1. John TOWNER - b abt 1685 (see below)
FROM: THE DESCENDANTS OF RICHARD TOWNER, by James Towner, 1910
Towner Family - Branford, Conn. A.D. 1686-1910
Richard towner settled in the town of Guilford, Conn., on or about Feb 17, 1686. There is a grant of land of that date on the record of the town meetings at page 105, though the grant was not put on the land records till May 2, 1712, when the town ordered it to be recorded as ten acres " formerly granted to Richard Towner, now living in Branford", marked at the corners by stones graven with the letters "R.T." He lived in Guilford some three years and then removed to Branford, where there is a record of him in 1689. From when he emigrated to this country has not been ascertained with certainty, but probably from Sussex County, England. The family has been there for generations, and nowhere else. Some others of the name have come from that locality during the period from 1830 to 1850 to N.Y. City, and others are yet in Sussex.
In the south east part of Branford there is a swamp, and at the beach a cave in the rocks, which have long been known as "Towner's Swamp" and "Towner's Cave". The grant made to him in Guilford apparently includes this swamp, and it is conjectured that for some reason he lived for a while in this cave, but he first settled on "Towner's Hill", and the following year fuilt a house at a place three miles east known as "Short Rocks" and put down a well; and traces of the celler wall of the house and of the well are still to be seen there, and are identified by descendants of his living in Branford.
A tradition related in the towns of Oxford, Haddam and Killingworth, Conn., by descendents of Richard, is that he was impressed into the British nvy from the Isle of Man, and that after some years' service on the American coast, he was put ashore at Savannah, Ga., to die of yellow fever; but recovered and married his nurse, and with her went to Charleston, S.C., and engaged in the grocery business; that after wards to escape a threatened bombardment by a Spanish man-of-war, he and others, provisioning a small vessel from his store, siled for the North and landed on the shore of Connecticut, settleing at Branford.
In Bradford Co., Pa., a tradition exists among the descendants of Elijah, who settled in that county, that five brothers came together from England; that two of them, Richard and Abraham settled in Connecticut, and the others, Gershom, Enoch and Daniel, in Steuben Co., N.Y., Nova Scotia, and Virginia, respectively. Thre is reason for believing that this tradition has foundation in fact except as to Abraham.
Richard and Abraham could not have been brothers. Abraham was born 75 to 80 years later then Richard and very likely was his great-grandson.
The writer notes these traditions for the reason that, like folk-lore in general, they furnish much ground for believing that the different brances of the family throught the country are descended from the same stock.
The date of Richard's birth is unknown. However, in his will, made in 1725, he speaks of himself as "aged and weak in body", and his birth was brobably 1650-55 or earlier. Neither is the name of his first wife certainly known, but there is a Mary Towner on the church record who liekly was his wife; in the will, his wife is called Deborah, but she was a second wife, Deborah Crane, whom he married in Haddam Mar. 6, 1716-17, O.S.
the origianl town records of Branford still exist and are well preserved. In Vol. 2, at apge 56, of date May 27, 1689, is the following:
"The town have given to Richard Towner twelve acres of land lying upon the hill that is situated eastward from the brook that is called Beaver brook and lying eastward from the highway that runs by Thomas and Nath'll Harrison's field unto Jno. Butler and John Swain's field near the head of the furnace pond, which twelve acres is granted with this proviso, that he, the said Richard Towner, do build a tenantable house upon that land and settle upon it within six years from the date hereof, otherwise to return to the town again, and Mr. Wm. Maltbye, John Frissbe and John Butler are appointed to lay it out:. The location is now known as "Towner's Hill," before mentioned.
At page 62, dated Apr 8, 1690, is this: "The Town have agreed to exchange land with Richard Towner, viz., the town have given unto him 14 acres of land joyning or near the land of Barthjolomew Goodrich lying upon the old mill brook, provided he do relinquish and resin up unto the town, the twelve acres the town formerly granted to him, near Thomas and Nath'll Harrison's field - always provided that he do build upon and improve it according to the former Injunction upon the first grant and John Frissbe, Bartholomew Goodrich and John butler are appointed to lay out the above 14 acres."
He became a landowner also in Haddam, one of his sons, Benjamin, having settled there. In the town records of Haddam is a deed from Richard Towner of Branford "to my son Benjamin Towner of Haddam." Consideration, L30; date, Dec 31, 1723.
In 1724 he made a deed which says, among other things "I, Richard Towner, senior, of the town of Branford, county of N. Haven & Collony of Connecticut in New England, for divers good considerations & especially for & in consideration of a bond now given to secure my subsistence during my natural life have given, granted - **** to my son Richard Towner of town and coutny aforesaid, all my lands **** in the township of Branford aforesiad," ect., etc., with the usual covenants and warranties of a deed in fee simple of those days. The attestation is as follows: "In confirmation of all and every aprt of ye above Instrument, I have hereto set my hand and affixed my seal, this first day of May in the tenth year of the reign of our Sovereinge Lord George of Great Britain, King, defender of the faith, &c. Annoque Domini 1724." this deed has been preseerved and is in the possession of the writer hereof. In 1882, he found it in the hands of Harriet towner, of Branford, a descendent of richard, Jr., who kindly gave it to him. It is very well written and legible.
He must have been a man of some dignity of character and entitled to respect, for at a Branford town meeting Nov. 2, 1692, the selectmen were instructed "to desire richard Towner to have the oversigt of the youth to keep them from playing during the exercises of worship."
The branford record of births, deaths, etc., says: "Richard Towner, Sen'r, departed this life, August 22nd 1727."
He had nine children. The dates of their births and deaths cannot all be given with certainty. The three first likely born in England. The record of baptisms is an indication that they were born in the order named in it, which is this: "March, 1700 (baptism), Richard, Sarah, John, Joseph, Benjamin, Samuel, and Hannah Towner."
Richard, Jr., m. Elizabeth Tyler, Branford, Sept. 28, 1720; d. Branford, Feb. 28, 1753.
Sarah, m. 1st, Samuel Frost of Branford, Aug. 8, 1706; 2nd Henry Cook in 1690, of Litchfield. He was one of the three first settlers in Plymouth, Conn.
John, d. in Derby, Conn some time after 1741.
Joseph, b. in Guilford; d. in Derby, Conn., 1725 or thereabout.
Benjamin, b. Guilford, 1688; d. in Killingworth, Conn., Jan. 9, 1761; his gravestone was standing there in 1882 a valuable find.
Samuel, b. in Branford, 1692; m. Rebecca Barns of North Haven, Conn.,, Jan 25, 1716, and 2nd Amy Ward, daughter of Capt. William Ward of Wallingford, Conn.,; d. about 1785, Goshen, Conn., though some of his descendents say at Patterson, N.Y., where his son Samuel settled.
Hannah, b. Branford; the church records in Branford show that she became a member in 1713; m. ___ Hitt; d. 1759
Mary, b. Branford; m. Samuel Tyler Branford, Oct 22, 1713; no record of death.
Thankful, born Branford; bap. 1701; d. 1758; unm.
Richard Towner's will, made May 6, 1725, was probated in Guilford, Conn., Sept 30, 1727. In it these children are all mentioned with portions given, except to Joseph. OF him he says, like Jacob of old," And Joseph is not." Richard was a husbandman and also worked at ship carpentry, and evidently well to do; his estate amounting to at least l140, which was three times the average fortune for those days.
II. John TOWNER - b abt 1685 England; d May 1759; m 18 Aug 1707 to Jane FRENCH - b 18 Nov 1679 New Haven, CT; d 4 May 1759; dau of Francis and Lydia (BUNNELL) FRENCH; Ch were:
1. Phineas TOWNER - b 28 Apr 1708 (see below)
FROM: THE DESCENDANTS OF RICHARD TOWNER, by James Towner, 1910
JOHN TOWNER , (Richard ), was likely born in England about 1685, there being a baptismal record in Branford, of the baptism in 1700, of Richard's children, to-wit: "Richard, Sarah, John, Joseph, benjamin, Samuel, and Hannah Towner."
John went to the part of Derby township which afterwards became Oxford and there settled. He was there in 1718, and was rated on the tax list at 48 pounds sterling.
In Vol. 8, p. 394, Colonial Records, it is stated that "John Towner in 1741 was in the northwest part of Derby, then called Derby Woods." His name is signed to a petition for "society privileges," which was presented to the General Court of Conn. in 1740 and which is on file in the state library at Hartford.
He married Jane French in Derby, Aug. 13, 1707. She died May 4, 1759. He had the following children:
Phineas, born Derby 1708; in 1763 was on Phillips Patent, N.Y. Elizabeth, born Derby, Mar. 23, 1710; m. Samuel Bronson. Joseph born Derby, April 22, 1712; m. Abigail Bissell. John born Derby, Jan. 29, 1714; m. Sarah Wildman. Martha Eunice born Derby; m. Israel Curtis. There were two other daughters - Rebecca and Jane both died unmarried.
III. Phineas TOWNER - b 28 Apr 1708 Derby, CT; d aft 1763; m Eunice ??? - d 4 May 1759; Ch were:
1. Abraham TOWNER - b abt 1729 (see below)
2. Gershom TOWNER - b 1753; d 4 Feb 1829 Avoca, NY
3. Enoch TOWNER - went to Nova Scotia and lived & died there; is said to have acquired large wealth which was confiscated by the government
4. Daniel TOWNER - settled first in NY state, then went to NJ, and finally to VA, where he raised a family and lived out his life
5. Olive TOWNER -
FROM: THE DESCENDANTS OF RICHARD TOWNER, by James Towner, 1910
PHINEAS TOWNER , (John , Richard ) was born in Derby Conn., in the year 1708, Apr. 28; in 1732 he was a land owner in Waterbury, and i8n 1737 moved with his wife, Eunice, to New Milford; when he was married or what was her surname, cannot be stated; from the record of a deed there it appears that he sold land in 1738,m the deed stating that he had moved to Danbury. There he lived till about 1763, in which year he was at Fredericksburg, Phillips Patent, now Patterson,m Putnam Co., N.Y. The record shows that his uncle, Samuel, 5th son of Richard, was there with him, on leased land. This fixes his identity, but he cannot be traced afterwards. The records of Danbury were mostly destroyed when the British burned the town in 1776, which makes it difficult to get information of him or his family. But there is little, if any, reason to doubt that he was father of Abraham, called "Abraham of Danbury," both being mentioned in the records which remain and no other Towners, except Eunice Towner, who married, 1772, William combs, and who was likely daughter of Phineas.
A Clear and well-defined tradition exists with the descendants of Elijah Towner, son of "Abraham of Danbury", who settled in Bradford Co., Pa., in 1794-5, that Abraham had three brothers and a sister, and this tradition is no doubt pretty well founded.
IV. Abraham TOWNER - b abt 1729 Watertown, Litchfield Co, CT; d 1760 Danbury, CT; m Hannah FOOTE; Ch were:
1. Elijah TOWNER - b 20 Aug 1759 (see below)
V. Elijah TOWNER - b 20 Aug 1759 Danbury, Fairfield Co, CT; d 7 Oct 1840 Towner Hill, Sheshequin Twp, Bradford Co, PA; m 17 Dec 1778 to Mary KNAPP - b 3 Jul 1760 Danbury, CT; d 21 Feb 1841 Towner Hill, PA; she was dau of John and Mary (HOYT) KNAPP, Jr; Ch were:
1. Ezra TOWNER - b 27 Sep 1779 Danbury, CT; d Feb 1804 (another source says 1 Mar 1817) Towner Hill, PA; m Jane WESTBROOK
2. Enoch TOWNER - b 1 Oct 1781 Danbury, CT; d 19 May 1874 Towner Hill, PA; m 1807 to Elizabeth MOORE
3. Abraham TOWNER - b 22 Sep 1783 Danbury, CT; d 7 Sep 1857 New Richmond, OH; m Lovina HEMENWAY
4. John TOWNER - b 20 Aug 1785; d 17 Oct 1863 Towner Hill, PA
5. Gershom TOWNER - b 29 Apr 1788, CT; was soldier in War of 1812; d aft 1874 Center Valley, PA; m Sarah/Sally HEMENWAY
6. Elijah TOWNER - Jr - b 29 Apr 1792; d 16 Sep 1868 Vigo Co, IN; m Phebe or Alma HICKS (Elijah was remembered as a "splendid singer")
7. Anna TOWNER - b 18 Jun 1794; lived Rome, Bradford Co, PA where she died; unmarried
8. Rev. Joseph TOWNER - b 14 Mar 1797; was a celebrated Methodist Minister; d 12 Apr 1854 Rome, PA; m Emily/Amelia PRATT
9. Olive TOWNER - b 2 Dec 1799; m Russell PRATT
10. Elizabeth TOWNER - b 8 Jun 1801 (see Billings Page)
11. Rev. Benjamin TOWNER - b 8 Jul 1803; d 1866 Mansfield, PA; m Deborah ROSE
PIONEER AND PATRIOT FAMILIES OF BRADFORD COUNTY, PA, by Heverly, Vol. I, PP 241
Elijah Towner joined the American army and served under Arnold. He was taken prisoner on Lake Champlain, but was paroled and returned home. He, however, again joined the patriot army and continued in the service as a teamster until the close of the Revolution. He subsequently was given a pension by the government. While residing at Danbury he married Mary Knapp. From here he removed to New Lebanon, Columbia County, NY, where he lived a number of years. In 1793, in company with his second son, Enoch, he came to Sheshequin and stopped at General Spalding's, where he left Enoch and returned for his family, which the year following he brought to the Susquehanna. He came over the Catskills, reaching the river at Wattles' Ferry, where he built a boat on which he loaded his family and household goods, and floated down with the current. In the journey the boat was nearly capsized on a snag, and many of the goods lost, but the family arrived safely. Enoch had sowed 13 acres of grain for General Spalding, his share of which was sufficient to support the family the first year of their settlement. Mr. Towner purchased 400 acres of Thayer, paying 400 Spanish milled dollars for the land and located it in the center of the Connecticut town of "Watertown," which was a little east of Towner Hill, on what was afterwards known as the Upham farm. His title proving worthless, he abandoned it and commenced clearing up a farm on Oak Hill. He improved 100 acres and put up a distillery, which he operated several years. The land coming into the hands of LeRay, he traded, 1806, his improvements for 300 acres, on what is now known as Towner Hill. Here he settled permanently and died October 7, 1840, in his 82nd year. His wife died February 21, 1841, aged 80 years, 6 months and 18 days. They rest in Towner Cemetery.
FROM: HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY, by Rev. David Craft (1878)
P. 350 Rome Twp. - The first settlement on Towner Hill was made by Elijah Towner in the year 1806. His father, Abraham Towner, died on Lake Champlain, in the time of the of French War, about 1755. He served in the Rev. army, was taken prisoner on Lake Champlain, under Arnold, was paroled, and returned home. He, however, served as a teamster during the war, and for his services received a pension from the government. He moved from Danbury to New Lebanon, on the Hudson, in Columbia County, NY, where he lived for a number of years and reared a numerous family.
In 1793, in company with Enoch, his 2nd son, then 13 years of age, he came to Sheshequin, and stopped at Gen. Spaulding's where he left Enoch, and returned for his family, and the year after, 1794, brought them to the Susquehanna. He came over the Catskills, reaching the river at Wattles' Ferry, where he built a boat, on which he loaded his family & household goods, & floated them down with the current. In the journey the boat was nearly capsized on a snag, & many of his goods lost, but the family arrived safely. Enoch had sowed 13 acres of grain for Gen. Spaulding, his share of which was sufficient to support the family the first year of their settlement. Mr. Towner then purchased 400 acres of Thayer, paying 400 Spanish milled dollars for the land, & located it in the center of the CT town of Thayer's, called, "Watertown", which was a little east of Towner Hill, on what was afterwards known as the Upham farm. His title proving worthless he abandoned it, & commenced clearing up a farm on the Oak Hill, 3 miles from the river, where he cleared up 100 acres, put up a distillery & operated it for a number of years. The land coming into the hands of LeRay, Mr. Towner traded his improvements for 300 acres, on what is now (1878) known as Towner Hill, in 1806, and lived there until his death, at the age of 82 years. His wife survived him 6 mos., & was nearly the same age.
EZRA - the oldest son of Elizah Towner married Jane Westbrook, a daughter of Leonard Westbrood, who with George Murphy, were also early settlers. John Hicks also settled early in the hollow west of Towner's. Ezra died in 1804, in the month of Feb. The snow was 3 feet deep at the time, & no help could get to him. Dr. Grant tried to get through, but there being no roads he failed. The people of Sheshequin were two days in shoveling a road to his house. He was carried to the river and buried. He left 3 children - 2 sons & 1 dau. - whose posterity are scattered throughout the west. The widow remarried, & went west, where she died.
ENOCH - the 2nd son, married Elizabeth Moore & moved out on the hill west of the meeting-house, where - in 1809 - his oldest son, Philander, now (1878) a resident of Rome Twp. & who contributes this account of the Towner family, was born. He sold to J.M. Hicks, & removed to the river, where he lived 4 or 5 years, when he returned & bought the farm of Elijah Towner, Jr. & lived there until his death, May 19, 1874, at the age of 93 yrs. He reared a large family of children, 6 sons & 7 daus, all of whom grew to manhood & womanhood, & were married, with the exception of 3 or 4; all settled around him. Two of the children are now (1878) dead, Dr. Enoch & Evelina Robinson. The doctor was a very ambitious man, of good intellect, & killed himself by exposure & over-exhaustion. A son, Joseph Towner, married Theresa Gerould, one of that family long & favorably known in Bradford Co. She was the dau. of Theodore Gerould. They now reside in Sheshequin.
ABRAHAM - the 3rd son, married Lovina Hemenway, & commenced a farm on the south of the old homestead; lived there a number of years, & removed to the river, whence, in 1816, he moved to Ohio, settling a short distance above Cincinnate, at New Richmond. He reared a large family by his first & second wives, some 14 in all. He died in 1857, aged 76 yrs. The first wife's children are all dead but one dau., who lives at Montrose; those of the 2nd wife are in the west, if living.
JOHN - the 4th son, returned to New Lebanon for a wife, whom he brought back to the old homestead, settled near it, & remained for a few years. He then returned east for a period of 16 yrs., during which time his wife met with a misfortune, being crippled for life. He finally returned to Towner Hill, & cleared up a farm east of the homestead, where he & his wife died, she preceding him. They reared a family of 4 sons & 2 daus.
GERSHOM, the 5th son, was of a roving disposition. He married Sarah Hemenway; was a blacksmith by trade; was in the army 7 years, serving during the last war with Great Britain. He finally settled down at Centre Valley, on Bullard Creek, & carried on his trade for 36 yrs. He & his wife were both blind in their later years. They had 7 children.
ELIJAH, JR - the 6th son, was the largest of the family, a "splendid singer, jovial, & good-natured". He married Phebe Hicks, & settled on the east side of Towner Hill, & finally moved to Vigo Co., IN, where he died. He left a family of 4 sons & 4 daus., who grew to maturity & were married.
ANNA - the eldest dau., lived unmarried to a good old age, past 80 years.
JOSEPH - the 7th son, "grew up on the homestead, & was a wild, mischievous boy until he was converted", when he began exhorting, & became very enthusiastic in the cause of religion. He married Amelia Pratt, & settled east of Towner Hill, & cleared up a farm, but sold it & moved to Candor, Tioga Co., NY, & preached on different circuits for a number of years. He then returned to the old homestead, & cared for & supported his now aged parents, who lived about 15 years after his return. He occupied his time in farming & preaching, & being a great favorite, was called from far & near to solemnize marriages & perform funeral rites. He reared a family of 4 sons & 4 daus. Rev. Joseph Towner was a public spirited man, & contributed to the advancement of all public & private enterprises within his power. He died in 1854, his widow suriviving him several years. The old homestead was sold to Wm. McCabe, who in turn sold it to Washington Towner, son of Enoch Towner, who is the present owner (1874).
OLIVE - the 2nd dau., married Russell Pratt, of Susquehanna Co., PA. She reared 4 sons & 4 daus., also. The 4 sons are all phusicians. The two older live in IL; one Dr. Leonard Pratt, was professor in the Homeopathic College of Chicago, & his son is now a Professor of Anatomy & Clinics in the same college. They reside in Wheaton, DuPage Co., IL, one of the numerous suburban villages of the Garden City, where they enjoy an extended & remunerative practice. Dr. D.S. Pratt is also a skillful & successful homeopathic physician in Towanda, & his son is in practice with him. Russell Pratt died several years ago in Towanda, his wife surviving him some years.
ELIZABETH - the youngest dau., married George Billings & reared 5 sons & 3 daus. She died in 1837.
BENJAMIN - the youngest son & child, "was a mischievous boy". He married Deborah Rose. He was a preacher & a fine singer, & prided himself on his talents, & "could sing for twenty-four hours without repeating a song". He reared a family of 3 sons & 4 daus., the most of whom still reside in Tioga Co., PA. He died in Mansfield, Tioga Co., PA, in 1866, but his widow still survives. (1878)
The Towner family endured hard service in the wilderness in clearing up their farms, & though naturally vigorous, healthy, & ambitious, their severe labors undermined the robust constitutions of some of the children, whose descendants are now reaping the fruits of their parents' exposures & privations. Abraham's family were all carried off by consumption.