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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:

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[This information is from Vol. II, pp. 643-645 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

The first settlement within the bounds of the present state of Connecticut was made in 1635, at Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield. The first court was held in Hartford, April 26, 1636, one of the magistrates being Andrew Ward, several of whose descendants intermarried with those of Thomas Betts, American ancestor of the Troy family of that name. The lands along the Sound between "Quonektacut" and Quinnipac rivers, between Saybrook and New Haven, were unexplored until the Pequot war of 1637, and first became known during the pursuit of the Pequots westward. The first colony formed upon the Sound was at New Haven, 1638, and Guilford was the second. With the founding of the latter town commences the history of the Betts family in America.

(I) Thomas Betts, ancestor of the American family, was born in England, 1618, died in Norwalk, Connecticut, 1688. He came to America as early as 1639, being then twenty-one years of age, and became one of the founders of Guilford. No record has been found of the ship in which he came to America. It is supposed that he came with relatives or friends, and being a minor his name may not have been recorded, as was often the case. From his association with Governor Leete and other Puritan forefathers, it is probable that religious persecution drove him from his native land. He brought with him a Bible dated 1591, which is still in possession of the family. Unfortunately, the first leaves, which may have recorded his father's name, are missing. The first record of Thomas Betts is also the earliest of any kind on the town records. In book A, p. 1, court records, in Guilford, under date August 14, 1645, it is recorded that "Mr. Samuel Disbrow, Richard Bristow and Thomas Betts, members of the church, and Theo. French, planter, took their oath." This Samuel "Disbrow," was a brother of Colonel Disborough, who married a sister of Oliver Cromwell, and was afterwards a member of parliament, and keeper of the great seal of Scotland. Thomas Betts received several allotments of land, being one of the original forty settlers. His name does not appear among the signers of the "Guilford Plantation Covenant" which was drawn up and signed at sea, June 1, 1639, and he therefore must have joined the colonists from overland. Besides the births of his children, there is little of him in the Guilford records from 1644 to 1657. On November 17, 1657, he sold his "outlands," and three days later his home lot. He removed to Milford, where he resided until 1660, when he purchased the home lot of Nathaniel Eli and Ralph Keeler, in the town of Norwalk, which was ever afterward his home. The general assembly made him a freeman of the town, October 13, 1664, which made him eligible to hold office and proves him a member of the church. His taxable estate was valued in 1671 at £146 10s, and he appears in the census of 1672 with the largest family in town, consisting of eight children. There are many mentions of him in the records, usually conveyances of land, etc. He was a man honored and beloved. Two years before his death, "on December 24, 1686, the town did vote John Gregory Senr., Mr. Thomas Fitch and Thomas Betts Snr. for to be seated in the Round Seat." This was an especial mark of honor and respect, meaning a prominent position in the church, and only bestowed upon those most worthy. There is no record of the date of his marriage to Mary ————, she may have come with him from England, but as his first child was born in 1644, and no records were kept in Guilford between 1639 and that date, it is very likely they were married in Guilford. Children of Thomas and Mary Betts: Thomas, of whom further; Mary, John, Hannah, Stephen, Daniel, Samuel, James and Sarah. Mary, widow of Thomas Betts, survived him at least thirty-five years. She is of frequent mention in Norwalk records, and March 16, 1723-24, that town voted lands to "Mary Betts and Company." No record has been found of her death, and as she must have been at least twenty when her first child was born, in 1644, her age at the date of the last land grant in 1724 was over one hundred years.

(II) Thomas (2), eldest son of Thomas (1) and Mary Betts, was born in Guilford, Connecticut, 1644, died in 1717. He inherited and acquired an estate valued at 661 pounds by appraisement after death. He appears to have been a prominent man both in church and town. He was selectman of Norwalk in 1701-02, and represented Norwalk in the general assembly in 1692-94, 1704-05-07. He married, January 13, 1680, Sarah, daughter of Hon. Mathew Marvin (2), who was born in England in 1627, and came to America in the ship "Increase." Mathew (2) was a son of Hon. Mathew Marvin (1), one of the original grantors of Norwalk. Children of Thomas and Sarah (Marvin) Betts: Thomas, of whom further; John, Sarah, Mathew, Mary and Elizabeth.

(III) Thomas (3), eldest son of Thomas (2) and Sarah (Marvin) Betts, was born in Norwalk, January 17, 1681-82, died 1761. The town granted to him and his brother John and others certain privileges, December 15, 1709, on condition of the erection of a grist mill for grinding all the grain in town. His will, dated in February, 1761, proved December 31 following, established the fact of his death that year. He gave to his wife Deborah one-half of his house land in Canaan parish. The records show nothing further of her. Children of Thomas and Deborah Betts: Thomas, of whom further; Elijah, Isaac, Rebecka, Elizabeth and Sarah.

(IV) Thomas (4), eldest child of Thomas (3) and Deborah Betts, was born in Norwalk, 1717, died 1787. "Thomas Betts Jr. took to wife Betty Benedict, daughter of Captain Thomas Benedict, and was married to her May 22, 1748." She was born March 14, 1721, died May 21, 1782. His will, dated September 7, 1781, names children: Thomas, Hezekiah (see forward), Lydia and Susanna. Daughters Betty and Esther were deceased.

(V) Captain Hezekiah, youngest child of Thomas (4) and Betty (Benedict) Betts, was born in Norwalk, July 31, 1760, died May 31, 1837. He was a captain in the revolutionary army, and served under Major Wyllys and General Webb in the Yorktown campaign. On the night of October 21, 1781, he led one division that attacked and captured the British position, and received a wound that ended his military career. He married, October 1, 1785, Grace Hanford, born October 5, 1765, died March 27, 1840. Children:

  1. Rev. Alfred Hanford, born September 2, 1786, died in Ohio, September, 1860.
  2. Amaryllis, June 28, 1788, died May 23, 1813.
  3. Robert Walker, August 23, 1790.
  4. Mehitable, November 25, 1792, died December 27, 1843; married Richard Scott, 1811.
  5. Henry, November 26, 1794; see forward.
  6. Eliza Susan, July 8, 1797, died September 1, 1849.
  7. Rev. Xenophon, September 22, 1799.
  8. Eulalie, October 13, 1802; married Horace A. Gibbs.
  9. Juliette.
  10. Harriet.
  11. Solomon Egbert, December 23, 1809, died November 11, 1812.

(VI) Henry, fifth child of Captain Hezekiah and Grace (Hanford) Betts, was born in Norwalk, November 26, 1794, died 1881. He was a noted inventor and chemist. He was credited with inventions that increased the efficiency of the Hoe printing press and made it a wonderful success. He was interested in the early manufacture of steel, and invented some of the important and valuable processes now in use. He was interested in railroads and manufacturing. He invented a process for making paper from straw, and brought forth many other inventions now in general use. He married Mary Ketchum, born in Norwalk, died in Troy, New York, 1866.

(VII) Edgar Ketchum, only child of Henry and Mary (Ketchum) Betts, was born in Norwalk, June 22, 1842. His education was obtained at his mother's knee and in the public school. He was a slight, delicate child. At an early age he worked for a year in a dry goods store, his compensation being room, board, cloth enough for a suit, and ten dollars in money. This was the beginning of his business career. He located in Troy; New York, 1856, and entered the mercantile house of his uncle, James E. Keeler, later becoming owner of the business, which he conducted until the breaking out of the civil war. He later formed a partnership with a Mr. Medbury, with whom he continued several years in the dry goods business. He then opened a store in Lansingburg, which he conducted for some years. In 1876 he entered the employ of Earl & Wilson, collar manufacturers, subsequently becoming a member of the firm, and continued in business as senior member of the firm until his death, 1908. He was inventor of some of the best selling specialties of the firm, which was everywhere known as leaders in their lines of manufacture. Mr. Betts was also prominent in banking and commercial life. He was vice-president of the Union National Bank and director of the Security Trust Company. His interest in educational affairs was attested by zealous and intelligent service as president on the Lansingburg board of education, and as a trustee of the Emma Willard School. He was a member of the Sons of the Revolution, the New England Society of New York City, the Troy Club, the Riverside Club of Lansingburg. In all matters affecting the personal welfare of friends and acquaintances he was always to be relied upon for sympathy and aid. He was a communicant of the Protestant Episcopal church until 1888, when he became interested in Christian Science, embraced that faith with all the earnestness of his nature, and was ever afterward one of its most loyal supporters. He was a Republican in politics, but would never accept public office.

Mr. Betts married, 1875, Harriet Louisa Gardner, of Lansingburg, daughter of Jefferson Gardner, the pioneer in the application of the sewing machine to the collar industry. In 1888 Mr. and Mrs. Betts joined, in Concord, New Hampshire, the last class ever instructed by Mrs. Eddy, founder of the Christian Science faith. Mrs. Betts returned to her home in Troy, after finishing her course of study, and in association with her husband was instrumental in founding the Christian Science Church in that city. When the congregation numbered thirty persons, a church was planned and built, at a cost of $30,000, and dedicated free from debt. Mr. and Mrs. Betts were the prime movers in the enterprise, toward which they contributed generously. Mrs. Betts was for many years the first reader of the church. She continued to reside in Troy, where are her dearest interests — her children and her church.

Children of Edgar Ketchum and Harriet Louisa (Gardner) Betts:

  1. Anson Gardner, a chemist, and, like his grandfather and father, an inventor; graduated Sheffield Scientific School, Yale University, 1897, Columbia University, 1898; married Grace Tompkins; one child, John W., born July 17, 1909.
  2. Edgar Hayes, graduated at Yale University, 1898; is a corporation member of Earl & Wilson Manufacturing Company; married May L. Gurley; children: Louise, Robert Thatcher and Barbara.
  3. Ethel Keeler, graduate of Smith College, 1902, married Walter B. Barnhisel, graduate of Leland Stanford University, California, and a member of the Washington State bar; one child: Lois, born January 11, 1909.
  4. Arthur Wilson, graduate of University of Wisconsin, 1909, and member of the Sigma Nu fraternity; with Earl & Wilson Manufacturing Company; unmarried.

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