Puffer Genealogy



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1

She was from Indian River, according to Hazel Bradeen. 
Farnsworth, Melissa A. (I21036)
 
2
Civil War Veteran, Co. C. 109 Reg, NY Vol., KIA during an unknown battle.
 
Puffer, John Ira (I38979)
 
3
Drowned in Lake Quinnebaugh, Burt County, NE

 
Puffer, Francis Elwin (I15970)
 
4
http://wiki.whitneygen.org/wrg/index.php/Family:Whitney%2C_Theodore_(1824-%3F). Enjoy!

>From the Mexican War Pension File of Theodore Whitney

Company E, 3rd Indiana Volunteers

Susan Whitney, Widow

Invalid's Application #6973, Certificate #9067

Widow's Application #15926, Certificate #14443

The National Archives Building,

Washington, D.C.

On 16 February 1887 from Cowley County, Kansas Theodore Whitney signed a Declaration for Pension of Officer, Soldier, or Sailor of Mexican War. He is 62 years old and a resident of Arkansas City, Cowley Co., Kansas. He is married to Susan Puffer, to whom he was married at Montgomery Co., IA on 18 January 1863. He had served one year in the U.S. military in the War of 1846 to 48. He enlisted at Georgetown, Indiana on 15 June 1846 as a private in Company E, 3rd Indiana Regiment commanded by Captain James Tigart and Captain L.M. Adams. He was discharged at New Orleans, Louisiana on 14 June 1847. In a supporting affidavit he states that he was born on 25 December 1824. Theodore was granted a pension of eight dollars per month commencing 29 January 1887.

On 6 June 1900 from Jasper Co., Missouri Susan Whitney signed a Claim of Widow for Service Pension, Mexican War. She is sixty years old and the widow of Theodore Whitney. At the time of entering the war her husband was 21years old; 6 feet 4 inches in height; with dark eyes, black hair, a dark complexion, and was by occupation a farmer. He was born at Richland County, Ohio. After leaving the service he resided for 8 years at Nashville, Indiana; Read Oak (sic), IA for 30 years; Arkansas City for 5 years; and Stillwater, Oklahoma for 10 years. She was married to him under the name Susan Puffer on 18 January 1863 at Read Oak (sic), IA by J.H. Patterson, J.P. He had been previously married to Miss Isabella Quinn. Her husband died at Clayton, Oklahoma on 17 September 1889, and she has not since remarried. She is 60 years of age, and was born on 27 April 1840 at St. Joseph, Missouri. She has been disabled since April 1875 by typhoid fever. Since then she has been dependent on her children for support, as she has no income. Her post office address is Carterville, Jasper Co., Missouri. J. Welch of Carterville and Martin Widner of Jasper County witness the declaration. They have known her for 25 and 27 years respectively.

My review of the pension file did not reveal to me the event which instigated a special investigation of the widow's claim, but it may be in the file. It was the largest pension file I have ever reviewed, and 95% or more of the file concerns the investigation of the widow's claim. In this abstract I will review the major points of the case and then single out only pieces of the testimony which have genealogical or historical significance. Those interested in further knowledge of this family are encouraged to review the file first hand.

J.A. Cuddy, Chief of the Law Division of the Bureau of Pensions provided a review of the case and an opinion on the legalities involved in Theodore and Susan's marriage. I will draw from that summary the story of the dispute.

Susan's marriage to Theodore Whitney is established by record evidence, which shows that she was married under the name of Susan Puffer. In her original declaration she said that she had never previously been married. She subsequently admitted that she had previously married Richard Puffer, but she denies the validity of the marriage because at that time he had a wife, Sarah Wilder, living and not divorced. This brings into doubt the validity of Susan's marriage to Theodore.

Susan's marriage to Richard Puffer appears in the records of Cass County, Nebraska on 3 November 1857. (They were married in Plattsmouth, NE, and they lived between Rock Bluff and Plattsmouth.) After they had lived together for two years, Susan learned of the existence of the previous wife, Sarah Wilder. (Testimony reveals Richard left her in Keene, NH.) Susan alleges that she brought him to task over the matter, and he admitted it, but assured her that he had expected to receive a divorce decree, and he would secure it within a short time. They agreed to separate until he could show her the divorce decree, and she returned to her previous home in IA. Richard subsequently joined her there, and they returned together to Nebraska to settle and dispose of certain real estate interests. She then returned to IA with the understanding that Richard Puffer would send for her when he secured the divorce. Since then she has heard neither from nor of him. She claims that she secured a paper signed by her previous neighbors in Nebraska stating that Puffer had a former wife living and not divorced when he married her, and that this paper was accepted by the magistrate who officiated at her marriage to Theodore Whitney as satisfactory evidence of her capacity to marry Theodore. This paper was not preserved, and the only existing evidence of Puffer's previous marriage is testimony by various witnesses, which is based on the rumor started by Susan's remarks after her separation from Puffer.

Susan was married to Theodore and they resided together, all as previously described. No trace of Puffer subsequent to 1859 has been discovered, although and exhaustive search has been conducted. No divorce of Susan and Richard Puffer has been discovered in any records. Subsequently, a legal opinion is required as to whether Susan is entitled to recognition as the lawful widow of Theodore Whitney.

The marriage ceremony of Susan to Richard Puffer is established by recorded evidence, and no competent evidence has been secured to show that Richard Puffer did not have the legal capacity to contract in this marriage. Therefore, the marriage is assumed valid. The question remains as to whether or not this marriage was dissolved prior to her marriage to Theodore Whitney. There is no evidence that the marriage was dissolved by divorce or by the death of Richard, and there is little evidence upon which to assume that it was dissolved in this manner. Therefore, the law in the State of IA which governs the presumption of the dissolution of a marriage prevails, and that law is very liberal. Without a discussion of the intricacies of the law, since Susan conducted herself in accordance with the assumption that her previous marriage was dissolved, that marriage under IA law is thought to be legally dissolved. Her ceremonial marriage to Theodore and her lifetime cohabitation with him as his wife, with no word from her previous husband during that whole period are circumstances which weighed heavily in her favor in determining the presumption her capacity to legally marry Theodore. Therefore, it was the legal opinion that the dissolution of the marriage of Susan to Richard Puffer should be presumed prior to her marriage to Theodore, and she is entitled to recognition as the lawful widow of the soldier.

The testimony of many witnesses was elicited, recorded, and preserved in the pension file. The following facts of genealogical or historical interest have been extracted from that testimony.

The Clerk of the Court of Cass Co., Nebraska provided the following certified copy of the record of marriage: "I, John H. Craig, a Justice of the Peace of said county, certify that I did on the 3rd day of Nov. 1857 join in matrimony Mr. Richard Puffer of Cass Co., N.T. to Miss Susan Beazely (sic) of said place. Witness my hand on this 3rd day of Nov. 1857. John H. Craig"

H.G. Barnes, Clerk of the District Court, Montgomery Co., IA provided the following certified copy of the record of marriage: "State of IA, Montgomery, Co, ss. I certify that on the 18th day of January, A.D., 1863 Theodore Whitney and Susan Puffer were by me lawfully united as husband and wife. Jan. the 15th, 1863. John W. Patterson, Justice of the Peace."

Much of Susan's testimony concerned the circumstances and dissolution of her marriage to Richard Puffer. In addition, we learn in the testimony of 1905 that she resides in Trenton, IA. Theodore Whitney had first been married to Isabella Quinn, who died in Montgomery Co., IA sixteen miles northeast of Red Oak, and she was buried in a cemetery near Bean Schoolhouse. She left three children: William, Mary, and Margaret. Margaret Welch is now the only child still alive, and she resides in Jefferson City, Missouri. The other children lived with Susan and Theodore until they died. The fact of the death of Isabella can be corroborated by Jim Whitney, who lives near Villisca, IA or Seiola, IA. Susan had known Theodore less than a year before they were married, and Isabella had been dead less than a year before they married.

James Whitney also testified in 1905. He is 72 years old and a resident of Villisca, IA. Theodore Whitney was his brother, and they were born in Richland Co., Ohio. With their parents they later moved to Indiana, close to Nashville in Brown County. He now has no brothers living, and has two sisters: Sarah Parr, residing in Oskaloosa, IA; and Miranda Redman, wife of Francis Redman, residing in Elliott, Montgomery Co., IA. He and Theodore came to IA in 1855. The sisters first settled in Poweshiek Co., IA, and Miranda came to Montgomery County about four years later. Theodore first married Isabella Quinn in Brown Co., Indiana, and she died seven or eight years after they came to IA in 1855. He thinks it was about four years later that Theodore married Susan Puffer. James knew Susan's father, Charles Beasley, before she married Theodore. She had a brother named Isham Beasley who enlisted in the Civil War. Susan's father deserted the family, and James never heard of him again. When James first knew Susan she had a child named Mary Puffer, about two years old, and a younger child had died. (Other testimony reveals she became Mary E. Robertson, who resided in Newton, IA.)

On 18 June 1906 Ella Gamble, who lives 10 miles northeast of Arkansas City, Cowley Co., Kansas, testified concerning members of the Whitney family. She is the widow of William J. Gamble, and is the daughter of Susan and Theodore Whitney. She lived at home until 1892, when she married. Susan and Theodore had together her and one son, Walter, who ran the family farm and supported his parents, whose only income was his pension. The children of Theodore by his first wife, Isabella, were:

Martha J. Dwyer

James Whitney

Arthur E. Whitney

Eva Snyder

Austin Birtie "Bert" Whitney

In 1906 Susan testified that she now resides near Meehan, Payne Co., Oklahoma Territory with Eva Snyder. Arthur Whitney lives in Sand Point, Idaho, and he went there in the spring of 1906. Birt lives in Guymon, Beaver Co., Oklahoma.

On 29 September 1910 the Commissioner of Pension was informed that Susan Whitney was last paid at twelve dollars per month to 4 May 1910, and has been dropped from the rolls due to her death, date not given.

Ken Whitney,
Silver Spring, MD


 
Beasley, Susan (I37528)
 
5
She was 40 and single in 1940, a Supt. at Higgins Hospital, Wolfsboro, NH. Lived in Nashua, NH with two other workers at the hospital.
 
Puffer, Frances Bailey (I35593)
 
6
Thomas Leighton or Layton came from England to Dover N. H. in 1633/34.
He signed the "Combination in Dover in 1641, He was Selectman for the
years 1647, 1648 and 1658. The name Leighton or Layton occurs in the ol dest records of English and Scottist History. It is of Saxon origin but w as established in Scotland and England before the 14th Century.

References: Leighton Genealogy, History of Durnham N.H., Vol 2 Page 259
New England Historical and Genealogical Register Vol 17, Page
255.

The Pioneers of Maine and NH 1623-1660

Thomas spelled his name both ways in the NH records.
Leighton or Layton. 
Leighton, Thomas Sr. (I9871)
 
7 Section M, Lot 324. Grave #6 no marker Puffer, Ferris Cady (I21294)
 
8 !20898 PT. 1 PG 15 ORTOMTA CHURCH RECS. 20903 (133308) F. SWEDEN 012 PT.5 2 0742 PT.1 BJORSATER CHURCH RECS. 20898 PT. T OSTRA SKRUKEBY CHURCH RECS. Andersson, Magnus (I6979)
 
9 !940.455 bARDWELL, SUFF, ENG BAPT AND MG RECS BURIAL AND DEATH RECS. Harvey, Dinah (I3244)
 
10 !AFTER NAME SAYS ...OF CHARSFIELD Grayston, James (I1170)
 
11 !BIRTH DATE AND LOCATION RECEIVED FROM TEMPLE READY, APPROXIMATED BY TH E COMPU TER. Thave, Sarah (I17188)
 
12 !BIRTH DATE IS REALLY BAPTISM DATE Grayston, James (I5979)
 
13 !BROOME HAS AN ACCENT OVER THE E ' Broome, Jannika Maria (I23017)
 
14 !CENSUS RECORD #26138 PT 110 P 130. ALSO CENSUS 1861 AND 1871 IN POSSESSION OF MELBA GULLIVER. Aldridge, Edith (I7204)
 
15 !CERTIFIED COPIES OF BIRTH ON ALL CHILDREN AND HUSBAND AND WIFE ALSO MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE FOR HUSBAND AND WIFE !G.S.FILM II 1279,304 PURTON, WILTS, ENGLAND B.T.1559-1861 Mills, Harriet (I3256)
 
16 !CHECK LAST NAME Johanson, Samuel Pihlstrom (I3944)
 
17 !CHECK LAST NAME AS WELL Mansdotter, Stina (I4230)
 
18 !DEATH DATE MAY BE WRONG? TEMPLE WORK WAS DONE BUT CHILD WAS ONLY FEW MONTHS OLD Hertzman, Eva Eleanora (I4242)
 
19 !DEATH RECORDED IN WANTAGE VI 481-SOMERSET RECORDS DURING 4TH QUARTER O F
1847 NOT SURE WHAT THIS ENTRY MEANS? MARRIAGE OF WM & EL ?
MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE I N POSS. OF MELBA GULLIVER, ALSO BIRTH CERT FOR
EUNICE
WILLIAM MARRIED JANE TH EY HAD THREE SONS.
SHE DIED IN THE 3RD QUARTER OF 1847, VI 181 SOMERSET RECORD S, WANTAGE
DISTRICT.
ELIZABETH WAS A WIDOW IN THE 1871 CENSUS

!WILLIAM MUS T HAVE DIED BETWEEN 1861-1871 BECAUSE HE APPEARS ON THE 18 61 CENSUS
WITH ELIZA BETH AND THE THREE CHILDREN BUT HE DOES NOT APPEAR ON THE 18 71
CENSUS. 
Aldridge, William (I1966)
 
20 !DIED AT AGE 61 BIRTH DATE IS REALLY BAPTISM DATE Bennett, Diana (I3250)
 
21 !FAMILY INFORMATION G.S.FILM 950.455 BARDWELL SUFFOLK ENG. BAPT RECS Cawley, Harvey (I3243)
 
22 !HE WAS A COMMINISTER Hertzman, Peter Olof (I4237)
 
23 !HE WAS PARISH CLERK DORIS THINKS THIS IS THE RIGHT THOMAS. THERE WERE TWO IN THE PARISH RECORD THE OTHER HAD WIFE ELIZABETH WITH C HILDREN CHR. 1761-1767. Bennett, Thomas (I17187)
 
24 !HE WAS SEXTAN OF PARISH GAYRS Harvey, James (I3251)
 
25 !I ONLY HAD MANS WRITTEN ON PEDIGREE CHECK LAST NAME Mansson, Anders (I4231)
 
26 !I'M NOT PUTTING THE GIRLS LAST NAMES BECAUSE I AM NOT SURE HOW THEY WO ULD READ Hertzman, Christina Maria (I6976)
 
27 !JOSEPH WAS 8 YEARS OF AGE IN THE 1841 CENSUS Mills, Joseph (I1968)
 
28 !MARRIAGE EXTRACTED FROM BATCH MO 18381 1697 TO 1837 SOURCE 291665 FILM PRINTO UT 0883721 FILM. Edwell, William (I661)
 
29 !NOTE SAYS WAS UNMARRIED Grayston, Charles Henry (I7577)
 
30 !ONE SHEET LISTED BIRTH AS 1839? ONE SHEET LISTED BIRTHPLACE AS SHUDY CAMPS Grayston, George (I6613)
 
31 !ONE SHEET LISTED BIRTH AS 30 SEP 1841, HAD BEEN CROSSED OFF Cawley, Cecilia (I6612)
 
32 !PETER WAS 3 YEARS OF AGE IN THE 1841 CENSUS Mills, Peter (I1967)
 
33 !SARAH IS JAMES GRAYSTONS SECOND WIFE Thurston, Sarah (I1169)
 
34 !SOURCE FOR ALL THE CHILDREN IS PO18381 1696-1865 SOURCE 291665 PRINTOU T 12354 49 FILM Edwell, Betty (I3274)
 
35 !UNMARRIED..HAD ILLEGITIMATE CHILD AMELIA CHAROLTTE BORN 5 OCT 1826, CHR. 8 OC T 1826 Hertzman, Anna Charlotta (I4241)
 
36 !WIFE NAMED EMILY Cawley, John (I3252)
 
37 ".. who lived down by the iron bridge on way to Epping Corner." Roberta P uffer Puffer, Catherine Redman (I39798)
 
38 "...and, like his father, became a man of influence and substance...dur ing the Indian troubles which accompanied the wars between the English a nd French powers, his house was strongly fortified and called Varney ga rrison house, and history states that it frequently afforded safe refug e for the families of the locality against the incursions of marauding I ndians..." Varney, Ebenezer (I22060)
 
39 "A curious document was the will of Miss Caroline A. Puffer, which was filed In the office of the Kings County Surrogate yesterday by William L. (Ed: this is William Lord Puffer) Puffer, of No. 333 West Nineteenth St., Manhattan, a grand-nephew. Miss Puffer was a spinster, who died on March 3 at her home in President St. , near Sixth-Ave., Brooklyn. She was eighty-three years old. There is no schedule of the estate filed, but it included a large amount of personal property. Miss Puffer had many relatives, and each one Is remembered by the gift of a silver spoon, a walking stick, Chinese vase or something of that description. The enumeration of these legacies occupies four typewritten pages. Mr. Puffer, the executor of the will, is directed to go to the home of the testator and "turn the face of each picture toward the wall." On the back of each picture, the will says, will be found the name of the person to whom it is to be given.

Miss Puffer directed that all the money found in a certain black bandbox should be divided between St. Martin's Protestant Episcopal Church and the Rev. Dr. Frederick W. Davis, rector of the church. It was not stated how much money was in the box.

Instructions are also given as to the burial of Miss Puffer. Among other things she directed that she should be buried in Green-Wood Cemetery beside Captain Holmes. Captain Holmes was the husband of Miss Puffer's favorite sister. Upon the tombstone the executor is ordered to have placed the name and age of the testator and the words, "Entered Into Rest.""

NY Tribune, Saturday, Mar 22, 1902 
Puffer, Caroline Augusta (I44453)
 
40 "a sweet Christian character" Miles, Martha Gertrude (I18076)
 
41 "About 1760 two brothers, Thomas and Samuel Leighton, came from Falmout h, Me., to the Narraguagus river." (Centennial Historical Sketch of the T own of Columbia, by Levi Leighton, Esq.) He was with his father and with him settled first at Gouldsboro. Shortl y after, he was the pioneer settler at Columbia, then No. 12 and 13 During the Revolutionary War, and he was in Capt. Francis Shaw's Co. fo r four months defending the coast; then under Capt. Thomas Parritt in J une 1777; in Capt. Henry Dyer's detachment in Aug. and Sept. 1777, serv ing at Machias; in Capt. John Hall's Co. at Majabagaduce in Aug. 1779 a nd again under Capt. Henry Dyer in 1780 Leighton, Samuel (I19959)
 
42 "Always as boy and man he has been known to be trustworthy and strictly honest. His word needed no bond. He had worked for various mechanical firms and making their interests his own was popular with employers and his fellow workmen. He also was an amateur farmer and fruit grower and the flowers that greeted you from his lawn showed his and his wife's love for the beautiful. His was a model home. With his devoted wife and two exemplary sons their home life was an ideal object lesson. But just as they were prepared to enjoy the fruits of their toil in comfortable leisure he was stricken with malignant disease. *** Four brother Masons bore him to his last resting place". (newspaper obituary)
 
Puffer, Henry (I18805)
 
43 "Bessie was average height, slim, light complextion, a very nice person , liked by all who knew her." She died in the Will Grant house (so called) about half way down Saco Hill on the right according to a letter to Hazel Bradeen from "Bertha" (Roberta Puffer). Dorr, Bessie G. (I40157)
 
44 "By the bark Warwick, we send you a factor to take care of the trade goods; also a soldier for discovery." "This soldier," says Mr Potter, "was doubtless Darby FIeld, ..." -- from "Joy Family Tree" Family F11736
 
45 "Cupid Disturbs Slumber Peter S Chronowski Indiana Harbor justice of the peace didn't get much peace last night after retiring A Clarence L Puffer and Roberta A Kelly hauled him out of bed to perform a marriage ceremony" Article of the Hammond Times, Mar 12 1946
 
Kelly, Roberta Ann (I26993)
 
46 "Dadone" Mancini, Dominic (I11328)
 
47 "FORTUNE PASSENGER" -- Taken by father to Leiden, Holland, shortly after baptism; age 10 sailed to Southampton, England, with stepmother on the Speedwell; sailed on Speedwell (with Mayflower), 1620, for New World, with father (stepmother?), but abandoned voyage when vessel put back 3rd time; arrived at Plymouth, MA, on the Fortune in 1621; father returned to England leaving Thomas as ward of Governor Bradford. "He settled in that part of Plymouth now Kingston, and in 1635 was on the Jury. He was appointed successor to Elder Brewster in 1649, continuing in the office until his death, Dec. 11, 1691. More than 43 years. He, for several years, was assistant to the Governor, and went to London five times in the interest of the Colony. He spent the latter part of his life in New Haven, CT where he died. Cushman, Elder Thomas (I17521)
 
48 "Frankie's life was not easy. Money was always scarce, but after her mother Maggie was widowed she took her in and cared for her even after Maggie had several strokes and was a complete invalid. The led to estrangement between the Puffers and Frankie's family who rightly thought Maude should help, at least financially." Ruth La Bounty Puffer Warren, Frances (I17255)
 
49 "Frankish King, Mayor of the Palace, victor at the Battle of Tours in Oct 732, stopping the Saracen invasion of Europe insuring our Western Christian civilization. Plantagenet Ancestry of King Edward III and Queen Philippa by George Andrew Moriarty Mormon Pioneer Genealogical Society SLC 1985 pp 5-220;The Plantagent Ancestry by W.H. Turton DSO Genealogical Publishing Co. Baltimore 1984 pp 8, 171; Royal Ancestors of Some American Families by Michel Call SLC 1989 chart 11201, 11602, 11624, 112 27, 11701;Descents From Antiquity; The Augustan Society Torrance Ca 1986 chart W; Some sources from Paula Evans 1992; Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England between 1623 and 1650, Sixth Edition by Frederick Lewis Weis Genealogical Publishing Co.,Baltimore 1988 line 50-11, 191-11, 198-11; Carolingian Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia; Source: Descents From Antiquity; The Augustan Society, Inc., Torrance, CA,1986; chart W. The Plantagenet Ancestry Of King Edward III And Queen Philippa; by George Andrews Moriarty; Mormon Pioneer Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City, 1985; pp5, 220.The Plantagenet Ancestry; by Lt.-Col. W.H. Turton, D.S.O.; Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, 1984 ; pp 8, 171. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came To New England between 1623 and 1650, Sixth Edition; by Frederick Lewis Weis; Genealogical Publishing Co.,Inc., Baltimore, 1988; line 50-11, 191-11, 198-11. Royal Ancestors Of Some American Families; by Michel L. Call; Salt Lake City, 1989; chart 11601, 11602, 11624, 11627, 11701. Carolingian Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia. Charles "Martel", Mayor of the Palace md (1) Rotrude, Duchess of Austrasia. Martel, Charles Mayor Of The Palace Of Austrasia (I3124)
 
50 "He followed the sea when a boy and was in Gloucester when the War of 1812 broke out. He served three months in the militia. He did not like the service on land and, when the privateer Basilisk, was fitted out, he enlisted and went to sea. After taking some prizes, he and five others were put aboard one of them, but they were captured by a British man-of-war. An Irishman swore that he knew John Puffer as an Irishman. John was asked to pronounce the name Blair. His accent was decided to prove that he was Irish and he was impressed in the British Navy. He had his "protection" and kept it secreted until he reached Halifax, when he appealed to the authorities, and proved that he was an American. He was then made a prisoner of war and later transferred to the war prison at Dartmoor, England. While there he kept a diary, which is now in possession of one of his grandchildren, while another has the "protection box". Another grandson has a chest which John had when he moved to Maine, and a copy of the will of Robert Redman (date 1760), an ancestor of his mother . In 1822 he was living at 29 Pleasant Street, Boston. About 1823 he moved from Boston to Frankfort, Me on the Penobscot River, 13 miles below Bangor, but a year later moved to Columbia, Me., where most of his children lived. He was a carpenter by trade, and a lumberman in the forests of eastern Maine at the time when ship building was a prominent industry in the coast towns. He was living in 1876."

According to the Reed genealogy, ".. and when they were fired upon by the guards, in the prison-yard, a ball grazed his jacket, and killed a fellow prisoner."

His gravestone reads
"I am now at rest weep not for me
From sin and death I now am Free
Transplanted to my home above
I dwell where all is peace and love."

in 1823 moved to Frankfort, ME
in 1824 moved to Columbia, ME

He served in Capt Lemuel Bradford's Co 21st US Inf during War of 1812
=========================================

He remained in Dartmoor Prison for 2 years and five months. He came to Columbia in 1825, and bought the betterments of the place at Little River, so called, of Moses Leighton, where his son John and daughters, Taphenus and Arabella now live. He was active in town affairs and took an interest in building up society. "They came from Braintree in 1824 or 1825 and settled at Little River Corner. He built a big farm house up by The Rips (in our pasture and 2nd field where the big rock is)." Elizabeth Roberta Puffer

=========================================

ED NOTE: In 1989 I took a trip to Columbia to locate the "diary" and "protection box". After a long and suspenseful search, on my last day there, I learned that the "diary" had been in the possession of Elizabeth Roberta Puffer, a cousin of my grandfather Charles K.W. French. She had died two years prior. The "diary" was given by her to the State of Maine Archives. I drove to Augusta to view the "diary".

I had a chance (about an hour or two) to examine the contents. Its not a "diary" in the strict sense. It doesn't record daily activities. Its a large, burlap covered book with many different types of entries in two distinct sections.The first section contains mostly mathematical questions and solvings. The second section contain some poems (sea shanties?) about the war and some of the battles as well as small drawings of ships. One page lists the names of men killed and wounded in the massacre of prisoners that happened at Dartmoor at the close of the war when the Americans were about to be repatriated in a prisoner swap. The conditions at the prison were abominable. Barely one in 10 men survived a year. I postulate that "Dartmoor" John used the "diary" as a textbook to teach fellow prisoners mathematics to pass the time and to keep his sanity. His name is written on the book cover in his own hand. It is a priceless piece of family history and it is too bad that it transferred out of family hands to the State of Maine. It can be viewed at the State Archive in Augusta.

According to a letter from Roberta Puffer "It was there that he continued to keep the journal which we still have. It is in a safety box in a bank. It is getting old. It covers 1820-1870 and is crumbling with age . There are about 70 pages". "John Sr. was put in Dartmoor prison in England as a political prisoner 1812-1814. He was taken off the clipper ship The Basilisk by an English vessel in 1812. They were going to impress him into the British Navy but he had his protection papers which he showed to the authorities in Halifax, where he was declared to be an American citizen from Boston. However the English vessel took him to England and he was put in Dartmoor until the end of the war of 1812." This is a mystery still. The book I saw was not a diary nor did it cover the period stated. Could there be another? Further investigation of Dartmoor Prison records show no John Puffer listed as a prisoner. Another mystery. Did he use an alias?

"John Puffer Sr also brought up two other boys, Ira Barney and John Page who did well in life." Roberta Puffer

ED NOTE: 8/24/05

What a great week for discovery this has been. After searching online for years to locate information about Dartmoor John (Puffer) perhaps our most illustrious ancestor, I was able to make contact with a man in England who is an historian on Dartmoor Prison. He provided me with information about Dartmoor John's capture, and subsequent imprisonment.

I had begun to doubt his story of ever being in prison because I was un able to find any outside information to verify the family history (as related in the Puffer Genealogy).

There is no record (that I can find) of any ship by the name of Basilisk during the War of 1812, either American or British. There was no record of his name in the lists of prisoners that I was able to find.

In fact, the ship he was on was the Yorktown, a well-known American privateer. HMS Nimrod took the Yorktown as a prize in 1813 off the coast of Nova Scotia. John Puffer was sent to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he spent some time in prison there, before being shipped to Chatham, Kent, England where he spent almost a year in prison there. Finally he was shipped to Dartmoor Prison where he spent the rest of the war. He survived the 'massacre' there in December of 1814 (a well documented historical event). He was released from Dartmoor in 1815.

One of the frustrations of this search is that his 'diary' has only one brief mention of anything to do with the prison. It is a short list of names of wounded or killed men. Since I now have a source I can check those names against the prison list and see if he's accurate. For a man who spent the better part of 2.5 years in prison you might expect a bit more biographical writings of that experience.

A month ago I doubted his story was true. I even suspected that he fabricated the story based on what he had heard of other prisoners' true-life stories of impressment and imprisonment. Many books of the time were written by former prisoners about this most notorious of English prisons. I thought John Puffer had taken those verbal and written stories and made them his own.

I am relieved to know that he, in fact, was a prisoner, even if some of the facts were wrong in the family history.

Prison number 3431 2 791
By what ship or how taken British Squadron British Squadron
Time when (taken) 26 July 1813 13 July 1813
Place where (taken) Halifax off Halifax
Name of Prize Yorktown Yorktown
Man-o-war/Privateer/ MV Privateer Privateer
Prisoners name John Puffer Jonathan Puffer
Quality (rank) Seaman Seaman
Time received into custody(at Dartmoor) 13 September 1814 7 Jan 1814
From what ship or whence received HMS Niobe from Chatham from Halifax
Place of Nativity (where born) Cantor (Canton, MA) Cantor (Canton, MA)

Age 20 20
Stature (height) 5`6" and a half inch 5`6" and a half inches
Person stout(means muscular) Stout
Visage/ complexion oval/fresh oval /fresh
Hair brown
Eyes brown hazel
Marks or wounds none

Date of supply (bedding etc) Chatham Feb 18 14
Exchanged/Discharged/Died or escaped Discharged Discharged 8 Sept 1814 to Dartmoor by HMS Niobe
Time when 28 May 1815
Whither and by what order Released Boards Order 16 March 1815
end of Dartmoor record

So a short synopsis of his war experience:
He was captured off Halifax, Nova Scotia, and taken to the HMS Niobe, a prison ship or hulks (ships used as prisons in Halifax, NS) on 26 July 1813, he was kept there until he was taken in at the Chatham hulks (County of Kent, England) on 7 Jan 1814. (A period of 5.5 months). He was kept there (Chatham) until 8 Sept 1814 when he was sent to the Dartmoor War Prison. ( A period of 8 months)

He arrived at Dartmoor Depot on the 13 Sept 1814, this was a fast trip of about 250 miles sea voyage to Plymouth, then the last 17 miles was a severe march up to 1500 feet above sea level to the prison carrying his bedding etc. He was not supplied at Dartmoor, but at Chatham, so he carried his bedding up to Dartmoor.
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On June 13, 1873 his wife sold land to John Puffer (her father-in-law) for $ 1500. On Nov 14th, 1863 she bought 34 acres+- of land for $425 from Levi W. Ingersoll. (David M. Caranci has the original deed.)

The 1870 Census shows him as John PUFFIN. He is 76 YO and is a farmer. He lives with his wife Catherine who is 72 years old and a housewife.

"He enlisted in the navy in the war of 1812 and was taken prisoner soon after and lodged in Dartmore prison, where he remained two years and five months. He came to Columbia about the year 1825, and bought the betterments of the place at Little River, so called, of Moses Leighton, where his son John and daughters Taphenus and Arabella now live. He was active in town affairs and took an interest in building up society."

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June 12, 2011
Another week of great discovery by my contact with another great grandson of Dartmoor John, Homer Morrison.

He has been able to fill in many (if not all) of the missing pieces regarding how John Puffer came to Dartmoor prison. He has the records of the English Admiralty of his capture and transfer from Halifax, NS to Chatham, England to Dartmoor.

American Prisoners of War Held at Halifax During the War of 1812 by Harrison Scott Baker

Below is Baker's summary for John Puffer, Volume II, p. 327. This was the key:

Puffer, John Prisoner 3619 Rank:Seaman From: Manchester RC, Privateer
Captured: 11 July 1813 at sea by HMS Maidstone Interned: 28 July 1813 Discharged: 09 November 1813
Belongs to Yorktown Privateer. Received from Recruit. Nemesis for England per order of Adml Sir J B Warren.
 
Puffer, John Sr. (I37522)
 

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