Monday, September 9, 2013


      First, some Rhodes family general history: It is reported that the British Rhodes family came into being when William the Conqueror came to England. Nelson Osgood Rhodes, in his book, The Family of Rhodes (1919), indicated that the de Rhodes came to England with the Earl of Flanders to assist William The
Conqueror (Volume I, page 121). The Domesday book names Willemus and Hugh and that they were given the “Moiety of Rhodes” which is in Chester. Presumably Hugh returned to France, and Willemus remained in England. Willemus had a son who became Michael de Rodes, whose heritage can be traced in English documents. There were various family seats until Judge Francis Rodes built Barlborough Hall, which is now a prep school.

I would love to start our Rhodes family with Walter, supposedly Zachariah Rodes' father, but I have no documentation that they are related, even though you will find this on most every tree in that has Rhodes family members. I will report that there was a Walter Rhodes in Rhode Island at the same time that Zachariah was there, but there's still a question in my mind about them being related. There is documentation of Walter that indicates that he was in contact with people who were also involved with Zachariah in early Rhode Island. The Early Records of the Town of Providence (Vol. XIV, index to deeds, 1906, Providence, Snow and Farnham) shows deeds of Walter transacting business in the same area as Zachariah as well. On another page Walter Rhodes is listed as having signed an affidavit on 6 July, 1674. So there may have been a relationship between Walter and Zachariah. The family tree constructed by Nelson Osgood Rhodes indicates that Walter was the father of Zachariah and Henry Rhodes and, as a son of the youngest of 3 sons, Walter may have felt that emigration to the New World would be beneficial to him. But it is only conjecture that this lineage is correct.

We do know that Zachariah Rhodes came to Massachusetts in 1642. He's listed in the Founders of Early American Families, emigrants from Europe, 1607-1657 (Cleveland: General Court of the Order of Founders and Patriots of America, 1975, p 242). He is listed as having been born in Leamington, Warwickshire, England according to the American Genealogical-Biographical Index. This would make him 39 when he arrived in America, still a single man at that time. There are numerous records available that make it easy to follow much of Zachariah's life in America. He was listed in Rehoboth, Massachusetts through 1644. Rehoboth at that time counted part of Rhode Island as some of its territory. Zacharaiah was evidently brought up Baptist and following that faith first became punishable by banishment and later by the assignment of a fine, one of the reasons that Roger Williams and Zachariah wanted to leave Massachusetts to set up a new colony. Zachariah was banished, for stating that "the court has naught to do in matters of religion"

The reason for this trouble was that he refused to comply with Massachusetts law compelling support of preachers of the “official” Congregational church. Zacharaiah was part of the group that wanted the territory to leave Massachusetts.

New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial: A Record of the Achievements of her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation (Cutter, William Richard, Lewis Historical Publishing Co, NY, 1914, Vol. 1, pgs 510-511) has a page on Zachariah, summarizing his early life in America:
He was one of 58 inhabitants of Rehoboth from about 1643 to 1650, having received land in the division of lands there. In 1650 he was in Providence, and by 1688 he was on a committee to ask to be released from Massachusetts. He was a constable, a commissioner, on a committee to run the Plymouth Colony line and was also on a committee to agree with the Indians on previous purchases from them, which, from later events, seemed to have had a profound effect on his life. He also owned considerable land as well as a grist mill. The picture is from the location of the grist mill in Pawtuxet.

Zachariah went to Rhode Island where he, with Roger Williams, his future father-in-law William Arnold, William Harris and William Carpenter formed one of the Plantations of Rhode Island. Rhode Island's actual name is The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Zachariah married William Arnold's daughter, Joanna on March 9, 1646. (The Arnold family was also well respected- for the most part- and has a long history in England which will be discussed later). Zachariah was active in the civil and political life of the area as seen above. He was close to the Indians and from the above mentioned letter from Roger Williams it appeared that both Williams and he were upset that some other members of the group were trying to cheat the Indians. It appears in most of his genealogies that he was “drowned off the Pawtuxet” in 1666. This letter indicated that he was very upset and makes you wonder about the drowning. As written it states: “I loue & honour ye memorie of Zach: Rodes as much as any: Yet I belieue he had dolefull thoughts, when God was pleased so suddenly so wonderfully & dreadfully to driue him off from Pawtuxet shoare: O how terrible must ye sight of this monster, & his unchristjan Contentjons (& Law vexatjons about jt) be to his dying Thoughts and Spirits? Thinck what you please & dare: For myselfe I dare not but hope yt he was resolued if God would once haue pleased to suffer his foote on Pawtuxet Land again he would have endeauoured to dash out ye Brains of this dreadful monster.” (Google books: Rhode Island Historical Tracts, No. 13, Sidney S. Rider, 1881). I recently visited Pawtuxet and saw the falls where Zachariah had a grist mill. Also there is a special event venue, Rhodes on the River, started by a descendant of Zachariah and remaining today. There are Rhodes houses, and streets throughout the village.

Zachariah and Joanna had numerous children as listed in the excerpt above. The children for the most part were also well respected and active in the life of their community. Daughter Rebecca married (2nd) Roger Williams' son Daniel. Mary married John Low, and it's through this connection that we are reportedly related to the George Bush family.
We are often indebted to others for the research that they have done. There was a court case that involved 
Jeriah Rhodes and some land in Rhode Island that proved that he was a descendant of Zachariah Rhodes (Zachariah-Jeremiah-John-John-Jeriah). This was published in the American Genealogist (Vol 35, No. 2, April 1959). It was an article written by Charles W. Farnham entitled The Ancestry of Jeriah Rhodes of Ulster Co., NY. Jeriah was born in Rhode Island about 1735 and died in Ulster County, NY in 1812. He came to New York about 1768, first being mentioned then in the records of Lattintown, Marlborough. Jeriah signed the pledge of loyalty to the Continental Congress. He was married twice, first to Rebecca Lewis ( January 1757 in Rhode Island). It appears that her family also came to New York from Rhode Island. His second marriage was to Sophronia Ayers, Rebecca Lewis having died in 1779. He had 9 children with Rebecca and 10 children with Sophronia. Our line stems from his son John (with Rebecca Lewis) and the name Lewis/Louis is prominent in the family. John had a son Lewis, born in 1799 who married Susan Meriah Winne (Winne was another very early family name in the area, but I have not been able to find out which line she was from). They are listed at the top of the journal that started my genealogy trip. It seems that in general the children Jeriah had with Rebecca were respectable, but a history of Marlborough reports that some other Rhodes, I believe those with his second wife, were not so respectable, but have horse thieves among them! Lewis' son, Leander Rhodes, my great great grandfather had a brother, Aaron who is listed in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Ulster County, New York. We have a postcard of the house he built. Another brother, Theodore died in the Civil War. He is buried with his parents in the little cemetery at the Lattintown Baptist Church.

Leander and his wife Mary J. Westcott (another early Ulster family) had a son named Eugene Lewis (my great grandfather-1869-1948) who married Edith Cosman, the lady holding me in this picture of 4 generations. Their daughter Mary Edna married Earl Polhamus and they had two daughters, Ethel, my mother and Elsie. Their son, Lewis Eugene was cousin Estelle Warren's father and later married Vi Hull.

Four generations:
L-Ethel Polhamus Stoehr
R-Edna Rhodes Polhamus
Seated: Edith Cosman Rhodes holding Judi Stoehr