11 Farm Lane
S. Dennis, Mass 02660
Nov. 26, 1970
Happy Thanksgiving. Here's a story of interest
to all Daggetts of the New Vineyard, Me., Marthas Vineyard, Mass,
Vinal Haven, Me., tribe.
Tristram Daggett, son of Elijah of Holmes Hole "drew his 100 acres
east of the New Vineyard Mountains near Clearwater pond.
Obtaining a back load of provisions at the settlement (Farmington)
on Sandy River he hired a settler to guide him up the mountain to
the town line, newly marked by spotted trees. Thence he traveled ax
in hand, identified his lot, made a camp by a spring, and began felling
trees. He soon brought his family to a log house.They remained there
for 3 years, then moved to West Mills.
Tristram Daggett, as a young man, made his living from the sea at
Marthas Vineyard. He endured much suffering as a soldier in the 7th
Regiment (Mass.)Discharged June 8, 1783, with a badge of merit for
5 years faithful service. His discharge papers were signed, "G. Washington".
Parcels of land were offered by the Continental Congress to soldiers
for settling. Capt. Tristram was joined by his cousins and their families,
(Capt. Sam Daggett, Capt. Nathan Daggett, Capt. Silas Daggett) in 1793.
At this same time Daggetts left Marthas Vineyard to make a settlement
at Vynal Haven, Maine. You see, the people living on Marthas Vineyard
before the Revolutionary War were subject to severe attack by the English
who wanted to control "the best deep-water harbor on the Eastern
Sea Board". The English pillaged the island and lived in the people's
homes and ate all their food. (In Edgartown, we saw the great fireplace
at Daggett House behind which was a secret stairway to a chamber where the
owner hid when the English red coats, or the Tory tax collector came.)
The Continental Congress, or the Mass. Bay Colony sent the Islanders no
money or soldiers for
- The Islanders never suffered Indian Raids because of the Rev.
Mayhew's missionary work. (*Praying Indians?)
[from Embden Days of Yore by (Wollock?)]
protecting homes & livestock, so the Islanders formed their own
SeaCoast Defense, and all men served. Many Daggetts appear.
They also protected the coast of Mass & what later became Rhode Isl.
(Bristol) keeping open the sea-lanes to port of New York.
You remember that until 1691 the Elizabeth Islands (Nantucket
and Marthas Vineyard) were part of the Province of New York.
This was Kings County, Queens County (Long Isl.) and Dukes
County (Marthas Vineyard). After 1691, the Bay Colony (Mass.
got control), so after many raids, many Daggetts left their lovely
island to try their fortunes as land lubbers. To go to Vynal Haven,
makes sense, but how a sea farin' man ever managed to stay in
Franklin County, Maine, I'll never know. Mr. Gould, who writes
for "Down East" Mag. says they went because their wives were tired
of having their men folk off at sea all the time. But I think sea-
in-the-blood, stays in the blood, and as you study the saga of the
Marthas Vineyard Daggetts you will find many of the Sea Captains
returning to their island. Of those who tried to claw out a living
in beautiful, ledgy, mountainous, New Vineyard, Maine, it appears
to have been "subsistence" living --- only one or two generations
could survive. The William Talcott Daggett farming family is one
of these. They lived out their days in Anson, Madison, Canaan,Me.,
and 3 generations later were business men. But there were many
sons & daughters in Capt. Nathan Daggetts, and Capt. Sam's &
Silas families, who quickly decided the rocky land of Maine was
not for them, and in (1800s) pioneered far west to Michigan & Wisconsin.
This year I have found a branch of our family in Alpina, Mich.
I have pondered for years, and wondered about our family "out west".
I wrote the Postmaster of Alpina, Mich. in April 1970, and he
gave my letter to a Mrs. Francis Daggett Thompson. She was a
daughter of George (*Frank) Daggett, brother of grandfather
W. T. Daggett. She made a great effort to send letters to
granddaughters of West Daggett (and Sam Daggett), and as a
result of this
we are now in touch Mrs. Geo. Hermanson, Lewiston, Mich.
granddaughter of Sam Frank Daggett, another brother of
Wm. T. Daggett.
(Please add our new cousin, Thelma to your Xmas list. It has been
wonderful to find our family out there; and for Thelma, it is very
exciting because they have sought knowledge of "Uncle Chris
(Columbus), my grandfather (Sam Frank Daggett) and uncle
West's parents and kin for many, many years.
We still have not located another branch of Daggett family
who went to Davidson, Wisc, (*?), and to the Dakotas, and we
have kin in Blair, Nebraska.
So, I think it exciting to have our ancestors beginnings on
Marthas Vineyard. My nana Daggett with all her love of history
and her patriotic fervor for the early days of our country would have
loved these many stories of whaling days, then the lucrative business
of coastal piloting. For nana & grandpa the terribly sad
childhood of the Nathan Daggett family, New Vineyard, Me. ----
all those little children left with a young girl mother (Mary Lionell
was wed at 14) --- the young husband and his brother died in a
prison camp in Va. (Two brothers of Mary Giles and Sam Lionell
also died (same thing) --- the farm bankrupt, the little ones went
to live with friends & relatives, and with their new stepfather, John
Davis, farmer of Canaan, Me. Already gone out west, were
4 grandparents and 2 gr. uncles of this family --- the sons and
daughters of Capt. Nathan Daggett of Embden, Me.
Letters of love & sympathy must surely have come to Mary Lionell
Daggett, and so to uncle Jesse. The Wescott family, Colby family,
Gray family, of Daggetts, went grandpa William Daggett and his
brothers, Geo Frank, West, Columbus, Isaac, either to live
permanently or to visit. Leslie, the brother born after his father's
death, lived in Maine. He and George are buried with their mother,
in E. Skowhegan Cem.. "Leslie came often to visit his mother. He was
at work in the lumber camps of Maine". Nathan Daggett & his bride Mary
were also living in Wisc. briefly when 1st married.
Another tragedy in Nana Daggett's own (Barrett) family was
that of the death of 4 little girls from diphtheria. Her mother never
got over it. The babies died in 3 days.
It is interesting to read of the settling of land in Maine after the
Revolution, and at Sandy River Plantation families visited back
& forth across the Kennebec, & married. Transportation was by boat
to Ft. Western (Augusta) then oxcart. Corn was ground at this post,
and a man one bag on his back, one under each arm, 20 mi.. The
country was wild, "one evening while at supper, he saw through his
cabin door, a moose loping over the inter vale. He shot the moose
in it's tracks without leaving the table". [Happy Face]
1788 a Raising Bee was held to raise a log church, fortress at
the edge of 7 mile brook. It had no windows but port holes, and an
overhang for better protection from Indians. Called Free will Baptist
Tabernacle. Rev. Hampton Purington (W. Bath) preached there.
People settled here from Temple, N.H., Wollich, Wiscasset,
Georgetown, Dresden, as well as Marthas Vineyard and Rhode Island.
Of course you will read for yourself the story of Capt. Nathan
Daggetts kidnap from Holmes Hole & his piloting the Fr. Fleet into
Yorktown Harbor, Va. --- of Capt. Seth Daggett's vessels trading
the West Indies. --- of all the mittens, sock and wigs (stocking
caps) the wife of Capt. Sam knit & sold. --- of Capt. Sylvanus
Daggett of Holmes Hole, "The only pilot ever to have beat a frigate
out over the Shoals in a head wind", --- and his brother, Leander
Daggett, who first brought a Merino sheep to the island (brought
from a wrecked ship) and 1st rubber for shoes from Belém, Brazil.
We hope our family in Michigan will come now with stories of
the overland trip, and the settling of their homes in Michigan
Every Daggett should get to the Island some day
Every Daggett should go see "Daggetts rock & the old cellar
holes in Phillips, Me. So lets tell all the little boys & little girls
the story of a stalwart family they may be proud of.
With love to all, Dorothy Daggett Johnston
Nov 26 ' 1970
*Deciphering Dorothy's handwriting was not easy for me.
Also in some cases the wording just didn't make sense to me.
Due to the fact that all I have to work with is an old photocopy,
some parts just fade out of view at the bottom of the page
(like the "(Praying India..." at the bottom of the first page)
I did my best, and through research and comparison I managed
to figure out nearly everything. You might want to look at the
original first. See if you concur with my 'reading', and by
all means contact me with any suggestions or corrections!
I tried to keep the finished transcription as close to her original
handwritten letter as possible. I kept her spelling as she wrote it
as you'll notice with words like "Marthas" (Vineyard) and
also with the two different spellings if "Vynal" and "Vinal" (Haven).
Where you see a (*?) I simply couldn't understand what she
- I'm inserting scanned images of the 4 page copy I had to work with
below. If you click on the image it will open up into a full-page view.
All in all this was a wonderful learning experience.
I've wanted to do this for many years and finally I just sat
down and did it.
I hope Dorothy would like what I did and my presenting it on
the Internet to be read and appreciated by family and others.
I hope you enjoy it as well..
- Thomas Russell Daggett