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  • Widow Zerviah West of Westerly, Rhode Island

    Caroline Lewis Kardell

    Published Date : June 1987
    In researching the Wests of Westerly, Rhode Island, the genealogist must avoid taking anything at face value, except data found in the Westerly Council & Probate Record books (hereafter called Westerly C&P) and the few Westerly Vital Records on this family.  There are two West genealogies in print, both of which contain errors.  No marriage record has been found for any Zerviah ___ to any West, and there are no birth records for the children.  This family probably belonged to the Seventh Day Sabbatarian Church of Westerly.  Correspondence with the archival headquarters of this church in Janesville, Wisconsin has produced no births or marriages.  One surviving record, however, is the will of the widow Survivor (Zerviah) West, excerpted as follows:

    “In the fear of God Amen this Twenty Second Day of February Anno Dom 1775 I - Survivor West of Westerly….Give and bequeath unto my Two beloved Daughters named Margaret and Sarah all my wearing apparel to be Equally Divided between them According to Quantity & Quality when they respectively arrive to the age of eighteen years and then to be to their own Disposal….I give and bequeath to my Beloved Daughter Cinthia Pendleton a Black & white Coverlid in Addition to what I have Already given her….I give and bequeath to my four Children Namely Adam Margaret Sarah and Ammi after my just Debts….all the Residue or Remainder of my Estate to be equally Divided between them according to Quantity & Quality to be Delivered to them by my Executor that is to Say to each of my Aforesd Sons when they respectively Arrive to the Age of Twenty one Years their equal part and to my 5d Daughters their equal part when they respectively Arrive to the Age of Eighteen Years... and Ordain my Trusty Friend Joseph Gavit... Sole Executor of this my last Will & Testament . .

    Survivor West


    Elisabeth Bliven (wife of Nathan Bliven)

    Elisabeth Bliven (wife of John Bliven)

    James + Gavit (his mark)

    The witnesses appeared before the Council on 27 March 1775, at which time Joseph Gavit was granted administration on the deceased’s estate (Westerly C & P, 6:255, 256).


    The first published error appears in Brian Pendleton And His Descendants, by Everett Hall Pendleton (1910), pp. 192-93.  Pendleton says that the wife of Nathaniel6 Pendleton was Cynthia West, daughter of James & Zerviah West of Westerly.  The James West who died at Westerly 29 September 1764 was not the husband of Zerviah.  James married 18 December 1751 Susanna Pullman and had children beginning in 1752, including a posthumous child born 1765 (James F. Arnold, Vital Records of Rhode Island, 5[Westerly] :68,142).  The names of his children do not match the names of any of the children of widow Zerviah West.  This correction leaves us with no known given name for the father of Cynthia (West) Pendleton.

    In Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and his Descendants, by John Cortland Crandall (1949), page 10, the author lists the children of #18 (Col.) John Crandall and his two wives as follows:

    Children of John & Mary (Crandall) Crandall:
    Hannah, b. prob. 1730/1 (m. Enoch Crandall #234)
    Jonathan, b. 1732
    Mary (Marcy), b. Feb. 1734
    Lewis, b. Aug. 1738
    Children of John & Esther (Lewis) Crandall:
    Ann (Thirsa), b. Aug. 1741
    Esther, b. Feb. 1742 (sic)
    *Adam. b. 1746
    John, b. 14 Jan. 1753
    *Amherst (adopted), b. 1756

    *Three of these children, Adam. Amherst, and Sally, are children of the widow Zerviah West.  They are not the children of Col. John & Esther (Lewis) Crandall, although they used Crandall as their surname and were raised in this household after the death of their West father.  The following documents provide proof of their identity.

    Received December 3d Day 1776 of Joseph Gavit Executor to the last Will & Testament of my honored Mother Zurvia West late of Westerly Deceased One Quarter part of the Remainder of my deceased Mothers Personal Estate after her just Debts and funeral Charges wer paid to the value of Ten Shillings two pence 2 farthings In Consideration of which I as a legatee Named in 5d Will do hereby Acquit & Discharge the Estate of my Mother & 5d Executor of & from all further demands whatsoever Respecting the Legacy given to me as aforesd In Witness Whereof I have hereunto Set my Hand & Seal the Date Above Written            Adam Creandalol     Seal

    In presence of

    Elisabeth Bliven

    Nathan Bliven

    Received December 3d Day 1776 of Joseph Gavit Executor to the last Will & Testament of my honored

    Mother Zurvia West late of Westerly Deceased One hal of my Mothers Wearing Apparel to the Value of One pound Six Shillings & one half penny Together with One Quarter part of the Remainder of my 5d Deceased Mothers personal Estate after just Debts and funeral Charges were paid to the Value of Ten shillings two pence

         Jan 1st 1777 Date Entered         Peggy  +  West

    In presence of       (her mark)

    Adam Crandall
    Elizabeth Bliven

    Both of these distributions appear in Westerly C&P 6:340.  Adam having reached 21 was born ca. 1755, and Peggy having reached 18 was born ca. 1758.

    Sally Crandal Daughter of Zurvier West Decd appeared before this Council and made Choice of Adam Crandal (her Brother) to be her Guardian which Choice is approved of by the Council he Complying with the Law (Westerly C&P, 6:356).

    Amherst Crandal (so Called) Son and & Orphan of Zurvia West of Westerly late Deceased appeared before this Council and made Choice of his Brother Adam Crandal as his guardian which Choice is approved of he Complying with the Law (Westerly C&P, 6:404).

    We now have proof of the identity of all five of the children of Zerviah West.  We are left with the problem of an unknown Zerviah marrying an unknown West.  There are some clues to be found in the Crandall genealogy.  Why did a man nearly 70 years old, with a large family of his own, take in three more children to raise?  One perhaps, possibly two, but three children seems to indicate some close relationship to these children.

    Taking a closer look at the list of Col. John’s children, we see that the dates and order of birth are based on conjecture.  This list is not taken from a family Bible or the Westerly Vital Records.  Hannah is listed as the first child, born about 1730/1.  She married 24 March 1773 Enoch Crandall (Crandall genealogy, p.60), who was born 1 November 1752.  Rather than being the oldest child of Col. John, she is more likely one of the youngest of his children.  Otherwise, she would have been 22 years older than her husband, and have borne her last child at age 52.  We now have a space where one of the other children listed may belong, that is, the position of eldest child of Col. John.  We look next at Ann (Thirsa), born August 1741.  I have no doubt that Ann may have been born about 1741, but it is unusual to find a daughter given two names as early as 1741.  Are two daughters listed as one?  Is Thirsa actually the eldest child born about 1730/1, and is Thirsa not a misreading of Zerviah (Survia)?

    I suggest the possibility that the widow Zerviah West was the eldest child of Col. John and Mary (Crandall) Crandall.  When her husband died, possibly even before the birth of Ainmi, the widow [132]     Zerviah was left with five small children.  She may have kept the two oldest girls, Cynthia and Peggy, with her, since there is no indication that either used any surname but West.  Perhaps Ammi was kept at home until he was old enough to go with Adam & Sally to their (possible) grandfather’s household.  Hopefully, a Bible or some other record for Col. John Crandall and his family will some day be found to help prove or disprove this hypothesis.

    The problem of the identity of Zerviah’s husband and his story remains.  The West family genealogy is incomplete.  Some of the Stonington/Westerly Wests are well recorded, and a West notebook found several years ago clarified the line of William3 West.  Without the given name of Zerviah’s husband, I find no likely candidate among these Wests, or rather too many possibilities.  The given name of Zerviah’s last child, however, holds a possible clue.  The child was given the old name of Ammi/Loammi.  He was not born as Amherst.  In Zerviah’s will the children were carefully listed using their full names.  For instance, Peggy and Sally were specifically called Margaret and Sarah.  Ammi was called Ammi, and I believe that was his correct name.  The clue as to what may have happened to his father is reflected in the name he called himself, “Amherst,” in honor of Jeffrey, Lord Amherst.  Could our unknown West have been among the Westerly or Stonington men who were at Crown Point with Amherst?  And was he one who died of illness or wounds in that campaign?  Knowing he was going on a dangerous journey, one supposes that he must have made a will, but I have not found it.

    Family record of ___ West, m. prob. early in 1749 Zerviah___, b. ca. 1731; d. at Westerly between 22 February 1775 and 27 March 1775, poss. dau. of Col. John & Mary (Crandall) Crandall.

    Children, probably born at Westerly:

    i.           Cynthia West, b. 12 December 1749; d. prob. at Northport, Me., 13 April 1810; m. prob. at Westerly, Nathaniel6 Pendleton; removed to Islesboro, Me.
    ii.          Adam West (Crandall, so-called), b. ca. 1755; d. at Hartland, Vt., 14 April 1796, age 40; m. (1)* at Stonington, Conn., 29 November 1781 Eunice Blodgett; m. (2) at Hartland, Vt., 1788 Charlotte Willard.
    iii.         Margaret (Peggy) West, b. ca. 1758, still living ian. 1777, n.f.r.
    iv.         Sarah (Sally) West (Crandall. so called), b. ca. 1761; m. int. Westerly, 6 June 1779 Nicholas Davis.  I find no marriage or further record.
    v.          Ammi (Amherst) West (Crandall, so-called), b. ca. 1763/4, poss. posthumous; m. at Hopkinton, R.I., 1 November 1787 Mary (Polly) Maxson.

    *Possibly Adam was married to an earlier wife, but I find no proof.

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