Among my most elusive ancestors, at least as regards origins, was a certain Bildad Sherwin, whose unusual first name appears in the book of Job (Bildad the Shuhite was one of Job’s friends). Bildad’s forename may be uncommon, but sparse late-eighteenth century Vermont records and his later migration to upstate New York made tracing his parentage difficult.
Bildad’s own 1811 marriage to Philinda Rider and the births of their children are cited in Alanson Gray, Edward Gray and His Wife Mary Paddock and Their Descendants (1889, henceforth Gray), pp. 35-41. Many Sherwins from 1667 through the Revolutionary War are well documented in Oscar H. Leland, Ancestors and Descendants of John Sherwin, Sr. late of Weathersfield, Vermont (1922, henceforth Sherwin); but Bildad and his siblings left few records. My copy of Gray, was originally owned by Bildad’s daughter, my great-grandmother Elizabeth (Sherwin) (Wheeler) Porter, whose annotations indicate that she agreed with its account of her parents and siblings. Bildad’s parents were not named.
The solution lay in an old letter, augmented by modern correspondence and standard research. In May 1841, Harriet Sherwin, a teacher in Harborcreek, Pennsylvania, wrote her niece Elizabeth (my great-grandmother above, then a teacher in Orland, Indiana) and referred to;
1. Harriet’s “brother” Bildad (to whom the envelope was addressed): “I shall never forget him nor my other brothers & sister [sic] who are separated from us.”2. Harriet’s mother, who is well, but waits for letters from all her children.3. Brother Ira and family, who enjoy good health. Harriet is teaching about five miles from Ira.
4. “Either of my other brothers,” from whom nothing has been heard recently.5. “Sister Morris [who] wrote .... informing us of [the] death of her third daughter, Sarah.”
I sent a copy of this letter to Mrs. Jean Fisher of Farmington, Conn., who had placed Sherwin queries in the National Genealogical Society newsletter, NEXUS and elsewhere. She replied that Ira and Harriet were children of Daniel Sherwin and Abigail Manning, who spent their married life in Massachusetts and Vermont. She had no information, however, about Bildad or “Sister” Morris. Subsequent research indicates that Bildad was indeed a brother of Ira, Harriet, and “Sister” Morris as well as of (probably) five other children of Daniel5 Sherwin (Daniel4, Ebenezer3-2, John1) and Abigail6 Manning (Samuel5, John4, Samuel3, William2-1)-“Sister” Morris can probably he identified as the Nabby [Abigail] Sherwin of Chester, Vt., who married John Morris there 24 April 1814. A standard Register-form treatment of this family follows.
Daniel5Sherwin was born in Townsend, Mass. 3 May 1757, and died in Chester, Vt. 17 April 1834, son of Daniel and Susannah (Proctor) Sherwin (Sherwin, 1-12). He married at Townsend (int. 24 March 1781) Abigail Manning, born at Townsend 25 November 1760, daughter of Samuel and Abigail (Avery) Manning. Abigail (Manning) Sherwin was living at Harborcreek, Penn. 25 July 1848 when she appeared before a justice of the peace concerning her Revolutionary War veteran’s widow’s pension (W.H. Manning, The Manning Families of New England [1902, henceforth Manning], 208-10; forthcoming Townsend VRs, 11, 217, 221; Rev. War Pension File W4510, Daniel Sherwin, Mass., National Archives, Washington, D.C.).
Applying in 1838 for a Revolutionary War veteran’s widow’s pension, Abigail said that her marriage to Daniel Sherwin took place “the last Wednesday of May 1780” ? Her brother Samuel Manning of Andover, Vt., said that he remembered “Daniel Sherwin’s father coming to my parents and asking for consent to marry my sister Abigail, which they gave. They had several children [names not given].” Samuel said that he lived “a considerable time” in the family of Daniel and Abigail. Another brother, Joel Manning of Ludlow, Vt., said that he was present at the wedding and that he also lived with the family for some the. The widow’s pension was granted.
Daniel5Sherwin, his father Daniel , and his brother John all served in the Revolution. Daniel5served at the Battle of Bunker Hill, where he lost a gun for which he was later reimbursed, and at Ticonderoga and Long island (Mass. Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War 4:151-52; Rev. War Pension File W4510).
Daniel and Abigail started married life in Townsend. (Pension File W4510). By 6 September 1790 he was farming and a freeman (name spelled “Sharwin”) in Andover, Windsor Co., Vt., and in 1791 was serving the first of several terms as selectman, he last appears on the grand list (for taxation) in 1799 (Andover Town Proceedings, microfilm #2485, Vt. Recs.). At about this the he moved to nearby Chester, Vt., where he lived until his death, intestate, 17 April 1834 (1800-1830 censuses, Windsor Co., Vt.; Ludlow [Vt.] District Probate, 14:41; Vermont VRs).
The widow Abigail and her daughter Harriet moved to Harborcreek, Penn., to be with Abigail’s son Ira, a physician, who had resided there since 1825 (Pension file W4510; Benjamin Whitman et al., History of Erie Co., Penn. [18841, 444). Abigail was still living there 25 July 1848, aged 87, when she testified before a justice of the peace concerning her Revolutionary War pension “under the new law” (Pension file W4510). She died in Harborcreek in September 1848 (broken g.s., Erie Cem.: “Abagail [sic] Sherwin, Born in Townsend Mass. 25 Nov. 1760. Died in Harborcreek Pa. Sept. 31, 1848, Aged 88 years...)”. The impossible date Sept. 31 is clearly carved.
Data on Dr. Ira Sherwin’s family, including cemetery data, was supplied by Ira’s descendant Phillip A. Laird of Erie, Penn., who was also researching the Sherwins and suggested that Abigail Sherwin’s stone was worn, lying on the ground, and might have been brought there from another burial place.
Children of Daniel5and Abigail (Manning) Sherwin:
i. Daniel6Sherwin, b. Townsend 22 Dec. 1781 (forth-coming Townsend VRs, 252); d. Malone, Franklin Co., N.Y. 23 May 1855 (LDS recs. submitted ca. 1956 by Mrs. Mark W. Cram of Sacramento, hereafter Cram Papers; m. Boston, Mass., 25 Sept. 1808 Mary Harris (E.W. McGlenen, ed., Boston Marriages, 1752-1809 [1903, repr. 1977], p. 272), b. Shirley, Mass. 16 Dec. 1789,  d. Malone 7 April 1864, dau. of Francis and Eunice (Holden) Harris. Children of Daniel and Mary (Harris), the first b. Shirley, others b. Malone, N.Y.: John M. Sherwin, b. ca. 1809, d. 16 June 1837; Francis H. Sherwin, b. 31 Dec. 1814, d. 6 March 1895, m. 2 Nov. 1840 Mary Ann Wilson; Polly Sherwin, b. ca. 1824; Lerona K. Sherwin, b. 25 Jan. 1827, d. 18 Nov. 1918, m. William S. Helms; Stillman Sherwin, b. ca. 1829; Rhoda Sherwin, b. ca. 1833, m. D.E. Hastings (Cram Papers). ii. John Sherwin, b. prob. Townsend ca 1783, d. Chester, Vt. 8 Jan. 1808, ae. 24 (in VT VRs called son of “Capt. Daniel and Abigail” Sherwin).iii. Bildad Sherwin, b. prob. Andover, Vt. 29 Oct. 1792, d. Orland, Steuben Co., Indiana 21 Dec. 1841 (Gray, 36); m. prob. Chester or Dorset, Vt. ca. 1811 Philinda Rider, b. Dorset 20 March 1794, d. Jackson or Orland 15 Sept. 1837, dau. of Stephen7 Rider (Ebenezer6, John5-4-3, Zachary2, Samuel1) and his wife Lorena6 Gray (John5, Edward4-3-2, John1) (Fremont Rider, Preliminary Materials for a Genealogy of the Rider (Ryder) Families in the United States, v. 2 (1959), unpg.; Gray, 25, 35). Bildad and Philinda are bur. in Jackson Prairie Cem., Jackson Twp., Steuben Co., Indiana. Bildad Sherwin served as a private in Capt. John Weed’s Co. of Volunteer Riflemen, Col. Clark’s Volunteer Corps, War of 1812, from 20 Sept. 17 - Nov. 1813 (Military Service Recs., War of 1812, #254, National Archives). Bildad and his wife res. Chester, Vt., until ca. 1820. A farmer, he bought land in Bergen, Genesee Co., N.Y. 18 April 1820 (Genesee Co., N.Y. Deeds, 18:276), and moved to Indiana ca. 1836 (H.W. Morley, History of Steuben Co., Indiana , 49, 376).iv. Abigail “Nabby” Sherwin, b. perhaps 1793; m. Chester 24 April 1814 John Morris (VT VRs). They had at least three daughters; the third, Sarah Morris, d. ca. 1841 (Harriet Sherwin letter).v. Ira Sherwin, b. prob. Chester, Vt. ca. 1796 (based on age in 1850 census, Erie Co., Penn., p. 95), d. Harborcreek 25 Oct. 1859; m. prob. Penn. 10 Aug. 1826 Sarah Wilson, b. Erie Co., Penn. 10 Aug. 1800, d. Harborcreek 8 March 1888. Their children, all b. Penn. (birthdates calc. from 1850 census): Harriet E. Sherwin, b. ca. 1827, m. A.H. Tracy, res. Monmouth, Illinois; John 0. Sherwin, b. ca. 1829, m. Elizabeth Anderson, res. in Nebraska; George W.F. Sherwin, b. ca. 1831, d. Erie, Penn. 24 Sept. 1887, m. prob. in Penn. 3 Jan. 1861 Sarah Jennie Moorhead, b. Harborcreek 1 Jan. 1830, d. Erie 29 March 1892; Sarah Abbie Sherwin, b. ca. 1835, m. prob. Harborcreek 28 Jan. 1862 Newell S. West, res. Traer, Iowa; Nancy Sherwin, b. ca. 1838, living 1850; Josephine Barr Sherwin, b. Harborcreek 1838, d. there 1917, unm.; Mary Fatima Sherwin, b. Harborcreek 1841, d. there 1917, unm. (According to Phillip A. Laird, Josephine Barr Sherwin, not listed in the census, was named in family records as a dau. of Ira, and is bur. in the family lot in Erie Com.)vi. (prob.) Patty Sherwin, b. ca. 1800, d. Chester 27 May 1803, ae. 3 yrs. (Manning, 210).vii. Harriet Sherwin, b. prob. Chester ca. 1804, liv. Harborcreek, Penn. in May 1841. She was prob. the female ae. under 10 in the household of Daniel Sherwin in the 1810 Chester, Vt. census; 10-16 in the 1821.) census, and 20-30 in 1830. Harriet stated in her 1841 letter to her niece that she had been a schoolteacher “for many years.”viii. (prob.) Fanny Sherwin, b. ca. June 1805, d. Chester 6 Dec. 1805, ae. 5 mos. (VT VRs). (vi.) and (viii.) are listed as daus. of Daniel only because they are bur. in Brookside Cem., Chester, where Daniel5 and John6 were bur. also.ix. One other male, since Harriet referred to not hearing from “either of my other brothers.” Mrs. Fisher suggests that the other bro. may be Samuel Sherwin, head of a household in Chester, Vt. in 1810 and 1820, and in Grafton, Vt. in 1330. He died in Grafton “age 53 years” 2 June 1840 (VT VRs); news of his death might not have reached his sister Harriet by May 1841. Samuel’s wife was Roxana ___, named on the death rec. of their son Daniel. The will of Ira Sherwin, another son of Samuel, who d. Grafton, Vt. “age 23 years” 23 May 1849, mentions siblings James; Juliette; Minerva, wife of Jonas H. Amsden; John M.; Sherman; and Abigail wife of Hosea Lamphear. Samuel’s approx. birthdate of 1787 “fits” into the family of Daniel Sherwin, but Samuel has not yet been certainly identified.
This partial report on one family during the “century of lost ancestors” identifies Bildad Sherwin’s origin and provides a framework for further research. I am indebted to Mrs. Jean Fisher of Farmington, Conn., and to Phillip A. Laird of Erie, Penn., both cited earlier, for their contributions. Queries and correspondence do help!
Mary B. Sherwood’s previous contributions to NEXUS were “The Barbour Connection” (4:29) and “Time Elusive Benjamin Porter (1760-1841)” (7:58 59). She has written for the Mayflower Quarterly, and is the author of Pilgrim: A Biography of William Brewster (1982) and Nicholas Burke (1838-1878), Margaret Shannon (1838-1916): Their Descendants and a Few Ancestors (1985). Before her retirement she was a writer for the U.S. Information Agency. Interested readers may write her at 7402 Lanham Rd., Falls Church, VA 22043.