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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:

Index to All Families | Index to Families by County: Albany, Columbia, Fulton, Greene, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren, Washington

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 1207-1209 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.]

James Skiff, ancestor of all the Skiffs in America claiming early colonial ancestry, is said to have come from England, but at what precise time is unknown. He was of Welsh birth and ancestry. He was a proprietor in Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1637, before which time nothing is known of him with certainty. He removed to Sandwich, Massachusetts, in that year. Lynn was a grant from old Plymouth colony and began to be settled in 1629, incorporated in 1630. October 3, 1639, the general court at Sandwich "Resolved, that a summons be sent James Skiff to answer to things as shall be objected against him in regard to traducing the law about refusing to take the oath of fidelity." In 1659 James Skiff, town deputy from Sandwich, was rejected by the general court for his toleration of Quakers. He died in Sandwich after 1688, at which date he was known to be living. The maiden name of his wife is unknown. She died in Sandwich, September 21, 1673. He was one of the first eleven members of the church in Sandwich and was often chosen for responsible duty. He had eleven children, all born in Sandwich, Massachusetts, by his wife, Mary — James, Stephen, Nathaniel, Samuel, Bathsheba, Mary, Miriam, Patience, Benjamin, Nathan (see forward), and Elizabeth.

(II) Nathan, son of James and Mary Skiff, was born in Sandwich, Massachusetts, May 16, 1658, died February 9, 1726. He married (first) July 10, 1680, Hepsibah, daughter of Robert Codman, of Edgarton (on Martha's Vineyard). Children: Hepsibah, Patience, James, Elizabeth, Benjamin, see forward; Stephen, Mary and Sarah. She died July 19, 1698. He married (second) December 13, 1699, Mercy, daughter of John Chipman, of Barnstable, Massachusetts. Her mother was Hope Howland, granddaughter of Governor Carver of the Pilgrims. Children of second wife: Mercy, Samuel, John, Joseph.

(III) Benjamin, son of Nathan and his first wife, Hepsibah (Codman) Skiff, was born April 29, 1691, died in Ellsworth, Massachusetts, December 2, 1781. He settled on Martha's Vineyard at Chilmark where his children were born. He married (first) Abigail James, who died in Chilmark. Children: Abigail, Nathan, John, see forward; Prince, and Benjamin (2), who married Susannah Hillman. He married (second) Miriam Merry, died in Ellsworth. Children: Mary and Elizabeth.

(IV) John, son of Benjamin and Abigail (James) Skiff, was born on the island of Martha's Vineyard in the year 1742. He resided there and at New Bedford, Massachusetts. The records state that he removed away from the Vineyard, but do not follow him. He may have lived elsewhere than at New Bedford. He served in the revolution under three enlistments: first, May 1, 1775, served eight months as private of Captain Timothy Danielson's company; second, January 1, 1776, served three months as fifer in Captain Benjamin Dillingham's company, Colonel French's regiment; third, March 1, 1778, served ten months in a company commanded by Captain Timothy Ingraham. He was captured by the British in September, 1778, at Nobscott (Fort Dartmouth), carried to New York, where he was imprisoned two and a half months, then exchanged at Elizabeth, New Jersey. After the war was over, he removed to Easton, Washington county, New York, where he settled on a tract of land and followed agriculture as an occupation. He married Mary Makepeace (intentions of marriage published 1780). They had several children; among them a son, Samuel (q. v.).

(V) Samuel, son of John and Mary (Makepeace) Skiff, was born 1790 at New Bedford, Massachusetts, died 1826. He came to the town of Easton with his parents and learned the trade of blacksmith and wheelwright. He was a well-known and skillful smith and acquired considerable fortune for his day. He married Mary Fish, who died 1834. Children:

  1. John Fish, see forward;
  2. Ann, died young;
  3. Jane, married Ira Rundell and had two children, Julia and Laura.

(VI) John Fish, son of Samuel and Mary (Fish) Skiff, was born in the town of Easton, Washington county, New York, August 29, 1820, died May 4, 1890. He was educated in the public schools and became a farmer of South Easton. He was a man of high character and occupied a prominent position in his native town. He was lieutenant of militia; an attendant of the Friends or Quakers, and politically a Republican. He married, December 31, 1846, Lydia Butler, born April 12, 1828, daughter of Moses and Rhoda (Dillingham) Butler. She survives him, a resident of Greenwich, New York, where she makes her home with her daughter. Children:

  1. Rhoda, born June 15, 1848; married Florans Hoxie; children:
    1. George,
    2. Robert,
    3. Herbert,
    4. Frederick, died aged five years; and
    5. Martha Grace.
  2. Samuel Makepeace, born May 19, 1850; married Martha Edie; children: Hattie, John and Charles.
  3. May, born August 1, 1852, died 1855.
  4. Wealthy Ann, born September 24, 1854, married Oscar Becker; child, Lena.
  5. Alonzo M., born September 7, 1856; married (first) Ella Pratt, who bore him a son, Arthur; married (second) Marian Jessup and has a daughter, Berna.
  6. Emma Jane, see forward.
  7. Edward, born May 18, 1866; married (first) Jessie Verbeck, who bore him sons, George, Henry, deceased, and Paul; married (second) Carrie Beadle, May, 1905; and has Chester, Lydia, John Fish and Frank Butler.

(VII) Emma Jane, sixth child of John Fish and Lydia (Butler) Skiff, was born in Easton, Washington county, New York, June 9, 1859. She married Henry W. Becker, born in Easton, New York, died May 19, 1906, son of Jacob Van Schaick and Sarah (Small) Becker. He was educated in the public schools and at Marshall Seminary. After completing his studies he returned to the farm and ever afterwards was engaged in agriculture. Emma Jane (Skiff) Becker has been closely identified with the work of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and other departments of woman's work. She is a writer on historical subjects and the author of many short stories. She is superintendent of press work in the Society of Political Equality Club and Women's Christian Temperance Union, and brings to her work a well-trained, cultured mind. She does a great deal of newspaper work and is deeply interested in various charities and philanthropies. She is a member of the Reformed church and interested in church and Sabbath school work. Prior to her marriage she was a teacher and yet retains her interest in educational matters. Child, Elna Grace, born August, 1891; student at Cornell, class of 1914. Mrs. Becker resides at Greenwich, New York.

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