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The Story of my Ancestors Beginning with Matthew Greenell PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chuck Ketchum   
Sunday, 08 May 2011 10:57

Here's a great example of how you can blend your personal history into the Grinnell genealogy. We encourage you to write your own stories and if you would like to share those stories with us through this website, all the better.
Larry Grinnell -- Webmaster

by Charles L. Ketchum, Jr.

This is my story of Matthew Greenell and his descendants, primarily emphasizing the lineage which has led to my family. Early records do not give much information on the early generations of the family.

Matthew Greenell was probably born in England about 1590, which was around the same time as Edward Katcham/Catcham. Matthew married Rose French on August 27, 1615 in St. Leonard's Church, Lexden, Essex County, England. He was admitted as a resident to Newport, RI (probably closer to Portsmouth), on August 6, 1638, and died sometime after. His widow Rose remarried twice afterward. First to Anthony Paine, and then to James Weeden.

Matthew's parents are not known, but I theorize along with Edsel W. Grinnell, one of the organizers of the Grinnell Family Association, that Matthew was the son of Thomas Grinnell and Joan Gee, whose names were found on Latter Day Saints Church Records, of being married on September 19, 1586 at St. Alban's Church, Hertsfordshire County, England.

This theory starts with a naturalization of a John Grenel in Colchester in 1565, which coincides with a period of persecution of Huguenots in France. Members of this sect were known to have settled in or around Colchester, Essex County, England. No age was given for John, but 1565 - the date of his naturalization - would place him at an age to be the grandfather of Matthew I.

Building on this obvious speculation, the record of a marriage, on September 18, 1586, in St. Alban's, Hertfordshire County (just west of Essex County), England, of a Thomas Grenel born in 1561 and Joane Gee born in 1565 in a time period that Thomas could be the son of John, and Thomas is the name given the son born to Matthew in 1630.

Thus we have the scenario that Matthew was an English citizen, married in an Anglican Church, his children also baptized in an Anglican Church with the probability he is two generations removed from a Huguenot Ancestor.

There is nothing known of Matthew from the years 1630 to 1638, the year in which he was admitted as a resident of Newport, RI. Nothing more was heard about him until 1643, the year his widow, Rose, signed a prenuptial agreement with Anthony Paine. From this, we obviously conclude that Matthew died some time between 1638 and 1643.

2nd Generation - Daniel Greenell

My eighth great-grandfather Daniel Greenell was the youngest son of Matthew and Rose. His birth date and place of birth are not known, with 1636 the year most commonly accepted and Rhode Island the most likely place. However, it is conceivable that he was born in England prior to his parents coming to America, perhaps as early as the mid 1620's.

Though his father is first recorded in Newport, RI (August 6, 1638), Daniel apparently spent his youth in Portsmouth, RI (north end of Aquidneck Island). His first deed is recorded in Portsmouth, dated November 4, 1656. He was declared a freeman on June 8, 1657. About 1663, Daniel married Mary Wodell. Daniel and Mary resided in Portsmouth until about 1679 when they moved to Little Compton, RI on the east side of Narragansett Bay. While in Portsmouth, Daniel served in various civic capacities, such as Deputy to the General Assembly, juryman, constable, etc.

A number of Deeds are recorded in Little Compton for Daniel Greenell with one deed of sale showing the property involved was part of a purchase by him in March 1679.

Daniel is recorded by the Society of Colonial Wars as a trooper in King Phillip's War (1675-76), serving out of Rehoboth, MA. His life span in this record is given as 1641-1703.

Austin and Emery record Daniel as a Malster (one who grew grain for and made malt). The last deed involving Daniel was made July 6, 1703 when he deeded land to his son, Richard. There is no record of death or burial for either Daniel or Mary. In all probability, this would be Little Compton, RI. Wiley B. Grinnell reported in his book, " 500 Years of Grinnells" (1977) that Mary (Wodell) lived to be more than 85. This information came from an account rendered by her daughter-in-law, Patience (Emery) Grinnell, dated June 25, 1727.

3rd Generation - Daniel Grinnell

My seventh great-grandfather Daniel Grinnell was born about 1664 at Portsmouth, RI. He went with his parents about 1679 to Little Compton, RI, where he married Lydia Pabodie in 1683, an unrecorded date that seems to be universally accepted. The couple lived in Little Compton RI, for about 20 years before moving to Saybrook, CT, West Parish. In a deed of sale in Little Compton, RI and a purchase of property in Saybrook, CT, both documents showed a date in September of 1703. He built the Second Wind Mill in West Parish and was a miller by trade.

Daniel might have seen some type of military service as he is shown occasionally as Sgt. Daniel Grinnell, although early towns had sergeants as well as constables. He died in Little Compton, RI, on a visit, January 17, 1741, in his 77th year. (The majority of deeds involving Daniel use the Greenell spelling.)

4th Generation - Peabody Grinnell

Peabody Grinnell was born in 1686 at Little Compton, RI, and was my sixth great-grand-father. Some family records show Paybody's first six children were born in Stonington, CT, but no evidence has been found to substantiate this. Saybrook, Connecticut Land Records record that Paybody married Ruth Nettleton on April 8, 1718 and gave the exact date of their children's birth. This was followed by an entry showing that Ruth had died on October 9, 1732. The next item recorded was that Peabody married Sarah Barnes on March 20, 1733, and listed the names of their seven children. From this information, it appears that all the children of Paybody were probably born in Saybrook, CT.

5th Generation - Jasper Grinnell

Jasper Grinnell my fifth great-grandfather was born at Saybrook, CT on January 29, 1727. He married Sarah Hill on May 31, 1749 and moved to Salisbury, CT just prior to the Revolution. In the Salisbury Town Hall it shows that deeds were granted to his sons Seth and David from the Estate of their father Jasper, both dated April 26, 1820.

6th Generation - Michael Grenell

My fourth great-grandfather Michael Grenell was born on March 21, 1752 at Saybrook, CT. He moved with his parents to Salisbury, CT, about the time the War of the Revolution commenced. In the winter of 1777, he married Susanna Balcom probably in Salisbury, CT, although it is not recorded in the town hall. Michael lived to be nearly 106 years of age, apparently the longevity champion of Matthew's descendants.

Deacon Michael Grenell's name is on the tax list of Winstead, Ct in1788 and first owned land there on the east side of Long Lake. In 1793, he bought the wedge lot at the northeast corner of the town on which he lived until 1824, when he left for his new home in Clinton Township, Wayne County, PA, where his son Rufus, had previously moved and made his home and where he resided until his death on February 12, 1858, aged about 106.

When Michael Grenell, went to Clinton Township, he settled about one half mile west of the Baptist Church in which he became Deacon.

Michael's early enlistment into military service was with the (Continental) Revolutionary Army. He was never wounded, though he was frequently in position to hear the bullets of the enemy whistle past his ears. In July 1776, he was in New York City, and to his last days he recollected the enthusiasm with which the people and the Army received the news of the Declaration of Independence. The leaden Statue of King George III, which ornamented the Bowling Green, at the foot of Broadway, New York City, was torn down when the news of the Declaration of Independence was received there. Michael took a hand in the statue's destruction and assisted in making the occasion a "lively" one.

From the obituary of Michael, which was printed in the Wayne County Herald, dated February 25, 1858 it related the following:

At Michael Grenell's birth, the population of the United States was only one million in number. Now it numbers thirty million. Then our settlements were confined to the Atlantic seaboard. Now our population extends from ocean to ocean. He was born on the shores of the Atlantic. His descendants are scattered over the continent, even to the shores of the Pacific. He voted at the first Presidential election, and lived to see eighteen Presidents elected. He was twenty years younger than Washington, the father of his country, and survived him fifty-nine years, though the great patriot lived to be sixty eight years of age.

At his birth there were only four Colleges in the Country - Harvard, William & Mary, Nassau Hall, and Yale; the latter of which was established and maintained at Saybrook, CT for eighteen years. Now there are one hundred and forty-four Colleges, with nineteen thousand students in them. Then there were no Theological Seminaries in the country. Now there are forty-six, with two thou "At his birth there were only four Colleges in the Country - Harvard, William & Mary, Nassau Hall, and Yale; the latter of which was established and maintained at Saybrook, CT for eighteen years. Now there are one hundred and forty-four Colleges, with nineteen thousand students in them. Then there were no Theological Seminary in the country. Now there are forty-six, with two thousand students. Then the exports were possibly two millions of dollars annually. Now they are three hundred and seventy-five million. Then there were eleven newspapers; five in New England, two in New York, two in Pennsylvania, one in Maryland, and one in South Carolina. Now we have more than three thousand newspapers.

In his youth, Mr. Grennell received a good common English education, and always read with interest whatever pertained to the interests of the country until he was past one hundred years old, when his sight failed him. His hearing failed him long before, insomuch that he had not heard common conversation for the last thirty years; and for the last ten to twelve years communication was maintained with him by writing on a slate.

For abstract theories he had little faith. His cast of mind was entirely practical. For a century, covering the most eventful period in the history of this country, he was ready to take his position and act his part. When his country needed his services, he immediately left the comforts of the domestic circle, an affectionate wife and tender children, for the stern realities of the camp, in the rigors of a New England winter. His country was to him something more than to the men at the head of the government; and when King and Parliament prostituted their powers to oppress the people and set justice at defiance, he did not hesitate to take arms against them. At three o'clock in the afternoon, all through the war, he devoted a season to prayer, that the rebels might succeed in overpowering the government and in establishing new safe-guards for the liberties of the people.

During his active life, neither heat nor cold, rain nor snow, kept him from the house of worship. He was always in his place at the stated meetings of the Church of which he was a member, until he was more than one hundred years old. He was equally regular and punctual in all his affairs, having certain hours for labor and rest. Business was never suffered to encroach upon the hours he allotted to private devotion. He had his meals at stated intervals; retired early to repose, and rose early in the morning even to the last.

A tiller of the soil, as his father was before him, he prayed every day that God would bless the labors of the husbandman, 'that he might have wherewith to present before the Lord' In his death, the youth, the Church, and the ministry, have lost a friend, and the prayers of one 'who walked with God'; and the country has lost a genuine patriot. 'He rests from his labors, and his works do follow him'".

Michael was allowed a Revolutionary War pension on his application executed November 27, 1832, at which time he resided in Canaan Township, Wayne County, PA. He had moved there from Litchfield, CT, eight years previously. In 1855, he was living with his grandson Virgil, in Aldenville, Wayne County, PA, until his death in 1858.

Revolutionary War information was found in Pension Claim, S. 2251 as follows:

State of Pennsylvania, County of Wayne.

On this 27th day of November, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two, personally appeared in open court before Moses Thomas and Isaac Dimmick Esq., Judges of the Court of Common, plead in and for the County of Wayne, now sitting Michael Grenell, a resident of Canaan Township, in the said County of Wayne, and State of Pennsylvania, aged 80 years, who being first duly sworn according to law, doeth, on his oath, make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June 7, 1832.

That he entered the service of the United States in November 1775 by enlisting in the Army at Saybrook, New London County, in the State of Connecticut. That being his place of nativity for one year with Henry Hill, a warranted officer, as a volunteer, and served in the Connecticut Line under the following named officers viz! Brigadier General Spencer, Colonel Parsons, Lieutenant Col. Tyler, Captain Waters, Lieutenant Lee, and Ensign Hill (the number of the regiment he does not recollect) that he marched from the place where he enlisted as sanda private to Roxbury near Boston where he remained in service until the ensuing March.

From that place he went to New York City in spring where he remained until about the first of August 1776 when in consequence of ill health he was honorably discharged by General Spencer. That on recovering his health he went to Salisbury, Connecticut, where he was enrolled in the Connecticut Militia under General Putnam, Colonel Hooker, Captain Gaylord, Lieutenant Lawrence, and Ensign Skinner, and remained so enrolled during the Revolutionary War.

That he was frequently called into actual service for that period of time, at one of which he went to Fishkill as one of the guards to a body of Hessian prisoners in which he was engaged two weeks, he then went to Fishkill as a guard to the baggage of the Hessians and was gone four days, at another time previous when the attempt to surrender of Westpoint by General Arnold was made, he was out in service along the Hudson River for six weeks. The precise dates of the several service he does not recollect. That a number of years ago, as he presumes about sixteen or eighteen, on looking over a number of old papers which he presumed to be useful, he found the discharge above referred to, obtained from General Spencer which, with the rest, he burnt and destroyed. The regiment resided in Litchfield County, Connecticut, until about eight years ago, when he removed to Canaan, Wayne County, Pennsylvania, where he now resides. He is extremely deaf, so as to under conversation with him, almost impossible, and by reason thereof has formed but few acquaintances. The clergyman in the neighborhood of the deponents residence has now removed and the deponent is thereby deprived of his testimony as the law points out. The deponent has no documentary evidence, other than the testimony of Simeon Post recently annexed, nor does he know of any other person whose testimony he can procure, who can testify to his service. And he hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the pension role of the agency of any State. Sworn to and subscribed this day & year. Signature: Michael Grenell."

NOTE: Due to the Congressional Revolutionary Claim Act of June 7, 1832, Michael received a pension of $30.00 per annum, to commence on the 4th day of March, 1831. Certificate of Pension 4581 found the 23rd day of January, 1833, awarded $60.00 for money not received between commencing date and 4th day of March 1833. (actual date payments commenced).

Michael was proud of the fact that he had voted in the first eighteen presidential elections and especially being able to vote for George Washington. He was singularly methodical in his habits, devoting a portion of each day to its appropriate duties, (labor, recreation, devotion and rest), permitting no one duty to interfere with another. His hearing almost entirely failed during the last 30 years of his life, while his sight continued nearly unimpaired until past his hundredth year. He was a Deacon of the Baptist Church in Clinton, PA and always in his place in the stated meeting of the church until more than 100 years old.

In early 1918, his descendants wanted to honor him. They proposed a bronze tablet and asked the Detroit Mausoleum Equipment Works of Detroit, Michigan to submit a detailed drawing of the tablet. The Company submitted their drawing of a 22" by 18" tablet, File No. 203X, written up and accepted by the family. This tablet was attached to the Rock which is pictured above.

In August of 1919, they arranged a great celebration to dedicate a four ton granite monument at his grave. W.W. Fletcher, of Castor Oil fame, gave the main address. He was a noted collector of genealogical facts including much on the Grinnell Family.

7th Generation - Rufus Grennell

Rufus Grennell my third great grand-father was born on May 2, 1778 in Salisbury, Connecticut. On November 9, 1797 he married Anna Marshall and lived on the North Road, in Salisbury until 1812, when they moved to Clinton, Wayne County, PA.

In September of 1810 Rufus Grennell and a few others went to Pennsylvania looking for a better place to live, where they could worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. In pursuance of that purpose, they examined the wild lands in Wayne and Susquehanna Counties in Pennsylvania. After that examination, land was purchased in Clinton Township, from the State. In November 1812, after spending time building a home there, during the summer months and resting during the winter, Rufus, his wife Anna and eight children went to Pennsylvania to live.

In 1824, his father, Michael Grenell, came to Clinton Township. Rufus resembled his father Michael in many ways, being systematic, temperate, scrupulously honest, deeply religious, living and dying a member of the Baptist Church. His active participation in everything to advance its spiritual and temporal interests made his death a great loss to the church and the Clinton community.

The terrain of this Pennsylvania area was moderately uneven, divided into two valleys running north and south. The western valley was the one through which the State Road from Belmont to Prompton runs, which was bounded on the west by the Moosic Mountain Range; the eastern or Lackawaxen Valley begins at the "divide" where the Moosic Range separates the two valleys, in Mount Pleasant township, running southeasterly along the West Branch of the Lackawaxen River. The area was known as the Beech Woods, and around the year 1811 many thousands of acres were deeded to the early settlers including Rufus.

The first Baptist Church in Wayne County was organized in Mount Pleasant, at the time when George Washington was president of the United States. This church was several miles from where the new settlers in Canaan township, (as it was called at that time), lived, so letters of dismission were secured by several members to organize a regular or strict Baptist Church closer to where they lived. About 1814 Rev. Elijah Peck commenced preaching once a month. In his absence, meetings were conducted by Rufus, the first deacon of the church. At this time the Beech Woods (the name of the area where they lived) were wild and the population scattered, so that in order to attend meetings, many had to travel over bridle paths guided by blazed trees, through the dense forests. At night they found their way to church or their home by the light of torches and tin lanterns.

This worship of God continued for seventeen years, when finally on October 23, 1831, at Rufus Grennell's home, with Rufus officiating as moderator, four members including Rufus and his son Ovid were chosen to represent them at a Baptist Council to be held on November 10, 1831. The council of three churches agreed that a church by the name of the "First Baptist Church of God in Canaan" be constituted. Twenty four members became the churches founders.

Deacon Rufus organized a Sunday School in his home in 1814. Most of the children and young people in the neighborhood attended through the summer.

In the spring of 1822 Rufus bought 200 acres of land where the Baptist Church and parsonage occupy a part, and in the summer and fall of that year built the saw-mill and other buildings. His son Virgil used 50 acres and built a home into which he and his wife moved.

Rufus or "the Deacon", as he was called, was a true product of the times. He was a man who read and remembered what he read and was a most wonderful Bible student. He had read the Bible from cover to cover twelve times when he was but fourteen years old. He was, as would be expected a man of strong opinions, but he never forced his opinions on others, in fact he nevnot his forte. When he did say anything he would put it in very few words and in such a way that it did not need an answer, but closed the subject there and then. He was one of the least talkative people, but with a childlike faith in the Creator, and one who never complained or expressed any doubt as to the fact that whatsoever was, was right and said to others "Dwell in the land and surely thou shalt be fed". He was of the type of man who has been the backbone of the progress of this country in moral and religious growth.

At a Church meeting some young man, who was very good at times, and at more times was not what he should be, was making a long and tearful confession and making promises that he never more would go from the true path again. Rufus was there and as the young man took his seat, the old "deacon", who was seated near the pulpit, arose slowly and turned around and called the young man by name, and said, "The Devil is not dead yet". He resumed his seat and that was all he had to say.

At another time, when working in his shingle shop, a young man came to see him and said, "that he thought he had a call from God to preach." The deacon did not say anything for some time, but finally, kindly calling the man by name said, "It may better for you to go home and hoe potatoes as it might have been some other voice you heard."

The Township of Clinton was erected on November 17, 1834, bounded north and northeast by Mt. Pleasant, east by Dyberry and Prompton, south by Prompton and Canaan and west by Lackawanna and Susquehanna Counties.

His wife Anna died in 1837 and on April 17, 1839 he married Harriet Spencer and was blessed with his tenth child Francis Wayland on January 20, 1840.

In the 1850 Pennsylvania Census Rufus' real estate was worth $1,500.00; in the 1860 Census his real estate was worth $1,000.00, and his personal worth $300.00.

Rufus died July 16, 1865 and appointed his son Francis to be the executor of his Will and to take care of his mother till her death.

8th Generation - Beulah Ann Grenell

Beulah Ann Grenell was my second great grandmother and was born in 1811 at Salisbury, CT. She married Reba Blanding on September 4, 1826 and died sometime after June 18, 1880, the date the 1880 Census was taken, which listed her as a widow. There is not much known about her early years other than she had seven children with Reba. After her husband died she went to live with her daughter Marrietta.

This ends the Grennell part of my family.

Chuck Ketchum
GFA Genealogy Committee Chairman & Data Manager (retired)

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 September 2011 11:36