Thursday, December 17, 2015


As I've been exploring the lives of my Barker family ancestors for the 2015 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, it surprised me how many of them were involved in the settling of various Middlesex County, Ma. towns. Turning to the Butterfield family line I find that is again the case.

My 5x great grandmother Esther (Butterfield) Spaulding was descended from immigrant ancestor
Benjamin Butterfield and his wife Ann (Jundon?).  George A Gordon's article THE BUTTERFIELDS OF MIDDLESEX in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 44 shows that Benjamin owned quite a bit of land in what would become Chelmsford, Ma.:

Benjamin1 Butterfield, from whom the American family chiefly derive issue, was at Charlestown, in the Bay Colony, in 1688. He probably married in England and brought a little family with him. His name appears among the first town orders of Woburn, and, in 1643, he was made a Freeman. In 1645, we find his name on the Woburn tax list. In 1652, the inhabitants of Woburn petitioned for leave to explore the west side of the Concord river. The report was, "a very comfortable place to accommodate a company of God's people." In 1653, Benjamin Butterfield headed a petition of twenty-nine, including the petitioners of the preceding year, for a tract of land six miles square, "to begin at the Merrimack river, at a neck of land next to Concord river," to run southerly on Concord river and westerly into the wild country. The spot was known to the natives as Naamkeek.* The Indian apostle, Rev. John Eliot, about the same time received a grant of "the Great Neck," lying between Pawtuckett falls on the Merrimack and the Massic falls on the Concord, as a reserve for the Christianized Indians. This tract was known as Wamesit. The six mile tract was occupied in 1654 by Butterfield and his associates, and in 1655 was incorporated as Chelmsford. The line between the Indians and the whites was run "on the east side of Butterfield's high way," and was marked by a ditch. On this highway Benjamin Butterfield pitched his farm and built his house, somewhere within the limits of what is now ward iv., Lowell. In 1656, he is named as one of the citizens of Chelmsford, to whom the Gov. Dudley farm of 1,500 acres in Billerica was conveyed. In 1661 his wife died, and 3 June, 1663, he married, 2d, Hannah, the widow of Thomas Whittemore, of Cambridge. In 1666, Newfields, a tract of 241 acres of intervale, across Stony brook and extending up the Merrimack, was granted to Chelmsford. Of this, perhaps the best land in the growing town, Benjamin Butterfield obtained 42 acres, the largest share of any one person. In 1686, the Indian reservation, Wamesit, was purchased by the whites. Three of Butterfield's sons, Nathaniel, Samuel and Joseph, were among the grantees (Mdx. Deeds, x. 19). This territory, which had been occupied by Wanalancit and his tribe as a cornfield and fishing station, is now occupied by the manufactories of Lowell. The purchase included, also. 500 acres upon the north and east side of the Merrimack, of " Wilderness" land, a general term for the unsettled country outside incorporated limits. Nathaniel and Samuel Butterfield settled on the Wamesit lauds, and Joseph in the wilderness, between Tyng's pond and the river.

 * Naamkeek, or Naamkeap, a fishing place, is cognate to Namoskeag (Manchester, N. H.), Naumkeag (Salem, Mass.), Nameaug (New London, Ct.), Namasket (Middleboro', Mai
The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 44
, Published at the Society's House, 18 Somerset Street. Printed by David Clapp & Son Boston, Ma 1890

To be continued...

1 comment:

jaderade said...

Interesting! I, too, descend from Benjamin via his daughter Mary Butterfield Blodgett. Thanks for sharing this passage. I've had this bookmarked to come back and read since the holidays.