PLYMOUTH

Plymouth! Why put Plymouth in the main menu?

Although I have never lived in Plymouth, Massachusetts, it is the place that the Cotton Family has lived the longest- one hundred and twenty years (1668 to 1788) in my line and two hundred and fifty years (1620 to 1870) overall. As a result, the bones of forty-eight of relatives reside on Burial Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The Cotton family first appeared in Plymouth in 1668 when Rev. John Cotton Jr. was asked to head the Plymouth Church. Three subsequent generations in my line remained in Plymouth and include: 1) Josiah Cotton, son of Rev. John Cotton. 2) Colonel Theophilus Cotton, son of Josiah Cotton, and, 3) Lieutenant John Cotton, son of Col. Theophilus Cotton.

Because Plymouth was founded by passengers of the Mayflower, it is common for early Plymouth families to have intermarried. For the Cotton family, it took four generations for Lt. John Cotton to marry into a Mayflower line. After the War of the Revolution, Lt. John Cotton moved to the Ohio Territory along with his wife and his wife’s parents. Their story follows.

 The Last Will and Testament of Keziah Little

  • Barry A. Cotton
  • (Published in the Mayflower Quarterly Vol. 68 No. 1 March 2002 & edited October 2018)

After the Northwest Territory was ceded to the United States at the Treaty of Fort McIntosh in 1785, the Ohio Company purchased one million acres of land along the Ohio River and a number of families from New England migrated to Ohio in 1788 and 1789.  One of the first families to settle Ohio was Nathaniel Little, his wife Keziah Atwood/Adams, his daughter Lucy and Lucy’s husband Lieutenant John Cotton, who served with Nathaniel Little in the War of Revolution. The marriage of John Cotton and Lucy Little links two of the oldest and most distinguished families of Old Plymouth Colony.  Lucy Little is descended from Richard Warren, Mayflower passenger and signer of the Mayflower Compact.  And, Lieutenant John Cotton is descended from Rev. John Cotton, who fled England in 1633 to escape trial by Charles I for being puritan.

Opening up the Ohio River Valley had been the dream of George Washington ever since he first surveyed the area in 1770.  After the Revolutionary War, Washington’s aide-de-camp, General Rufus Putnam, helped realize this dream by founding the Ohio Company on March 1, 1786 at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston, Massachusetts.  Another Putnam, Colonel Israel Putnam Jr., joined Rufus Putnam in settling Ohio.  Rufus Putnam and Israel Putnam Jr. were related, as their grandfathers were half brothers.  During Washington’s presidency, Congress made Rufus Putnam the first Surveyor General of the United States and he is known as the Father of Ohio. Major General Israel Putnam Sr. was a hero at the Battle of Bunker Hill and the father of Colonel Israel Putnam Jr. whom Keziah Little named executor of her Will. Not only was Israel Putnam Jr. named executor of the Last Will and Testament of Keziah Little, he also is shown in the appraisement of Keziah’s estate as having signed a note with Keziah for $368.75 due on June 4, 1814.  Israel Putnam Jr. died just prior to the disposition of the Will of Keziah Little so the court named his son, Aaron Waldo Putnam, executor after a $500 bond was posted with Aaron’s brother David Putnam and Keziah’s grandson, Robert Bradford, who also owed Keziah $33.84 in a note due on June 4, 1814.

The ancestors of the Little, Cotton & Bradford lines (shown below) were all from Massachusetts and most had lived in Plymouth since the landing of the Mayflower in 1620.  Richard Warren, Mayflower passenger, was one of these and his daughter, Anna Warren, married Thomas Little in Plymouth on 19 April 1633 to establish the Little line in America.  The Cotton family of Old Plymouth Colony was established in 1668 when Rev. John Cotton Jr. became vicar of the Plymouth Church.  The Bradford Family descends from William Bradford, Mayflower passenger and Governor of Plymouth Colony.  Captain Robert Bradford married Lucy Little’s sister, Keziah Little.  As a result, the Bradford grandchildren (shown below) descend from two separate Mayflower lines. The Last Will and Testament of Keziah Little brings to light a branch of Mayflower descendants previously undocumented in the membership of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.  Included in this branch are at least five generations descending from the seventeen grandchildren named in Keziah Little’s Will.

  • Little:  (Welthy Little, Charles Little, Henry Little, Lewis Little, Nathaniel Little & George Little)
  • Cotton: (Theophilus Cotton, Lucy Cotton, Joshua Cotton & John Cotton)
  • Bradford: (Robert Bradford, Samuel Bradford & Otis Bradford)
  • Seall:  (Betsy Seall & Morris Seall)
  • Nashe:  (George Nashe)
  • Dier:  ( Sally Dier)

The three witnesses to the signing of the Last Will and Testament of Keziah Little also originated from New England and were among the first families to settle Ohio. Colonel Ebenezer Battelle graduated from Harvard College in 1775 and fought as a Colonel in the Massachusetts Militia during the Revolutionary War.  After the war, Colonel Battelle joined the Ohio Company and migrated to Ohio with his son, Ebenezer Battellle Jr. in 1788.  Luther Dana was the son of William Dana who had been an artillery captain during the Revolutionary War and both father and son migrated to Ohio in 1788.  Philip Greene of Warwick, Rhode Island settled in Belpre, Ohio in 1796 with his parents and nine brothers & sisters.

The Last Will and Testament of Keziah Little documents the intermarriage of these two families as Lucy Cotton is named Keziah Little’s daughter and the children of Lucy Cotton (Theophilus, Lucy, Joshua and John Cotton) are named Keziah Little’s grandchildren.  The following is a transcription of Keziah Little’s Last Will and Testament  that is located in the records of the Washington County Courthouse in Marietta, Ohio.

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In the Name of God, Amen, I Keziah Little of Belpre in the County of Washington and State of Ohio being in health of body and of a sound disposing mind and memory (for which I bless God) Do make and Ordain this as my last Will and Testament (to wit)  1st that my debts and Funeral charges be paid,  2ndly I give and bequeath to my three daughters Lydia Crain, Christian Tisdall and Lucy Cotton one dollar each  3. My Will is that the remainder of my estate or such Worldly good things as it hath pleased God to commit to my trust be divided equally to my grand children namely Theophilus Cotton, Lucy Cotton, Joshua Cotton, John Cotton, Welthy Little, Charles Little, Henry Little, Lewis Little, Nathaniel Little, George Little, Robert Bradford, Samuel Bradford, Otis Bradford, George Nashe, Betsy Seall, Morris Seall and Sally Dier.   And I do hereby Ordain constitute and appoint Col. Israel Putnam of Belpre aforesaid as executor to this my last Will and Testament, In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this third day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand and eight hundred and eleven, Done and executed in presents of these Witnesses who saw me sign as testator and each other as witnesses.

Ebenr Battelle Jr.       Keziah Little  {SEAL}

Luther Dana

Philip Greene

State of Ohio        In Court of Common Pleas

Washington County Js:       April Term:  Anno Domini 1814

This last Will and Testament of Keziah Little deceased was presented in Court and proved by the Oaths of Ebenezer Battelle junior and Philip Greene subscribing witnesses to the same and Ordered to be recorded, And the executor named in the said Will being dead.  On the motion of Aaron Waldo Putnam Ordered that letters of Administration with the said Will annexed be granted him on the estate of the said Keziah Little deceased he having taken the oath required by law and entered into Bond in the penalty of five hundred dollars with Robert Bradford & David Putnam his Securities Conditioned as the law directs.  The Court also appointed Nathaniel Cushing, Daniel Goodno and Daniel Loring to appraise the said deceased’s estate agreeably to law.

(Examined)        Attest-   Lewis Barber, Clerk

The following is a transcription of the record of Keziah Little’s estate appraisement from the records of the Washington County Courthouse in Marietta, Ohio.

An Inventory of the personal property of Keziah Little late of Belpre in the County of Washington deceased shown to us by A. W. Putnam, Administrator on said date (Viz):

  • One note hand signed by Israel Putnam balance due on said Note 4th June 1814 Three Hundred Sixty-Eight dollars and seventy five cents appraised at  $368.75
  • One note signed by Luther Dana bearing date Sept. 3, 1811 for Sixty-Three dollars.  Interest to 4th June 1814:  $10.55 appraised at $73.55
  • One Note hand signed by Robert Bradford balance due on 4th June 1814 Thirty-Three dollars eighty four cents appraised at $33.84
  • Appraisal of property of the deceased taken at Austin, County of Trumbull exhibited to the Administrator amount Thirty-Five dollars seventy-three cents  $35.73

Belpre, June 4th 1814 $511.87

Personally appeared before me one of the Justices of the Peace for said County, Daniel Goodno and Daniel Loving who swore the above Inventory was taken according to the best of their knowledge.

     Belpre, Oct. 10th 1815

              Cyrus Ames

State of Ohio In Court of Common Pleas

Washington County Js}   November Term Anno Domini 1815

This Inventory and Appraisement of the Estate of Keziah Little deceased being returned is ordered to be recorded examined.  Attest:  Lewis Barber Clk

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SELECTED SOURCES:

  1. Hildreth, S. P. (1854). Memoirs of the Early Pioneer Settlers of Ohio. Baltimore, MD 1995 Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Company.
  2. Little, K. (1811) Transcribed Record of Last Will & Testament of  Keziah Little, 3 Sept. 1811 Marietta, Ohio, Washington County Court House. Public Records Volume I.
  3. Little, K. (1814). Transcribed Record of Keziah Little’s Appraisement, 4 June. 1814.
  4. Marietta, Ohio, Washington County Court House. Public Records Volume I.
  5. Wakefield (1999). Mayflower Families Through Five Generations: Family of Richard Warren. Volume 18, Parts 1 & 2, Plymouth, MA, General Society of Mayflower Descendants.
  6. Walker, C. M. (1869). History of Athens County Ohio. Bowie, MD, 1996 Reprinted by Heritage Books.

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Kezia Atwood (aka Wood) married Francis Adams in Plymouth on April 4 1737 when she was 16 years old.  Francis Adams was a sea captain and died in Jamacia in 1752 when Keziah was 25 years old.  She had the following children with Francis Adams:  Francis (1), Samuel (1), Samuel (2), Lydia, Keziah and Francis (2).