Town of Barkhamsted
Litchfield County, Connecticut
Family Outlines
A Part of the USGenWebProject

Contributed by:  William Brackett

Read these books and remember our ancestors. They relate the story of Barkhamsted, Connecticut and our ancestors who lived there. We do have a little Narragansett blood in us also.

The book, Legends of The Barkhamsted Lighthouse and Satan’s Kingdom in New Hartford, by Lewis Sprauge Mills and published in 1961, by the Shoe String Press, Second Edition, describes some of our ancestors from Connecticut. This book is a long poem similar to Hiawatha. It romanticizes the story and descendants of James and Molly (Barber) Chaugham.

The book, A Village of Outcasts, by Kenneth L. Feder and published by Mayfield Publishing Company in 1994, explores the archaeology of the Barkhamsted Tribe. It also explores the genealogy of this family group.

The following records are sparse. This is due to the early dates but also because this was a “Village of Outcasts”. Their records were not maintained in the way the “White Population” maintained their records. Native American groups passed on an oral history and these were not often written down. Until the 1850 census even the names of individuals were not recorded, just heads of households.

James Chaugham, “a Narragansett Indian” married Molly Barber, “a white woman” about 1740. James Chaugham was from Block Island in Rhode Island and it is reported that his grandmother may have been of Spanish descent. Molly Barber’s given name was Mary Barber. James Chaugham would have been born about 1710-20. James Chaugham died in Riverton, Connecticut about 1800. Mary (Barber) Chaugham died on 06 Feb 1818 and was reportedly 104 years of age. Mary Barber would have been born about 1714. The record of her estate can be found in Barkhamsted records and is dated 10 Feb 1821 and it reads:

An inventory of the Estate of Mary Chogum
late of Barkhamsted decd-appraised by the
subscribers on the 29th day of Jany 1821
1 iron kettle 1.25 1 small Do. .50
1 old chest of Drawers .50 14 acres of land @ 10$ 140~
Total 142.25
We certify the above to be a true apprisal of
all the Estate exhibited to us. Judah Roberts Apprisor
Jossa Ives on oath
Recd in Court Feby 10, 1821 accepted, ordered to be
recorded & kept on file Solomon Everet Judge
a true record attest William Stone Clerk

Mary (Barber) Chaugham owed the town of Barkhamsted $284.97 in back taxes and legal fees. Her land was sold to her son-in-law, William Wilson for $ 100.00 and the town cut their losses.

The story goes that Mary/Molly’s parents disapproved of this marriage and therefore the couple left the area. There is some indication that Mary Barber was “from Wethersfield”? James and Molly Chaugham settled in Barkhamsted, Connecticut and established the “Barkhamsted Lighthouse Tribe”. This group consisted of Native Americans, whites, mixed bloods and some African Americans. There is an indication of other Native Americans in this area. Some believe James’s father’s name was Samuel and his mother’s name may have been Priscilla. Mary’s father’s name is believed to have been Peter Barber. The Chaugham name is also seen spelled as Chogum, Chagum, Chogam, Chaughom and Choggum. James and Molly (Barber) Chaugham had at least eight children:

Sally Chaugham
Samuel Chaugham married Miss Green
Solomon Chaugham married Miss Hayes
Meribah or Mary Chaugham married Samuel Lawrence
Hannah Chaugham b. abt. 1754 married Reuben Barber
Mercy Chaugham b. abt. 1757 married Isaac Jacklyn
Mary or Polly Chaugham b. abt 1758
Elizabeth Chaugham b. abt 1760

Mary Chaugham married William Wilson Sr., “a white man”. Mary is also seen as Polly Chaugham. William Wilson served during the Revolutionary War. He worked as a Preacher and Laborer. William Wilson Sr. died in 1843 in Tyringham, Massachusetts. They lived in Barkhamsted. Mary/Polly (Chaugham) Wilson died before 1833 as she is referred to in a land contract as the “late Mary Wilson”. It is reported that this couple had 12 children. William and Mary (Chaugham) Wilson’s known children were:

Esther Wilson married David Haskill
Susannah Wilson married Daniel F. Clarke
Polly Wilson b. abt 1797
William Wilson Jr. b. abt. 1799

Note: Polly Wilson’s birth year can be calculated from records to have been as early as 1771 and as late as 1797?

William Wilson Sr. is buried in the Hemlock Cemetery in Colebrook town. He is recorded as a “Barkhamsted Man” in the Honor Roll of Litchfield County Revolutionary Soldiers who served during the Revolutionary War. This book was written by Josephine Ellis Richards and published by The D.A.R. in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1912. He is also recorded in the Register of Revolutionary Soldiers and Patriots buried in Litchfield County. This book was written by Joyce MacKenzie Cropsey and published by the D.A.R. by Phoenix Publishing in Canaan, New Hampshire. In this notation it indicates his father was Joseph Wilson.

Polly Wilson married Joseph Elwell, “a white man”. Polly (Wilson) Elwell according to census records was born about 1797. When she died on 01 Sep 1867 her age was reported as 96 years of age, which would make her birth about 1771? According to records Polly’s birth year can be dated to 1771, 1782, 1789 and 1797? Joseph Elwell was the son of Joshua and Abigail (Jones) Elwell and was born about 1774. Joshua and Abigail Elwell had at least two sons, Stephen and Joseph Elwell, of Barkhamsted. . It is reported that Joseph and Polly (Wilson) Elwell had 14 children. Joseph Elwell’s known children were:

Sybil Elwell b. abt 1805
Joseph Elwell Jr. b. abt 1815
John Elwell b. abt 1815
infant Elwell b. 01 May 1817 d. 01 May 1817
Isaac Elwell b. abt 1824

Notes: Sybil Elwell may have been from a prior marriage depending on Polly’s actual age? In some records John Elwell is described as a “Mohegan”. Sybil Elwell, married Montgomery Webster. Sybil is referenced as “Creole”, which was used, at that time, to indicate mixed blood and Montgomery is listed as “Mohegan”. Montgomery Webster was known as “Old Gum” Webster. Sybil and Montgomery Webster can be found in the 1850 Barkhamsted census records. Several of these people were “basket makers” in Barkhamsted. A grandson of Montgomery and Sybil (Elwell) Webster stated he was the grandson of a “Narragansett Chief”.

William Wilson Jr. married a lady named Harriet. Her last name has not been discovered and it is unknown if she was also Native American. William and Harriet Wilson’s known children were:

Thankful M. Wilson b. abt. 1822
Esther Wilson b. 1827
Mary Wilson b. abt 1830/33
Abigail Wilson b. 1838
William Wilson b. 1840

Thankful M. Wilson married Isaac Elwell. Isaac and Thankful both would have had Native American ancestry and would have been first cousins. Isaac and Thankful Elwell came to Michigan by 1870. Isaac died in 1909 in Columbia Township, Van Buren County, Michigan at the age of 95 years. Thankful’s death record has not been located.

In Mill’s book you can read:

“Molly Barber and James Chaugham
Dead and Buried-gone forever:
Scattered now are their descendants.
Some are in the Town of Woodbury
Busy digging graves and hunting;
Some in Riverton and Colebrook
Some in Harwinton and Winsted,
Some in Michigan are living.

… Generations speeding onward
In an ever widening circle,
Carry far the blood of Chaugham
And his spouse, brave Molly Barber,
Down the years with Adams, Hobson,
Jacklin, Lawrence, Barber, Elwell,
Webster, Doty, Berry, Cochran,
And the thousands yet to follow.

Through the ages still they journey,
Ever more and more descendants,
From that Ragged Mountain cabin,
Home of fearless Molly Barber
And her spouse, the Honest Chaugham.
Onward now, and ever onward
Shall they go, all through the ages
To Eternity’s last borders-
Sent by Peter Barber’s anger
And his daughter’s resolution.
Had she yielded to her father
Other souls would journey onward,
Who is there to judge between them?”

Isaac and Thankful Elwell had a daughter, Jenette Elwell who married William Wooldridge, of New York State. After William’s death Jenette (Elwell) Wooldridge and her children lived in South Haven, Michigan near her father and other relatives. This family was also in Nebraska about 1880.

Their daughter Sarah J. Wooldridge married Edgar L. Brackett.

Their son Walter M. Brackett married Cora E. O’Dean in Berrien County, Michigan.

Their son Harold E. Brackett married Arvena (Hambrick) Daniel.

Their son was William E. Brackett who married Jane R. Hauch in 1970 in Lakeside, Michigan.

We are the descendants of “Some in Michigan are living” and onward goes the line from James and Molly Chaugham.


This page was created by Linda Pingel on November 2, 2008
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Last Updated:  November 2, 2008