I am still looking for more descendants of Benjamin SLEEPER, a biography of whom follows:
Benjamin SLEEPER, supposedly born 06 December 1758, in Brentwood, Rockingham Co. NH, the son of Jonathan SLEEPER, who was the “son or nephew” of Elisha SLEEPER, grandson of Aaron, and great-grandson of Thomas, the immigrant. Little information is given about Jonathan, who is given a birth-date “around 1735” in “Kingston or environs” and the parentage of Benjamin must remain, at the moment, a subject for further research.
Many SLEEPERs were Quakers, and there is some indication that Benjamin may have originally been among them, however any religious convictions paled to patriotic (and financial) ones, as on 10 April 1777, in Brentwood, he enlisted in Captain James Gray’s company of Colonel Alexander Scammell’s Third New Hampshire regiment of the Continental Army. Gray’s company was largely of men from Salisbury, Vermont, but had Brentwood men as well; Benjamin was one of the latter and given the demographics of the Continental Army, was likely of modest means.
Benjamin and the rest of the Third were involved in most of the iconic battles of the Revolution. Assigned first to the Northern Army and Fort Ticonderoga, Benjamin fought at the pivotal Battle of Saratoga, where he helped capture General Burgoyne’s command. Subsequently assigned to General Washington’s command in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, he spend the winter of 1777 and 1778 at Valley Forge, where he was among the troops trained by Baron Von Steuben, and fighting at the later Battle of Monmouth.
With the war shifting the to South, the regiment was assigned to General Sullivan’s extermination campaign against the Haudenosaunee and Tories of upstate New York, which successfully broke the nation's power forever. Having done his duty, Benjamin was mustered out and honorably discharged 20 April 1780 at West Point, Orange Co. NY after serving his term.
Upon his return to New Hampshire, Benjamin married Ruth BEAN, daughter of Quaker Minister James BEAN and his second wife, Lydia HOAG, on May 17, 1781 in Hawke (now Danville), Rockingham Co. NH. Both he and Ruth resided in Brentwood at the time of his marriage, which was performed by the Rev. John Page.
While Cutter states Benjamin removed to Alton “about 1795,” the Census places him in Brentwood through 1800. Except for a likely under-estimate of the family’s ages in 1810, the Census consistently matches up with the ages and genders of the family members given by Cutter.
Benjamin was a farmer and, I would suspect, leaned Federalist in his politics. His land, a few hundred acres, was in the area of present-day Round Pond and Sunset Pond, southwest of Alton Bay, near the town border with Gilmanton and Gilmanton Iron Works. Divided amongst his sons, this land remained in the family for multiple generations.
Applying for a pension in 1818, he claimed to be too infirm to pursue labor. He remained as head of his own household through the 1830 Census, however his sons likely provided more and more physical assistance to him. He officially transferred the bulk of his land to his sons, Elisha and Joseph, in the early 1840s. He died in Alton, 10 February 1849, a few months past his 90th birthday.
Benjamin had five children who lived to adulthood, the two oldest removing to Essex County MA, the rest remaining in Alton. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren were concentrated in the Lakes region of New Hampshire and Essex County Massachusetts (especially, but not exclusively in Haverhill) and include members bearing the following surnames (besides SLEEPER, of course): BUZZELL, COLCORD, CORSON, DAVIS, EVANS, MERRILL, ORDWAY, PAIGE, PERKINS, PRICE, PUTNAM, SARGENT, SHELDON, TILTON, WILLIAMS, and WOODMAN
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