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Saturday, June 3, 2017

A farmer's book

A friend brought in a lovely group of early books and pamphlets, including some American pre-revolutionary war period material, will maybe speak of that more later.

There is also an accounts book by an early American, Henry Gray. Well, that's not accurate, it would more probably be termed his life's book, or a decent chapter anyway.

This book has additions, learning exercises including addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, cursive writing, tables of weights and measures, bills owed, bills due, diary passages, a fascinating read for a strange guy like me.

Check out this first page. Do me a favor and click on it. I learned something right off the bat. It has a federal money table. Do you know what a mill is? I didn't. It is a tenth of a cent. Ten dollars? Also known apparently as an egal of note (sic.) And one hundred ten cents is a crown. Largely forgotten coinage.

The first date I can find on this book of Henry Gray's is 1807.

Page four has this story, some of which I can transcribe:
In the year 1807, March the 31 day it came a grate (sic) snowstorm. The gratest storm that was for the hot winter the first day of April they broke out the rhoad the second day there came a bout eighteen inches the third day they broke out the rhoad again and it was drifted very bad indeed...we went to school and it was so bad getting along we sumtimes was a bligst to crawl over the drift, on our hands and nees perhaps twelve or fifteen now in a place this was rote April the 4 day in the year 1807. Henry Gray rote the this and this is Henry Grays Book.
I love this sort of stuff. Beautiful handwriting, far superior to my own, although that ain't saying much at this stage of my life.

A few pages later we get this promise:
Barrington March the 24, 1808
For value received I promise to pay to Abigail M, it is no matter who, one cent and five mills to be paid by the 27 of December next, as witness my hand Henry Gray
In April Henry offers us this brief biography:
Barrington April the 10 1807 Henry Gray Book
Henry Gray was born in the year 1786 and I went on in sin tel the year 1806 April the 6 on the sabath day then I trust that I throw down the weapons of my rebellion and was born of god and I went tel the 6 day of september and then I was Baptised it was of saturday Joseph Body (?) Baptised me and James Scott and Daniel McNeal and Jeminoh Mills and Samuel Mills and Levi Davis we was Baptised all in one day and a blessed day we had and the next friday folowing my brother Barber was Baptised and David Dore and his wife and dolley Drew they was all Baptised in one day and William Danvers Baptised them.
Great. Now I had a date, a place, a name and a birthdate. And so I found my Henry Gray.

Found it through this web page, descendants of Captain John Locke (1627-1696) of Portsmouth and Rye. My Henry was married three times.

Married his cousin Dorothy. Had sixteen children with him, no wonder she died at 48, all wore out. Henry Gray was a farmer. Married twice more. Barrington is in New Hampshire, Strafford County.

The County was incorporated in 1722 by the Colonial Governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Samuel Shute. Shute's tenure was noted for his "failed diplomacy" with the local Wakanabi peoples, the native People of the Dawnland or People of the First Light. The usual story, the newcomers pushing the locals around.
"Over the next several years settlers continued to encroach on Wabanaki lands east of the Kennebec River, including the construction of block house fortifications on the east side of the Kennebec River. The Wabanakis responded by raiding livestock."

Barrington was an iron ore smelting town, split by the Isinglass River. Received faint praise from the good Reverend Alonzo Hall Quint in 1882:
"Of those towns in the state whose scenery is somewhat quiet, one of the most beautiful is Barrington."

I am not going to run this into the ground, just turn over a couple more rocks if I can. Like, who is Captain John Locke? Easy.

The page I found said that he was killed by heathens while reaping wheat with his sickle. An Indian without a nose, Captain John Locke.

John Locke settled in Dover, and then New Castle, and then finally in the part of Hampton that is now Rye, New Hampshire. According to tradition, he framed the first meeting house in Portsmouth about 1654. This church was removed in 1750, and it stood on South Mill Bridge.

According to the Hampton records "John Locke Senior was killed by the Heathen in his lott at work upon 26 August 1696." And on 1 January 1801, Reverend Porter of Rye said in a public address "In 1694 John Locke being at Locke's Neck was ambushed and killed by the Indians as he was reaping grain in his field." The spot where this happened is along the seashore, and can be seen by turning off Ocean Boulevard onto Locke Road. The Locke Burial Ground is there, with John and Elizabeth Locke and several generations of Lockes. There is a marker on a granite post, labeled 1934, and a memorial roadside marker, which now reads:

The best part of the story is not from the archives, nor the memorial markers, but is an anecdote from the Locke genealogy (which means that the best part is probably a myth!) According to the family myth, when the Indians ran up to scalp Locke, he summoned his last breath to cut off the nose of one of the Indians. This has spawned several versions of the ending to the story. One said that a son met an Indian without a nose while out hunting, who told him “Old Locke cut it off” and the son thus murdered the Indian. Another version said that a grandson met an Indian who was “rendered talkative by liquor” who boasted of killing Captain Locke, so the grandson killed him and tossed him down a well.

Family originally from Yorkshire.

"Years afterwards, his son met a noseless Indian in Portsmouth. While they both recognized each other, we know not what ensued."In reference to the killing of John Locke, Roy, p. 5

I love history, these sorts of snapshots of our past. Simple, a farmer's book. Didn't find out too much more about our Henry. A fertile farmer, or at least his wife was. Found some family genealogy pages, he died 10 Oct 1828, Sheffield, Caledonia, Vermont, USA. Son of William Gray (1727-1778) and Hannah Foss (1730-1778.) Died the same year as her husband. Indian attack?

Cool stuff. And that's all I've got.

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