Obadiah Taylor I was born in 1762 on a large farm at Deerfield, Mass., to Rachelle Sawtelle and Adonijah Taylor. The house where he was born is still standing and the farm is now a park called Whately Glen Farm.
When he was 18, he enlisted in the Continental Army, with five older brothers and his father, who was one of the "Minute Men" of 1775, and later was an officer in command of Lake George Landing. Obadiah's war record was from 1780 to 1781.
In 1790, Obadiah Taylor married Abigail Williams of Deerfield. Abigail was a descendant of Dr. Thomas Williams, Robert Williams, Major Elijah Williams, whose father, Rev. John Williams was captured by the Indians.
Obadiah moved to Rensselaer Co., New York, soon after his marriage. His eleven children were born here: Obadiah II, Adonijah, Horace, Leander, Seymour, Dorothy (Lilly), Betsy (Edgerton), Almira (Palmer), Miranda (Stillson), Rhoda (Gifford) and Rachel (Hurlbert).
Later the family moved to Erie County, Pennsylvania. Here Obadiah's wife, Abigail, died in 1830.
In 1832, Obadiah, and several of his sons and sons-in-law made a trip to Lake County, Indiana. Liking the new place very much, they returned for their belongings, and in 1836, they settled on the east side of Cedar Lake. Those coming with him were Dr. Calvin Lilly, Horace Edgerton, Adonijah and Horace Taylor and their families. Other relatives followed and the Taylor settlement made up the east side of the lake and then moved on south.
Obadiah made his home by turns with each of his sons and daughters. The Adonijah Taylor house and mill was located where later was Binyon's hotel. Horace Taylor's house was near Cedar Point. The Dr. Lilly tavern and store was on the northeast bank of Cedar Lake. The settlement was soon called West Point.
In 1843*, Obadiah Taylor died and was buried in the old West Point cemetery, located on the hill, just a few yards south of the Kennedy hotel.
A trustee of Center township sold this cemetery to Mr. Kennedy, and the grave stones were destroyed. Obadiah Taylor I is the only known Revolutionary soldier buried in Lake County.
His descendants have organized an Obadiah Taylor Descendants and Historical Association here in Lake County, in his memory. Cards are sent to 500 families who are eligible to attend the meetings.
The Lowell Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution has been named the Obadiah Taylor Chapter. They have placed a huge boulder and marker at the place several rods directly south of Obadiah's grave. On Memorial Day, the Cedar Lake American Legion hold their memorial service here.
Mr. Schmal notes that this is the area of old Colemans Corner, where the Crown Point road meets Morse street. He further explains: "Much later the few pioneer remains were removed (even the hill and the hotel are gone, new buildings are being built) to a site south of the McArthur School at Cedar Lake on what I think was also the Taylor family farm land and near the old Taylor ice house. A new marker is there as well as a speaker's stand."
This is how he was listed by Miss Vinnedge -- "Taylor, Obadiah(1) ; 1762-1839
Other graves listed from the original West Point:
Another name is written by hand on the record: Franklin Edgerton, son of Horace and Betsy Taylor Edgerton, died 1842
The information in this essay is based on current research from published sources that are in the public domain and not copywrited. There may be errors that others will correct in the future. Readers are free to pass on or publish this information.
The parents and ancestors of Obadiah Taylor
His parents are well known. They were Lieutenant Adonijah Taylor and Rachel Sawtell (or Sartwell). There are conflicting records regarding the birth of Adonijah Taylor. Our family records indicate that he was born in 1730 at Indian Hill in Deerfield, Mass. However, the more accurate record is the Leicester, Mass. Town Records (1720-1745) which state that "Adonijah Taylor son to Edmund and Elizabeth Taylor was born the first day of September 1729". He had four brothers named Samuel, Edmund, Bartholomew and James. There is one published report that he died in 1810 from smallpox. The current DAR records state that he passed away June 3, 1814 at age 84 and this should be regarded as the best authority for his date of death. He is recorded in George Sheldon's History of Deerfield as purchasing 200 acres at Indian Hills, Deerfield, Mass. in 1760 where he set up a sawmill and gristmill along Roaring Brook. This land later became known as Silas Sanderson's Mill and was set off to the town of Whately in 1810. In 1772, he was documented (History of the Town of Whately, Mass) as sawing four thousand feet of pine boards for a new meeting-house for the Church at Whately. His Revolutionary War service was documented in the authoritative Massachusetts Revolutionary War Soldiers and Sailors (Vol.XV, p. 415) as well as in History of the Connecticut Valley. He was one of the famous "Minute Men" of the Revolutionary War period. As a Private, he was a member of Capt. James Locke's Co., Col. William's Regiment, and he responded with his Company to the Lexington Alarm on April 19, 1775 and served for 14 days during that crisis. We do not know if he was actually in battle against the British troops at that time. He was commissioned a Lieutenant in the 5th Hampshire County Regiment of Massachusetts Militia. He was a First Lieutenant at Camp Ticonderoga in 1777. He was an officer in charge of the block house at Lake George Landing. He is recognized by the DAR and SAR as a Patriot for his Military Service. Many men and women have used his history in joining those patriotic organizations. He was counted in the first census of the United States in 1790 at Williamsburgh, Hampshire County, Mass. He and his wife Rachel later moved to Hawley, Mass. where he is presumed to have died.
As stated before, the father of Adonijah Taylor was Edmund Taylor. His mother was Elizabeth with surname unknown. Edmund Taylor lived from 19 May 1692 to 1746. He was born at Cambridge, Middlesex Co., Mass. and lived at Leicester, Mass. and later at Hampshire County, Mass.
The Taylor family line continues back with Samuel Taylor who was born 21 June 1656 in Concord, Middlesex Co., Mass. and passed away January 1740/41 at Pomfret, Windham County, CT. He was married 9 December 1685 to Mary Robbins who was born 1, September 1667, probably at Concord. They are known to have lived in Concord, Cambridge and Woodstock.
Finally, the parents of Samuel Taylor were James Taylor and Esabel/Elizabeth Tompkins. James Taylor was born about 1615 in England and passed away 22 January 1688/89 in Marlborough, Middlesex County, Mass. at age 73. He is known to have come to Concord, Mass by 1641and marrying Elizabeth Tompkins on 19 October 1641 in Concord. Her father was named John Tompkins.
We return now to Rachel, the mother of Obadiah Taylor. Her family name is spelled mainly as Sawtell but sometimes as Sartwell. She was born in 1730 and passed away in 1802 at age 72. She was named for her mother. She was married about 1750 to Adonijah Taylor and they raised a family of eleven children who are documented in Sheldon's History of Deerfield.
The Sawtell genealogy is well documented in several publications and can be read on-line by searching this surname.
The parents of Rachel Sawtell were Obadiah Sawtell Jr. and Rachel Parker. Obadiah Sawtell Jr. was born in Groton, Mass. in 1701. He was an early settler of a military outpost named Fort No. 4, which later became Charlestown, New Hampshire. He was included in the Proprietor Book of 1743 of Charleston as No 4. Obadiah Sawtell Jr. was captured by the Indians on 24 May 1746 and taken to Canada. He was ransomed and returned in the late summer of 1747. He served in the local Militia under Captain Stevens. On 17 June 1749, he was plowing in his corn field with young Enos Stevens who was age 9 or 10. Enos was riding a horse and Obadiah was behind the plow. Even though it was peacetime, there was a raid by a small party of Indians and Obadiah was killed. Young Enos Stevens was carried off to Canada. Obadiah had been married to Rachel Parker in 1721 and was age 48 at the time of his death.
The log house owned by Obadiah and Rachel Sawtell still stands at Charlestown and can be seen on the Internet by keying in www.fortat4.com'sartwell-house.
The parents of Rachel Parker were Samuel Parker and Abigail Lakin.
The parents of Obadiah Sawtell Jr. were Obadiah Sawtell Sr. and Hannah Lawrence. Obadiah Sawtell Sr. was born in Watertown, Mass. in 1648 and passed away in Groton, Mass. on 20 March 1740 at age 92. He was an early settler of Groton. His tombstone still exists in the Old Burial Grounds at Groton and reads "Here Lies the Body of Mr. Obadiah Sawtell Who Departed This Life March The 20th A D 1740 in ye 92 Year of his Age". There is a "Death's Head" carved over the inscription -- presumably to ward away any evil spirits from his grave.
Hannah Lawrence was born 24 March 1661/62 in Watertown, Middlesex, Mass. Her place and date of death are not known to us. Her parents were George Lawrence and Elizabeth Crispe. Her grandparent pairs were John (or Joseph) Lawrence and Elizabeth Cooke as well as Benjamin and Bridget Crispe. Both sets of grandparents were born in England and came to the Colonies in the early 1630's.
And now we come to the completion of the Sawtell family line. The parents of Obadiah Sawtell Sr. were Richard Sawtell and Elizabeth Pople. The life of Richard Sawtell is well documented as he was a prominent early Colonial settler. He was born at High Dam, Sommersetshire, England about 1611 and passed away in Watertown, Mass. on 2 August 1694 at age 83. He emigrated to America in the 1630's and was a Proprietor of Watertown, Mass. by 1637. He was married to Elizabeth Pople in England before they came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. All of their children were born in Watertown. In about 1662, they relocated to the new town of Groton, Mass. where he was a Proprietor and Town Clerk for several years. Three of their sons, Obadiah, Jonathan, and Zachariah also established homes in Groton. The town of Groton was burned down by the Indians in the spring of 1676 and they returned to Watertown where he died in 1694. Elizabeth passed away on 18 October 1694, shortly after her husband died.
The Life of Obadiah Taylor
Obadiah Taylor was (perhaps) born in 1762 in Deerfield, Massachusetts. He passed away in 1839 (or 1843). The house where he was born was still standing in 1976 and the farm owned by his parents is now a park called Whately Glen Farm. The birth year of 1762 is questionable, as it may have been inferred from the Rev. War record of another man -- Obed Taylor of Montague, Mass.
His bothers and sisters are listed as follows (from Sheldon):
His unusual first name "Obadiah" came from his maternal grandfather, Obadiah Sawtell Jr. He is believed to have been a soldier in the Revolutionary War, although he was often confused in histories with the Obed Taylor who was from Montague, Mass, but lived in Deerfield for a few years. He is recognized by the DAR as a Patriot for his Military Service. They have his birth year as 1762 and his death year as 1839. He did not apply for a pension for Revolutionary War Service. The writer of this essay has not seen evidence of his war service, but there must be some documentation for the DAR to accept him in their listings.
Obadiah was married to Abigail Williams about 1790 in Deerfield or an adjoining town. They started a family and began moving westward along with other New England colonial-era families. They were in Rensselaer County, New York around 1800. They then moved to Camden, Oneida County, New York where Obadiah was documented as a Captain of Militia in 1805. They later moved to Crawford County, Pennsylvania (1820-1825) and then to Erie County, Pennsylvania. They were in Chautauqua County, New York by 1830.
The children of Obadiah and Abigail (Williams) Taylor were named as follows:
During this trek westward, it is significant that the Taylor family first made contact with the James Palmer family while in Crawford County. The Palmer family were descendents of Walter Palmer who came to the Colonies in 1629 as part of the first wave of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Shortly after the war of 1812, Almira Taylor, a daughter of Obadiah and Abigail Taylor, was married to James Palmer Jr. Some published sources indicate that Obadiah and Abigail went with their daughter Almira to St. Joseph's County, Indiana in about 1830.
It is likely that Abigail passed away during or after this trip, as she does not show in any records beyond 1830. We do know that James Palmer Jr., his brother Asher Palmer and their families and Obadiah Taylor settled in Centre Township in St. Joseph's County in 1830 in an area then known as "Palmers Prairies". This area became the southern part of today's South Bend and their farms are likely now part of a cemetery formed in 1839 that was first known as Palmer Prairie Cemetery and is now known as Southlawn Cemetery.
I suggest at this point that the most likely death date and place for Abigail (Williams) Taylor was about 1830 to 1832 in St. Joseph's County, Indiana.
In 1832, Obadiah with his sons Adonijah and Horace and son-in-law Horace Edgerton made a trip to Lake County and, liking the land and water, they moved to the area as a group. They staked land claims on the east side of Cedar Lake in 1836. One of his sons and a grandson were named Obadiah II and Obadiah III after him. Obadiah Taylor was a highly respected and well-liked person and the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter was named in his honor. He was buried in the old West Point Cemetery at Cedar Lake and is memorialized by a bronze plaque as his gravestone was removed. This cemetery has been moved to Fairbanks Street.
Published References to Adonijah and Obadiah Taylor
This section of the essay deals with those books and papers that cite Adonijah and Obadiah Taylor and their life and travels. They are described in their order of publication.
An early reference is the book "Early ecclesiastical history of Whately: being the substance of a discourse" by J. H. Temple and printed by J. & L. Metcalf in 1849. In addition to lengthy discussions of church history and ministers, there is a section about Early Settlers of Whately. The paragraph about Adonijah Taylor reads as follows: "Adonijah Taylor. He built a house and mills on the place now owned by Silas Sanderson. He m. Rachel ______; had children John; Edmund; Solomon; Eliphalet; Adonijah; Obed; Clement; Theodore; Mary; perhaps others." As you can see, the son named Martin was left out of this listing. This book also has an entry that Nathaniel Sartle or Sartwell, 1772; m. a daughter of Adonijah Taylor.
Another older reference is a book titled "History of Chautauqua County, New York: from its first settlement to the present time: with numerous biographical and family sketches." This book was published in Buffalo, N.Y in 1875. Page 562 of this volume has an entry showing that Obed Taylor was part owner of a grist mill in that county sometime in the 1820's.
In 189 the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts directed the Secretary to prepare and publish "An indexed compilation of the records of the Massachusetts soldiers and sailors who served in the army or navy, as shown in the archives in the office of the Secretary". This work was done by compiling information on 620,000 index cards and then publishing a set of volumes in 1896. These volumes are available in most good genealogy libraries or can be purchased as a two-disc CD set. Adonijah Taylor and his sons John, Eliphat and Solomon are listed in Volume XV on pages 415, 425, 435 and 455.
Also listed in Volume XV, page 447 is a Taylor, Obed (also given as Obadiah) who was engaged for the town of Montague. This man was born in 1762, lived for a time in Deerfield, served during the Revolution and remained in Montague after the War. He married Meriam Tuttle on 23 Nov 1786 and lived the rest of his life in Montague. He applied for and received a pension for his Rev. War service, which can be read on-line at HeritageQuest. His name appears in an 1841 Census of Rev. War Pensioners living in Massachusetts. This man is definitely not the Obadiah Taylor that is of interest to us.
George Sheldon collected a large amount of information about the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts for the period between 1636 and 1886, which he published in two volumes. These volumes included descriptions of all the families who had lived there. All of the pages of this book are on-line through HeritageQuest. Page 333 of Volume 2 discusses the Taylor family. The section concerning Obadiah Taylor reads as follows: "Obadiah, or Obed___; prob. m. Abigail Williams, who d. in Erie, PA in 1837. He died in Lake Co., Ind. in 1843. Had eleven children, one of them Adonijah b. in Rensalear County, NY in 1792 (info. From W.O. Taylor)".
These volumes were published in 1895-1896. It is significant that the information about Obadiah Taylor was not from research by George Sheldon in Deerfield, but was actually from William A Taylor (b. 17 March 1821) who was a son of Adonijah Taylor and a grandson of Obadiah Taylor and would have written to Sheldon from Lake County, Indiana. Sheldon does point out the Rev. War service of the brothers of Obadiah, but there is no comment that Obadiah served. Also, there is no birth year given for Obadiah, although there are dates for his siblings. Page 344 of Volume 2 of Sheldon also discussed the Obed Taylor of Montague. The citation reads "Taylor, Obed; here in 1789-96; removed to Montague, where he died Febr 19, 1845, age 83. He married Miriam ______."
Rev. Timothy Horton Ball published a history of Lake County, Indiana in 1885. Pages 379 to 384 discuss the descendents of Obadiah Taylor in much detail and provide a valuable reference to those trying to understand this large family. They intermarried with most of the other families living around Lowell and Cedar Lake in Lake County, Indiana.
The Indiana DAR published "Roster, Soldiers and Patriots of the American Revolution Buried in Indiana -- Volume 1". This compilation was done by Mrs Rosco O'Byrne of Brookville, Indiana.. This work is clearly in error as she cites Massachusetts Revolutionary War Soldiers and Sailors and her text does not match the citation she used.
The Indiana DAR also published the book "A Roster of Revolutionary ancestors of the Indiana Daughters of the American Revolution; commemoration of the United States of America bicentennial, July 4, 1976". This was published in Evansville, Ind. in 1976 by Unigraphic. Pages 625 and 626 discuss Adonijah Taylor and his family and list Obadiah as b. 1762 and m. Abigail Williams. All of the information here is repeated from older sources.
Arthur G. Taylor, a two-times great-grandson of Obadiah, researched Obadiah's life in the 1920's. Arthur Taylor was the Historical Secretary of the Lake County Historical Association at that time. He made a speech in Gary, Indiana in 1926 during the sesquicentennial celebration of the Declaration of Independence. This speech was later reprinted in a book titled "History of Lake County, Volume 10" that was published by the Calumet Press, Gary, Indiana in 1929. In this speech, Arthur Taylor incorrectly attributed the military record of the Obed Taylor of Montague to our Obadiah Taylor. From this attribution he infrerred a birth year for our Obadiah of 1762. He also repeated the then-accepted history that Abigail (Williams) Taylor was the daughter of Dr. Thomas Williams and a descendent of Robert Williams, an early Colonial immigrant settler.
Ethel Vinnedge, a resident of Lake County, also adopted the history that was used by Arthur Taylor. She prepared a lengthy speech about the Palmer and Taylor families that was presented to the Obadiah Taylor Chapter of the DAR and published in the Lake County Star of Crown Point, Indiana on 10 May 1935.
Questions related to Abigail Williams
For over a hundred years, members of the Taylor Family of Lake County, Indiana have held that Abigail Williams was a daughter of Dr. Thomas Williams who studied medicine in Deerfield, Mass after the Rev. War ended. This Dr. Thomas Williams returned to his home in Roxbury, Mass., practiced medicine and died suddenly in 1815 while visiting a patient. He was descended from Robert Williams (1607-1693) who came to Roxbury, Mass. between 1632 and 1635. From Sheldon's book describing Deerfield residents, they adopted a birthdate for Abigail Williams of 1770.
Other researchers have disagreed with this history for Abigail. They contend that she was born 4 Sept 1768 in Roxbury, Mass and was the second wife of Alexander Bliss who was the son of Jedediah Bliss and Miriam Hitchcock.
Most recently, Thomas Berns, a son of the writer of this essay, researched older newspapers and found proof that this Abigail Williams was the wife of Alexander Bliss. The citation is from the New England Palladium of July 14, 1807, Page 2 of Volume 30, Issue 4. The citation reads as follows "Died. At Springfield, very suddenly, Mrs. Abigail Bliss, age 39, consort of Mr. Alexander Bliss, and daughter of Dr. Thomas Williams of Roxbury".
Another Taylor descendent and researcher, Cindy Zielke, has suggested that our Abigail Williams was more likely the daughter of John and Rhoda (Cromwell/Crowell/Cowell) Williams of Williamsburg, Mass. Williamsburg was west of the Deerfield and Whately area where Adonijah Taylor lived with his family. This John Williams descends from Richard Williams, an early Colonial immigrant who came in about 1636. This Williams line is the Williams family of Wales from which Oliver Cromwell came. Cromwell led the Roundheads during the English Revolution of the 1600's. There is also the possibility that our Abigail Williams was a sister to the Henry Williams who married Obadiah's sister Electa.
Conclusions and Questions
As readers can see, this research and essay has generated more questions and uncertainty than it has established acceptable histories for Obadiah Taylor and his wife Abigail Williams.
At this point, we are not certain of the birth or death dates of either Obadiah or Abigail. We do not know the date of their marriage. We are uncertain of the burial location of Abigail. We do not have documentation for the Rev. War service of Obadiah. We have too much conjecture and insufficient verifiable facts.
April 27, 2006
David T. Berns
Go to Obadiah Taylor I, "Pioneer History Index," for further information.
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