New Year’s Gift – Joseph Coleman of Nantucket and 18th Century Records

Joseph Coleman has been a big stumbling block in my family tree for a number of years. I have made progress piecing this family together and have written three posts about my travails – Did I Find a Family for Joseph Coleman,   Delving into 18th Century Original Sources, Part 1 and Delving into 18th Century Original Sources, Part 2.

Through preponderance of evidence, I am satisfied that my Joseph Coleman, born in Massachusetts c1768-1772 and died in Bowdoinham, Maine on 15 April 1852 is the son of Joseph Coleman and Eunice Coffin of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Joseph Coleman was born c1704 and died the 10th day, 11th month of 1756 in Nantucket. He married Rachel Norton, born c1707, about 1729. she died 16th day, 10th month of 1767, also in Nantucket. The Norton family is described in Nantucket records as being “of the Vineyard.”

Joseph and Rachel (Norton) Coleman had eight children:

  1. Lydia, born 28 July 1730; died 25th day, 8th month, 1800; married Jonathan Upham, 4 December 1746, Nantucket.
  2. Abigail, born 15 February 1731/32; died 20 November 1812, Nantucket; married William Wyer, intentions filed on 18 January 1755 in Nantucket.
  3. Ebenezer, born 20 September 1734; died 6th day, 7th month of 1794, Nantucket; married (1) Mary Gardner, intentions filed 29 January 1757 (2) Lydia (Pinkham) Long, 28 November 1780, all in Nantucket.
  4. Deborah, born 23 November 1736; died 16th day, 10th month of 1758; married Isaac Myrick, 19 December 1756, all in Nantucket.
  5. Joseph, born 30September 1739; died 21 April 1775, at sea; married Eunice Coffin, 24 January 1760.
  6. Timothy, born 13 May 1742; died 1st day, 6th month of 1795; married Mary Bunker, 17 February 1763, all in Nantucket.
  7. Phebe, born 20 April 1745; died 14 November 1826; married Francis Worth, intentions filed 1 December 1764, all in Nantucket.
  8. Christopher, born 2 April 1748; died young

The three linked posts above trace my research, but I still had some loose ends. The biggest one was the probate trail from Nantucket to Orange County, New York. The Nantucket court allowed the option for widow Eunice Coleman to have Joseph’s estate administered either in Massachusetts or New York, but I couldn’t find evidence of it having happened in either place.

Then my New Year’s gift arrived! MyHeritage sent me a hint that connected to the FamilySearch Family Tree. I don’t post anything on that tree because it is riddled with errors and anyone can change information whether it is correct or not, but I do check there regularly for hints.

A memory was attached to Joseph Coleman, who had a death date of 1791 in Orange County, New York. Aside from the fact that he died in 1775, this is my man!

The reason I couldn’t find Joseph’s probate administration is because it was filed next door to Orange County in Ulster County, New York! I know that FamilySearch has digitized images for New York probate records. From this printed page, I knew that his packet was in Box 7.

I found 9 pages in the file. Although his heirs are not named, with the exception of widow Eunice who was the estate administrator, it was very helpful in documenting that this Joseph is Joseph of Nantucket.

The pages were a bit of a mess and because the microfilmer didn’t lift each page separately to film so there are overlaps.

It is much easier just to refer to the printed page from the book. What I noticed immediately, though, is that many of the names on the debtor/creditor list are Nantucket names, e.g. Gardner, Coddington, Coffin, Folger, Coggeshall.

In addition to those names, two other familiar names are on the list. Jon. Upham (Jonathan) on the list was the husband of Lydia Coleman (born 28 July 1730) so was Joseph’s brother-in-law. The Uphams also lived and died in Nantucket. William Wyre married Abigail Coleman (born 15 Feb 1731/2), Joseph’s sister, also in Nantucket, so another brother-in-law. Finally, Francis Worth is on the creditor list – he married Joseph’s sister, Phebe. I’ve no doubt that if I investigated more names on the list, they will belong to Nantucket residents.


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