Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Our Fickett Families: Scarborough to Woodstock


  • Seventeenth century English Maine was settled primarily through the speculation of English investors and merchants sending planters and fishermen. Our own immigrant James Nute was a member of the Captain Mason party of planters to settle Dover, New Hampshire, as one of these enterprises. So, too, were the Ficketts and Libbys and Balls of our coastal Maine families who came as fishermen, became shipwrights and mariners, and eventually moved inland to become farmers.

Christopher Fickett 

Maine coastal waters were rich fishing grounds and temporary fishing huts gave way to permanent settlements in the area in the 1630’s. According to an early Scarborough histories, Christopher Fickett was living at Black Point, Scarborough, Maine in 1652, likely engaged in fishing and trading with local Native Americans. Black Point Neck in Scarborough was one place to dry fish, and here Christopher’s acquisition of 100 acres indicates he may also have been a planter. 

Scarborough, including Black Point, was incorporated as a town by Massachusetts in 1658, when it had about 50 homes, and Christopher’s would have been one. Given the salt marsh landscape, the town didn’t develop around a town center.

Both Christopher and his son, John, were listed as inhabitants of Black Point prior to the Indian War of 1675. Nothing else is known of his immigration, wife, or other children.

John Fickett (1645-1730)

John’s birth is calculated from an estimate that he was 25 years old in August 1670. He married Abigail Libby, daughter of John Libby of Scarborough, in 1670 according to Torrey. Abigail was not named in the 1883 Libby Family of America, although the author and family historian noted John Libby might have had a couple unnamed daughters. In the 1928 Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, the same author acknowledges Abigail as a daughter of the Scarsborough John Libby.

John Fickett was a Black Point farmer and fisherman whose home was destroyed in the 1675-76 Indian wars. He retreated to Portsmouth with other Black Point residents, returning to Scarborough in 1677 after Massachusetts militia were sent to secure the settlement. A garrison was built at Black Point in 1681, but increased Indian raids in 1689-1690 led to residents abandoning the town. The town did not again have organized government until 1720 although small groups returned earlier.

John Libby was born about 1602 in England, possibly in the Cornwall area, and died in Black Point, Scarborough, in 1682. A frequently reported age of 80 years old at time of death gave rise to the 1602 date, but a date closer to 1614 would be more reasonable as he started a family about 1636 just before coming to Maine. 
John came with the Plymouth (England) Company from County Kent to Richmond Island off the southern coast of Cape Elizabeth to work a fishery for English merchant Robert Trelawney. He arrived on the Hercules in 1636 under contract for three years service which expired in 1639. Once his contract was up, he settled onshore and sent for his family to join him, likely making his living as a fisherman. By 1663, he acquired 200 acres and built a homestead just inland at Black Point on Libby’s River in Scarborough, a planter and “a man of considerable wealth.” John lost all but his land in King Phillips’ War of 1675-76. His house and the dwellings of his sons were burned and cattle shot. The family took shelter in the Black Point garrison and shortly after evacuated to Boston along with others of the area. 
Two sons died in the 1675-76 Indian war while stationed in defense of the Black Point garrison - James was killed and Samuel ill was removed to his parents in Boston where he died in July 1677. John petitioned the Massachusetts governor in 1677 for the release of two other soldier sons - Henry and Anthony - from defense of the garrison, saying he depended on them for support. Exaggeration of his age in the petition seeking sympathy may have led to the earlier birth date. The Libby family returned to Scarborough by 1681 when John Sr. and sons John Jr., Henry, and Anthony are on the tax list.
 Aside from the two sons who died defending the garrison, John had at least 12 children with two wives; the first is unknown, mother of the first 10 children, and she died before 1663; the second named Mary who bore two more children. Our Abigail Libby was born to the first wife.
 The Libby Farm is now in Scarborough Land Trust and open for hiking.
John and Abigail had only three children, a small family for the time. Their kids grew up and married in the vicinity of Portsmouth.

Children of John Fickett and Abigail Libby:
  • John Jr. m. Susannah Ball of Portsmouth, NH
  • Rebecca m. Henry Guy of Marblehead, MA
  • Mary m., Samuel Snell of Portsmouth, NH
John Fickett, Jr. (1675-1730)

The only son of John and Abigail, 7th GGF John Fickett, Jr. married Susannah Ball, daughter of a fisherman, before 1700 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, or Kittery, Maine; no records of the marriage are available.

Susannah’s father, 8th GGF Peter Ball (1645-1725), a fisherman, bought 20 acres in Portsmouth in 1672, the same year he married Margaret Jackson. He signed a petition of inhabitants to Massachusetts in 1689 to set up a temporary government in Portsmouth.
John’s first record is 1703 when he witnessed a note and later when he bought land in 1708. John Fickett from Portsmouth, whether John I or John II, signed a petition to Massachusetts from “we four poor towns daily exposed from French and Indian enemies” asking for “equal privileges with Massachusetts.” 

Otherwise, John Jr. left a small record footprint in history. Of his six children, he had only two sons  - Thomas and John III.  A deed transfer of their grandfather’s land between the brothers dated 1731 shows the boys living in Kittery and Portsmouth respectively.

Children of John II and Susannah Ball:
  • John Fickett, III, a tanner in Portsmouth, NH, inherited land in Scarborough from grandfather, John Fickett, Sr.
  • Thomas, a shipwright of Kittery in 1731 when he purchased his brother’s portion of land in Scarborough
  • Daughters: Margaret, Sarah, Abigail, and Rebecca
Scarborough, Cape Elizabeth
Thomas Fickett (1700-1787)

Leaving troubled Scarborough in 1690, the Fickett family found itself living on one of the world’s deepest harbors with Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on one side of the Piscataqua River Kittery, Maine, on the other. Portsmouth’s economy was growing based on shipbuilding, fishing, and trade. No wonder Thomas became a shipwright and founder of a ship building dynasty.

6th GGF Thomas Fickett was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1700. 

Thomas’ marriage to Mary Moulton is generally given as 1720 and his birthplace as Scarborough even though Thomas was living in Kittery until after 1731. Mary is a mystery given the frequency of her given name, no findable marriage record, or identification in town or family histories. 

Thomas inherited a portion of Libby lands in Scarborough. In 1731, he also bought out Scarborough land originally belonging to their grandfather, John Fickett Sr., from his brother and his Aunt Rebecca Guy from Marblehead.

The first record of Thomas in Scarborough is an appearance in the York Court of Common Pleas in 1734 when he presents as the defendant in a debt case. 

The next record shows Thomas’ admission to communion at the First Congregational Church of Scarborough along with “Mehetable, daughter of Thomas and Mary Fickett" on July 18, 1736, and two weeks later “John, Mary, Benjamin, children of Thomas and Mary Fickett.” Nowhere in the church record is mentioned Thomas’s wife, Mary, being admitted to the church. The church was established in 1728 with admission and baptism records extending back to 1730.

Another mystery: First child, John, has a birth date listed in the Ficketts of Cape Elizabeth as 1722 in Kittery, but the next child listed is Mary in 1736, followed by another eight children until 1754, childbearing totaling 32 years. It seems more reasonable that Thomas had a first wife who had John, and a second wife, likely Mary Moulton, in the 1730’s who had the next nine children.

Thomas moved the family to Cape Elizabeth about 1737 after exchanging his part of the Scarborough land for Barren Hill in Cape Elizabeth. He was involved in the York Court of Common Pleas in Falmouth (Portland) in 1752, 1757, and 1758 for debt cases, and was on roll call for training soldiers in Falmouth in 1757.

All of Thomas and Mary’s sons and a number of grandsons served in the American Revolution, including Valley Forge, the ill-fated Penobscot Expedition, and the burning of Falmouth. Available information indicates the boys signed for three years in the Continental Army.

Three of Thomas’ sons  - John, Benjamin, and Jonathan - became shipwrights like their father. Jonathan’s son, Samuel, and Samuel’s nephew, Francis Fickett, moved to New York after the War of 1812 devastated their Portland shipbuilding business, and were builders of the SS Savannah, the first Trans-Atlantic steamship in 1818.
Thomas died in Cape Elizabeth in 1787.
Benjamin Fickett (1737-after 1812)

5th GGF Benjamin Fickett was baptized at First Church of Scarborough on September 25, 1737. The Benjamin Fickett, baptized in 1736 with the rest of the Fickett children died and our Benjamin Fickett was born to the Thomas Fickett and Mary family soon after. His family moved to Cape Elizabeth when he was young, perhaps in 1737. 
Gorham, Scarborough, Portland, and Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Two Benjamin Fickett’s lived in Cape Elizabeth/Falmouth during the mid-1700’s. Our Benjamin, son of Thomas, was born in 1737, became a shipwright, married Sarah Sawyer and lived in Cape Elizabeth/Stroudwater until about 1795 when he purchased land and moved to Gorham, Maine. The other Benjamin, nephew of our Benjamin, was born in 1750 in Cape Elizabeth, a farmer/wheelwright, married Deborah Sawyer, and lived in Cape Elizabeth.

Benjamin married 5th GGM Sarah Sawyer in February 1760 and they started a family soon after - eight children in all, including five sons. 
The Sawyer family were early settlers of Falmouth (later Portland) and there are no clear records identifying this Sarah’s parents. Ficketts of Cape Elizabeth, however, states Sarah’s parents are Isaac Sawyer and Sarah Brackett.
Benjamin was a Captain of Cumberland County militia in the American Revolution, at the time nearly 40 years old.

After a full career as a shipwright, Benjamin and his son Moses purchased 70 acres and a homestead in Gorham, Maine, in 1795. His sister, Mary, was already living in Gorham with her husband, Charles Patrick, a plasterer. We don’t have a death date for wife Sarah, but she was deceased by1804 when Benjamin married widow Hannah Roberts Parker in Gorham. Benjamin’s Gorham house burned in 1802.

Benjamin's death is not located in Gorham town records or histories, but Gorham death records at that time were sparse. His last record was on a quitclaim deed with son Moses in 1812 for the property in Gorham. His second wife lived until 1833, so it is unlikely -as some have reported - that he joined his other sons in Harrington. 

Sarah died sometime between the birth of her last child in 1775 and Benjamin’s remarriage in 1804. Given the size of the family, Sarah was probably around to raise the children or Benjamin would have remarried earlier. Very likely her death was close to the time Benjamin relocated to Gorham where he had a sister and three adult children, Mary, Ezra, and Moses; the move may have been precipitated by the loss of his wife.

Benjamin and Sarah's family were born in Cape Elizabeth, but scattered over the years:
  • Zebulon (1759-1854) enlisted in the American Revolution at age 16 and was on the disastrous Penobscot Expedition. He married first cousin Sarah Fickett in 1780 and moved the family from Falmouth to Plantation No. 5, later to become Harrington, Maine, in 1789, and set off to form Milbridge in 1848. Early Harrington’s industry was harvesting Maine timber and shipbuilding to transport lumber, and the Ficketts were in the thick of it. Zebulon received a Revolutionary Pension in 1832. 
  • Jonathan (1761-1850) married Judith Cox in Cape Elizabeth in 1788, and they moved the same year to Poland, Maine.
  • Abigail (1762-1839) married first cousin and Quaker minister William Fickett, brother to Zebulon’s wife, and lived in South Portland.
  • Moses (1766-1863) bought a 70-acre homestead with his father in Gorham, Maine, in 1796, but moved to Harrington/Milbridge by 1823. He had a store, M. Fickett & Co. in Harrington and seemed more civically involved than most of the family, serving town posts of treasurer and town clerk for several years. The Fickett families lived on the east side of Narraguaguis River where today there is a Fickett Point, Fickett Wharf, and Fickett Point Road not far from the 1A.
  • Benjamin Jr. (1767-1851) was a shipwright who settled in Portland.
  • Nathaniel (1771- ) may have remained in Cape Elizabeth, but little information can be found on him. He appears to be on the 1810 Cape Elizabeth census.
  • Ezra (1773-1855) married in Gorham in 1796 - around the same time Moses and Benjamin, Sr. bought land in the area - but moved to Poland, Maine at an unknown date. He was living in Poland by 1845 when his first wife died.
  • Sally (1775- ) married Charles Smith, a blacksmith from Gorham, so likely she moved away from Cape Elizabeth with her father and brother, Moses.
Ficketts on the 1798 tax list for Gorham, Maine, were Jonathan, Samuel, Asa, and two Benjamins.

Thus, the family spread like seeds to the wind, landing in Milbridge, Gorham, Poland, and Portland.

Revolution service for Captain Benjamin Fickett of Cape Elizabeth:

Three Benjamin Ficketts were living in Cape Elizabeth during the Revolution - Benjamin, Sr. (1737 - 1820), son Benjamin Jr. (1767-1851), and nephew Benjamin, Jr. (1750 - ), son of John. Two Benjamin Ficketts are listed by Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the American Revolution. 

Benjamin's son can be excluded as the Revolution soldier due to his age. One of the two remaining Benjamins was a Captain of the 8th Company, 1st Cumberland Regiment of Mass. militia; the second, a corporal who served building a fort on Falmouth neck and belonged to a company stationed on the seacoast at Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough. Of these, the senior Benjamin is more likely to be the Captain. Further, Maine Families in 1790 identifies Benjamin Jr., husband of Deborah Sawyer, as the corporal.


Jonathan Fickett (abt 1761-1850)

4th GGF Jonathan Fickett was born in Cape Elizabeth, the second of Benjamin and Sarah’s children.  Twenty seven year-old Jonathan was residing in Falmouth when he married 23 year-old Judith Cox (1764-abt 1804) from Cape Elizabeth in January 1788. Poland birth records show the first child born there in 1788.

Judith was the seventh of 14 children born to mariner 5th GGF Ebenezer Cox (Beverly, MA 1728-Bristol, ME 1795) and his second wife, 5th GGM Lydia Woodbury ( -1775 Bristol, ME) of Falmouth. Her brother, Israel, was a master mariner and soldier in the Revolution. Four of her siblings were twins.

Within the year, Jonathan and Judith moved to Poland where their first child, Charlotte, was born in December 1788. They had another three children over the next 8 years, Woodbury, Betsey, and Salley. Jonathan built a log house on White Oak Hill, Poland, in 1797, the first settler on the hill. He was received by baptism in 1798 at the First Free Will Baptist Church in Poland in 1798. He and Judith had another two children before she died. 

Children with Judith Cox:
  • Charlote Fickett (1788-1854), born and died in Poland, married Zenas Briggs, farmer, brother of Luther Briggs in Paris and Lucy Briggs who married Samuel Bryant in Woodstock.
  • Woodbury Fickett (1791-1862), War of 1812 veteran, named after Judith’s mother, Lydia Woodbury.
  • Betsey Fickett, our 3rd GGM, married Samuel Nute (1792-1855) in Woodstock.
  • Salley Fickett (1796- ), nothing more than birth record located.
  • Simon Fickett (1799-1856), married Ruth Chase, “an enterprising and industrious citizen” who lived in Curtis neighborhood and moved across the line to Paris, according to History of Woodstock. He drowned in Little Angroscoggin River in West Paris.
  • Judith Fickett (1802-1874) married Thomas J. Dunbar, shoemaker from Poland, moved to Springfield, MA.
No death information is available on Jonathan’s first wife, Judith, but she would have died at about age 38 years between the birth of her last child in 1802 and Jonathan’s marriage to 35 year-old 5th GGM Betsey Bryant, widow of Peter Brooks, in 1804.

Jonathan had two more children with Betsey Bryant Brooks:
  • Joanna Fickett (1805-1869) born in Poland, married John Herrick, a farmer from Poland. She must have had a hard life as 1840-1860 censuses show 10-16 people and three generations living in their household.
  • Jonathan Fickett, Jr. (1810- after 1850, died young), farmer, married Betsey Fuller.
Jonathan Sr. and Betsey moved to Woodstock by 1810 where his eighth child, Jonathan Jr., was born.

In June 1814, for “five dollars in hand,” Jonathan and wife Betsey (Bryant Brooks) Fickett sold 25 acres in Poland formerly owned by Peter Brooks to Seth Hilborn, except for a 10 rod square “at the place where the said Peter Brooks and others are buried.” Presumably, this the cemetery now known as Cousens Cemetery.

Jonathan’s occupation was identified as “yeoman” when he sold 30 acres of his Poland land in 1816 to Alexander Thurston; he purchased another 30 acre farm in Poland the same year. This would be the year New England had “no summer," instead experiencing snow in June, a hard frost every month, crop failures, drought, and wildfires.

The family moved from Poland to Woodstock in 1818 and settled “on what has been known as the Nute farm.”
2016 photo of hilltop meadow "the Nute farm" where Jonathan and Betsey lived
A 30 acre farm in Poland belonging to Jonathan Fickett was sold at public auction in 1819 for failure to pay taxes.

Jonathan was chosen by Woodstock townspeople as a “tithing man” in 1818. Among a tithingman’s duties are enforcing church rules, keeping order in church, and policing people who should be in church. In early days, the tithingman had a long pole to poke people who fell asleep during the sermon!

Jonathan and Betsey are believed buried in the Nute-Stevens cemetery in Woodstock in unmarked graves.

Betsey Fickett (1794-1826)

3rd GGM Betsey Fickett was born in Poland, Maine, the third of Jonathan and Judith’s four children. She was nine years old when her mother died, and 11 when father remarried to Betsey Bryant Brooksdaughter of Solomon Bryant and second wife of Peter Brooks. 

Betsey married Samuel Nute (1792-1855) in Poland in 1816, the year of dreadful weather, and their first two children were born there. Betsey and Samuel moved to Woodstock in 1820, relatively latecomers. 

Betsey had four children, spaced regularly every two years before her early death at age 32 in Woodstock, even younger than her mother at death. The second child of Betsey and Samuel was our 2nd GGF Orsamus Nute, only six years old when his mother died.

Children of Betsey and Samuel Nute:
  • Harriet Nute (1818-1899) m. step-cousin Charles Brooks Davis, son of our 4th GGPS Aaron Davis, Jr., and Lucinda Oraing Brooks. The couple had at least five children and were living in Woodstock until the 1870’s. By 1880, they were both living in Paris with an adult daughter. Charles died in Paris in 1889 age 63, and Harriet in Lancaster, MA, in 1899 with senile debility and la grippe, age 80. She is interred in South Paris with Charles.
  • Orsamus Nute (1820-1907) m. Lovina Dunn Davis, granddaughter of Aaron and Lucinda.
  • Phebe Wentworth Nute (1822-1875), born in Woodstock, m. Asa Smith, farmer, and the couple resided in Woodstock in their early years. In the 1850 census, Phebe’s aunt and uncle, Zenas Briggs and Charlotte Fickett, are living with the Smith family. By 1870, Phebe and Asa had moved to Malden, MA, where Asa was working as a street waterer. Malden is about five miles north of downtown Boston where brother-in-law Orsamus moved and set up street sprinkling as a first business when he left Woodstock in 1864. Asa died in 1871 with heart disease, age 53, and Phebe died in 1875 with tuberculosis, age 52.
  • Mary Jane Nute (1824-1904) m. Eleazer Cole Billings in Woodstock, farmer. Mary Jane died in 1904 in Woodstock with breast cancer, age 79.
After Betsey’s early death, Samuel remarried to Polly Davis, half sister of his son-in-law Charles Brooks Davis, and daughter of our 5th GGP’s Aaron Davis and Thankful Strout.

Samuel Nute, his two wives Betsey Fickett and Polly Davis; Polly’s brother, Aaron Davis, Jr. and his wife Lucinda Oraing Brooks; Orsamus and his two wives, Emma Stephens and Lovina Dunn Davis; and five of Orsamus’ children are buried in the Nute-Stevens cemetery in Woodstock.
Nute obelisk and headstones at Nute-Stevens cemetery, Woodstock, Maine
Sources: 
1.  Maine Genealogy Archives: First Church of Scarborough Admissions and Baptisms
2.  Maine Historical and Genealogical Recorder, V. 1 No. 4, 1884, p. 164  (bapt. of Benjamin, son of Thomas and Mary Fickett)
3.  Collections of the Maine Historical Society, V. 3, 1853, History of Scarborough, 1633 to 1783.
4.  Genealogy of Edward Small, p. 1336, (1775 sale by James Dyer to Benjamin Fickett, Barron Hill).
5.  The Libby Family in America, 1602-1881, Charles T. Libby, 1882
6.  Genealogical dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, Charles T. Libby, 1928
7.  New England Marriages prior to 1700, Torrey
8.  Massachusetts and Maine Families in the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis. Vol. II. Gardner-Moses, 1996
9.  The Milbridge Register, 1905
11. 1816: The Year without a Summer. New England Historical Society. 
12. Massachusetts Soldiers & Sailors, vol 5, p. 642-6443.
13. History of Paris, Maine: From Its Settlement to 1880, WB Lapham, SP Maxim, 1884.
14. History of Woodstock, ME, with Family Sketches and an Appendix, WB Lapham, 1882.
15. History of Poland: embracing a period of over a century, HA Poole, 1890.





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