In March of this year I wrote the following for my mother in California:
In order for this account of the background of the Angel family in New England to make any sense, I’d like you to find a map of Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont and the eastern half of New York. If you look at a good map of Rhode Island, you can find Providence, which lies inland of Narragansett Bay. Warwick is a small city south of Providence on the western side of the bay. If you look further south, in Rhode Island Sound, you will find Block Island. Progressing further west southwest along the coast toward the border with Connecticut, you can find Westerly and Stonington. Finally, let you eyes run along the Connecticut coastline until you come to New London, which is about 15 miles east of the mouth of the Connecticut River. The Connecticut River has its origins in northern New Hampshire. After passing through Brattleboro in extreme southeastern Vermont, it passes through the middle of Massachusetts and Connecticut before reaching the Atlantic Ocean near New London. If you go back up to Brattleboro and then look about 10 miles west, you should find the towns of Halifax and Whitingham. Finally, if you look about 60 miles west of Whitingham, you will find Cooperstown, the county seat of Otsego County.
We know very little about William Angel (b. ca. 1710), a direct descendant of Thomas Angel, who accompanied Roger Williams to Rhode Island. He was born in Warwick, Kent County, RI, along the west bank of Narragansett Bay. The date and location of his death are unknown, but I would start looking in Halifax, Windham County VT. His first wife, Amy (Almy) Harding (Hardin), was born about 1710 in Rhode Island. Some authorities give the year of her birth as 1711, and it remains uncertain whether she was born in Providence or in Warwick. The date and location of her death have been given as 7 August 1750 in New London, New London, CT; however most authorities have not committed themselves to any date. At any rate, this date is compatible with the birthdates of William Angel’s children.
William and Amy had six children, all of whom were born in New London, New London County CT:
• Jemima b 21 May 1733
• James b 12 Jun 1736
• Almey b 24 Oct 1739
• William b 27 May 1742
• Mary b 4 Oct 1744
• Thomas b: 5 Nov 1747
After Amy Angel's death, William married Christian Church on 30 January 1752. She bore him an additional nine additional children, all of whom except one were born in New London:
• Abigail b 18 November 1752
• Deborah b 29 December 1754
• Prudence Angel, b 19 June 1756
• Jonathan Angel, b. 18 May 1758
• Joseph Angel, b 27 April 1760
• David Angel, b 12 December 1763; d January 1764 in New London, CT.
• Amy Angel, b 12 April 1766; because of the later child named Amy, b. 1770, Amy is thought to have died before 1770.
• Sarah Angel, b 5 November 1768
• Amy Angel, b 13 November 1770; d 14 June 1861 in Halifax VT. Amy married John Hamilton, son of Silas Hamilton and Hannah Hoyt, in Halifax VT.
Possibly as early as 1750, William Angel (b. ca. 1710), with his wife and children, began to relocate along or near the Connecticut River. There are strong suggestions that they may not have established themselves permanently in New London CT or in Windham County in southwestern VT, but that members of the family may have spent time in both areas or somewhere in between, perhaps in Deerfield MA, where they had good connections. While New London was a well-established community by the middle of the 18th century, southwestern Vermont was still remote, only sparsely settled, and exposed to all of the difficulties that winter and unsettled political conditions bring.
All five of William’s adult male children eventually went to Otsego County NY.
It would be easy to turn immediately to William Angel (1742-1830), our ancestor, who appears to have gone to Exeter, Otsego County NY in about 1789. However, first, some mention has to be made of his older brother James, who is generally thought to have been born 12 June 1736 in Warwick, Kent County, RI. According to the double tombstone for him and his wife, Anna (Jenkins) Angell, in Horn Hill Cemetery, Burlington, Otsego County, NY, James died on 4 April 1816 at the age of 80. The date of their marriage on 21 or 23 July 1760 by Rev. Joshua Morse is recorded in the Barbour Collection of New London, CT Vital Records 1649-1854.
We know nothing of the early life of James Angel. He was already about 46 years old when we find him in southeastern Vermont. According to a chapter devoted to Whitingham, Windham County, VT in the Vermont Historical Gazeteer (1891), the first town meeting for which records have survived was held on 30 March 1780. At this meeting, James Angel was one of three men elected to serve as selectmen of the town. As was common in New England, the board of selectmen served as the executive arm of the town governments in New England. James Angel was one of several persons to have been granted land in Whitingham in 1780 by the authority of the State of Vermont. These grants were supposed to cover all the unoccupied land in the town. His name appears on a list of taxpayers in 1781, at which time he was living in the southeastern part of the town. The presence of James Angel is recorded in the 1790 US Census for the Town of Whitingham, VT. He is the head of a household consisting of 3 males aged 16 or older and four females.
This census entry suggests that James and Anna may have had at least five children. The oldest of these was probably Benjamin (b. ca. 1765), whose sons later achieved considerable prominence in Jefferson County NY. It is generally believed that James was born in Connecticut. In this connection it should be noted that it was relatively easy to travel between Whitingham and New London, where many of the close relatives of James and Anna lived. The Connecticut River runs near Whitingham and eventually enters Long Island Sound just a few miles west of New London.
I know nothing about the location and activities of James and Anna Angel in New York except that they were buried in Horn Hill Cemetery near the line dividing Exeter from Burlington about two miles south of Angel Hill. An examination of land transactions before 1790 might well reveal that they owned land in Otsego County. On the other hand, they might have lived with their son Benjamin, who is listed in the 1810 and 1820 US Census for Burlington, Otsego County NY.
There is every reason to believe that James was a leader in the community of Whitingham VT and that he was relatively wealthy. Several of his brothers, sisters and children prospered and either became prominent in their own right or married into prominent families. It is a curious fact that it was his oldest son, Benjamin, who sold his uncle, William Angel (1742-1830) all of Lot 13 of Schuyler’s Patent, including Angel Hill, in Otsego County, NY, on 19 January 1797, perhaps as much as ten years after his uncle had arrived there. At that time, Benjamin and his wife Abigail were still living in Whitingham, Windham County VT.
It came as a surprise to me to discover that William Angel, who with his brothers settled in Exeter and Burlington, had acquired all of Lot 13, comprising 529 acres, from his nephew! I have no knowledge of how Benjamin acquired this land; however an important link might turn up some day with a certain Cadwallader Colden (1688-1776). By 1722 Colden, who was from Scotland and trained as a physician, had become His Majesty’s Surveyor General of New York, and is thought to have been the first educated white man to explore Otsego County. This same Colden was His Majesty's Lieutenant-Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Province of New York, and the Territories, in America. In 1770, in this capacity, he granted a petition for the formation of Whitingham VT, which at that time was under the jurisdiction of New York. Colden also had extensive dealings with Judge William Cooper, the founder of Cooperstown, and he was a significant landowner in Burlington, Otsego County in his own right.
We don’t know when James Angel (1736-1816) left Whitingham VT to come to Burlington, but it may not have been until after 1790, by which time his brothers, step-brothers, and perhaps his son Benjamin were well along in the process of establishing themselves in Otsego County.
By the time that the five Angel brothers began to settle in Exeter and Burlington, they were already in their 30’s or 40’s. All were married, and four of them had children. Of their early lives, we know almost nothing, but they may have lived in the New London area or somewhere along the Connecticut River between the coast and southern Vermont.
D. Hamilton Hurd's The History of Otsego County, New York 1740-1878 contains mini-biographies of early settlers of Otsego County. There, we find the five Angel brothers mentioned: "Among the prominent pioneers of the county were Jonathan, William, Joseph, James and Thomas Angel, who came from Connecticut in about the year 1787, all of whom, excepting Joseph and James, settled in the locality known as Angel Hill, in the town of Exeter, Otsego County NY. Joseph and James settled in the town of Burlington, about three miles northeast of the Green, on adjoining farms." The distance between these two locations is about five miles.
Of those listed above, James (1736-1816), William (1742-1830), and Thomas (1747-1814) were born in New London, Connecticut to William Angell and Amy Harding. After Amy's death, William Angell (b. ca. 1710) married Christian Church on 30 January 1752 in a ceremony performed in the 1st Congregational Church in New London by Rev. Eliphalet Adams. According to several authorities, Jonathan (1758-1839) and Joseph (b. ca. 1760) were born from this second marriage.
According to a recent Internet posting, the tombstone of William Angel (1742-1830) in Angell Hill Cemetery in Exeter, Otsego County, New York, bears the following inscription:
In Memory of Mr. William Angel, who died Feb. 18, 1830, in the 87, year of his age. He became the proprietor of the land where his remains now lie in. His industry subdued the wilderness around him, and he lived to a good old age to witness the growing prosperity of the country. His life was exemplary, his benevolence was unbounded. He lived the life of a christian and died the death of the righteous.
According to the commentary to this posting supplied by Diane Shepard Johnson, William Angell was born 27 May 1742 in New London, New London Co., CT and died 18 Feb 1830 and was buried in Angel Hill Cemetery, Exeter, Otsego Co., NY. William Angell was married twice. He married (1st) Jerusha Powers. He married (2nd) Susanna Gardner.
It is generally agreed that his first wife, Jerusha Powers, bore him the following three children:
Amy Angell (b. 4 April 1766, d. 17 February 1835)
Joshua Angell (b. ca. 1764, d. between 1850-1855)
Caleb Angell (b: Abt 1768, d. 20 August 1851)
His second wife, Susannah Gardner, may have borne him at least 7 children (note the gap of some 12 years between Julia Ann and William Gardner:
Frances (Fanny) Angell (1772-1838)
Stephen Angell (ca. 1775)
Lucy Angell (b. ca. 1768-)
Julia Ann Angell (b. ca. 1777)
William Gardner Angell (1790-1858).
I t is quite possible that Prentice Angell (1773-1850) should be added to this list.
Even today, 135 years after the publication of Avery F. Angell's Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Angell, Who Settled in Providence, 1636, very little is known about any of these children except for William Gardner Angell, a prominent lawyer who established a reputation in his home county and subsequently moved to Angelica, Allegany County. Standard genealogical documentation for the continuation of the family from William Angell (1742-1830) down to my great-grandfather Warren M. Angel (1856 - 1941) is lacking, and only the weight of recently available circumstantial evidence now makes it possible to put all of the links confidently into place.
An examination of early land transactions in Otsego County has provided some useful clues to these links. An indenture dated 19 January 1797 in which Benjamin and Abigail Angel deeded all of Lot 13 in Schuyler‘s Patent (539 acres) to William Angel (1742-1830) is important for an understanding of the origins of the Angel Hill settlement. Benjamin Angel (ca. 1765-1849) was William’s nephew, and at the time the indenture was executed, he was residing in Whitingham VT. I have been able to examine only some of these early deeds.
Soon after he had acquired all of Lot 13 in Schuyler's Patent (539 acres) in 1797, William Angell and his wife Susanna began to sell off parcels within that lot. By far the most important of these for our line was a transaction dated 17 October 1798 between them and their son Joshua Angell Sr. (b. ca. 1764-d. between 1850 and 1855). The parcel is described as follows:
. . .all that tract or lot of land lying and being in Richfield Exeter was set off from Richfield in 1799, county aforesaid and is part of lot No 13 in Schuyler's Patent and is bounded as follows: beginning at south easterly corner of Caleb Angel's land at stake and stones the northerly side of the highway then north thirty five degrees east fifty-three chains fifty links to the corner of Mr. Elijah Dodge's land then south 55 east along said Dodge’s land thirteen chains at stake and stones then south 35 west thirty eight chains fifty links to the highway then north 50 west along said highway two chains then south 35 degrees west nineteen chains at stake and stones then north 55 degrees west ten chains at stake and stones then south 35 degrees west fifteen chains at stake and then north 55 degrees west one chain fifty links at stake and stones then north 35 degrees east thirty chains at stake and stones. Standing the south side of the highway, containing seventy acres . . .
By the time this deed was signed, William Angell's (1742-1830) first wife (Jerusha Powers) had passed away, and William had long since married his second wife, Susannah Gardner. Although the deed mentions that the land was in Richfield Township, it must be noted that Richfield was formed from Otsego Township in 1792 and the townships of Exeter and Plainfield were set off from Richfield Township in 1799. This is why this deed refers to land in Richfield, rather than land in Exeter. The Caleb Angel mentioned in the 1798 deed is certainly Caleb Angel, Senior, the son of William Angell (1742-1830) and brother to Joshua Angell (ca. 1764-between 1850 and 1855).
Another deed of importance in tracing the passage of land in Lot 13 between generations of Angels is an indenture between William and Joshua Angel (almost certainly Joshua Angel Senior) dated 1 May 1825. This deed refers to “about five acres of land” adjacent to “lands heretofore conveyed by the said party of the first part to the said party of the second part.” The transaction was expressly “subject to a mortgage executed by the party of the first part [William] to the loan commissioners of Otsego County in the year 1808.”
I have seen no other reference to this mortgage, and it would be nice to know more about it. One can only speculate as to why the mortgage was necessary in the first place. One interesting possibility may lie with a fire which, on 29 June 1808, destroyed a distillery and other buildings owned by James Angel (1775-1825), who was William‘s nephew. The proceeds of such a mortgage might have been applied to get James back on his feet. By this reasoning, then, after James died on 15 March 1825, it became possible to tear the mortgage up.
So far, I have followed our line forward from William Angell (b. ca. 1710) to William Angel (1742-1830). Of the five sons born to William and his two wives, Joshua Angel Sr. (ca. 1764-between 1850 and 1855) and possibly Stephen, about whom I know very little, can be in our line. Joseph Angel (1760- ) had no children. We know that Caleb Angel Sr. (1766-1851) and Jonathan Angel had children (Jeremy and David, respectively) whose birthdays fall within a period in 1797 that would make it unlikely for William Angel (b. ca. 1797-d. between 1856 and 1858) to have been the son of either.
At http://www.borg.com/~corgyn/calebangellstone.htm, Diane Shepard Johnson has posted a picture of Caleb Angel’s tombstone in Angel Hill Cemetery, Exeter, Otsego County NY. The inscription reads “Caleb Angell Died Aug. 20, 1851, in the 81 year of his age. According to her, Caleb’s gravestone may say "’in the 84 year’ instead of 81. 84 would agree with other records that give his age. Caleb married (1st) Hannah Rose. He married (2nd) Hannah ---. Caleb Angell was the son of William Angell and Jerusha (Powers) Angell (b. 1744). Caleb's 3rd great grandfather was Thomas Angell who came to the New World in 1631, on the ship Lion. Caleb and Hannah (Rose) Angell were my 4th great grandparents.” Hannah Rose Angel was born in 1768 at Block Island, Rhode Island, USA. She died on 24 September 1823 and is buried in Angel Hill Cemetery, Exeter, Otsego County NY.
With Hannah Rose Angel, Caleb had the following children:
Jerusha Angel b. 4 Nov 1792, d. 2 Aug 1866
Jeremy R. Angel b. ca. 30 September 1797, d. 27 September 1811
Caleb Angel b. 1799, d 31 May 1875
David R. Angel b. 14 Sep 1801, d. 13 Mar 1891
Prentice Angel b. 1803, d. 1 Nov 1821
Noah Angel b. 4 Sep 1805, d. 25 Nov 1809
Joseph Angel b. 1809, d. 1 Mar 1888
In connection with the continuation of the line, it should be noted that Jeremy R. Angel was born in late September 1797. This makes it rather unlikely that William Angel (b. ca. 1797-d. between 1856 and 1858), who appears to have been the father of Fernando Cortez Angel (ca. 1829-1861) was also Caleb’s son.
This leaves Joshua Angel (b. ca. 1764), and, although I cannot prove it conclusively, I believe that he was the father of William Angel (b. ca. 1797) and the grandfather of my ancestor, Warren M. Angel (b. 1856).
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