Friday, February 6, 2015


Lewis Chilson was a brother of my fourth great grandfather, Joseph Chilson, Jr.  I want to talk about him because he had a more "colorful" life than the average Chilson.  He was born about 1798 in Westhampton, Hampshire, Massachusetts, the youngest son of Joseph Chilson, Sr. and Mary "Molly" French.  He married Dorcas Damon, a daughter of Nathan Damon and Olive Witherell, on 27 October 1820 in Westhampton.

Lewis and Dorcas had three children that I know of -- Orpha, Fordyce, and Rodney.  Rodney disappears from records and I suspect he died young.  Orpha and Fordyce managed to cause quite a bit of grief for their parents.

In 1850, I was unable to find Fordyce on the US Census in Westhampton.  After broadening the search, I found him in Charlestown, Middlesex Co. in the State Prison.  He was there because he was convicted of Larceny.  He had a wife and some children who were left behind to be cared for by relatives in Westhampton.  By 1860, he was home.  He and his family were living with Lewis and Dorcas.

As if this weren't enough, their daughter Orpha had a child Orinthia Weller Chilson out of wedlock.  I did a thorough search of records and found that the father of this child was Roland Weller, who was married to someone else at the time of this child's birth.  Orpha, eventually, got married to John Gray Russell.  However, Orinthia was raised by her grandparents and is found in their household in 1850 and 1860.

The Chilsons and other families who lived in the northern part a Westhampton, near the Chesterfield line, including Lewis Chilson, seemed to have decided to join the Chesterfield Baptist Society.  In New England, if you were not going to to attend and support the local Congregational (Puritan) Church, you had to submit a certificate proving that you were a member of and supporting another church.  I found quite a number of these in the Westhampton records, including one submitted by Lewis Chilson in 1824.  However, the Westhampton Congregational Church ignored it in his case.  To summarize the church minutes...  Several times in 1824, a complaint was brought against Lewis Chilson for "neglecting the preaching of the word and the Lord's table" for two years.  Various people were assigned to go out and talk to him.  All of them reported back that he was not planning to return to the Congregational Church.  Eventually, in 1825, they decided to excommunicate Lewis Chilson.  There were several public readings of this decision.  It is interesting to note that, Lewis Chilson had been a member of the Chesterfield Baptist Society for some time and had submitted the proper document about a year before the Congregational Church excommunicated him.  It seems a bit like persecution to me!  Especially since I couldn't find any other members of the Chesterfield Baptist Society who received this treatment.

In addition to all of this, poor Lewis had financial problems.  He was in court a number of times and his property was attached to help pay his debts several times.  Nevertheless, he remained right there in Westhampton is whole life even though his brothers all moved on.  He died on 24 August 1860 and is buried in the Westhampton Cemetery.  His wife died eleven years later and is buried next to him.

No comments:

Post a Comment