Tuesday, August 2, 2011


[Ancestral Link: Lura Minnie Parker (Stagge), daughter of Minnie May Elmer (Parker), daughter of Mark Alfred Elmer, son of Hannah Polina Child (Elmer), daughter of Alfred Bosworth Child, son of Mark Anthony Child, son of Increase Child, son of Ephraim Child, son of Ephraim Child.]

Ephraim Child, Woodstock Hill Cemetery, Woodstock, Windham, Connecticut, USA

Chapter 8 - Lieutenant Ephraim Child Sr. -- 1683-1759 (76 Years Old)

Ephraim Child Sr. was born on December 18, 1683 in the village of Jamaica Plains, Roxbury Township, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.  Ephraim was the first of twelve children born to Benjamin III and Grace Morris Child.  Being the eldest child, Ephraim would have learned at an early stage in his life the responsibilities of caring for siblings and setting an example for them.  Although he had seven brothers and four sisters, all born in a twenty-three year time span (1683-1706), Ephraim was closest to his brother Benjamin IV, who was a year and a half younger.  These brothers were raised on their father's farm, about one mile northwest of the village of Jamaica Plains, where they learned many of the valuable lessons of life from their father while assisting him maintain the land and livestock.

Ephraim and his siblings worshipped at the Congregational Church in the center of Roxbury, which was located about four miles southeast of the family farm in Jamaica Plains.  Their pastor, Reverend John Eliot, was a close friend of Ephraim's grandfather Benjamin II, who baptized almost all of his descendants in the township of Roxbury.  At the death of this dynamic minister in 1690, the Eliot School was established and endowed on 75 acres of his land in the village of Jamaica Plains.

Eliot School build in 1690
Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts

In this hallowed place of learning, Ephraim and his siblings received the essentials of a well-rounded education that developed their qualities of the finest New England type, thus exhibiting the strictest Puritan training.  It is through these childhood experiences that provided Ephraim with the leadership skills and character that he would later use during the migration phase of his life, when he journeyed into the hostile wilderness region of the Connecticut frontier and settled a new farm.

Ephraim grew up on his father's 80-acre estate, which had been maintained for two generations.  Ephraim was raised with several of his aunts and uncles living in the same house, due to the fact that his grandfather Benjamin II had unexpectedly passed away at an early age.  Ephraim's father Benjamin III had the added responsibility of raising the remainder of his father's children, while raising his own family at the same time.  As a result, when Ephraim was born, his nine-year old uncle Joseph and his twelve-year old uncle John would have helped raise him.  There is no doubt that Ephraim was definitely close with his two uncles, and they most likely would have entertained him in his playful years.  Ephraim's circumstances of being raised in the same household as his two uncles would play a major role in his life to come, especially the relationship that he would later build with his uncle John as they worked together in establishing a new settlement.  It appears that the sudden death of Ephraim's grandfather created the unique variables that would once again alter the course of this Child bloodline.

Map of Child Migrations in New England
1709 Roxbury to Woodstock

By the time Ephraim was born in 1683, the majority of land within the Massachusetts Bay region had been completely cleared and settled.  As a result, the selectmen of Roxbury petitioned the General Court of the Massachusetts colony for the "need for more extended pasturage."  In 1686, thirteen men from Roxbury were sent out to seek a grant of land that would be suitable for settlement.  They followed the Indian trail, known as the "Old Connecticut Path," which led from Boston, Massachusetts to Hartford, Connecticut.  They selected the valley that the Indians referred to as "Nipmuck Country" and renamed it New Roxbury.  However, by 1690, the name was changed to Woodstock, after the royal settlement in England where kings lived.

The General Court of Massachusetts conferred the land grant, supposing that the valley was within the boundaries of the colony, where it was actually located within the Connecticut colony.  From 1686 onward, a steady flow of migration occurred from Roxbury to Woodstock, which would forever link the families of these two townships.
Consequently, the town records reveal that a stir was in the air around Roxbury, where those who were emigrating were dubbed "goers," while those remaining were called "stayers."  The unique circumstances of Ephraim's father Benjamin III most likely dubbed him a "stayer," although he took part in the division of the allotments.  The records reveal that Benjamin III was granted two tracts of land in the northeastern section of Woodstock, which totaled seventy-one acres.  Many residents of Roxbury who held grants in Woodstock never left to settle there, but rather sold them at a later time.  It is clear that Benjamin III held these two tracts of land, not for himself, but for his younger sons that would not inherit his homestead estate in Roxbury.

Original Allotments of NE Woodstock
Yellow = 136 Acres Ephraim Sr.
The burden that was placed upon Ephraim's father of raising two separate families prevented him from migrating to Woodstock.  In addition, because the homestead in Roxbury had previously been established, it is unlikely that Benjamin III wanted to resettle the wilderness after the exhausting work of two generations had already been invested.  The family was finally prospering and enjoying the fruits of their labors.  Moreover, Benjamin's mother had just settled the Bowen estate, which added forty acres to the one hundred acres that existed within the homestead.  Thus, it made perfect sense for Benjamin III to stay on his land in Roxbury, rather than dragging his two families through the primitive lifestyle that his father endured when starting anew.
Map of Ancestral Locations in Woodstock
linked to Ephraim Child Sr.

For the next twenty-five years, the residents of Roxbury settled the southern part of Woodstock, which is commonly referred to as Woodstock Hill.  A burying ground and Congregational Church were established, along with civic organizations that were similar to those in Roxbury.  While the section of Woodstock that was settled was south of the Old Connecticut Path, which basically ran through the center of Woodstock, the northern section had yet to be settled.  However, by 1709, Ephraim Child and his brothers were the first immigrants to settle the northeastern region, which was formally named at a later time as East Woodstock.

19th Century Map of NE Woodstock
showing original Child Homesteads
Because the only condition that was imposed for this new settlement stated that, "whosoever desires to enter as a Goer shall be twenty-one years old," not all of the Child brothers came at first.  In 1709, Ephraim was twenty-five years old, his brother Benjamin IV was twenty-three years old, and his brother Edward was twenty-one.  The other brothers of Ephraim would have ranged between five and fifteen years of age, which would have been too young at that time.  In addition, their father Benjamin III would have needed and demanded their help in maintaining the Child family estate in Roxbury.

The reasons why Ephraim decided to leave the family estate and begin a new life in the wilderness may never be known.  Ephraim was the eldest son of Benjamin III, which meant that he was the heir to his father's established homestead in Roxbury.  It is possible that the large number of younger siblings that would not be leaving home for the next fifteen years discouraged Ephraim from staying because of possible motives to move on with his life or desires of independence.  However, it is most likely that the driving force behind the Child brothers' migration was just the thrill of trekking into the unknown wilderness, along with the challenges of surviving along the frontier.  This was the second time that a restless spirit of migratory exploration had fallen upon this particular lineage that descended from Wolstone Childe.  As a result, a recurring pattern of settlement emerged for the first generation that was allowed by prosperity for the second generation, which repeated itself at least four times in the Child bloodline.

Ephraim Child's unique relationship of growing up with his uncle John came back to bless him later in life.  Although Ephraim was strong and smart enough to start a new life in the wilderness at the age of twenty-five, the added experience of his uncle John, who was thirty-seven years old at the time, would greatly benefit him and his brothers.  In 1699, Ephraim's uncle John purchased a farm and homestead in the center of the southern region of Woodstock, which had been laid out as an orderly community.  As a result, Lieutenant John Child had already been established for ten years in Woodstock before Ephraim and his brothers arrived in 1709.

There is no doubt that Lieutenant John Child helped Ephraim out by allowing the three brothers to stay at his house and use it as a base of operation until they could get on their own feet.  To get established required them to have crops in the ground and a roof over their heads.  This signified that they had to travel every day to the northeast sector of Woodstock that was still vacant and uncultivated, and carry out the backbreaking work of felling trees with their axes.  The trail that they cut into the northern forest from the south later became known as Child Hill Road.

Child Hill Road Street Sign
Woodstock Hill, Connecticut
Early journal entries between 1710-1711 from their neighbor John May reveal the privations of the day.  In addition, these accounts indicate that the Child brothers worked as a team, and had the help of their uncle and neighbors:
"went with Child a-logging...dressed flax with Child...Child and I dug a cellar...went about the woods with Ephraim Child, afterwards felled three trees...I drew my timber together and Ephraim Child and Ben with their teams helped me draw...Child and their oxen helped me...Child helped me hew timber...helped Ben Child half a day...helped Ephraim Child cover corn...John Child helped me cart stones."
Ephraim Child Sr. 100-acre Farm, Woodstock
Partly Cleared in 1709
Ephraim had purchased two lots in the northeast sector of Woodstock that totaled seventy-two acres, which was added to the seventy-one acres from the two lots that Ephraim's father had bequeathed upon his sons.  There is no record that Edward purchased any land, for he may have come to help his brothers, because shortly thereafter, he returned to Roxbury, where he lived out the remainder of his life.
Ephraim Child Sr. Homestead and 100-acre Farm
Woodstock, Connecticut

As the three Child brothers cleared the tall trees with the powerful stokes of their axes, they opened up the lots to the sun for cultivating corn, flax, and wheat around the large stumps.  When they were not tending the crops, they would strip the tree trunks until a sufficient amount of trees had been felled, in order that they could build their first homes as log cabins.  The early records reveal that Ephraim and his brother Benjamin IV built a dam on a nearby brook in order to run their own sawmill and gristmill.  The foundation of their sawmill is still visible today, where the bridge of the main road passes over the Muddy Brook in East Woodstock.

Child Brothers' Dam and Sawmill Foundation
East Woodstock, Connecticut

Within a couple of years, Ephraim and Benjamin IV had built their first homes as log cabins and had a respectable plot of land that was cleared and cultivated.  Ephraim finished his log cabin in time for the arrival of the birth of his first child.  Sometime around 1709, Ephraim married Priscilla Harris, the daughter of Daniel Harris, who lived next door to the Child homestead in Roxbury.  During Ephraim's migration and settlement phase, it is unclear whether Priscilla lived with him at his uncle John's house, or that she was sent for when the log cabin and farm were set up.  However, what is clear is the fact that Ephraim and Priscilla's first child was born on January 15, 1711 in East Woodstock, Connecticut.  Their son was given the name of Ephraim after his father, uncle, and second great uncle.  Ephraim and Priscilla continued to have children, where in the next decade they would bring forth a total of ten children.

Children of
Lt. Ephraim Sr. and Priscilla Harris Child

During the 1720s, the records reveal that Ephraim's other brothers from Roxbury started arriving one by one as they were old enough to leave their father's farm and start a new life on their own.  There is no doubt that Ephraim helped each of his brothers get established, just as his uncle John had done for him.  The early deeds indicate that these brothers lived on some of the early Child homesteads that had previously been established by Ephraim and Benjamin IV.  By the end of the 1720s, there were seven Child brothers settled in the northeast sector, which was formally called East Woodstock.  Edward was the only Child brother that stayed behind on his father's farm in Roxbury, where it eventually passed to him and his descendants after settling up with his siblings.
After living in an array of log cabins and helping his brothers during the 1720s, Ephraim was finally in a position to enjoy the fruits of his labor.  The prosperity of the Child brothers' hard work can be witnessed in the transition to a "framed" dwelling house that each of them eventually erected for themselves.
Ephraim Child Sr. Mansion Home built in 1735
East Woodstock, Connecticut
The success of the sawmill that Ephraim and Benjamin ran provided them with an excess of lumber, where they were able to build three-story framed houses, which are referred to in the deeds as "mansion" houses.  The deeds of Woodstock reveal that the earliest mansion to be built for a Child was completed first for Ephraim's uncle John in 1733.  There is no doubt that all of the Child brothers helped each other build their dwelling places.  Two years later, Ephraim's mansion home was erected in 1735, and still stands today as a witness to its sturdiness.  Mansion houses were built for each of the other brothers as well, following with Benjamin IV down to the youngest brother.
Ephraim's mansion house was passed down through his Child descendants until the late nineteenth century, when it was purchased by Byron Eddy and has stayed within the Eddy family ever since.  In 1776, an elm tree was planted in front of the house in commemoration of the colonies' independence from England.  It grew to be a great magnificent tree and became known as the Centennial Tree in the hundred-year celebration of independence.
Ephraim Child Sr. Manion Home build in 1735
East Woodstock, Connecticut
Ephraim and Benjamin IV continued to prosper from their hard work and perseverance.  These brothers participated in many town meetings, taking an active part in leadership roles.  In 1724, Ephraim was elected as a town constable for Woodstock.  In addition, he served on many town committees that dealt with civic affairs.  In 1738, Ephraim served as the Commissioner for public lands.  Ephraim's leadership ability was also utilized in the military for the Crown, where he served as a Lieutenant in the 17th Company of the 11th Connecticut Regiment.  Both Ephraim and Benjamin IV were considered among the prominent citizens of Woodstock.  They were members of town councils, governing boards, and were included in many important decisions that affected the town.

Academy and Administrative Common
of Woodstock Hill, Connecticut

Ephraim Child was not only active in civic and political events, but was also a passionate supporter of religious affairs.  The municipal records of Woodstock reveal that he served on many town committees that dealt with ecclesiastical issues.  Although he lived north of the town center, he served as a Deacon for the Congregational Church for many years.  All of Ephraim's children attended church with him, where the names appear on the clerical records receiving the ordinance of baptism. 
Congregational Church of Woodstock Hill, Connecticut
Established 1690
Early journal entries from Salmon Child reveal that the Child family in Woodstock belonged to the "Standing Order" of the Congregational Church, where "they were very strict in keeping the Sabbath and all the forms of religion, as they understood them. They kept Saturday night. All kind of labor, in doors and out, was laid aside as soon as the sun set...They took the whole family to meeting, and after returning, and supper was over, the children were taught the Westminster catechism or other religious exercises, until the sun set." With that said, Ephraim was a very religious man, who not only had the exceeding faith to literally follow the word of God, but also was devout and zealous in teaching his family the principles of the gospel.

After living a prosperous life that was sufficiently long enough to enjoy many grandchildren, Ephraim Child Sr. passed away on November 22, 1759, at the age of seventy-six.  At his death, Ephraim's 100-acre farm and 36-acre plot of land were granted to his son Elisha Child, one of his youngest sons that was still living with him and working his farm.  Ephraim was buried in the Woodstock Hill Cemetery that was the burying ground for the Congregational Church that he attended.

Woodstock Hill Cemetery, Connecticut
Burial Ground of Ephraim Child Sr.

He was buried next to two of his daughters (Priscilla and Johanna) that had preceded him in death, where all their tombstones can still be viewed today.  Ephraim's wife Priscilla continued to live with her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren for the next twenty years until she passed away on January 26, 1780, at the good old age of ninety-six.  She was buried in the East Woodstock Cemetery, where her tombstone remains visible today.

Left: Woodstock Hill Cemetery
Right: East Woodstock Cemetery

In conclusion, Lieutenant Ephraim Child Sr. was considered one of the most prominent citizens of Woodstock, Connecticut.  After migrating from a polished and established society in Roxbury, Massachusetts, he entered a primitive and isolated wilderness and started his life over with the humblest of beginnings.  A small piece of land was cut out of the wilderness and transformed into a living Garden of Eden.  The prosperity of Ephraim and his wife Priscilla not only came through the sweat of their brows, but also came as Divine Providence smiled upon them because of their righteousness.  Ephraim served his community, helped his neighbors, and assisted his family members in all areas of life.  The day-to-day actions of this Child family should serve as a model for what it truly means to be a Christian.  As other Child historians have stated, "Ephraim was a man of broad views, of a warm and sympathetic nature, living for others quite as much as for himself.  Earnest in efforts for the public good, he drew men around him less brave, who shared his sympathies and profited by his counsels.  In church affairs he was conscientious, steadfast, and reliable; a leader whose integrity and wisdom secured the confidence of his Christian brethren, and rendered him a fit man to transmit to posterity, attractive and valuable characteristics."
Pages 239-253
"The Ancestry of Alfred Bosworth Child" Mark B. Child, Ph.D./Paul L. Child, D.D.S., 2008 printed by Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

Ephraim military service and characteristics
Mr. Ephraim Child was a prominent man of his day. He was intelligent, patriotic, enterprising, generous and self-sacrificing. His patriotism was kindled by the stirring incidents of the times, and he was among the first of the early defenders of colonial interests. In 1753 he held a commission as Lieutenant in Company 17, in 11th Regiment of Infantry, in Connecticut, and was active in the revolutionary struggles for independence. He was a man of broad views, of a warm and sympathetic nature, living for others quite as much as for himself. Earnest in efforts for the public good, he drew around him men less brave, who shared in his sympathies and profited by his counsels. In church affairs he was conscientious, steadfast and reliable, a leader whose integrity and wisdom secured the confidence of his Christian brethren, and rendered him a fit man to transmit to posterity, attractive and valuable characteristics.
mfredlund74added this on 10 Jun 2011

From: Genealogy of the Child, Childs and Childe Families, of the Past and present in the United States and the Canadas, from 1630 to 1881, Volume 1 By Elias Child 1946
found on ancestry.com

Ephraim Child, first child of Benjamin and Grace Morris Child, born December 18, 1683, in Roxbury, Massachusetts, married 1710 Priscilla Harris, daughter of Daniel Harris, of Brooklin, Massachusetts.  He was the elder of the seven brothers, who migrated about 1710, from Roxbury, Massachusetts, to Woodstock, Connecticut, erected for himself a house which, with some additions, has been retained in the line of his male descendants, for a period of about 170 years.  Mr. Ephraim Child was a prominent man of his day.  He was intelligent, patriotic, enterprising, generous and self-sacrificing.  In church affairs, he was conscientious, steadfast, and reliable, a leader whose integrity and wisdom secured the confidence of his Christian Brethren, and rendered him a fit man to transmit to posterity attractive and valuable characteristics.  Their ten children are recorded in the "History of Woodstock, Connecticut, and Child Family History."
Page 533

Ephraim Child, first child of Benjamin and Grace Morris Child, born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, December 18, 1683, married 1710, Priscilla Harris, daughter of Dan'l Harris of Brookline, Massachusetts.  He died November 22, 1759.  She was born June 4, 1684.  She died June 26, 1780, at 96.

Ephraim Child was the eldest of the seven brothers who migrated from Roxbury, Massachusetts to "New Roxbury," Connecticut (afterwards called Woodstock).  He removed shortly before or immediately after his marriage, in 1710, and settled in that part of the town now called East Woodstock (anciently known as Muddi Brook), erecting for himself a house, which, with some additions, had been retained in the line of his male descendants till the present time, 1880, covering a period of quite 170 years.  Its enlargement, at a somewhat early period, made it as it now stands, a commodious and attractive home.  Its site is in a beautiful vale, about half a mile east of East Woodstock village.  It is probably at his house where occurred the amusing incident on a Thanksgiving occasion, which is found recorded in the early part of his chapter.  Many pleasant memories cluster around this ancient home.  It has been the birthplace of sons and daughters, whose history, with that of a long line of descendants, is is pleasant to trace.  In this house hospitalities for many generations have been liberally dispensed to kindred and aliens, particularly on the Sabbath, when, in the interval between the morning and afternoon religious service, numbers of worshippers living remote from the place of worship, accepted as an accorded right, a hearty meal of boiled meats and vegetables, or a soporific lunch of hasty pudding and milk; this latter being the favorite repast; particularly of one, who could not resist the luxury of a quiet nap under the afternoon sermon.

These were the good old times which the elder men of the present age like to recall, and which link them to the memory of uncles, aunts, grandfathers and grandmothers.

Home built by Ephraim Child

Before this ancient dwelling stands a magnificent elm, whose trunk and outspreading branches are emblematic of a noble ancestor and his sturdy descendants.  In 1876 this stately elm was christened the "Centennial Tree."  More than one hundred years had passed since man and beast had rested beneath its grateful shade.

Mr. Ephraim Child was a prominent man of his day.  He was intelligent, patriotic, enterprising, generous and self-sacrificing.  His patriotism was kindled by the stirring incidents of the times, and he was among the first of the early defenders of colonial interests.  In 1753 he held a commission as Lieutenant in Company 17, in 11th Regiment of Infantry, in Connecticut, and was active in the revolutionary struggles for independence.  he was a man of broad views, of a warm and sympathetic nature, living for others good, he drew around him men less brave, who shared in his sympathies and profited by his counsels.  In church affairs he was conscientious, steadfast and reliable, a leader whose integrity and wisdom secured the confidence of his Christian brethren, and rendered him a fit man to transmit to posterity, attractive and valuable characteristics.
Page 562-563
Histories of Child, Rawson, Coffin and Holtzclaw Families
Compiled, written, and published by Fern Roberts Morgan
Printed by M.C. Printing, Inc., Provo, Utah

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