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

Chapter 6: The Life & Times of William Stark (Senior) [1664-1730]

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


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Chapter 6

The Life & Times of William Stark (Senior) [1664-1730]

William Stark (Senior) Headstone

Located in the Wightman Burying Ground west of Old Mystic, New London County, Connecticut. William’s tombstone has inscribed upon it "Here lieth the body of William Stark died Sepr. ye 8, 1730 in ye 66 year of his age." If he was 66 years of age in 1730, he was most likely born before September of 1664 and after September of 1663. His place of birth is the known residence of Aaron Stark (Senior) within this time interval. This photo has been digitally altered by the Author to enhance the inscription, barely visible in the original photo. After the word "year" could be the word "of" which was not visible in the original. Contributed by Todd Travis. Dated about 1996-98.



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Author’s Introduction

An entry in the New London County records for June 3, 1685, informs us William Stark was the son of Aaron Stark (Senior):[85]

"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."

William was born about 1664, most likely in Stonington Township, New London County, Connecticut.[86] In 1923, Helen Stark wrote this sketch summarizing what we know about William Stark (Senior):[87]

"William Stark was primarily a farmer, but he also ran a sawmill situated on the stream between his land and that of Elder Wightman and in 1698 he was granted license to keep a "hous of Puvlick Entertainment." Throughout his life he held many minor offices in Groton, and he was sergeant of the training band there. He was frequently called "Mr." on the records, showing that he was considered an important citizen, in spite of his break with the established church. Some of the Culvers and Lambs were arrested in 1704 for being absent from church, but the Starks seemed to have escaped this.

In 1698 he bought a large tract of land joining his portion of his father’s land estate, and from that time on he bought and sold land frequently, mostly in Groton. At the time of his death, however, he had disposed of most of it, for he deeded farms to all of his children as soon as they were old enough. Christopher [Second son of William] received the homestead with the new house, on the understanding that William should have a room there as long as he lived, and that his ‘now wife’ should have it as long as she lived as his wife or widow. If, however, she remarried, she was ‘to have nothing.’ In spite of this provision in the deed, Christopher sold the farm during the lifetime of his father and mother, so it is not clear where they lived during the last years of their lives, but William at least must have remained in Groton.

Since we have so complete a record of him, it seems a pity that we know so little about his wife. Her maiden name is unknown, and there seems to be nothing to even suggest her identity. Her name appeared upon the records just three times; first, when with her husband and two sons she joined the ‘Road Church;’ secondly, when she signed the Dissenters’ petition; and thirdly, when in 1730 she signed a receipt for her share of her husband’s estate. In addition to this, William mentions her in the deed referred to above, but not by name, nor does he name the ’dearly beloved wife’ mentioned in his will.

William’s will was dated February, 1726, and probated at New London, Sept. 21, 1730. He is buried in the old burial ground for which he gave land, but if Elizabeth lies by his side there is no longer a trace of her grave."

With these words as a preamble to the Life and Times of William Stark (Senior), let us examine the surviving records and see what more can be learned about the life of this man and his family.


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

86) William’s tombstone has inscribed upon it "Here lieth the body of William Stark died Sepr. ye 8, 1730 in ye 66 year of his age." If he was 66 years of age in 1730, he was most likely born before September of 1664 and after September of 1663. The place of birth is the known residence of Aaron Stark (Senior) within this time interval. See photograph of tombstone above.

87) Stark Family Association 1923 Yearbook. Article by Helen Stark entitled, "William Stark." Pages 19 thru 23. Above quote on pages 22 and 23.



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Did William Stark (Senior) have two Wives?

Helen Stark’s article spoke of Elizabeth as the "now wife" of William at the time he deeded his homestead to his son Christopher. Could this choice of words indicate that William was married to someone else before Elizabeth? At a later date (1937), Helen presented a hypothesis suggesting that William Stark (Senior) might have been married to two women.[88]

"The first question regarding him [William Stark (Senior)] is whether he had a wife before Elizabeth. He was thirty-three or four in 1698, when his first two children were baptized. Christopher [Christopher Stark], the second, married in 1722, but William [William Stark (Junior)], the first child, married in 1710, and in 1712 was a freeman at Groton, so must have been born by 1791. It was Christopher, not William, who received the homestead, with the obligation of caring for William and Elizabeth, the parents. William had previously received his share of his father's land, the double portion due him, but he almost at once sold this and moved nearer his father-in-law. All this together with ‘now wife’ had made me wonder if perhaps William might be the child of a former marriage. The only possible clue to his mother, if this is the case, is a deed in 1691 from Ephraim Culver and William Stark, of land in Stonington, to Peter Blatchford, and his brother-in-law, Owen McCarty. I was unable to find where Ephraim Culver and William Stark obtained this land, either jointly or individually, and again I wondered if a possible explanation could be that they had married sisters, who inherited if from their father. Ephraim's wife was Mary _____."

The Groton Town Meeting Records tell us that William Stark (Junior) became a Freeman on May 22, 1712; this indicates he was twenty-one years of age or more in 1712. Therefore, William (Junior) would have been born no later than 1691, as reported in Helen’s article.[89] But there is another record, which suggests he could have been born even earlier. In 1710 William Stark (Junior) witnessed a deed between his father, William Stark (Senior) and Isaac Fox. If William (Junior) had to be twenty-one years old to serve as a witness to a deed transaction, then his latest year of birth would have been 1689, two years earlier than reported in Helen’s article.[90] Can we establish Christopher’s latest year of birth?

Although Christopher Stark was baptized with his parents in October 1698, this would not fix his actual year of birth, for individuals could be baptized at any age; for instance, we know William Stark (Junior), baptized on the same day, was at least nine years old then. On January 31, 1716/17, Christopher Stark (Senior) received – as a gift – property from his father, William Stark (Senior).[91] Because property owners were required to be twenty-one years of age, this document suggests that Christopher Stark was born before January 1695/96. In theory, Christopher could have been six or more years younger than William (Junior). This possible separation in the births of William (Junior) and Christopher cannot by itself be conclusive evidence that they had different mothers, however. Is there any other evidence that supports Helen’s theory?

Helen wrote: "The only possible clue to his [William (Junior)] mother, if this is the case, is a deed in 1691 from Ephraim Culver and William Stark, of land in Stonington, to Peter Blatchford, and his brother-in-law, Owen McCarty." On October 5, 1691, William Stark (Senior) and Ephraim Culver jointly sold 20 acres to Owen McCarty and Peter Blatchford for 7 pounds.[92]

"Know all men by thes presents that we William Startt and Ephraim Culver of New London in the Colony of Conetticot by our? Joynt consent and upon good and matuer Considaration and in Pticular in considaration of the full and just sum of seavan pounds in centr? ??---?? three poundes to William Startt reseved of Owin Carte and Petar Blachford to my good Satisfaction and fouar Poundes to Ephraim Culver reseved of Owin Cartte and Petar Blachford to my good Satisfaction... signed our hands and sealls this 5 of Octobar 1691 and moar- I Owin Carty and Petar Blachford do ingage that Wiliam Start and Ephraim Culver shall have the usesall? of the land.Signed: Epharaim Culver, William Startt.

Signed Sealled and delivered in presents of wittnises: Samuell Packer, Aron Stark**

Mr William Stark and Epharaim Cullver appeared and personally acknolidged the above written deed befoar mee Samuell Mason Asstnt. New London March 23 1698/9.

Entered upon record Febarary 20 1701 by me Nehemiah Palmer Recorder."

[**Assuming the acknowledging took place on March 23, 1698/99, the witness would have been Aaron Stark (the third); if this Aron Stark witnessed this deed in 1691, then the witness would have been Aaron Stark (Junior).]


88) Stark Family Association 1937 Yearbook. Article by Helen Stark titled, "More Theories and Questions." Pages 28 & 29.

89) Groton Town Meeting Records, page 34 (Transcribed by Eva Butler).

90) 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 86 & 87 (Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman).

91) Ibid. Pages 333 & 334. "William Stark of Groton for the love good will and affection which I have unto my well beloved son Christopher Stark … give …[???A] … Isaac Foxes land …part of his portion to him … Signed: William Starke. Wit: Joseph Hadsall, Aabiel Stark. Ack and Recd 31 Jan 1716/17." Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman.

92) Church of Latter-day Saints of Jesus Christ Microfilm Film #5593, Stonington, New London County, Connecticut Deeds 1664-1714. Book 2, page 282.  



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On March 23, 1698/99, this deed transaction (which occurred on October 5, 1691) was recorded and acknowledged by both William Stark (Senior) and Ephraim Culver. Why would Ephraim Culver and William Stark (Senior) have had joint ownership of this property in 1691? Could they have been brothers-in-law, with their wives having the same surname? Ephraim Culver most likely was married to a daughter of John Packer and was the brother-in-law of John Stark when he died in 1689 (John’s wife has been shown in an Chapter 5 to have been Elizabeth Packer). Evidence that Elizabeth Packer and Ephraim Culver’s wife were sisters is most likely suggested in the following deed, dated June 23, 1693:[93]

"John Weeks, Elizabeth Weeks, Ephraim Culver, Sarah Packer and Luke Brumley, all of New London, sold to Samuel Fosdick land lying by the harbour in New London formerly belonging to Mr. John Packer late of New London, deceased - ‘belonging to us in Right of our wifs as part of their portion’ ; deed dated 24 June 1693, not recorded until 6 May 1728."

As an earlier section also reported, John Weeks and Elizabeth Weeks (widow of John Stark) were husband and wife, while Ephraim was most likely the spouse of a daughter of John Packer – her given name not revealed in this document. On April 10, 1716: "Administration of Ephraim Colver's estate was granted to his widow, Mary Colver."[94] This statement would suggest that Mary (Packer) Colver was most likely the daughter of John Packer. Therefore, if William Stark’s wife had the surname Packer, her given name was most certainly not Elizabeth or Mary; nor were other daughters of John Packer (well documented in the records) known to have married anyone named Stark. A more likely scenario would be that in October 1691, William was executing this deed transaction on behalf of his sister-in-law, Elizabeth (Packer) Stark, who was most likely a very young widow at that time.

Helen’s hypothesis contained these words: "William had previously received his share of his father's land, the double portion due him, but he almost at once sold this and moved nearer his father-in-law. All this together with ‘now wife’ had made me wonder if perhaps William [William (Junior)] might be the child of a former marriage." Do the records support this theoretical conclusion?

On March 24, 1716/17, William Stark (Senior) deeded his homestead to his son, Christopher, inserting this clause in the deed:[95]

"…reserving only that the sd William Starke shall have the premises above menshoned to possess and improve during his natural life & if sd William Starks now wife shall outlive him then she shall have the lower roome in the new house and one third part of sd land for her maintainance during her widowhood but in case she shall marey again to have nothing…"

This deed was the source of the term "now wife" mentioned in the 1923 and 1937 articles by Helen Stark that were cited above. The phrase now wife could be interpreted, literally, as nothing more than a reference to the wife of William (Senior) at the time the deed was signed, without any other implication. Another possibility is that the phrase was intended to release Christopher from the obligation in the deed should William (Senior) remarry at a later date. The reference, though, might give us a clue that William (Senior) was previously married, as Helen‘s article suggests. Could the manner of distribution of land to William (Junior) by his father reinforce Helen’s theory the use of now wife in this deed may indicate that the woman was not the mother of William (Junior)?

Helen Stark stated in her 1923 article: "In 1698 he [William Stark (Senior)] bought a large tract of land joining his portion of his father's estate, and from that time on he bought and sold land frequently, mostly in Groton." On December 21, 1713, William Stark (Junior) received a substantial gift of 500 acres from his father.[96]

"William Stark Sener of Grotton … yeoman … for love good will and affection which I have and do bear towards my well beloved son William Stark Juner of the town and county aforesaid yeoman … a certain tract of land being in the town of Groton which I purchased of John Plasto … north east corner tree it being a Chestnut tree marked on four sides with WS and VW standing by a brook then running by the brook till it comes to the main brook near east then running up the main brook till it comes to a maple tree standing in the brook marked on four sides then running near east to a black oak tree by the side of the hill marked on four sides with WL on it then running by the Indian path near north to the first mentioned bounds … 21 Dec 1713 …Signed: William Starke.Wit: Valentine Wightman, Isaac Lamb.

Ack and Recd 26 May 1714."



93) See URL <>. Silvernale-Shook Genealogy, by Steven R. Shook <>. Last update of site was April 18, 2006. Reports source was New London County Deed Book 9, page 54.

94) Ibid. Reports source was "Colver/Culver Family Genealogy: As Descended from Edward Colver of Groton, Connecticut, to the Thirteen Generations in America," page 692.

95) Groton, New London County, Connecticut; First Book of Records 1705-1723. Book 1, page 385. Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman.

96) Ibid. Page 225. Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman.



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This was the property William Stark (Senior) had purchased in 1698 from John Plasto; it was north of and adjoining the property William (Senior) had inherited from his father, Aaron Stark [1608-1685]. Certainly, this gift would suggest William Stark (Senior) held his son in the highest regard. But soon after receiving this gift, William (Junior) sold the property.[97]

"William Stark of Groton yeoman … I the sayd William Stark Juner for 150L paid by Isaac Lamb of Groton … 500A adjacent to the land of Valentine Whitman … Ephraim Collvers land … Indian path … the sayd Isaac Lamb his heirs and assigns to his and their own sole and proper use benefit and behoof from hence forth for ever and the sayd William Stark … 1 Apr 1714 …Signed: William Stark.Wit: John C Cooke his mark. Huttson X Springer his mark.

William Stark Juner the subscriber personally appeared and ack the above written instrument to be his free act and deed before me 2 Apr 1714. Nehemiah Smith Justice. Recd 2 Apr. 1714."

On April 10, 1710, William Stark (Junior) married Experience Lamb, the daughter of Isaac Lamb. Within one year, William (Junior) had sold the property he had received as a gift from his father to his new father-in-law. However, this was in fact part of an exchange of property, for on the same day as that sale (April 2, 1714), William (Junior) purchased from his father-in-law 50 acres in a commercially attractive location near the Mystic River.[98]

"Isaac Lamb of Groton for 170L payd by William Stark Juner of Groton … 50A … near Mistick River bounded with Majher Winthrop's land and on the north with land layed out to ----- Springer and towards the west with a brook commonly called Colvers brook and …. The South with land in the possession of sd Craig … Major Winthrops land fifty and two Rods together with all such buildings and … timber fruit trees above and under woods ways rights libertys …1 April 1714. Signed: Isaac Lamb. 

Wit: John C Cooke his mark. Huttson Springer his X mark. 

Ack and recd 2 Apr 1714."

One could argue this was an excellent exchange, but how would William Stark (Senior) have taken this news that his son had disposed of the gift this way? Perhaps we learn something from the deed (dated March 3, 1715/16) in which William Stark (Senior) gave William Stark, (Junior) his "second portion" of acreage. This portion was much smaller than the first, but in addition William (Senior) inserted a restrictive clause in the deed.[99] This clause reads as follows: "... and appurtenances to ye same belonging to him the sd William Stark Junr during his naturall life and after his decease to my Granchild Jonathan Stark and his heirs forever..." This clause prevented William Stark (Junior) from selling the land during his lifetime, and upon his death, ownership of it was to pass to the son of William (Junior), Jonathan Stark. This deed would seem to show that William Stark (Senior) was not at all pleased with his son for selling the earlier property, and it is most likely the reason, too, that Christopher Stark appears to be the favorite in the March 24, 1716/17 deed transaction. In both of these deeds, William Stark (Senior) has made it difficult for his sons to sell the property he had given to them as a gift.

While the possibility of William Stark (Junior) and Christopher Stark having different mothers cannot be completely dismissed, there was no factual information in the above analysis supporting Helen Stark's theory. Assuming Elizabeth was the mother of William Stark (Junior), the marriage most likely occurred in 1688 or before. Elizabeth’s given name appeared in the records just three times beginning in October of 1698: first, when William Stark (Senior), Elizabeth, William Stark (Junior), and Christopher Stark (Senior) were baptized in the Stonington "Road Church;" second, when she signed the Baptist dissenters petition; and third, when she signed a receipt for her share of her husband's estate in his 1730 probate record.

Author’s Comment: Because we cannot say with certainty that William Stark (Senior) had two wives, this article will presume he was married once – to Elizabeth – who for the purposes of this text was the mother of all of the children of William Stark (Senior). Elizabeth’s parentage and origins have been much discussed by many past and present researchers. However, after examining the theories and evidence presented, I’ve seen nothing that would be conclusive enough to offer my own suggestions or opinions. Therefore, I will leave it to others to attempt to resolve this issue.


97) Groton, New London County, Connecticut; First Book of Records 1705-1723. Book 1, page 385. Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman.

98) Ibid. Pages 232-233.

99) Ibid. Pages 341-342.



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The First Baptist Church of Connecticut

In May of 1650, the General Court of Connecticut added a provision to the colony’s General Laws that made attendance at church on Sundays mandatory:[100]

"…ordered and decreed by this Court and authority thereof, that wheresoever the ministery of the word is established according to the Gospell throughout this Jurissdiction, every person shall Duely reporte and attend thereunto respectively upon the Lords day…"

Further, everyone in the community was required by law to contribute to the salary of the Congregational Church’s regional minister:

"And doe order, that those who are (taught) in the word in the severall plantations, bee (called) together, that every mann voluntarily sett downe what hee is willing to allowe to that end and (use): and if any man refuse to pay a meet proportion, that then hee bee rated by Authority in some (just) and equall way; and if after this any man withhold or delay due payment the Civill power to bee exercised as in other just debts."

In March of 1658, the General Court passed the following order:[100]

"This court orders that there stall be no ministry or church administration entertained or attended by the inhabitants of any plantation in this Colony distinct and separate from, and in opposition to that which is openly and publicly observed and dispensed by the settled and approved minister of the place except it be by approbation of the General Court and neighboring churches; provided always that this order shall not hinder any private meeting or godly persons to attend any duties that Christianity or religion call for, as fasts or conference. Nor take place upon such as are hindered by any just impediments on the Sabbath day from the public assemblies by weather or water and the like."

This proclamation by the Connecticut General Court established the Congregational Church as the Church of the Colony of Connecticut. These laws were in force when Groton Township was created in 1705 and were modified somewhat in 1708.

William Stark, his wife Elizabeth, and their children were baptized at the Stonington Congregational Church in October of 1698 by Reverend James Noyes; their daughter, Phebe Stark, was baptized on July 6, 1701.[101] Years earlier, the so-called Half-Way Covenant had gained wide acceptance throughout New England; under it, the baptism of adults and their children was deemed sufficient to enable those baptized to enjoy limited membership in the church. To become full members, the applicants had to testify to their personal experiences with God in the form of autobiographical conversion narratives.[102]

There is no surviving baptismal record for William and Elizabeth’s son Daniel, who most likely was born between 1702 and 1704. This suggests the parents became Baptists after Phebe was baptized at the Stonington Congregational Church in mid-1701; most likely, they were converted during visits to nearby Rhode Island or as a result of visits by Baptist ministers to Connecticut. Evidence that William and Elizabeth Stark had changed their religious philosophy came when they, along with ten others, signed a petition to be presented to the General Court of Connecticut when it convened in October of 1704.


100) Stark, Charles R., "Groton, Conn. 1705-1905." Printed in Stonington, Connecticut for the Author by The Palmer Press, 1922. Page 109 & 110.

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

102) <> See Donna M. Campbell‘s web page entitled "Puritanism in New England." Puritan churches believed full membership in the church was reserved for the elect. The test of election required applicants to testify to their personal experience of God in the form of autobiographical conversion narratives. Many in the first generation had passed the test of election; but as time passed, full church membership began to decline as the older members began to die and younger members could not pass the test of election. During this period, children of the elect were allowed limited membership for the church believed they would undoubtedly pass the test of election. About 1662, the Half-way Covenant was introduced which granted the same privilege of baptism (but not communion) as had been granted to the children of the elect. This encouraged congregations to baptize adults and their children and awarded them and their children limited membership in the church; but did not admit them to full membership unless they passed the test of election.



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The petition identified those who had signed it as dissenters; named their ordained minister; and requested permission to hold their own religious meetings – at the home of William and Elizabeth Stark.[103]

"To the Honorable Cort Setting at New HavenThese are to signify that we differ from you in Som Poynts of Religion but yett we desier to Live Pesably and quiettly with our Neighbours and in order hear unto we Send These to signify That since it has Pleased the Almity God to putt it into the hart of our Gracious Queen to grant us dissenters Proclamated liberty of Consiense which both you and us are greatly favor with and whereas she hath given you Power to surpress Imorality and Vice we humbly submitt our selves to it and to all others that do not prohibitt the liberty of our Consienses and we understanding that your laws Requiers us to Petition to you for the settling of our Meeting we humbly submitt thereto and do beseech of you That you would not deny us hearin, we do desier that our meeting might be stated and held at Will Starks in New London our Sosiaty are chiefly These Underwritten;

Ordained Minister or Teacher Daniel Piearse

Members William Stark, John Seigr Culver, Isaac Lamb, Ephraim Culver, William Chubb, John Hammett

Sisters Marcy Culver, Elizabeth Lamb, Elizabeth Stark, Mary Hadsell, Margett Chubb, Sarah Culver

We have Sent the Articles of our faith with this our Petition by Captain Daniell Witherell That Thereby you may Understand our Prinsiples; October ye 5th 1704."

If other religious practices had been disallowed by the Connecticut General Laws of 1650 and 1658, what had changed to prompt the small group of dissenters to submit this petition?

The "Act of Toleration" was adopted by the English Parliament on May 24, 1689, during the first year of the reign of William and Mary.[104] This act granted freedom of worship to non-conformist protestants – Baptists, Congregationalists, and Quakers – who dissented from the Church of England, but excluded Catholics from this privilege. When Queen Anne ascended the throne in 1702, tolerance of non-conformist protestants continued.

Thus the Starks and their fellow petitioners were most likely referring to the Act of Toleration when they stated:

"That since it has Pleased the Almity God to putt it into the hart of our Gracious Queen to grant us dissenters Proclamated liberty of Consiense which both you and us are greatly favor…"

They Added:

"We have Sent the Articles of our faith with this our Petition by Captain Daniell Witherell That Thereby you may Understand our Prinsiples; October ye 5th 1704"

As required by the Act of Toleration, the petitioning dissenters had identified themselves; sent their petition requesting permission to hold their own separate religious meetings to the proper authority (the General Court of Connecticut); named their ordained minister; and given the articles of their faith to a representative of the General Court, in the person of Captain Daniel Wetherell – a General Court assistant representing New London County.

By adhering to the prescribed requirements, then, the petitioners were requesting freedom of worship as non-conformist protestants who dissented from the Congregational Church. Strictly interpreted, however, the Act of Toleration identified non-conformist protestants as those who dissented from the Church of England. Most likely, the phrase "which both you and us are greatly favor" was intended to remind the court that as Congregationalists they were granted freedom of worship as non-conformist protestants who dissented from the Church of England. The petitioners seemed to be implying that this privilege should also apply to protestants who dissented from the Congregational Church. (At the time this petition was signed, the General Court of Connecticut had no freedom of worship provision for dissenters and would not, as we will see, address this issue until 1708.)

The General Court convened on October 12, 1704, in New Haven, and the records from that date report that Captain Daniel Wetherell was present. Nowhere do the official proceedings for that date refer to the petition from the Starks and their coreligionists, which suggests that the petition was acted upon (presumably, rejected) without discussion in open court. Yet, according to Charles R. Stark, the record of this petition had survived to his day (1922): he cites a copy of it that could be found in the Ecclesiastical Records, Book I, at the Connecticut State Library at Hartford.[105] If the document survived into the 20th century, then the General Court must have received and filed it. Why didn’t they discuss it? Discussion of how an earlier controversy involving religious dissent in Connecticut was handled may hold the answer.


103) Stark, Charles R., "Groton, Conn. 1705-1905." Page 126 and 127.

104) <> Toleration Act, 1689. Full text.

105) Stark, Charles R., "Groton, Conn. 1705-1905." Page 126. Presumably the petition can still be found at the location referenced by Charles R. Stark. The above was a transcription found in this text and in another Charles R. Stark book published in 1927 entitled "The Aaron Stark Family, Seven Generations."



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In November of 1691, Reverend Gurdon Saltonstall was ordained as the new minister of the New London Congregational Church, replacing the recently deceased Reverend Bradstreet. Saltonstall came from an aristocratic family of rank and wealth and at the age of twenty-two was rigid and uncompromising in his religious beliefs. As a clergyman of unusual ability, he made many friends both in and out of the colony and established himself as a staunch and talented advocate of Congregational Church rule. Through these friendships, especially among the clergy, Saltonstall acquired considerable influence among officials in the County Courts and at the General Court of Connecticut.[106]

While Bradstreet was minister, the non-conformist protestant group known as the Rogerenes, led by John Rogers, had caused considerable religious disruption within the New London Community. After many years of disagreement, the community and Reverend Bradstreet had settled into an uneasy tolerance of the Rogerenes. However, after a few fresh skirmishes with the Rogerenes, and especially with John Rogers himself, Saltonstall set about finding a way to silence this non-conformist group that was disturbing the Congregational policies Saltonstall so desired to re-establish and have enforced by the authorities. In May of 1695, at a special session of the General Court, Reverend Saltonstall, Daniel Wetherell, and John Christopher accused John Rogers of using words that were presumptuous, absurd, and of a blasphemous nature. The verdict was guilty, and the sentence was an imprisonment that could only end when Rogers agreed to the court’s definition of "good behavior." Not surprisingly, Rogers would not accept these terms in exchange for his liberty.[106]

In May of 1697, John Rogers (Junior) was bound by a bond of £40 to appear before the General Court of Connecticut "to answer what may be objected against him for bringing a printed book or pamphlet into this colony which was not licensed by authority, and for selling the same up and down the colony, as also for other misdemeanors." The pamphlet in question was entitled, "Remonstrance in Behalf of Peaceable Dissenters." In summary, this pamphlet charged, that the present actions of the authority (Connecticut) showed that the King has nothing to do with this colony; that making dissenters pay towards the maintenance of a Congregational Minister was contrary to law and therefore rapine and robbery; that the rights of peaceable dissenters had been of late, by permission of the authorities, violated; and that the authority had illegally oppressed them.[106]

This pamphlet, which apparently received widespread circulation within the colony (according to Anna B. Williams), most likely prompted the General Court to beat a retreat, for in the October session it set John Rogers at liberty "in the expectation that he will behave himself civilly and peaceably in the future."106 The term expectation would appear to be considerably more liberal than the terms stated at the time of sentencing. Considering that the principal figures involved in the incarceration of John Rogers (Saltonstall, Daniel Wetherell, and John Christopher) were the same ones who considered the Baptists’ petition in October 1704, we might suppose that the court decided not to risk reviving the earlier controversy by addressing the issue of religious toleration in open court at this time.

Whether or not the General Court actually approved the petition in late 1704, the Baptists forged ahead and established their own church, apparently without restraint. The next year, in 1705 (the year in which the township of Groton was incorporated), the small group of dissenters called a young man from Rhode Island to become their pastor, and under his leadership the church was formally organized. Valentine Wightman was the son of George and Elizabeth (Updike) Wightman, his father being a lineal descendant of Edward Wightman of Burton-on-Trent, the last martyr by fire in England (at Lichfield April 11, 1612). Young Wightman had married Susannah Holmes and was the father of two children at the time of his coming to Groton, on Sept. 6, 1707. William Stark deeded to his pastor a house and twenty acres of land, as the following deed shows:[107]

"William Stark of Groatan … for the love, good will and affection which I have and doe bear towards my loveing friend Valentine Wightman of Kingston in the Naraganset Countie in the Colony of Rhoade Island … one house and land … in the town of Groaton … 20a …1 Sep 1707 …Signed: William Starke.Wit: John Collver, the mark of Stephen S Starke, Alexander Huling.

Ack 15 Jun 1708.

Recd 31 July 1708."


106) Anna B. Williams, "The Rogerenes: Part II, History of the Rogerenes." Boston: Stanhope Press, 1904. Page 164, 168, 176,183, 188, 191. [Anna B. Williams comments on page 191: Could a copy of this pamphlet be found, great light might be thrown upon this stormy period, by revelation of the full circumstances leading up to the desperate entry of John Rogers into the meeting-house in 1694, the plot of Mr. Saltonstall and the "Remonstrance in Behalf of Peaceable Dissenters." That this book, sold "up and down the colony" by John Rogers, Jr., was for the enlightenment of the people at large regarding the cause, and lack of cause, for the long imprisonment and cruel treatment of his father, with representation of the case for the non-conformist, can scarcely be doubted. We can picture this talented and manly youth going from place to place, eagerly seeking and finding those who will listen to his eloquent appeal to buy and read this tale of wrong and woe, in the almost single-handed struggle for religious liberty in Connecticut.]

107) Church of Latter-day Saints Family History Library Film #4293; Groton, New London County, Connecticut; First Book of Records 1705-1723, Book 1, pages 29-30.



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Thomas Armitage, a Baptist historian, described Elder Wightman as follows:[108]

"This first Baptist pastor of Connecticut was an extremely serene and quiet character, but his amiable soul flashed the fire of a true witness from his eye upon the bigots who would interfere with him. He possessed sound learning, great zeal and deep piety. A certain calm discretion made him symmetrical and consistent, and adapted him to cautious but intrepid leadership in his new and trying position. He was a close student of the Scriptures and a powerful preacher, caring tenderly for the flock of Christ. Then, he brought from his native commonwealth a mild tolerance of spirit for all men, with a love for their salvation which disarmed opposition. Yet no Church could legally exist without permission from the secular power; but it was doubly difficult to secure this tolerance for Baptists. Moreover, Wightman sought not the approbation of the neighboring clergy, for he contended that it was the right of every man to worship God as he pleased. His quiet firmness had much to do with that gradual relaxing of the law which at last permitted a man to show that he was a member in a Baptist Church and paid toward its support, and so could be furnished with a certificate of exemption from liability to distraint or imprisonment for refusing to pay the minister's tax of the State establishment."

Wightman did not, in the early years of his ministry in Groton, escape persecution at the hands of the Congregational leadership in Groton. Wightman and his wife were warned by the Magistrate to depart on October 17, 1707. A month later, on November 25, 1707, Wightman was sentenced to pay 20 shillings for not complying. He was warned again in December of 1707, but again he did not comply. After Wightman’s second refusal to pay the fine, William Stark posted bond for him.[109]

In May of 1708, Connecticut finally enacted a religious toleration statute, which allowed groups to exercise "sober" religious dissent if they qualified.[110]

"And it is further enacted, for the ease of such as soberly dissent from the way of worship and ministrie established by the antient laws of this government, and still continuing , That if any such persons shall at the countie court of that countie that they belong to, qualifie themselves according to an act made in the first year of the late King William and Queen Mary, granting libertie of worshipping God in a way separate from that which is by law established, they shall enjoy the same libertie and priviledge in any place within this Colonie, without any let, hindrance and molestation whatsoever. Provided always, that nothing herein shall be construed to the prejudice of the rights and privileges of the churches as by law established in this government, or to the excusing any person from paying any such minister or town dues, as are now, or shall hereafter be due from them."

This provision most certainly was enacted to comply with the 1689 Act of Toleration, as the following passage confirms:

"…act made in the first year of the late King William and Queen Mary, granting libertie of worshipping God in a way separate from that which is by law established…"

The passages of this act did not, however, save the Baptists from further harassment. On April 20th, 1709, apparently after their failure to comply with the requirements of this act, William Stark, John Culver, Isaac Lamb, Joseph Culver (Junior), Aaron Stark, and Stephen Stark, along with their spouses, were accused by the grand jury of holding unlawful meetings and of assisting Valentine Wightman in settling in the community without the approval of the New London Selectmen.[111] No surviving record makes reference to this matter, which suggests that the issues were resolved. Perhaps the accused reminded the court that the dissenters had complied with the requirements in their 1704 petition, or perhaps they amended their original petition to report the new members of the congregation and the new minister. We can interpret the silence of the records thereafter as evidence that the Baptists were allowed to worship in peace.


108) Thomas Armitage, "History of the Baptists"; New York, NY Bryan, Taylor, 1887.

109) Eva Butler of Old Mystic, Connecticut, Transcribed some of the New London Court Records. In her records were the following: "Town of Gro vs. Wightman and wife warned to depart Oct. last now Nov 25, 1707 sentenced to pay 20 s sign a bond with sufficient secure..…;" In a second document dated in December 1707, "John Avery. Mr. Starks house. Went to house of Wm Stark formerly, where Whitman had lately moved last (summer?) and warned him…"

110) <> Connecticut (Colony). The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, from April 1636 to October 1776 ... transcribed and published (in accordance with a resolution of the General assembly). Hartford: Brown & Parsons. 1850-1890. Volume 5, page 50.

111) Eva Butler transcribed record from New London Court Records. "William Starke, John Coulver, Isaac Lamb, Joseph Colver Jr., Aron Starke, Stephen Starke and wives all of Groton have and do in a common manner attend upon an unlawful and seprat meeting from that which is Established by law calling & settling Vallantin Whitman....…"



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On March 24, 1717/18, William Stark deeded one and one-half acres of land to the church membership:[112]

"Know all men by these presents that I, William Stark of the town of Groton, County of New London and Colony of Connecticut, yeoman, for a valuable consideration which is six pounds current money of New England to me in hand received of Valentine Wightman, Isaac Lamb, Joseph Culver, John Stark, Robert Burus, Stephen Stark, Joseph Culver, Jr., Thomas Lamb, Samuel Lamb, Aaron Stark, Mary Walworth, Hannah Burrows, James Culver, David Culver, William Stark, Jr. Abiel Stark, Christopher Stark, Mary Culver, all of Groton in the County and Colony aforesaid the receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge myself satisfied and contented have and do by these presents give, grant, bargain sell, alienate and pass over from me the aforesaid William Stark my heirs executors administrators and assigns forever an acre and a half land within the land of the aforesaid William Stark at the burying place and where the meeting house frame standeth etc.""In witness and confirmation of what is above written I the aforesaid William Stark have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this tenth day of March....our Lord one Thousand seven hundred and eighteen. It is to be understood that this is for a burying place and meeting-house and ways to it and from it, and that the aforesaid William Stark doth reserve to himself the convenience of the burying of himself or any of his.

Signed: William Stark

Witnesses: Ephraim Culver, Jonathan Culver"

Charles R. Stark had these comments on the importance of this deed to William Stark and his family:[113]

From this deed two points are well settled, that the land granted was already used for a burying ground — probably that of the Stark family on whose land it was located — and also the date of the erection of the first Baptist meeting house. The building stood a little to the southeast of the entrance gate of the Wightman Burying Ground, and the original structure served the church from the time of its erection in 1718 until 1790, when it was taken down and another building was erected on the same site.

Despite these early setbacks, the small church continued to flourish and (albeit at a different site today) celebrated its 300th year of existence in November of 2004.


Entrance to Wightman Burying Ground

[Contributed by Eugene William Stark. Year: 2007]


112) Church of Latter-day Saints FHL Film #4293; Groton, New London Co, CT First Book of Records 1705-1723, Book 1, pages 374-375.

113) Stark, Charles R., "Groton, Conn. 1705-1905." Pages 127 and 128.



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The Sawmill

By the end of the 17th century, New England’s prosperity depended on a trading system that serviced the economy of the West Indies. With the dense forests and high-quality timber to be found in New England, a shipbuilding industry began to emerge. According to Author Alan Taylor:[114]

"Between 1674 and 1714, New England built more than twelve hundred ships, totaling at least 75,000 tons. By 1700, Boston alone had fifteen shipyards, which produced more ships than the rest of the English colonies combined. Indeed, Boston ranked second only to London as a shipbuilding center in the empires."

In New London County, Thomas Wells was engaged in ship building on the Pawcatuck River as early as 1677 and John Leeds was building ships before 1700. Later, in 1720, master shipbuilder Captain John Jeffery came from Portsmouth, England and established a ship-building facility on the Groton Township bank of the Thames River.[115]

Groton had an abundance of high-quality timber, ideal as material for building superior ships and sloops. What Gordon lacked were sawmills and a transportation network to process and move the harvested trees to the rapidly developing shipbuilding facilities. On July 5, 1709, a country road was laid out running from a ferry at Groton (on the Thames River), maintained by Cary Latham, to another ferry at Mystic, maintained by Robert Burrows. Numerous Groton deed records show this country road partly ran through William Stark’s property. With a large number of trees on his property and that of his neighbors, William decided in January of 1711/12 to invest in the construction of a sawmill that would cut the harvested timber into planks. The country road provided a means for his neighbors to bring their harvested trees to the sawmill – as well as a means of transporting the planks to the ship builders.

In 1699, William Stark, along with others, had assisted in the repair and rebuilding of the Winthrop Mill, as described by a group of Culver Family Researchers:

"The Winthrops later admitted that the mill was in the wrong place. In 1699 Peter Cary was placed in charge of repairing and rebuilding the mill. He said he asked nothing for his "Diet" nor for that of his son but wanted £7-04-00 for three months of hard ‘labour.’ George Wheeler framed the mill. Samuel Adams was the millwright. He and his men worked 34 weeks at "4s" a week. James Cornish, Henry Williams, Samuel Coy, Ephraim Colver, James Springer, James Fanning, and Benjamin Burrows all worked on the mill. William Williams, William Stark, Peter Crary, Jr., and Samuel Fish carted timber, with Fish having his oxen on the job four Dayes. Fergus MacDowell furnished the nails. James Dean made the rest of the iron work."

Source: <http//>. Home page title: Collver, Culver, Colver. Description: Dedicated to all the Colver, Culver, Colliver and Collver Derivatives. (Note from Author: Their source of the above is not known.]

As suggested earlier, William Stark and Ephraim Culver were friends, and the Stark and Culver families are found on the Baptist Church petition of 1704. The above research suggests that many families associated with William Stark were familiar with mill construction and repair and most likely furnished assistance and labor to enable William to build a sawmill.

Near the country road was a brook (known as Haley’s Brook today) running through William Stark’s property and that of Valentine Wightman – this being the same property William had given to his minister in September of 1707. Apparently, the ideal place for the erection of a sawmill on Haley’s Brook was a portion of the brook running north to south within the boundary of the Wightman property. Therefore, William Stark had two problems to solve: one was obtaining capital for the construction of the sawmill; and the second was obtaining access to the property for building the sawmill.

On January 3, 1711/12, William sold six acres of property to the Groton School Master, John Bernard.[116]

"William Starke Senior of the town of Grotton …. Yeoman for and in consideration of the sum of 15L … paid by John Bernard of the said town of Grotton School master … certain tract of land … 6a …. Bounded by Springers brooke and south by the Country highway and by Peter Carary's his land … 3 Jan 1711. Signed: William Stark. Wit: John Collver, Thomas Parke. Ack 4 Jan 1711/12. Recd 4 Jan 1711/12."

On the same day, William (Senior) purchased property from Valentine Wightman.[117]

"Valentine Wightman of the town of Grotton … for 25L received of William Stark of the town … certain tract of land in Grotton beginning at Ephriham Colvers west corner … land of Ephrham Coulver … eastery bounds of the land which I formerly purchased of the above said William Stark …Signed: Valentine Wightman. Wit: Joseph Coillver, Stephen Starke. Ack 4 Jan 1711/12. Recd. 4 Jan 1711.12."


114) Alan Taylor, "American Colonies; The Settling of North America." First published by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc, 2001. Page 177.

115) Stark, Charles R., "Groton, Conn. 1705-1905." Pages 341 and 342.

116) Church of Latter-day Saints Family History Library Film #4293, Groton, New London County, Connecticut First Book of Records 1705-1723, Book 1, page 104. Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman.

117) Ibid. Page 105.



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The first property was most likely sold to John Bernard for 15£ in order to raise funds to pay Valentine Wightman the purchase price for the above property. William Stark paid his Baptist minister 25£ for that portion of the property which lay to the east of the brook, the brook now becoming the boundary between Wightman and Stark. Although the deed between Wightman and William Stark does not mention a brook, an agreement made between Wightman and Stark on the same date reports: "…viz I William Stark having purchased all the Land lying on the east side of the brook with the medow of Valentine Wightman…" (See Below.) By buying back the eastern portion of the property, William Stark was now able to control the east side of Haley’s Brook and could build his sawmill there. On the same day William (Senior) purchased this property from Wightman, the two men signed an agreement that allowed a meadow on Wightman’s property, located on the west side of the brook, to be flooded from November to May and provided for a "passable cart way through my land to the commons." These three transactions were performed for the purpose of allowing William Stark (Senior) to build a sawmill on Haley’s Brook for the purpose of cutting timber into planks to be used for building ships.[118]

"Articles of agreement made concluded and fully agreed upon the sixth day of December between William Stark Senior of Groton … and Valentine Wightman …viz I William Stark having purchased all the Land lying on the east side of the brook with the medow of Valentine Wightman do therefore agree and promise that I will be at equal charge with the aforesaid Valentine Wightman for the making a dam for the drounding (drowning) or seeing of the medow at the place called the upen dam and it is forther agreed that the water being damed shall not be let out till the medow is sufficiently drounded except it be at sum times between the first of November til the first of May only for the driving of a mill or mills that may be erected on the same stream and it is further agreed upon and promised by Valentine Wightman aforesd that William Stark and his assignes shall have a passable cart way through my land to the commons and it is agreed upon further and promised by Valentine Wightman aforesd that William Stark his heirs or assignes shall have full Liberty of making dames for mill or mills on any part or place of the streem aforesaid and for the due performance hereof we bind ourselves each to the other our heirs and assignes in the penal sum of forty pounds to be well and truly paid by the defective party to the party performing in witness whereof the parties to these presents have set their hands and seals hereunto the Sixth day of December 1711Signed: Valentine Wightman.

Wit: Joseph Collver, Stephen Starke.

Ack 4 Jan 1711/12.

Recd 4 Jan 1711/12."

The provisions that allowed William to dam the brook during sawmill operations, thus flooding a meadow on the Wightman property, would allow William to direct the full flow of the brook through a water shoot to drive the mill wheel. From the phrasing, the sawmill would apparently be operational from November to May of each year. During the months from May to October, William and the family were probably involved in preparing the fields for planting, sowing seed, cultivating, and harvesting.

This would demonstrate William was quite the entrepreneur. With the introduction of the sawmill, William was able to provide work for his neighbors and family year around.


William Stark’s Gifts to his Children

Alan Taylor described the New England Family as follows:[119]

"Diligent and realistic, most New England families sought an ’independent competency.’ ’Independence’ meant owning enough property – a farm or a shop – to employ a family, without having to work for someone else as a hired hand or servant. A ’competency’ meant a sufficiency, but not an abundance, or worldly goods: enough to eat, adequate if simple clothing, a roof over their heads, some consumer goods, and an ability to transmit this standard of living to many children."

The same can be said for William Stark (Senior) and his family. They seem to have worked as a family unit. As already discussed, William Stark (Senior) deeded 500 acres – adjacent to his property – to his son, William Stark (Junior) as a gift on December 21, 1713. Before this gift was made, William (Junior) had married Experience Lamb. On April 14, 1714, William (Junior) sold the property to his father-in-law, Isaac Lamb. In exchange for the land, William (Junior) purchased 50 acres located near the Mystic River from his father-in-law.



118) Church of Latter-day Saints Family History Library Film #4293, Groton, New London County, Connecticut First Book of Records 1705-1723, Book 1, page 106.

119) Alan Taylor, "American Colonies; The Settling of North America." Page 172.



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Although William (Senior) was most likely disappointed by this action, on March 3, 1715/16, he again deeded property (thirty acres) to William (Junior) as a gift – but, this time, with a deed restriction that would not allow William (Junior) to sale the property.[120]

To all Christian people to whom this present deed of Gift may come William Stark of Groton in ye county of New London in Conecticut Collony in New England Senior sendeth Greeting know ye that I ye abovesd William Stark for ye good will and kinder affection I bear to my son William Stark Junr and my Granchild Jonathan Stark both of Groton in ye County of New London aforesd have fully freely and absolutely given granted aliened ensealled and confirmed unto William Stark Jun aforesd a certain tract of land during his naturall life and then to my grandchild Jonathan Stark aforesd and his heirs forever laying in Groton and Fuffed? & bounded as followeth (viz) adjoining easterly to Thomas Park beginning at a maple tree at a dark swamp running northerly to land adjoining to Joseph Culver and Samuell Lamb by ye brook side to a maple tree then running west and by north east upon the brook to a black oake tree marked on four sides from thence running by a l… of rocks near South about eighty rods the by ye road to the first mentioned tr by ye dark swamp it being thirty acres more or less together with all ye trees wood timber hearbidge? Rivers brooks common…edges and appurtenances to ye same belonging to him the sd William Stark Junr during his naturall life and after his decease to my Granchild Jonathan Stark and his heirs forever to thear only proper use and behooffe and ye sd William Stark aforesd do by these presents declare that he hath a good and lawfull right whereby he doth give and make convayence of ye sd land unto ye above sd Will Stark and Jonathan Stark and his heirs forever to be unto…estate of inheritance and …the sd Will Stark doth declare the sd premises are free and clear as clearly … to any part thereof from by or under him or from or by his heirs executors or administrators to the sd Will Stark and Jonathan Stark aforesd his heirs executors administrators he will warrant and forever defend In witness whereof he hath hereunto sett his hand and seal this third day of March In the second year of our Soveran Lord George King of great Briton and In ye Year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and fifteen sixteen.

Signed: William Starke.

Signed Sealed & delivered in presence of Nehemiah Smith Junr, Hannah Smith.

Mr. William Stark the subscriber personally appeared and acknowledged the above written Instrument to be his free act and deed before me Nehemiah Smith Justice March ye 3the 1715/16

Entered to be recorded March ye 3th 1715/16."

Jonathan Stark was born on December 10, 1712 and was the son of William Stark (Junior) and Experience Lamb. The deed allowed William (Junior) to use and improve the property during his lifetime but prevented him from selling the property. As the deed specified, Jonathan Stark became the owner of the property after William (Junior) was deceased.

On the same day as the above property transfer (March 3, 1715/16), a deed was recorded reporting that William (Senior) paid William (Junior) 125£ for 40 acres of land on January 6, 1715/16 – three months before this gift of property was made. This 40 acres was part of the 50 acres William (Junior) had purchased for 175£ from his father-in-law, Isaac Lamb, on April 1, 1714.[98] We know this from the earlier deed description which mentioned: "with land layed out to … Springer and towards the west with a brook commonly called Colvers brook…" In this January 6, 1715/16 deed transaction – made almost two years later – was the following description:[121]

William Stark Senior of Groton … for 125£ … unto William Stark Junr … 40A … beginning at a bridge called by ye name of Springers bridge … 6 Jan 1715/17.Signed: William Starke.

Wit: Danl. Eldredge. Edward Han Cox.

Ack and recd 3 Mar 1715/16."


120) Family History Library Film #4293, Groton, New London County, Connecticut First Book of Records 1705-1723, Book 1, pages 341-342.

121) Ibid. Pages 332-333 for January 31, 1716/17 deed. Page 364 for November 21, 1717 deed.



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This was indeed a generous exchange. William (Junior) received some property as a gift, along with an additional 125£ for 40 of the 50 acres of property he had purchased from Isaac Lamb. It is evident William (Senior) desired his son to have more than the 10 acres of property; the 30 acre gift located near the property of William (Senior).

On January 31, 1716/17, William (Senior) sold this same forty acres to Joseph Hadsall, a resident of Rhode Island.[122]

"William Stark of Groton for 25£ from Joseph Hadsall of Westerly in the Collony of Rode Island … 40A … 31 Jan 1716/17.

Signed: William Stark. Wit: Aaron Stark, Ephraim Collver. Sergt. William Stark ack. 1 Feb 1716. Recd 1 Feb 1716."

Although the abstract of this deed is lacking in detail, this may have been the same forty acres William (Senior) purchased from William (Junior) one year earlier. On November 21, 1717, William (Senior) then paid Joseph Hadsall the same compensation (25£) to regain ownership of this property.[123]

On the same day William Stark (Senior) sold forty acres to Joseph Hadsell, Christopher Stark (Senior) received a gift of property from his father.[122]

"William Stark of Groton for the love good will and affection which I have unto my well beloved son Christopher Stark … give …[???A] … Isaac Foxes land …part of his portion to him …Signed: William Starke. Wit: Joseph Hadsall, Aabiel Stark. Ack and Recd 31 Jan 1716/17."

Christopher was single at the time he received this gift and would have been twenty-one years of age or older, for men under the age of twenty-one were not allowed to own land. Either one year later, or perhaps three months later, Christopher received a second portion of land.[123]

"William Starke of Groton … for love & affection for his son Christopher Starke … give … north east corner of Isaac Foxes land at a stone marked with WS … at the countrey roade that goeth from New London to Stonington … about 100 rods eastward from sd William Starks now dwelling house on the north side of sd roade which bound is William Starks Junr corner tree … to the corner of his sd sons own land from thence bounded with his own land … reserving only that the sd William Starke shall have the premises above menshoned to possess and improve during his natural life & if sd William Starks now wife shall outlive him then she shall have the lower roome in the new house and one third part of sd land for her maintainance during her widowhood but in case she shall marey again to have nothing … 24 Mar 1716.Signed: William Stark. Wit: Ephraim Collver, Jonathan Collver. Sergt William Stark ack and recd 24 Mar 1717/18."

The deed transaction signed by William Stark states that the document was executed on "24 Mar 1716." The deed was acknowledged by William "24 Mar 1717/18." Did William acknowledge the deed on the same day? This cannot be determined with complete accuracy from the document. Therefore, this deed transaction either occurred on March 24, 1716/17 and was acknowledged a year later, or the transaction and acknowledgement occurred on the same day.

On March 25, 1729, William Stark (Senior) revoked the requirement placed on Christopher in order to allow William (Senior) and his wife to live on the property until both had died.[124]

"Serjant William Stark of Groton Yeoman for love and affection unto my son Christopher Stark of Groton husbandman and also for the reason of the insufficiency of two deeds of gift from me to Christopher the one baring date 1717 and the other 1718 … part of my homestead … 250A … Daniel Stark’s NW corner … William Stark Junr his SW corner … Whitman’s land … Mr. Niles NE corner …. Dated 25 Mar 1729 … Recd 31 Mar 1729 …Signed: William Stark …Wit: Ephraim Collver, Daniel Stark, Mary X Collver her mark."

This was most likely done in anticipation of selling the property, for on August 30, 1729, Christopher deeded the property to James Smith for the sum of 1,500£. On April 28, 1730, the same James Smith sold 121 acres to Christopher Stark for 300£.[125]

"Christopher Stark of Groton for 1500L by John Smith of Groton … 250A … there is about one acre and half of land within said bounds where the meeting House stands and the buriing place which sd Stark’s Father hath already sold, is excepted … 5A of salt meadow adjoining to Mistick River toward the head of it … Daniel Denison and David Collver … and also a swamp lying within sd Whitman’s Land by estimation 4A … Dated 30 Aug 1729 … Recd 8 Sep 1729 …Signed: Christopher Stark. Wit: Luke Perkins, Moses Fish."

"John Smith of Groton husbandman for 15L paid by Christopher Stark of Groton … neck of the land known by the name of Navayunk Neck containing 2 and ½ acres 48th lot in the second tier of the second division … Dated 28 Apr 1730 … Recd 18 May 1730 Signed: John Smith; Wit: Samuel Burrows, Luke Perkins"


122) Family History Library Film #4293, Groton, New London County, Connecticut First Book of Records 1705-1723, Book 1, pages 333-334.

123) Ibid. Page 385.

124) FHL Film #4294 Groton, New London County, Connecticut Second & Fourth Book of Records , Book 2, pages 529-530.

125) Ibid. Pages 537 and 538. Pages 538 and 529.



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Property excluded from this transaction was the one and one-half acres deeded to the Baptist church and the property upon which the sawmill had been erected.

On August 26, 1725, William Stark (Senior) gave a lot on Fort Hill to Thomas Walworth:[126]

"William Stark of Groton, Yeoman, for love and good will to his son in law Thomas Wallsworth of Groton, wood lot first division on Fort Hill. Dated 26 Aug 1725. Recd 27 Sep 1726. Signed: by William Stark. Wit: David Collver, Daniel Stark [Brother of Phebe Stark]."

This deed shows that Thomas Walworth was the son-in-law of William Stark (Senior). Because William (Senior) only had one daughter, Phebe, this transaction was most likely a gift of property to his daughter and son-in-law. This would be the first document suggesting Thomas Walworth was most likely the husband of Phebe Stark. It is also the first appearance of the name Daniel Stark. This was most likely William (Senior)’s son, who would have been twenty-one years of age or older when he witnessed this deed.

Apparently there was a problem with the deed, which was corrected March 8, 1731/32, as follows:[127]

"Whereas through a mistake there was a wood lot or first division laid out to Sergent William Stark late of Groton now Deceased as may appear by a survey bareing date June the 26 1721 on a place called fort hill in sd Groton and was called his right which was a mistake for Some years before the laying out of sd Lot on sd fort hill he the sd Wm. Stark had sold all his right and Title in all the Common undivided land in the Township of Groton aforesd -----as appears on record therefore we the ----- Committee being chosen and Impowered to let the Common and undevided land in Groton according to a voat of sd Town passed April 16, 17?? Have laid out to Thomas Wallsworth of Lebenon one woodlot in first Division that was originally the right of Isaac Fox late of sd Groton now of Norwich and by purchase is now the right of sd Thomas Wallsworth as appears on Record and is laid out on fort hill aforesd on the place where the abovesd lot was laid through mistake as before mentioned is bounded as followeth beginning at a rock marked W S which was South East corner of the Two rod way and adjoining in the four rod highway with the North East End of sd Two rod --- Joyening abovesd and by sd four rod high way on the west side the … 8 Mar 1731/2. Signed: Joshua Bill, Samuel Lester, Luke Perkins, Comtee. Recd 26 Oct 1732."

Daniel Stark received a gift of property from his father May 6, 1728.[128]

" William Stark of Groton husbandman for love and affection for son Daniel Stark do give part of my homestead south of the Contary [Probably County Road] Road Mr. Niles his orchard.... Thomas Wells... 100A. Dated 6 May 1728. Recd: 28 May 1728. Signed: William Stark. Wit: Ephraim Collver, William Gard"

Daniel could have possibly married Sarah Culver in this year or soon after – for this may have been a wedding gift to the newly wedded couple. Sarah Culver was most likely the daughter of Joseph Culver (Junior) and Mary Stark, and so Daniel’s cousin. Mary Stark was the daughter of Aaron Stark (Junior) and Mehitable Shaw.


Boundary Disputes

After Aaron Stark (Senior) died in 1685, his property was divided by Captain Samuel Mason, as requested by the three sons of Aaron (Senior). Most of the boundaries were designated by trees, rocks, brooks, and other natural objects. After many years, these boundary markers often had been moved, destroyed, or changed. As might be expected, descendants of William Stark’s brothers, John Stark and Aaron Stark (Junior), had disputes with the boundaries of the property they inherited.

The first of these boundary challenges came when Isaac Fox became the husband of Hannah Stark. According to the Groton Township vital records, Elizabeth Stark married John Newbury on April 5, 1707, and Elizabeth’s sister, Hannah Stark, married Isaac Fox a few days later, on April 21, 1707.[129] Both women were daughters of John Stark. A deed dated November 20, 1708, transferred Elizabeth Stark’s share of her father’s estate to Isaac Fox.[130]

"John Nuberry of Groton, weaver, for a valuable sum of money paid by Isaack Fox of Groton yeoman, sell, one messuage tenement of land, being in the town of Groton lying by and partly on the hill west of William Starks, be the number of acres, more or less which land came to me by the heirship of my wife formerly Elizabeth Stark daughter to John Stark late of New London, deceased, which land lyes undivided between me and my brother Isaack Fox of Groton aforesd that is to say I John Nubery do sell to Isaack Fox … 20 Nov 1708. Signed: John Newberry, Elizabeth A. Newberry her mark. Wit: Nehemiah Smith Junr, Andrew Davis. Ack: 20 Nov 1708 and recd 5 Jan 1708/9."


126) FHL Film #4294 Groton, New London County, Connecticut Second & Fourth Book of Records , Book 2, page 197.

127) FHL Film #4295 Groton, New London County, Connecticut Third Book of Records, page 74.

128) FHL Film #4294, Book 2, pages 376-377.

129) Groton, New London County Vital Records, Book 1, page 110 & 117.

130) FHL Film #4293, Book 1, page 35.



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The property of William Stark (Senior) shared a boundary with this property and to confirm the accuracy of the boundaries, William and Isaac had the boundary surveyed and recorded on December 20, 1710.[131]

Source: FHL Film #4293 Groton, New London Co, CT First Book of Records 1705-1723, Book 1, pages 86-87; "William Stark and Isaac Fox all of Groton … that the bounds hereafter in this writing mentioned shall forever … the bounds of the land of John Starke deceased now in the possession of the said Isaac Fox … this is our mutuall and finall agreement and determination we have hereunto sett our hands & seals in Groton aforsd this [blank] day of [blank] in the ninth year of her majesties reign anno domini 1710. Signed: William Starke, Isaac Fox. Wit: Valentine Wightman, William Stark Juner. Recd. 20 Dec 1710."

When William’s brother, Aaron Stark (Junior), died about 1698, most of the property Aaron (Junior) had inherited in 1685 was passed to his son of the same name, Aaron Stark [the third]. This property also shared a boundary with William Stark (Senior). John Morgan, William Morgan, and Jonathan Williams were appointed by Nehemiah Smith to determine the dividing line. On April 29, 1721, they prepared and signed the following document, which was intended to settle the dispute.[132]

We underwritten free holders of ye town of Groton & Stoningtown being appointed by Nehemiah Smith Esqr. One of his majestie's justices of the peace … 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 --- being lost and we being sworn according to that Law page 246 to a faithfull discharge of our duly and having heard ye severall pleas made to them & Evedences given in and informed our selves by Runing dividing lines by ye Surveyors We have fixed and stated the deviding line between ye sd William Stark and his Cozen Aron Stark as follows to say Aron Stark his land on ye west & William Stark's Land on ye East We began on a Ledge of Rock South Westerly from ye now dwelling house of sd William Stark in Sight of his house at an old ---- that by ye brinck of ye Ledge by a Rock wch a heap of stones by itt to --- Living Evedences to be ye north East Corner of ye Land given by sd Will to Aaron stark decd. Thence to Run a South Line two hundred & Twenty Six Rods by marked trees to another stone standing by a whit oak tree markt with ye Leters M MM W wch Line is the Deviding line between the parties as Wittness our hands & sealls this 29th of Aprill anno 1721. Present: John Plumb Surr. Signed: John Morgan, William Morgan, Jno. Williams.

However, soon after this dividing line was proposed, Aaron Stark [the third] purchased (on May 9, 1721) the Isaac Fox property mentioned earlier for 400£.[133] Combining Aaron [the third]’s property with Isaac Fox’s property most likely reopened the earlier dispute. Both parties apparently returned to the committee with renewed arguments; finally, on June 5, 1721, William (Senior) and Aaron [the third] agreed to the boundaries by signing the following document:[133]

"Whereas there has been a great difference & controversy between Wm. Starke of Groton … on one part & Aron Stark of Groton aforesd on ye other part about & confirming ye boundary of their land as to settling ye bounds between them according to ye Last will & Testement of Aron Stark late of New London deseased father of ye above sd Aron Stark Be it known to all people whom it may Come in that these artickels of agreement made & finished this fifth day of June in ye year 1721 … ye abovesd parties have mutually & Loveingly agreed for each of our selves and our heirs after us upon a dividing line & bounds between us to stand good for ever as followith viz beginning att a ----- stone …. Near a white oak tree standing at ye west end of Thomas Parkes his Land & so running westerly 23 rods to another meet stone att ye west end of a great Swamp & from thence twenty one rods to a meer stone ye east side of a pond so to run westerly throught ye pond sixteen rods to a heap of stones upon ye south west end of a small ledge of rocks & from thence westerly 41 rods to a great ledge of rocks to a meer stone by a great rock wth stones upon it ye ledge being in sight of ye above sd Wm. Starks now dwelling house to ye southward of sd house and from sd rock with stones upon it across ye ledge westerly to a meer stone by and … devided between Isaac F???? & sd Wm. Stark … we ye abovesd Wm. Stark & Aron Stark do mutually agee upon … Wm. Stark doth for my self … aquit all my right … land that was my father Aron Starkes to ye southward of ye aforesaid dividing line & ye sd Wm. Stark also aquit my right title & interest as aforesd to all ye land said Aron Stark bought of Isaac F??? … sd Wm. Stark … sd Aron Stark do by these presents aquit all my right title … unto land or lands that was my grandfathers Aron Starks which is to ye north of ye aforesaid dividing line and further I the sd Aron Stark do by these presents promise …Signed: William Stark, Aron Stark. Wit: Nehemiah Smith, Thomas Chipman, James Chipman. Ack and recd 5 Jun 1721."

On November 25, 1721, just five months later, Aaron Stark [the third] sold both properties to Nathaniel Niles (Junior), as stated in the following deed abstract:[134]

Aaron Starke of Groton for 1800£ paid by Nathanael Niles Junr of KingsTown in Rhode Island … sold … two tracts of land … 460A of upland & also of fresh meadow joining to ye same containing 30A … bounded by lands of ye widow Wallsworth … Gideon Cobb … Capt. Samll. Fish … on ye hill called Wolfpit Hill … Thomas Wells … lands of William Starkes … & Margret Starke ye wife of me ye said Aaron Starke doth give all her right of dowry & power of thirds … 25 Nov 1721.Signed: Aaron Starke, Margret Starke. Wit: Samll Avery, William Starke, John Starke. Ack and recd 25 Nov 1721.


131) FHL Film #4293, Book 1, pages 86-87.

132) Ibid. Book 1, pages 551 &552.

133) Ibid. Book 1, pages 567 and 568.

134) Ibid. Book 1, pages 620 to 624.



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Therefore, by the end of 1721, William Stark (Senior) and his sons still owned portions of the original homestead of Aaron Stark (Senior), but the properties inherited by his other sons, John and Aaron (Junior), had new owners. During 1721, Aaron Stark [the third] appears to have been divesting himself of all of his property in Groton township in anticipation of a move to Colchester Township, Connecticut, for on September 25, 1725, a deed shows that Aaron Stark [the third] was a resident of Colchester.[135]


Other Property Purchases and Sales of Interest

As mentioned earlier, William Stark (Senior) purchased from William Stark (Junior), 40 acres of the 50 acres William (Junior) had obtained from his father-in-law, Isaac Lamb.[98] On January 31, 1716/17, William (Senior) sold this property to Joseph Hadsall for 25£.[122] Mary Hadsell was one of the dissenters reported in the Baptist Church petition to the General Court of Connecticut dated October 4, 1704. The surname Hadsall appearing in these surviving documents was the source of the following speculation by Helen Stark in the 1937 Stark family Association Year Book.[88]

"And who was the wife, Elizabeth? [Referring to the wife of William Stark (Senior).]. I have long felt that the list of petitioners for that first church might be the key to her identity. The Culvers, the Lambs and the Starks were Groton families and we know something at least about them. But who were the teachers, Daniel Pearce, William and Margaret Chubbs, John Hammett, and Mary Hadsall, the other petitioners? Did they, too, live in Groton? Where did they come from? How long did they stay in Groton? I so much want to know what the Groton records tell about each of them. The next list of church records gives none of them. And in wondering about them I discovered that Joseph Hadsall of Westerly bought land from William Stark, though he soon sold it back again. It was land in Groton, sold by William January 31, 1716-17, the same day upon which William first deeded land to his son Christopher, and Joseph Hadsall was a witness to this deed to Christopher. And then I noted further that while William was constantly buying and selling land, Joseph Hadsall is the only Rhode Island man with whom he had any land dealings. Has this any significance?

Then I looked for any Hadsall family which included a Mary and Elizabeth and a Joseph. I found one at Gloucester, Mass. Joseph Hadsall married Mary Graves. They had Mary, born in 1676, Elizabeth 1679, Joseph 1681, and one other son. Nothing was found about their moving to Westerly or Groton and different ancestries of Joseph of Westerly have been given me, though there seems no certain line for him. Elizabeth, born in 1679, could not possibly have been mother of a child born in 1691, but one born in 1698 would certainly be possible.

All this is too vague to be called a theory, but when there are no real clues one grasps at straws. But I should very much like to have these first church members looked up, and very especially, Mary Hadsall. (Groton and Stonington Deeds, Savage’s Genealogical Dictionary)"

The given names for the Hadsall family mentioned in Helen’s theory suggest that Mary Hadsall may have been a widow and Elizabeth’s mother; she was most likely living with her daughter in 1704. Joseph Hadsall of the later deeds could have been Elizabeth’s brother – the above Joseph Hadsall reported to have been born in 1681. Although this is an interesting theory, the fact that Christopher received his first property from his father on January 31, 1716/1717, suggests that he was born at least twenty-one years earlier (before January 31, 1695/96). If Elizabeth was born in 1679, she would have been about sixteen or seventeen years old by January of 1695/96 – not an impossible age to have given birth to Christopher; but she is unlikely to have been the mother of William Stark (Junior) if he was born before 1688, as suggested earlier. Again, we cannot discount the possibility Elizabeth’s surname was Hadsall and William Stark (Senior) was married to two women, but neither theory can be supported by the surviving documents found at the time of this publication.

On November 21, 1717, William (Senior) paid Joseph Hadsall the same compensation of 25 pounds to regain ownership of this property.[136]

"Joseph Hadsall of Westerly in the Collony of Rode Island yeoman for 25L from William Stark of Grotton … 40A in Grotton … 21 Nov 1717. Signed Joseph Hadsall. Wit Hannah Fox, John Lambe. Ack and recd 18 Dec 1717.

On August 19, 1723, there were a series of deed transactions that are a bit baffling. On this date, Christopher Stark (Senior) paid William (Senior) 300£ for a 150-acre tract of land that was apparently part of the original Aaron Stark (Senior) homestead.[137]

"William Stark Senr of Gorton yeoman for 300L by Christopher Stark of same … 150A … Christopher Stark’s corner, Mr. Nyles land, Thos. Wools’ land. Dated 19 Aug 1723 …Recd 20 Aug 1723. Signed by William Stark …Wit: Valentine Whighman, David Collver"

On the same day, William Stark (Senior) then paid Christopher 200£ for a parcel of land in approximately the same region.[137]

"Christopher Stark of Groton yeoman for 200L paid by Sergt. William Stark … Mr. Nyles corner, land sd Nyles bought of Mr. Aaron Stark … Mr. Whitman’s south line. 19th day, 10th year of his majesties reign 1723. …Recd 20 Aug 1723. Signed: by Christopher Stark …Wit: Valentine Wightman, David Culver"


135) FHL Film #4294, Book 2, page 176.

136) FHL Film #4293, Book 1, page 365.

137) FHL Film #4294, Book 2, pages 14, 19, and 20.



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And then there was this property transaction, also on that date:[137]

"Know all men that I Christopher Stark of the Town of Groton for a valuable consideration paid in hand by my father William Stark … 4A … SE corner of land that Whitman bought of my father which was formerly Mr. John Slaters?? Dated 19 Aug 1723 …Recd 20 Aug 1723. Signed: by Christopher Stark …Wit: Jonathan Hinckley, John Smith"

On October 13, 1726, there was this deed of exchange between Christopher and William (Senior):[138]

"Deed of Exchange Christopher Stark of Groton for one certain tract of land … may appear by a deed passed from the sd Christopher Stark to his father Willm. Stark bearing date 19 Aug 1723 … 151A … Dated 13 Oct 1726. Recd 8 Nov 1726 …Signed: Christopher Stark …Wit: Ephraim Collver, John Wallsworth "

The description appears to be the same 150 acres Christopher purchased from William (Senior) on August 19, 1723, for 300£ . In exchange, Christopher received the property William (Senior) purchased for 200£, plus the same 4 acres described above.[138] What would have been the purpose of these deed exchanges?

On February 7, 1726/27, just three months after these deed exchanges, William Stark (Senior) prepared and signed his Last Will and Testament, which included the follow statement:[139]

"I give and bequeath unto my son Daniel Starke all my Lands to the South of the Countey Road bounded as May appear by a Deed of Exchange from Christopher however otherways Bounded on Record and half my husbandray Tools."

Although William (Senior) had prepared his Will in February of 1726/27, he did not die until September of 1730. On May 6, 1728, most likely about when Daniel Stark married Sarah Culver, William (Senior) deeded 100 acres of this property to Daniel as a wedding gift. A marriage would seem a reasonable presumption, for Daniel was at least 21 years of age on August 26, 1726, when he witnessed the gift of land to Thomas Walworth. William (Senior) most likely retained until his death the remaining 50 acres, which then passed to Daniel as his second portion of land when William (Senior) died in 1730.

Recall that William (Senior) had deeded property to his son-in-law, Thomas Walworth, on August 26, 1726. William (Senior) purchased the property from William Walworth, who we learn from the following was the brother of Thomas Walworth:[140]

"William Wallsworth of Groton yeoman, for 14 sheep and 10L from William Stark of Groton, yeoman, a wood lot, first division "rock marked W.S." … laid out on Fort Hill by Samll Lester, Nehemiah Smith Esq. & Joshua Bill … Dated 21 Mar 1724/5 …Recd 25 Sep 1725 …Signed: by William Wallsworth. Wit: John Smith, Elizabeth Avery"

William Stark’s Last Years

William Stark (Senior) prepared and signed his Last Will and Testament on February 7th, 1726. William (Senior) may have been in poor health from the time he made his Will until his eventual death September 8, 1730. He appeared to be disposing of his property after making his Will, and Christopher seems to have benefited the most – at least as measured by the numerous gifts of property and deed exchanges with his father. On March 22nd, 1727, for a total of 255 pounds, Christopher purchased 100 additional acres from his father and one right of a share in the after divisions of the commons or undivided land in the township of Groton, along with another tract of land lying in the township.[141]

William named Christopher Stark and Thomas Chipman as executors of his estate. William’s wife was to receive 1/3 of his estate during her natural life. Named in the will were his other children: William Stark (Junior), Daniel Stark, and Phebe (Stark) Walsworth.[139] On September 8, 1730, William Stark, Sr., died and was buried in his plot, which had been set aside in the deed with the Baptist Church and which would later be known as the "Wightman Burying Ground."

From all indications, William was a person of means within the community of Groton. Although the community had opposed the founding of the Baptist congregation, William's rather large land holdings and sawmill probably commanded his neighbors’ respect. This was most likely one of several factors that enabled the little Baptist Church to survive and prosper in Groton. William was undoubtedly a generous man who gave land to each of his children as gifts when they were old enough; he also contributed to the community of Groton in a like way throughout his life. The community, church, and his children were all benefactors of his generosity.


138) FHL Film #4294; Book 2; pages 231 and 233.

139) FHL Microfilm Film #1025051, Connecticut; New London County Probate Packets, Year 1730, Packet #5070. Transcribed by Gwen Boyer Bjorkman. See appendix to review the complete text of William Stark (Senior)'s probate record which includes Last Will & Testament, Inventory, and payments from estate.

140) FHL Film #4294, Book 2, page 196.

141) Ibid. Book 2, pages 373 and 374. 


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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.


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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