NORTHERN NEW YORK
Genealogical and family history of northern New York: a record of the achievements of her people
in the making of a commonwealth and the founding of a nation.
New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co. 1910.
Transcribed by Coralynn Brown
The family of Leete is one of the oldest American families, the line being continuous back to 1639 in this country. The first of the name came from England, and in England the records of the Leetes reach back to the reign of Edward the Confessor, who lived just before the Norman Conquest. The earliest documentary evidence is in the Domesday Book of William the Conqueror, which consisted of a report to the king of the status of his subjects throughout his English realm. From these we learn that one Leete has held a certain manor in Buckinghamshire called Foxecote. This was subsequently bestowed by the Conqueror upon Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, his half-brother. This Leete, the Domesday Book relates, had been a thane of Edward, which high position he must have held, of course, before the death of the Confessor king, Jan. 5, 1066. In the Domesday Book mention is also made of another manor in Gloucestershire in Cehnemerton held by another Leete. This manor is desceibed as having three ox teams, fourteen villeins with six ox teams, eight serfs, and three mills. In the records of legal proceedings known as the Pedes Finium, the account is found of an action at law during the reign of King John, 1209, in which title to a certain portion of land in Cambridgeshire was confirmed to Gerard Leete and his wife Sema. Another source of information is the Rotuli Litterarum Clausaurum, which contained the enrollment of all mandates, letters and writs of a private nature addressed in the king's name to individuals. From these documents we learn that King John gave at various times commands to his officials respecting the provision in land and in other appurtenances for the benefit of various crusading knights of the Leete family, here called, in Norman usage, deLetes, and by the same authority King Henry III gave various estates into the hands of other members of the family for knightly service as crusaders. There were four members of the family thus favored who were participants in the Third or Fourth Crusade - Peter, Nicholas, Walter and Radmund. These were probably the first bearers of the Leete coat of arms, one of the oldest extant, for it is one of those not traceable to grants. It presumably originated in the field during the crusades. It is described as follows: Argent a fesse gules between two rolls of fuses sable fired proper; a martlet of the field. Crest: On a ducal coronet an antique lamp or, fired proper.
The Charter Rolls of Henry III contain the record of the title of these lands, and the Testa de Nevill confirms their possession during the reigns of Henry the Third and Edward the First. In the Rotuli Hundredarum, the report of certain commissioners of Edward the First, is found as follows: "And for a certain transgression which Ralph de Mullond committed against our lord King John the same king took from him the manor and gave it to the lord Micholas de Lettres who lived long and held it for his whole life, and died in the time of Henry the present king."
In the Inquisitiones Post Mortem, Henry de Lettres is mentioned as holding a manor in Lincolnshire during the time of Edward the First. In the Nonarum Inquisitiones of 1341, by which the ninth lamb, the ninth fleece, and the ninth sheaf were to be taken for the two years next to come. Robert, Hugh, Wills and John Lete are mentioned as thus contributing. The Rotulorum Patentium, or public announcements accompanied by the impression of the Great Seal, contain a record of the royal permission granted to Peter, Nicholas and Walter de Lettes by Henry III to join one of the crusades to Jerusalem (1217), and safe conduct for various knights, including Nicholas de Lettes, was signed by Henry the Third (1229). In 1303 Richard de Lyte and the Monks of Swaffham held in Toft and Cumberton half a knight's fee form the Bishop of Ely. In 1307 Roger du Lyt was ordered to deliver the Castle of Kennefek. The Subsidy Rolls of Cambridgeshire contained a long list of assessments against the Leetes who were land owners in that county: under Henry VIII, John Lette of Kingston, 6 pounds; Thomas Lete of Hokynton, 3 pounds; John Lete of Cottenham, 3 pounds; Agnes Lete, 3 pounds, Henry Lete, 2 pounds; Thomas Leete of Cumberton, 2 pounds; Henry Leete, 4 pounds, etc.; under Elizabeth, Thomas Leete of Hokynton, 3 pounds.
(I) Thomas Leete, of Hokynton (or Oakington), Cambridgeshire, England, stands at the head of the family as continuously traced to the present time. He was assessed to the subsidy of Cambridgeshire in 1622-3; was buried at Oakington July 9, 1564.
(II) Thomas (2), son of Thomas (1) Leete, was assessed to the subsidy of Cambridgeshire in 1566-7, and 1571-2, and was buried at Oakington, Feb. 4, 1582.
(III) Thomas (3), son of Thomas (2) Leete, is named in the "Visitation of Huntingtonshire" in 1613. He married, June 2, 1574, Maria, daughter of Edward Slade, of Rushton, county Northampton. She was buried at Oakington, Sept. 25, 1610.
He was church warden of Oakington in 1598, and was buried there Nov. 12, 1616.
John, of Dodington (the elder).
John, of Islington.
Jane, married Richard Dale.
Rebecca, married Thomas Fowler.
(IV) John, eldest child of Thomas (3) and Maria (Slade) Leete, resided at Dodington; married Ann, daughter of Robert Shute, one of the justices of the King's Bench.
William, mentioned below.
John, of Midlow Grange, Huntingtonshire, baptized May 13, 1575, at Oakington.
Ann, married Robert Ruly, and died about December, 1648.
(V) William, eldest chld of John and Ann (Shute) Leete, was the emigrant to our shores, and the ancestor of nearly all the Leetes in America. He was born in 1612-13 in Dodington. He was bred in the law at Cambridge University, and served for a considerable time as clerk in the Bishop of Ely's Court, at Cambridge. Observing the oppressions and cruelties then practiced on the conscientious and virtuous Puritans, he was led to examine more thoroughly their doctrines and practices, and eventually to become a Puritan himself. He gave up his office and came to America in the company of the Rev. Henry Whitfield. He was one of the signers of the plantation convenant on shipboard, Jan. 1, 1639. He arrived at New Haven about July 10, 1639. When the company agreed upon Guilford as a place of settlement he was one of the six selected to purchase the land from the native Indians in trust for the plantation until their organization. He selected for himself about 250 acres of land three miles west of Guilford, now known as Leete's Island. He filled many public offices in the new colony and was clerk of the plantation from 1639 to 1662. He was also one of the four to whom was instrusted the full civic power of the plantation, without limitations, until a church was formed. He was selected one of the "seven pillars" of the church which formed the body politic of Guilford. He was deputy from Guilford to the general court in New Haven from 1643 to 1650, and from 1651 to 1658 he was magistrate of the town. In 1658 he was chosen deputy govenor of the Colony, and continued in that office until 1661, when he was elected governor, an office which he held until the union with Connecticut in 1664. After the union he was an assistant until 1669, when he was elected deputy governor of the Connecticut colony, holding that office until 1676, when he was chosen governor. He retained this office by continuous re-elections until his death, April 16, 1683.
Upon being elected governor he moved to Hartford, where he lived until his death, and was buried there.
William Leete married (first) in England, about 1638, Anna, daughter of Rev. John Payne, of Southoe. She died Sept. 1, 1668. He married (second), April 7, 1670, Sarah, widow of Henry Rutherford; she died Feb. 10, 1673. He married (third) Mrs. Mary Street, who had been married (first) to Governor Francis Newman, and later to Rev. Nicholas Street; she died Dec. 13, 1682.
His children were:
John (mentioned below).
Andrew, born 1643, married Elizabeth Jordan.
William, married Mary Fenn.
Abigail, married Rev. J. Woodbridge.
Caleb, born Aug. 24, 1651, died Jan. 13, 1673.
Gratiana, born Dec. 22, 1653.
Peregrine, born Jan. 12, 1658, died young.
Joshua, born 1659, died Feb. 22, 1660.
Anna, born March 10, 1661, married John Trowbridge.
(VI) John, eldest child of Governor William and Anna (Payne) Leete, was born in 1639, in Guilford, and is said to have been the first white child born in that town, where he died Nov. 25, 1692.
He married, Oct. 4, 1670, Mary, daughter of William and Joanna (Sheafe) Chittenden, of Guilford, born in 1647, and died March 9, 1712.
Ann, born Aug. 6, 1671, married John Collins.
John, Jan. 4, 1674, married Sarah Allen.
Joshua, July 7, 1676, married Mary Munger.
Sarah, Dec. 16, 1677, married Eliakim Marshall.
Pelatiah, mentioned below.
Mehitable, born Dec. 10, 1684, married Dr. Anthony Labore.
Benjamin, born Dec. 26, 1686, married Rachel Champion.
Daniel, Dec. 23, 1689, died young.
(VII) Deacon Pelatiah, fifth child of John and Mary (Chittenden) Leete, was born March 26, 1581, in Guilford, and settled soon after his marriage on Leete's Island, being the first to locate there. The land has been allotted to his grandfather, Governor Leete, after purchase from the Indians, and the title to the greater part of the soil has never been out of the family name. Upon these ancestral acres seven generations of Leetes have resided as farmers, most of them with success and profit.
Deacon Pelatiah passed most of his life there, where he died Oct. 13, 1768, at the age of eighty-seven years. Originally the soil was very fertile, and he did not consider a hundred bushels of shelled corn to the acre more than an average yield. He also had a herd of one hundred neat cattle. In 1735 he erected a large house on a commanding spot overlooking the waters of the Sound.
He was deacon of the Fourth Church of Guilford. He was also a representative of the town in the general court.
He married, July 1, 1705, Abigail, daughter of Abraham and Elizabeth (Bartlett) Fowler, of Guilford, born 1679, died Oct. 22, 1769, aged ninety years.
Abigail, born Sept. 13, 1707, died June 2, 1792.
Daniel, Oct. 14, 1709.
Mehitable, Sept. 28, 1711, died Oct. 21, 1711.
Pelatiah, mentioned below.
Mehitabel, born in 1714, married John Brewster.
(VIII) Pelatiah (2), second son of Pelatiah (1) and Abigail (Fowler) Leete, was born March 7, 1713, on Leete's Island, where he passed his life. In 1778 he fortified Leete's Island with a block house, which in 1781 became the scene of a fatal encounter between the coast guards and a body of British soldiers whose attempt to effect a landing was repulsed.
He was deacon of the Fouth Congregational church, and a respected and useful citizen, dying May 18, 1783.
He married, March 26, 1740, Lydia, daughter of Deacon Samuel and Mindwell (Meigs) Crittenden, born March 14, 1719, in Guilford, died Aug. 13, 1772.
Pelatiah, born March 4, 1741, died April 20, 1741.
Pelatiah, mentioned below.
Lydia and Noah (twins), born Oct. 24, 1749 (Lydia married John Leete).
Eber, March 25, 1752, died Oct. 22, 1769.
Simeon, born April 14, 1754, married Zerviah Norton.
Amos, born April 25, 1758, married Hannah Ward.
Nathan, born 1762, died Nov. 1, 1769.
(IX) Pelatiah (3), eldest child of Pelatiah (2) and Lydia (Crittenden) Leete, was born Aug. 22, 1744, on Leete's Island, where he died March 2, 1806. He married Bethiah, daughter of James and Bethiah Norton, of Guilford, born about 1759, died June 30, 1793, aged fifty-six years.
He married (second), Nov. 10, 1794, Mary Frisbie, of North Branford, who died Jan. 14, 1862, having survived him nearly forty-six years.
Joel, born April 15, 1768.
Noah, mentioned below.
Pelatiah, born July 3, 1773, married Betsy Ranney.
Mary, born Feb. 15, 1798, married Jude Ludington.
(X) Noah, second son of Pelatiah (3) and Bethiah (Norton) Leete, was born Feb. 22, 1770, and died in 1827, aged fifty-seven years. He resided on Leete's Island until 1808, when he settled at Verona, Oneida county, N.Y.
He married, Feb. 22, 1792, Huldah, daughter of Thelus and Lydia (Franklin) Ward, of Guilford, born Feb. 14, 1774. She survived him about ten years, dying in 1837, at the age of sixty-three.
Allen Norton, Lydia Meigs, Charles Ward (mentioned below), Harley, Nelson and Artemisia.
(XI) Charles Ward, second son of Noah and Huldah (Ward) Leete, was born Oct. 13, 1799, at Leete's Island, in Gulford. He attended the public schools of Guilford and Verona, and between 1815-1820 he was a student at Fairfield Seminary. During his minority he was employed mostly on the homestead farm at Verona; later he established a chair factory in that town, which he operated several years. Having decided to enter the ministry his studies were directed to that end, and he receive his first license in March, 1831. He was appointed assistant pastor at Steuben, N.Y. in the fall of 1833, and a year later became pastor at Antwerp, N.Y., which included the society at Ox Bow, his residence being at the latter place. In 1835 he was appointed pastor at Gouverneur, which included Fullerville, and he resided in both places. He became pastor at Canton during the winter of 1836-37, and was transferred to Potsdam, filling a vacancy in succession of Jesse T. Peck, who became principal of Gouverneur Seminary. He remained at Potsdam until the fall of 1838, when he was appointed to Fulton; in 1840 to Weedsport and 1842 to Little Falls, where he remained two years. Failing in health he declined another pastorate, and went to Vernon to live. Having become improved in health, he was chosen delegate to the Quadrennial General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, to be held at Pittsburgh in 1848, and in that year he was agent for Falley Seminary a Fulton, N.Y., securing funds for and superintending the construction of the building of that institution. In the fall of 1849 he was appointed pastor at Belleville, N.Y. and remained there one year, subsequently becoming pastor at Adams, N.Y. After one year's labor in that town he was again compelled by failing health to withdraw from the active ministry and removed to his home in Vernon, where he remained until his death, Dec. 13, 1857.
In the contest between Jackson and Adams for the presidency, his sentiments were with the Adams party. He regarded slavery as a blot on our country, and though not an Abolitionist he was a free-soiler. For half a dozen years he was captain of a military company in Oneida county previous to 1830.
He married (first), Jan. 16, 1822, Adeline, dauaghter of Jabez and Sarah (Taylor) Loomis, of Verona, born May 5, 1801, died Feb. 3, 1833. He married (second) Sophronia Stone, of Vernon.
The first wife was mother of Charles Ward (mentioned below) and Allen Norton.
The second wife mother of: Adeline, Wilbur Fisk, Sophronia and William Stone.
The second son resides in Clarksville, Iowa. He married Abigail Button, and has children: Charles Norton, Abbie Jane, Parmelia Adline, Harley Wright, Lydia Elizabeth and Mary Elizabeth.
The elder daughter died unmarried, and the younger became the wife of Edward G. Church, and died at Oneida, N.Y., leaving four children: Frank Edward, Alice, Florence A. and Walter Leete, of Potsdam, N.Y.
The third son resided many years in Potsdam, N.Y., and died at Oneida, leaving a widow and two sons - William C. and Wilford A.
The youngest son resides at Oneida and has one daughter, Adeline (Mrs. William Pine, of Walton, N.Y.)
(XII) Charles Ward (2), eldest child of Rev. Charles Ward (1) and Adeline (Loomis) Leete, was born July 6, 1823, in Verona, and was educated in the public schools. He was but fourteen years of age when his father located at Potsdam, where most of his adult life has been spent. In 1833 he attended school in Steuben, N.Y., and the next year in Antwerp. In 1835-36, he was a student at Gouverneur Academy, and in 1837 became a student at St. Lawrence Academy, Potsdam, N.Y., where he completed his studies in 1844. He began business life as a clerk with Goulding & Hewitt, at Potsdam, general merchants, who also operated an iron foundry, which had been established by Jabez Willes in 1820. He remained in the employ of Mr. Goulding until January, 1847, when he became his partner in the mercantile branch of the business, under the firm of Goulding and Leete. This continued until March, 1851, when the foundry business was assumed, and a new partnership formed, including Judge Henry L. Knowles and Henry Watkins, the firm name becoming Goulding & Company. This continued until May, 1856, when Leete and Watkins purchased the interests of the other partners and continued until January, 1867, under the name of Watkins & Leete. At this time, Wilbur F. Leete and L. De Witt Anstead became partners, and the firm became Watkins, Leete & Company, under which style it continued five years. In January, 1872, Mr. Charles W. Leete became sole proprietor, and as such continued the foundry business unti June, 1897, when his son Charles H. Leete, succeeded him. The father continues as business manager in the interest of the son.
In the mercantile business Mr. Leete was joined, for a period of five years, by his son, Edward W. Leete, under the style of C.W. & E.W. Leete, after which the son became sole proprietor. The senior Leete was a partner, with others, in Adirondack timber lands and lumber mills at Potsdam, under the name Burnham, Watkins & Leete. He was also a partner in the Union Falls Lumber Company, with mills at Union Falls, and timber in the Adirondacks, controlling the entire power of the Racquette river at the falls. This power and lands were later sold to the Racquette River Paper Company. Mr. Leete was a partner with A.M. Adsit and Henry Watkins in the Potsdam Pail Factory, having a plant on Falls Island, Potsdam; and also in the firm of Leete, Peck & Company, a mercantile business carrying drugs, paints and kindred goods.
Mr. Leete has always been an earnest Republican, but not an office seeker. He served as one of the village trustees of Potsdam, and for several terms as village assessor; also twon assessor. He was elected a trustee of St. Lawrence Academy in 1856, and became its secretary ten years later. He is now (1910) serving as senior trustee and secretary.
He was an earnest supporter of the government during the civil war, and though not drafted, voluntarily furnished an acceptable substitute, who represented him for a long term in the Union army.
He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and has been one of the official board of the Potsdam church since 1845.
He married, in Potsdam, Nov. 28, 1850, Eliza Willes, born July 9, 1827, in that town, where she died Nov. 16, 1894, daughter of Jabez and Betsey (Tupper) Willes. Jabez Willes established an iron foundry in 1820 at Potsdam, which was subsequently conducted by his grandson, as above noted. He also operated a clothing mill, engaged in farming and was justice of the peace of the town of Potsdam. He was justice of the sessions of St. Lawrence county, a member of the assembly, state senator, and judge of the New York court for the correction of errors.
He was a steadfast Democrat, and politically associated with Silas Wright, Preston King and other well-known leaders of the party. He was a son of Sylvanus Willes, a soldier of the revolution.
Children of C. W. Leete and Eliza Willes:
1. Harriet Adaline, born Jan. 31, 1852; graduate of Potsdam Normal School; married Sanford Elliott Clapp, editor of the Bergen Index, Hackensack, New Jersey; they have a daughter, Adelaide Eliza.
2. Charles H., mentioned below.
3. Edward Willes, born Jan. 13, 1859; graduated from Potsdam Normal School; now a specialist in cataloguing for hardware houses; resides at Decatur, Illinois.
(XIII) Charles Henry, elder son of Chares Ward (2) and Eliza (Willes) Leete, was born March 17, 1857, in Potsdam, where most of his minority was spent. He prepared for college at the State Normal School in his native town, being one of the earliest students of that institution. He passed the freshman year of his college course at Syracuse University, and in Sept., 1876, became a member of the class of 1879 at Yale University, where he was duly graduated. Having decided to make teaching his life work, he re-entered the State Normal School at Potsdam, where he continued one year in the study of the theory and practice of teaching. He then taught in the normal school from January to June, 1881, and in the fall of that year went to New York City, where he became a techer in Dr. J. Sach's Collegiate Institute. He was continuously identified with that school until 1887, when he went to Europe and attended the lectures at the University of Halle, Berlin and Leipzig, Germany, and received from the latter the degree of doctor of philosophy. He has made a specialty of pedagogy, geography and econimics, and is said by the historian of his Yale class to be the ablest and best equipped of the class in these matters. During his work abroad he spent one year visiting schools in England, France, Germany, Austria and other countries. In the meantime Dr. Sach's School for Girls had been planned and a building erected; on his return Dr. Leete became its headmaster and has been ever since continuously associated with it. In 1907 he became its principal and proprietor and as such ahs conducted the institution now known as the Sachs School for Girls, which is among the leading schools of its class.
Dr. Leete published in 1900, "Exercises in Georgraphy," and in 1890, in co-operation with G.G. Chisholm, prepared "Longman's School Atlas" and "Longman's School Geography," and later wrote various articles for "Longman's Gazeteer." In 1887 he contributed to Science an article on national prosperity, and was a contributor to the New York Evening Post in an article on "Australian Development." Before the Schoolmaster's Association in 1892 he delivered an address on "Realism in Education," which was subsequently printed in the proceedings of the Associaton. Before the New York University Convocation in 1893 he gave an address on the teaching of geography, and in the same year delivered a series of lectures on geography at Teachers' College, New York. In 1909 he had a paper on high school geography before the Winnipeg meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Scienc.
He is a Life Fellow of the American Georgraphical Society, a member of the National Geographical Society, and for a number of yeas examiner in geography for the College Entrance Examinations Board.
Since 1890 he has been proprietor of the Potsdam Foundry and Machine shop, as successor to his father. In 1900 he became a trustee of the State Normal School at Potsdam, and in 1904 trustee of St. Lawrence Academy.
He is a communicant of the Protestant Episcopal church, and in political sentiment is an Independent.
He married, July 26, 1883, in Burlington, Vermont, Isadore A., daughter of Rev. William H. and Amelia (Simonds) Kelton, of Scituate, Mass., born Nov. 26, 1860, at Blue Hill, Maine. They have one son, Edward Hokynton, born April 16, 1894, in New York, now (1910) a student at the State Normal School at Potsdam.
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