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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Munson

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[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 1497-1500 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

The English Monsons belonging to the peerage have a recognized history extending through five centuries. According to "Burke's Peerage," John Monson was living in 1378, and denominated of East Market Rasen, county of Lincoln, from whom lineally sprang William Monson, Esq., who died in 1558. It is the opinion of eminent members of the family that their common ancestor was a Dane. The name is common in Denmark, and that portion of England where the family were dwelling in the fourteenth century had been overrun by the Danes.

(I) Thomas Munson, the American ancestor, was among those exiles who left England for conscience sake, brave and spirited men who were loyal to their God and their convictions. He was born in England about 1612, died May 7, 1685. It is not known how or when he came to America. He is first found of record in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1637, where he performed service in the Pequot war. He received a grant of one hundred acres, which was confirmed by the general court, May 13, 1637, no doubt in recognition of his services in that war. In 1639 he became one of the pioneer settlers of New Haven, Connecticut, where he acquired a house lot in February, 1640. He was one of the sixty-three signers of the "Agreement." He took the oath of fidelity July 1, 1644, and was appointed sergeant of the "trayned band," a title he bore for nineteen years. May 19, 1656, he was chosen one of seven townsmen (selectmen). In 1661 he was appointed "Ensigne," and was assigned "seat No. 2 of the shorte seats in the meeting house." April 28, 1663, "Ensigne Thomas Munson and John Moss were chosen deputies for the jurisdiction General Courte for the yeare ensueinge." In 1665, after the union of New Haven Colony with Connecticut Colony, John Winthrop, governor, he was chosen deputy to the general assembly. July 6, 1665, he was confirmed by the general assembly lieutenant "of ye traine band at New Haven." In 1666 he was again chosen deputy, and in 1668 assigned a new seat in the meeting house; he was now one of the thirteen persons seated "in the first seat" in the gallery. April 29, 1668, he was elected one of seven townsmen (selectmen), and in 1669 again chosen deputy; in fact, this office was bestowed upon him, as well as that of selectman, almost continuously until his death in 1685. At a session of the general court, held at Hartford, August 7, 1673, the following "special order" was passed:

"Whereas there is now at present a great appearance of danger towards the Colony by the approach of the Dutch, for our own safety and defence till the general court in October next, it is now ordered by this court that the committee hereafter named, viz: The Governor, Deputy-Governor, and assistants (five others), and Lieutenant Thomas Munson, are hereby empowered to act as the Grand Committee of this Colony in establishing and commissioning of military officers, in pressing men, houses, ships, barques, or other vessels, arms, ammunition, provision, carriages, or whatever they judge needful for our defense, and to manage, order and dispose of the militia of the colony in the best way and manner for our defense and safety."

This was the first appointment of a grand committee, or as afterwards termed "council of war." During King Philip's war he was in command of troops in and around Saybrook, and May 15, 1676, was appointed captain of New Haven county soldiers, and in 1682 was a commissioner to treat with the Indians. September 29, 1684, he was, for the last time, elected deputy to the general court, and May 7, 1685, he closed an exceeding busy and useful life. He was continuously in the service of town, colony and church until the last. He married Joanna ————, born about 1610, died December 13, 1678.

(II) Samuel, only son of Thomas and Joanna Munson, was baptized in New Haven, Connecticut, First Church, August 7, 1643, died 1693. He was made a freeman of New Haven, May 9, 1667, and assigned in the meeting house a seat with fourteen others in the "second seat in the gallery." In 1670 he was one of the thirty-nine men who signed the agreement to become "Planters" and settle in the wilderness north of New Haven, now Wallingford, Connecticut. Here he was assigned a house lot on the "Long Highway" (Main street), and a farm of eight acres. He was chosen selectman in April, 1672, and June 7 "Samuel Munson shall be allowed forty shillings for maintaining and beating the Drum in good order for the yeare ensuing." In 1674 he was again chosen one of five "townsmen." King Philip's war now being waged, he was appointed "Ensigne of Wallingford Traine Band." Under date of September 10, 1677, it was "voted that Ensign Munson shall have fourty shillings allowed him for meeting in his house this yeare." He was chosen "lister" in 1678, and one of the two sealers of leather. November 27, 1678, occurs the first mention of schools in the town record. December 24 it was voted to allow ten pounds for a schoolmaster and three pence per week for each scholar attending. April 12, 1679, Samuel Munson was chosen to serve as the first schoolmaster. He was successively auditor, selectman, treasurer, and recorder of the town. In 1682 he apparently returned to New Haven to reside, perhaps to make a home for his widowed father, perhaps to become master of Hopkins grammar school. The earliest record book of the Hopkins grammar school begins with 1684, under date of January 4, "agreed that Ensign Munson go on with the grammar school at New Haven to make up his year current, and his allowance to be 40 pounds per annum as formerly, also that trial be made of the sufficiency of the said Ensign Munson and if he be sufficient to instruct or fit hopeful youth for the College that he have 50 pounds for the ensuing year." Three months later he "laid down his charge," and was succeeded by a graduate of Harvard College. It is uncertain whether he was rector of the school one, two or three years. He was one of the sealers of leather in New Haven, 1683-85-86, and in 1692, lister, and constable. This useful life ended the following year. He married, October 26, 1665, Martha, daughter of William Bradley.

(III) Thomas, second son of Samuel and Martha (Bradley) Munson, was born March 12, 1671, died in Cheshire, Connecticut, September 28, 1746. He was a husbandman, and resided in New Haven. He was favored in the distribution of his grandfather's estate, and dealt largely in real estate during his life. He held several of the town offices, and in 1716 was a contributor to the amount of land donated to secure Yale College for New Haven. He thus assisted in founding that celebrated university which, a little later, was removed to New Haven from Saybrook. Like all the family preceding him, he was a member of the Congregational First Church, which he joined in New Haven, September 25, 1735. His wife had been a communicant of the First Church since 1698. He married, September 15, 1694, Mary Wilcox, who died November 28, 1755.

(IV) Obadiah, fourth child of Thomas and Mary (Wilcox) Munson, was born in New Haven, April 3, 1703, died in Wallingford, April 29, 1773. He was a mill owner and farmer, and during his life he dealt extensively in real estate, residing in New Haven, Cheshire and North Haven (Wallingford). He is buried in the North Haven cemetery. He married, March 27, 1729, Hannah Booth.

(V) Obadiah (2), eldest son of Obadiah (1) and Hannah (Booth) Munson, was born in New Haven, August 27, 1731, died May 26, 1805. He was a mill owner and farmer of Connecticut, his home, until 1771, when he removed to the Wyoming valley, Pennsylvania, where he remained until 1778, when he returned to Connecticut (Plymouth), dying at Harwinton, that state. His residence in Pennsylvania was in Luzerne county, near Pittston. "He purchased a tract of land on the eastern bank of the Susquehanna, built his log cabin and hoped to make for himself and family a permanent home." When the valley seemed in danger from Indians and British he left his family and went back to Connecticut to prepare a home for them. His wife died at the time of the massacre, and at least four of his sons were in the revolutionary army. During his absence the massacre at Wyoming occurred, and he never returned to the valley. He was a member of the First Church of Christ, of Harwinton, Connecticut. He was a man of remarkable constitution, broad-shouldered, and very strong. He could lift a barrel of cider and put it over the rave of a cart. He was a good business man and led an active, useful life. He married Rachel Tyler.

(VI) Stephen, fourth child of Obadiah (2) and Rachel (Tyler) Munson, was born in Wallingford (now Cheshire), Connecticut, February 10, 1759, died July 9, 1824. He was a saddler and a farmer. At the time of the Wyoming massacre he was with the army of Washington at Morristown, New Jersey, in Captain Durkee's company. He was also a member of one of the "Valley Independent Companies" that saw much hard service. He is described on the roster of Captain Durkee's company as five feet five inches tall, aged eighteen. He was a man of means and genial nature. He resided in various towns of Connecticut, and in Westfield and Huntington, Massachusetts. He married, March 13, 1783, Elizabeth, daughter of William Andrus.

(VII) Daniel, eldest child of Stephen and Elizabeth (Andrus) Munson, was born January 22, 1786, died at Huntington, October 7, 1859. His early schooling was in Southington and at Wolcott. At fourteen the family removed to Westfield, Massachusetts, where he attended academy two winters. He "farmed it" during summers, and after leaving the academy taught a winter school at Blanford, the next winter at Chesterfield, the next at Goff's Hill, and then at Falley's Roads. A sedentary life did not agree with him, and he gave up the idea of going to college, for which he had been preparing. He was a farmer all his days. He served as constable in Norwich and three terms as selectman. He is remembered as a person of elevated character and courtliness of manner. He was a Whig and Congregationalist. He married, January 18, 1810, Jerusha, born May 1, 1786, died March 10, 1852, daughter of Ebenezer Fowler, of Westfield, Massachusetts.

(VIII) Garry, eldest child of Daniel and Jerusha (Fowler) Munson, was born December 29, 1810, died June 5, 1882. After leaving the district school he attended Westfield (Massachusetts) Academy five terms and then engaged in teaching. In April, 1829, at the age of eighteen, he opened a store on Chester Hill in connection with his father, and this business continued eight years. On the day he was twenty-one he began making twist buttons, and the year following, the production of lasting buttons. In 1835 he was employing over two hundred persons. After a few years the introduction of machine-made buttons drove him out of the business. During the financial panic of 1837 he lost two-thirds of his property, and he removed to Springfield, where for two and a half years he was a partner with Galen Ames in the dry goods business. In 1840 he removed to Huntington, where he took possession of the farms at Norwich Bridge, which had been owned by his father and grandfather since 1807. He also opened a store which he operated for five years. He acquired a half interest in a lumber mill. In 1848 he built a store in the village, where he carried on business three and a half years until fire destroyed the building. For many years he was an extensive wool buyer. In 1870-71 he was a member of Delaney & Munson, with paper mills at Unionville, Connecticut. In 1872 he became a partner in the Massasoit Knitting Mills at Cohoes, New York. He devoted much of his time during his later years to the settlement of estates. He was trial justice in the Huntington district, and at the time of his death commissioner of insolvency, and president of the Cemetery Association and of Huntington Hall Association. Politically, he was a Whig and later a Republican. At the age of thirty-four he was elected to the legislature, and was repeatedly elected selectman. For twenty-five or thirty years he was almost continuously moderator of the town meetings. He was a member of the Congregational church and one of the founders of the Second Congregational church in Huntington. When it was destroyed by fire he gave more than any other toward replacing it. For twenty-five years he served as deacon. He was diligent in attendance upon public worship and in maintaining family worship. He keenly enjoyed family reunions, and for years he and three brothers had annual gatherings in their homes successively. After his children began to form homes of their own he established the custom of having them gather at the old homestead every alternate Thanksgiving. He had rare sagacity, rare judgment, rare power to execute, and a rare wealth of practical information. The judicial quality of his mind was noteworthy, and his proper function, had he been educated for it, was upon the bench. He was devoted to his family and gave his sons every encouragement, both in advice and practical help. He married, November 6, 1833, Harriet Lyman, born October 10, 1810, died August 18, 1860, daughter of Colonel and Deacon Samuel Lyman, of Chester, Massachusetts. She bore him seven children.

(IX) Samuel Lyman, fifth child of Deacon Garry and Harriet (Lyman) Munson, was born in Norwich, now Huntington, Massachusetts, June 14, 1844. His early education was acquired in the common school, and at the age of twelve he entered Williston Seminary, where he studied three years. He then entered a Boston dry goods store, where he remained two years. Impaired health brought him back to the farm, where a year of outdoor work restored him to vigor. After a course at the Bryant & Stratton Commercial School at Albany, New York, he became a traveling salesman for Wickes & Strong. Four years he remained with them, and then in 1867, in company with two other young men, established a factory for the manufacture of linen collars. Two years later he assumed sole control, steadily increasing his business until 1884, when he purchased the Hudson Avenue Methodist Church and converted it into a factory where he has since been engaged in the manufacture of linen and lace goods, employing about one thousand hands. In 1889 he built another factory at Cobleskill, New York, for the exclusive manufacture of shirts. As an organizer to plan and conduct a business Mr. Munson has few equals; from a very small beginning he has built up a business of large dimensions. While he has always given the closest attention to his business, other interests have attracted him. He has been trustee, secretary and vice-president of the Home Savings Bank of Albany, director of the National Exchange bank; trustee of the Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of its committee on manufactures. He is trustee of the Madison Avenue Reformed Church. His social clubs are the Fort Orange and County of Albany, and the Colonial, Arkwright, and Republican, of New York City. He is a life member of the New England Society of New York, and interested in the collection and preservation of family history and genealogy. He was a generous supporter of the "Munson Family History," and has his father's love of family and kindred. He is president of the Weekapaug Chapel Society, Weekapaug, Rhode Island; governor of the Albany Chapter of the Society of Founders and Patriots; regent of Philip Livingston Chapter, Sons of the Revolution, and a manager of the State Society. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity. He attained, by reason of long connection with the order, membership in the Masonic Veterans' Association, of Albany, of which he became president. He is an extensive traveler, and frequently delivers lectures on travel and other subjects. His large collection of books afford him one of his principal recreations, and with golf, his favorite pastime, fill the hours of leisure. In politics he is a Republican, that having been, almost without an exception, the family politics ever since the formation of the party. He was a presidential elector in 1901. He resides in Albany, where, in a beautiful home, his large library of well-selected books, indicates his breadth of mind, and wide range of thought.

He married, May 21, 1868, Susan Babcock Hopkins, born in Hudson, New York, June 29, 1844, daughter of Lemuel J. Hopkins. Children, all born in Albany, New York:

  1. Harriet Lyman, March 8, 1869; educated at Miss Mackie's school, Newburg, New York; married Robert H. Lyman, managing editor of the New York World, and has a daughter,
    1. Susan Elizabeth, born November 18, 1905.
  2. Anna Hopkins, died in infancy.
  3. Edward Garry, February 16, 1873, graduate of Norwalk Military Institute.
  4. Paul Babcock, November 5, 1875; graduate of Norwalk Military Institute, Phillips Andover Academy, and Yale University.
  5. Samuel L., May 3, 1878 graduate of Harvard, class of 1900, and of Harvard Law School, class of 1903.
  6. Amy Treadwell, February 1, 1881; graduated from Miss Runts-Rees' school, Greenwich, Connecticut; in 1908 made a trip around the world.
  7. Robert, October 27, 1888; preparing at Lawrenceville, New Jersey, for admission to Princeton University.

Edward G. Munson is managing a wadding plant in Cohoes, owned by Mr. Munson. The two next older sons are associated in business with their father in Albany.

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