Sally Chauncey Smith’s Granddaughter Goes to Harvard

A Note to My Readers:  Sometimes the research becomes like what my mother called ‘a rat’s nest’. Unattractive, no? Most definitely a challenge requiring me to up my game. Diving into deeper resources and the requirement of constantly honing and improving my research skills. Oh, and note-taking. Lots and Lots of note-taking.

Hamilton J. Smith monument in Old South Cemetery, Montague, Massachusetts

Hamilton J. Smith monument in Old South Cemetery, Montague, Massachusetts

Several generations back, I run into my Smith line on my father’s side. (I have one on my mother’s line as well, but with much clearer and more available documentation.) Specifically I am working on the lineage of my paternal 3rd great grandmother, Dorothy “Dolly” Smith Martin. Roswell Smith of Montague, Massachusetts is Dolly’s only brother and his son, Hamilton J. Smith was the ‘go-to” guy for the Smith – Martin genealogy when William Richard Cutter compiled his book “Genealogical and Family History of Western New York: A Record of The Achievements of Her People in the Making of A Commonwealth and the Building of A Nation. Volume I”.

Nicely done, as much of Mr. Cutter’s works are, I used the Smith and Martin contributions by Hamilton J. Smith to do my own source work and much to my gratification, everything snicked nicely into place. Still, there was  the reference to Dolly’s mother – ‘Sally (?)”. Oh, yeah. One of those. A question mark. So Hamilton didn’t know his paternal grandmother’s maiden name. Swell. We genealogists are a greedy bunch. I was handed both the Martins and the Smiths parsed back several generations by Hamilton. Thank you, sir.  Now it is up to me to find out about my 4th great grandmother. Sally (?).

Samuel Smith, Achsah Smith Newton and Stephen Newton monuments.  Evergreen Cemetery, Cazenovia, New York

Samuel Smith, Achsah Smith Newton and Stephen Newton monuments. Evergreen Cemetery, Cazenovia, New York

Checking back to other related family lines and old archives, I worked on finding Massachusetts civil records of Samuel Smith, Dolly’s father and Sally “question mark’s” husband. Back to Montague and Hadley…following the migration. Back and back. Finally I changed my strategy. I went forward and once again into related genealogy publications.  How about Dolly’s other siblings, Almena Smith Thrasher or Achsah Smith Newton. Genealogy was a big deal in that generation…good old pioneer stock family pride. And published genealogies.

I hit pay dirt with Achsah. Her husband’s family…the Newtons…had published a well cited genealogy book in 1915. Included in the Newton family information was Achsah and her husband, Stephen and their children. And a footnote on one Sally CHAUNCEY, wife of Samuel Smith…Achsah, Almena, Dolly and Roswell’s parents.

314                                                 NEWTON GENEALOGY
2304. STEPHEN NEWTON(6) (Paul(5), Nathan(4), Jonathan(3), Moses(2), Richard (1)), son of Paul and Martha (Newton) Newton of Southborough and Leverett, mass., was born at Southborough, June 13, 1782, and died at Cazenovia, New York, July 17, 1864, aged 82.
He married, January 14, 1807, Achsah Smith, daughter of Samuel and Sally (Chauncey) Smith* of Hadley, Mass. She was born at Montague, Mass., July 23, 1786, and died at Cazenovia, N. Y., February 20 1862, aged 76.
*SAMUEL SMITH (——–) of Hadley m. SALLY CHAUNCEY. (The Chaunceys of Hadley are descended from Rev. Israel Chauncey, graduate of Harvard College 1693, ordained over Hadley Church 1696, and Re. Charles Chauncey, President of Harvard College.) They had Achsah, 1786, m. Stephen Newton; Roswell, 1788; m. Esther Rice, who were parents of Hamilton J. Smith.

Source: NEWTON GENEALOGY. Genealogical, Biographical, Historical Being A Record of the Descendants of RICHARD NEWTON of Sudbury and Marlborough, Massachusetts, 1638, with Genealogies of Families Descended from the Immigrants. Compiled By Ermina Newton Leonard. Published by Bernard Ammidown Leonard. De Pere, Wisconsin. 1915

My grandmother Dolly Smith Martin also named her first son Chauncey.  Two good clues and a good place to start. And on to the next challenge.

The Chaunceys of Hadley are documented in their achievements in regards to Harvard and the Hadley Church and there are some Hadley civic records to parse.  There are also a number of history books that provide information on Hadley history and with plenty of Chauncey family mention.   That said, unlike the Smiths and the Martins, it doesn’t appear these prominent people had anyone interested in publishing a Chauncey genealogy to assist in the process of compilation.  Rather there are a larger number of genealogy books with a generation or two of Chaunceys included.   They were a prolific and accomplished family and one that a descendant would love to celebrate with a dedicated genealogy publication.  Hard to believe there isn’t one…somewhere.  The good thing is that Harvard has a plethora of Chauncey material that promises to help me bridge the gap between Sally (?) Chauncey and her ancestral grandfathers Israel and Charles.

So folks…several generations later…a Chauncey is going to Harvard. Well, to research anyway.

Deborah Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian, Genealogical Researcher

(c) Copyright 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

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