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  Volume 1: The First Three Generations of Aaron Stark's Descendants in New England

Chapter 4: Introduction to Children of Aaron Stark [1608-1685] & Aaron Stark (Junior) & Mehitable Shaw

 

Part 2: The Second Generation, Children of Aaron Stark [1608-1685]

 

Page 37

 

 

Chapter 4

Introduction to Children of Aaron Stark [1608-1685]

&

Aaron Stark (Junior) & Mehitable Shaw

 

Introduction Children of Aaron Stark [1608-1685]

From the New London County, Connecticut Court Records, Volume 5, page 109, June 3, 1685:

"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."

We can surmise Aaron Stark [1608-1685] died sometime before June 2, 1685 and his lands were divided between his three sons named Aaron, John, and William. Captain Samuel Mason, the son of John Mason, was requested to assist in the division of the estate. These sons were the second generation of Aaron Stark's [1608-1685] family in Connecticut and his daughters were most likely Sarah and Elizabeth Stark, identified from deed and marriage records suggesting they were siblings of the three brothers.

Early settlers in New England did not adopt the English system of passing property to the oldest son. Instead, the father divided the land up among his sons, as was clearly the case in Aaron's will; daughters not receiving any land as part of their inheritance. Often, when a son reached the age of 21 or married, land would be given as a gift, this act binding the son to the father, which provided the patriarch with considerable control over his family and its affaires. In the first two generations, this system was fundamental in creating tight knit New England communities, bound together by patriarchal fathers, the centralized village, power of the Church, and the town meeting.

Aaron Stark (Junior) died before 1701, passing his portion of the inherited land to his sons. His brother, John Stark died about 1689. Having no sons, his property, through inheritance and purchase, eventually passed to Isaac Fox, the husband of one of his two daughters. William Stark (Senior), born in 1664, would live until 1730, passing all of his property to his sons and a son-in-law during his lifetime as gifts. With each subdivision of the original property of Aaron Stark [1608-1685], the land, through purchase, began to pass to non-family members.

Several of the children of Aaron Stark (Junior) became religious dissenters. Some joined the Baptist movement in 1704. Others became followers of John Rogers and joined the Rogerene movement that eventually removed to the more religious tolerant colony of New Jersey about 1730. In 1674, John Rogers (a resident of New London County, Connecticut), was converted to the Sabbatarian Sect in Rhode Island. On his return to Connecticut, he formed a small congregation which began to observe the Sabbath on Saturday. For not observing the Sabbath on Sunday, John Rogers and his followers were harassed and persecuted by the Congregational Church Leadership and Governmental Authorities. John Rogers and his followers would later split from the Sabbatarian Church and become known as the "Rogerenes." 

By around 1685, members of any of the Baptist congregations in Rhode Island were arrested and severely punished if they attempted to visit or have meetings within the jurisdiction of the other colonies. Despite the persecutions, the Baptists continued to grow in numbers and slowly began to spread to the other colonies. First Baptist Church preachers from Rhode Island ventured into Connecticut where they gained a few converts. By 1701, a small congregation was formed in New London County, Connecticut which began to hold regular meetings. They petitioned the Connecticut's General Court for official recognition to practice their faith, but received no response from the ruling body. Interpreting the General Court's silence as unofficial consent, the congregation formally organized themselves into a Baptist Church in 1705. In the summer of 1707, they sent for a young preacher named Valentine Wightman of North Kingston, Rhode Island to serve as their pastor. He began to hold regular meetings in Groton on the property of William Stark (Senior) which came to the attention of the County Authorities and a series of unsuccessful attempts were made to remove Wightman from the community.

The second and third generation of Aaron Stark's [1608-1685] descendants would become Baptists sympathizers and converts, and challenge the authority of the Congregational Church to regulate religious activities in Groton. William Stark [Senior] joined and supported the original First Baptist Church movement which spread from Rhode Island to Connecticut and many members of Aaron Stark's (Junior) family joined William Stark's (Senior) Baptist congregation while others joined the Rogerene movement.

 

 

 

 

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Page 39

 

 Introduction Aaron Stark (Junior)

An entry in the New London County records for June 3, 1685, informs us Aaron Stark (Junior) was the son of Aaron Stark (Senior):[49]

"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."

Aaron (Junior) was most likely born between 1653 and 1658. The earlier estimate is based on the probable arrival of his parents at the John Mason land grant in Stonington in 1653, and the later estimate based on his being reported as an inhabitant of New London April 11, 1678. (He had to have been twenty-one years of age to appear on the list.)[50]

There are few surviving records in Connecticut related to Aaron Stark (Junior) during his lifetime. The earliest record is a November 27, 1676 Thomas Minor diary entry: ""The Ninth moneth is November … monday the .27. Aron Start Junior and mehitabel shaw were married..."[51] Mehitable Shaw was the daughter of Thomas and Mary Shaw, residents of Stonington Township, New London County, Connecticut – most likely where the marriage rites were performed. The extant record of Aaron Stark (Junior) came when he received a bounty for killing wolves on November 28, 1691.[50]

 

When Did Aaron Stark (Junior) Die?

There has been considerable speculation by Stark Family researchers, both past and present, attempting to establish the time of death of Aaron (Junior). This is important because there could have been two men named Aaron Stark in the New London County records after 1691: Aaron Stark (Junior) and his son of the same name, hereafter referred to as Aaron Stark (the third). Most genealogists seem to agree Aaron (Junior) was deceased no later than April 24, 1721, but many records dated before that year suggest that he was in fact deceased well before then; they also help us by revealing the names of his children.

A thorough review of the pertinent records will help us to sort out which Aaron Stark is which. An especially important one is a Groton Deed book entry dated April 24, 1721, which states:[52]

"… to fix a deviding lane between mr. William Stark of sd Groton and his Cozen Aron Stark son to Aron Stark decd ye brother of ye sd William Stark according to ye last will & testament of Mr. Aron Stark decd. Father to ye above said Brothers ye boundary…"

This document tells us: Cozen Aron Stark was the son of a deceased father named Aron Stark; the deceased father of Cozen Aron Stark was the brother of William Stark; and the two brothers were sons of a deceased father named Aron Stark.

Undoubtedly, the deceased father of the two brothers was Aaron Stark [1608-1685] (hereafter referred to as Senior); the deceased father of Cozen Aron Stark was Aaron Stark (Junior); and Cozen Aron Stark was the nephew of William Stark (Senior). Assuming this deduction is correct, then we can confidently state that Aaron Stark (Junior) was deceased before April 24, 1721, and had a son with the same name: Aaron Stark (the third). Are there other records showing that Aaron Stark (Junior) was deceased at an earlier date?

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49)

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.)

50)

Ibid. Helen’s source was the New London County Town Records.

51)

Minor, John A., The Minor Diaries, Stonington, Connecticut: Thomas 1653 to 1684, Manasseh 1696 to 1720 (Reprint 1976). 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. Page 138 (Church of Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ microfilm # 1036221).

52)

Groton, New London County, Connecticut; First Book of Records, 1705-1723. Church of Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ Family History Library Film #4293, pages 551 &552 (Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman). 

 

 

 

 

Page 40

 

May 29, 1716, the Groton Deed Books reported the siblings of Aaron Stark [the third] acknowledged receiving their fair share of there deceased father’s estate:[53]

"Be it known … the subscribers do … acknowledge that we have received our full parts of shears of all ye estate that was our father Aaron Starks of Groton deceased … and acquit all our right title claim or demand whatsoever of or unto the estate of our sd father Aaron Starke and to every part therof unto our brother Aaron Stark of said Groton … 29 May 1716. Signed: John Stark, Aabiel Stark, Joseph Collver, Sarah Stark. Wit: Samll. Fox, David Collver. Ack and recd 29 May 1716.."

The subscribers who signed this document could not have been children of Aaron Stark (Senior), for his sons were named in his 1685 probate record. All those mentioned were children of Aaron Stark (Junior), accept for Joseph Collver, who was married to their sister, Mary Stark. This document provides persuasive evidence that Aaron Stark (Junior) was the deceased father of the siblings named in this deed record.

Another Groton Deed record suggest Aaron Stark (Junior) may have been deceased before February of 1713/14:[54]

"Stephen Starke of Groton, for 16L,… by Capt. Samuell Fish of Groton, all the right, all the estate that was my father Aaron Starks, ? Feb 1714 Signed: Stephen Stark. Wit John Wood, John Morgan. Ack. and recd 3 Feb 1714."

This deed indicates that another son of Aaron Stark (Junior), Stephen Stark, had sold the property inherited from his deceased father. This was the same Stephen Stark who on May 20, 1751, sold a "Tract of Land which did formerly belong to my Honoured Grand Father Thomas Shaw Late of Said Stonington Deceasd."[55] Thomas Shaw of Stonington was most likely the father of Stephen’s mother, Mehitable Shaw – suggesting that Stephen was the son of Aaron Stark (Junior). But there is other evidence Aaron Stark (Junior) was deceased even earlier.

Helen Stark in a 1937 article entitled, "Aaron Stark Family, Known Facts & Authorities," wrote:[56]

"June 9, 1707. [Aaron Stark (Junior)] Mentioned as deceased in a petition by the daughters of his deceased brother John, in regard to their share of the estate of their grandfather, Aaron 1 [Aaron Stark (Senior)]."

Helen's source for this document was the New London Probate Records in Hartford, Connecticut, but the document itself has not been found. If such a document did exist – and there is no reason to doubt its existence – then Aaron Stark (Junior) was deceased before 1707. Who, then, was the Aaron Stark mentioned in the following deed that sold a lot in Voluntown March 22, 1709/10?[57]

Aron Starke of Groton … for 5 pounds silver money of Boston … to Samuell Avery … a certain tract of land lying in that tract of land granted to those persons who were vollenteers in the last war with the Narraganset Indians … in the town of Vollentowne and in the 69th -?-?-?- 122a … 22 Mar 1709/10 Signed Aaron Stark. Wit James Morgon Junr, Wm. Latham. Ack 22 Mar 1709/10. Recd 28 Mar 1709/10.

If Aaron Stark (Junior) was indeed deceased before June 9, 1707, then the Aron Starke who sold the above property must have been Aaron Stark (the third). We know his parents did not marry until November 1676, which means that Aaron Stark (the third) was not born until after King Philip’s War (1675-1676). How did this property come into the possession of Aaron Stark (the third) if he was not one of the volunteers granted land in Voluntown?

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53)

Groton, New London County, Connecticut; First Book of Records, 1705-1723. Church of Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ Family History Library Film #4293, Page 310.

54)

Ibid, page 203.

55)

Stonington, New London County, Connecticut Deeds, Volumes 5 & 6. Church of Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ Family History Library Film #5595; Volume 6, page 217 (Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman).

56)

Helen Stark, "Aaron Stark Family, Known Facts & Authorities," Unpublished typed manuscript dated 1937. Archived Connecticut State Library, Hartford, Connecticut. Call Number 929.2 St.

57)

Groton, New London Co, CT First Book of Records 1705-1723. Church of Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ Family History Library Film #4293, page 77 (Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman).

 

 

 

 

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The Voluntown deed records provide a probable answer to this question:[58]

"Lands Belonging to Aaron Stark his heires & assignes one hundred & twenty-two acres, more or less, beginning att a white oake tree, thence running west one hundred & twenty-two rodds to a white oake tree marked on four sides and is in length, from the South to the North, one hundred & sixty rodds. Laid out March 1706. Pr.: James Avery, John Prentts & Manassah Minor. Entered July 1706."

Perhaps this was Aaron Stark (Junior) who Helen reports was deceased before June 9, 1707. But further review of the Voluntown records suggest that if the above was Aaron Stark (Junior) then he was most likely deceased before 1701.

In October of 1696, the Court of Connecticut approved a land grant of six square miles to be divided among those men who had fought in King Philip's War. On October 14, 1697, Captain Samuel Mason, Mr. John Gallop, and Lieutenant James Avery were appointed as a committee to view the tract, and in October 1700 a committee was selected to manage the affairs of the new town named Voluntown. On July 1, 1701, at a meeting in Stonington Township, the committee chose Captain Richard Bushnell as clerk. He was charged with making a list of the volunteers in King Philip's War; a separate committee was appointed to review Bushnell’s recommendations. The next day, the list of names was presented and approved by the committee. Two of those approved were Aaron Stark and John Stark, both described as deceased on the day the names were approved by the committee.[59]

If the above Voluntown lot was the property of Aaron Stark (Junior) – as the earlier discussion suggests – then Aaron (Junior) was the deceased Aaron Stark approved in 1701 to receive a land grant for his service in King Philip’s War. However, Charles R. Stark’s 1927 publication entitled "The Aaron Stark Family, Seven Generations" may dispute the validity of this hypothesis, as follows:[60]

"Aaron Stark [Aaron Stark (Senior)] was a volunteer in King Philip's War, and was given land in Voluntown in consideration of his service."

• "Aaron [Aaron Stark (Junior)] served with his father in King Philip's War in 1675, and like him received a grant of land in Voluntown, though it is believed that neither of them ever lived in that town."

• "That he [John Stark] served in King Philip's War is shown by a list of volunteers in that war made in 1701 in which appears the name of John Stark "deceased."

According to this publication, three men with the surname Stark were awarded lots in Voluntown for their volunteer service in King Philip's War. Yet, as described above, the surviving Voluntown records report only two men with the surname Stark were approved to receive lots (Aaron Stark & John Stark). Therefore, unless one of these men named in the Charles R. Stark publication was overlooked, one of these three men did not receive a Voluntown lot. Can we determine which of these three men did not receive a lot in Voluntown?

The New London court records show that Aaron Stark (Senior) died before June 1685 and that the estate of John Stark, deceased, was inventoried on September 16, 1690.[56] This would appear to confirm they were the two men reported in the Voluntown record. However, William Stark (Senior), the son of Aaron Stark (Senior), did not die until 1730. If William was an heir to the Voluntown lot, why was his name not recorded with the other heir, Aaron Stark (the third), when the Voluntown lot was sold in 1709/10? Perhaps the deed suggests that William was not an heir because the property had been granted to his brother, Aaron Stark (Junior) – not to Aaron Stark (Senior).Helen Stark speculated further in her article:[56]

"Aaron Stark 2 [Aaron Stark (Junior)], was dead before Groton was set off from New London in 1705. This seems absolutely certain, because a study of Groton records proves that the only Aaron Stark appearing on them in the early years, was not Aaron 2, but his son Aaron 3 [Aaron Stark (the third)]... And it must have been Aaron 2, and he alone who fought in King Philip's war; Aaron 1 was already an old man when that war began, and it seems much more fitting for Aaron 2 to have been the soldier."

But for proof, the heirs of John Stark received a lot at Voluntown, which they sold. The only other grant to a Stark, was lot #124, about 122 A. granted to "Aaron Stark deceased" in 1696 Because we did not believe that Aaron 2 died until many years later, we have assumed, I think, that this must have referred to Aaron 1. But the last time we can know that he was a live was in 1691, and he may easily have been dead in 1696, certainly he was by 1705."

Although Aaron Stark (Junior) was most likely deceased before 1701, could he have been deceased as early as 1696? Charles R. Stark reported that Hannah Stark the daughter of Aaron Stark and Mehitable Shaw, was baptized by Reverend James Noyes on September 12, 1697, at the Stonington Road church.[60] But baptisms are not birth dates, and on page 10 of Charles R. Stark’s book Hannah Stark is shown to have died on April 27, 1734, at the age of fifty-six – suggesting she was nineteen years old when she was baptized in 1697.

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58)

Voluntown, New London County, Connecticut Deed Records. Church of Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ Family History Library Film #5881, page 69, Lot #124 (Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman).

59)

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

60)

Charles R. Stark, "The Aaron Stark Family, Seven Generations of the Descendants of Aaron Stark of Groton, Connecticut." (Wright and Potter, Boston, Massachusetts – 1927). Pages 1 & 2.

 

 

Page 42

 

In her essay entitled "More Theories and Some Questions," published in the 1937 Stark Family Association Yearbook, Helen Stark ask the question:

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.)

This property was clearly part of the land that Aaron Stark (Senior) purchased from Reverend William Thompson. Surviving records to not show that Sarah, the spouse of Aaron Stark (Senior), received any portion of her husband’s estate. By excluding Sarah as the Widow Stark, we see that the widow in question in 1696/7 had to have been the spouse of one of the three sons of Aaron Stark (Senior) named in his probate record. But which son – Aaron, William, or John?

William Stark’s spouse is easily disposed of, for he did not die until much later (1730). What about the wife of John Stark? New London County Court Records, dated February 6, 1693/94 mention her as follows:[61]

"Richard Christophers contra John Weeks deft. Goodes taken up of him by your wife formerly Widow Stark in the time of her widowhood 10 pounds coffin, 6 pounds, 18 shillings."

Helen Stark’s article identifies the former Widow Stark married to John Weeks as the spouse of John Stark:[56]

"The original probate papers state that he [John Stark] was a Lieutenant, and that he died in 1689, also that his widow married John Weeks."

Thus we can say with certainty the former Widow Stark (subsequently the wife of John Weeks) could not have been the Widow Stark mentioned in the 1696/97 deed record because she was no longer a widow in that year.

That leaves us only the spouse of Aaron Stark (Junior) as the Widow Stark mentioned in the 1696/97 deed. Although this statement must still be regarded as somewhat speculative, the arguments are very strong that the Widow Stark was Mehitable Shaw, wife of Aaron Stark (Junior). And if Mehitable Shaw was indeed the widow mentioned in the records, this would be a strong argument that Aaron (Junior) died between November 1691 and January 1696/97.

In support of this hypothesis, we know Aaron (Junior) and Mehitable were married on November 27, 1676 (as reported in the Thomas Minor diary). If their first child was born late in the year 1677, that child, according to Connecticut law at that time, would have been a minor (under the age of twenty-one) in January 1696/97. Any other children born after 1677 were of course also minor children when this deed was recorded. Court procedure of that day would have allowed the Widow Stark to hold the property in her name until the male children became adults, at which time ownership references would have been in their names. Therefore, the courts would probably have recognized the property of Aaron Stark (Junior) as belonging to his widow, Mehitable Stark, until the children were twenty-one years of age.

 

Conclusion

Owing to a paucity of records, there is little to say about the life of Aaron Stark (Junior). What we know from them is that he was a participant in King Philip’s War; married Mehitable Shaw on November 27, 1676; was a resident of New London as of November 28, 1678; inherited a portion of his father’s estate in 1685; and received a bounty for killing wolves in 1691. Although there is documentary evidence that Aaron Stark (Junior) was deceased before 1707, circumstantial evidence suggests that he was most likely deceased before 1701 – and could have become deceased between 1691 and 1697.

The lengthy review here of the year of death of Aaron Stark (Junior) has provided us with certain tentative conclusions about the three men named Aaron Stark who appear in the early colonial Connecticut records.

• By concluding that Aaron Stark (Junior) was deceased before 1707, we can presume that all surviving documents after that year recording the name Aaron Stark were records related to Aaron Stark (the third).

• If it was Aaron Stark (Junior) who received the Voluntown land grant for his participation in King Philip’s War, then he was probably deceased before July 1701.

• Although Aaron Stark (Senior) could have participated in King Philip’s War, he most likely did not receive a Voluntown land grant for doing so.

• Mehitable Shaw would have been the Widow Stark mentioned in the January, 1696/1697 deed record – this hypothesis also narrowing the time of death for Aaron Stark (Junior) to after November 1691 and before January 1696/97.

• The names of the children of Aaron Stark (Junior) and Mehitable Shaw were: Aaron Stark (the third), Stephen Stark, Abiel Stark, John Stark, Mary Stark, Hannah Stark, and Sarah Stark. There may have been another daughter named Anna Stark (See Anna Stark, Chapter 5)

 

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61) New London County, Connecticut Court Records, Volume VII, page 119.

 

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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.

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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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