Joseph Smith of Oyster River, Carpenter, was born c1639. Old time family speculation by some is that he was the son of George Smyth of Dover, who came from Plymouth England & descended from the Smiths of Willoughby & Old Haugh, England. Further, it is said that George was a son or nephew of Capt. John Smith of Pocahontas fame. All that, while fascinating, is at this point uncertain & unproven.
The author of History of Durham states "Not a shred of evidence has been found that George Smyth was the father of James Smith and Joseph Smith of Oyster River, nor that the two last were related at all."
I will concur, I haven’t seen a record that clearly states they were brothers. I will say though that they both lean toward being Quakers, they both had land on Oyster River in the late 1600’s & it is highly likely the Joseph Smith mentioned on the administration papers of James, is this Joseph. At some point I may do a blog on James, but for now I’m trying to stay on task with Joseph. If you are a male Smith & are reading this blog see this post.
Sometimes, it seems, Joseph Smith of Oyster River, Carpenter, has been confused in a couple secondary sources with Major/Col./Judge Joseph Smith of Hampton b. c1653-8 who was the son of Robert Smith of Exeter & Hampton, NH. Specifically, the History of Durham, pg 333 states our Joseph “is called ‘Judge of Probate’ in 1708, but indicates no source. I have seen nothing that would indicate this was Joseph of Oyster River. Instead, in my opinion, it was most likely Joseph of Hampton, as the numerous mentions in the Provincial Papers of New Hampshire indicate. These were definitely two distinct men of which our Joseph seems to be the older by at least 14 years.
Further, there seems to be some speculation that these two Joseph’s were somehow related, but to date, I have not seen a record to establish that. Although our Joseph’s son-in-law, Samuel Page of Hampton, was named an executor of Col Joseph’s will in 1712, NHPP Vol 31 pg 694, it could be merely coincidental that he is our Joseph’s son-in-law, as Joseph of Hampton was clearly cousins with Page family members.
There also is some speculation by other researchers that our Joseph Smith was related to John Smith, “The Cooper” of Hampton, said to have married Huldah Hussey. His father is said to be John Smith of Martha’s Vineyard. I have not followed this line at all.
A genealogical record of the Smiths of Oyster River, implies there was also early on a John Smith of Oyster River. He is named in that book as being the brother of James & Joseph, all sons of George Smyth, but again, I have not seen evidence to confirm any of that. It is said this John “left his brethren and went to Little Compton [RI], in Plymouth Colony, on account of a young woman whom he had an aversion to; and at the same time she had a passionate regard for him, insomuch that after he absented himself, she cut off a piece from one of her fingers and sent it to him enclosed in a letter.” John did not marry the woman, but instead is said to have married someone else & had two daughters, who later married in Boston.
Several Smith DNA projects are underway & the prospect of DNA solving the mysteries still at hand is exciting! However, further DNA testing needs to be done for several male Smiths that trace back to Durham or Dover, NH in order to be certain of anything. Until then, or until further records are brought to light, all I can say is - I do not know who Joseph’s father or siblings were. While it would be easy to make assumptions based on George Symth being in Dover near its conception c1633-4, and then Joseph, James & John turning up in Oyster River c1657-61, that is not evidence.
Joseph, is first noted as witnessing a deed 9:12:1657, according to the History of Durham pg 333. On the same page it is footnoted:
“*Notice that Joseph Smith witnessed a deed when he was sixteen or seventeen years of age and that he married Elizabeth Bickford, who’s father was next neighbor to Charles Adams, and that the latter married Rebecca Smith. See Adams. Did not Joseph Smith come over with Charles Adams as a relative of his wife?”
In looking at Adams as directed, Rebecca Smith is mentioned under Mercy or Ursula b. 13 March 1674. She was captured by Natives in July 1694 & brought to Canada. Apparently, she was baptized in Canada 6 Apr 1697 & it was recorded she was the daughter of Charles and Rebecca (Smith) Adams of Oyster River.
There is no indication of what deed it was that may have been signed by Joseph, and I looked at all the deeds indexed on NHDeeds.com under 1657. It could be indexed incorrectly though, and as a side note, you also have to page through all the deeds without any date. I thought perhaps it was for Charles Adams, but only one deed prior to 1658 for Adams in Rockingham County exists & it is 1-83 from John Ault to Charles Adams 1651/2 [History of Durham says 1648]. Coincidence or not, George Symth is a witness on that deed, and is also the recorder at that time, proving he had atrocious handwriting, lol.
At about 21 in 1660, Joseph appears in the Dover/Oyster River records as receiving a grant & purchasing land, and begins showing on the Tax Lists in 1661.
He was caught being a little rowdy that year with Steven Robinson & Robert Lynsy/Hussey when they got carried away drinking & quarrelling, eventually confessing that “they changed a box on ye ear or two”. [ie: exchanged a punch or two] They were sentenced to pay fines. [NHPP Vol 40 Pgs 160 & 166]. That year Joseph also made a deposition that names him as “22 yeares, or there abouts”. [NHPP Vol 40 Pg 489]
There are a few other interesting notes in the court records about our Joseph which are as follows:
Our Joseph Smith married Elizabeth Bickford, daughter of John and Temperance Bickford c1668 [Torrey Marriages; Hist of Durham]. A specific marriage record was not found in this research, so if it exists it is more challenging to find, but Joseph does appear to be a witness on John Bickford’s will [NHPP Vol XXXI, pg 296-298] & also is mentioned in the estate of Temperance Bickford [NHPP Vol XXXI pg 391].
Joseph's land ownership has been rather difficult to sort out, and much like his son John’s whereabouts & land, it has been confused in sources. We can be sure he was a land owner as early as 1660 & it seems the land he had in his lifetime included numerous, perhaps hundreds, of acres in various parts of Oyster River. His earliest & main residence for most of his life appears to have been on the north side of Oyster River about a half mile up from the mouth on what is now known as Emery Farm or Hills Family Farm, directly inland from the conservation land known as Wagon Hill Farm.
There, he had a garrison which was defended by his son Capt John Smith in the attack of 1694. This garrison is one of the twelve spoken of in The History of New Hampshire, Vol 1, by Belknap, pg 139, as having been one of the 5 preserved in the attack of the French and Indians in July 1694. The ambush which killed or captured 100 villagers was the most horrific attack in New Hampshire. There are several excellent articles on that topic including what is written in the History of NH, mentioned above, as well as an article written by Craig J. Brown in Historical New Hampshire Vol 53, Nos. 3&4, Fall/Winter 1998, & this blog at minerdecent.com.
Judge Valentine Smith of Durham was a descendant & his family notes refer to Joseph’s land as “Half Ride Rock”, but there seems to be some confusion as to where this land was. It is unclear to me if it was the land on the north side of Oyster River or if it was on the Squamscott in what would be Newmarket today. Just for reference, a “Half-ride Rock” is a rock that appears above water a halfebb; Halfebb means halfway between high tide & low tide while the tide is on its way out. I have not been to the site to see if anything matching this description exists there.
Several records point to Joseph’s land ownership on the north side of Oyster River including the following.
Joseph Smith also owned land in several other areas as found below:
Southside of Oyster River:
First Creek’s Marsh:
Southeast side of Long Marsh:
Great Island, Newcastle:
He acted as POA in these deeds for John & Elizabeth Smart:
He appears to have been, or at least leaned toward, being a Quaker having left money for repairs to the Friends meetinghouse in Dover in his will. In 1682, he was noted in the court records as receiving a warning for having not attended “publick worship of God these Severall years” [NHPP Vol 40 pg 387] As well, it is stated he was the First Clerk of the Dover Monthly Meeting [Smith book] & the following paper was found in the probate records according to the History of Durham, pg 333:
"Mary Tasket Dr. to Joseph Smith 1697 total 2-4-9.
"Friend henry knock i understand thou art conserned in the
estate of y^ deceased taskets estate, i desire thou would take
care to pay y Above mentioned some to me or to Samuel Daniels
his reseit for it shall be a discharg this is y^ request
What is also interesting in regard to this notation is that Mary Tasker [wife of William] was the daughter of Charles Adams, and [possibly] Rebecca Smith, mentioned previously. As well, Henry Knock was also married to one of the Adams daughters, Sarah.
1702 and following he was Selectmen several times & held other offices. [Smith book]
His tombstone was inscribed: “Sacred to the memory of Joseph Smith, who died Dec 15 1728, aged 89. He was the first European who cultivated the soil on which his remains are deposited.” [Smith book].
His wife’s stone which lies next to his reads “Sacred to the memory of Elizabeth Smith, wife of Joseph Smith who died May 25 1727”. [Smith book]
These markers are now located in the Durham Cemetery but they were originally located on his farm on the north side of Oyster River and were moved to their current location by a descendant. See this blog post for more about that.
His will dated July 17 1727 appears in the NH Provincial Papers:
JOSEPH SMITH 1727 DURHAM
In The name and fear of God Amen
The Seventh Day of July one thousand Seven hundred and twenty
Seven 1727 I Joseph Smith of oyster River in the Township of
Dover in his majesties province of new Hampshire In new England,
being ageed and well Stricken in years and weake of body *
Imprimis I give and bequeth to my well beloved Son John Smith
one hundred pounds pasible money of new England or bills of
credit, to be raised and Levied out of my Estate to be paid in the
Space of one year after my Deceas
Item I give and bequeth to my well beloved Daughter marry the
wife of Samuel Page the Sum of forty pounds pasible money of new
England or bills of credit, to be raised and Levied out of my Estate,
and to be paid in the Space of one year after my Decease
Item I give and bequeth to my well beloved daughter Elizabeth
the wife of amos Pinkham the Sum of forty pounds pasible money
of new England or bills of credit, to be raised and Levied out of my
Estate and to be paid in the space of one year after my Deceas
Item I give and bequeth to my well beloved grand Daughter
Sobriety the wife of John Cromet fifteen pounds pasible money of
new England or bills of Credit, to be raised and Levied out of my
Estate and to be paid in the Space of one year after my Deceas
Item I give and bequeth to my well beloved grand Daughter
Peacience the wife of Jacob Tash the Sum of Ten pounds pasible
money or bills of credit, to be raised, and Levied out of my Estate
and To be paid in the space of one year after my Deceas
Item I give and bequeth to and for the use and repairing of our
friends meeting house on Dover neck The Sum of twelve pounds
pasible money of new England or bills of credit, to be raised, and
Levied out of my Estate and to be paid in the Space of one year
after my Deceas or when need requier it
Item I give and bequeth to my well beloved Son Samuel Smith,
whom I Likewise constitute make and ordain my Sole Executor,
of this my Last will and Testament, all and Singular my Lands
messuages and tenements to him the said Samuel Smith and his
heirs or assigns for Ever by him or them freely to be possesed and
Enjoyed, as also I give and bequeth to my Said Son Samuel Smith
all my Estate, both real and personal, of what kind nature, quality,
or condition what soever, goods Chattels, Implements, Debts, bills,
bonds, Specialties, necessaries, Sums of money, and all other things,
whatsoever, as well moveable, as, Immoveable, of what nature,
kind or Quality Soever they be, and in whose hands, custody possession
governance or keeping or what soever place, or places, they
be, or may be found, within the town Ship of Dover as in any other
town, or towns within his majesties province of new Hampshire
new England or Eles where, by him the Said Samuel Smith his heirs
and assigns for Ever freely to be possessed and Enjoyed,
and I Do hereby utterly, Disallow, revoke and Disannul, all and
Every other former testaments Wills, Legcies and bequests, and
Executors, by me in any ways before named, willed and bequeathed,
Ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my Last will and
Testament : in witness whereof, I have hereunto Set my hand and
Seal the Day and year above written
Signed, Sealed, published pro- Joseph Smith
nounced, and Declared, by the
Said Joseph Smith as his Last
will and Testament, in the presence
of us the Subscriders
John X Bunker
[Proved Dec. 26, 1728.]
[Blank sheet of paper for bond, signed by Mary Smith, Jonathan
Wadleigh, and Jonas Rundlett ; witnesses, Jacob Smith and
Children of Joseph Smith & Elizabeth Bickford
Smith book – lists 4 children – not Joseph Jr
1. Lt/Capt. John Smith b: Jan 9 1669 See Previous Sketch Born at his father’s place 9 Jan 1669. At 25, 17 Jun 1694 (1 mo before attack) married Susanna Chelsey. * children [Smith book]
2. Mary Smith b: 1670 m: James Thomas (2) Mar 8 1726 Samuel Page of Hampton
3. Elizabeth Smith b: 1672 [James Pinkham- Smith Book] m: Capt Samuel Chesley (2) Amos Pinkham
4. Samuel Smith b: June 16 1687 m: Hannah Burnham, (dau of Jeremiah Burnham [Smith book] )- mentioned in father’s & brother John's will; lived on north side of Oyster River, near its mouth, on land first owned by Joseph. Samuel died 2 May 1760 aged 73, his wife died 10 yrs before, and both were buried in the burial place on the north side of Oyster River.
[Smith book] 12 children: [Smith book]
i. Samuel Smith b. 22 Mar 1711
ii. Elizabeth Smith b. 29 Apr 1712
iii. Mary Smith b. Aug 1714 m. Timothy Emerson
iv. Hannah Smith b. 1 Jun 1716 m. Richard Waldron
v. Temperance Smith b. 16 Sep 1718 m. Joseph Varney
vi. Sarah Smith b. 7 Oct 1720 m. Samuel Chelsey
vii. Patience Smith b 6 Apr 1722 m. Joseph Knight
viii. Joseph Smith b. 12 Mar 1725
ix. Benjamin Smith b. 24 Apr 1726
x. Jeremiah Smith b. 11 Feb 1728
xi. John Smith b. 19 Aug 1729
xii. Robert Smith 10 Apr 1732
5??. Joseph Smith Jr had a grant of 40 acres in 1694 d: prob bef his father - per History of Durham, pg 333- not on fa's will, not mentioned in History of Newfields, nothing found by this researcher that indicates a Joseph Jr existed in this time period. There may be a grant that indicates it but I did not see it, nor did I see one for 40 acres for the elder Joseph.
Amylynne (Baker) Murphy
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