The Mystery of Jonathan Batchelder, Chichester, New Hampshire
The Batchelder name is liberally sprinkled over New Hampshire. There are eight Batchelder/Bachellor families listed in the white pages for the Londonderry area. There are Batchelder Roads in towns from Hampton, to Strafford, to Raymond, to Nashua. The first Batchelder immigrant to the New World was the Reverend Stephen Batchelder, born in 1561, who was a founder of Hampton, New Hampshire.
There is a huge red genealogy book labeled “Batchelder Batcheller” available on the shelves of many libraries in the Granite State, as well as in genealogy libraries across the United States. It was written by Frederick Clifton Pierce in 1898, and has had many additions and updates.
It was in this old book that I found my ancestor Jonathan Batchelder, a farmer in Chichester, New Hampshire. Unfortunately, his profile in this book is very scanty. His wife is listed as “Nancy” with no maiden name. He was born “about 1800 in Hampton.” It states that he died in “C. age 46.” I took this to mean Chichester, but it could also be nearby Concord. Why did Jonathan receive such short shrift in a tome full of lengthy and wordy biographies on all the Batchelders descended from Rev. Stephen?
I searched the New Hampshire Vital Records in the files at Concord. I searched the internet and the shelves of the New England Genealogical Society in Boston. I posted queries on genealogical bulletin boards and websites for several years, and didn’t hear anything. Nearly ten years later, I received an interesting email from someone in Seattle.
The Washington State resident who had contacted me had bought a box of old books, and included in them was the account book of Jonathan Batchelder of Chichester, begun in 1831 and ending in the mid 1840s. Stuck inside were the adoption papers of his daughter Paulina, orphaned in 1847.
The finder of this book mailed it me at no charge, and he was just happy to send it to a descendant. I searched the book, but found no clues. The contents listed events such as “rocks and lumber” hauled, necessities bought at the general store, labor hired out for pennies. It was clearly the account of someone who was barely surviving, scraping out a living in rocky Chichester.
At this point I decided to think like a detective. If someone died in 1847, where would it be recorded? I decided to search the old New Hampshire newspapers of the time. What turned up was a very sad story.
New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette, March 11, 1847, page 4
"By virtue of a license from the Judge of Probate for the county of Merrimack, the subscriber as guardian of Jonathan Batchelder, of Chichester, in said county, who has been decreed an insane person, will sell at public auction on Wednesday, the 24th day of March next, at ten o'clock in the forenoon, all the right and interest the said Batchelder has in the homestead place on which he the said Batchelder has heretofore resided, containing about fifty five acres of first rate land, on which there is a good lot of timber and wood; the house large and two stories, and recently painted; the barn and shed not old. Said farm is within about two miles of Pittsfield Village, and on the main road from Pittsfield to Concord and Manchester, on which road Stages pass and repass every day. Also, about fifteen acres of pasture and wood land, lying about one half of a mile from said farm, adjoining and of David Brown and others. Terms of payment liberal. Sale on the premises.
D. M. Carpenter, Guardian”
Apparently Jonathan died soon after this notice was published. The Concord State Hospital for the Insane was new in 1847, and it will take a court order to gain permission to look at the records to see what Jonathan’s fate was. The new movement of providing care for the insane in the early 1800’s was considered humane and kind at the time, but would probably give us 21th century citizens goose pimples.
Nancy’s fate is unknown. She was only 40 years old at the time of her husband’s death, and perhaps she rejoined her family in Pittsfield. Without a maiden name, we will never know. Pauline married David C. Watson, a clothing dealer in Boston, and she had two sons who owned successful businesses in Boston. Jonathan’s other child, George, was emancipated by the courts at age 18 and married Abigail M. Locke in South Boston. Abigail was also from Chichester, and they are both buried there in the Leavitt Cemetery. George and Abigail are my great-great grandparents.
I still treasure Jonathan’s old account book. It reflects the life of many unrecorded, and barely recorded, citizens of the Granite State.
- Gen. 1. The Reverend Stephen Batchelder, b. abt 1561 in Wherwell, Hampshire, England and died about 31 Oct 1656 at "Robert Barber's home" in London, England, married to Ann Bate about 1586 in England. She was born about 1565 and died about 1623 in England. The Reverend Stephen Batchelder was married four times, going to Holland in 1608 with the Separatists, and on June 5, 1632 he arrived in New England aboard the ship "William and Frances" with some of his grandchildren. After living in Lynn, Yarmouth, Newbury and Hampston he returned to England.
- Gen. 2. Nathaniel Batchelder b. abt. 1590 in England d. abt. 1630 in the Netherlands m. to Hester Mercer of Belgium. Nathaniel was a merchant, and as far as we can tell he never came to America, but lived with the separatists in Holland (some of whom became the Pilgrims).
- Gen. 3. Nathaniel Batchelder b. abt 163o in England and d. 17 Jan 1709/10 in Hampton, married to Deborah Smith on 10 Dec 1656. She was born about 1645 at Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard and died 8 Mar 1675/6 at Hampton, daughter of John Smith and Deborah Parkhurst. Nathaniel was a farmer, selectman and constable.
- Gen. 4. Nathaniel Batchelder b. 24 Dec 1659 at Hampton d. abt 1745 at Hampton Falls, m. to Elizabeth Foss about 1685. She was born abt 1666 in Portsmouth, daughter of John Foss and Mary Berry. Nathaniel was a farmer and Deacon of the church.
- Gen. 5. Josiah Batchelder b. 1 Jul 1695 at Hampton, d. 9 Oct 1759 at Hampton m. on 31 Jan 1722/3 to Sarah Page. Josiah was a farmer and Deacon of the church.
- Gen. 6. David Batchelder b. 13 Jan 1735/36 at Hampton Falls, d. 11 Mar 1811 at Hampton Falls m. on 24 Jul 1760 at Hampton Falls to Elizabeth Swett. She was b. 29 May 1742 at Hampton Falls, d. 12 Aug 1769 daughter of Benjamin Swett and Elizabeth Norton. David was a farmer and Deacon of the church.
- Gen. 7. Elisha Batcheder b. 10 Jun 1763 in Hampton Falls, d. 11 Oct 1813 in Pittsfield, New Hampshire m. to Sarah Lane who was born on 24 Mar 1769 in Hampton Falls and d. 27 Feb 1819 in Pittsfield. Elisha was a farmer.
- Gen. 8. Jonathan Batchelder b. about 1800 at Hampton, NH and died before 4 Nov 1847 in Concord or Chichester, NH m. to Nancy Unknown b. about 1804 in Pittsfield, NH and died after 1847. Farmer residing in Chichester.
- Gen. 9. George E. Batchelder b. 13 Aug. 1822 in Chichester, New Hampshire d. 3 Apr 1848 in Chichester m. to Abigail M. Locke on 7 Sept. 1845 in South Boston, Massachusetts. She was born 10 Sept 1825 in South Boston, daughter of Richard Locke and Margaret Welsh, and she died on 15 Jan 1888 in Chichester, New Hampshire. Farmer residing in Chichester.
- Gen. 10. George E. Batchelder b. 8 Oct 1848 in Chichester, New Hampshire and d. 28 Jul 1914 in Cambridge, Massachusetts m. to Mary Katharine Emerson on 28 Oct 1869 in Chichester, NH. She was born on 25 DEec 1847 in South Boston, d. 23 Apr 1932 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, daughter of George Emerson and Mary Esther Younger. Mechanic and farmer in Chichester, worked as a porter in the railroads and in real estate in South Boston.
- Gen 11. Carrie Maude Batchelder b. 22 Sep 1872 in Chichester, NH and d. 21 Jan 1963 at the Sea View Convaescent and Nursing Home in Rowley, Massachusetts, m. to Joseph Elmer Allen on 1 Nov. 1892 in Essex, Massachusetts. He was born on 24 Sept 1870 in Essex, died 12 Mar 1932 at the Masonic Home in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, son of Joseph Gilman Allen and Sarah Burnham Mears. Joseph worked as a steam fitter with his brother's business in Boston and removed back to Essex to be a meat cutter and salesman for Gould's butcher shop in Essex. Carrie and Joseph were my great grandparents.
Copyright 2009, Heather Wilkinson Rojo