My Genetic Genealogy 1750-1775

“When the ships have for the last time weighed their anchors in England, the real misery begins with the long voyage. For from there the ships, unless they have good wind, must often sail eight, nine, ten or twelve weeks before they reach Philadelphia…But during the voyage there is on board these ships terrible misery, stench, fumes, horror, vomiting, many kinds of seasickness, fever, headache, heat, boils, constipation, scurvy, cancer, mouth rot, and the like, all of which come from old and sharply salted food and meat, also from very bad and foul water, so that many die miserably….

Among the healthy, impatience sometimes grows so great and cruel that one curses the other, or himself and the day of his birth and sometimes come near killing each other…Few women who give birth to children on the ship escape with their lives and many a mother is cast into the water with her child as soon as she is dead. Children from one to seven years rarely survive the voyage; and many a time parents are compelled to see their children miserably suffer and die from hunger, thirst, and sickness and then see them cast into the water. I saw such misery in no less than thirty-two children in our ship, all of whom were thrown into the sea…

When the ships have landed at Philadelphia after their long voyage, no one is permitted to leave them except those who pay for their passage. The others, who cannot pay, must remain on board the ships until they are purchased and are released from the ships by their purchasers. The sick always fare the worst, for the healthy are always preferred and purchased first; and so the sick and wretched must often remain on board in front of the city for two or three weeks, and frequently die…

The sale of human beings in the market on board the ship is carried on thus: Every day people come from the city of Philadelphia and other places and go on board the newly-arrived ship that has brought and offers passengers for sale…When they come to an agreement, adult persons usually bind themselves in writing to serve from 3-6 years according to their age and strength. But very young people, from ten to fifteen years, must serve till they are twenty-one years old.

Many parents must sell and trade away their children like so many head of cattle, for if their children take the debt upon themselves, the parents can leave the ship free and unrestrained but as the parents often do not know where and to what people their children are going it often happens that such parents and children, after leaving the ship, do not see each other again for many years, perhaps no more in all their lives.”

Gottlieb Mittelberger, a German Redemptioner, 1750

And yet, during this period 1750-1775, my ancestors’ families continued to emigrate from Northwestern and Germanic Europe, Ireland, Scotland, and Norway. In my list of identified ancestors at the end of this post, we can see that some of the earlier settlers are now dying off and the younger generations are expanding in size and my ancestors now span from colonies in Connecticut, down the Eastern Atlantic Coastline to Georgia and westward into Tennessee.


We can also see that James Tapp, my 4th paternal great-grandfather, lived to be an impressive and rare 96 years old.  He lived the longest of any my great-grandparents.  To be noted, James also was the 2nd great-grandson of the Wicomico American Indian Tribe Chief, William Taptico II.  William lived a relatively short life; he lived only to reach 30 years of age. But James and his other children well exceeded the average life expectancy of 36 during this era.  And, Sarah “Sallie” Chewning, James wife and my 4th great-grandmother, lived to be 62 years of age–or two thirds of her husband’s lifespan, but nearly double the average life expectancy.   

Of the 70 grandparents discussed here, their ages at death averaged 64 years.  They endured disastrously high mortality rates caused by disease or a result of unsanitary practices during childbirthing, warfare, and labor exploitation.   The primary causes of death in the Chesapeake area  included typhus, typhoid fever, dysentery, influenza, pneumonia, and malaria.

Also common during the day, my 4th great-grandparents James and Sarah had a large family (10 children in 22 years). In fact, the population of the colonies increased from several hundred non-Amerindian individuals in the early seventeenth century to about 2.5 million (2 million whites and about half a million blacks) in 1780. Birthrates were high, averaging about forty-five live births per one thousand people per annum.  Family sizes averaged seven children. However, mortality rates were much higher in colonial times than now, due to lack of sanitation, malnutrition, diseases, and accidents. In relatively healthy towns it was not unusual for one in ten children to die before the age of five.  In James and Sarah’s family, they endured the losses of three of their children before they reached adulthood:  their one-year-old, Lucy, 10-year-old, Charles, and their 14-year-old, Susan. Reflecting back on the events described throughout this post, I feel deeply saddened and humbled by the extreme life experiences and conditions our families had to endure during their mostly brief lifetimes. 


Ordered by their longevity, the table below post lists my now much-extended families (70 people in all). It includes only my 4th-7th paternal and maternal great-grandparents who settled in colonies up and down the Eastern Atlantic Sea Coast.

Ancestor Name Birth Death Age Birthplace Place of Death Relationship
James Tapp 1764 1860 96 Culpeper, VA   4th GG Father
Jarrett Wesley Bowling 1762 1857 95 Knob, Stafford, VA Tazewell, VA 5th GG Father
Eleanor Garrison 1762 1856 94 Overton Parrish, Stafford, VA Tazewell, VA 5th GG Mother
Elizabeth Atkinson 1680 1771 91 Gloucester, VA   6th GG Mother
Charles Young 1771 1860 89 Washington, VA Tazewell, VA 5th GG Father
John Collins 1664 1751 87 Guilford, New Haven, CT   6th GG Father
Daniel Dempsey 1759 1846 87 Burr Hill, Orange County, VA   4th GG Father
Elizabeth Johnson 1676 1760 84 Rappahannock, VA Fredericksburg, Essex County, VA 7th GG Mother
Isaiah Joshua Adkins 1760 1842 82 Guilford, New Haven, CT Mehoopany, PA 4th GG Father
John Ford 1767 1849 82 Ashe, NC   4th GG Father
Elizabeth Long 1760 1841 81 Germany Chatham, NC 6th GG Mother
John Chambers 1772 1852 80 Menallen, York, PA Westmoreland, PA 5th GG Father
Elizabeth Betsy Dempsey 1760 1840 80 Botetourt, VA Orange, VA 4th GG Mother
Benjamin Carpenter 1751 1829 78 DC Wake, NC 4th GG Father
Elizabeth Ruffin 1685 1761 76 Campbell, VA   7th GG Mother
John Jett 1695 1771 76 Richmond, VA   6th GG Father
Frances Withers 1774 1850 76 Amherst, VA Spotsylvania, VA 4th GG Mother
Ptolemy Powell 1767 1843 76 Orange, Orange, VA Spotsylvania, VA 4th GG Father
Wiley L McGee 1769 1845 76 Spotsylvania, VA   4th GG Father
Leah Margaret Owens Hartzell 1773 1846 73 Hecktown, Northampton, PA Westmoreland, PA 5th GG Mother
Robert Campbell Kyle 1702 1774 72 Kyle Ayrshire, Scotland Charlottesville, Buckingham, VA 7th GG Father
Ebenezer Lyon 1692 1764 72 Suffolk, MA-Norwich, New London, CT   6th GG Father
Rhoda Carey Collins 1755 1827 72 Guilford, New Haven, CT Mehoopany, PA 4th GG Mother
Israel Lathrop II 1687 1758 71 Norwich, New London, CT   6th GG Father
James Moses “Old Moses” Higginbotham 1755 1826 71 Monroe, Amherst, VA Tazewell, VA 5th GG Father
Ann Elizabeth Wells 1700 1770 70 Culpeper, Culpeper, VA   6th GG Mother
Jemima Holcomb 1704 1774 70 Saybrook, Middlesex, CT Guilford, New Haven, CT 6th GG Mother
Mary Polly Lawton 1767 1837 70 Petersham, Worcester, MA Mehoopany, PA 4th GG Mother
Mary Elizabeth Bland Blair Bolling 1709 1775 66 Williamsburg, James City, VA Chesterfield, Va 7th GG Mother
Thomas Leavitt 1705 1771 66 New Hampshire Gloucester, VA 6th GG Father
John Amos Womble 1756 1821 65 Edgecombe, NC   6th GG Father
Mary Ann Molly Taylor 1760 1825 65 Bedford, VA Tazewell, VA 5th GG Mother
Sally Mary Merritt 1774 1839 65 Tyrell, NC Hyde, NC 4th GG Mother
Sarah Jane Yancey 1756 1820 64 Louisa, VA Warren, TN 6th GG Mother
Mary Catherine Klein 1750 1813 63 Somerset, PA   6th GG Mother
James Bartholomew Warren 1750 1813 63 Louisa, VA   6th GG Father
Benjamin Gunter 1760 1823 63 Chatham, NC   6th GG Father
George Asbury 1756 1819 63 Stafford, VA Tazewell, VA 5th GG Father
Sarah “Sallie” Chewning 1771 1834 63 Culpeper, VA   4th GG Mother
Andrew Austin Wharton 1773 1835 62 Albemarle, VA Goochland, VA 4th GG Father
Lydia Crocker 1750 1811 61 New London, CT   4th GG Mother
Frances Rachel Riley 1692 1751 59 Dublin, IRELAND Amherst, VA 7th GG Mother
Major John Kennon Bolling 1698 1757 59 Henrico, VA   7th GG Father
Jane Bowling 1750 1809 59 Stafford, VA Tazewell, VA 6th GG Mother
John Merritt 1716 1775 59 Cecil, MD-Tyrrell, NC   6th GG Father
William Elliott 1692 1750 58 Montross, Westmoreland, VA   7th GG Father
Martha Johnson 1711 1769 58 Swansea, Bristol, MA   6th GG Mother
John Hassell 1696 1754 58 Tyrrell, NC   6th GG Father
Frances Brown 1698 1755 57 Westmoreland, VA Stafford, VA 7th GG Mother
Etheldred Taylor 1699 1755 56 Campbell, VA Nottoway Parish, Southampton, VA 6th GG Father
Benjamin Asbury 1695 1750 55 Westmoreland, VA   7th GG Father
Hezekiah Merrit Sr 1751 1805 54 Tyrrell, NC Hyde, NC 5th GG Father
Agnes Christmas 1715 1768 53 Hanover, VA Prince Edward, VA 7th GG Mother
Ezekiel Lathrop 1758 1810 52 Norwich, New London, CT   4th GG Father
Patience Kinchen 1715 1765 50 Campbell, VA   6th GG Mother
William Blum Dempsey I 1700 1750 50 Leinster, Dublin, Ireland Fincastle, Botetourt, Virginia 6th GG Father
Benjamin Hix Hicks 1764 1814 50 Swansea, Bristol, MA Mehoopany, PA 4th GG Father
Samuel Young 1751 1800 49 Tazewell, VA Casey, KY 6th GG Father
Ezekiel Lathrop 1724 1771 47 Norwich, New London, CT   5th GG Father
Robert Bolling III 1730 1775 45 Petersburg, VA Petersburg, VA 7th GG Father
Aaron Garrison 1715 1758 43 Stafford, VA   7th GG Father
Ezra Lathrop 1718 1760 42 Norwich, New London, CT   6th GG Father
Mary Jane Lowe 1720 1760 40 VA   7th GG Mother
Sarah Maffried Gates 1720 1760 40 Killingly, Windham, CT Preston City, New London, CT 6th GG Mother
Rebecca Perry 1716 1752 36 Warren, Bristol, RI   6th GG Mother
Jane Sparks Miller 1720 1756 36 Culpeper, VA Essex, VA 6th GG Mother
Elender Nellie Last 1725 1760 35 St. Mary’s, MD Warren, GA 6th GG Mother
Susanna Watson 1728 1751 23 Prince George, VA   7th GG Mother
Elizabeth “Betsy” Garrison   1765   Stafford, VA   6th GG Mother
Appolonia Oberdorf 1765     Baden, Germany   4th GG Mother
Average Age at Death     64      

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