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Volume 1: The First Three Generations of Aaron Stark's Descendants in New England
Chapter 2: The Life & Times of Aaron Stark [1608-1685]

Part 1: The First Generation in New England

 

Page 11

 

 

Chapter 2

The Life & Times of Aaron Stark [1608-1685]

 

Author's Introduction

Aaron Stark's name was first documented in New England on April 11, 1639, when he appeared before the Particular Court of Connecticut accused, along with two other men, of "unclean practices.” He subsequently appeared before the court twice more; in July of 1640 when he was accused of bestiality; and in April of 1643 (the accusation not reported in the court record). The charges brought by the court against Aaron on these three occasions have not reflected well on his character; indeed, they have been a source of embarrassment for many past and present Stark family genealogists. But other aspects of his life also need to be taken into account, for they provide a more complete and positive picture of this man who was the progenitor of so many American Starks. The work to follow will seek to present a full and balanced account of Aaron Stark and his times.

These charges prompted many early researchers to register some harsh judgments. James Savage, in his 1860 book on genealogy in New England before 1700, described Aaron as an "unpromising youth." R. R. Hinman, in his Catalogue of Names of the First Puritan Settlers, compiled and published in 1848, reported; "Starke, Aaron, Hartford, 1639 - (This case is inserted to show the extreme severity of their punishment for bastardy)..." Hinman quotes the charges and the punishment Aaron received in his first appearance before the court. Even worse, the reference to "bestiality" and the embarrassment it engendered caused Stark family researchers to suppress altogether Aaron's second appearance before the court: all we knew was that when the court met in April of 1643, it ordered Aaron to serve Captain Mason "during ye pleasure of ye Court."

Was young Aaron Stark a mean, unprincipled, or even dishonest man? Was he truly or wrongly accused? We know he was not an educated man, was not a Puritan, couldn't write his own name, and had no known skills (other than Indian fighting, perhaps). Despite his early troubles and these handicaps, he survived to the age of 77 in a hostile environment, became a land owner and farmer, became a husband and father, and earned the trust and respect of his neighbors and mentor, John Mason. Aaron may not have been a saint and possibly did have serious character flaws, but he certainly deserves to be known for more than these early records. Perhaps his spirit still roams Connecticut looking to gain understanding and respect, and perhaps our study will help him to do so.

The factual part of Aaron's life will be drawn from surviving documentation. Other aspects of his life will be based on reasoned speculation and what we can learn about the activities of other individuals with whom he no doubt associated. Most of the factual records to be presented in this narrative have been gleaned from the research of Pauline Stark Moore, Carolyn Smith, Donn Neal, and Gwen Boyer Bjorkman, all of whom also shared their own interpretations of Aaron Stark with me.

 

Clovis LaFleur

January 2006

__________________________________________

 

Historical Background Suggesting Aaron’s Old World Home

From their first arrival aboard the Mayflower in 1620, until 1629, only about 300 Puritans had survived in New England, scattered in small and isolated settlements. In 1630, their population was significantly increased when the ship Mary and John arrived in New England carrying 140 passengers from the English West Country counties of Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. It was the first of the ships later called the Winthrop Fleet to land in Massachusetts.

While the passenger list related to this voyage is not well documented, we know the immigrants founded the First Parish Church of Dorchester in 1631, the place name of their new community taken from Dorchester, Devon County, England. In the 17th century this English town was at the center of the Puritan emigration to America, and the local rector, Rev. John White, was instrumental in organizing the voyage and supported the settlement of Dorchester, Massachusetts. For his efforts on behalf of Puritan dissenters, White has been called one of the unheralded founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

In 1633, the Plymouth Trading Company established the first Connecticut settlement, a trading post at what would later become Dorchester, Connecticut in territory the Dutch claimed and in which they maintained a fort and trading post, about seven miles downriver in what was later Hartford, Connecticut. In 1635, Puritan and Congregationalist members of Reverend Warham’s and Reverend Maverick's congregation, including, John Mason, Roger Ludlow, Henry Wolcott, and others, all prominent settlers in the new community, became dissatisfied with the rate of Anglican reforms. They sought permission from the Massachusetts General Court to establish a new ecclesiastical society subject to their own rules and regulations. About 60 individuals, totaling 23 heads of households, undertook a two-week's journey about 100 miles to the west. They founded a new town they initially also named Dorchester. Later, on February 21, 1636, the Connecticut General Count changed the name of the settlement from Dorchester to Windsor, believed to be named after the city of Windsor, England located on the River Thames. The new town was the first English settlement in the now state of Connecticut. All of the above suggests Aaron could have been one of these immigrants arriving in New England during this early historical period. Therefore, it would seem reasonable to begin a search for Aaron’s old world home in the southern part of England between 1608 to 1637 and his parents in the region before 1608.

Genetic observations provide credible evidence Aaron Stark may have been born south of the Thames River in England. Several of the earliest records of the surname Stark in this region of England were William Stark (1314) of Essex County and Rannulf  Stark (1222) of Suffolk County. The Genetic evidence further suggests Aaron's deep ancestral roots could be connected to the early Anglo, Saxon, and Frisian Germanic Tribes that invaded England between 600AD and 800AD. However, the search for Aaron's Ancestral home continues.[1a]

__________

1)

The deposition, dated June 11, 1673 states: "The Testimony of Aron Starke Aged Sixtie five yeares or there abouts…” From this statement we can estimate Aaron was born in about the year 1608 but the exact year of birth is not known with certainty. {Stonington, New London County, Connecticut Deeds 1664-1714, Book 2, page 280, June 11, 1673. LDS Microfilm Film #5593, transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman.}

1a)

Aaron Stark's (1608-1685) Ancestral Roots; A Theory

 

 

 

 

Page 12

 

Aaron's Early Years

We know almost nothing about Aaron's early years, for there are no records to tell us where he was born, what he was doing during his early years, and where he was living before the 1630s. On June 11, 1673, Aaron gave a deposition recorded in the Stonington Town Records, which gave his age as sixty-five “or there abouts” providing us with the clue that his year of birth was about 1608.[1] As there is no documented evidence of Aaron’s arrival in New England, we cannot state with absolute certainty when he came to America, although some earlier researchers speculate his migration to have been as early as 1627 or 1629.[2]

There is no definite information about the parents and origins of Aaron Stark [1608-1685]. (Some researchers have mistakenly concluded that he was the son of an earlier Aaron Stark and Mary Holt, but the facts do not support this.) In addition, an early (1848) publication sparked speculation that Aaron's father might be a Henry Stark who willed a clock to the church in Hartford in 1640, but an analysis of the records of that period seems to indicate that this man was actually named Henry Packs or Park.[3]

In England or Scotland, his apparent homeland, Aaron may have been expelled for political, religious, or criminal reasons; alternatively, he might have paid for his passage to New England by becoming an indentured or bonded servant. Based on what we know about Aaron’s military activities in Connecticut, it seems more likely that he was a Scottish mercenary soldier who came to New England with John Mason, who some historians contend, served in the Netherlands alongside Sir Thomas Fairfax under Sir Horace Vere at the decisive siege of Bois-le-Duc from April to August of 1630.[4]

Mason's arrival in New England also is not certain, but he is documented as the Lieutenant Mason who served under John Gallop in December of 1632. Gallop was commissioned by the Governor and Magistrates of Massachusetts to search for the pirate called Dixy Bull.[5] Perhaps Mason was engaged by the Massachusetts Bay Colony to come to New England to protect the colony’s interests. Because Aaron had a very close relationship with Mason in Connecticut, it's conceivable Aaron, being young and adventurous, had volunteered to serve in the Netherlands and subsequently came to New England with Mason after the siege at Bois-le-Duc: we know that some of these troops, especially those from Scotland, became mercenaries after Horace Vere returned to England in 1632.

By March of 1635, Mason was the representative from Dorchester to the Massachusetts General Court. Later in that year or early in the next year, he moved to the settlement which became known as Windsor, Connecticut, and was a member of Rev. John Warham's congregation in Dorchester.[5] Warham, a minister at Exeter, Devon, England, with Rev. John Maverick, had sailed from Plymouth, England on March 20, 1630, aboard the Mary and John with about 60 members of his newly formed Congregational Church. In addition to the two ministers, the passengers selected for passage were two magistrates of the Massachusetts Bay Company, several older men with adult families, and a group of single or just married men, some chosen for their military experience. It seems possible, at least, that Aaron Stark was among these single men.

The Mary and John arrived at Nantasket on May 30, 1630, after seventy days at sea. After some exploration of the region, the company settled at Dorchester. After thriving as a community for 5 years, news arrived of the fertile lands in the Connecticut River Valley and half of the families living in Dorchester, weary of working the rocky fields around their first settlement, sold their property to recent arrivals from England. With Warham as their leader, they left Plymouth, sailed up the Connecticut River, and established their new settlement at the confluence of the Farmington and Connecticut Rivers. They named their new home Dorchester (changed to Windsor by the Connecticut General Court on February 21, 1636). Although not known with certainty, Aaron Stark has been listed by some publications as an early settler of Windsor along with John Warham and John Mason."[6]

The Pequot Nation, Connecticut’s principal community of Native Americans, became increasingly hostile towards the new settlers from the north. On May 1, 1637, after several attacks by the Pequot, the 9th Session of the General Court of Connecticut decided to undertake an offensive war against them. The court appointed Captain Mason commander of a force of ninety men, drawn from the settlements of Wethersfield (18 men), Windsor (30 men), and Hartford (42 men). We know from later records that Aaron Stark was a participant in this war, and also that he had a close relationship with Mason, so it seems very likely that he was one of the soldiers recruited from one of these three towns.[1,7] Mason later wrote A Brief History of the Pequot War, which was published in 1736. This narrative collaborates the statements in Aaron Stark's 1673 deposition, which asserts that he participated in Mason’s attack on the Pequot camp, and is our primary source for the events of the Pequot War, to which we turn next.

__________

2)

Source 1: In a historical sketch of the late Hon. Benjamin Stark, published in the "Ships and Engine Magazine,” the statement is made that his ancestor, Aaron Stark, landed at Salem, Mass., in 1627, and that he joined up with the Rev. Joseph Hooker and journeyed to Wethersfield, Conn." {Ackley, Hattie Stark, 1937 Stark Family Yearbook publication, Historian's Report, page 31.} Source 2: The Old Northwest Genealogical Quarterly, Volume XII, No. 4, October, 1909, page 195, "Stark Descendant Family Lines," states that Aaron arrived in 1629.

3)

See "Common Genealogical Myths, Mistakes, & Misconceptions." Source 1: Was Aaron Stark [1608-1685] the son of parents named Aaron Stark & Mary Holt?) Source 2: (Who Was Henry Stark?)

4)

The earliest known source of this statement came from Rev. Thomas Prince in his introduction to John Mason's narrative, "A Brief History of the Pequot War," which was published in 1736. Prince wrote: "Major Mason having been trained up in the Netherlands War under Sir Thomas Fairfax; when the Struggle arose in England between K. Charles I. and the Parliament about the Royal Powers and the National Liberties; that Famous General had such an esteem for the Major's Conduct and Bravery, that he wrote to the Major to come over and help Him." Later historians added this phrase to John Mason's biography, but a footnote on page 8 of the pamphlet points out that ”Fairfax went to the Netherlands in April of 1630, and though but eighteen, was a volunteer in the army and was with Sir Horace Vere at the siege of Bois-le-Duc, which surrendered in July of that year. Young Fairfax was then ordered by his grandfather to leave camp and travel in France; and there he remained for about eighteen months, returning to England in February of 1632. Since the total service of Fairfax in the Low Countries extended over but four months, and was somewhat in the nature of a youthful adventure, it can hardly be said that Mason was ‘trained up’ under him though the story has been repeated by nearly every biographer since Prince. He may, however, have been a companion in arms with Fairfax, though of this there is no direct proof." {A Brief History of the Pequot War: Especially of the Taking of their Fort at Mistick in Connecticut in 1637. Written by Major John Mason, a principle Actor therein, as then chief Captain and Commander of Connecticut Forces. With an Introduction and some Explanatory Notes by the Reverend Mr. Thomas Prince. Boston: Printed and sold by S. Kneeland & T. Green in Queen Street, 1736.}

5)

Caulkins, Frances Manwaring, History of New London, Connecticut. From the First Survey of the Coast in 1612 to 1860. Published in 1895, 696 pp., 2 vols.

6)

Web Page: <Connecticut State Library --- Founders of Windsor> (Source also dated 1996. Contributed by Del Rickel). While some may dispute Aaron Stark was a founder, Aaron’s appearances before the Particular Court of Connecticut suggests he was a resident in 1639 and 1640. His residency before 1639 is not known with certainty.

7)

The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, Prior to the Union With New Haven Colony, by J. Hammond Trumbell, 1850. Volume 1, page 9.

 

 

 

 

Page 13

 

Author's Introduction to the Pequot War

Was our ancestor, Aaron Stark, a participant in the Pequot War? The following personal testimony, given in 1673, would suggest that he was:

 

"The Testimony of Aron Starke Aged Sixtie five yeares or there Abouts testifieth and sayth that we being souldiers under Capt: John Mason with many more when wee went Agaynst the Pequitts Indeans wee being Landed in the Naragansett Country where many of the Naragansetts Came Armed and tendered themselves to goe with us in that Cervise Agaynst the Pequitts wherein they was Redily Accepted And marched with us through part of the Naragansett Country until they Came within four or five miles of Pawcatuck River where wee made A halt: where Nenecraft And Miantinomye with many others did declare unto our Commanders that wee were come into the Pequitt Country And therefore did Advise them to bee verie Carefull of themselves Least they Should be destroyed. Aron Stark And Jacob Waterhouse Appeared this 11th of June 1673 and made oath to what is Above written before me John Allyn Justice. The Above written deposition was entered in Stonington Records April the 25: 1699 Pr me John Stanton Town Clarke." {Stonington, New London County, Connecticut Deeds 1664-1714, Book 2, page 280, June 11, 1673. LDS Microfilm Film #5593, transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman.}

 

John Mason’s account, A Brief History of the Pequot War, describes several events that would seem to bear on this issue.

 

1)

Mason reports that the men who participated were recruited from the settlements of Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield. We will later learn that Aaron may have been a resident of Windsor in 1639 and 1640, though his place of residence at the time of his recruitment in 1637 is not known with certainty. We can only establish he was in New England before May of 1637 and that he was most likely living in one of the three communities Mason names when the hostilities began.

2)

When Captain Underhill joined the expedition with twenty additional men, all of whom lived at Saybrook Fort, 20 of those originally recruited from Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield returned home. Aaron’s testimony suggests he could not have been one of the 20 men who returned, for his testimony describes events that occurred after Mason and his men left Saybrook Fort for the Narragansett Country. Aaron’s testimony further indicates he and Jacob Waterhouse were “souldiers under Capt.: John Mason;” suggesting that they were not men in Captain Underhill’s detachment. Aaron and Jacob were most likely not residents of Saybrook Fort when the hostilities began.

3)

Aaron’s testimony concludes when the expedition was about to enter into the Pequot Country. We can only surmise that Aaron probably continued the march on to the Pequot Fort and participated in its destruction, but because his testimony is silent on this aspect of the war we cannot go further than that.

4)

Mason does not report that any men under his command turned back once the expedition reached the Pequot country, so if Aaron left Saybrook with Mason he most likely did participate in the attack on the fort.

 

John Mason’s publication represents the best contemporary account of the Pequot War. Increase Mather’s 1677 manuscript gave credit to John Allyn, as the author of A Brief History of the Pequot War. However, as reported in Reverend Thomas Prince’s introduction, the author was actually John Mason. John Allyn was the same justice who in 1673 heard the testimony of Aaron Stark and Jacob Waterhouse. Therefore, through John Mason‘s account of his participation in the Pequot War, we are able to observe the events witnessed by our ancestor first hand. Only those passages in John Mason’s publication relevant to Aaron’s testimony have been included here.

Mason’s assault on the fort occurred on Friday, May 26, 1637. The English casualties were two dead and about 20 wounded. Mason later learned that about 150 warriors from the further fort had come to join in the festivities of the previous night and had perished in the battle. (Date and casualties reported in Mason’s publication.) In all, according to the Pequot's, six to seven hundred of their number were killed, with fourteen taken captive (of whom seven would later escape).

This attack was the decisive battle in the Pequot campaign, which ultimately led to victory for the colonists and the abandonment by the Pequot's of all of the lands between the present-day border of Connecticut and Rhode Island and the Connecticut River. This event thus opened this key region to later settlers who would name the region New London County. Assuming that Aaron Stark was indeed a member of Mason’s force, which would seem to be a fair reading of the extant evidence, he participated in one of the turning points in 17th-century American history. 

 

Clovis LaFleur

September 2006

 

Source of the following: A Brief History of the Pequot War: Especially of the Memorable Taking of their Fort at Mistick in Connecticut in 1637. Written by Major John Mason, a principal Actor therein, as then chief Captain and Commander of Connecticut Forces. With an Introduction and some Explanatory Notes by the Reverend Mr. Thomas Prince. Boston: Printed and Sold by S. Kneeland and T. Green in Queen Street, 1736.

Online Source: http://bc.barnard.columbia.edu/~rmccaugh/earlyAC/readings/pequot/pequot.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

Page 14

 

Excerpt from: 

A Brief History of the Pequot War, by Major John Mason

 

Excerpt from Reverend Mr. Thomas Prince’s Introduction dated December 23, 1735 in Boston: I have only now to observe, that in The Relation of the Troubles which happened to New England by the Indians from 1614 to 1675, Published by the then Mr. Increase Mather in 1677, I find a copy of the following Narrative, but without the prefaces, had been communicated to him by Mr. John Allyn then the Secretary of Connecticut Colony; which that Rev. Author took for Mr. Allyn’s and calls it his. But we must inform the Reader, that the Narrative was originally drawn by Major Mason. And as his Eldest Grandson Capt. John Mason now of New London has put it into my Hands; I have been more than usually careful in Correcting the Press according to the Original; as the most authentic Account of the Pequot, and as a standing Monument both of the extraordinary Dangers and Courage of our pious Fathers, and of the eminent Appearance of Heaven to save them.

 

In the Beginning of May 1637 there were sent out by Connecticut Colony Ninety Men under the Command of Capt. John Mason against the Pequots, with Onkos an Indian Sachem living at Mohegan,[a] who was newly revolted from the Pequots; being Shipped in one Pink, one Pinnace, and one Shallop; who sailing down the river of Connecticut fell several times a ground, the Water being very low; the Indians not being wonted to such Things with their small Canoes, and also being impatient of Delays, desired they might be set on Shoar, promising that they would met us at Saybrook; which we granted: They hastening to their Quarters, fell upon Thirty or forty of the Enemy near Saybrook Fort, and killed seven of them out right;[b] Having one of their’s wounded, who was sent back to ?Connecticut in a Skiff: Capt. John Underhill also coming with him, who informed us what was performed by Onkos and his Men; which we looked at as a special Providence; for before we were somewhat doubtful of his Fidelity: Capt. Underhill then offered his Service with Nineteen Men to go with us, if Lieutenant Gardner would allow of it, who was Chief Commander at Saybrook Fort; which was readily approved of by Lieutenant Gardner and accepted by us; In lieu of them we sent back twenty of our Soldiers to Connecticut.

Upon a Wednesday we arrived at Saybrook, where we lay Windbound until Friday; often consulting how and in what manner we should proceed in our Enterprize, being altogether ignorant of the Country. At length we concluded, God assisting us, for Narragansett, and so to March through their Country, which Bordered upon the Enemy; where lived a great People, it being about fifteen Leagues beyond Pequot: the Grounds and Reasons of our so Acting you shall presently understand:

“First, the Pequots our Enemies, kept a continual Guard upon the river Night and Day.

“Secondly, their Numbers far exceeded ours; having sixteen Guns with Power and Shot, as we were informed by the two Captives forementioned (Where we declared the Grounds of this War) who were taken by the Dutch and restored to us at Saybrook; which indeed was a very friendly Office and not to be forgotten.

“Thirdly, they were on Land, and being swift of Foot, might much impede our Landing, and possibly dishearten our Men; we being expected only by Land, there being no other Place to go on Shoar but in that River, nearer than Narragansett.

“Fourthly, By Narragansett we should come upon their Backs and possibly might surprize them unawares, at worst we should be on firm Land as well as they.” All which proved very successful as the Sequel may evidently demonstrate.

But yet for all this our Counsel, all of them except the Captain, were at a stand and could not judge it meet to sail to Narragansett: And indeed there was a very strong Ground for it; our Commission limiting us to land our Men in Pequot River; we had also the same Order by Letter of Instruction sent us to Saybrook.

But Capt. Mason apprehending an exceeding great Hazard in so doing, for the Reasons forementioned, as also some other which I shall forbear to trouble you with, did therefore earnestly desire Mr. Stone that he would commend our Condition to the Lord, that Night, to direct how and in shat manner we should demean ourselves in that Respect: He being our Chaplin and lying aboard our Pink, the Captain on Shoar. In the Morning very early Mr. Stone came ashoar to the Captain’s Chamber, and told him, he had done as he had desired, and was fully satisfied to sail for Narragansett. Our Council was then called, and the several Reasons alleged: In fine we all agreed with one accord to sail for Narragansett, which the next Morning we put in Execution.

I declare not this encourage any Soldiers to Act beyond their Commission, or contrary to it; for in so doing they run double Hazard. There was a great Commander in Belgia who did the States great service in taking a City; but by going beyond his Commission lost his Life: His name was Grubbendunk. But if a War be Managed duly by Judgment and Discretion as is requisite, the Shews are many times contrary to what they seem to pursue: Wherefore the more an Enterprize is dissembled and kept secret, the more facil to put in Execution; as the Proverb, The farthest way about is sometimes the nearest way home. I shall make bold to present this as my present Thoughts in this Case; in Matters of War, those who are both able and faithful should be improved; and then bind them not up into too narrow a Compass: for it is not possible for the wisest and ablest Senator to foresee all Accidents and Occurrents that fall out in the Management and Pursuit of a War: Nay although possibly he might be trained up in Military Affaires; and truly much less can have any great Knowledge who hath had but little Experience therein. What shall I say? God led his People through many difficulties and Turnings; yet by more than an ordinary Hand of Providence he brought them to Canaan at last.

On Friday Morning we set Sail for Narragansett Bay, and on Saturday towards Evening we arrived at our desired Port, there we kept the Sabbath.

_________

a)

Onkos, usually called Uncas, the Great Sachem of the Moheags.

b)

Mr. Increase Mather, in his History of the Pequot War, says this was on May 15.

 

 

 

Page 15

 

On the Monday the Wind Blew so hard at North-West that we could not go on Shoar; as also on the Tuesday until Sun set; at which time Capt. Mason landed and Marched up to the Place of the Chief Sachem’s Residence; who told the Sachem, "That we had not an opportunity to acquaint him with our coming Armed in his Country sooner; yet not doubting but it would be well accepted by him, there being Love betwixt himself and us, well knowing also that the Pequots and themselves were Enemies, and that he could not be unacquainted with those intolerable Wrongs and Injuries these Pequots had lately done unto the English; and that we were now come, God assisting, to Avenge our selves upon them; and that we did only desire free Passage through his Country." Who returned this answer, "That he did accept of our coming, and did also approve of our Design; only he thought our Numbers were to weak to deal with the Enemy, who were (as he said) very great Captains and Men skilful in War." thus he spake somewhat slighting of us.

On the Wednesday Morning, we Marched from thence to a Place called Nayanticke, it being about eighteen or twenty mils distant, where another of those Narragansett Sachems lived in a Fort; it being a Frontier to the Pequots. They carrying very proudly towards us; not permitting any of us to come into their Fort.

We beholding their Carriage and the Falsehood of Indians, and fearing least they might discover us to the Enemy, especially they having many times some of their near Relations among their greatest Foes; we therefore caused a strong Guard to be set about their Fort, giving Charge that no Indian should be suffered to pass in or out: We also informed the Indians, that none of them should stir out of the Fort upon peril of their Lives: so as they would not suffer any of us to come into their Fort.

There we quartered that Night , the Indians not offering to stir out all the while.

In the Morning there came to us several of Miantamo[c] his Men, who told us, they were come to assist us in our Expedition, which encouraged divers Indians of that Place to Engage also; who suddenly gathering into a Ring, one by one, making solemn Protestations how gallantly the would demean themselves, and how many Men they would Kill.

On the Thursday about eight of the Clock in the Morning, we Marched thence towards Pequot, with about five hundred Indians: But through the Heat of the Weather and want of Provisions some of our Men fainted: and having Marched about twelve Miles, we came to Pawcatuck River, at a Ford where our Indians told us the Pequots did usually Fish; there making an Alta, we stayed some small time: The Narragansett Indians manifesting great Fear, in so much that many of them returned, although they had frequently despised us , saying, That we durst not look upon a Pequot, but themselves would perform great Things; though we had often told them that we came on purpose and were resolved, God assisting, to see the Pequots, and to fight with them, before we returned, though we perished. I then enquired of Onkos, what he thought the Indians would do? Who said, The Narragansetts would all leave us, but as for Himself He would never leave us: and so it proved: For which Expressions and some other Speeches of his, O shall never forget him. Indeed he was a great Friend, and did great Service.

And after we had refreshed our selves with our mean Commons, we Marched about three Miles, and came to a Field which had lately been planted with Indian Corn: There we made another Alt, and called our Council, supposing we drew near to the Enemy; and being informed by the Indians that the Enemy had two Forts almost impregnable; but we were not at all Discouraged, but rather Animated, in so much that we were resolved to Assault both their Forts at once. But understanding that one of them was so remote that we could not come up with it before Midnight, though we Marched hard; whereat we were grieved, chiefly because the greatest and bloodiest Sachem there resided, whose name was Sassacous: We were then constrained, being exceedingly spent in our March with extream Heat and want of Necessaries, to accept of the nearest.

We then Marching on in a silent Manner, the Indians that remained fell all into the Rear, who formerly kept the Van; (being possessed with great Fear) we continued our March till about one Hour in the Night; and coming to a little Swamp between two Hills, there we pitched our little Camp; much wearied with hard Travel, keeping great Silence, supposing we were very near the Fort; as our Indians informed us; which proved otherwise: The Rocks were our Pillows; yet Rest was pleasant: The Night proved Comfortable, being clear and Moon Light: We appointed our Guards and placed our Sentinels at some distance; who heard the Enemy singing at the Fort, who continued that Strain until Midnight, with great Insulting and Rejoycing, as we were afterwards informed: They seeing our Pinnaces sail by them some Days before, concluded we were afraid of them and durst not come near them; the Burthen of their Song tending to that purpose.

In the Morning, we awaking and seeing it very light, supposing it had been day, and so we might have lost our Opportunity, having purposed to make our Assault before Day; rowsed the Men with all expedition, and briefly commended ourselves and Design to God, thinking immediately to go to the Assault; the Indians shewing us a Path, told us that if led directly to the Fort. We held on our March about two Miles, wondering hat we came not to the Fort, and fearing we might be deluded: But seeing Corn newly planted at the Foot of a great Hill, supposing the Fort was not far off, a Champion Country being round about us; then making a stand, gave the Word for some of the Indians to come up: At length Onkos and one Waquash appeared: We demanded of them, Where were the Rest of the Indians?

_________

c)

He was usually called Miantonimo, the Great Sachem of the Narragansett Indians.

 

 

 

 

Page 16

 

They answered, Behind, exceedingly afraid: We wished them to tell the rest of their Fellows, That they should by no means Fly, but stand at what distance they pleased, and see whether English Men would now Fight or not. Then Capt. Underhill came up, who Marched in the Rear; and commending our selves to God, divided our Men: There being two Entrances into the Fort, intending to enter both at once: Captain Mason leading up to that on the North East Side; who approaching within one Rod, heard a Dog bark and an Indian crying Owanux! Owanux! Which is Englishmen! Englishmen! We called up our Forces with all expedition, gave Fire upon them through the Pallizado; the Indians being in a dead indeed their last Sleep: Then we wheeling off fell upon the main Entrance which was blocked up with Bushes about Breast high, over which the Captain passed, intending to make good the Entrance, encouraging the rest to follow. Lieutenant Seeley endeavored to enter; but being somewhat cumbred, stepped back and pulled out the Bushes and so entered, and with him about sixteen Men: We had formerly concluded to destroy them by Sword and save the Plunder.

Whereupon Captain Mason seeing no Indians, entered a Wigwam; where he was beset with many Indians, waiting all opportunities to lay Hands on him, but could not prevail. At length William Heydon espying the Breach in the Wigwam, supposing some English might be there, entered; but in his Entrance fell over a dead Indian; but speedily recovering himself, the Indians some fled, others crept under their Beds: The Captain going out of the Wigwam saw many Indians in the Lane or Street; he making towards them, they fled, were pursued to the End of the Lane, where they were met by Edward Pattison, Thomas Barber, with some others; where seven of them were Slain, as they said. The Captain facing about, Marched a slow Pace up the Lane he came down, perceiving himself very much out of Breath; and coming to the other End near the Place where he first entered, saw two Soldiers standing close to the Pallizado with their Swords pointed to the Ground: The Captain told them that We should never kill them after that manner: The Captain also said, We must Burn them; and immediately stepping into the Wigwam where he had been before, brought out a Fire-Brand, and putting it into the Matts with which they were covered, set the Wigwam on Fire. Lieutenant Thomas Bull and Nicholas Omsted beholding, came up; and when it was thoroughly kindled, the Indians ran as Men most dreadfully Amazed.

And Indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished. And when the Fort was thoroughly Fired, Command was given, that all should fall off and surround the Fort: which was readily attended by all; only one Arthur Smith being so wounded that he could not move out of the Place, who was happily espied by Lieutenant Bull, and by him rescued.

The Fire was kindled on the North East Side to windward; which did swiftly over-run the Fort, to the extream Amazement of the Enemy, and great Rejoycing of our selves. Some of them climbing to the Top of the Pallizado; others of them running into the very Flames; many of them gathering to windward, lay pelting at us with their Arrows; and we repayed them with our small Shot: Others of the Stoutest issued forth, as we did guess, to the Number of Forty, who perished by the Sword.

What I have formerly said, is according to my own Knowledge, there being sufficient living Testimony to every Particular.

But in reference to Captain Underhill and his Parties acting in this Assault, I can only intimate as we were informed by some of themselves immediately after the Fight, thus They Marching up to the Entrance on the South West Side, there made some Pause; a valiant, resolute Gentleman, one Mr. Hedge, stepping towards the Gate, saying, If we may not Enter, wherefore came we here; and immediately endeavored to Enter; but was opposed by a sturdy Indian being slain by himself and Sergeant Davis, Mr. Hedge Entered the Fort with some others; but the Fort being on Fire, The Smoak and Flames were so violent that they were constrained to desert the Fort.

Thus were they now at their Wits End, who not many Hours before exalted themselves in their great Pride, threatning and resolving the utter Ruin and Destruction of all English, Exulting and Rejoycing with Songs and Dances: But God was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven: Thus were the Stout Hearted spoiled, having slept their last Sleep, and none of their Men could find their Hands: Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies!

And here we may see the just Judgment of God, in sending even the very Night before this Assault, One hundred and fifty Men from their other Fort, to join with them of that Place, who were designed as some of themselves reported to go forth against the English, at that very Instant when this heavy Stroak came upon them, where they perished with their Fellows. So that the Mischief they intended to us, came upon their own Pate: They were taken in their own Snare, and we through Mercy escaped.[d]

Of the English, there were two Slain out right, and about twenty Wounded: Some Fainted by reason of the sharpness of the Weather, it being a cool Morning, and the want of such Comforts and Necessaries as were needful in such a Case; especially our Chyrurgeon was much wanting, whom we left with our Barks in Narragansett Bay, who had Order there to remain until the Night before our intended Assault.

_________

d)

The Place at the Fort being called Mistick, this Fight was called Mistick Fight: And Mr. Increase Mather, from a Manuscript He met with, tells us; It was Friday, May 26, 1637, a memorable Day.

 

 

 

 

Page 17

 

Appearances before the Particular Court of Connecticut

The first official document that shows Aaron Stark was living in New England, and within the jurisdiction of the Particular Court of Connecticut, was dated April 11, 1639. From this and two later documents we discover why Aaron’s character was later described by James Savage as "an unpromising youth, appearing before the court and punished by being whipped," for when Aaron appeared before the Particular Court on this date, he was accused of and convicted for engaging in certain "unclean practices."[8]

The record in question has five sentences, as follows:[9]

 

1)

Jn. Edmunds, Aaron Stark, and Jn. Williams were censured for vncleane practises as foll.

2)

Jn. [Edmunds] Williams to be whipt att a Carts arse vppon a lecture day att Hartford.

3)

Jn. Williams to stand vppon the pillory from the ringing of the first bell to the end of the lecture then to be whipt att a Carts arse and to be whipt in like maner att Windsore within 8 dayes following.

4)

Aaron Starke to Stand vppon the pillory and be whipt as Williams and to haue the letter R burnt vppon his cheeke and in regard of the wrong done to Mary Holt to pay her parents 10L and in defect of such to the Common Wealth and when both are fit for that Condition to marry her;

5) It is the mind of the Court that Mr. Ludlow and Mr. Phelps see some publique punishment inflicted vppon the girle for Concealing it soe long.

 

After the first sentence named Aaron Stark as one of three men "censured for vncleane practises," the remaining four sentences that follow specified the punishment the court ordered for each of the three men. Let us examine and analyze each of these four sentences in turn and see what the document tells us — and what it does not. According to the second sentence of the transcription, John Edmunds was to receive the punishment described therein. A note in the 1928 publication in which this transcription is found states, however, that in the original document the name Edmunds had been struck through by the recorder, who presumably also wrote in above the name Williams. (This leads to some confusion, because the third sentence also describes punishment for John Williams. Assuming John Edmunds was in fact accused, as stated in the first sentence, he either received no physical punishment or the second sentence actually describes the punishment John Edmonds was to receive. This point, while interesting, is not central to the matter of Aaron’s punishment.)

The punishment John Williams was to receive included standing upon the pillory all day, being pulled and whipped behind a cart through the settlement of Hartford, and, within eight days, being similarly pulled and whipped behind a cart through the settlement of Windsor.

The fourth sentence states that Aaron's punishment was to be identical to that of John Williams; that is, Aaron was to be chastised in the manner, and in the same settlements, as prescribed in the third sentence. But sentence four goes on to mention additional punishment for Aaron. He was also to have a "R" burned into his cheek, and "in regard of the wrong done to Mary Holt" he was ordered to pay the substantial sum of 10 pounds to her parents and to marry the young woman.

Although Mary Holt had not been censured in the first sentence, the last sentence of the court’s judgment did direct that she was to receive a public punishment "for Concealing it soe long." The implication of the sequence of punishments, and the wording of this last phrase, leads us to believe that Mary Holt was pregnant with Aaron’s child at the time the court met and that Aaron was held responsible for the pregnancy, although the absence of any reference to other women also suggests that all three men had transgressed with Mary.

We turn now to the punishments inflicted and what we can learn from them. The first issue is what they may tell us about Aaron’s place of residence. The fourth sentence ordered him to "Stand vppon the pillory and be whipt as Williams." Williams was to be whipped first in Hartford and then again (within eight days) at Windsor. This phrase can be read in different ways, though. It could mean that Williams was to be whipped not only in the colony’s capital, Hartford, but in Windsor (his home?) as well, while Aaron was to be punished in his own town, whether Hartford, Windsor, or some other place. But the use of the words "whipt as Williams" makes it more likely that both men were to be whipped not only in the seat of the court but a second town in which both men lived: Windsor. Thus we have a clue — though not proof — that Aaron Stark might have been a resident of Windsor in 1639.

_________

8)

Savage, James, A Genealogical Dictionary of The First Settlers of New England, Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692. On The Basis Of Farmer's Register. Originally published in Boston, 1860-1862. "STARKE, or START, ARRON, Hartford 1639, or Windsor 1643, an unpromis. youth, subject. by sentence of Court to whip. rem. to New London 1655, near Stonington, freem. 1669; d. as, 1685, leav. s. Aaron, John, William, and had ds. wh. m. John Fish and Josiah Haynes."

9)

Records of the Particular Court of Connecticut, 1639-1663. Published by the Connecticut Historical Society and the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut, Hartford, 1928, page 3.

 

 

 

 

Page 18

 

Why was Aaron branded on the cheek with the letter "R"? Could it be because he was regarded as a rapist (in contemporary language, a "ravisher")? We see how serious an offense this was from the General Lawes adopted in December, 1641, by the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Bay, which stated the following in Article 15 of its Capital Laws.

If any man shal RAVISH any maid or single womã, cõmitting carnal copulation with her by force, against her own will; that is above the age of ten years he shal be punished either with death, or with some other grievous punishment according to circumstances as the Judges, or General court shal determin."

This would have been a serious offense, though we do not know that the new colony of Connecticut had such a law of its own. In any case, the existence of a law cannot convict a man: the court’s record shows only that Aaron and the others were charged with "vncleane practices," not with raping Mary Holt. An alternative explanation is that Aaron was being branded as a "rogue," a designation, according to some authorities, Puritans reserved for those in the community deemed as having "acted out" in a "lude and lascivious" way. In being so branded, they were "culled out, or removed, from the other specimens (i.e. the "normal" men of mankind)." At this distance of time and cultural change, we can only speculate exactly why Aaron was branded, for the record does not provide us with additional information, though we can be sure that his offense was regarded as a serious one.

Did Aaron Stark marry Mary Holt? Despite the court’s order that the couple wed, there is no evidence that they did so, and neither is there any evidence a child was ever born to Mary. Furthermore, four months after this April court appearance, on August 1, 1639, the Particular Court took up another matter involving Mary Holt. In its decision, it stated that "Jn Bennett & Mary Holt were both censured to be whipt for unclean practises and the girls Mr. is injoyned to send her out of this Jurisdiction before the last of the next month."[10] This court record would seem to verify that Aaron did not marry Mary Holt, at least not between April 11, 1639 and August 1, 1639, for if she were the wife of Aaron Stark on August 1 the records would have referred to her as Mary Stark. And if Mary Holt was the wife of Aaron in August, wouldn’t she — and Bennett — have been accused of adultery rather than unclean practices? Instead, the court record suggests that Mary Holt and John Bennett were single persons at that time, which leads us to believe that Mary and Aaron Stark had not married by August 1, 1639.

Then who was the Mr. "injoyned to send her out of this Jurisdiction before the last of the next month"? Had Mary Holt been the wife of Aaron Stark at the time of the August 1639 court session, then most certainly the "Mr." could have been Aaron Stark. Had Mary Holt been an indentured servant, on the other hand, the "Mr." would have been the man who owned her contract, who probably would have been ordered to remove her from the court’s jurisdiction. Since (as we have seen) the court record suggests that Aaron and Mary were not a married couple on August 1, 1639, and since the April court specifically and clearly ordered Aaron Stark to pay the parents of Mary Holt 10 pounds, is it not more likely that the "Mr." was Mary Holt’s father?

However, after reviewing these comments, John Choate contributed the following regarding the identification of the "Mr." who was to remove Mary Holt from the community:

"Mr. was an abbreviation for "Minister" not just a random designation of a male. The minister was elected by the congregation, and was literate, and a preacher. At this time, probably also schooled and educated as an ordained minister. He had a flock, and this was a theocracy (i.e. the church was the government)."

Having the "Minister" remove a member of his congregation from the jurisdiction of the Church (and the community) would have been more likely in that day and time.

Thus we should not accept the April court record in itself as proof of a marriage between Mary Holt and Aaron Stark, for other evidence argues persuasively to the contrary. There is one more intriguing aspect of this matter, however. The last sentence in the April document stated that Mary Holt was to be punished "for concealing it soe long," which certainly seems to suggest Mary Holt may have been in a fairly advanced state of pregnancy that spring. How does this bear upon a possible marriage between her and Aaron? It could be that Aaron did not follow through and marry Mary because she was never pregnant at all, which in the eyes of the community would have released him from any obligation he might have felt.

Lastly, let us ask ourselves this: was Aaron an innocent? Certainly not, and neither was Mary. But this one incident, unpleasant as it was, is hardly enough to convict Aaron of a life of debauchery, although there is much we do not know about the kind of life he did lead during these years. Unfortunately, however, Aaron got into trouble again the next year, 1640, and this time the infraction was worse — so bad, in fact, that the earliest Stark family researchers seem to have ignored or even suppressed the facts, for reasons that are understandable.

_________

10)

Records of the Particular Court of Connecticut, 1639-1663. Published by the Connecticut Historical Society and the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut, Hartford, 1928, page 4. Has the passage about Mary Holt and John Bennett.

 

 

 

 

Page 19

 

On July 2, 1640, the Particular Court directed that: [11]

 

Nicholas Senthion for not appearing to witnesse agaynst Aron Starke is ffyned to pay ffyne pownd to the Country.

John Porter one of the Constables of Wyndsor is to keepe the said Aron Starke with locke and Chaine and hold him to hard labour & course dyet vntil he be cauled to bring him forth vppon the next somons.

The said Aron being accused of buggery with a heifer, confesseth that he leaned crosse over the heifers fflanke, though at the first he denyed that he came neere her, lastly he acknowledgeth that he had twice comitted the acte with the heifer but that shee was to narrowe.

 

Here again we do not know whether this was a crime yet in Connecticut, as it became in Massachusetts a little more than a year later:

"If any man or woman shall LYE WITH ANY BEAST, or bruit creature, by carnall copulation; they shall surely be put to death and the beast shall be slain, & buried, and not eaten. Lev. 20, 15. 16."

A modern researcher, John M. Murrin, has interpreted Aaron’s two court appearances in a manner that gives us food for thought.[12] He writes:

"In July 1640 Aaron Starke of Windsor was accused of buggering a heifer. A year earlier he had been whipped and fined, and the letter R was burned upon his cheek (for attempted rape?), for ``the wrong done to Mary Holt . . . and when both are fit for that Condition to marry her.'' Instead, a month or two later she was whipped and banished for ``vncleane practises'' with John Bennett. Starke was still single when accused of bestiality. He ``confesseth that he leaned crosse over the heifers Flanke, though at the first he denyed that he came neere her, lastly he acknowledgeth that he had twice committed the acte wth the heifer but that shee was to narrowe.'' The court ordered a constable to keep him ``wth locke and Chaine and hold him to hard labour & course diet'' until summoned to trial. Nicholas Sension, the lifelong homosexual, was fined for not appearing to testify at this trial. One has to wonder how intimate the relationship was between these two men. The records of the next several courts have not survived, but Stark was not executed. Connecticut had not yet declared bestiality a capital crime, and the court may also have concluded that his confession amounted to no more than admission of the attempt, not the act.20"

Since (as Murrin points out) Aaron’s action, while distasteful to consider, was not yet a capital offense in Connecticut in 1640, his treatment by the Particular Court was measured and moderate, though we do not know exactly what it was. An interesting dimension of this matter is that Nicholas Senthion (Sension) was fined five pounds for not appearing as a witness. Murrin provides one possible explanation, which may or may not be correct. Although the text of the court record implies the accusation against Aaron was based on the act being witnessed by Nicholas Sension, we know nothing of his motives, and we do not know if Sension’s testimony was voluntary or forced. It was not uncommon for false accusations to be made against persons by those with a vindictive spirit, especially individuals lower in station in the community than themselves. Perhaps, either because Aaron had rejected his advances or in order to preserve his own reputation, Sension falsely accused Aaron and later decided not to testify because he knew that Aaron was innocent. Perhaps Sension’s testimony had been obtained by coercion and he later declined to testify, despite the penalty.

Whatever the facts of the matter, this case closed in an uncertain manner, but the very subject matter of the accusation led to its virtual disappearance from the Stark family history.

_________

11)

Records of the Particular Court of Connecticut, 1639-1663. Published by the Connecticut Historical Society and the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut, Hartford, 1928, Page 13. Has the July 2, 1640 appearance before the court.

12)

John M. Murrin, "Things Fearful to Name": Bestiality in Colonial America." Published in the quarterly journal, Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies (Volume 65, Number 5, Special Supplement Issue, 1998, pages 8-43). {Mullins Source for note 20: Records of the Particular Court of Connecticut, 1639-1663 (Hartford: Connecticut Historical Society, 1928), pages 3, 4, 13, 20.}

 

 

 

 Page 20

On April 6, 1643, though, Aaron was back before the Court. This time the court record states: "Aron Starke is aiudged to be whiped at Winsor tomorrow, & then to serve Captaine Mason during ye pleasure of ye Court."[13] The record also shows that Mason was present in court that day. By now, Aaron was at risk of being banished altogether. Circumstantial evidence suggests that Mason, acquainted with Stark and held responsible for the safety of the Connecticut settlements, intervened in Aaron's behalf — probably because he could not afford the loss of a single fighting man, and perhaps because he saw some redeeming qualities in Stark. It may be that Mason (or one of the members of the court) suggested that Aaron be directed to serve the Captain for an indefinite period of time. The gamble paid off, and this remedy ensured that Aaron's days of getting into trouble would come to an end.

Thus this brief period in Aaron's life, with its three court appearances — all of them for actions that do not reflect positively upon his character and moral behavior, helps to explain why so many researchers over the years depicted him in a negative manner. He may well have been an unsavory person, though there is hardly enough evidence to establish that point, but there is another way to look at what we have seen. The later behavior of Mary Holt and Nicholas Sension suggests that Aaron could have been guilty of associating with the wrong people, who led him astray until he found a strong and moral mentor in John Mason. It does seem noteworthy that after the last of these three appearances before the Particular Court, Aaron had no further charges brought against him, either because he realized the errors of his way or because Mason straightened him out. As we will learn, he became a trustworthy servant of John Mason and a solid citizen, and in the end this fact seems more significant than these youthful indiscretions that blackened his reputation for so many years.

Author’s Comment: As we have seen, Captain John Mason [ca.1600-1672] of Connecticut was a key figure in the life of Aaron Stark. There were two men by that name and rank who were prominent in New England history, and it is important not to confuse the Captain John Mason [1585-1635] of New Hampshire fame with the man we are discussing here.[14]

_________

13)

Records of the Particular Court of Connecticut, 1639-1663, Pages 19 & 20. Reveals John Mason was present at the April 6, 1643 appearance before the court and reports the court order for Aaron Stark to serve Mason.

14)

For more information on the New Hampshire Mason, see Peter Wilson Coldham’s "The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1660." Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc. Baltimore, Maryland, 1987.

 

 

 

 

Page 21

 

Aaron Stark, Tenant Farmer on the John Mason Stonington Land Grant

Aaron’s first two court appearances mentioned the settlement of Windsor, Connecticut, which suggests that he may have been a resident there in the years 1639 and 1640. (We can say with certainty only that he was a resident of one of the three communities from which Captain John Mason’s soldiers in the Pequot War were recruited, and one of those towns was Windsor.) But when the court ordered Aaron to "serve Captaine Mason during ye pleasure of ye Court," we can be quite confident that he had become a resident of Windsor, for this was where Mason lived at the time.

During the years between 1643 and 1653 there are no records of Aaron's own activities. We assume that he must have been serving Mason, principally as a tenant or caretaker for Mason’s property but perhaps in other capacities as well. By examining what Mason was doing at that time, where he was living, and also the historical context in Connecticut, we get a sense of what was happening around Aaron Stark during this silent decade before he reappears in the surviving records in 1653. We can also speculate about where Aaron was living at various times.

For background on what Mason was doing at that time, we turn to Frances Manwaring Caulkins’ History of Norwich, which states:[15]

"With the residence of Capt. Mason at Windsor, all the stirring scenes of the Pequot war are connected…{description of Mason’s exploits during the Pequot war}… The skill, prudence, firmness and active courage displayed by Mason in this exploit, were such as to gain him a high standing among military commanders. From this period he became renowned as an Indian fighter, and stood forth a buckler of defense to the exposed colonists, but a trembling and a terror to the wild people of the wilderness.

In 1637, he was appointed by the General Court the chief military officer of the colony, his duty being "to train the military men" of the several plantations ten days in every year: salary, forty pounds per annum.* ["The saide Capt. Mason shall have liberty to traine the saide military men in every planation tenn days in every yeare, see as it be not in June or july." Conn. Col. Rec., 1, 15.] At the later period, (1654), he was authorized to assemble all the train-bands of the colony one in two years for a general review. The office was equivalent to that of Major-General. He retained it through the remainder of his life, thirty-five years, and during that time appears to have been the only person in the colony with the rank and title of Major.When the Fort at Saybrook was transferred by Col. Fenwick to the jurisdiction of the colony, Mason was appointed to receive the investment, and at the special request of the inhabitants he removed to that place and was made commander of the station. Here he had his home for the next twelve years.

The people of New Haven were not entirely satisfied with their location, and formed a design of removing to a tract of land which they had purchased on the Delaware River. In 1651 they proposed this matter to Capt. Mason, urgently requesting him to remove with them and take the management of the company. This invitation is a proof of the high opinion his contemporaries had formed both of his civil and military talents. The offers they made him were liberal, and he was on the point of accepting, when the Legislature of Connecticut interfered, entreating him not to leave the colony, and declaring that they could by no means consent to his removal. Finding that his presence was considered essential to the safety of Connecticut, he declined the offers of New Haven. If he went there was no one left who could make his place good; neither had New Haven any person in reserve who could fill the station designed for him, and therefore the projected settlement never took place. The active disposition of MASON, however, never lacked employment. There was scarcely a year in which he was not obliged to go on some expedition among the Indian tribes to negotiate, or to fight, or to pacify their mutual quarrels. At one time his faithful friend Uncas was in danger from a powerful league of the other tribes, but the seasonable preparations of MASON for his relief frightened the foe into peace and submission. At another time he was sent with arms and men to the assistance of the Long Island Indiana against Ninigrate, the powerful sachem of the Nahanticks, who threatened them with extirpation. This service he gallantly performed, but only two years afterwards was compelled to appear again on that island with a band of soldiers, in order to chastise the very Indians, mischievous and ungrateful, whom he had before relieved."

Without documentary evidence we cannot prove that Aaron was himself involved in any of Mason’s activities during these years, but because he was sentenced to serve Mason personally – and because we know Aaron was a soldier in the Pequot War – we are probably correct in drawing two conclusions. The first is he would have remained physically close to Mason, moving when and where his master and/or landlord did. The second is that Aaron most likely would have been a member of any fighting force that Mason collected and employed during the decade from 1643 to 1653. Further discussion of Mason’s movements and activities are thus relevant here.

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15)

Caulkins, Frances Manwaring, "History of Norwich, Connecticut." Pages 141&142.

 

 

 

 Page 22

 

According to Caulkins, Mason's first three children (Priscilla, Samuel, and John) were born in Windsor, where Aaron was serving. Caulkins described John Mason as "stern and unrelenting in the execution of justice, and as a magistrate and commander, dictatorial and self-reliant."[15] About 1646, Saybrook Fort was transferred to the control of Connecticut and, as Caulkins stated, Mason moved to Saybrook, where he remained for the next twelve years. The Particular Court of Connecticut ordered Mason to take command of Saybrook Fort June 2, 1647.[16]

"It was then further Ordered, that Capten Mason should for the peace, safty and good asurance of this Comon welth, haue the comaund of all souldears and inhabitants of Seabrooke, and in case of alarum or daynger by approch of an enimy, to drawe forth or put the said souldears & inhabitants in such posture for the defence of the place, as to him shall seeme best…. Whereas Capten Mason , at the spetiall instance and request of the inhabitance of Seabrooke, together wth the good likeing of this Comon welth, did leaue his habitio in the riur and repaire thither, to exercise a place of trust."

Additional Mason children (Rachel, Anne, Daniel, and Elizabeth) were born in Saybrook.[17] Because Aaron was still in the service of Mason, one would suppose he also moved to Saybrook.

John Mason received his two land grants east of the Mystic River from the town of Pequot on March 16, 1650/51, and on November 15, 1651. By granting these properties, the townsmen of Pequot had ensured that Mason would acquire a personal interest in the welfare of this region. A more practical motive may have been the court’s desire to monitor and, if necessary, check the activities of a recent immigrant from Massachusetts named William Chesebrough, who they suspected might be engaged in trading with or even stirring up the Indians. This interpretation is strengthened by the following phrase, found in Mason’s second land grant: "The Townsmen of Pequet having considered of the spetiall use they are like to have of there land toward Mistick and Pocatuck for feeding of cattle - doe conceive it very necessary either to remove the Indians from the place by Mistick wch was once allowed to some familis (Expresly nominated) to have to live there the townsmen have agreed forthwith to remove them and have the Captain Mason to yield us what help he can in this pricular who hath promised with our consent to effect wch joyntly wee have consented...."[18]

Soon thereafter, Aaron Stark reappears after ten years in the shadows. First, the New London land records report that on June 1, 1653, he was a witness with Matthew Beckwith to a deed made between William Chesebrough and the Indians.[19] Six months later, Aaron was mentioned for the first time in the diary of Thomas Minor, a resident of what would evolve into the town of Stonington, Connecticut. Minor began this invaluable document early in 1653 and continued it for another three decades. A diary entry on December 8 of that year probably refers to Aaron when it says "Captin Masons man Came for one yoke of oxen. "[20] (It is possible that Mason had other servants, but it is a reasonable assumption that the reference is to Aaron because Minor’s diary does not mention any other such servants.) Thomas Minor had been appointed military sergeant in the town of Pequot May of 1649. On October 15, 1652, Minor sold his property in Pequot and purchased the property of Cary Latham, which bordered the property laid out for John Mason at the mouth of the Mystic River.

Thus, Thomas Minor would have been Aaron Stark’s close neighbor, as the frequent references to Stark in the former’s diary would seem to confirm. Minor’s loan of oxen was probably made to allow Aaron to start clearing the land for planting in the spring. Since there is no indication that Mason himself moved to the Stonington area, now or later, it would appear that Aaron Stark had now earned the opportunity to work without Mason’s close supervision; the financial relationship of Mason and Stark may also have changed at this point, but we can only speculate about this topic.

Aaron may have married in Saybrook before moving to the Mason land grant in 1653. This supposition is based on the probable years of birth of his children, along with the dates of Minor’s diary entries. Aaron’s two oldest sons (Aaron, Jr., and John) both served in King Phillip's War in 1675, which meant they had to have been born between about 1654 and 1659 for them to have reached the minimum age for militia service (16 years old) that year.

________

16)

J. Hammond Trumbell, "The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut." Volume 1, pages 155&156.

17)

Caulkins, Frances Manwaring, "History of Norwich, Connecticut." Page 146.

18)

New London Town Records, 1651-1660; page 7.

19)

Stark, Helen. Article prepared in 1937 titled, "Known Facts & Authorities". Her source was the New London Land Records.

20)

Original publishers of the Diaries: Sidney H. Minor and George D. Stanton, publishers of Thomas’ Diary in 1899; and Frank Denison Minor and Hannah Minor, publishers of Manasseh’s Diary in 1915. (LDS microfilm number 1036221.) Page 6. "1653; The tenth month desember .31. days thursday the first, thursday the .8. and wensday the .14. Captin masons man Came for one yoke of oxen and thursday the .15. & thursday the .22. I had plowed two days crose the (la)nd and this same day I begun to (torn) timber at the mill broocke"; Translation: 1653, The Tenth month, December, which has 31 days. Thursday was the first day of the month. The 8th. was on Thursday. Wednesday was the 14th. Captain Mason's man came for one yoke of oxen on Thursday the 15th. On Thursday the 22nd I had plowed two days across the land and on this day I then began to ?cut/chop? timber at the mill brook. [Author‘s comments: Why was December the tenth month? Because the English New Year started March 25th. The rest of Europe started the New Year on January 1st.] (Contributor: Gwen Boyer Bjorkman)

 

 

 

 

Page 23

 

No record of marriage for Aaron Stark, Sr., has been found nor seems likely to be found, but it is thought the name of his bride was Sarah: a Sarah Stark was one of the witnesses to a deed of sale made by Aaron in 1670, the year (as we will learn later) he sold his Stonington land grant to Robert Fleming.[21]

We can only speculate, too, about Sarah’s given name and her family. Since she bore children well into the 1660s, she was evidently considerably younger than Aaron, who was about 45 in 1653. Could she have been the daughter of one of Mason's servants, and was their marriage one of convenience? One can easily imagine that Aaron's reputation (reinforced by his scar) would have made it difficult for him to find in the Connecticut communities a woman who would willingly marry him. Mason, charged with responsibility for Aaron's behavior, could have arranged a marriage with a young woman also in his employ. In Mason’s view, such a marriage might help to encourage Aaron’s proper behavior while he was living some distance from Mason in Saybrook.

We turn now to other Stark-related entries in Minor’s diary, many of which document the normal relationships of rural neighbors. On Monday, January 2, 1653/54, Minor delivered oxen to "Aron Starke" for the use of Major Mason.[22] The next year, on March 15 (1654/55) and again on June 5 (1655), Aaron lent his oxen to Thomas for plowing. Thomas bought a hat from Aaron and paid him in part with a calf but still owed 9 more shillings to complete the payment for services rendered. During January of 1657/58, Thomas appears to have been building a house, for he writes he received his "ribs" for the house (probably rafters for the roof) on Friday, January 15. One week later, he worked with Aaron Stark, which likely means that Stark came to work on Minor’s house. (The term "wroght" used by Thomas could mean work, or if the intended word were "wrought" it could mean "hammered.")[23]

On March 2, 1660/61, Thomas requested that Aaron meet with him nine days later to establish the boundary between his property and John Mason's property. Aaron replied he could not do this until Major Mason was available, which underscores the fact that Stark was the hired hand of an absentee master or landlord. In January 1661/62, Thomas and others apparently "fetched" a heifer from Aaron's place for "Sam and Hanna," which may mean that the heifer had wandered on to the Mason property and that Aaron had claimed ownership – presumably for Mason.[23]

The next entry in March 1661/1662 was significant because it is the first one in which Minor refers to Aaron as "Goodman Starts." Minor calls many individuals "Goodman" but does not use the term for others. Could his use of "Goodman" for Aaron here hint at his having achieved a higher status within the church or community, or does it only show that Minor had warmed to his neighbor after several years in close proximity? Also in this entry, Minor reports that Aaron's Indian came to visit on Friday, March 7. Who could this Indian have been – another servant of Mason, or perhaps an Indian informer Aaron had been supervising for the Captain? Later, on Tuesday, March 11, Minor reports the framing of Aaron's house was completed. Since Aaron had helped Minor with the building of his own house, it may be that Minor had returned that favor.[23]

________

21)

Church of Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ Microfilm Film #5593, Stonington, New London County, Connecticut. Deeds: 1664-1714, Book 1, page 123; September 26, 1670.

22)

Minor, John A., The Minor Diaries, Page 6; "1653 (The) Eleventh month Januarie .31 (days saba)th day the first (mo)nday (torn) (deliver)ed .2. oxen to Aron Starke for the yuse of major masson satterday the (torn) theare was a greate snow" Translation: 1653, The Eleventh month, January, which has 31 days. ???? was the first Monday ????. Delivered on the 2nd oxen to Aron Starke for the use of Major Mason. Saturday, the ?probably day? there was a great snow. [Author‘s comment: It would appear Thomas Minor took his oxen to Aaron Stark, living on the Mason property, on the 2nd day of January.]

23)

Ibid. {Page 13: 1654/5 - The first month is march and hath .31. days being the yeare 1655. Thursday the first and thursday the eight I went to mill and thursday the .15. that weeke I had Arons oxen to plow and thursday .22. I was at mill.} {Page 14: 1655 - The fourth month is June and hath .30. days friday the first and satterday the .2. We had the wooll from goodwife shaw and tusday the .5. I had a calfe of Aron Starke in parte of pay for my hat and 9 shillings still is due and Friday the .8. the Indeans begun to play. (Author’s Comment: This could also be interpreted to mean Aaron paid Thomas for a hat or Thomas paid Aaron for a hat. The term "I had a Calfe of Aron Starke in parte of pay for my hat" is confusing as to who was paying who for the hat.)} {Page 27: 1657 - The Leventh month is Januarie . & friday the .15 I had got ribs for the house and friday the .22 I wrought wt Aron Stark I agreed with herman garek about my canoow the .29} {Page 43: 1660 - The second of march I sent to Aron Start to com the .11. of march and renew the bounds between us and he sent me word he would not till the major did com.} {Page 48: 1661 - The eleventh month is Januarie .31. days . the .13. day being monday we fetched sam & hanah ther heighfer from Arons & wensday the 22. mr Brigden was at poquatucke.} {Page 49: 1661/2 - The first month march & hath 31 days . tusday Thomas was at new London Friday the 7th Goodman starts Indian came to him saterday the .8 tusday the 11th we made an end of framing at starts our whit calvfe died saterday the 15 I was ill in my head the 16. day I took phisicke}

 

 

 

 

 

Page 24

 

On October 15, 1663, Sarah apparently gave birth to a child who died on this day, as Minor recorded the child’s death.[24] Since neither the name nor sex of the child was given, we presume this child was an infant who was never named. On May 13, 1664, Thomas Minor reports in his diary that a beech tree that marked a boundary between the Minor and Mason properties had been destroyed by fire, perhaps by a lightning strike.[24] Minor, Robert Hempstead, and Captain Denison had been witnesses to the setting of this mark when the property was originally laid out for Mason. Minor called upon Aaron Stark, Sr., and John Gallop, Sr., to go with him as witnesses that the tree had been destroyed and to assist in resetting the boundary with another mark. This entry concludes those in Minor’s diary that mention Aaron’s specific activities, but several more in 1663 and 1664, though difficult to comprehend, may reflect the fact that Aaron’s position in the community was changing.

On July 6, 1663, a Captain Morrice was reported to be a "prisoner at Aaron’s," which suggests that Aaron had been given some official responsibility involving enforcement of the laws. In August, the diary has another entry, which has been transcribed as follows: "On August 21st, Aaron Stark told us that about five weeks before, Captain Denison said it (??) did not matter, all though I (Thomas Minor) did argue I might do what I could for Tagwouncke (Minor‘s name for his property). I (Thomas) could not tolerate it for it was the Coledges land. It was about the 15th or 16th of July this was spoken of to Jo Fish and Aaron Stark at the Morgans." Whatever "it" is in this passage, clearly Minor and Stark are now more like equals than they were before, when the latter was merely Mason’s servant. Evidently the matter was unsettling to Minor, for he seems to feel uneasy about either the outcome or perhaps some event that happened in July.[24] Then, in 1664, exact date unknown, Minor writes another unclear entry, which would seem to read as follows: "The choice was made before Goodman Cheesebrough challeged Mr. Stanton to make good his promise to go with him ?while? another showed it afterward and Aaron foretold it 7 days earlier."[24] The general topic evidently was the dispute over jurisdiction of the region east of the Mystic River, but the reference to Aaron’s having "foretold it" puzzles Stark researchers: did Aaron make a prediction about the matter, or did he have some advance word about the outcome and tip off his friends?

This dispute came about because the General Court of Connecticut claimed jurisdiction to the Pawcatuck River (present day border with Rhode Island). Massachusetts questioned this claim, which was then referred to the Commissioners of the United Colonies for a decision. While awaiting the decision, the planters in the region were advised "to carry themselves & order their affaires peaceably, and by common agreement." On June 30, 1658, a local government was formed and a constitution was prepared titled "The Association of Poquatuck People." Those signing the document were: William Chesebrough and his three sons, Samuel, Nathaniel, and Elisha; Thomas Stanton and his son Thomas; Walter Palmer (father-in-law of Thomas Minor) and his two sons, Elihu and Moses; George Denison; and Thomas Shaw.

Three months later the Commissioners of the United Colonies decided that the territory in dispute belonged to Massachusetts, and the General Court of that colony named it "Southertown" and placed it under the jurisdiction of Suffolk County. It remained a township of Massachusetts until the Charter of Connecticut issued by King Charles II (dated April 25, 1662) fixed the eastern boundary of Connecticut at the Pawcatuck River. The return of the region to the jurisdiction of Connecticut was not acceptable to some of the planters, who were unwilling to acknowledge the change in jurisdiction. In 1664, however, they united in choosing William Chesebrough as their first representative to the General Court of Connecticut. With much effort and considerable delay, he was successful in resolving the disturbed relations between the plantations east of the Mystic and the court. In 1665, the name of Southertown was changed to that of Mystic, and in the year following to Stonington.

Perhaps the passage in the Minor diary was related to these events. On October 13, 1664, the court record reported the reconciliation and acceptance of Connecticut’s jurisdiction by the plantations east of the Mystic River.[25]

"Mistick & Pawcatuck haueing by Mr. Cheesbrook petitioned this Court for their fauoure to pass by their offences, the Court haueing considered the same doe hereby declare that what irregularities or abusiue practices haue proceeded from them, whereby they haue seemed to offer contempt to the authority here established, it shall be forgiuen and baryed in perpetuall obliuion and forgetfuliness, and this to extend it selfe to all ye members of the aforesaid plantation, Captain Denison onely excepted, whoe hath neglected or refused to submitt himself peaceably to the order of the Councill of this Colony."

________

24)

Minor, John A., The Minor Diaries {Page 58: 1663 - The fifte month is July & hath .31. days wensday the first monday the 6th I came whome from Coneticut Captaine morrice was a prisonor at Arons wensday the .8. Samuell Cheesbrough brought The Execution.}{Pages 59&60: 1663 - The eight moneth is october & have .31. days Thursday the first Thursday the .8. I was at the generall Court Thursday the 15 I came whome The same day Aron starts Childe died & Thursday .22. Clement was heare} {Pages 189&190: The 21. of Agust 1663 Aron start tould us that about yt day .5. weeks before the Captayne Denison said it was no matter though I did build I might do what I would at tagwouncke I should never enjoy it for it was the Coledges land it was about the 15 or 16. of July this was spoken: Jo: fish: Aron stark: at morgans.} {Pages 192-193: The 13. of may 1664. the originall Bound Tree marked in a litell swamp: on the west side of the Creek between the major mason and Carie latham being a great Beech tree marked by Thomas minor and Robert hempsteed being apointed thereunto: and Captaine denison a witness with us: was burned downe and Aron start senior and John gallop senior did both goe with me and see it did say in my hearing that washam did it the 6 day of the week.} {Page 201: 1664: The Choyce was made before: for goodman Cheesbrough Chalenged mr stanton to make good his p mise to goe with him another owned it afterward and Aron fore-tould it 7 days}

25)

J. Hammond Trumbell, "The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut." Volume 1, pages 433&434.

 

 

 

 Page 25

 

That same day, October 13, 1664, the General Court of Connecticut acted in a way that would have a profound impact on Aaron Stark‘s future when it ruled:[25]

"Whereas, Mr. Wm. Thomson of New London, is remoueing himself from thence to Virginia, and is indebted by Bills the sume of Twenty nine pounds, seven shillings and fower pence, which Bill is in the hands of John Packer, This Court orders the Constable of New London to secure so much of the estate of Mr. Thomson in his hands, as it shall be apprized by indifferent men, and the sayd Constable is to keep it in his hands, till he hath order from this Court or the Court of Magistrates, to dispose of it to the right owner which is according to Mr. Thomsons tender to the Court of Magistrates, October 11, 1664."

About a month later, on November 5, 1664, Aaron Stark purchased the property of Rev. William Thompson, located in New London at the head of the Mystic on the west side of the river.[26]

 

Aaron Becomes a Property Owner & Freeman

The records show, however, that on March 22, 1663/64, Aaron had been granted 150 acres by the Townsmen of "Southertown."[27]

".....on the 22 of March 1664 (?March 22, 1663/64?), by the order of the town was Layed out one hundred and fiftie Acres of Land unto Aaron Stark of Southertown, as followeth The Length of it east & be South The cross line south & be west with a freshit running through it, with the medow belonging thereunto this sayd Land lieth neer the head of Thomas Parkes Land…"

Presuming this date to be correct, then Aaron received this land grant – from the township of "Southertown," it should be noted, a place that did not acknowledge the jurisdiction of Connecticut – about seven months before he purchased the Thompson property (a topic that will be discussed in more detail later). Did this reflect the fact that the earlier grant was ultimately considered invalid, or did Aaron simply pursue a better opportunity that came along afterwards?

Thompson had an interesting role in colonial Connecticut as a missionary to the Pequots. Charles R. Stark, in his publication entitled "Groton, Conn. 1705-1905," quoted Rev. Frederick Denison as follows:[28]

"At an early day a missionary was chosen to labor among them (the Indians). By invitation, we infer, from Capt. George Denison, the Rev. William Thompson, son of the Rev. William Thompson was engaged in 1657 by the court of commissioners, acting as agents for the; ‘Society for Propagating the Gospel in New England,’ and received a salary of ten pounds per annum for the first two years and twenty pounds per annum for the next two, after which the stipend was withheld for alleged ‘neglect.’ His residence was usually in New London but he ministered to the Pequots at Mystic and Pawcatuck…Owning to the intractable character of the Pequots and his own feeble health, Mr. Thompson left them and removed to Surrey County, Virginia, in 1663..."

Again, according to Stark:

"Rev. William Thompson was appointed missionary to the Pequots. He was the owner of a farm in Groton which he sold to Aaron Starke between 1666 and 1669. Probably he never resided upon this farm, though his missionary labors were confined to the Indians of Mystic and Pawcatuck."

Aaron may have purchased 500 acres or more from Thompson, so by the end of 1664 he had 150 acres in Stonington and the Thompson property in New London – quite a bit of land. The deed (to be quoted later) only states: "Know all men by these presents That I William Thomson Late of New London in the Jurisdiction of Conecticot Minister upon serious Good and valluable consideration sell Alienate pass and make over unto Aaron Starke of Mistick these following parcells of upland and meadows,"[26] Where did Aaron get the money to purchase the Thompson property, which must have cost at least 29£ if its sale was to pay off Thompson‘s debt? It may be that Mason assisted Aaron with his purchase, for he was present at the October court.

Aaron and Sarah continued to live on the Mason grant: later records reveal they did not live on the land grant in Stonington, and neither did they move to the Thompson property until between 1667 and 1668. Sarah Stark, their oldest daughter, was born about 1660 on the Mason land grant, and their youngest son, William Stark, Sr., was born there in 1664.

________

26)

New London Town Records 1647-1666 (Extracted by Eva Butler, Historian ), page 123.

27)

Church of Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ Microfilm Film #5593 Stonington, New London County, Connecticut. Deeds: 1664-1714; Book 1, page 58 (Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman).

28)

Charles R. Stark, Groton, Conn. 1705-1905. Pages 51&72. Self-published a book. Palmer Press of Stonington, Connecticut. Printed 300 copies.

 

 

 

 Page 26

 

Aaron was granted fifty-acres located on the Pachaug River (Near Norwich) in October of 1670. In the public record will be found a May 8, 1679 court entry mentioning this land grant:[29]

"This Court appoints Mr. Tho: Tracy and Mr. Tho: Lefingwell to lay out to Mr. Amos Riches on a former grant of land to him according to his grant and to Aron Start and to James Rogers or theire assignest theire grants of land according to their respective grants."

Aaron’s fifty-acres and the fifty-acres granted to James Rogers, apparently adjacent to Aaron’s property, were laid out in one piece for Thomas Parke (Senior) May 28, 1679.[29] The surveys must have been ordered in preparation for the sale of these two fifty-acre tracts to Thomas Parke. These grants were located within the boundary of New London County and Aaron's was probably awarded to him by the County (his place of residence in October of 1670). This was Aaron Stark’s last known property transaction.

On May 10, 1666, the Connecticut Court announced their approval of men who were to become freemen. The record states: "And to these of Stonington (approved to become freemen); — Nehe: Palmer, Tho: Shaw, Thomas Stanton Junr, John Stanton, Moses Palmer, Benjam: Palmer, Gershom Palmer, Ephraim Minor, Joseph Minor, Aaron Start, James York Senr, Mr. Noice, Nathll Chesborough, Elisha Chesborough. Mr. Thomas Stanton is to administer the fremns oath to those, and ye oath of Fidelity to such in Stonington as haue not taken it."[30]

Why had it taken so long for Aaron to become a freeman? Sydney E. Ahlstrom, in discussing the experience of a group of Connecticut settlers, points out that "Once established, the Connecticut colony did not categorically require freemen to be church members."[31] The Connecticut Colony did have certain other requirements, though. At its March 9, 1658/59, meeting, the Connecticut court ordered: "that for the future it shalbe presented to be made freemen in this Jurisdiction, or haue the priuilidge of freedome conferd vpon them, vntil they haue fulfild the age of twenty one years and haue 30£. Of personal estate, or haue borne office in the Como wealth; such persons qualified as before, and being men of an honest and peaceable conversation, shalbe presented in an orderly way at the General Court in October, yearly, to prevent tumult and trouble at the Court Election."[32]

At this time, we know Aaron did not own real property and most likely did not have a personal estate valued at 30£, so he would not have been eligible to become a freeman. On October 9, 1662, however, the court modified the requirements as follows: "This assembly doth order, that for ye future, such as desire to be admitted freeman of this Corporation shal prsent themselues with a certificate vnder ye maior part [170] of the Townesmen where they liue, that they are prsons of civill, peaceable and honest conversation, and that they attained the age of twenty one yeares and haue 20£. Estate, besides their person, in the List of estate; and that such persons, soe qualified to ye Courts approbation, shalbe presented at October Court yearly, or some adjourned Court, and admitted after ye Election at ye Assembly in May. And in case any freeman shal walke scandalously or commit any scandalous offence, and be legally convicted thereof, he shalbe disfranchised by any of or civill Courts."[33] But in 1662, Aaron still did not meet the property value of 20£.

Three years later, on April 20, 1665, the court made yet another revision to the requirements, which was presented to them as a proposition from "his Majesties Honourable Comrs," Sir Robert Carr, Colonel George Cartwright, and Samuel Maverick: "2d. Propos: That all men of competent estates and of ciuill conversation, though of different judgments, may be admitted to be freemen, and haue liberty to chuse or to be chosen officers, both military and civill. To the 2d, our order for admission of freemen is consonant wth that proposition." Proposition 1 required all inhabitant households to take the oath of allegiance in the name of the King and Proposition 3 stated: "That all persons of civill liues freely injoy the liberty of their consciences, and the worship of God in that way which they thinks best, provided that this liberty tend not to the disturbance of the publique, or to the hindrance of the mayntenance of ministers regularly chosen in each respective parish or township."[34]

By the date of this third change, Aaron Stark owned not only the 150 acres in Stonington but the Thompson property, which by itself was most likely worth more than the required 20£. Based on the procedure the 1662 revision laid out, Aaron Stark’s certificate of approval from the townsmen of Stonington must have been presented to the court at its meeting in October 1665, because he was officially designated a Freeman of Connecticut at its meeting on May 10, 1666. Hence, because a majority of the townsmen of Stonington considered Aaron worthy of becoming a freeman, he had finally earned the respect of his community and was considered to be one of the "prsons of civill, peaceable and honest conversation…"

Minor's diary had two more entries about Aaron before he moved to the Thompson property. One of them, in March 1665/66, states: "The tenth moneth is December … Thursday the 13 day mr Richerson came to my house to swear Aron Start."[35]

________

29)

J. Hammond Trumbell, "The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut." Volume 3, page 29. Foot note at the bottom of this page states: "50 Acres granted to Aaron Start, Oct. 1670, and 50 acres granted to James Rogers, Oct. 1678, laid out, in one piece, May 28, 1679, on Pachaug river, for Thomas Parke Sen." Trumbell’s source was reported to be "Col. Rec. Lands I. 455.

30)

Ibid. Volume 2, page 32.

31)

Sydney E. Ahlstrom, "A Religious History of the American People." Published 1973 by Yale University. Page 152.

32)

J. Hammond Trumbell, "The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut." Volume 1, page 331.

33)

Ibid. Volume 1, page 389.

34)

Ibid. Volume 1, page 439.

35)

Minor, John A., The Minor Diaries, Page 76.

 

 

 Page 27

 

Not long before Aaron was to become a freeman, he was involved in a brawl with Thomas Parke and John Gallop. Minor reports he was informed of this fight when he returned from a town meeting in New London on March 8, 1665/66, and that a hearing on the matter was scheduled for March 15. The swearing of Aaron presumably was connected with his providing testimony about the matter. Whatever the outcome of the incident, it did not interfere with Aaron’s elevation to freeman. The other entry is dated one year later, March 19, 1666/67. It mentions several persons, including Captain Denison, Aaron Stark, and "the Constable," then goes on to say that Minor delivered the "Warrant for the rate...." The rest of the entry is not known, but it suggests again that Aaron had attained some sort of official position, perhaps having to do with tax collection.[36]

Soon after Aaron became a freeman, Aaron and Sarah evidently moved to the Thompson property, within the jurisdiction of New London, for Aaron is on the minister's tax list at New London on December 2, 1667.[37] On October 14, 1669, he was accepted as a freeman in New London.[38] Aaron had not been on the New London minister's tax list in 1664, which supports the conclusion that he moved to New London from Stonington only after May 10, 1666, when the court approved his petition to become a freeman. Henceforth, he would reside in New London, and our next section will discuss his life there.

 

Aaron and Sarah's New London Homestead

At the time Aaron and Sarah moved to New London, they still owned a land grant in Stonington; however, Aaron had not recorded its boundaries as originally laid out. On March 1, 1669/70, therefore, the Stonington town surveyors, Thomas Stanton and John Gallop, surveyed the property and entered the description in the town records. This was most likely done in anticipation of Aaron’s sale of the property to Robert Fleming of Stonington on September 26, 1670, in a transaction that was witnessed by Sarah Stark, presumably the wife of Aaron. The town records tell us that:[39]

(page 118)…upon the 22 of March 1664 Land Layed out for Aron Stark as Followeth beginning att a Black Oake in a Swamppie pond and so runeing east south east neerest in line Score? Rod to a stooping white oake and ? runeing south southeast nearest a hundred rod to a tree… out blacke Oake nohirh? was dead marked on ffouer sides and so runeing west north west norwest five ???? score? rod to a greate white oake tree marked on ffouer sides, and so winding north north east nearest a hundred rod to the affore said blacke oake in the swamp= pie pond, all nohirh? land above spesiffied amounteting to A hundred and fittie Ackers, highways excepted.

 

Tho. Stanton, John Gallop, Towne Sirvayors

 

For as much as Aron Start hath bin remis in not recording his paper of the boundaries of this land above mentioned, we have veiwed his bound markes and reained? them Exactly as they were then layed out and have recorded them againe for him as you may goe above only the day then if not layd out we cannot remember but re?? it to the Towne booke of records: this first of March 1669/70 the day ?hen this was first Layd out is as above written the 22 of March 1664: as apeares in the second leafe of the Towne booke Tho. Stanton John Gallop his wart of land above written was Recorded the 13th of July 1670 Pr me Thomas Minor Recorder.

With this survey in place, Aaron could then sell the property, as the following deed documents:[39]

"(Page 123) Know all men by these presents that I Aron Starke of New London heare by sell ------ Allinate pass away and make over unto Robert Flemen of Stoneington my whole right in my tract of Land in Stoneington ------- tract of Land being one hundred and fifty ackers as according to grant and bounded as in the Records in the booke of Records in Stoneington the said Tract of Land with all Privledges appurtenances belongeing there unto and binde my selfe, heiers, & Excutors, Administrators, assignes that the sayd Robert Flemen he his heiers Executors, Administrators, Assigns shall quietly and peaceably Improve, poses and Injoy the sayd bargained premises with out molestation from me or any other maner of person or persons whatsoever as Desposting Title unto whith deed of sale & sett to my hand and subscribe in the day and yeare as followeth September the 26 1670.

 

Signed: The marke of Aron A Starke.

Witness: John Fish, Sarah Starke S her marke

 

This deed was owned and delivered by these (to) Mr. Thomas Minor Comr. (Commissioner) 21 November 1670. Sealed and delivered In the Prsense of the witnesses. A testing This deed above written was Recorded the 22: Day of November: 1670: Pr me Thomas Minor, Recorder."

________

36)

Minor, John A., The Minor Diaries, {Page 67: 1665 - The first moneth is march . I was warned to a towne meeting the 2 day to chuse officers I was at london for malasses and paid Richard dart I was informed by Edward Fanings of the broyle between Aron & Tho parke and John gallop wensday The 8. heare should have been a courte and wensday 15.} {Page 73: 1666 - The first moneth is march . Thursday the 15. I was at lams my wheeles came from Tagwoncke monday 19 day hanah Averie was heare & Captain Denison John Gallop Aron start & the Constable I delivered the warrant for the rate.}

37)

Stark, Helen. Article prepared in 1937 titled, "Known Facts & Authorities". Her source for Ministers list was the New London Town Records.

38)

J. Hammond Trumbell, "The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut." Volume 2, page 116.

39)

Church of Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ Microfilm Film #5593 Stonington, New London Co, CT Deeds 1664-1714, Book 1, pages 118&123. (Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman.)

 

 

 

 Page 28

 

The New London property Aaron purchased from Reverend William Thompson was located west of present day Old Mystic, Connecticut. The transaction transferred four parcels of land from Thompson to Aaron. The first parcel contained 200 acres; the second, well-described in the deed, was 100 acres; the third consisted of meadow, extent undetermined, but perhaps also 200 acres; and the fourth parcel was 10 acres. The first three of these were apparently adjacent to each other.

The deed conveying the land to Aaron Stark reads as follows:[40]

Know all men by these preasents That I William Thomson Late of New London in the Jurisdiction of Conecticot Minister upon serious Good and valluable consideration sell Alienate pass and make over unto Aaron Starke of Mistick these following parcells of upland and meadows as in this Deed exprest. Viz

Two hundred ackers of upland upon the westward of Culvers Land and upon the westward of Mistick River toward the head of it as given me and bounded out by the measurers and as it is upon record.

Also on the great hill towardes Mistick one hundred Ackers of upland more or less on the north of Land Laide out to Mr. Thomson two hundred rod from a marked oake in a bottom at the head of a parcell of meadowe laid out to James Avery to a Chestnut tree marked on the east side of the hill and from the eastward marked tree westward to a small marked oake by a small rock wth a stone upon it, more or less eighty rod for the breadth and at the other end on the same Lyne from the oak aforesaid to a Chestnut tree on the side of a ledg of rocks in sight of the aforesaid meadowe the same breadth, Also a parcell of meadowe that I bought of James Avery commonly called by the name of the pond, being a pond and a run of water in the midst of it this parcell be it more or less, Also Ten Ackers of meadow if it be to be had that was given me by the Towne of New London neere to my farme not hindring former Grants, And for a more full confermation heareof I the aforesaid William Thomson, doe, for myselfe my Heires Executors Administrators and Assignes Covenant promise and Grant to and wth the aforesaid Aron Starke his Heires Executors Administrators and Assignes to have and to hould all the aforesaid upland and meadowe according to the foregoing premises with all the priviledges and Appurtenances thereto belonging formerly and also to us Dispose Improve posess and Injoy the same wthout let hindrance trouble molestation or obligation of me the said William Thomson or of any other person or psons whatsoeaver by from or through any meanes of me or my me or any under us for performance heareof I set to my hand the 5th of November 1664;

Witness: Obadiah Bruen, William Thomson, James Morgan his marke;

Know all men by these preasents that I William Thomson Doe give full powre unto James Morgan to give unto Aaron Starke full posesion of yt land and meadowe above mentioned and what he doth shall be eavery way as sufficient as if I myselfe had Done it as witness my hand this 5th November 1664; Signed William Thomson ; All above is Drawne out according to the Deed returned per me Obadiah Bruen Recorder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aaron Stark Homestead in New London

Source

Stark Family Association Yearbook, 1908, page 21.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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40)

New London Town Records 1647-1666, page 123. (Transcribed by Eva Butler, Historian. Contributor: Carolyn Smith)

 

 

 

 Page 29

 

From Thompson’s earlier acquisitions we learn more about what would become Aaron’s home for the remainder of his life. Thompson had been granted two hundred acres in December 1658, and this was the first parcel of land the 1664 deed mentions. It was described as being westward of Culver's land, which placed it west of the Mystic River and near the head waters of that river:[41]

"200 ackers of upland upon the westward of Culvers land wch is upon the westward of Mistick river towardes the head of it, bounded wth and to runn from a tree marked upon a ledg of rockes west and by nore the breadth of the land to a Chesnut tree marked by great rock and from thence south and by west to a black oacke marked by a swomp side, and from theance to runn east and by south to another tree marked and from thence to runn north and by east to the first bound marke runing also upon this north and by east lyne to the river wch river west and by nore boundes the bredth of the land...."

The second parcel of land, which had been given to Thompson, was briefly described in the New London Town Records in December 1658, as follows:[41]

"Mr. Thomson as under Mr. Tinkers hand Hath given him on the Great hill toward Mistick one hundred acker of upland on the norward of (large space) runing the full length of his land more or less 200 (small space) from a marked oake in a bottom at the (small space) out to James Avery to a marked chesnut tree (large space) the east side of the hill and from the east etc."

In the Thompson-to-Stark deed there is a more complete description of this parcel:[40,42]

The southeast corner of this 100 acres is marked by a oak tree in a bottom at the head of a parcel of meadow laid out to James Avery.

The line runs north from an oak 200 rods (1,100 yds.) to a chestnut tree, marked, on the east side of the hill. This would be the northeast corner of this 100 acres.

• The line runs westward from the chestnut tree 80 rods (440 yds.) to small oak, marked, located by a small rock with a stone on it. This would be the northwest corner of this 100 acres.

• The line runs west, 80 rods (440 yds.), from the oak tree in (a), the southeast corner of the property, to a chestnut tree growing on the side of a ledge of rocks in sight of James Avery’s meadow. This includes the area commonly called by the name of "The Pond," being a pond with a stream running through it. This is the southwest corner of the 100 acres. The ledge of rocks described in this deed could be the same ledge mentioned in the earlier deed for 200 acres, but could actually be a different ledge located east of this property.

Thompson also purchased from Avery the third parcel of land, then subsequently sold it to Aaron Stark. The relevant deed, found in the New London land records and dated November 1, 1664, states:[43]

"James Avery to Mr. Will. Thomson a parcel of meadow commonly knowne by the name of the pond, being a pond and a run of water in the midst of it--bound on the east wth land wch the Towne gave James Rogers wthin two myles of Mistick and on the north wth great Rocky hills, on the west wth the Common, south wth the common. Nov. 1, 1664."

These three parcels of land came to more than 300 acres in all, but there was a fourth parcel of land that Thompson sold to Aaron at the same time. This consisted of 10 acres that Thompson had received as a gift from Richard Blinman on April 11, 1659. The location of this property relative to the first three parcels of land is not known. The deed for this small parcel, found in the New London Land Records, Book Reversed, states:[43]

"Loveing freind Mr. Tomson I was told by brother Parker formerlly to tender a small gift to you viz, a peece of swomp wch was given mee for a woodlot; lying towardes the west of Will Comstocks hills wch if you please to accept of as a token of my love, I doe hereby give, and confirme it to you, and yor Heires forever, to have hold use, and enjoy, wthout any let or molestation from me or myne and if you please let it be recorded in the Towne booke, John Stibben is to have away through it to his land ther; you will see the boundes of it in the Towne booke, and John Stibbens can shew them. New Haven Your loving freind, April 11th 1659, Richard Blinman."

On today’s map, this property was located between Old Mystic and Centre Groton. Present day Highway 184 would have been within the northern boundary with the greater portion of the property being south of the highway.

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41)

New London Town Records 1647-1666, Page 14, Dec. 1658.

42)

There are several units of measure used in these deeds that should be defined if the reader is not familiar with them. One "Chain" equals 66 feet equals 22yards. One "Rod" equals 16.5 feet equals 5.5 yards. One square "Rod" equals 30.25 square yards. One acre equals 4,840 square yards. In the above 100 acres, the property is described as a rectangle 200 rods by 80 rods to the side. From the above this is equal to 1,100 yards by 440 yards which is 484,000 square yards. Since 4,840 square yards equals one acre, then 484,000 yards divided by 4,840 yards equals 100 acres, the number of acres the deed says Aaron was to receive.

43)

New London Land Records, Vol. 3, page 182, dated November 1, 1664.

 

 

 

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Aaron and Sarah's second daughter, Elizabeth Stark, was probably born on this New London property between 1667 and 1673. (The latest year of her birth would have been about 1673, based on her marriage to Micah Lambert on April 19, 1688.) Anna Stark, probably Aaron and Sarah’s youngest daughter, married William Read on May 4, 1699, in Norwich, Connecticut, and she too would have been born on this land.[44] We get another perspective on Aaron Stark’s land from Caulkins’s "History of New London, Connecticut," which states:[45]

"The swamps around New London were infested to an unusual degree with these perilous animals (wolves). After 1667, the bounty was sixteen shillings... In 1673, this bounty was claimed by ... Aaron STARKE, two; making nineteen howling tenants of the forest destroyed within the limits of the town that year. The havoc made by wild beasts was a great drawback on the wool-growing interest which was then of more importance to the farmers than at the present day."

Our final two glimpses of the living Aaron Stark come again from the diary of Thomas Minor. On June 16, 1675, Minor attended the marriage of the Widow Cheesebrough at Aaron's home in New London. A bit more than a year later, on November 27, 1676, Minor noted in his diary that Aaron Stark, Jr. and Mehitabel Shaw had been married.[46]

 

More Indian Troubles 

Although the Pequot War had been a major victory for the settlers, problems between the Indians and settlers did not disappear. For many years, though, mutual helpfulness and trade were fostered by both the early Massachusetts colonists and the Indian leader Massasoit, Grand Sachem of the Wampanoags. But by the 1660's, the settlers had outgrown their dependence on the Indians for wilderness survival techniques and had substituted fishing and commerce for the earlier lucrative fur trade. The "Great Migration" of new settlers that occurred from 1630 to 1640 had brought new waves of land-hungry settlers, who had begun to encroach upon Indian territories in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Inland.

Rather than be pushed from their homelands, the Indians began to attack them; in turn, the settlers counterattacked. In the ensuing (mostly small-scale) clashes, nearly all able-bodied colonial males, whatever their ages, were called upon to assist in defending the settlers. Thus we can expect that Aaron most likely was involved in this pattern of attacks and counterattacks, as were virtually all of the men over sixteen years of age. These bloody clashes resulted in the deaths of many men, women, and children on both sides, but an even larger conflict was yet to come.

In 1661, Massasoit died and was succeeded by his second son, King Philip (Indian name Metacom). He vowed to resist further expansion of the English settlers and won the support of almost all of the other tribes in New England. During the years between 1661 and 1675, the small-scale raids continued and even intensified. Then, in June 1675, three Wampanoags were executed for the murder of an informer named John Sassamon. King Philip could no longer hold his warriors in check, and the war that bears his name began.

Ruthless Indian attacks erupted against settlements from the Connecticut River into Massachusetts and Narragansett Bay. These were followed by equally ruthless assaults on Indian villages by the militia of these colonies. The Indians maintained the advantage until their crops were destroyed in the spring of 1676 and the settlers began to use "Praying Indians" (Indians converted to Christianity) as scouts. In August 1676, King Philip died and all Indian resistance collapsed, ending the war.

Records show that Aaron Stark's sons, Aaron Stark, Jr., and John Stark served in the militia during King Philips War, for which they were rewarded with tracts of land in Voluntown, Connecticut in July of 1701. Some researchers say they were under the command of John Mason, but the introduction to that man’s published account of the Pequot War makes it clear that: "... he [John Mason] removed thence to Norwich; where he died in 1672 or 1673, in the 73rd. year of his age leaving three sons, viz. Samuel, John, and Daniel, to imitate their Fathers example and inherit his virtues."

His son, John Mason, Jr. did participate in the war and in fact was killed during the conflict. It is possible that the Stark brothers served under the younger man. Some researchers contend that Aaron Stark [1608-1685] also fought in King Philip’s War. Because others his age did participate, it seems probable that Aaron did so, but we have no evidence of this. In this connection, some researchers believe that the Aaron Stark, deceased, who was approved July 2, 1701 to receive a tract of land in Voluntown for his participation in this conflict was Aaron Stark (Senior), but closer examination of these later records suggests it was his son of the same name, who probably died between 1698 and 1701.[47] 

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44)

If Anna was as young as 15 years old when she married, her latest year of birth would have been 1684, one year before the death of Aaron Stark, Sr. Thus it is not known with certainty that Anna was the daughter of Aaron Stark, Sr.: she may have been, instead, the daughter of Aaron Stark, Jr. Because there were no other Stark families in the area, one has to presume she was a member of the Stark family we are discussing. (To be discussed in a later Chapter.")

45)

Caulkins, Frances Manwaring, History of New London, Connecticut. From the First Survey of the Coast in 1612 to 1860. Published in 1895, 696 pp., 2 vols.

46)

Minor, John A., The Minor Diaries. {Page 130: 1675 - "The fourerth moneth is June … 16. day I was at Arons the widow Cheesbrough was married."} {Page 138: 1676 - "The Ninth moneth is November … monday the .27. Aron Start Junior and mehitabel shaw were married..."}

47)

Bodge, George M., "Soldiers in King Phillip's War," Boston, 1906. "Narragansett Township Granted to Connecticut Volunteers in the Narragansett War, now Voluntown, Connecticut." Pages 441-442.

 

 

 

 

 Page 31

 

Edmund Randolph, an agent for the crown, estimated that 600 settlers and 3,000 Indians were killed in the almost two-year war; more than half of the 90 settlements in the region were attacked, and a dozen of them were destroyed; whole Indian villages were massacred and entire tribes lost many of their members; and most of those Indians who survived fled westward and northward. Except for the northern part of the Connecticut Valley, the villages of Connecticut were spared from the Indian attacks — although their men did participate with the other colonies in the war effort. Thereafter, the settlers were free to expand without fear into the former Indian lands all across southern New England.Aaron Stark would not see that expansion. An entry in the New London County records for June 3, 1685, informs us that:[48]

"The inventory of the Estate of Aaron Stark, deceased, being exhibited in Court was proved and ordered to be recorded. The last will and testament of Aaron Stark, being exhibited in Court, was proved, approved and ordered to be recorded. Aron Stark, John Stark, and William Stark, sons to Aron Stark, Sr., deceased, appearing in Court and did declare and desire Capt. Samuel Mason might divide the lands left there by their father, and bound the same between them."

Thus we know that Aaron Stark died sometime before June 2, 1685. His New London property was divided among his three sons, Aaron (Junior), John, and William. Another son of John Mason, Capt. Samuel Mason, was asked to assist in the division of Aaron’s estate. William Stark later (1716) sold a portion of his inheritance to the First Baptist Church of Groton, Connecticut. A portion of it measuring one and one-half acres was set aside for a family burying ground — which was probably already in use before 1716. Here William would later be buried, along with many other members of the Stark family. The many unmarked grave sites in this cemetery may include Aaron's resting place, and perhaps Sarah's as well.

 

Sarah: Some Theories on Her Life & Origins

As we have seen, Sarah Stark evidently survived Aaron. What happened to her? Did she remarry? She would have been in her 40s when Aaron died leaving her with two underage daughters. Elizabeth and Anna later married and settled in Lisbon and Preston in the area around Norwich where John Mason lived during his later years. Perhaps Sarah moved to that region to be near her family, for they may have still been part of Mason‘s household or followed Mason to Norwich. Because there is no evidence informing us what happened to Sarah, we are left with speculation.

In the 1937 Stark Family Association Yearbook, Helen Stark wrote an article entitled "More Theories and Some Questions." On the subject of Sarah, she had this to say:

1. Who was "widow" Stark?

January 27, 1696-7 Widow Stark owned land in present Groton, Conn., bounded east by that of Peter Crary, south by that of Joseph Rogers, and west by that of William Stark, formerly William Thompson. (Private Controversies, at State Library, Hartford.)

In 1708 Samuel Rogers sold this land to his son-in-law Theophilas Stanton. It was still bounded east by Crary, south by heirs of Joseph Rogers, west by William Stark, his northwest corner being Stark's northeast one. Where did Samuel Rogers get this land during this eleven-year period? I found no widow or any other Stark recorded as selling it and I examined every Stark sale till about 1775. Was the sale simply not recorded, or did Rogers inherit it from Widow Stark2? [Mehitable Shaw, the wife of Aaron Stark, Jr.] Or what seems more probable, did the widow remarry and sell the land under her new name or have her new husband do so? It should not be difficult to trace back from Rogers for that short period and if we can find the one who obtained it immediately after January 27, 1696-7, and from whom, it may be the key to the identity of this widow. Whose widow was she? No grandchildren of Aaron1 could have had a widow so early. [Aaron Stark, Sr.] Of his sons, William was living, John dead, but his widow had married John Weeks and had at least two Weeks children by that date. [William Stark, Sr. and Elizabeth Packer, widow of John Stark who then married John Weeks.] And especially since John Weeks was also a Groton man she would hardly be called "Widow Stark," then that leaves Aaron1 or Aaron2.

We don't know when Aaron2 died, so she may have been his widow, but supposedly the bounds between the property inherited from their father by Aaron2 and William are on record (Groton Deeds) and the Aaron2 property lay to the southeast of William's. I should not suppose from the description that it went any where near his northeast corner. If this widow is widow of Aaron1 any information about her is of the greatest importance to all of the Aaron Stark line surely, while if she is Mehitable (Shaw) Stark it is very important too. (Groton Deeds)

From later research, it appears Aaron Stark (Junior) died before 1701. He may have been deceased before January 27, 1696/97, but this is not known with certainty. The author has not seen an abstract or copy of this deed but believes Helen Stark was aware of such a document in 1937. The high probability that Aaron Stark (Junior) lived in Groton before his death would further suggest that "Widow Stark" could have been his wife (Mehitable Shaw). Until further proof can be found, the "Widow Stark" will remain a mystery, and so will the fate of Aaron’s widow, Sarah.

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48)

Helen Stark, Aaron Stark Family, Known Facts & Authorities (1937, unpublished). Archived Connecticut State Library, Hartford. (?S. 2664a, Miss Helen Stark) The source and its location was given by Miss Stark as "County Court Records (?New London County?), formerly at Norwich, now in State Library at Hartford." (Contributor: Pauline Stark Moore.)

 

 

 

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Conclusion

This mystery is, as we have seen, only one of many that Aaron Stark left behind. There are limits to what we can say with assurance. That Aaron was a soldier before 1637 may be disputed, but we do know that he was one in the Pequot War and probably afterwards. We cannot fix in time when he arrived in New England, nor with whom he came, and we can only guess at what Aaron was doing before the Pequot War. On the other hand, Minor’s diary and other documents do give us invaluable glimpses of Aaron over the space of many years — including some through the eyes of a person who knew him well, and that is quite rare.

Some historians have treated Aaron's character harshly, based on the three cases that came before the Particular Court of Connecticut. We cannot say with certainty that Aaron was innocent of any wrongdoing, but we can reasonably question the circumstances of those events and balance them against what we know about the later stages of his life. That balance actually seems to favor Aaron Stark:

• Because he soon took responsibility for Mason’s Stonington land grants in 1653, we know he had become, and remained, a trusted servant of the Major.

• Aaron married, became a father, successfully raised children who went on to lead responsible lives, and survived to the age of 77 — in itself quite an achievement in such a hostile environment.

• While looking after Mason’s interest in Stonington, Aaron earned the respect of his neighbors, the majority of whom signed a certificate in October of 1665 recommending he become a freeman of that township — an action the Connecticut General Court took on May 10, 1666.

• When Aaron moved to New London Township in 1669, he was accepted there as a freeman.

• Aaron was awarded land grants by both Stonington Township (1664) and New London Township (1670) — presumably in recognition of his contributions to those communities and to Connecticut.

• All of these things occurred despite Aaron’s having a scar that could not help but remind his neighbors and acquaintances of his youthful lack of discretion and choice of companions.

These documented events in Aaron’s life certainly suggest Aaron was a man whose behavior and reputation evolved in a positive way. From being regarded as an unpromising youth; he became a man respected by his peers and community. We should give some credit to John Mason and Sarah for having influenced Aaron’s behavior, to be sure, but Aaron himself had to have had the will to change, and that requires some strength of character.

With these observations, we leave Aaron and Sarah, the first generation of our Stark Ancestors in the New World. Grateful that he and his family survived a difficult and dangerous time in colonial New England, we turn now to how his children fared during the next era of our country’s history.

 

 

 

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Copyright

Other than that work created by other acknowledged contributors or sources, the articles and genealogical data presented in this publication were derived from the research of Clovis LaFleur; Copyright © 2007. All rights are reserved. The use of any material on these pages by others will be discouraged if the named contributors, sources, or Clovis LaFleur have not been acknowledged.

Disclaimer

This publication and the data presented is the work of Clovis LaFleur. However, some of the content presented has been derived from the research and publicly available information of others and may not have been verified. You are responsible for the validation of all data and sources reported and should not presume the material presented is correct or complete.

 

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