About Benjamin Converse
He was a very active and enterprising man, much respected in Thompson; received permission from the Ere. Society in 1777 to open the graves at the Burying Place on his land, believed to have been the old Quaddin Burying Ground. He was Sergeant in Gapt. Elliott's company, Putnam's regiment, and was at Cambridge 1775. In 1788 Benjamin Converse removed to Marietta, Ohio, assisting in the first settlement of that state (Mr. Wm. G. Hill's Family Record of Deacons James W. and Elisha S. Converse).
While resident at Windsor he bought the estate of Thomas Robinson of Hardwick, Mass., at and near the Old Furnace, 19 October 1780, for £20,000, in the depreciated currency of that period. Windsor, Mass., was formerly known as Gageborough, Williamsburg, and No. 4. The land records contain the following conveyances:
7 Oct. 1780. Benjamin Convers of Windsor, Mass., from William Dawes of Boston, 200 acres in No. 6 (now Seaconk) £2000. Vol. 16, p. 3.
19 Oct. 1784. Benjamin Convers and wife Hannah of Windsor, Mass. Thomas Robinson of Hardwick, Mass., £20,000 lawful money, 2 tracts in Windsor, Mass., 255 acres. (He is called Captain Convers in description.) Vol. 18, p. 56.
16 March 1780. Benjamin Convers of Windsor, Mass., to Moses Smith of Windsor for £5,000, lot 34, 1st division in Windsor, known as the minister's lot. Vol. 18, p. 153.
1 Feb. 1780. Benjamin Convers of Windsor to Joseph Pierce of Windsor, for £3,000, lawful money, lot 10, 1st division, called the school lot, in Windsor. Vol. 22, p. 54.
14 Nov. 1787. Benjamin Convers of Killingly, Conn., to Noadiah Russell of Thompson, Conn., 20 acres in Windsor, beginning at S. E. cor. of lot 55, 1st division. Vol. 26, p. 237.
Benjamin Converse removed to Hardwick. In 1781 and 1782 he was a merchant and for a few years seems to have been prosperous. But in the troublesome times that followed he became an active military partisan of Shays, appearing as Adjutant at Worcester 6 September 1786.* See Paige's History of Hardwick, Mass., which says that by his first wife he had Royal, who died young, Asa Wright, and a second Royal. Accounts have come down to us that he was a merchant of high integrity but was financially ruined by his connection with Shays's Rebellion and removed to Ohio in the winter of 1788-9, and that by his second wife he had Leicester Grosvenor Convers and Hannah Porter Convers.
State Of Connecticut,
Adjutant General's Office,
Hartford, Dec. 11, 1899. This is to certify that
served in the war of the revolution, and the following is said service, according to the records of this office. On page 57 "Coiin. Men in the Revolution" appears the following :
Sergeant Benjamin Converse enlisted May 9th, 1775, in Captain Joseph Eliot's Company of Killingly. Discharged Dec. 14th, same year. In the 8th Company, Third Regiment, Colonel Israel Putnam. This regiment marched by companies to the camps forming around Boston, and was stationed there during the siege in Putnam's Centre Division at Cambridge, until expiration term of service, Dec. 10th, 1775. In testimony whereof, we have affixed hereto the seal of this office. (Seal) Wm. E. F. Landers,
Colonel and Adjutant General.
[The above mentioned Regiment was raised on the first call for troops by the Legislature at special session of April-May, 1775. It was recruited in Windham County, with one Company from New London County, as indicated by the residences of the officers. Marching in May by companies to the camps forming around Boston, it was stationed during the siege in Putnam's Centre Division at Cambridge until expiration of term of service, Dec. 10, 1775. In July it was adopted as Continental. A detachment of the officers and men was engaged at Bunker Hill, as stated in the note on the battle appended to the last Company; a few men also joined the Quebec expedition. In re-enlisting troops for service in 1776, this regiment was re-organized with Benedict Arnold then before Quebec as Colonel.]
The Windsor, Mass., town records show that Benjamin Convers marched from Windsor, 20 October 1780, in Capt. Wm. Clarke's Company.
Mass. Soldiers anil Sailors in the War of the Revolution, Vol. Ill, p. 910, has the following:
Benjamin Convers, private Capt. William Clark's Company, commanded by Lieut. John Cole, Col. Benjamin Symond's regiment; marched from Windsor, 20 Oct. 1780, by order of Gen. Fellows on an alarm, service 3 days.
Benjamin Conves, private Lieut. John Cole's Company, Col. Benjamin Simond's regiment; enlisted 26 Oct. 1780; discharged 28 Oct. 1780; service 3 days. Company marched from Windsor by order of Gen. Fellows on an alarm. Ibid. p. 914.
The records of the town of Gageborough, Mass, (afterwards called Windsor), which began with the year 1771, include the following:
" 1778. The inhabitants of the town of Gageborough met at the house of Benjamin Convers, who was chosen assessor. They voted that they build at either of the two places — on Capt. Converse's hill where the committee set the stake, or Benj. Converse's hill. They decided on Capt. Converse's hill."
The following is an extract from "Reminiscences of Shays' Rebellion," by Park Holland, in the New England Magazine for January 1901 :
The main body of Shays's troops marched through the town* to the northern bounds, passing through a valley which was in some measure protected from the cold. Here they made a halt, probably to consider what it was best to do next, whether to make a stand and give General Lincoln battle, or continue their retreat. They appear to have chosen the latter, as many of them returned to their homes. The place where they halted was immediately in front of my home, where my family then were. The latter, as may be imagined, felt themselves in a very unpleasant situation, since it was well known that I was out in Lincoln's army, and of course unfriendly to Shays. They had reason to expect some abuse from Shays's men. My wife was at this time confined to her chamber by illness; but as soon as she saw that they intended to halt, with her usual presence of mind she told the young man who was staying with her to make a good fire in every room of the house, and bring from the cellar and the pantry everything she had prepared and offer it to them for breakfast. The house was soon filled to overflowing with men half starved and half frozen, among whom was a Mr. Converse, now quartermaster, an acquaintance of ours. My wife sent for him and told him she had done all in her power for their relief and comfort, and hoped he would see that they did no damage in the house. He assured her that he was very grateful, and that he would as far as possible comply with her request; and he kept his word. When, therefore, they had eaten and warmed themselves to their satisfaction, they departed, having done no damage, except to clear the house of everything eatable in it.
The following account of the emigration to the West in which Benjamin Convers took part is from Miss Larned's History of Windham County, Conn. :
In the great movement westward initiated during this period Killingly was deeply interested. Not only did she send many valued citizens to the western wilds, but one of her own sons was largely instrumental in opening the western territory to emigration and settlement. Dr. Manasseh Cutler, Hamilton, Mass., a man of unusual breadth and solidity of character, deeply interested in the development of the Nation, assisted in the organization of the Ohio Company in 1786, served as one of its directors and counsellors, urged its claims before Congress, and, by his forcible arguments and commanding influence aided very greatly in securing the purchase of one and a half millions of land for the Ohio Company, and the famous Ordinance for the Government of the Territory northwest of the Ohio River. Emigrants were urged to take immediate possession. Dr. Cutler's son, Ephraim, then residing with his aged grandfather in Killingly, acted as agent for the company, and prevailed upon some twenty Windham County citizens to take shares in the purchase. Jervis son of Dr. Cutler, Captain Daniel Davis, Theoph- ilus Larned, and Samuel Felshaw were with the party that left Hartford January 1, 1788, under the direction of General Rufus Putnam, crossed the Alleghenies by the old Indian pathway, descended the Youghiogheny by boats they paused to build, landed at the mouth of the Muskingum April 7, and there began the settlement of the township of Marietta and the future state of Ohio. They were followed when the spring opened, by other men from the same vicinity, i.e., Theophilus Knight, Benjamin Converse, John Leavens, George, Jeremiah, and David Wilson, Aaron Clough, and John Russell, who went out not as members of a company, but, as reported in the diary of Theophilus Knight, 'on our own hook, according to our own roving disposition and desire to see the world. We had a team of four horses and a baggage wagon for clothes, farming tools, and provisions, and off we set and had a very merry journey through the country. Part of the way we had eleven of us in company, and sometimes we were as merry as people need to be. Sometimes we met with disagreeable things, bad luck, bad travelling, but upon the whole we did pretty well.' They were just forty days upon their journey, landing at Marietta May 18, 1788. Mr. Knight witnessed many interesting scenes during his sojourn in the territory — the arrival of the first women and children; the funeral of the first white man; the organization of the first court; the celebration of the Fourth of July, when Dr. Cutler delivered the oration, and all partook of a twenty five pound pike barbecued for the occasion ; the magnificent parade at the funeral of Judge Yarn um escorted by the officers of the garrison and a company of United States troops, together with 'old Revolutionary officers and Indian chiefs in abundance, — a very long procession to travel in a forest,' — and they also helped build the first houses in Ohio. Most of his companions made their homes in the new country, but two, after twenty months, returned with him to Connecticut 'not thinking it was so much better than any other country that it would pay a man for carrying a large family to such a wilderness inhabited by savages and wild beasts of the forest.' Their report and example had no apparent effect upou their fellow townsmen. So many other families emigrated westward from Killingly and adjoining towns that it seemed as if 'New Connecticut' would drain the life blood of its namesake. Many of these Killingly settlers were strong intelligent men who had great influence in moulding the institutions and character of Ohio. Ephraim Cutler, who removed to Waterford in 1795, was a member of the convention that formed the state constitution in 1802. Captain Perly Howe, who left Killingly at the same date, and Captains Daniel Davis and John Leavens were men of wisdom and experience whose counsels were held in high esteem. Benjamin Converse died the year after settlement in Waterford, having already manifested 'genius, public spirit and enterprise' that his death was mourned 'as a serious blow to the whole community.' The adventures of his son, Daniel, who was taken captive by the Indians in 1791, and after suffering great hardships managed to escape, and work his way through Canada and Vermont to Killingly, made a deep impression upon his former townsmen, but did not deter them from following the narrator back to Ohio, where he became one of the most respected citizens of Zanesville.
Sergeant Benjamin Converse's descendants have retained the ancient spelling of the name without the final "e," viz.: — Convers.
In the early Woburn and in the Middlesex County records, as well as by members of the family the name is spelled in various ways, chiefly Convers, Convars, Converse, the first having the preference for at least three generations.
In the Massachusetts archives of the War of the Revolution, the name appears as Convars, Convarse, Convas, Converce, Converse, Convers, Conves, Convice, Convirce, Convis (Mass. Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Rev., Vol. Ill, p. 912).