MERRITT - ROGERS LINEAGE 1555 - 1903
[This brown leather journal was part of a donation to the Macdonald DeWitt Library Merritt Collection.]
Written for my niece, Mary Frances Merritt, who is the great granddaughter of Nancy
[signed] Sara A. Van Deusen Merritt. Kingston, New York. 1903.
The following record was sent to me by Doughlass Merritt of Rhinebeck, New York.
Thomas Merritt, Rye, England. Born 1622. Died 1713.
Thomas Merritt's children:
Samuel of Rye, N.Y. His children:
George of White Plains. Born 1702. Died 1757. His children:
Humphry of New Burgh, N.Y. Born 1737. His children:
Morris of Marlborough, N.Y. His children:
Caleb M. of Kingston, N.Y. Born 1808. Died 1893. His children:
The following copied from the Bible of James O. Merritt:
Morris Merritt of Marlborough, N.Y. Born Oct. 16th 1774. He died August 10th 1828.
Nancy Rogers, wife of Morris Merritt, born October 15th 1782. She died April 5th 1870.
Caleb M. Merritt, son of Morris and Nancy Rogers Merritt, was born Dec. 5th 1805. Died March 5th 1893.
Henrietta Houghtailing, wife of Caleb M. Merritt, was born February 18th 1807. Died February 10th 1872.
Caleb M. Merritt and Henrietta Houghtailing married July 31st, 1828. Their children:
Marriages of the children of Caleb M. and Henrietta Houghtailing Merritt:
Death of the children of Caleb M. and his wife Henrietta Houghtailing Merritt:
The following is a copy of the births, marriages and deaths in Nancy Rogers Merritt's bible, which is now in the possession of her grandson, Joseph Merritt of Jersey City, N. J.:
Morris and Nancy Rogers Merritt's children:
Children of William and Eliza Merritt Osborn:
Marriages of the children of Morris and Nancy Rogers Merritt:
Taken from Ruttenber's History of New Burgh, N.Y., on page 364:
"Underhill Merritt's daughter, Mary, married Robert Philips; who at the organization of Washington's Life Guards at Valley Forge in 1773, was one of the two chosen from his regiment - for service in that capacity, and remained there until the close of the wasr, attaining the rank of Sergeant. The supplies for Washington's table mainly devolved upon Sergeant Philips."
Humphry Merritt and his son, Underhill Merritt, were named for their ancestor, Humphry Underhill, a descendant of Sir Jan Underhill, a patentee of Oyster Bay, and a famous colonist.
James A. Merritt's great-great grandfather, Humphry Merritt, and his four brothers, Caleb, Gabrial, David and Josiah, served in the Revolutionary War.
Copied from Charlotte Basten Van Gaasbeek's book of records.
"New York Civil List - and Constitutional History of the Colony of the State of New York. Stephen C. Hutchins, Publisher, 1880, on pages 271 - 1691 - 1693: Represented in Geneal Assembly: First Assembly, William Meret. Second Assembly, William Meret. Third Assembly, William Merit. William Merritt, Mayor of New York, 1695 - '96 - '97. Willliam Merritt, Judge of Common Pleas, Orange Co., 1701. Appointed by Queen Anne, page 447, in Eagers History of Orange Co., N.Y. The first recorded session of Justices of the Peach, acting as a Board of Supervisors, was held at Orangetown, New York, Ar. 27th 1703. Present - William Merritt, John Merritt and others."
New York in the Revolution, by James A. Roberts, 1879, page 164:
Births of their children:
John Rogers, who was burned at the stake at Smithfield, England, 1555, was an ancestor of Nancy Rogers who married Morris Merritt of Marlborough, N. Y. John Rogers - the martyr - was born 1505. He was Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral, where he denounced Romanism after the accession of Mary. He was Rector of Holy Trinity, London, 1532 - 1534. During the Past fifteen years of Nancy Rogers Merritt's life she frequently spent the day with us - she was very fond of my husband, James O. Merritt, her grandson. She greatly enjoyed receiving letters from her relatives, and they kindly wrote her very often. Whenever she visited us, she usually brought me the Past letters which she had received, and seemed pleased to have me answer them for her. Sometimes there would be a half-dozen of them. I will admit, that there were times, when she brought her unanswered letters, the time was - for me - very inopportune. But when I stood beside her coffin, it comforted me greatly, that I had never by word or deed, let her know that at the time she brought them, it had been an inconvenience to me. I fancyI can see her now take the little package of unanswered letters out of her pocket, saying, while so doing: "Sara, I like to have you answer my letters, because you seem to know just what to write." Dear old grandmother, of blessed memory! I asked her one time when she was visiting us, to tell me something of her young days - she was then over eighty-five years old. The following story she then told me, while sitting close beside me, cutting blocks for a quilt she was making for one of her granddaughters:
"It will please me to tell you, Sara, something about my young days," she said; "
but before doing so, I want to tell you something about my ancestors. My father's
name was Justus Rogers, my mother's name was Naomia Felter. In fifteen hundred - particularly
during Martin Luther's time - many of my father's ancestors espoused the cause of
that great Reformor; and in consequence of so doing, a number of them lost their lives.
Among that number was the minister and proto-martyr, John Rogers, who was burned at
the stake at Smithfield, England in the year of our Lord, 1555. While he was being
led to the place of execution he was urged by the Sheriff to recant. No doubt you
have read his brave reply; viz. 'What I have preached, I will seal with my blood.'
After the re-vocation of the Edict of Nantes, several families of the Rogers from
France and England came to this country and settled in New York, then called New Amsterdam.
Among that number was my grandfather. When the Revolutionary War broke out, my father
took the oath of allegiance - his sympathies were strongly with the Colonists. Immediately
after thus proclaiming his loyalty, a series of annoyances and persecutions began
for him by the Tories. And after the British had taken possession of New York, the
persecutions grew worse and worse. My parents had endured all they thought they possibly
could, but a far greater trial was in store for them, when one day a British officer
came to their house, and told them that their house was needed for some of their officers,
and that they must leave it at once. Thus driven from their home, what should they
do? where could they go? My parents had some friends living at Haverstraw on the Hudson
River, and they decided to go to them in their time of need. And what a time of sore
need! Every thing they owned suddenly taken away from them: house, furniture, cows,
&c. But leave all they were forced to do, and go - the British cared not where. On
the following day my father and mother set out on foot for Haverstraw. The snow was
deep at the time, and the weather intensely cold. When they were within a few miles
of Tarrytown, my mother's strength gave was, so they were obliged to stop and camp
in the woods for several days. My father cut down small trees with which he built
a shelter, and with the twigs made a fire to keep my mother from perishing. In after
years whenever my father referred to that bitter experience, he would always add:
'Daughter Nancy, I did not care for myself, but your mother!'
After my mother had recovered sufficient strength, they went on to Tarrytown where they crossed the river, and were made very welcome in the home of their friends. I was born soon after that, which was in the year of our Lord, 1782.
My parents remained at Haverstraw until some time after the evacuation of the British, then they returned to New York. They found - as did many others - that their homes had either been confiscated, as ours had been, or in ashes, or in such a ruinous condition that it required the labor of months to restore them. Amid all the rejoicing over the departure of the British army, it was truly a costly victory. It was a hard struggle for my father to support his family for several years after our return to New York. Business revived slowly. But through strict economy and untiring industry, my parents once more, had as before, a comfortable little home. Before my father would go out in the morning, he would always take me up in his arms, and I would give him then what he always, viz., 'A good colonial hug.'
My first recollection of any important event, was the inauguration of George Washington as first President of the United Sates, although I was only in my seventh year. My mother said to me on that day, several times - 'Nancy, I want you to remember this day, because New York will never see a greater one.'
My parents took me by the hand and we walked on Broadway. The streets were thronged with people. Many of them having come into the city by the common roads, by ferry-boat, and by sloops and packets which had been several days in coming down the Sound on the Hudson river. Then we went to church. I particularly remember the minister saying, - 'May the blessing of heaven be upon this nations, and upon our chosen President.'
When we left the church we went to Federal Hall where the inaugural ceremony was to take place. My mother had made me a new dress for the occasion. I was particularly pleased with that to me beautiful homespun dress, from the fact that my mother had made the waist shorter and the skirt longer than any dress I had ever had. Walking briskly along that April morning, with my parents, my new dress, the military, the music, the banners, who could have been happier than I, a little New York girl, in the year of our Lord, seventeen hundred and eighty nine! When we were very near Federal Hall, we secured a standing place in front of a grocery store. Suddenly my father cried out: 'Daughter Nancy, there is George Washington on the balcony. Do you see him!'
I was standing upon a barrel of potatoes, where my father had placed me. But as my footing was somewhat unsteady among the potatoes, my father quietly caught me up in his arms, saying: 'You can certainly see him now.' Just then I saw a man on the balcony bend low and kiss a book. 'That is George Washington kissing a Bible, daughter Nancy. See! He is taking his oath on the Bible that he will do all he possibly can for our nation.' Just then the bells rang, cannon boomed, bands began to play, flags were waived, and men threw their hats high in the air, and amid shouts and huzzas, cried:
'Long Live George Washington, President of the United States!' My father did not shout, neither did he throw up his hat, but I saw him draw it - slowly over his eyes, and his lips moved as if in prayer. Some years after, my mother told me that the day we were returning home after the inauguration, I had said to her that I was sure that George Washington would make us a bright and splendid president, because he had on such bright and splendid shoe buckles. But of saying that I have no recollection, but I do recollect that that afternoon we went to take some salt to our cows. I was particularly pleased to go out that afternoon because my mother had told me in the morning, that I could wear my new dress all day - a privilege she had never granted before. I do not think that I was a vain little girl, but one does have such a sense of freshness and cleanliness when wearing new clothes. Besides, the way my dress had been made reatly pleased me, and I wanted my friends to see it for I know I would meet some of them on the street that afternoon.
Where Canal St. now is, there was then a large field where we pastured our cows, and several of our neighbors pastured theirs there too. It was one of my duties to take our cows to pasture every morning, and then go for them after school. Sometimes we pastured our cows close by the Old City Hospital, near Duane Street. That night we all went out to see the illumination in honor of George Washington's inauguration. The streets were a blaze of light, and every one said that the fireworks were the most beautiful New York had ever seen.
Several years after the inauguration, my father purchased a tract of land beyond Marlborough on the Hudson River. I remember as if it were yesterday, although many, many years have passed since then, standing on the slip near the Battery, watching the men storing our furniture in the sloop which was to carry us to our new home. All our neighbors and friends had come down to the slip to see us off, for we were about to start on quite a long journey for those times. (Journeys were taken much more seriously then tan now.) Many of those neighbors and friend we never saw again, in fact, it was only at rare intervals that we ever heard from them.
We soon became greatly attached to our country home. A number of families settled near us from time to time until we formed quite a colony of well-to-do, industrious people. Industrous we surely were, for we not only made every article of our clothing, but we spun, dyed and wove the material.
While we liked all our neighbors, still, there was one family we became very familiar with. The family consisted of a father, mother, three sons and three daughters, Morris and Charlotte - their youngest son and daughter - were nearer my age than the rest of the children, so we naturally became very fond of one and another. Charlotte would frequently spend several days with me. Whenever she did so, Morris would always come to our house to take her home. Sometimes I would return with them. At such times, Charlotte and Morris would both accompany me home.
One day when I was in the garden picking currants, Morris unexpectedly, to me, came into the garden, saying: - 'Nancy, I came to show you something.; He then took a paper out of his pocket, and said: - 'I have bought a small farm, and this is the deed. I want you to see it.'
While we were sitting upon the grass, he commenced reading it to me. Suddenly he folded it up, and while taking my hand, said earnestly: - 'Nancy, for some time I have had two great wishes. One was, to have a farm of my own; the other wish - a thousand times greater one - was, when the proper time came - and it has come now - to have the privilege and the pleasure of asking you if you will be my wife.' Then and there, sitting upon the grass, beside the currant bushes, Morris Merritt and Nancy Rogers plighted their troth.
Morris and Nancy Rogers Merritt were the parents of two daughters, Rebecca and Eliza, and six sons, Caleb, Undrill, Justus, John, Charles and Morris. Nancy, in her home life, surrounded by her loved ones, with her tender care, sympathy and gentle manners, reigned with all the grace of true Christian wife and motherhood. She was left a widow, but with frugality and industry she was able to keep her children together until they were old enough to maintain themselves. The last twenty-one years of her life she spent in the home of her son, John T. Merritt, at Kingston, New York. He mental faculties were unimpaired, consequently, she could recall the events of her life very accurately. She passed away in the eight-eighth year of her age, leaving to her descendants a legacy of a well spent life.
Three years ago I went to Jersey City, N. J., to get some names and dates from the record in Nancy Rogers Merritt's Bible, which was at that time in the possession of her only remaining child, John T. Merritt. I then told him what his mother, Nancy Rogers Merritt, had told me, years before, of her young days. He said: "Yes, you remember it very correctly, for my mother told me the same from my boyhood up. In fact," he continued, " it was one of our chief delights -- when we were all sitting in the kitchen at night before the great wide fireplace, to have mother tell us children, not ony about the scenes in her life, but also intensely interesting incidents in the lives of her ancestors."
[signed] Sara a. Van Deusen Merritt, widow of Pate James O. Merritt. Kingston, New York 1903.