Category Archives: Coleman

A Bit More Mystery: Joseph Coleman & Eunice Coffin

That’s me – a dog with a bone! And I can’t let it go!! It’s funny how research can sometimes take you down a completely unexpected path. While piecing together the Coffin families, new information about my Joseph Coleman emerged.

Joseph Coleman married Eunice Coffin, daughter of Cromwell Coffin and Ruth Coffin from last week’s mystery deed.

The lives of Joseph and Eunice (Coffin) were quite straightforward up to 1775. Joseph Coleman was a Nantucket, Massachusetts mariner, likely a whaler, who traveled far and wide – I mean really far to Africa – and was gone from home for long periods of time.

Joseph Coleman was born 30 September 1739. Eunice Coffin was born 18 July 1742. They were born in, married on 24 January 1760, and raised their children together in Nantucket.

At least they did until 1775, when the Nantucket vital records list Joseph’s death from yellow fever.

Source: American Ancestors

The Massachusetts vital records series do give source citations, at least generally. This entry is marked P.R. 38 and P.R. 63, which means Private Record. P.R. 63 is the William C. Folger collection, which in 1910 when this book was published, was housed at the Nantucket Historical Association. It also notes P.R. 63, which corresponds to:

Source: American Ancestors

I’ve spent countless hours trying to locate this manuscript, but I haven’t found any place that claims it in its collection today.

Between the two records, Joseph’s death date is given as 17 April 1775, assuming that April is the fourth month and not July. It’s difficult to tell; no annotations have been made in the record itself.

While in the morass of Coffin deeds, I came across two deeds recorded by Joseph Coleman and Eunice Coffin. Both piqued my interest because of the dates.

Coleman Deed on the Right
Source: FamilySearch

The sale isn’t of any interest, but the date certainly is:

Joseph and Eunice Coleman both personally appeared on 17 April 1775 and the deed was recorded on 24 April 1775!

Joseph may well have died of yellow fever in 1775, but not on 17 April. It looks like I’d be safe saying Joseph died AFTER 17 April 1775, based on the deed date, yes?

Take a look at the second land deed I found for Joseph and Eunice.

Coleman Deed on the Right

This time, Joseph Coleman and wife Eunice, along with Timothy Coleman and wife Mary, are selling land that was part of the estate of their deceased father, Joseph Coleman.

So far, so good here, too, as Joseph and Timothy were sons of Joseph Coleman.

Look at the date, which is problematic for two reasons:

Either the clerk lied when he said “the above named Joseph Coleman & Wife personally Appeared before me. . . .on June Second 1788 or Joseph Coleman didn’t die of yellow fever off the coast of Guinea in 1775 or maybe ever!

Somehow, I don’t think the clerk made up a date, as he also noted the appearance of Timothy and Mary Coleman on 21 March 1789.

The second problem is that Eunice reportedly removed to Orange County, New York with her cousin, Benjamin Coffin, and other friends and relatives no later than 1781, when Joseph’s and Eunice’s daughter, Tamar, married Daniel Birdsall on 7 February 1781 in New Windsor, Orange, New York.

Eunice is last mentioned in 1799 in the will of her cousin, Benjamin Coffin, who died in Orange County, New York, and called her the widow Coleman.

There is no doubt that Eunice and her children removed to Orange County, New York, as there are documents that support their life in that locale.

Until I found this 1788 land deed, I had no evidence that Joseph Coleman ever left Massachusetts unless he went to sea, and, what occupation would a mariner follow in landlocked Newburgh, New York?

It is for certain that Joseph Coleman died before April 1791, as both the probate court in Nantucket and the court in Ulster County, New York (which borders Orange County) note Eunice Coleman as administratrix of the estate of Joseph Coleman, deceased.

These records beg the question then – exactly when and where did Joseph Coleman die?

Phew! I thought I was pretty much finished with researching that one Coleman family.  I need to take a step back and re-examine all of the records I’ve now accumulated about the family of Joseph and Eunice Coleman. Until today, I thought they were a stable family, having lived in Nantucket for generations, and life didn’t really change until Eunice was widowed in 1775 and chose to move the family to Newburgh, New York. That decision was one made by many Nantucket families, as they felt like they were sitting ducks, living on the war front and on an island no less,  during the Revolution.

More on this family is coming up soon.



Thomas Coleman, 1800-1888, Red Beach, ME

Thomas Coleman is my 3X great grandfather, born 23 January 1800 in Richmond, then Lincoln County but today Sagadahoc County, Maine. Thomas was the fourth child born to Joseph Coleman and Ruth Spur, who had married in Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts on 24 August 1793. This Joseph Coleman was a brick wall for many years, but I think his parents have been identified.

Thomas spent his early years in Richmond, but he was out of the house by the time he was twenty years old. The 1820 census includes one Joseph Colman living in Calais, Maine with two other males 16-25 years old. I have to wonder if this was Thomas, his brother, Joseph, and another brother (William?) checking out Calais as a possible new home.

Tax records show Joseph Coleman in Calais in 1820, but Joseph and Thomas Coleman were both on the tax list in 1821 with Joseph, Thomas and William on the 1822 list. Thomas’s brother, Joseph, disappears off the Calais tax list in 1822 and he married back in Bowdoinham, Maine on 28 December of 1822. Joseph and William are back on the list in 1823, but Thomas is now gone. Joseph and William remain on the 1825 tax list, which is the last year for which I have notes.

His brother Joseph had three daughters born in Richmond in 1823, 1826 and 1828; Joseph died on 18 May 1830 in Bowdoinham, Maine.

Thomas has an unidentified brother, born 1796-1799 who was at home in the 1810 census, but gone in 1820. I also wonder if William in Calais was his brother and Thomas named his one son for him? This part is all speculation, but Thomas left enough of a paper trail to fill in his life.

Whether or not Joseph Coleman living in Calais in the 1820s was related to Thomas or not, Thomas had made his way north to Ludlow, Northumberland County, New Brunswick, Canada, where he lived until the mid 1830s.

Thomas is next found on the poll tax list in New Brunswick as:

Colman, Thomas, £141.5.4, 8 July 1825 in Ludlow
Colman, Thos, £106.3.6, in 1827 in Ludlow
Coleman, Thomas 5/-/5 in 1834 in Nelson

Note that Thomas doesn’t appear on the poll tax list until 1825 and he is gone from Calais, if the Joseph Coleman household of 3 includes my Thomas, by 1823.

On 22 June 1830, Thomas Coleman married Mary Elizabeth Astle in Nelson, Northumberland County, New Brunswick, Canada. She was the daughter of Daniel Astle and Jane, whose maiden name is unproven, but might have been Parker, based on FAN club clues. She was the grandchild of Loyalist James Astle and his wife, Elizabeth McLane/McLean, who left Schenectady, New York at the close of the American Revolution.

Their marriage record is almost unreadable, but I do have an image of it. Getting a much better image is on my to do list for my next FHL trip.

Thomas Coleman-Mary Elizabeth Astle

One of the witnesses was Mary’s brother, George, and you can see she signed with her mark, so she was unable to write her name.

Thomas and Mary Elizabeth had one proven son, William, born 10 June 1834 in Nelson.

However, the 1840 census seems to indicate that they might also have had two daughters because there is one female 5-9 years old and one under five, in addition to son William.

I have never found any trace of the elder girl in the household and believe that if it was a daughter, she may have died before 1850. No Coleman marriages have been found in Maine before that time period.

I may have found the younger female, but that comes with its own set of problems. There is a Mary A. Coleman, born c1837 in Calais, Maine according to her marriage record in Boston, Massachusetts on 31 March 1858. She married Daniel Moran, born c1828 in Ireland. However, the marriage record was mis-indexed as “David Moran,” the date was entered incorrectly and her father’s name was listed as Daniel and Daniel’s father’s name was listed as Thomas.

I think the clerk recording the marriage might have switched the names of their fathers. The only Coleman or Colman living in Washington County, Maine in the late 1830s and 1840s was Thomas.

Daniel and Mary Moran moved between Massachusetts and New York, managing to miss the census takers and I have no idea what became of them. However, I do know that they lost  two young children, their only known children, on 29 August and 7 September 1864. The second child’s cause of death is diphtheria and it is likely the first child also died of it.

By 1850, Thomas, Mary and a teenaged William were still living in Red Beach, Maine, but an adopted daughter, Margaret E., born in January 1846 in Maine, was living with them. Their own children were too young to be the parent of a child born in 1846 so I suspect that friends or relatives out of the area had a mother who died in childbirth and a father not able or willing to raise an infant.

Margaret married Henry A. Day on 5 September 1868 in Topsfield, Washington County, Maine. She died on 17  May 1901 in Calais. Henry and Margaret apparently separated soon as they were enumerated in separate homes in 1870. They had no children, but Henry apparently stayed in touch with the Coleman family. My grandmother remembers a Henry Day coming to the house to visit, but she thought he was just a family friend.

Thomas and Mary lived a quiet life in Red Beach and the years passed. Their son, William, married the girl next door, Sarah Moriah Crouse, on 6 February 1855 in Calais. They had a family of six children, which likely gave Thomas and Mary much joy in their senior years.

Thomas passed away at the ripe old age of 89 on 9 May 1888. Mary survived him by about 19 months, dying on 26 December 1889. Both of their deaths were noted in the Calais Advertiser newspaper, but there was no obituary.

It seems a bit strange, but I have no photos of Thomas or Mary Coleman. It’s odd because the Colemans did have family photos taken. I have pictures of William and wife Sarah when they were very young and probably newlyweds in the 1850s. I wonder if perhaps any photos of Thomas and Mary maybe passed down to one of William’s other children, not my ancestor, and have since been lost to time.

Gravestone of Thomas and Mary Coleman
Source: My personal collection





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.