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  • Too Many Sarahs: Blackman-Foote, Blackman-Greenman, and Other Problems in Fairfield County, Connecticut

    Julie Helen Otto

    Published Date : April-May 1991
    Since its settlement Fairfield County, Connecticut, has offered genealogists particular challenges.  The county lies hard against upstate New York province and state, with New York’s relative paucity of early vital records.  The tendency of many Fairfield County families to migrate up and down Long Island Sound or across it to New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and still further south, to venture north to Vermont and Canada, or west through the wilds of Dutchess and other upstate New York counties - compounded by the casual record keeping of many who stayed - has often discouraged researchers [1].

    For the last fifty years people working on this region (particularly for early generations) have been guided by the invaluable History and Genealogy of the Families of Old Fairfield (1930-32, suppl. 1943; repr. 1976, 1991, hereafter OF), by Donald Lines Jacobus.  Mr. Jacobus treated families of the whole county for the seventeenth century but confined his examination of later generations to residents of the town of Fairfield. After 50 years, his is still the best work in print on many area families, including Blackman/Blakemans of neighboring Stratford, Conn., of whom several previously unexamined Sarahs and their immediate kin are the subject of this article.  Stratford researchers have long had to rely on Rev. Samuel Orcutt, History of the Old Town of Stratford and the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut (2 vols., 1886, hereafter “Orcutt”), whose genealogical section (incorporating much work by the Rev. B L. Swan), although useful, must still be used with caution as some curious errors have crept into it (for example, Zechariah3 Blackman [James2, Rev. Adam1] [1678-1769] and his son Zechariah4 [1720-1779] were conflated [2:1153], thus sending a 101-year old man bravely to his death on 11 July 1779 in the defense of Fairfield from the marauding British [1:389]).

    Mr. Jacobus first listed Sarah Blackman (b. Stratford 3 April 1705), daughter of Ebenezer3 (John2, Rev. Adam1) Blackman and his second wife Abigail Curtiss, as having married a Joseph Booth at Stratford 2 November 1737 (OF 1:86, 90), and noted that an “unplaced” Sarah Blackman had married Jeremiah Greenman at Stratford 6 September 1720 (1:87).  In a later note Mr. Jacobus corrected his earlier identification; Joseph Booth married at Stratford 2 November 1737 not Sarah Blackman, but Sarah (Thompson) Sherman (bp. 20 March 1709, d. Stratfield, Conn. [later part of Bridgeport] in April 1784, in 76th yr.) (OF 1:707).  (Note the like-sounding surnames and close dates [2 and 24 November, Booth-Sherman and Foote-Blackman, both principals Joseph and Sarah]).  Mr. Jacobus did not further treat the 1720 Blackman-Greenman marriage, as it took place outside his area of focus for the OF project.  The Stratford VRs mention another Sarah Blackman who married there 24 November 1737 a Joseph Foote. Thus the marriages of two Sarah Blackmans were recorded, but the birth of only one.

    Joseph Foote was b. Stratford 17 Dec. 1714, son of Jehiel and Susannah (___) Foote (Stratford VRs), d. (probably at Stratford or Newtown) 14 March 1791 (A.W. Foote, Foote Genealogy, vol. 1 [1901], hereafter Foote], p.61).  The only Sarah Blackman of that age whose birth was recorded with the Stratford clerk was Ebenezer’s above-listed daughter, nine years older than Joseph.  Ebenezer died in late 1715.  His estate was administered and distributed by the end of 1716, so the married surname of his daughter Sarah (b. 1705) of course does not appear in his probate papers [2].  Joseph Foote’s wife can instead be identified as Sarah5 Blackman, daughter of Benjamin4 (Joseph3, John2, Rev. Adam1) and Rebecca Smith. Distribution of Benjamin’s estate (1757-8, Fairfield Probate #829) mentions Martha “Blakeman alias Daton” (who got her father’s “dwelling house”), Mary “Blakeman alias Arnold,” Sarah “Blakeman alias Foot," Benjamin Blakeman [Jr.], Rebecca “Blakeman alias Hawley;” and Hannah Blakeman; the estate was administered by “eldest son” Timothy Blakeman.  The births of Benjamin’s children are all unrecorded. Sarah’s placement third in his distribution probably reflects her birth order, among daughters at least. Since Benjamin Blackman and Rebecca Smith were married 26 March 1706 (Stratford VRs; OF 1:86), Sarah was probably born ca. 1712-20.

    Joseph and Sarah (Blackman) Foote had issue, born in Stratford (Stratford VRs):

    Isaac Foote, b. 13 Sept. 1738.

    Martha Foote, b. 7 Feb. 1741, m. Newtown 30 Dec. 1767 John Fairchild (Newtown VRs); named prob. for maternal aunt Martha (Blakeman) Daton.

    Rachel Foote, b. 8 July 1744, d. prob. Newtown, unm.; named prob. for paternal aunt Rachel (Foote) Burch.

    Hannah Foote, b. 26 Dec. 1746, m. ___ Brice (Foote, p. 61); named prob. for maternal aunt Hannah Blakeman.

    Joseph Foote, b. 6 Dec. 1748, m. Newtown 31 Aug. 1771 Hepzibah Sherman (Newtown VRs).

    Sarah Foote, b. 27 Feb. 1750.

    Orcutt (2:1203) and Foote (p. 61) give Joseph and Sarah two or three more children, born perhaps Newtown, Conn., but not recorded there:

    Ebenezer Foote, bp. in Oct. 1754 (not in Foote).

    Jehiel Foote, b. 15 Feb. 1756.

    Polly Foote, m. (Newtown?) about 1 March 1779 Moses Gillett and d. ca. 1827 (Foote, p. 61; not in Orcutt 2:1203).

    I suggest that Mr. Jacobus’s “unplaced” Sarah Blackman who married Stratford 6 September 1720 Jeremiah Greenman (Stratford VRs; OF 1:87), was the elder Sarah Blackman (b. 1705).  William Heidgerd, The American Descendants of Chrétien Dubois of Wicres, France, Part One (1968) [64] p. 75 (hereafter Dubois), gives Ebenezer and Abigail (Curtiss) Blackman as the maternal grandparents of Amey (Greenman) Dubois, but without documentation, and makes Ebenezer a son, rather than grandson, of Rev. Adam Blackman. Jeremiah and Sarah (Blackman) Greenman had issue, recorded at Stratford (Stratford VRs):

    Nehemiah Greenman, b. 4 July 1722 [rec. as Nehemiah “Greene,” son of Jeremiah & Sarah], d. Pittsgrove Twp., N.J., in the last week of July 1779, a graduate of Yale College in 1748 (F.B. Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, vol II [1896], pp. 162-63 [3]); first minister of Pittsgrove, N.J. (Dubois 1:76).

    James Greenman, b. 5 June 1724, d. 29 March 1726.

    Ann Greenman, b. 21 March 1726, m. Stratford [rec. as Ann “Greene”] 8 Dec. 1747 Samuel Gorham [4].

    “—eme” (Amey) Greenman, b. 24 Oct. 1727 (Stratford VRs), d. Pittsgrove township, N.J. 2 June 1807 (Dubois 1:75), m. Capt. Peter Dubois [4].

    Sarah Greenman, b. 24 July 1736, “d.y.” (Greenman Gen).

    William Greenman, b. 17 Feb. 1738/9.

    The names of most of the Greenman children apparently have associations with that family (a 1988 Greenman genealogy places Jeremiah as son of William and Ann [Clarke] Greenman, and great-grandson of Gov. Jeremiah Clarke of Rhode Island [5]) and are not helpful in determining the mother’s ancestry.

    Timothy Blakeman (as many branches of the Stratford family spell the name), eldest son of Benjamin and Rebecca (Smith) Blackman and brother of “Sarah Blakeman alias Foote,” had by “Beula” (Orcutt 2:1155, where Timothy’s parentage is not given) a son Jehiel, bp. St. Paul’s (Episcopal), Huntington, Conn, 31 May 1761.  This name not only honored the Footes (see above), but also indulged Timothy’s and Beula’s apparent penchant for high-toned names [6].  Hebrew angels and prophets for boys (e.g. Zadock [b. ca. 1739, div. from New Milford, Conn. 1769 by wife Eunice [Phippeny] for desertion in 1764 [TAG 32(1956):159], after the Old Testament priest who anointed Solomon King; Asahel [ca. 1738-1818] (“God has fashioned” in Hebrew), Abel [bp. North Stratford (now Trumbull) 22 November 17481, after the son of the biblical Adam, and Jehiel  [“may he live, O God”] above) and Biblical or “classical” names for the girls (e.g. Huldah [1736-1759] [who m. Charles Lane, Jr.], after the prophetess in 2 Kings 22:14; and Diantha [1758-1846], m. her cousin Nathan Wooster son of John Wooster & Abigail5 Blackman [Ebenezer4-3, John2, Rev. Adam1].  Such unusual names may one day provide dues to “Beula’s” identity or to that of other unidentified wives [6].  For example, the uncommon “Jehiel” is found in several early Stratford families, including Preston and Beardslee.  In the microfilm register (LDS #0005765) of St. Paul’s (Episcopal) Church, Huntington, are a still-unplaced “Jeddediah” and Charity (___) Blackman who had Jedediah Beardslee Blackman, bp. 21 September 1766, Lewis Dayton Blackman, bp. 20 October 1769, and Francis Anthony Blackman, bp. 7 May 1771.

    To date I have found little information on the other children of Benjamin and Rebecca (Smith) Blackman. Martha (Blakeman) Daton appears first in the 1758 distribution, suggesting that she may have been eldest daughter, if not eldest child; her husband is unidentified [8].  Her sister Mary was obviously the Mary Blackman who married at Stratford 18 October 1733 John Arnold, of unknown origin, and had (Stratford VRs) Zadoc Arnold, b. 5 January 1734/5, d. Stratford 24 March 1736/7; John Arnold, b. 3 March 1736/7; and Robert Arnold, b. 8 November 1739 (five later children are added in Orcutt 2:1116).  As yet little or nothing is known about Benjamin Blakeman, Jr., and Rebecca (Blakeman) Hawley is apparently not treated in Elias Hawley’s massive Hawley Record (1890). Martha’s and Rebecca’s surnames in the distribution could represent later marriages.

    Curiously, D.L Jacobus once addressed another Sara Blackman problem in TAG (10[1933-34]:260-61), persuasively arguing that the Sarah Blackman who married John Todd at New Haven 20 August 1677, and died in childbirth there 16 December 1688, could not be Sarah3, daughter of James2 Blackman of Stratford.  James’s 1689 will mentions his daughter Sarah “Cunny,” wife of the well-known Boston gold- and silversmith John Coney [9].  Mr. Jacobus’s suggestion that John Todd’s wife may have been an otherwise unrecorded daughter of John and Dorothy (Smith) Blackman bears further inquiry (this John, the [prob.] eldest son of Rev. Adam, died comparatively young in 1662; his will does not name all his children [S.P. Mead, Abstract of Probate Records at Fairfield., Conn., vol. 1,1648-1750, typescript (1929) at NEHGS], p. 4).  Mr. Jacobus cited Suffolk Deeds 25:59 to show that Sarah2 (John1) Blackman, of the Dorchester, Mass., family - whose relation (if any) to the Stratford Blackmans is unknown - was unmarried in March 1693/94.  The same deed proves that Sarah (___) Blackman, second wife of John (d. 1675) of Dorchester, was “Sarah Blackman alias Jones” at Little Compton, R.I. in 1710.  Thus neither she nor her daughter or stepdaughter Sarah Blackman could be the Sarah (Blackman) Todd who died in 1688 [10].


    [1] As an example, Huntington [inc. 1789, now Shelton] was set off from Stratford in 1717 as the Congregational parish of Ripton but church registers begin only in 1773; only about 20 years are missing in records of St. Paul’s [Episcopal], also in Huntington, founded ca. 1739/40 from the Stratford Episcopal church.  Civically-recorded Huntington VRs in the Barbour Coll. comprise only 26 pp., while the CSL Index volume [under Shelton] for the Huntington Congregational Church contains 156 pp. Many Blackman families were early Huntington residents; without the first 56 years of church records the task of untangling them is daunting indeed.

    [2] Ebenezer’s family had other ties with the Footes; his oldest daughter Dorothy (b. Stratford 18 March 1682/3, d. Newtown, Conn. 28 January 1721/2, dau. of his first wife Patience (Wilcoxson), married at Stratford 2 Jan. 1704/5 Daniel Foote, uncle of Joseph, and had a large family.


    [3] Jeremiah Greenman, husband of Abigail Blackman, was living 11 December 1758, when he witnessed a deed of Charles Patterson to Robert Walker (Stratford Deeds 11:449).  The Nehemiah “Greenman” of Norwalk, Conn. whom Dexter suggests as Rev. Nehemiah’s father or uncle was instead a Nehemiah Grumman, b. prob. Lyons Farms, Newark, N.J. ca. 1718 (six years before our Nehemiah was b. at Stratford), d. Wilton, Conn. 4 April 1797, son of Joseph3 (John2-1) Grumman and possibly Mary ___; see TAG 33(1957):156-59.

    [4] Ann, wife of Samuel Gorham, is given as “Ann Greene/Grooman/Grumman, who has not been identified,” in Elizabeth Pearson White, John Howland of the Mayflower, Volume 1, the First Five Generations: Documented Descendants through his First Child Desire2 Howland and Her Husband, Capt. John Gorham (1990), p. 401; as “Ann Greenman, dau. of Jeremiah” by Jacobus (OF 2189); as Ann “Greene” (Stamford VRs); and as Ann “Grooman” (Orcutt 2:1208).  Almost certainly, however, she was the Ann Greenman cited above.  Ann named a daughter “Anne” Gorham (“Mercy” in Orcutt 2:2108), and a son Nehemiah.  As noted above, Nehemiah Greenman’s birth was recorded as “Greene”; no Jeremiah and Sarah Greene are found at the time in Stratford.

    Of Ann’s sister Amey, Robert Patterson Dubois wrote (ca. 1860?), “Our grandmother Amey [(Greenman) Dubois] was, in her old age, very large and fleshy, and had a blemish in one eye.  She and her husband were both active members of the church of which he was for some time the treasurer.  They were strict enough with their children [Joel, Jeremiah, Sarah, Thomas, Samuel, Uriah and Amey].  During the [Revolutionary] War, when [ever] a fast was proclaimed...[the parents] never suffered [the children] to take a mouthful of food but kept them in the house reading and praying so that [the children] were glad to steal out and eat the sorrel (sour evergreen leaves) that grew along the fence.  If a thunderstorm came up in the night, grandmother would rouse them all from their beds and make them sit around a table while she read to them from the Bible....Each of the sons [was] bequeathed...a good farm except the youngest who received the barn and orchard of the farmstead” (Dubois 1:75). A plaque in the Pittsgrove, N.J., Presbyterian Church commemorates Capt. Peter Dubois and his wife Amey Greenman, “sister of Rev. Nehemiah Greenman, first pastor in this building” (ibid., 1:76).

    [5] Peter Holden Greenman, Genealogy: the Greenman Family in America (1988), pp. 8, 15.  It seems doubtful, however, that Jeremiah Greenman was both born ca. 1700 and a widower by age 20, especially since his alleged first wife, Abigail Dodge, is said to have died “aged 29” (p. 15).

    [6] See Benzion C. Kaganoff, A Dictionary of Jewish Names and Their History (1977), pp. 50 (Asa[h]el and Jehiel/Yehiel; for the latter p. 40 gives the alternate “God heals”), 80 (Huldah).

    [7] Other children of this couple were Timothy, Jr. (bp. in Sept. 1741) and Benjamin (bp. 10 Jan. 1753).  A so-far unplaced wid. Bethia (___) Blackman, perhaps identical with “Beula” their mother, died at Huntington 23 April 1790, ae. 73 (Huntington Cong. Ch. records, CSL Index).  A Jehiel Blackman enlisted in Capt. Abel’s co., Bradley’s Battalion, Wadsworth’s Brigade, Conn. State troops 14 June 1776 and was taken prisoner by the British at the fall of Fort Washington 16 November (Record of Service of Connecticut Men in [War of the Revolution] [1889], p. 415).

    [8] “Benjamin Daton,” on the same roll as Jehiel Blackman and several other cousins, might be a son of Martha (Blakeman) Daton.

    [9] For Sarah3 (James2, Rev. Adam1) Blackman, wife of John Coney, see OF 1:159 (Stratford VRs give her birthdate as 25 September 1658, not 25 April); for descendants, see M.L Holman, Ancestors and Descendants of John Coney of Boston, England and Boston, Massachusetts (1928), pp. 66, 70, 75-77.

    [10] A colleague slyly notes that not only did Sarah Blackman of Stratford marry Jeremiah Greenrnan, but George3 (Benjamin2, John1) Blackman of the Dorchester family m. Boston (rec. there and Stoughton, Mass.) 4 Sept. 1727 Thankful Redman.

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