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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Stearns

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[This information is from Vol. I, pp. 303-306 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 Stearns family of America are descended from the Sternes of England, an ancient and honorably family of that kingdom. In Winthrop's Journal the name is written Sterne, as it is in the early town and county records of New England. Very few branches of the family in the United States retain the original spelling, the usual form being Stearns, although in the south Sterns and Staines are occasionally met with. The family in England bore arms which show some variation. The form generally used is that of the Archbishop of York. Or, a chevron between three crosses flory sable. Crest, a cock starting proper. The mantling is ornamental and a ribbon below is without motto.

(I) Isaac Stearns and Mary his wife with two daughters, Mary and Ann, came to America on the ship "Arabella" sailing from Nayland, England, April 12, 1630. Among the passengers on the same ship were Governor Winthrop, Sir Richard Saltonstall and Edward Garfield, emigrant ancestor of President James A. Garfield. Isaac Stearns was made a freeman in 1631. He settled in Watertown,Massachusetts, where he was selectman for several years. He died June 19, 1671. Mary, his wife, died April 2, 1677. Children:

  1. Mary, married Isaac Learned.
  2. Ann (Hannah), married ———— Freeman.
  3. John (lieutenant), married (first) Sarah Mixer; (second) Mary Lathrop.
  4. Isaac, married Sarah Beers.
  5. Sarah, married Deacon Samuel Stone.
  6. Samuel, see forward.
  7. Elizabeth, married Deacon Samuel Manning.
  8. Abigail, married Deacon John Morse.

(II) Corporal Samuel Stearns, son of Isaac and Mary Stearns, was born April 24, 1638, and was a resident of Waltham, Massachusetts. His homestead in that town, descended to his son John, then to grandson Josiah, then to a great-grandson, Captain Phineas, and has since been owned by descendants. He married, February 1, 1662-63, Hannah, born June 21, 1642, eldest daughter of William (2) and Dorothy Manning, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and granddaughter of William (1) Manning, the founder of the Manning family in America. Children:

  1. Samuel, born 1664, died in childhood.
  2. Hannah, married (first) Thomas Biscoe; (second) Samuel, son of Major-General Gookin.
  3. Nathaniel, see forward.
  4. Sarah, married Joseph Winship, son of Lieutenant Edward Winship.
  5. Samuel, was assessor, town clerk, selectman and deputy eight terms.
  6. Isaac, married Mary Bemis.
  7. John, had the homestead farm; married Abigail Fiske.
  8. Mary, married Samuel Jennison.
  9. Abigail, married Benoni Garfield.
  10. Joseph, born December 11, 1682, died in childhood.

(III) Nathaniel, son of Corporal Samuel and Hannah (Manning) Stearns, was born in Watertown, Massachusetts, December 13, 1668, died August 24, 1716. In the partition of his father's estate, he received the farm which had been the homestead of his grandfather, Isaac Stearns. The homestead was the home of four generations of his descendants bearing the name Stearns and for two generations of more remote descendants. In 1716 he was selectman of Watertown. He married (first) 1694, Elizabeth, born December 4, 1671, died June 16, 1712, daughter of John and Elizabeth (Bernard) Dix. He married (second) October 29, 1713, Sarah, born July 22, 1672, daughter of John Nevison. She survived him and married (second) Samuel Livermore. Children, all by first wife:

  1. Nathaniel, died in infancy.
  2. Nathaniel (2), born January 18, 1696, died 1749.
  3. Elizabeth, September 26, 1697, married (first) Jonathan Shattuck; (second) Daniel Bond.
  4. Hannah, 1699, died 1716.
  5. Daniel, March 1, 1701, died 1747; he served in the revolutionary war, and was with General Wayne; he married (first) Anna ————; (second) Mercy Grant, and had ten children.
  6. Lydia, married Nehum Ward, of Boston.
  7. Isaac, married Mehitable ————.
  8. David, died in infancy.
  9. Ebenezer, see forward.
  10. Mercy, twin to Ebenezer.
  11. Deborah, married ———— Salisbury.
  12. Phebe, married Josiah Greenwood.

(IV) Ebenezer, son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth (Dix) Stearns, was born in Watertown, Massachusetts, April 22, 1708, died in Worcester, Massachusetts, September, 1777, by being thrown from a horse. He was a clothier of Worcester, and was in business until his death. He married, April 12, 1737, Mary Spring, of Newton, who survived him, dying October, 1798, aged eighty-eight years. Children:

  1. Mary, born June 24, 1739.
  2. Ephraim, January 10, 1740, died 1808.
  3. Ebenezer, October 3, 1741, died 1823.
  4. Nathaniel, October 26, 1743.
  5. Simeon, June 10o, 1745, a soldier in the revolution in 1777.
  6. Joanna, April 7, 1747.
  7. Betty, May, 1750.
  8. Lucretia, July 7, 1752.
  9. William, see forward.

(V) Captain William Stearns, youngest child of Ebenezer and Mary (Spring) Stearns, was born August 5, 1754, died February 13, 1834. He was a captain in the revolutionary army, and his discharge, together with some of the continental money he received for his service, has been preserved in the family. At one time he was sheriff of Worcester county, Massachusetts. He married, September 16, 1775, Joanna Duncan, born February 8, 1757, died at Jamestown, Chautauqua county, New York, August 13, 1834. Children:

  1. Franklin, born April 9, 1777, died 1849-50.
  2. Betty, died in infancy.
  3. Betty (2), married, January 25, 1800, William Gates.
  4. Joanna, married, May 17, 1805, Joel Gates.
  5. William Jr., married Hannah Benham.
  6. Lydia, married, 1803, Joseph Garfield, an officer of the war of 1812.
  7. Jonah D., died in childhood.
  8. Colonel Simeon, born June 28, 1788; married (first) Irene Newcome; (second) Susan Hodges.
  9. A child born and died March 19, 1790.
  10. Ebenezer, born March 13, 1791, served as drum major in war of 1812, and spent most of his life at Hoosick, New York; he married Melinda Bigelow Harris.
  11. Dolly, married Dudley Beebee and settled in Kankakee, Illinois.
  12. Eleanor, married Lyman Tombs, and settled in North Bennington, Vermont.
  13. Emory, married Maria De La Mater.
  14. Mary, see forward.
  15. Joseph H., married (second) Anice Stowell.

(VI) Mary, daughter and fourteenth child of Captain William and Joanna (Duncan) Stearns, born December 12, 1798, died at Hoosick, June 20, 1875. She married, January 22, 1826, Ebenezer H. Harris, who died April 3, 1837 (see Harris I).

(The Harris Line)

Ebenezer H. Harris, grandfather of Mary S. (Harris) Sheldon and Eva A. (Harris) (Sheldon) Durkee, died April 3, 1837. He married Mary, daughter of Captain William Stearns. They lived in Hoosick, New York. Children:

  1. Joseph, see forward.
  2. William H., born October 1, 1828.
  3. Ebenezer Stearns, September 4, 1834, died December 4, 1880; married Elizabeth Rudd.
  4. Mary P., December 16, 1835, died February 5, 1837.

(II) Joseph, eldest son of Ebenezer H, and Mary (Stearns) Harris, was born November 9, 1826, died September 6, 1908, at Smith's Basin, town of Kingsbury, Washington county, New York. In his youth he lived with his uncle, Ober Harris, a farmer of Hartford, remaining with him several years, receiving as wages eleven dollars per month. Husbanding his resources, he was after a few years able to make a purchase of fifty acres of tillable land at Smith's Basin, upon which his residence later was built. He was energetic and capable, holding fast to his original purchase and soon adding another fifty acres. With great courage and industry he prosecuted his business, and later added one hundred acres to his previous purchases. This gave him a fine farm of two hundred acres, which he ran as a dairy farm and prospered. Later he added fifty acres in the "Swamp," which was very productive. The state has recently taken nine acres of this tract for barge canal requirements. In addition to these farming operations, he was engaged in lumbering for ten or twelve years, furnishing wood, ties and lumber to the Rensselaer & Saratoga railroad, and to the Delaware & Hudson. He was a Republican in politics, and held several appointments under the state government. He was superintendent of section three of the Champlain canal for three years, and inspector of new construction at Dannemora prison. He received these appointments after successfully passing a civil service examination, he then being past seventy-five years of age. He was a man of high character and strict integrity. He was one of the oldest members of the Masonic order in the county, his name standing second on the list of members of Sandy Hill Lodge. He maintained an active interest and membership until his death. He married, September 14, 1848, Elmira N., daughter of John Lowell and Hannah (Butterfield) Harris (although bearing the same name, no relationship existed) (see Harris VII). Children:

  1. Mary S., born October 31, 1854, married Franklin Sheldon.
  2. Eva A., born September 26, 1860, married (first) George W. Sheldon; both Franklin and George W. were sons of Henry and Selina (Cook) Sheldon, and grandsons of Gideon and Lydia (Leake) Sheldon, of Copake, Columbia county, New York, who were married in 1812. Henry, son of Gideon and Lydia Sheldon, married, June 2, 1836, Selina, daughter of Lott and Cornelia (Manchester) Cook and granddaughter of Solomon Cook. Children:
    1. Eveline, born November 4, 1837;
    2. Collins, July 26, 1839;
    3. Wilson, August 26, 1841;
    4. Allen, December 12, 1842;
    5. Miranda, March 3, 1845;
    6. Otis, December 13, 1847;
    7. Franklin, see forward;
    8. George W., see forward;

Eva A. married (second) William J. Durkee.

  1. Irving W., born January 14, 1867; died February 26, 1867.
  2. Alice E., born February 13, 1872, died June 28, 1872.

Franklin, son of Henry and Selina (Cook) Sheldon, was born at Copake, Columbia county, New York, May 13, 1849. He was educated in the public schools of Copake and finished at Fort Edward Collegiate Institute, where he was graduated. He taught school for a few years, and was for a time principal of a school in Connecticut. He later turned to the soil, and purchased a farm which he cultivated in connection with his extensive business in fertilizers. He was largely interested in live stock as a trader: and breeder. He was a clear-headed, energetic man of business, and successful in his various enterprises. He became one of the substantial men of the town and bore a name unsullied by any form of deceit. He was frank and engaging in manner, and had a wide circle of warm friends. He entered heartily into public life and affairs. He was justice of the peace for several years, and at the time of his death was deputy-sheriff of the county. He frequently served as a grand juror, and was a member of several local societies. His practical common sense that made him a successful business man also made him a useful public official. He was a member of Fort Ann Grange, Patrons of Husbandry. His death was caused by a stroke of paralysis, May 5, 1910. He married, October 9, 1873, Mary S., daughter of Joseph and Elmira N. (Harris) Harris, who survives him, a resident of Fort Ann, New York. Child, Frances E., born November 3, 1874, married, October 3, 1900, Michael J., son of John J. and Catherine Linehan, born April 14, 1874; children:

  1. Franklin John, born November 3, 1901;
  2. Joseph A., August 14, 1903;
  3. John M., April 29, 1905, died October 4, 1906;
  4. Nora Teresa, July 23, 1906;
  5. Mary Cecelia, June 22, 1907.

George W., youngest son of Henry and Selina (Cook) Sheldon, was born at Copake, Columbia county, New York, October 1, 1851, died June 28, 1899. He married, January 9, 1884, Eva A., daughter of Joseph and Elmira N. (Harris) Harris, who bore him a son, Joseph Harris Sheldon, born October 12, 1884. Mrs. Sheldon married (second) June 20, 1901, William J. Durkee, born January 26, 1859, son of William E. and Maria (Williams) Durkee. He was connected with the Pullman car service for nineteen years, when he located in Kingsbury, and purchased a farm of over two hundred acres, which he operates.

Elmira N. (Harris) Harris descends from another and distinct Harris family, one that was planted in New England at Boston about the middle of the seventeenth century.

(I) Robert Harris, an early settler of Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he had children born, was later of Boston. He lived in that part called Muddy River, now Brookline, about 1655. He married, January 24, 1642, Elizabeth Boughey or Boffee. Children: John; Eliza; both baptized August 8, 1647, when the family joined Rev. Elliot's church; Timothy; Daniel, of further mention; Priscilla, baptized October 9, 1653. About 1655 he built his home in Brookline on land that remained in possession of one branch of his descendants and was occupied by them until 1828. Robert and wife were married in Roxbury about thirteen years previous to their settlement in Brookline.

(II) Daniel, son of Robert and Elizabeth (Boughey) Harris, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, May 14, 1652, and later was of Muddy River (Brookline). He joined the Roxbury church, April 13, 1689. He was elected constable of Muddy River, March 14, 1692-93. He died December 15, 1733. He married Joanna Brown. Children: Daniel, Priscilla, Joanna, Nathaniel, of further mention, Elizabeth, Timothy, Sarah, Robert, Mehitabel, Daniel (2), Benjamin.

(III) Nathaniel, son of Daniel and Joanna (Brown) Harris, was born May 2, 1692. He was a clothier by trade and settled first in Needham, where he was located at the time of his marriage; soon after he removed to Watertown, Massachusetts, where he was selectman eleven years, 1735-46; he was representative from Watertown, 1735-36-37 and justice of the peace. He held a license as retail dealer, 1740-49. He married, January 30, 1717-18, Hannah Fulham. He died May 14, 1761. After the decease of his widow an order was issued, July 10, 1778, to divide his estate "to be divided into nine shares, his eldest son, Thomas, to have two shares." Children: Thomas, of further mention; Sarah, Priscilla, Nathaniel, Priscilla (2), Benjamin, Hannah, Stephen, Francis. Hannah (Fulham) Harris was a daughter of Major Francis Fulham, justice of the peace of Watertown Farm (Weston), who married (first) Sarah Livermore, born February 18, 1671-72, died March 10, 1723-24, daughter of Lieutenant John and Hannah Livermore, and granddaughter of John Livermore, the emigrant ancestor of all the Livermores of early New England. He married (second) October 1, 1724, Mary, daughter of Samuel Jones.

(IV) Thomas, son of Nathaniel and Hannah (Fulham) Harris, was born at Needham, Massachusetts, baptized October 10, 1725. He married (second) in Watertown, August 22, 1745, Lucy Pierce, born March 6, 1722, daughter of Samuel and Rebecca (Converse) Pierce, granddaughter of Benjamin, son of Anthony, son of John Pierce, a weaver of Watertown, 1637. Thomas and Lucy Harris had four sons, who served in the revolution.

(V) Josiah, son of Thomas and Lucy (Pierce) Harris, married and had issue.

(VI) John Lowell, son of Josiah Harris, married Hannah Butterfield and had issue. He served in the war of 1812, but the New York state records give no particulars concerning those who served in the war except the "awards to soldiers and sailors." In this list there is a John Harris, whose residence at time of making application was Binghamton, New York.

(VII) Elmira N., daughter of John Lowell and Hannah (Butterfield) Harris, married, September 14, 1848, Joseph Harris (see Harris II).

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