IMMIGRATION & NATURALIZATION
MAPS & LAND RECORDS
WILKINS FAMILY HISTORY
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by Ira Benham
I have always been interested in family
history. When I was a youngster I enjoyed listening to my father's
reminiscences of people and events of early Hubbard and of his childhood
in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. I heard them often and I thought
they werethings I would never forget; however, with making a living and
the passing of time much has been forgotten.
My mother was not as inclined to talk of
earlier events but she remembered much and I have found that her
memories were very accurate. She gave me information about her father,
Warren, her grandfather, Nathaniel, and her great grandfather, Darius.
Most of this has been verified by later research.
It was she who brought to my attention one of
the Reader's Digest book length articles about the Salem Witchcraft
Delusions. Especially of interest was the part involving a Wilkins
Family; particularily the account of a stern old puritan, Bray Wilkins,
and his belief that a grandson, John Willard had bewitched him and
caused him severe illness and great pain, and that earlier Willard had
bewitched another grandson to death. In spite of Willard's appeal for
help, Bray would not and did not lift a finger to save him from the
We speculated as to whether we were
descendants of that Wilkins Family. Mother was doubtful, her father was
born in the Potsdam, New York area and as far as she knew his family had
lived there for some time.
research showed that we are indeed descendants of that same Bray
Wilkins! Three different ways!
sister, Laura, cared for her mother in her last years. The winter before
Grandma died they lived in Park Rapids, I boarded with them while I went
to school. I often heard Grandma telling Aunt Laura about life and
relatives in Ireland. Aunt Laura knew more about the Lawn Family than
did any of the other children. I have never ceased to regret that I did
not pay attention to her accounts.
A letter from Norma
Benham Carle inquiring about Benhams and Benham relationships did much
to start my intrest in genealogy. Then I read an account of the black
man, Alex Haley, and his efforts to trace his ancestry back into Africa.
The story of his succes, at what was seemingly an impossible task,
sparked thousands of white Americans, including me, into genealogy.
I made a trip back East. I visited the
Eastern Townships of Quebec and several State Historical Society
Libraries. My findings were not great but I did learn things about both
sides of my ancestry. The most important discovery was a book, "The
Family of Bray Wilkins of Salem, Massachusetts.", by William Carroll
There were many named Wilkins in the Windsor County, Reading, Vermont
area. Indications are that they were all related, the ancestry of many
can be traced by document to Bray Wilkins. however I have yet to find a
written record to prove #477, Darius and the Darius of Reading, Warren's
grandfather were the same person, but there is considerable reason to
believe they were.
Records and Reading Township Records list Darius Wilkins as the father
of the following children:
1. Semor Wilkins, born, Feb.29,1796. mother,
Nathaniel Wilkins, born, Apr.19,1798. mother, Salla.
3. Lois Wilkins,
born, Jun.24,1800. mother, Sally.
There are records of
another younger Darius who married Abiah Hummet, September 25, 1820.
They had two children born in Reading; Benjamin Seymoure Wilkins, b.
Jul.9,1821 and Cynthia Maria Wilkins, b. Mar.23,1823.
I could find no record of his birth or
parentage but he seemed to be a part of that family. He was probably an
older brother. He may have been born before Darius and Salla came to
I have made a great effort to learn more
about Salla or Sally Wilkins. Sally and Salla are pet names for Sarah,
which was probably her first name. No search has disclosed any thing
about her other than the register of these three children in the Reading
Records show that
Nathaniel Wilkins and Philinda Grandy were married Nov.23,1820, also
that Philinda had a sister Lucinda who married William Wikkins,
Dec.23,1823. Several of their children moved to Iowa. What blood
relation William may have been to Nathaniel I have never found. His
descent from Bray Wilkins is shown in "The Family Of Bray Wilkins".
In the eighteen thirties many people left
Reading for St Lawrence County, New York including both Wilkins and
Grandy families. I do not know when Nathaniel and Philinda moved but
Warren was born there, 15, Jan.1838. The 1840 census lists Nathaniel
Wilkins as the head of a household in Stockolm Township with 1 male
under 5, 3 males 5-10, 1 male 10-15, 1 male 49-50, 1 female 15-20 and 1
female 30-40. I do not know if the 1 female 15-20 was a member of the
family or only someone staying with them when the census was taken I
have never heard of any girls in the family. They must have moved soon
after that to Green Lake County, Wisconsin. I do not know how long they
remained there but in 1860 they were living in Eau Claire County,
Brunswick Township, Wisconsin. Warren was the only one of the children
with them. Ely was married and living in the same township with a family
of seven children. His twin brother, Levi was also married with three
children and living in adjoining Half Moon Township.
Much of the information of the Grandy Family
is from the book Robert Grandy of Boston and Roxbury", by Phyllis
Richards Kyle, Lakeland, Ohio. Mrs. Kyle is a great great granddaughter
of Philinda's Aunt Bethia Grandy, a sister of Philinda's father, Samuel
Grandy, who married Azubah Bishop.
The main sources of information on the Bishop
line came from "The Bishop Families in America", by Ira Ellmore Bishop
and "Families of Ancient New Haven", by Donald Lines Jacobus.
One of the main sources of the authors
mentioned is the records of The New England Historic Genealogical
Society. It is also one which I have used myself.
William Carrol Hill, author of "The Family of
Bray Wilkins", was of the tenth generation from Bray and Hannah. He was
an editor and publisher and in 1943, the time of the publication of the
book, was the editor of The New England Historical & Genealogical
The book is not well documented and I have
found some errors. It has nevertheless been of great help and can
usually be checked from other sources. I do not know of any place that
has it for sale but it is in most large genealogical libraries including
the Minnesota Historical Society Library.