Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Stoddard Family ~ The Great American Dynasty No One Has Ever Heard Of

~ an unrefined work in perpetual progress ~

Anthony Stoddard, my 8th great-grandfather:

- Arrived in Boston 1638 as a simple linen merchant. In London was a member of the Worshipful Company of Skinners, but not known to have vast resources or connections.

- In 1639 married Mary Downing, daughter of Massachusetts Bay Company attorney Emanuel Downing & niece of Governor John Winthrop, immediately improving his connections. Downing is my 9th great-grandfather.

- Mary's 1/2 brother was Sir George Downing, infamous rogue & scoundrel who built 10 Downing Street in 1682 as a cheaply constructed investment property. Prime Ministers as recent as Winston Churchill had unflattering words for Sir George.

- Sir George Downing's portrait has hung in the Prime Minister's residence entry foyer for centuries.

- Emanuel, father of Mary & George, built a Salem home that in 1650 was the largest in Massachusetts. That would likely make it the largest house in America.

- Mary lived in Salem; how she met Anthony is unknown. She wrote to her father resisting “arranged” suitors, expressing her desire to marry for love. Anthony was that guy.

- Went on to serve Boston as constable, town recorder, selectman & representative to the Massachusetts General Court. All while importing linens, exporting fur & hides.

- As constable resisted an order to arrest Frances Hutchinson, son of Anne, for heresy. Contested to uncle-in-law Winthrop that civil arrest was improper for a church offense. Winthrop fined & threatened to arrest Anthony, who then acquiesced & arrested Hutchinson.

- Site of Anthony’s 1630s home & linen shop was across street from current Old State House. Boston Massacre took place in his front yard 140 years later.

- When he died in 1687 Anthony was the wealthiest man in Boston.

Solomon Stoddard, 7th great-grandfather:

- 1662 Harvard graduate & its first librarian – likely making him first librarian in America.

- Pastor in Northampton for 60 years. Advocated the controversial Half-Way Covenant.

- While walking a favorite path to meditate a Frenchman & Indian lurked. The Frenchman raised his musket to fire, The Indian stopped him, saying "That is the white man's god".

- Etching now available by special order as a shower curtain. Sales reported to be sluggish.

- Gave the annual commencement sermon at Harvard for 30+ years. What became the Mass Turnpike was cleared to facilitate his journeys.

- Engaged in career long debates with Increase & Cotton Mather over Puritan doctrine.

- Became known as the “Pope of the Connecticut Valley”.

- The Manse, built and expanded by Stoddard ancestors on the site of Solomon's home.

- Before his death brought on grandson Jonathan Edwards to succeed him in the pulpit. Years later the church dismissed Edwards for reversing his stand and striking down the Half-Way Covenant.

Anthony Stoddard, 6th great-grandfather:

- 1697 Harvard graduate, where he was known for “breaking school rules & windows”.

- Served as Woodbury CT pastor for 60 years, also town doctor, lawyer and a farmer. Was a Trustee at Yale for 22 years until his death.

- In 1735 built what is now The Curtis House, Connecticut’s oldest Inn.

Gideon Stoddard, 5th great-grandfather:

- Church Deacon & farmer, no apparent college education.

- Captain in CT Militia, French & Indian War.

- Captured at Fort William Henry, Lake George NY. Fictionalized “Last of the Mohicans” was based upon Indian attacks on defenseless soldiers during their march home.  Gideon survived but wrote nothing about the experience that is known.

Nathan Stoddard, 4th great-grandfather:

- Captain in Woodbury CT Militia, Revolutionary War.

- At Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 with Benedict Arnold & Ethan Allen.

- Captured at Ticonderoga & taken to Quebec. Before ordered to jail was concealed by a French landlady. He later escaped via swimming the St Lawrence River.

- Killed Nov 15, 1777 at Philadelphia’s Fort Mifflin, “the Fort that Saved America”. Greatest 18th century naval bombardment in the world, largest ever in America. Without heroic efforts at Fort Mifflin British would have seized Philadelphia and won the war. No one would know the name Valley Forge.

- As he rose up to sight his firearm he was struck by cannon shot, severing his head from his body. A lieutenant Strong, also from Woodbury, recounted for years that, “For a moment he stood there, erect, as in life, without a head, before falling”.

- All Mifflin casualties were evacuated, burial places unknown. During excavation for the New Jersey Turnpike colonial military artifacts and remains were discovered in a logical burial area, but construction resumed without investigation.

Nathan Ashbel Stoddard, 3rd great-grandfather:

- Raised by his grandfather Gideon; a musician, Vermont settler & devout Christian.

Rodman Stoddard, 2nd great-grandfather:

- Early settler & real estate developer in Detroit. Built the City Hotel in 1850.

Henry Clay Stoddard, great-grandfather:

- Private, 24th Michigan Volunteer Infantry, Iron Brigade, Army of the Potomac.

- Iron Brigade suffered the greatest proportion of casualties in all the Union Army at Gettysburg - and of any corps in the entire Civil War.

- Henry survived but wrote nothing about his experience that is known.

Stoddard affluence declined over generations, but historic contributions did not.