Josiah Benson was born in Woodstock, Vermont, July 24, 1826, to Isaac and Amelia Benson. Josiah’s grandfather Moses Benson was born in Middleborough, Massachusetts ca 1775 and relocated to Vermont. Moses married Experience Gibbs, also of Middleborough, 15 Jan 1796 (Middleborough VR).
My Benson research is still a work in progress, and I’ve found a good deal of conflicting information. There’s an Experience Gibbs of Sandwich who married a Moses Benson, but since she was born in 1797, she’s clearly a different Experience (NEHGS Register, Thomas 1 Gibbs of Sandwich, MA, July 1969, vol 123).
I believe Moses was the son of Elisha Benson and Sarah Stewart> Ebenezer Benson and Joanna Andrews>John Benson and Elizabeth _____. John was one of the first settlers of Rochester, MA.
At age 25, Josiah married Aurilla (or Aurilia) West Nye 10 March 1853 at Middleborough, MA. Aurilla was the daughter of William Nye and Nancy Snow of Rochester. They raised their seven children in Plymouth, where Josiah was a mariner. I descend from their daughter Hattie Maria, who married Charles Washburn.
Josiah and Aurilla lived at what is now 119 Sandwich Street, Plymouth, a home known as the Harlow House, now owned by an antiquity society and open to the public.
|Harlow House, Plymouth, 2001|
"King Philip's War, The History and Legacy of America's Forgotten Conflict," by Eric B. Schultz and Michael J. Tougias, p. 126: In 1677, after King Philip’s War ended, the Pilgrims’ fort on Burial Hill was abandoned as a defense . Material from the fort was sold to William Harlow for a house now known as the Harlow Old Fort House. Built in 1677, the Harlow House is a working museum that offers a glimpse of colonial life around the time of King Philip's War through daily demonstrations of household arts.
My cousin Jane Weston sent me a copy of a newspaper article from the Plymouth paper with an 1898 picture of the Harlow House:
"Harlow House - 1898. Sgt. William Harlow built this gambrel half-cape at 119 Sandwich St. to accommodate his growing family (15 children by three wives) in 1677. Nearly 50 years before he built his house, the meadow site was part of the common lands of Plymouth, used for cattle grazing. The meadow was known as Alkarmus Field. A cooper by trade, Harlow had obtained his half acre of land on the edge of a little pool at a 1669 town meeting. Harlow was known as a "freeman" or voter of the Plymouth Colony. He was also a selectman and typical of the responsible, sober and hardworking men who carried on the Pilgrim tradition. The weather beaten Cape has officially been called the Harlow Old Fort House since 1951. According to Harlow descendants, the timbers were part of the Pilgrim Fort built above the first street (Leyden). The fort was dismantled at the end of King Philip's War in 1676 when the second generation of Pilgrims believed that attacks from the Indians had come to an end. The small story and a half dwelling contains a tiny hall in which a steep narrow stairway rises abruptly to the bedrooms on the second floor. To the front is the largest room called "the Hall." Here the brick fireplace is large enough to burn huge logs and has an oven built into the back. The furnishings date from the 17th century. The Harlow House, as seen in the A.S. Burbank photo above, was owned by Dr. Edward B. Stephens and his sister, Mrs. Ruth Baker, prior to the Tercentenary. In 1920 the one-year-old Plymouth Antiquarian Society purchased the 17th century dwelling for $3,000. At the time the old oaken frame was covered and protected by this 'modern weather-boarding.'”
|Vintage postcard of the Harlow House|
Josiah died in Plymouth 26 Oct 1910 at age 84. Aurilla died 24 March 1905, age 75. They are buried at Chiltonville Cemetery in Plymouth.
|Josiah and Aurella's gravestones, Chiltonville Cemetery, Plymouth|
Josiah Benson's obituary from the Plymouth Old Colony Memorial: "Josiah Benson, a well known citizen, died at his home, 119 Sandwich Street, on Wednesday, aged 84 years. He was born in Woodstock, VT, a son of Isaac and Amelia Benson, and came here when a young man and for a time was engaged in the Grand Bank fishery. It was related of him that on one voyage while he was fishing he hooked a bag which he raised to the surface of the water only to have its rotten threads break and let the contents, a considerable amount of gold coin, drop back to the ocean bed once more. He secured one of the gold pieces which was of English mintage, and had it at his home for years, and the supposition at the time was that the fishing line had dropped into the wreck of some English trading ship. After leaving the sea he resided at Chiltonville and was watchman at the Hayden Mill until the business was closed up and not long after he removed into town and lived in retirement. He is survived by several children. Funeral services were held yesterday and interment was made in Chiltonville cemetery."
The story about Josiah's loss of the gold coins makes me hope a family member somewhere still has the one piece he salvaged!