This is the story of how Westerly, Rhode Island Land Evidences helped me solve the puzzling problem of Daniel Lanphere.
One of my research goals at the Family History Library a few weeks ago was to seek information about Daniel Lanphere of Westerly, Rhode Island, the father of my gggg-grandfather Russell Lamphere. I am related to him in the following way: my grandmother Edna Darling -> Russell Darling ->Emma Lamphere ->Russell Lamphere ->Russell Lamphere ->Daniel Lamphere.
I’ve been doing a literature search for several years.
There is a source I trust for the first three generations of Westerly Lanpheres: the three New England Historic Genealogical Society articles by Scott Andrew Bartley (citations at bottom of this post). But the poorly documented fourth and fifth generations, from a variety of sources including books and journals, vital records, census records, and probate, contain several Daniel Lanpheres. [When not transcribing, I will spell the name Lanphere in the rest of this story.]
Probate and Vital Records were not solving it.
Probate records first came to my attention thanks to a mention in the Rhode Island Genealogical Register, vol. 16, Will Index, p. 174.
Daniel’s probate record did not specify his descendants except for his son Russell of Norwich “oldest son in these parts” along with mentions of his wife, Nancy. That always confused me, because Russell was the oldest son, period, according to the Westerly vital records. Russell is the oldest of six siblings born to Daniel and Nancy Lanphere, as seen here:
I travelled to Westerly to view the probate file myself, as mentioned in my previous post on Daniel Lanphere. That didn’t help. This is a classic case of a probate record being a little vague and Rhode Island vital records not being complete, complicated by the fact that there are several individuals with the name Daniel Lanphere.
And then I found the deeds.
When I got to the Family History Library and all that microfilm, I started with the Westerly Land Evidence records I was most sure about, that mentioned Daniel and his son Russell (quite recognizable because Russell moved to Norwich/Plainfield Connecticut, and was married to Lydia, things I proved long ago).
Daniel Lanphere mortgaged property to son Russell in 1808:
I Daniel Lamphere of Westerly … in consideration of the sum of two hundred dollars received of Russell Lamphere of Norwich [Connecticut] …have sold conveyed and confirmed … to him the same Russell Lamphere his heirs and assigns forever a certain tract of land situate in Westerly … containing … about sixty acres, the farm by me now improved … bounded as follows, to wit. On the North by land belonging to David Lamphere, on the East by land belonging to Maxson Lamphere and land belonging to John Tefft on the South by the highway which heads from Pawcatuck bridge on the west by land belonging to Nicholas Vincent of New York. To have and to hold the above granted … premises with the buildings thereon standing and all the appurtenances thereunto belonging … Provided nevertheless … I the said Daniel Lamphere well and truly pay the aforesaid sum … then this deed to be null and void … In witness whereof … fourth day of July 1808, in presence of Nathan F. Dixon, William Lamphere. — Daniel Lamphere – Westerly Land Evidences, v. 13, p. 361, entered July 5th, 1808
Daniel died a few months after the mortgage was granted. Russell became the Administrator of the estate.
… I Russell Lanphere Administrator on the estate of Daniel Lanphere late of Westerly … by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Supreme Judicial Court of the said State at their April term for said county of Washington AD 1810 and pursuant to the direction of the court of probate of said Town of Westerly, and for and in consideration of the sum of ninety dollars to me in hand … well and truly paid by Nathan F. Dixon of said Westerly … the highest bidder at public auction for the estate hereby conveyed holden on the 23rd day of August AD 1810 … have sold … which the said Daniel Lanphere at the time of his decease … a certain piece or lot of land bounded as follows … thence east to [empty space] Tiffts Land … containing nine acres. In witness whereof — Priscilla Dixon, Joseph Eaton — Windham County [Connecticut], Plainfield, Joseph Eaton, Justice of the Peace, Windham County – Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 220, entered Nov 14 1814 Jesse Maxson, Town Clerk
So I have clearly identified my gggg-grandfather Russell’s link to this exact Daniel.
So now I know the neighbors in this era are Maxson Lanphere, David Lanphere, John Tefft, and Nicholas Vincent. There is other evidence to suggest, but not prove, that John Tefft is Daniel’s father-in-law.
The next deed showed that Russell sold the property (except for the portion his mother Nancy had by widow’s rights) to Nathan F. Dixon.
… I Russell Lanpher of Plainfield in the County of Windham in the State of Connecticut yeoman for and in consideration of four hundred and ten dollars received … of Nathan F. Dixon Esq of Westerly … a certain [piece or parcel of land situate in said Westerly containing by estimation about sixty acres … bounded northerly on David Lanphere’s land. Easterly on land of Maxson Lanphere and [empty space] Tifft southerly by the highway and westerly by land owned by Sally and Phoebe Carr. And I covenant … that I am well seized of such Estate under a deed of mortgage dated the fourth day of July  … executed … by Daniel Lanphere late of Westerly deceased… which mortgage was executed to me as collateral security of a certain note of hand the same day executed by said Daniel Lanphere to me for the sum of two hundred dollars with interest annually payable in one year from the date thereof which mortgage deed I do hereby assign to the said Dixon … I Russell Lanphere … do covenant … I am well seized and possessed of six undivided thirteenths of said estate by deed thereof subject only to my mother Nancy Lanphere‘s dower… and I Lydia Lanphere wife of said Russell Lanphere do release … all right of dower and power of thirds … this 30th day of December [no year given] … Russell Lanphere and Lydia Lanphere her mark In presence of Priscilla Dixon, Jeremiah Thinsman Windham County, Plainfield, Joseph Eaton, Justice of the Peace, County of Windham … – Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 221, entered Nov 16 1814 Jesse Maxson, Town Clerk
Here is where I got a little confused. Russell owned SIX UNDIVIDED THIRTEENTHS of the property? Why would the property be split thirteen ways? There were six children.
The next entry was very startling.
… Whereas I Joseph Crumb of Grafton in the County of Windham in the State of Vermont by virtue of five several powers of attorney to me executed by
- one George Lamphere of Royalton [Vermont]… dated … the eighteenth day of December  …
- one executed by John Clarke and Marcy his wife of Lydon in the county of Hampshire, State of Massachusetts [June 18th 1811] …
- one executed by Jesse Lanphere of Plainfield in the County of Grafton in the State of New Hamshire [30 May 1811] …
- one executed by Eliphalet Davis and Eunice his wife of Royalton [Windham, Vermont] [18 Dec 1810] …
- one executed by Nimrod Lamphere and Roda his wife of Petersburgh in the County of Renssliere and State of New York [6 March 1811]
being authorized to sell their right in an undivided tract of land situate in Westerly … which they inherited from Daniel Lanphere late of Westerly deceased the said George Lanpher, Marcy Clarke, Jesse Lanphiere, Eunice Davis and Roda Lamphier being five of the children and heirs at law of Daniel Lanphiere deceased. … in consideration of one hundred dollars received from Russell Lanpher … give … all the rights of interest they have … in an undivided tract or parcel of land by estimation fifty-one acres … bounded as follows on the North by land belonging to David Lanphere, on the East by land belonging to Maxson Lanphere … land belonging to John Tifft … land belonging to the Grantee on the South of the highway which leads from the Pawcatuck Bridge on the West to land lately owned by Nicholas Vincent … free of all incumbrances except a mortgage deed executed to the said Russell Lanphere … and the widows right of dower … I set my hand [20 June 1811] — Joseph Crumb In presence of Nathan F Dixon, Isaac Champlin .. and whereas the said Joseph Crumb having intermarried with Prudence Lanphere daughter and one of the heirs at law of Daniel deceased … sold to Russell her share of the estate … agrees he will … deliver her deed thereof … – Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 222, entered Nov 17 1814 Jesse Maxson, Clerk
So the deed, above, lays out six more children of the same Daniel Lanphere.
They are: George, Marcy, Jesse, Eunice, and Roda, as well as Prudence (married to Joseph Crumb). The first five sold their portion of their father’s estate to Russell Lanphere for $20 each.
But I’ve never heard of any of them. I spent the afternoon wandering through the “Daniel” section of my Lanphere research binder, and my digital records of Lanphere books and documents.
There was another Daniel Lanphere of Westerly, married to Eunice, with the following family, pictured below as they appear in Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island, volume 5, page 111:
I knew my Daniel was married to a Nancy, so I had always assumed THIS Daniel was not my ancestor. But the children’s names match, except for the name “Marcy.” Several of the named spouses match Westerly vital records.
So Daniel had TWO families, one 1759-1772 and the other 1776 – 1808. To my knowledge, no one has identified these two as being the same person, with wife (1) Eunice and wife (2) Nancy.
In this next record, widow Nancy gets her “thirds”:
… Whereas Daniel Lanpher late of Westerly deceased died seized of a certain small farm or tract of land situate in Westerly … Nancy Lanpher … was the wife of Daniel … entitled to one third part of said farm … whereas it is agreed by the widow and the sd Dixon together with William Lanphere another of the heirs at law to submit the assignment of said dower … to set out and assign to the widow her dower or third part of the estate … — Nancy Lanpher her mark, Nathan F. Dixon, Wm Lanpher … set off to the said Nancy the whole of the west part of the dwelling house wherein she now lives … the North Pasture so called, bounded … the fence or wall … to the head of the Lane leading to the house … a small garden to the southward of the Crib containing about a rod of ground … to be used in a prudent manner … Witness Wm Rhoades, Joseph Pendleton — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 223, entered Nov 17 1814 Jesse Maxson, Clerk
Another daughter, Nancy (daughter of Nancy; married to George Crocker) appears to sell her share to widow Nancy:
… We George Crocker and Nancy Crocker wife of the said George in Waterford in the County of New London in the state of Connecticut … for … the sum of twenty dollars … paid by Nancy Lanphere widow and relict late of Westerly … a parcel of land with a dwelling house and barn thereon standing … containing forty nine acres … the late homestead farm which … the late Daniel Lanphere died seized and possessed which we hold be virtue of the said Nancy Crocker being a lineal descendant and lawful heir to the said Daniel Lanphere deceased. –Nancy Crocker, George Crocker In presence of David G Otis, George Williams August 25th 1815 — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 259, entered September 8 1815 Jesse Maxson, Clerk
And then the heirs I knew about, the other children of Daniel and Nancy, sell their shares to Nathan Dixon:
… We William Lanphere, Triphenia Lanphere, Daniel Lanphere and Milly Lanphere all of Westerly … children and heirs at law of Daniel Lanphere late of said Westerly deceased for the consideration of twenty dollars received by each of us of Nathan Dixon of Westerly … quit claim … to said Nathan Dixon … our respective shares in the Real Estate of which our said father Daniel Lanphere died seized of … being a tract of land where the said deceased last dwelt containing about sixty acres … bounded as follows … land belonging to David Lanphere … land belonging to Maxson Lanphere … land belonging to John Tefft … the highway which leads from the Pawcatuck Bridge … land now owned by the Miss Carrs formerly owned by Doct. Vincent. … premises with the buildings thereon … we are each of us seized of the undivided thirteenth part of said tract of land … – William Lanpher, Triphina Lanphear her mark, Daniel Lanphear, Permily Lanphear … In presence of Thomas Noyes 2d, Joseph Pendleton, Enoch Lanphear … April 14 & 18, 1815 — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 310, entered September 20 1815 Jesse Maxson, Clerk
In 1817, widow Nancy appears to sell a great deal of her property to Nathan Dixon, with a kind of reverse mortgage arrangement:
… I Nancy Lanphere widow of Daniel Lanphere … in consideration of the sum of twenty five dollars to be paid by Nathan F. Dixon … each and every year … annually … during the period of my natural life … all the right … which I have in the estate … (except the part of the dwelling house where I now live …) I do release to the sd Dixon … Nancy Lanphere her cross — In presence of Ichabod Taylor, Priscilla Dixson … April the 25 AD1817 — Westerly Land Evidences, v. 14 p. 349, entered May 10 1817 Jesse Maxson, Clerk
The Daniel who married Eunice (Wise?), often called Daniel, Jr, is usually purported to be the son of Daniel (and Catherine Prosser), descended from John2 and George1.
The property itself certainly seems to back up this theory, I see signs from various other deeds that I copied that it descended directly from George to John to Daniel to Daniel. Several of the neighbors are also descendants of John2. My husband, who is a Westerly native, plans to help me find the locations mentioned and pinpoint this land. And further Westerly records, and old maps, will probably clarify these relationships.
I am thrilled to have made a previously unknown connection in the Lamphere line. If this had been in the probate records, I would have found it long ago. It was the deeds that showed me the story.
- Each of Daniel’s families seems to have a son, Daniel. I have no evidence that the first Daniel died before the second was born, so I should look for that.
- I have no evidence of the first wife’s death. There is no vital record for that, but I might be able to find a burial record for her.
- Likewise I have no record of either marriage in the vital records (other than the sets of children) but I will continue to pursue that
- The first wife may be Eunice Wise but I do not know the real source of that information.
- Explore the neighbor, John Tefft, who may be the widow Nancy’s father (or, perhaps, a brother)
- Prove the parents of Daniel.
All land records are from Westerly Land Evidences, volumes 9 – 14. The list of FHL microfilms containing these records can be found here.
Westerly vital records are transcribed in James Arnold’s Vital Records of Rhode Island 1636-1850, which can all be found here – Westerly is in the second half of volume 5.
The NEHGS articles, available to members on the NEHGS website, http://www.americanancestors.org:
- Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants.” New England Historic Genealogical Register 153 (April 1999): 131-140.
- Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants, Part 2.” New England Historic Genealogical Register 159 (October 2005): 333-340.
- Scott Andrew Bartley. “George Lanphear of Westerly, Rhode Island and his Descendants, Part 3.” New England Historic Genealogical Register 160 (January 2006): 47-59.
Robinson, Vera M., transcribed by. “The 1774 Census of Rhode Island: Charlestown and Westerly.” Rhode Island Roots 29 (December 2003): p. 197.
Two sources commonly accessed by Lanphere researchers, should be used with caution:
- The Lanphere Family Research Aid by Shirley (McElroy) Bucknum. The Genealogical Society of Portland, Oregon, 1979. Re-reading her introduction just now, I see that she states there is no copyright on the book, so that it can be shared. I will try to take better pictures of the booklet in the future and put it online. For now, it is available in many genealogy libraries.
- The Lanphere and Related Families Genealogy by Edward Everett Lanphere. Typewritten manuscript, 1970. This is present in many genealogical library collections, but is also available at this link for subscribers to Ancestry.com. The main section, starting on page 1, is called “The Lanphere Line”. Googling that term may produce other online copies.
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