Did I Find a Family for Joseph Coleman?

To continue from yesterday’s post, after Joseph Coleman died in 1775, Eunice Coleman and her family removed to Newburgh, Orange County, New York probably at the same time as her cousin, Benjamin Coffin sometime before 1790, when he appears in the census there.

To have a starting point, I need to assume that the data found at the Nantucket Historical Association is correct. That would produce the following family configuration:

Joseph Coleman married Eunice Coffin, 24 Jan 1760 in Nantucket. Joseph died in 1775. Eunice died after 9 Mar 1799 when Benjamin left her a legacy in his will. She was “widow Eunice Coleman” at that time so she apparently never remarried.


1. Tamar, baptized 1773

2. Elizabeth, baptized 1773

3. Jennette, baptized 1773

4. Eunice – unmarried, per NHA database

5. Joseph – possibly married a Polly, per NHA database

6. Mary Ann. Since there are no birth records for these children, for the time being, I am also going to assume that Mary Ann is the same child as Polly.

From the few records found in Orange County, NY:

Adolphus Van Duzer married Unice Coleman, 25 Sept 1783, but there is no documentation found, other than the record of marriage, for Eunice. Eunice is not nearly as common a name as Mary or Elizabeth, but it is too soon to say if this Eunice is the daughter of my family or an unrelated woman. As Eunice was probably born in the early 1760’s, 1783 would be a good fit for a first marriage for her.

Isaac Belknap married Elizabeth Coleman, 31 Jan 1786 at New Windsor Presbyterian Church. There is a gravestone for her giving 9 Jan 1816 as her date of death and her age as 47 years, 4 months and 10 days, giving an approximate date of birth as 29 Aug 1768.

Daniel Birdsall married Tamar Coleman, 7 Feb 1781 at New Windsor Presbyterian Church. As her father had died and they were apparently living with and/or depending on Benjamin Coffin, she may well have been only about 18 or 19 when she married. That would put her birth about 1762 or 1763. She may have been the first born child. Tamar also may have died before 9 Mar 1799 when Daniel Birdsall and Elizabeth Birdsall witnessed the will of Benjamin Coffin.

Chauncey Griswold married Mary Ann/Polly Coleman, 9 Feb 1795, also at the New Windsor Presbyterian Church. Assuming this was Mary Ann’s first marriage, and she was also young, she was likely born about 1774-1776 and the last child of Joseph and Eunice.

Jennet reportedly married Henry Watson, which I found on the NHA database, but no date was given and I have not found any information on this couple or even on a Henry Watson in the Orange County area post-Revolution.

Joseph‘s birth year, calculated from the age he gave on the 1850 census would have been 1772. In my experience, when someone’s age wasn’t known for certain and they passed away, their ages at death often had years added on to what their true age was. So, again assuming, let’s say that Joseph knew his date of birth and he was born about 1772. The NHA database said he possibly married Polly?, but no further information was given.

Based on the little evidence found so far, a possible birth order might be:

1. Tamar, about 1762

2. Eunice, about 1764

3. Jennet, about 1766

4. Elizabeth, about 1768

5. Joseph, about 1772

6. Mary Ann/Polly, about 1774

As a side commentary, there is little room for births after the December 1773 baptisms  of Tamar, Elizabeth and Jennet and their father’s death at sea on 17 Apr 1775. Then why aren’t Joseph and Eunice included in the baptismal record? I have no idea!

A preliminary search in Orange County for more information on mother Eunice, her cousin Benjamin Coffin and son Joseph Coleman produced little. Absolutely nothing was found for son Joseph Coleman, yet the NHA had the name of a possible wife for him, indicating they must have had some evidence that he lived to adulthood. This Joseph probably then removed from the area.

Eunice Coleman was found in only one record – the 9 Mar 1799 will of her cousin Benjamin Coffin, where he left her a legacy. His will was probated on 19 April 1802 so Benjamin likely died earlier that year.

The last clue that I have tying my Joseph Coleman to the families in Orange County is an Isaac Belknap, a cousin of his possible brother-in-law, listed in the 1790 census of Roxbury, Massachusetts. Like the Coffins, the Belknaps had deep ties to Massachusetts and some were mariners.

Could this be the explanation of how Joseph came to be the only Coleman in Roxbury when he married Ruth Spurr there in 1793?

I have no proof-positive answer right now, but when I visit the Family Search Library in Salt Lake City in December, I will be scouring every record I can find to support my belief that Joseph Coleman of Bowdoinham and Richmond, Maine was the son of Joseph Coleman and Eunice Coffin of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Not a single puzzle piece has yet been found to disprove this theory.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.