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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Dorrance

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[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 1770-1771 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 account we have of the Dorrance family in America tells that on April 17, 1723, the people of Voluntown, Connecticut, gave Rev. Samuel Dorrance a call to preach the Gospel at a salary of "60 pounds per year for the present and 50 pounds in such species suitable to promote his building and settling." On the same day a number of persons "as a special token of their love and goodness" presented Rev. Dorrance with "five thousand shingles, three pounds money in shingle nails, five pounds in work, three pounds in boards and plank, two hundred clapboards, breaking up two acres of land, a cow and a calf." The Voluntown church was the first, and long the only Presbyterian church in Connecticut. The adoption of the Westminster Confession by the new church caused immediate rebellion, and a determined effort was made to prevent the ordination of Rev. Dorrance. These protests, in part, made to the council quotes:

"We protest against settling Mr. Dorrance because he is a stranger and we are informed he came out of Ireland, and we do observe that since he has been in town the Irish do flock to town and we are informed the Irish are not wholesome inhabitants and upon this account we are against settling Mr. Dorrance, for we are not such persons as you take us to be, but desire the Gospel to be preached by one of our own and not by a stranger, for we cannot receive any benefit for neither soul nor body and we would pray him to withdraw himself from us."

The council took all day to hear the case which they decided for both parties. The good minister, however, was ordained December 23, 1723. He is found in the ministry of Voluntown in the year 1760, and drawing a salary of 300 pounds. He died November 12, 1775, at the age of ninety. Two of his sons, John and George, settled in the Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania. George was lieutenant-colonel of militia and third in command of the battle of Wyoming, where he was wounded, and on July 4, 1778, slain by his Indian captors. His descendants have been influential citizens of the valley, where they figure largely in political, financial and military records. Through the intermarriage of the Dorrance and Fox families, the family line can be traced to 1653 in Massachusetts, and 1723 in Connecticut. A connection cannot be made between Alexander, of Hampton, Connecticut, and Rev. Samuel, but there is no doubt he was a great-grandson. Another intermarriage was with the McBurneys of county Antrim, Ireland. Eliza McBurney was a daughter of James, of the north of Ireland. She and two brothers came to America. Eliza married James A. Dorrance, while the brothers cannot be definitely traced. One of them, Thomas, enlisted in the Union army and died in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1862. The other, James, went west and died in Elko, Nevada. The Young family is also one of the old and prominent Troy families. The family in Troy was founded by James Alexander Dorrance of New England birth, and early of Hampton, Connecticut.

(I) Alexander Dorrance was born in Connecticut, died at Chaplin, Connecticut, September 11, 1870. He was a shoemaker of Hampton. He married, April 25, 1825, Mary Lucretia Fox, born at Woodstock, Connecticut, November 16, 1801, and accidentally killed by being thrown from her carriage while returning from church, September 9, 1849. She was a daughter of William and Mary (Coburn) Fox, of Woodstock, Connecticut, and a lineal descendant in the seventh generation from Thomas Fox, the immigrant ancestor, who was of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1638, and one of the original proprietors of that town then called Newton. They resided at Woodstock, Connecticut, for about ten years after marriage, then at Canterbury and Scotland of the same state. Later they returned to Hampton, where Mrs. Dorrance was killed. Children:

  1. James Alexander, see forward.
  2. Abby Caroline, born at Woodstock, Connecticut, April 18, 1829; married George Mason Holt, November 1, 1854, and had issue: Helen Cornelia, Mary Louise and Frank Henry.
  3. William Friend, born at Woodstock, May 10, 1832; removed to California, where he engaged in the saddlery and hardware business.
  4. Francis Augustus, born at Woodstock, June 29, 1836, died June 23, 1870; he was a member of the firm of A. W. Prentice & Company, the oldest hardware business in Norwich, Connecticut, and held many offices of trust in public and private life; he married Mary T., daughter of Amos W. Prentice, September 11, 1858, and left a son
    1. Amos Prentice, born August 1, 1865.
  5. Mary Eleanor, born at Canterbury, June 4, 1839, died July 3. 1839.
  6. Mary Rebecca, born at Scotland, Connecticut, September 19, 1840; she was finely educated and followed the profession of teaching until her marriage, December 5, 1867, to George Clary, M. D., son of Rev. Joseph Clary. Dr. Clary was a graduate of Dartmouth College, and Yale Medical School. He served as assistant surgeon of the Thirteenth Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers, in the civil war, and at the close of that conflict settled in New Britain, Connecticut, where he engaged in the practice of medicine; children: Eliza P., Mabel, George Bancroft and Harriet Dorrance.

(II) James Alexander, eldest child of Alexander and Mary Lucretia (Fox) Dorrance, was born at Woodstock, Connecticut, March 26, 1826, died in Troy, September 6, 1905. He was educated in the public schools, and in 1847 settled in Troy, New York, and was a clerk in that city for several years. On February 27, 1864, he began business for himself, opening a shoe store in Troy on that date that prospered and grew until it ranked as one of the largest and best of its kind in the city. He continued alone at the head of his business until 1881, when his son, William J., was admitted a partner, and the firm became J. A. Dorrance & Son. He was a devoted member of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church of Troy, which he served faithfully as member and official for over half a century. He did not take an active part in public affairs, his business, church and home claiming his greatest interest. He married, December 31, 1850, Eliza McBurney, of Troy, born in 1829, died July 12, 1909. Children, all born in Troy:

  1. Mary E., September 22, 1852; married, June 16, 1875, George A. Huestis, of Troy, later of Kansas City, Missouri, where he died, leaving children, Eliza D. and Edna H. Huestis.
  2. William James, see forward.
  3. Frances, March 20, 1863.
  4. Jessie A., October 20, 1872.

(III) William James, only son of James Alexander and Eliza (McBurney) Dorrance, was born in Troy, New York, August 17, 1854. He was educated in the public schools of Troy, and when a young man entered the store of his father as clerk. In 1881 he became associated with him as partner and after his death became the responsible head of the business which he yet retains. He has been one of Troy's successful business men, and has served the city well in public office. From 1887 until 1893 he was a member of the school board, served for twenty years in the fire department, a member of Trojan Hook and Ladder Company No. 3, as election inspector, and in other city business he has always borne his part of public duty. He is a member of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, and in political preference is a Republican. His fraternal connection is with the Knights of Maccabees. He married, November 24, 1881, Mary A., daughter of James J. and Elizabeth (Hicks) Young, of Troy. Children:

  1. Frank Young, born at Troy, August 27, 1882; was educated in the Troy public schools, entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, from which he was graduated, class of 1906.
  2. Jessie Elizabeth, born at Troy, October 29, 1890; educated in Troy public schools, and is a graduate of North Adams, Massachusetts, Normal School.

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