Samuel H Watts and Alice “Elsie” Bean

July 4, 2017 at 10:26 pm | Posted in BARBARA BOWKER, Bean, Bowker, Dustan, Noyes, Watts, Weston | 9 Comments
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This post is a profile of my 5 x great grandparents, Samuel H Watts (1716-1787) and Alice “Elsie” Bean (1736-1802)

Surnames mentioned: Bean, Bowker, Colby, Dustan, Foote, Haycock, Merritt, Noyes, Watts, Weston.  Places mentioned: Amesbury, Essex Co, MA; Chandler’s River, York Co, District of Maine; Cherryfield, Washington Co, ME; Hampstead, Rockingham Co, NH; Haverhill, Essex Co, MA; Jonesboro, Washington Co, ME; Kingston, Rockingham Co, NH; Machias, Washington Co, ME; Roque Bluffs, Washington Co, ME; Plantation 22, Lincoln Co, Maine.

Before I even start, I have to say it is a little intimidating to attempt a public post on this couple. They are the ancestors of probably hundreds of people who are active in genealogy research. My starting source is George W Drisko’s book “The Revolution: Life of Hannah Weston,” published in 1857 with an expanded (and corrected) 2nd edition printed in 1903. I also consulted the transcribed “Early Vital Records” books for various locations in Massachusetts. These are online on numerous sites. Some details are from searches on the FamilySearch site and NEHGS, as well as the Massachusetts State Archives. In addition, Samuel and Elsie Watts are mentioned in several anthology genealogies of prominent people of Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire. I also recently came across an article about Capt Samuel H Watts written in 1954 by Courtland Bowker Stringer that filled in some details. Finally, I have to give a shout out to Watts descendant (and distant cousin to me) Karin Wakefield, who kindly sent me a copy of research performed by Cherryfield, ME Historical Librarian, Kathy Upton, as well as some photos Karin took on a 2014 sojourn to Maine that she has graciously offered to share.

Samuel’s Early life:
Samuel H Watts was born August 29, 1716 in Haverhill, Essex Co, MA to Samuel Watts (b. 1691) and Abigail Dustan/Dustin/Duston (1690-1727). His father was a member of the Massachusetts General Court and was involved in elections and other legislative matters. His mother was a daughter of the famed Hannah (Emerson) Dustan, and was one of the small children rescued by her father, Thomas Dustan, when the natives raided their farmstead at Haverhill in 1697.

Our Samuel was the eldest of 6 children – three boys and three girls. He was only 10 years old when his mother, Abigail, died in May, 1727. With six youngsters, Samuel’s father soon remarried. From the Early Vital Records of Essex County: “November 1727 in Newbury, Samuel Watts of Haverhill m. Dorothy Colbee of Amesbury.” Together they had a daughter, also named Dorothy, born in 1729. The Colby’s were a prominent family in the Merrimack Valley on both sides of the Massachusetts and New Hampshire border. This meant that Samuel and his siblings had a large extended family for support.

Samuel’s First Marriage:
Family lore says our Samuel Watts married about 1740 to an unknown woman, and had no children from this first marriage. A possible candidate, again from the Early Vital Records: “1742 Samuel Watts of Haverhill m. Hannah Foote of Amesbury.” Samuel would have been about 26. This would fit, especially since Samuel’s stepmother was also from Amesbury. I have no proof, though, that Hannah Foote was married to our particular Samuel Watts. According to the Stringer article, Hannah Foote was the daughter of John, Jr. and Mary Foote.

From the “A Memorial of the Town of Hampstead, New Hampshire”:  In January 1743-44, Samuel Watts was among 54 petitioners to the Governor of New Hampshire to establish a new parish between Haverhill, MA and Kingston, NH so they wouldn’t have to travel so far on the Sabbath to attend services. The new parish became the town of Hampstead, Rockingham County, NH.

Samuel’s Military Career:
The following is a long exerpt from G. W. Drisko’s 1857 book “The Revolution: Life of Hannah Weston.” Hannah was the eldest daughter of Samuel Watts and his second wife, Elsie Bean:

pp. 10-12

It is evident from the early records of Haverhill, as from papers preserved and still to be seen, that the Watts’ were men of ability, and often occupied places of trust among their townsmen, as well as in Legislative and military capacities. Hannah’s father served as a Captain during the French and Indian war, covering a space of seven years, and terminated as before stated in 1763, during which time he was in many close engagements and always maintained the greatest endurance, coolness and bravery. His commission to the Captaincy, which bears date of more than a hundred years, he always preserved. It is now in possession of Capt. Samuel Watts, Jonesboro, as is also the muster roll of the company which he commanded, and both, having always been kept in the original tin box or case, are in a tolerably good state of preservation and can be read with but little difficulty…

The following is his first commission, being a correct copy.
“Province of New Hampshire. Benning Wentworth, Esq.; Captain General & Governor in Chief, in and over his Majesty’s Province of New Hampshire in New England &c.
To Captain Samuel Watts, Gentlemen: Greeting.
By virtue of the Power of Authority, in and by hisMajesty’s Royal Commission, to me granted, to be Captain — General, &c., over this his Majesty’s Province of New Hampshire, aforesaid ; I do (by these presents) reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Loyalty, Courage and good Conduct, constitute and appoint you, the said Samuel Watts, to be Captain of a Company in a Regiment of foot, whereof Nath’l Meserve, Esq., is Colonel, being the forces raised or to be raised within this province for the defence and protection of his Majesty’s territories from any further encroachment of the French at or near Crown Point and upon Lake Irequois, commonly called by the French, Lake Champlain, and for removing any encroachments already made there, of which forces John Winslow, Esq., is commander-in-Chief. You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the Duty of a Captain in leading, and ordering and exercising said company in arms, both inferior officers and soldiers, and to keep them in good order and discipline ; hereby commanding  them to obey you as a Captain, and yourself to observe and follow such orders and instructions, as you shall from time to time receive from me, or the commander-in-Chief for the time being, or your other Superior officers for his Majesty service, according to rules and Discipline of War, pursuant to the Trust reposed in You.
Given under my hand and Seal at arms at Portsmouth the first day of May in the twenty-ninth year of the reign of his Majesty King George the second^ Anno Domini^ 1756.
B. Wentworth.
By His Excelencie’s Command.
Theodore W. Kinson, Sec’ty.”
In the same tin box or case is another commission to the Captaincy issued by Thomas Hutchinson, “Lieutenant Governor and commander-in-Chief of his Majesty’s forces in the Massachusetts Bay,” to serve in the regiment of foot whereof John Whitcomb was Colonel. This bears date, the 10th day of June, 1760, and is signed in the hand writing of Gov. Hutchinson, also by A. Oliver, Secretary of the Province. This was issued under the Seal at arms at Boston.

… In the year 1759 he accompanied Gen. Wolfe on his expedition for the reduction of Quebec, and commanded a company of forty-one privates, four secretaries and four corporals,in Col. Whitcomb’s Regiment. Of his actual efficiency in that expedition, or with what satisfaction to his superior officers he performed his duties, we have no reliable means of stating. There is no doubt, however, but in that, as in whatever else he attempted, he acted well his part, and that his patriotism shrank from no

I wonder what happened to the tin box and the documents that were inside in 1857.  I hope they still exist and are in the care of a descendant or museum.

Elsie Bean:
Just prior to his first military commission, On November 13, 1755, Samuel Watts married Alice “Elsie” Bean in Hampstead, New Hampshire by the Rev Mr Henry True. Her parents were Samuel and Sarah Bean of Kingston, New Hampshire. Elsie was the youngest of seven children, three of whom died in 1735 during the epidemic of diptheria (a.k.a “throat distemper”) that swept through the region. Elsie, born November 9, 1736, was named for her deceased sister, Alice. Samuel Bean, a weaver, died in 1737, when Elsie was an infant. Her mother, Sarah, died in 1750, when Elsie was nearly fourteen years old. At the time that Elsie Bean married Samuel Watts, he was 39 years old, and she was barely 19.

The Children of Samuel and Elsie Watts:

1. Samuel Watts (1756-1849) born in Haverhill, MA. He was a farmer and lumberman who, at age 19, was a participant in the June, 1775 Battle of Machias in which the HMS Margaretta, was captured. He married Mary “Polly” Noyes (abt 1772-1852) in January, 1789. They had 9 children and are buried at Rosehill Cemetery in Jonesboro, ME.

2. Hannah Watts (1758-1854) born in Haverhill, MA. She married Josiah Weston (1750-1827) in October, 1774 and is the famed Hannah Weston who, along with her 15-year-old sister-in-law, Rebecca Weston, carried a heavy sack of metal for ammunition 16 miles through the woods to Machias in support of the fighters there, including her husband and brother. She was only 17 at the time and pregnant with the first of her 13 children. Hannah lived to the age of 97 years and 20 days, and had 125 living descendants at the time of her death. She and Josiah are buried together in a family cemetery in Jonesboro. The local chapter of the DAR is named for her.

3. David Watts (1761-1828) born in Falmouth, ME. He was a farmer who served briefly in the Revolution when still a teenager. In 1796 he married Abigail Noyes (1766-1831), who was the widow of Jospeh Tupper and sister to Polly Noyes Watts. In addition to raising 2 Tupper children, David and Abigail had 7 children together. He is buried at Roque Bluffs, and she is buried in Cherryfield. These are my 4 x great grandparents. Please see my profile of them [here].

4. Elizabeth “Betsy” Watts (1764-1854) born in Falmouth, ME. In 1789 at Jonesboro, Betsy married Levi Bowker (1763-1850). He was a carpenter and a veteran of the Revolution. They moved to Machias and had 9 children. They are buried together at Court Street Cemetery in Machias. Levi and Betsy Bowker are also my 4 x great grandparents. Please see my profile of them [here].

5. Elsie Watts (1767-abt 1825) born in Falmouth, ME. Elsie married Ralph Haycock (1775-1841) at Machias in 1799. Together they had 6 children. They moved to Charlotte County, New Brunswick, Canada.

6. Abigail Watts (1770*-1859) born in Jonesboro, ME. Abigail married David Merritt (1765-1820) in 1794 at Jonesboro. According to the early town records, they had 8 children.

7. Sally Watts (1773*-1838) born in Jonesboro, ME.

8. Thomas D Watts (1776*-1806) born in Jonesboro, ME. Married Susannah Noyes (1776-1855) at Jonesboro in 1798. She was sister to Polly and Abigail Noyes, who were married to Thomas’ brothers. They had 4 children.

*Please note the birthdates on the last three Watts children have been corrected from the original printing of Drisko’s book, which had them all a decade later, per the Errata page of the 1903 edition.

Timeline of events:

  • As stated earlier, Samuel Watts and Elsie Bean were married in 1755.
  • In 1756 Samuel accepted his commission to fight at Lake Champlain, while Elsie was in Haverhill having babies.
  • In 1759 Samuel was in service at Quebec.
  • Shortly after this, about 1760, the family removed to Falmouth, near Portland, Maine along with many families from Essex and Plymouth counties.
  • Finally, in 1763, the war with the French was over, and Samuel could stay home with Elsie and the children. I haven’t found a record of what Samuel did for a living in Falmouth after the war. He would have been in his mid-40’s.
  • About 1769 our Watts family moved to Chandler’s River settlement on land that became Jonesboro. In his 50’s, Samuel turned his hand to clearing land, building a homestead, farming, and cutting lumber to support his growing family.
  • June, 1775, residents all up and down the coast of Maine were aware of the events at Lexington and Concord. When word reached the settlement of a need to aid the citizens of Machias against the threat from HMS Margaretta, our Samuel Watts, aged 58, former military Captain, gave an inspiring speech to the twenty or so men assembled at the Weston home (Drisko, p.55):  “Our Liberties,” said he, “must be defended, and you my men must help do it. If Machias falls, our settlements all along shore will be at the mercies of the King’s troops, and we shall be his slaves.”
  • From June, 1775 until the end of the war for independence, the British held a blockade and harassed the settlers so that they had to survive on what they could hunt or harvest for themselves. The Watts’ eldest son, Samuel, fought in defense of Machias. Their second son, David, stayed mostly at home, ran the farm and helped with the younger children. I have not myself found a record of Capt Samuel H Watts in the Revolution. However, Stringer states he served in Lieut. Joel Whitney’s company, Col. Benjamin Foster’s regiment, from 1777-78. I’m okay with that.
  • Dec, 1781, word of Cornwall’s October 19th surrender to Washington reached our Watts family. They hosted a celebration with their neighbors. Per George Drisko, p.72:  Said Capt. Watts “The British rule is over in America this victory of Washington’s is our country’s redeeming triumph : the back bone of the British Lion is broken, and the haughty King is henceforth disgraced in the eyes of the world.”
  • The Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783, thereby ending the War in Samuel Watts 67th year. I think of all those years he spent in service to the British Crown, and then the hard years making a home on the Maine coast. I’m glad he lived to see America win it’s independence.

Death and Burial of Samuel Watts

The exact date of Samuel’s death is not known. The records of the probate process start on July 4, 1787, so it must have been before then. Likewise, the exact location of Samuel and Elsie Watts graves is reported to be on the old Watts farm, that in 1857, when Drisko first published his book, was owned by the Schoppee family. The Stringer article describes his hunt for the graves “in a clump of hackamacks” on a knoll behind the former Old Schoppe Tavern (now a residence). With the help of a local Watts descendant, they cleared away some weeds and earth to uncover a stone clearly marked S W along with another smaller stone nearby. They reported the find to the local DAR chapter. Here is a link and some photos from the article:

Karin Wakefield had a similar experience in 2014, in the company of a Caretaker, she walked the mowed path up the knoll through a “cave” of underbrush, to the grave site:

Courtesy Karin Wakefield

Probate of the Estate of Samuel Watts

Below is a list with links to the document images on FamilySearch. Throughout, the clerk records her name as “Elcie,” but no signature is recorded for us to compare. Money amounts are notated as pounds, shillings and pence, as the U.S. dollar had not yet been established at that time.

  • July 4, 1787 – Elsie applied for Letters of Administration of his estate
  • July 5, 1787 – Judge appoints Joel Whitney, William Tupper and Josiah Noyes to appraise and inventory the estate
    17/2 acres of land value 25.0.0
    1 Bed, Bedding and Bedstead value – 3.10.0
    2 Iron pots, both broke value – 0.4.0
    2 Trammels 10/ 1 Cow 84/ 2 Sheep 20/ value – 5.14.0
    2 Wheels, one large & other small value – 0.10.0
    1 old chest of drawers value – 0.2.0
    1 broken warming pan – .15.0
    1 draft chain 14/ 1 cleves & rim{?} 6/ value – 0.6.0
    total value – 36.15.0 approved by Stephen Jones probate judge on Jan 11, 1788.
  • Jan 24, 1788 Estate of Samuel Watts late of Chandlers River declared insolvent to pay all claims of debt against it. Judge appoints William Tupper and John Buchman commission to examine all claims made within six months and make distributions as allowed by law.
  • December 17, 1788 Debts against Estate of Samuel Watts enumerated as follows:
    Samuel Buchman note and interest: 11.18.10
    Noah Mitchel balance of books: 3.17.2
    Samuel and David Watts for funeral charges: 25.0.0
    Samuel and David Watts for note given Stephen Jones & co: 1.8.0
    Doctor Parker Clark for attendance in last sickness: 4.13.0
    Estate of Jonathon Longfellow on books: 9.4.7
    Capt Joseph Willson on book balance: 0.6.5
    Mr. Joel Whitney on book and lease: 30.4.1
    total debts and claims on estate: 86.13.1 (pounds.shilings.pennies)
  • July 25, 1789 Permission sought by and granted to Elcie Watts, widow of Samuel Watts to sell his real estate to pay his debts.
  • June-July, 1790 Order to sell all real estate belonging to Samuel Watts by the end of December and advertisement to sell on November 17, 1790 at home of David Watts, Chandler River
  • December 30th, 1790 Elsie advises court of completion of sale at public auction for 0.12.10
  • April 13, 1792 Total claims against estate including court costs – 49.14.4
    Elsie charges herself with personal estate – 0.11.15
    and land sale value at – 0.12.10 means total estate valued at 24.5.0

After Samuel’s death, his two elder sons, Samuel and David, continued the family farm and lumber ventures and looked after Elsie and the younger, unmarried children.

1790 Census Maine, Township West of Machias, No. 22:
David Watts, 1 free white male 16 and over , 1 free white male under 16, 4 free white females
Samuel Watts, 1 free white male 16 and over, 0 free white male under 16, 2 free white females

I think that Elsie is probably in David’s household and that the male under 16 is Thomas. The other three females would be the youngest daughters, Elsie, Abigail, and Sally,

1800 Census Maine, Plantation 22:
David Watts household includes one free white female over 45 years, who is probably Elsie.

Unfortunately, the indexed images currently available online are not readable. I thought I had a good image saved for this census from back before Ancestry acquired HeritageQuest, but I can’t find it, if I did. Thankfully, the Internet Archives site has the image reel from the National Archives. Plantation 22 starts around 27 pages in.
HA! Got it saved now, by gum!

Death of Alice “Elsie” Bean Watts

I have not independently found a death record for Elsie Watts. From the data sent to me from Karin Wakefield, Elsie died in Jonesboro on Mar 5, 1802, age about 65.

I think I mentioned that I am twice descended from Samuel and Elsie. My maternal great grandfather, Samuel Watts Bowker‘s parents, William Clark Bowker and Ruth Hall Watts, were grandchildren of Betsey Watts Bowker and David Watts, respectively. I feel it is only appropriate that they are the first of my ancestors in the Seventh generation from me to be profiled here. Happy Independence Day! 🙂






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  1. Great info. I came across this while tracing my lineage back to Hannah Duston.through Samuel Watts and Polly Noyes. and their daughter Delia who would be my great great great grandmother.

    • Thanks, Tom. It’s always great to hear from another cousin – twice. We are related through Noyes as well as Watts! 😀

  2. […] Samuel Watts and Esther Whitney of Jonesboro, Maine. Tom contacted me in response to my post about Samuel H Watts and Alice “Elsie” Bean, which he’ll tell you […]

  3. Great history. While I do not think we are related, I had family in that area and in the same time frame. So perhaps they said hello to each other as they passed by.

    • Thanks, Charles. I think awhile back we decided that we had a common Noyes ancestor. So yes. We are cousins!

      • Yes you are right. My memory is not what it use to be. Good thing I write stuff down.

      • No worries. I remembered we were cousins, but I had to look up the connection. 😉

  4. I enjoyed reading this, Barb! I knew the Watts family, including a more recent Sam Watts (I think died back in the early 1980s), who lived on Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts but still had a home in Roque Bluffs, not far from where Barbara Bowker Messer lived. His son was Phil Watts. Phil and his wife Muriel were good friends of my parents. Phil took a lot of pride in the Watts family’s role in the Revolutionary War and told us a lot about the Margaretta in the battle that occurred in Machias. Phil and Muriel’s son, David (and his wife, Katie) still live in Roque Bluffs today.

    • Thanks, Heidi. It’s always good to hear from you. I count myself lucky to be descended from such folks as the Watts, and related to such wonderful folks as Cousins Phil and Muriel Watts. 🙂

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