Hannah Baker Church: wife, mother and Quaker preacher

Map of Ulster County, NY, from Beers via Wikipedia

Map of Ulster County, NY, 1875, from Beers via Wikipedia. Find towns of New Paltz, Lloyd and Plattekill in the southeast corner.

52 Weeks, 52 Ancestors, Number 4
Hannah Baker Church (1775-1843), Ulster County, New York

The Society of Friends, or Quakers, played a significant role in the American women’s rights movement and in the campaign for women’s suffrage. This was due, in no small part, to the fact that they supported education for women and had many female ministers or preachers. Among them was my 4th great-grandmother Hannah Baker Church.

Hannah was born 4 March 1775, according to Quaker records. Her birth was most likely in Clintondale in the southeast corner of Ulster County, New York. Ulster County borders the Hudson River on its west side, with Dutchess County across the river along its east side. Her parents are thought to be Adam and Maria Baker, also of Ulster County, but that is not confirmed. Still, the household of Adam Baker in the 1790 U.S. Census in New Marlborough, Ulster County, included 9 females. New Marlborough was also in the southeast corner of the county.

Hannah married Caleb Church in about 1796 and they had 10 or more children, from John in 1798 to George Washington Church in 1819. Among their sons were Benjamin F. Church, my 3rd great-grandfather, born in 1807, and Samuel Church born in 1805. Samuel’s published biographical sketch provides important details on the Church family and genealogy.

On 21 August 1805, Hannah was received by request [rec. by req.] into the Valley Preparative Meeting of Quakers in Plattekill, Ulster County, New York, according to  the volume Quaker History and Genealogy of the Marlborough Monthly Meeting, Ulster County, N.Y., 1804-1900. Her “convincement” of Quaker values led to her membership. She would have been 30 years old.

The most noted of the early Friends ministers in that area were Dr. Adna Heaton, Hannah Church, Nathaniel Thorn, his daughter Esther Weeks, Sarah Roberts and Sarah E. Roberts, the book states. Hannah was a Quaker preacher “who went around on horseback with Hannah Frye,” according to the book Descendants of Richard Church of Plymouth, Mass.

Hannah is credited by several sources with playing a valuable role in establishing a Quaker meeting in Clintondale, Ulster County, and working for construction of a meeting house there. These include the book History of the Village of Clintondale, Ulster County, NY. The First Settlement to 1824, by P.N. Mitchell, and the History of Clintondale Monthly Meeting, online.

While her husband Caleb is mentioned as an Orthodox Quaker as is Hannah in son Samuel’s biosketch, Caleb is not listed in the Quaker book cited here. He perhaps was never a full member. The Church family was of Puritan stock, Samuel’s biosketch notes.

The final days of Hannah Baker Church, wife of Caleb Church, are narrated in a brief item in “The Friend,” 1844, Volume 17. It recalled that Hannah was “early in life convinced of the principles of Friends, and joined the Society.” Also remembered was that she “sometimes bore testimony to the goodness of her Divine Master and to the praise of the glory of his grace.”

Beset by a “rheumatic affection” at the end, Hannah died 24 September 1843 in Clintondale, survived by her husband Caleb and many of her children. A remarkable woman.

Sources:
> Quaker History & Genealogy of Marlborough Meeting, Ulster County, N.Y.
> Samuel Church entry, Commemorative Biographical Record of Ulster County, New York: Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, and of Many of the Early Settled Families
> Descendants of Richard Church of Plymouth, Mass.
> Quaker Views on Women: Wikipedia
> Quakers in Action: Rights of Women
> History of the Village of Clintondale, Ulster County, NY. The First Settlement to 1824, by P.N. Mitchell.
> History of Clintondale Monthly Meeting
> History of Clintondale Friends
> “The Friend,” published by The Friend, 1844, in Volume 17 (1843/1844), page 72.

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Caleb Church, farmer and cooper

Map of Ulster County, NY, from Beers via Wikipedia

Map of Ulster County, NY, 1875, from Beers via Wikipedia. Find towns of New Paltz, Lloyd and Plattekill in the southeast corner.


52 Weeks,
52 Ancestors: Number 3
Caleb Church (1772-1856) of Ulster County, New York

Milwaukee pioneer carpenter and builder Benjamin Church, who arrived there in 1835, was the son of Caleb Church and Hannah Baker Church of Ulster County, New York. Born in 1807, he was one of ten or more children born to Caleb and Hannah between 1798 and 1819. Ulster County is located on west side of the Hudson River, opposite Dutchess County.

A vivid if brief picture of Caleb Church (1772-1856) emerges from several books and online resources such as land and probate records. Noteworthy is his brief profile in the book Descendants of Richard Church of Plymouth, Mass. Rutland, Vt.: Tuttle Co., 1913 – in the section for Church families with unproven links to Richard Church.

That book says Caleb was born on 9 Dec. 1772, married Hannah Baker in Dutchess County N. Y., and settled “in Loyd Township, Ulster Co., N. Y., where he carried on farming and coopering. He was also his own lawyer, his favorite retreat when studying a case being the great garret, flat on his back, with his feet against the rafters. His wife was a Quaker preacher.”

Caleb was a substantial land owner having purchased 100 acres on 8 Dec 1798. Ulster County, New York Deeds, FHL# 944750, states that “Caleb Church of Newmarlborough, Ulster Co, NY, bought for 250 pounds etc land in New Paltz from Newman Waring.” This is consistent with his grandson Oliver B. Church’s biographical sketch that says Caleb bought land, built a log cabin, and raised large family. Neighboring landowners in Ulster County included the Terwilliger, Housbrouck/Hasbrouck, Ellis and Freer families.

The book’s entry for him – No. 2542. Caleb Church – and a listing of Caleb and Hannah’s children are online here.

Caleb is said to be of English Puritan ancestry, and was born in Dutchess County, New York, where he grew up on a farm, according to his son Samuel’s biographical sketch in the book Commemorative Biographical Record of Ulster County, New York: Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, and of Many of the Early Settled Families. This book also states that Caleb and his wife were members of the Orthodox Friends Church, and he was a Democrat in politics. See Samuel’s biography online here.

Samuel, perhaps with his father’s assistance, went to New York City in 1821, when he was 16, to learn the carpentry and building trades. There is no evidence that his younger brother Benjamin had this training, but if not, he surely learned skills from Samuel before heading west in 1834 to pursue a career as a carpenter and builder.

Who were Caleb Church’s ancestors? Mrs. Susannah B. Lefevre (Susannah Brodhead Church LeFevre), Caleb’s great-granddaughter, believed he was descended from Richard Church (lineage Caleb 5 , Nathaniel 4 , Joseph 3 , Joseph 2 , Richard 1) but this is unproven. Her submission was included in Descendants of Richard Church of Plymouth, Mass. in the unproven section. This Richard Church came to America in 1630, became a freeman in Plymouth in 1632, and married Elizabeth Warren, daughter of Richard Warren who came on the Mayflower. More about him online here.

There were three Church families in the 1790 Census in Dutchess County, namely Benjamin Church, John Church and Thomas Church. The Church Family section in the book Little Compton Families from Records compiled by Benjamin Franklin Wilbour, Volume I, says there was a Benjamin Church born in 1732, married in 1773 to Johannah Wilbor, daughter of Joseph Wilbor, who went to Nine Partners, Dutchess County, New York. This Benjamin Church was in Dutchess County in 1785 when his father Joseph deeded him land from an Uncle Caleb. According to Descendants of Richard Church of Plymouth, Mass., his father deeded on 18 Dec, 1785, to son Benjamin “of Nine Partners, N. Y., a 15-acre lot left me by my uncle Caleb Church.” The lineage of this Benjamin Church is Joseph 4, Joseph 3 , Joseph 2 , Richard 1.

For now, the ancestry of Caleb Church who married Hannah Baker is unknown, but there are theories and possibilities worth pursuing. In the meantime, we enjoy thinking of him up in the garret, his feet on the rafters, preparing for a legal case.

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Benjamin F. Church, Milwaukee public service

Benjamin_F_Church_Gravestone
52 Weeks, 52 Ancestors: Number 2
Benjamin F. Church (1807-1887)

Much is written about Benjamin F. Church, a Milwaukee pioneer carpenter and builder, whose small Greek Revival house built for his family in 1844 is today a pioneer museum open to visitors each summer. I have written for Wikipedia both a biographical sketch for Benjamin and an article on the Benjamin Church House that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I have also photographed the house.

Here I briefly chronicle some of Benjamin’s public service and community leadership in the fledgling city, starting when Wisconsin was still a territory. Remember that Milwaukee was not incorporated as a city until 1846 and Wisconsin gained statehood in 1848.

One of the first records of his civic involvement is seen in the Milwaukee Daily Sentinel and Gazette of 2 Nov 1839 that reported on a meeting of 2nd Ward Whigs at Washington House. “On motion of Benj. Church a committee of Vigilance and Finance for the Second Ward was appointed, consisting of J A Phelps, L N Dewey and Wm Sanderson,” the paper states. Other news article show he was active locally in the Whig Party, but later was a Republican.

On January 1, 1844, Benjamin was elected one of five trustees of the West Ward, and was reelected in 1845. This was the area west of the Milwaukee River, originally called Kilbourntown, where he had built his family home. He, Byron Kilbourn and three others were the West Ward trustees at the historic first meeting on May 7, 1845, of representatives of all three wards of what would become Milwaukee on January 31, 1846. The meeting was during the infamous “Milwaukee Bridge War.”

After incorporation, Benjamin was 1 of 15 men chosen for a 2nd Ward nominating committee to develop a slate for alderman, assessor, constable and street inspector, as reported the Milwaukee Sentinel on 22 March 1847. During the 1850s, Benjamin Church was elected to represent his ward on the Board of School Commissioners and to serve as assessor for his ward. He also was a fire warden and election inspector for his ward. Later in his career, Benjamin was one of 13 men to serve as sealer of weights and measures, as per the History of Milwaukee (Andreas, 1881).

In other realms, Benjamin was one of 5 founders of Royal Arch Masons Chapter 1 in Milwaukee on 16 Feb 1844, as per Memoirs of Milwaukee County: from the earliest historical times. He filled several offices including, in 1844 & 1845, Junior Deacon; 1849-1853, Treasurer; 1853, Senior Warden; and then in 1860, Tyler. He was also a member of Milwaukee’s Old Settlers Club since he had arrived from New York before 1839. He was the son of Caleb Church and Hannah Baker Church of New Paltz, Ulster County, New York.

Benjamin F. Church was clearly a “builder of Milwaukee,” not only as a carpenter and contractor but also in helping establish governing structures and fraternal organizations for the city as it boomed in population from 5,605 in 1840 to 31,077 in 1850, soon after incorporation, to 138,537 in 1880, according to Populations of States & Counties of the U. S. (1790-1990), edited by Richard L. Forstall.

It is little wonder that many of his descendants to this day having noted with pride that Benjamin was among their ancestors.

Note: I am seeking the ancestry of Benjamin’s wife Permelia, full name perhaps Elizabeth Permelia. View the query here.

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Published in: on January 12, 2014 at 1:36 am  Comments (3)  
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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Genealogy blogger Amy Johnson Crow has issued a challenge to all who blog about their family history: write about 52 of your ancestors in 52 weeks, or one per week. See her challenge here. A number of bloggers are taking up the challenge, and you can find their posts by searching the Internet with the phrase 52 ancestors 52 weeks.

This is a great way to make sustantial progress on writing one’s family history, and can also be a way to connect with unknown cousins who do web searches on names of shared ancestors. I have started 2014 with a posting — actually a detailed query – about my 3rd great-grandmother who was the wife of Milwaukee pioneer Benjamin F. Church. She is called Permelia and Elizabeth in various Wisconsin records. A maiden name of Clemens is given in one record, but is not confirmed.

I hope to continue this 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Thank you, Amy!

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