Abel Partridge’s introduction to Colonial life in New England was less than desirable when the Medfield, Massachusetts, town clerk, John Baxter, as copied by Henry Adams in 1850, inscribed upon the town records that:
Supposed seems to be the favored method employed by Medfield town clerks to document upon the town records that a couple had a child out of wedlock. It differs though with how Josiah Partridge was listed. His claim was to be a “reputed” son of Josiah Partridge. There are four instances within the town records of “supposed” children born to out of wedlock parents. Two of these would belong to the same Cheney family. There are two instances of “reputed” being utilized also. The two words themselves share a common meaning of not being sure of the identity of the father but it was generally known who was believed to be the father. I’m not certain that either Abel Sr. or Josiah Sr. challenged that assumption. Unfortunately, Abel Sr. died as a ward of Medfield, and as such, left no estate, leaving no direct confirmation of kinship. Abel Jr., however, would use the Partridge surname during his entire life.
The 1878 version of Medfield’s vital records was even more brutal, using the hated “illegitimate” to describe the birth of Abel Partridge. It’s preface while providing a history of the reason for it’s creation, the original records having deteriorated by use, age and scorching from the Medfield town hall fire of 1874.
Hannah Cheney was the daughter of Ephraim and Ann (Clark) Cheney. Ephraim built a grist mill in the east part of Medfield and upon his death he left that grist mill to his wife along with the lower part of the house. His three daughters, Sarah, Ann and Hannah, all single when their father Ephraim died in 1759, were to have a right in the improved chamber of the house while they remained single. Worcester County MA Probate Case 12174 Cheney, Ephraim Will – 1758, Page 1 The eldest sister, Sarah Cheney, twelve years older then Hannah, would marry Nathaniel Stearns in 1762, and this family plays a roll in the later part of Abel’s Colonial life. The other sister, Ann, would herself have a “supposed” daughter born to her and Lemuel Boyden on 6 Mar 1762, named Rachel Boyden. Neither Ann nor Hannah married the father of their child. For Ann, the town records reflect that her daughter Rachel Boyden was raised by Ann’s elder sister, Sarah, and that the town paid Sarah and Nathaniel Stearns until the child reached the age of seven, when Rachel was bound out by the selectmen as an indentured servant. In Colonial New England a town was responsible for the people who resided within their jurisdiction, and as such they often used methods that today may look harsh and uncaring. At that time it was an effective method that placed a child into a home in which they could be cared for without an ongoing cost to the township, in return the child would serve as a servant to the family.
We don’t have evidence that Abel was placed into servitude; rather it appears in his case, he was either taken into his father’s family after Abel Sr. married Miriam, a year or two after Abel Jr.’s birth, or was raised by his mother, Hannah Cheney, who was listed as Mrs. Hannah Cheney in the marriage record when she married Daniel Wedge in Bellingham, Massachusetts on 14 Mar 1774.
In 1790, Abel was enumerated as residing in the town of Ward, Massachusetts Ward changed its name to Auburn in 1837 and any subsequent town records for Abel will appear in the Auburn, Massachusetts town records.. Residing with him were two females. 1790; Census Place: Ward, Worcester, Massachusetts; Series: M637; Roll: 4; Page: 653; Image: 708; Family History Library Film: 0568144. See image. The records are silent as to the identity of the two females residing with him. In 1790, Abel would have been 25 years of age, old enough in Colonial Massachusetts for a man to marry. Did he perhaps have an earlier wife?
How Abel ended up in Ward is not mentioned in the records. The Partridge’s have no connection to Ward or Auburn except through Abel Jr. The Stearns, likewise. The Cheney’s, however, do. The youngest son of Ephraim and Ann (Clark) Cheney, Ephraim Jr., married Bathsheba Morse in 1778 and moved from Medfield to Ward immediately. There they would have several children born to them up until 1795. Perhaps Abel resided with Ephraim and Bathsheba in Ward as the Cheney’s were still there in 1811 when their daughter Anna married James Dispeau.
I am unable to locate an 1800 census for Abel. At this point in his life he was 35 years of age, and should have been listed as head of household, if at the time he was a head. A search of all 1800 census for Partridge/Patridge fails to produce a match, as well as a page by page search of Ward. We must conclude then that he was no longer a head of household. He was not residing with Ephraim.
The town vital records are silent concerning Abel, until 30 Mar 1801, when he marries Sarah Stearns in Ward. Vital records of Ward Massachusetts, to the year 1837 Sarah was the daughter of Nathaniel and Sarah (Cheney) Stearns, the family mentioned earlier. Sarah Cheney, wife of Nathaniel Stearns, was the sister of Abel’s mother. In the terminology of kinship, this would mean that Abel married his “supposed” half first cousin. More importantly, it ties Abel to the Cheney family, indicating that those familial binds were not broken during his upbringing.
Abel was enumerated in 1810 with his wife and two daughters in Ward. Year: 1810; Census Place: Ward, Worcester, Massachusetts; Roll: 22; Page: 483; Image: 00022; Family History Library Film: 0205630. See image.
On 9 June 1826 Abel signed two different notes (images 4 and 5 of Abel’s 1826 probate packet), each of them had a value of $200, and were made out to Samuel Warren and attested to by Abisha Larned. The reason for the notes were not provided, but usually notes in this amount were for a property purchase or lien. The fact he signed two different notes may reflect the purchase or lien of two different properties. He possessed two upon his death later that year. These notes are important as they provide a known signature of Abel. You will notice that he spelled his surname Patridge, as did his children.
An announcement of Abel Partridge’s death appeared in the Rhode Island American in 1826. This death record was then reprinted in the Vital Records of Rhode Island series vol. XXI, published in 1912. Specifically page 541 states beneath the Partridge heading:
Abel, at Ward, Mass., aged 61 years, Oct. 28, 1826.
This record is important, first, and foremost, it provides the age of Abel at death of 61 years, which corresponds with a birth of 1765. There were several unidentified Abel Partridge’s in the Massachusetts area who the records of Ward could have referenced, but none of them were born in 1765, or around that date. The specific date of death admittedly conflicts with the official town vital records.
Abel died without leaving a will. Since he had property at the time, as the administration of his probate shows below, we can conclude that his death was probably sudden, or he was unable to dictate or write a will after an accident or during an illness. The town vital records show a later date of death for Abel of 3 Nov 1826.
See below in “conflict resolution” for a further discussion of this record.
The grave for Abel has not been found. Abel’s probate record indicates that he was buried, but provides no name of the cemetery, nor cost of a headstone. Absent a headstone, one can expect he was either buried on his own land, or at one of the two cemeteries in Ward active at the time, Auburn Center Burial Ground, or the West Auburn Burial Ground.
Sarah married a second time on 1 Jan 1828 to David Hosmer. Vital records of Ward Massachusetts, to the year 1837 There were two different David Hosmer’s in Auburn at that time, and I have not yet identified which one she married.
Date of Death
The written town records conflict on the death record of 3 Nov 1826 with the printed town records. The printed town records read: PARTRIDGE, Sarah, wife of Abel, Nov. 3, 1826. Vital records of Ward Massachusetts, to the year 1837 The actual town record shown in the image attached to this post differs greatly with this record. It is apparent that Franklin P. Rice misread the flourish at the end of the Mr. and made it Mrs. and then doubled down on that error by substituting the given name of Mrs. Partridge for the Mrs. in the printed record. This error is why many professional genealogists warn regular genealogists to record a record exactly as written without inserting or editing from the original. They also consistently remind genealogists to refer to the original record whenever possible and to conduct an exhaustive search for all records for a person. I knew as I read and saw Sarah’s signature on the probate records that she couldn’t have died when the printed record stated she had.
There are two different dates of death for Abel Partridge which differ by 7 days. The first, the record of 28 oct 1826, is from a second hand source, a newspaper, geographically distant from the town of Ward (for that time period), and further compounded by being a transcription, not the original newspaper, consider it circumstantial. The date of 3 Nov 1826 comes from the handwritten official town record, improperly attribute to Mrs. in the printed publication, but nevertheless is the most direct source of death date and the one which should be used as Abel’s death. Any thought that Abel died outside Ward is put to rest by that record as it states he died in Ward. His estate administration (image 24) provides payment of $1.42 to Dr. Daniel Green. Whether that amount was for recent care or a note due for previous care is not stated.
Some online genealogies attribute the Abel Partridge who married Sarah Stearns to be the same as the Abel, son of Eli and Rachel (Sheffield) Partridge. That Abel Partridge was baptized at Chesterfield, New Hampshire in 1776 and later drowned in the Connecticut River at Bellows Falls. Eli’s family and their descendants maintained the spelling of Pattridge through several generations, many continue to use that spelling variation today. Abel in Ward, Massachusetts, used the spelling of Partridge.
The connection of Abel and Sarah Stearns Partridge to the Cheney family of Massachusetts is undeniable. Sarah’s husband, while single, was hired by Ann Cheney after the death of her husband, Ephraim, to attend to the grist mill. He would eventually marry her eldest daughter and one of the offspring of that union became the wife of Nathaniel Stearns, and parent of Sarah Stearns. Abel himself was the “supposed” son of Abel Partridge and Hannah Cheney. Hannah another daughter of Ephraim and Ann (Clark) Cheney.
Probate for Abel Partridge (1765-1826)
The 1826 probate file for Abel Partridge contains 31 images and is Worcester County Massachusetts Probate Case #45523, Series A. There are no will or guardianship papers. The 31 images can be identified as follows:
- Case #45523 header
- Petition front. Signed petition by Sarah and Polly Partridge, along with Isaac Willard, Jr., requesting that the petition within be granted. Shows approval was granted on 1 May 1827 and recorded in Vol 263, page 330.
- Petition back. Contains the actual petition by the Administrator, Samuel Warren, on 23 Apr 1827, requesting permission to sell off Abel’s real estate, since the sale of his personal estate was not sufficient to cover his debt.
- Note Front. Indicates that holder of the note received one years interest on the note. This is repeated twice, as there are two separate notes on the back.
- Note Back. Two separate notes, both dated 9 Jun 1826, both for $200 made out to Samuel Warren and attested by Abisha Larned. Signed by Abel Partridge.
- Wave of Appraisal. Recorded vol. 61 Page 338. Dated 13 Nov 1826, shows that Israel Stone, Jr., George Alverson Jr., and Stephen Severy appeared before Abisha Larned, Justice of Peace, and were willing to perform to the best of their skill and judgement the task of appraisal on the estate of Abel Partridge.
- Official authorization to Israel Stone, Jr., George Alverson Jr., and Stephen Severy to make an Inventory, and justly to appraise, at the present true value, all the estate of Abel Partridge. dated, 7 Nov 1826.
- Inventory Cover Letter. Filed Nov. 15, 1826, recorded vol. 63 Page 5.
- Inventory page 1 left side. has a math calculation on it. 1005.32 – 766 = 219.32
- Inventory page 1 right side. Shows the Real estate for Abel. His homestead farm with a value of D 566 and Pasture lot D 200, for a total value of $766.
- Inventory page 2 left side. Abel’s personal estate included 5 cows, and 1 swine, stored hay, oats and corn, and various farming utensils.
- Inventory page 2 right side. Continues Abel’s personal estate which included bushels of corn, rye, oats, and bags of meal, as well as tools and utensils one would expect to find on a working farm in the early 1800s.
- Inventory page 3 left side. Continues Abel’s personal estate which includes tools and utensils one would expect to find on a working farm in the early 1800s as well as some food items, flour, hops, etc.
- Inventory page 3 right side. Continues Abel’s personal estate which includes tools and utensils one would expect to find on a working farm in the early 1800s. Notice the amount of bottles, glass, jars, pans and pails were need by a small husbandman in the early 19th century.
- Inventory page 4 left side. Continues Abel’s personal estate which includes kitchen items, even though his wife was still alive. All the items in the household, except for the lady’s clothes and personal items are accounted for in the estate of the man. If a widow wished to continue using the item she was forced to purchase it back at the appraised price, usually in a presale to a regular auction.
- Inventory page 4 right side. Continues Abel’s personal estate which includes kitchen items.
- Inventory page 5 left side. Continues Abel’s personal estate which includes 35 bushels of potatoes, 4 cider barrels, 20lbs of pork, loom and weeping arms, and other utensils and tools found in a 19th century country home.
- Inventory page 5 right side. Continues Abel’s personal estate which includes a variety of furniture including three beds, one for him and his wife, and each child. Also lists the bedding.
- Inventory page 6 left side. Continues Abel’s personal estate finishing off the bedding and other sundry items, listing the books he owned which included a Bible, Erskins Sermons, I believe this references Doctrinal and occasional sermons. Preached by John Erskine Edinburgh : printed for W. Creech, and Ar. Constable, and [sic], [1800?] and a Psalm Book. This page also starts on the wearing apparel for Abel to be auctioned off.
- Inventory page 6 right side. Continues Abel’s personal estate providing further wearing apparel. Abel owned 1 hat, 3 coats, 5 pantaloons, 2 waistcoats, 2 handkerchiefs, 3 shirts, 2 pairs of socks. Finishing off the list was a painters brush, candlesticks and molds, and a razor and strap.
- Inventory page 7 left side. Finishing off Abel’s personal estate were three notes which show that he was owed $26.55, $5 from Milburn Bank, and two separate notes showing he was owed $21.55 from Samuel Warren. The calculations at the bottom add up all of the inventory real and personal and came to a value of $1085.32. Their math was off by 40 cents.
- Attest by Samuel Warren that the inventory shown was true and just. Made in person on 15 Nov 1826 in front of Nathaniel Paine.
- Cover page, Administration Account. Copied 1828, recorded Vol. 62 Page 607.
- Account of Administrator Samuel Warren accounting for the cash paid out in the administration of Abel’s estate. Lewis Eddy for the coffin and digging the grave. A small amount to David Hosmer, payment of Abel’s taxes to Jonathan Stone, payment to Richard Stone for measuring the land, payment to Dr. Daniel Green, cash “paid at the office”, and a small payment to Daniel Stone. Most of these were less than $2, the largest being the charge for the coffin and digging the grave at $6. He also paid to the estate of Jonah Goulding $4.70 without telling us why, perhaps a note due; $1.50 to Stephen Severy. There were two additional items paid, and they by far constituted the largest amounts. $12 was paid to Samuel Warren for his services as administrator of the estate and $400 for the two notes mentioned on image 5. The final section of this contains the final accounting of money in and money out for the administration. You can see in the numbers that the personal estate sold for $159.09 on 22 Nov 1826 and the real estate sold for $232.20 on 4 Jun 1827, including notes do and cash on hand the total inflow of cash was $432.07.
- Top half, Samuel Warren Administrator rendered his account on the first Tuesday of March 1828 4 Mar 1828. Bottom half was a signed certification of satisfaction by the heirs Sarah Hosmer, Isaac Willard Jr., and Polly Partridge.
- Cover page, Bond-Sale of Real Estate for Abel Partridge, recorded in Vol 202, Page 245.
- Obligation, 1 May 1827, sworn before Theophilus Wheeler, Jus. Pacis. in Worcester. In order to sell the estate of Abel Partridge, it was necessary for Samuel Warren and two other designees to obligate themselves for payment of $1,000 to the Judge, Nathaniel Paine, in the event the sale became fraudulent in some manner. Samuel Warren of Ward, David Prouty of Spencer, and Peter Rice of Holden signed.
- Cover page, warrant issued, 7 Nov 1826. Recorded in Vol. 174, Page 70.
- Obligation, 7 Nov 1826, signed by Samuel Warren, Edward Rice, and Israel Stone Jr. to pay $10,000 to the Judge, Nathaniel Paine, in the event the Administration of the estate of Abel Partridge was found not just and true.
- Cover page, request to appoint Administrator, 1826. Recorded Vol. 211, Page 295.
- Request to Appoint Samuel Warren as Administrator. Written 8 Nov 1826 and signed by Sarah Partridge and Isaac Willard Jr.
Abel Partridge and Sarah Stearns had the following children born in Ward:
- Betsey Partridge, born 3 Feb 1802 in Ward, Massachusetts Vital records of Ward Massachusetts, to the year 1837; married Isaac Willard on 12 Apr 1826 in Ward. Vital records of Ward Massachusetts, to the year 1837 Did they remove to Worcester, Massachusetts?
- Polly Partridge, born 30 Jul 1804 in Ward. Vital records of Ward Massachusetts, to the year 1837 Was living in Ward on 23 Feb 1828 when she signed the certificate for Abel Partridge’s probate administration.
|↑1||Worcester County MA Probate Case 12174 Cheney, Ephraim Will – 1758, Page 1|
|↑2||Ward changed its name to Auburn in 1837 and any subsequent town records for Abel will appear in the Auburn, Massachusetts town records.|
|↑3||1790; Census Place: Ward, Worcester, Massachusetts; Series: M637; Roll: 4; Page: 653; Image: 708; Family History Library Film: 0568144. See image.|
|↑4||Vital records of Ward Massachusetts, to the year 1837|
|↑5||Year: 1810; Census Place: Ward, Worcester, Massachusetts; Roll: 22; Page: 483; Image: 00022; Family History Library Film: 0205630. See image.|
|↑6||1820 U S Census; Census Place: Ward, Worcester, Massachusetts; Page: 5; NARA Roll: M33_54; Image: 19. See image.|
|↑7||Vital records of Ward Massachusetts, to the year 1837|
|↑8||Vital records of Ward Massachusetts, to the year 1837|
|↑9||I believe this references Doctrinal and occasional sermons. Preached by John Erskine Edinburgh : printed for W. Creech, and Ar. Constable, and [sic], [1800?]|
|↑10||4 Mar 1828|
|↑11||Vital records of Ward Massachusetts, to the year 1837|
|↑12||Vital records of Ward Massachusetts, to the year 1837|
|↑13||Vital records of Ward Massachusetts, to the year 1837|