The Diary of Mehetabel Chandler Coit

My Family Connection

Lydia Lathrop, my first maternal cousin 8x removed (1718-1794) in 1740 married Joseph Coit, Esquire. Joseph Coit was one of John and Mehetabel Chandler Coit’s (1673-1758) six children.

Detailed Family Connection of Mehetabel CHANDLER COIT (1673 – 1758)(mother-in-law of aunt of husband of wife of 3rd great grand uncle)

Mehetabel’s Family Background

A native of Roxbury, near Boston, Massachusetts, Mehetabel Chandler Coit was born into a family who belonged to the Puritan church yet sometimes challenged authority. For example:  John Coit went before the court for illegally selling liquor and for hosting disorderly parties, while two of her siblings were disciplined for inappropriate sexual behavior.

In 1688, the Coits left Roxbury and emigrated to Woodstock, Connecticut, a frontier outpost offering land and opportunities, but sometimes subjected to threats of Indian attack. The settlers’ “Garrison fears,” (the fear of oppression), as Mehetabel’s sister Sarah described them, may have prompted 21-year-old Mehetabel  to follow her brother and his family to the seaport town of New London, Connecticut. There she met John Coit, a successful shipbuilder, whom she married in 1695. The Coit family led a relatively comfortable existence until John’s death in 1744. Mehetabel remained a widow for the final fourteen years of her life.

Mehetabel’s Diary

Image:  Mehetabel Chandler Coit's Diary

Mehetabel Chandler Coit’s Diary

Her long life covered an eventful period in American history and as it turns out, Mehetabel kept a diary starting at age 15 and periodically wrote in it until she was well into her seventies. It is thought to be one of the earliest surviving diaries by an American woman–maybe even the earliest.

Timeline:  CT History Facts - 1700s

CT History Facts – 1700s
Click Image to Enlarge Timeline

A previously overlooked resource, Mehetabel’s diary, along with an extensive collection of letters by her and her female relatives, sheds new light on life experiences in Connecticut during the 1700’s.

Her writings reveal that she lived a rich and varied life, not only running a household and raising a family, but reading, writing, traveling, transacting business, and maintaining a widespread network of family, social, and commercial connections. While her experiences were restricted by gender norms of the day, she took a lively interest in the world around her and played an active role in her community.

In her book, One Colonial Woman’s World…The Life and Writings of Mehetabel Chandler Coit, Michelle Marchetti Coughlin explores the numerous—and sometimes surprising—ways in which Mehetabel’s personal history was linked to broader social and political developments.  She also provides insight into the lives of countless other colonial American women whose stories remain largely untold.

One Colonial Woman’s World was released in paperback and hardcover by the University of Massachusetts Press in December 2012.

Photo:  Author, Michelle Marchetti Coughlin

Author, Michelle Marchetti Coughlin

To learn more about this book, from its author, Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, you may want to tune into a radio interview on March 7, 2013 at Fieldstone Common’s Online Radio broadcast.  The interview is scheduled for 1 P.M.

Book Image: One Colonial Woman's World

One Colonial Woman’s World

If you are interested in ordering your copy of One Colonial Woman’s World, you may do so through:  University of Massachusetts Press; AmazonBarnes and Noble; or IndieBound.


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