An American Family History

Benjamin Dwinnell, Jr.

John Adams, Jr. (1735-1826) was the second President of the United States (1797–1801), the first Vice President (1789–1797).

Boxford, Essex County, Massachusetts is approximately 25 miles north of  Boston. Boxford was set apart from Rowley Village and incorporated in 1685.

Benjamin Dwinnell, Jr. was born in 1763 in Boxford, Essex County, Massachusetts. He was the son of Benjamin Dwinnell and Mary Estey.

He married Mehitable Goodridge (Goodrich) who was born on February 11, 1767. Her parents were John Goodridge and Abigail Hale.

Their children included:
Nehemiah Brooks Dwinnell (1784, married Philis Zuill),
Mary Dwinnell Thompson (1786, married James Thompson),
Rebecca Dwinnell Cooper (1789, married Ira Cooper),
Mehitable Dwinnell Burbank (1792, married Timothy Burbank),
Martha Dwinnell Burdett (1794, married Israel Burdett),
Benjamin D. Dwinnell (1797),
Abigail Dwinnell Norton (1800, married Joseph B. Norton),
Joanna Dwinnell Randell (1802, married Alva Randell),
John Dwinnell (1805),
Aaron Esty Dwinnell (1809, married Fannie Frost), and
Esther Dwinnell Norton (1813, married William L. Norton).

At the time of the 1800 census the family was in Grafton, Windham County, Vermont. The household consisted of:

a man and a woman between 26 & 44-Benjamin & Mehitable
a boy & a girl between 10 & 15-Nehemiah & Mary
a boy & 4 girls under 10- Rebecca, Mehitable, Martha, Benjamin and Abigail

Mehitable died on July 31, 1828 in Grafton.

Bellow Falls Vermont
August 11, 1828

Benjamin, Jr. died in Grafton, on August 25, 1847.
Keene, Cheshire County, New Hampshire was settled after 1736 and was a fort protecting Massachusetts during the French and Indian Wars. It was called Upper Ashuelot. When New Hampshire separated from Massachusetts in 1741 it became Keene, New Hampshire. During King George's War, the village was attacked and burned.

Children of Benjamin Dwinnell
and Mary Estey

  • Jonathan Dwinnell
  • Thomas Dwinnell
  • Mary Dwinnell Pomeroy
  • Elizabeth Dwinnell Banks
  • Abigail Dwinnell Francis
  • Hannah Dwinnell Wheeler
  • Benjamin Dwinnell
  • Israel Dwinnell
  • Sarah Dwinnell Colony
  • Esther Dwinnell Metcalf
  • Three daughters of William Towne and Joanna Blessing were wrongly accused of practicing witchcraft in Salem. Rebecca Towne Nurse, Mary Towne Estey, and Sarah Towne Bridges Cloyes were persecuted in 1692. The children of people in the line below are all descendants of Mary Estey.

    William Towne,
    Mary Towne Estey,
    Isaac Estey,
    Aaron Estey
    Mary Estey Dwinnell
    Israel Dwinnell,
    Isaac Davis Dwinnell, Sr.,
    Isaac Davis Dwinnell, Jr.
    Victoria Zellena Dwinnell
    Robert Wilson Miller, Sr
    Robert Wilson Miller, Jr.

    Various spellings of Dwinnell
    Doenell, Donell, Donnall, Donnell, Duenell, Dunnel, Dunnell, Dwaniel, Dwaniell, Dwainel, Dwennel, Dwinel, Dwinell, Dwinnel, Dwinnill, Dwonill, Dwynel

    Most Americans were farmers in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

    The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America and was ratified in 1789.



    Marblehead, Essex County, Massachusetts was first settled in 1629 and incorporated in 1649. It was originally a fishing village. Before the Revolution it was home base for privateers who plundered European ships.

    The Goodridge Genealogy: a History of the Descendants of William Goodridge ... By Edwin Alonzo Goodridge

    John Goodridge (Samuel, Benjamin, William1) was born in Boxford August 24 and baptized August 31, 1729. He died in Grafton, Vt., March 6, 1815. After marriage he and his wife resided in Boxford, but attended church in Rowley, now Georgetown. In 1757 they removed to Marblehead, Mass., and in 1773 to Keene, N. H. Almost upon his arrival in New Hampshire he was one of the signers of a petition for better protection of fishing in the province, May, 1773.

    In 1783, he bought land in Grafton, Vt., and the following year settled upon it. This tract is still known as "The Old Goodridge Place." John and Abigail were among the original settlers when the town was called Tomlinson. It was incorporated as Grafton soon after. . .

    He married, November 28, 1751, Abigail Hale, Reverend John Seccombe officiating, born in Boxford, April 8, 1730, daughter of Ambrose and Joanna (Dodge) Hale of Harvard, Mass. She died in Grafton, Vt., March 3, 1821. . .

    Children, the first three born in Boxford and the other six in Marblehead:

    i. Joanna, b. Dec. 8, 1752; name changed by her father to Hannah; m. (1), in Marblehead, Mass., Mch. 15, 1781, Nehemiah S. Brooks, bapt., in Marblehead, Aug. 11, 1754, son of John and Mary (Skillings) Brooks. He was a sea captain and was lost at sea in the West Indies. She m. (2), John Woodburn of Windham, Vt., Dec. 12, 1797, b. in Londonderry, N. H., and d., in Windham, Oct. 24, 1812; she d. June 18, 1822; no children.

    ii. Mehitable, b. Aug. 21, 1754; d. in infancy.

    iii. Isaiah, b. Aug. 25, 1756; killed at Lexington, Apr. 19,1775.

    iv. John, b. Aug. 27, 1759; m. Nelly Colony of Keene, N. H.; lived in Pittsford, Vt., where his wife d. in 1820; then he lived with Frank Goodale, an adopted son, in Malone, N. Y., where he d. childless.

    v. Ambrose Hale, b. Dec. 8, 1761.

    vi. Moses, b. Oct. 9, 1764.

    vii. Mehitable, b. Feb. 11, 1767; m., in Keene, N. H., in 1792, Benjamin Dwinell, b., in Topsfield, Mass., Dec. 25, 1763, son of Benjamin and Mary (Esty) Dwinell; settled in Grafton, Vt.; she d. July 31, 1828, and he d. Aug. 25, 1847; eleven children.

    viii. Abigail, b. Nov. 8, 1769; m., June 8, 1789, Alexander Axtell; settled in Grafton, Vt., where nine children were b.; moved to East Koy, Wyoming Co., N. Y.; he d., in Pike, Allegany Co., N. Y., in 1828; she d. in 1837.

    ix. Samuel, b. Oct. 21, 1771.

    New Hampshire was first settled by Europeans in 1623. It was separated from Massachusetts in 1679.

    Rowley, Essex County, Massachusetts was first settled in 1639.


    Deacons played a respected and important role in early New England churches. They sat in a raised pew near the pulpit and had special duties during communion.

    Connecticut's first European settlers were Dutch.

    Annals of Brattleboro

    Deacon Aaron E. Dwinell, born in Grafton, Vermont, married September 1, 1835, Fanny E., daughter of James Frost. He died October 31, 1869, aged sixty-five years.

    When a young man he was employed as clerk in a dry goods store in Bellows Falls. He came to Brattleboro as clerk for Gardner C. Hall, and after a few years went into business for himself, having a small dry goods store on the site of the Town Hall. A brick block which he erected was afterwards occupied by Thompson & Ranger, and here Mr. Dwinell carried on his mercantile business until he went into the furniture business in a shop where he sold furniture and coffins, on the west side of Main Street, near the Whetstone Brook.

    He also erected a dwelling house, in which he resided several years, near the Common, and where afterwards Mrs. Howland had her school. He was living in the Sikes house, where the Federal Building now stands, when his store was swept away by the great flood, which, occurring at a time when he was in feeble health, hastened his death.

    He was deacon of the Congregational Church and chairman for many years of the school committee — a useful and respected citizen.

    He left four interesting daughters:
    Children :
    Helen F., born in 1846 ; married August 28, 1865, James Ballard of Tarlton, Ohio.
    Lucia H., married, 1875, Edward Chase of New Britain, Connecticut.
    Alice S., went from here to teach music in Gallipolis, Ohio, and marriedthere, September 5, 1871, Paul Henking of Verona, Italy, where they lived thirteen years; she died in Springfield, Ohio.
    Etta, married November 25, 1875, George Wilson of Springfield, Ohio.

    During Shays' Rebellion the rebels were mostly farmers angered by excessive debt and taxes. Failure to repay debts could resulted in imprisonment in debtor's prison or the state claiming property.

    The Methodist Episcopal Church was founded by John Wesley, began in 1784. It became the major component of the current United Methodist Church. At first, members were expected to seek the sacraments in the Anglican Church, but by the 1770s they had their own chapels. Circuit riders traveled by horseback to preach and establish churches. The earliest Episcopal Methodists in North America were drawn from middle-class trades and there were more women than men. Services were emotional and demonstrative.
    A Whig was originally a supporter of the American Revolution and from about 1834 to 1855 was a member of the political party that opposed the Democrats. The party supported the supremacy of Congress over the Presidency and favored modernization and economic protectionism.

    Surgeons in colonial America were often barbers who used their cutting tools to perform surgery.
    Physicians were university trained.
    Midwives assisted women in childbirth.

    Alva Randall, the pioneer physician, was the eldest child of Caleb and Lydia Randall, and was born at Danby, Vt., Feb. 4, 1800. He was educated in the district school, and selected the medical profession, being the first of the family to enter that profession. He graduated at Castleton Medical College, Vermont, and began practice in Grafton, Vt., boarding in the family of Benjamin Dwinell, and was united in marriage to Joanna Woodburn Dwinell, the daughter of his host.

    The young couple soon moved to Conquest, Cayuga Co., N. Y., and renting a log house he taught school the first winter and also began his practice. They were soon able to buy a small frame house and a few acres of land. Here their first child, Esther Sophia, was born, March 23, 1825. Their first great sorrow came when she died, Sept. 9, 1830; she was laid at rest in the old cemetery in that quiet little hamlet. Here also their daughter, Abigal Maria, was born, in 1827, and Caleb Dwinell, Feb. 15, 1831.

    In October, 1835, Dr. Randall and his family removed to Michigan, and settled in the village of Bronson, which at that time was the most prominent in the county. Here he purchased land in Bronson and Bethel, and entered upon the practice of his profession. There was no other physician for about ten miles from the village. The years that followed were noted for sickness. His ride was very extensive, and the compensation very moderate, often being paid in cattle, or other personal property, and often not at all. He had his land improved in Bronson and Bethel. He was a hard-working, ambitious man, and in a sickly climate his severe labors told on him severely and rapidly.

    He and his wife were members of the Methodist Church, and their house was a welcome home for the pioneer ministers of the various denominations; Rev. Jacob Patch, Presbyterian, and Rev. Messrs. Sabin, Erkenbrach and McCarty, Methodist, who were often there, are among the well remembered names. The Doctor was a Whig. In his day his party was greatly in the minority. He was once nominated, and ran for the Legislature, but was of course defeated. He was well informed on all political and historical matters. In character and habits he was irreproachable. He had a high sense of honor, and was highly respected by all who knew him. He was cordial and frank, and popular with the people and his patients. As a family physician he was endeared to the families of the old pioneers, many of whom yet remember him with most kindly feelings. Brusque and cheerful in his ways, he was kind-hearted to all, and never distressed any man for his pay. Many of his debts remained uncollected and outlawed.

    While in Bronson two more children were born to him—Lydia Conger and Helen Lydia. The first was born Sept. 15, 1836, and the latter May 31, 1844, and there, within a few weeks of each other, Abigal M. and Lydia C. died of brain fever, leaving only one child, the son. Abigal M. died Jan. 18, 1843, and Lydia C. died March 3, 1843. This was a great trial to the parents, a sorrow which followed them to the grave. Abigal was a beautiful and precocious child, the most promising one of the family. She had joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, having been baptized in Swan Creek with many others. We here quote the affectionate words of the brother, C. D.:

    How well I remember her fine form, her bright looks and red cheeks; a noble girl and a born leader. Lydia was a dear, sweet girl, light hair, very pretty, and attractive in her ways.

    She was only about six years old. When Abigal died—that night—the writer remembers hearing her sing in the delirium of her fever:

    On Jordan's stormy banks I stand,
    And cast a wishful eye
    To Canaan's fair and happy land,
    Where my possessions lie.

    And before the morning came to the pioneer home she had passed over to that "happy land," leaving most desolate and afflicted her parents, sister and brother. It was only a few weeks when the same brain fever took away the little sister, and left the home more desolate than ever. Only one child remained, and he in his youth wrote these words:

    My sisters! How we dearly loved in childhood
    To play beneath the oak tree, lone and shaded
    Decking its rough bark with early flowers,
    While merry rang our voices, making music,
    Seeming to start the Spirit of the forest.

    It was only about seven years after their death, Dec. 23, 1851, when Dr. Randall, after a few days' sickness—pneumonia, induced by exposure—also passed away. He had fought a good fight, in his church, in society, and in his profession, and when his career was ended, it was that of a good soldier "honorably discharged."

    Michael Dwinell. By the famous Edict of Nantes, Henri IV of France, April 13, 1598, gave religious freedom to Protestants. The Huguenots had been so faithful to the king that this edict was confirmed by royal decree in 1652. But in 1656 another decree annulled that of 1598. Then began the persecutions of Protestants, which culminated in the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Oct. 18, 1685, by Louis XIV. The persecutions under this despotic ruler continued many years, especially from 1656. It was an effort of Louis XIY and the Catholics, by the dungeon, by fire, by the wheel and confiscation, to crush out the religion of more than a million and a half of people under this persecution. Though the government endeavored to prevent emigration, over 400,000 among the most industrious, intelligent and religious of the nation left France and settled in Great Britain, Holland, Prussia, Switzerland and America. The loss to France was immense, and the gain to other countries very great. Among the refugees in 1668 was Michael Dwinell, from Paris. He settled in Topsfield, Mass., and was a maternal ancestor of our subject. From him descended the Dwinells of this country—probably all. The name of his wife was Mary Reade, an English girl. The children were Mary, Michael, Thomas, John, Elizabeth, Magdalene, Joseph. Joanna and Susanna.

    Michael Dwinell, the eldest son, was a physician, and was married five different times. Benjamin, son of Michael, and grandson of Michael the emigrant, married Mary Esty. He was born in Massachusetts, Dec. 25, 1763.

    Among his children was a son, Benjamin, the grandfather of C. D. Randall. He married Mehitable Goodridge, by whom he had eleven children. Joanna Woodburn, one of his daughters, was born Dec. 23, 1802, and married Dr. Alva Randall, July 24, 1827, and died at Coldwater, Mich., Dec. 13, 1877. This lady, the mother of our subject, was a typical New England lady. She was well educated and a most affectionate wife and mother. With her husband she early joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Bible was a familiar book with her; she read it through a good many times and had in its teachings the most implicit faith. It was an unfailing source of consolation and inspiration in health or sickness, pleasure or sorrow. She was a devout follower of her Master, and suffered the hardships and privations of pioneer life, and was faithful, neighborly and self sacrificing to the last.

    C. D. Randall was born in Conquest, Cayuga Co., N. Y., Feb. 15, 1831. In October, 1835, his father's family settled in Bronson, Mich., on a farm, where young Caleb grew up, attending the district school. While preparing for the university in the Wesley an Seminary at Albion, he was called home by the serious illness of his father in 1851. His school days then terminated. In the spring of 1855 he was graduated at the Albany (N. Y.) Law School. May 26, 1857, he married Miss Hattie Smith, of Morrisville, N. Y., and they began their married life in Coldwater, and there his wife died Feb. 3, 1863. She was an attractive and cultivated lady, a Christian in belief and practice, and a member of the Baptist Church. The brief tribute at her grave tells her character truly:

    She kept God's Commandments,
    She lived Christ's Beatitudes.

    The Huguenots were 16th and 17th century French protestants. About 500,000 Huguenots fled France because of religious persecution. They relocated to Protestant nations.

    The Edict of Nantes (1598) granted the Huguenots substantial rights in Catholic France. The revocation in 1685 led to a Protestant exodus from France.

    American pioneers migrated west to settle areas not previously inhabited by European Americans.

    Settlers often built log cabins as their first homes.

    Colonial Maryland
    Colonial New England
    Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
    Quakers & Mennonites
    New Jersey Baptists
    German Lutherans
    Watauga Settlement
    Pennsylvania Pioneers
    Midwest Pioneers
    Jewish Immigrants

    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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