A brief history of the Elmer (Elmore, Aylmer) family is found in the History of the Allison Family. It states that “The Elmer family is a very ancient one. There are many of the name in Switzerland and Germany who claim to be able to trace their descent back to the twelfth century, and theorize that before that date the Elmers came from Italy or Greece. In 1006, Elmer, a person of great sanctity, was chosen Abbott of the monastery of St. Augustine at Canterbury, England and in 1022 was made Bishop of Sherbourne. After the Norman Conquest of 1066, Elmer, one of the chiefs of William the Conquerer, was holder of several pieces of land, one of which was at Braintree Hundred, county of Essex, Eng., from thirty to forty miles east of London. John Elmer was a Bishop of London in the time of Queen Elizabeth. Representatives of the family are in different countries”.1
The Dictionary of National Biography gives a little more information on the above John Elmer/Aylmer, including the fact that he was “born of an ancient family, long resident at their ancestral seat of Aylmer Hall, in the parish of Tivetshall St. Mary, Norfolk” He was well educated, serving as a tutor to the children of Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset, which included Lady Jane Grey, who spoke highly of him. He continued to do well and be noticed, until eventually appointed Lord Bishop of London. Here he had great difficulty, his temper causing much trouble. He was finally reappointed to a less contentious situation. He married Judith Bures, a lady of Suffolk, with whom he had seven sons and three daughters. Son Samuel became the sheriff of Suffolk County.2 I have seen Edward listed as Samuel's son, but have not been able to verify this with any certainty, although time and place make it appear that he was from this part of the Elmer family.
The Allison history continues, pointing out the early American beginnings of the Elmer family: “Edward Elmer, the emigrant ancestory of this American family, was a young man, probably not married, when he left England. He was a Puritan, and left England to escape the persecution to which that sect was subjected, as did those who came with him. It is probable that he came from the county of Essex, as did many of his fellow passengers, and likely from Braintree, where Rev. Thomas Hooker preached before he came to New England.”3
Edward Elmer arrived in Boston, Massachusetts on the ship Lion (Lyon) on 16 September 1632, with Rev. Thomas Hooker. The book, The Great Migration Begins reports that Edward was granted 3 acres in the West End in Cambridge on 4 August 1634. By 1635 he held 3 parcels of land. Selling some of his land, he removed with Rev. Hooker to the Hartford, CT area in June of 1636. Rev. Hooker had been unhappy with the lack of democracy he saw in Massachusetts. Hartford history has it that one of the Podunk Indians went to Massachusetts to invite the colonists to settle in Connecticut to protect them from a neighboring tribe.4
Edward Elmer is listed as one of the founders of Hartford (see photo below), and he began to acquire land in the area as well. According to The Great Migration Begins, Edward had seven parcels of land in the Hartford area by 1639/40: two acres with dwelling house and other buildings; one rood and three perches in the Little Meadow; one acre and three roods of meadow and swamp in North Meadow; six acres three roods more in the North Meadow; one acre eight perches on the east side of the Great River; four acres one rood in the Little Oxpasture; five acres two roods twenty-two perches in the Neck of Land.5
Founders Monument of Hartford Connecticut: (Edward Elmer is the 9th name from the top)
One of the reasons we have so much information about Edward Elmer's land and asset acquisitions is that he appeared to be quite litigious, appearing in several court cases. In fact, after his death when the inventories of his estate were presented,
"Edward Elmore summoned the legatees of the estate of his father, Edward Elmore, deceased, to appear at court" to consider the claims of debtors of the estate; the court found the accounts "so litigious" that they appointed auditors to go over the accounts of the administrators.”6
Edward married his wife Mary in 1644 or 1645. At that time his estate was large for that day, 1021 pounds in Hartford along with 1300 acres of land at Podunk (369 pounds). 7 Children began arriving, with the oldest, John born in 1644 or 1646. Next came Samuel, baptized 21 March 1646 or 47. It is Samuel's line that we will follow. Other children included Elizabeth, baptized 15 July 1649, Edward, born 1654, Joseph, born 1656, Mary, born 2 September 1658 and Sarah born 1664.8
It appears that Edward moved between the areas of Hartford and Podunk, Ct and Northampton, MA, owning land in all 3 areas and appearing as defendant or plaintiff in lawsuits in all places. He also was involved in community affairs, serving as Commissioner to End Small Causes at Northampton, 1655; he was a witness to the Indian deed of Hadley, on 25 December 1658; we know he was a watchman as he was “relieved from watching, warding & training" on 5 March 1667 or 1668.9
At the end of Edward's life, it appears that he was living in rented quarters in Hartford as his inventory there only consisted of livestock and household goods. His sons may have been living on his real estate. Edward is said to have been killed by Indians during King Philip's war.10 He died in Hartford, Ct by 6 June 1676.
Edward's second son, Samuel, whose line we will follow, was born 1654 (baptized 21 March, 1654 at Hartford), married and had several children with his wife Elizabeth. As a second son, not much information is available for Samuel. His children included Samuel, Abigail, Edward, Deacon Jonathan and Reverend Daniel. According to The Great Migration, referencing the Windsor History, Samuel, the oldest son died on 4 February 1759 at age 82. Not much information is known about Samuel's second son, Edward, born about 1654, except that he married (1) probably Rebecca Fitch and (2) Hannah Atkisson.11
Samuel's next son was Deacon Jonathan Elmer. Jonathan was born about 1686, baptized in Center Church Hartford on 8 May 1687. He moved to Norward about 1712, and again to Sharon, Ct in 1746 where he died 5 June 1778, being buried in the Sharon Burying Ground.12 He had several children with his wife Mary, including, Elizabeth, Eliakim, Martin, Colonel Samuel, Mary, Daniel, Abigail, David, Reverend Jonathan and Dr. Nathaniel Elmer. It is these last two sons that we will follow.
Reverend Jonathan Elmer was born 4 June, 1727 and graduated from Yale College at the age of 20 years in 1747 and was licensed as a preacher on 4 May, 1748. His first place of service was Florida, NY until 1757. He married Amy Gale near Goshen NY. The congregation was apparently poor. A history of Florida NY by the Florida Historical Society reports that around 1750 the Florida and Warwick Presbyterian churches joined and shared the services of Rev Jonathan until about 1757 when he was dismissed “for want of ability to give him sufficient support”.13
A report of the New Jersey Historical Society, where Rev. Jonathan went after his service in Florida gives some colorful background information. This reports that the Florida congregation left it up to Jonathan to either remove temporarily until support was found, send his family away and remain alone or to give up the Florida ministry all together. It appears that he tried to remain. Extracts from his journal include his numerous and creative means of supporting himself and his family. He records many amounts due to him that were unpaid for marriage fees, making shoes, selling lottery tickets, selling crops and personal items, working out with farmers, selling rum, beef, weaving and taking in boarders. He included some charges to be paid to him for his brother Nathaniel's medical services (Jonathan was Nathaniel's older brother). He also left a detailed account of the monies owed to him for his preaching across several years. As this wasn't paid, Jonathan left to provide services to New Providence, New Jersey where he remained for over 50 years, died and was buried.14
Back to younger brother, Nathaniel, who was apprenticed to Dr. Gale in Florida. He was born 1732-33, a younger brother of Rev. Jonathan and the youngest son of Deacon Jonathan and Mary Elmer. He was trained for the medical profession, and, as stated above was apprenticed to Dr. Gale in Florida, NY. He was captain of a Florida company of militia under Colonel Hawthorn during the Revolutionary War and served as surgeon of the state militia until his death. He married Anna Thomson from Goshen with whom he had 9 children. William, the oldest became a physician and married Mary Allison, daughter of General William Allison. Other children included Jesse, Samuel, Mary, Asa, Temperence, Julia, Nancy and the youngest, Nathaniel, who also became a physician, born 22 August 1776. Nathaniel, Sr died in December 1797 in New York City, when it was said that he was returning from a visit to Sharon Connecticut. He is reported to be buried in St. Paul's Churchyard, NYC.
The second Dr. Nathaniel Elmer was also a physician in Florida, NY. In 1806, the Medical Society of Orange County was organized, with Nathaniel elected as its first secretary.15 Nathaniel was married twice, first to Amy Drake and secondly to Lucretia Terry. He died young, at about age 3416, although I have seen his date of death listed as early as 1794 (although that would preclude his being elected to a position in 1806!). I have not seen any children reported from Nathaniel's first marriage, and only one son, Alexander Hamilton Elmer reported from his second marriage to Lucretia Terry.
Not much is known of Alexander except for his marriage to Sally (Sarah Wilcox) which is recorded in the Town of Warwick records and the Amity Presbyterian Church records as being on 27 October, 1827 and for which a fee of $3.00 was paid. Alexander and Sally are also listed buried in the Amity Presbyterian Churchyard. Their daughter, Margaret Lucretia Elmer was born in Amity, outside of Warwick, NY on 11 September 1828 (as taken from her age at her death on 13 March 1912 from bronchial pneumonia). Little is known of Lucretia's early life. She married, on 12 January, 1848, Edward M. Owen. They were the parents of William H. Owen, whose daughter, Nellie was my grandmother. They also had 10 other children, discussed previously in the chapter on the Owen family.
1. Morrison, Leonard Allison: The History of the Allison Family in Europe and America, AD 1135 to 1893, Damrell & Upham, 1893. @ www.ancestry.com
2. Stephen, Sir Leslie, ed: The Dictionary of National Biography Founded in 1882 by George Smith @www.ancestry.com
3. Morrison, Leonard Allison: The History of the Allison Family in Europe and America, AD 1135 to 1893, Damrell & Upham, 1893. @ http://www.ancestry.com/
4. Hartford History: http://www.hartfordhistory.net/faq.html
5, 6. Anderson, Robert Charles: The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633 @www.ancestry.com
7. SAMUEL HART, D.D., D.C.L., et al, Advisory Committee: ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CONNECTICUT BIOGRAPHY GENEALOGICAL -MEMORIAL REPRESENTATIVE CITIZENs,1917
8. Stiles, Henry, Elmer Family of Windsor, Connecticut, 1892, Hartford CT
9. Anderson, Robert Charles: The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633 @www.ancestry.com
10. Morrison, Leonard Allison: The History of the Allison Family in Europe and America, AD 1135 to 1893, Damrell & Upham, 1893.
11. Anderson, Robert Charles: The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633 @www.ancestry.com
12. Sharon Burying Ground, Sharon Ct, from Burying Grounds of Charon, CT Amenia and Nort East, NY. Published Amenia, NY 1903
13. Florida Historical Society, florida, New York, Orange County, 2002
14. Cory, AM, MD, Life and Times of Rev. Jonathan Elmer, from Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, Vol. 3, #2, 1899
15. Florida Historical Society, florida, New York, Orange County, 2002
16. Family Archiver Viewer, CD157, Early New York Families, 1600s-1900s, Disk 2, Family History of Central NY, Vol 1, Central New York Family Histories, Genealogy.com, May 16, 2004.