think the school was named.
Timothy Woodworth, Private, Connecticut Line, American Revolution
Looking out the window of the research room, I couldn’t help visualizing our 4th great grandfather, Timothy Woodworth, an 18-year old private in Captain Eley’s Company, Colonel Huntington Regiment of the Connecticut Line, and his cousins, Samuel Woodworth (1756-1816), Benjamin Woodworth (1759-1803), Benjamin Woodworth (1757-1841) and Uncle Jedediah Woodworth (1739 -1823) drilling on the common during the Winter of 1776-1777, before they were called to battles at Brandywine, Philadelphia, Trenton, and then spent the terrible winter at Valley Forge in 1777-1778. Timothy had returned from Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, to live with his grandfather, Jedediah Woodworth, after both his parents William and Sarah (Blackmore) died in November, 1767 and enlisted in the Connecticut Line for three years in February, 1777.
Trumbull Cemetery, Lebanon, CT
Doug Woodworth and I looked for Woodworth and Fitch graves in Trumbull Cemetery. He was interested in finding the Reverend James Fitch, who was one of the original landowners and first church rector of Lebanon. I was more interested in looking for Lyman, Blackmore, Whitely, Hutchinson, Swift, Clark. and other families that our Woodworths married into. While I was unsuccessful in finding any more Woodworths, I did find a Hutchinson and Lyman grave site to make my search worthwhile.
Lebanon Town Office Building
The Lebanon Town Clerk Office was truly a treasure chest of volumes and volumes of early Lebanon land records, dating back to the early 1700s. I found and had copies made of twenty-five different land records, which were consummated by our direct Woodworth ancestors, Joseph, and Jedediah Woodworth, between 1737 and 1750.
It will take me some time to analyze these records, but I should get a better fix of where exactly our ancestors lived in Lebanon afterwards.
I didn’t look at earlier years because the older volumes didn’t have indices as the others, but plan to go back there some day to finish the job.
Third Day – Free Day and Banquet
Mystic Seaport, CT
Joanne and I set off for Mystic Seaport, which was an easy ride of about 25 miles, going alongside the Thames River by way of historic Norwich, and Groton, CT.
Nestled along the wide, beautiful blue waters of the Mystic River, the restored nineteenth century seafaring village is a bustling collection of old sailing ships, over sixty original captain houses and other buildings, museums, and outstanding sea food restaurants.
We took a boat ride up and down the Mystic River, during which we saw the Charles W. Morgan, which reportedly is the only surviving wooden sailing ship in the world, the Annie, a still functional sand bagger sloop, and the Mystic River drawbridge opening and closing on the 45 minute mark of every hour.
We ate at an outstanding Italian sea food restaurant in the shadows of the drawbridge and across the drawbridge and walked a few steps from it to Julie Roberts’ famous Mystic Pizza shop.
On the way back, we drove by way of Ledyard, CT, stopping to see the Bills Memorial Library, and the Bill Cemetery.
We are related to Joshua Bill (1762-1841) through his second great grandfather Phillip Bill (1620 – 1689), who relocated to the Groton area in 1671 at the request of John Winthrop the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to provide a buffer colony on the Thames to ward off the French and Dutch, who were trying to make inroads in the area.
It was hard to find the graveyard, which is high up a hill just off Route 117, one mile north of Ledyard Center, which is the first right going north past the Bill Library. Down the road also is an old store managed by the Bill family in the 1800s.
We took a leisurely ride to Ft. Griswold, which figured prominently in the Thames River defense and the Battle of Groton Heights on September 6, 1781 in which British troops under the traitorous Benedict Arnold captured and almost destroyed the fort. Many of the Bill ancestors fought and were wounded at Ft. Griswold.
Thank You! Lowell Woodworth
Prior to the banquet, we found out that Lowell Woodworth was passing the next reunion baton onto Diane Woodworth Martin Liebert, who would organize the next reunion at Nova Scotia in 2013. We owe Lowell deep gratitude and many thanks for doing a great job in organizing the past 2007, 2009, and 2011 Woodworth Reunions , which were great times and went off without a single hitch.
The Woodworth met on the last day of the 2011 reunion for its biannual banquet at the plush Lebanon Golf and Country Club.
Eric Woodworth gave us another outstanding address emphasizing that Lebanon was a step in the Woodworth’s trek in realizing the family and country’s Manifest Destiny. Connecticut was not blessed with an abundance of good arable land, and the next generation after the initial Woodworth settlers had to move on, some to Nova Scotia, others to Vermont, and a few years later, the bulk of them to Western New York.
A raffle was held at the end of the banquet, and yours truly won three prizes,
The Woodworth Family presented Lowell with a thank you present and all went on their way to join up together again in 2013 at Nova Scotia, which is NOT as far off as you think. Renew your passports!