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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Tefft

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 1099-1102 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 name Tefft has undergone several changes in spelling, being variously written Tefft, Teffe, Tifft and Tift. It is of Saxon origin, and means "the place where a house has stood." The first persons of the name in America were William and John Teffe, or Tefft, the former of whom settled in Boston not later than 1635, the latter in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. It is probable these brothers were accompanied by a sister Sara, for there stood until recent years, on Cole's farm, near Cole's station, Warwick, Rhode Island, a memorial slab with the following inscription: "Here lieth ye body of Sarah Tefft interred March 16, 1642." This stone, now in the possession of the Rhode Island Historical Association, is the oldest monumental slab in the state. There was a large emigration from Rhode Island to Washington county, New York, in 1766. Nathan Tefft, Nathan (2), William and Asa were the first of the name in that section; other Teffts settled in Vermont, some remaining but a short time and removing to Erie county, New York, while others remained permanently, the family name being still perpetuated there.

(I) John Tefft emigrated from England, presumably with his brother William, settled temporarily in Boston, and removed thence to Portsmouth (Kingstown), Rhode Island, where he died, January 18, 1676. He was made a freeman in 1655, a civil and political status which insured one a share in the common land. His wife, Mary (Barber) Tefft, died 1679. Children:

  1. A daughter, married Samuel Wilson;
  2. Samuel, born 1644, in Providence, Rhode Island, married Elizabeth Jenckes;
  3. Joshua, married Sarah ————;
  4. Tabitha, born 1653, married, February 13, 1670, George Gardiner.

(II) Samuel, son of John and Mary (Barber) Tefft, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, 1644. He died in 1725, and his will was proved December 20, 1725. He resided in Kingstown, Rhode Island, where he was a freeman in 1677. He was fined twenty shillings for not attending the jury of general court of trials, but this fine was remitted the following year because he had not been duly summoned by the general sergeant. He and twenty-six others bought, June 2, 1709, the tract called "Swamptown," a portion of vacant lands in Narragansett. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Joseph and Esther (Ballard) Jenckes, and sister of Joseph Jenckes, deputy governor of Rhode Island from 1715 to 1727. She was born 1658, died 1740. Her father was a man of extraordinary mechanical genius, and cut the die for the first issue of the "Pine Tree shilling." Children of Samuel Tefft:

  1. John, married Joanna Sprague;
  2. Samuel, married Abigail Tennant;
  3. Peter, married Mary ————;
  4. Sarah, married Ebenezer Witter;
  5. Elizabeth, married Solomon Carpenter;
  6. Esther, married, November 25, 1788, Thomas Mumford;
  7. Mary, married ———— Newton;
  8. Tabitha, died unmarried;
  9. Mercy, died unmarried;
  10. Susannah, married Peter Crandall.

(III) John (2), eldest son of Samuel and Mary (Barber) Tefft, resided in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. He was quite a wealthy man of his time, his estate being inventoried at 6148 pounds 16 shillings 7 pence, which was divided among his children and grandchildren. He died in 1760. He married Joanna, daughter of Jonathan and Mehitable (Holbrook) Sprague. Children:

  1. John, born December 4, 1699, married, December 17, 1721, Mary Reynolds.
  2. Joanna, born 1701, married, April 28, 1721, John Webb.
  3. Joseph, January 8, born 1710, (see forward).
  4. Samuel, married, October 7, 1727, Mary Barber.
  5. James, born April 21, 1715.
  6. Nathan, March 14, 1717, married, September 16, 1742, Isabel Stanton.
  7. Mary, married, Benjamin Barber.
  8. Mercy, married Rev. James Rogers.
  9. Mehitable, married Captain John Rogers.
  10. Tabitha, married James ————.
  11. Sarah, married, March 1, 1744, Hezekiah Brown; married (second) ———— Cottrell.
  12. Elizabeth, married ———— Skellie.

(IV) Joseph, son of John (2) and Joanna (Sprague) Tefft, was born January 8, 1710. He married, February, 1729, Esther Brownell, and they resided in Richmond, Rhode Island. Children:

  1. Elizabeth, born December 20, 1730, married, July 31, 1768, John Sheldon.
  2. William (see forward).
  3. Joseph, born March 19, 1737, married, July 17, 1757, Sarah Maxon; married (second) Alice Albro, May 22, 1771.
  4. Ruth, born March 27, 1739.
  5. Benjamin, June 3, 1741, married Deborah ————.
  6. Esther, born April 6, 1743, married, April 28, 1765, Oliver Colegrove.
  7. Thomas, born November 10, 1745, married, December 10, 1772, Lydia Barber.
  8. Sarah, born August 24, 1747, married, October 16, 1785, Benjamin Barber.
  9. Samuel, born August 29, 1749, married, December 9, 1770, Amy Gardiner.

(V) William, son of Joseph and Esther (Brownell) Tefft, was born February 29, 1732, died November 28, 1822. He was justice of the peace by royal appointment in Richmond, Rhode Island, and one of a committee to purchase arms for the militia. He removed, in 1787, to Washington county, New York, where he died March 21, 1854. He married Mary, daughter of David and Mary Kenyon, born in Charlestown, Rhode Island, November 24, 1733, died, October, 1824, in Easton, New York. Children:

  1. Hezekiah, born December 16, 1753.
  2. Pardon, January 25, 1755, married Amy Green; married (second) Elizabeth Eldridge.
  3. Thankful, born March 21, 1757, married John Tanner, who died June, 1840.
  4. David, born April 19, 1760, married, February 26, 1787, Rehuma James; he died March 13, 1843.
  5. William, born March 21, 1763, died March 30, 1848; married Elizabeth James.
  6. Mary, born March 13, 1766, married, January 6, 1785, David James; she died March 4, 1844.
  7. John, born April 22, 1769, died April, 1859; married Elizabeth Hammond.
  8. James, born February 18, 1776, died January 30, 1855; married Mary Ross.
  9. Joseph (see forward).

(VI) Joseph (2), youngest son of William and Mary (Kenyon) Tefft, was born March 8, 1779, died March 1, 1870. In 1789 he removed to Greenwich, Washington county, New York. He was a farmer, owning lands in Washington and Warren counties. He was supervisor of Kingsbury in 1842, and at one time sheriff of Warren county. He was an ardent abolitionist, and his house was a station in the "underground railroad" which was the means of affording escape for fleeing slaves. He was called out with the militia at the time of the battle of Plattsburg, in the war of 1812. He married, February 25, 1800, Chloe, daughter of Joseph and Mabel (Rising) Heath. Children:

  1. Laura, born January 9, 1801, married, September 16, 1823, Thomas Chalk.
  2. Maria, born April 5, 1803, married, April 26, 1826, Thomas Haggerty.
  3. Otis, born May 19, 1805, died September 25, 1826.
  4. Amanda, born November 30, 1807. married, May 20, 1829, Orson Salisbury, of Greenwich, New York.
  5. Betsey, born February 11, 1810, married, March 7, 1839, Talmadge Sheldon.
  6. John H., born February 23, 1812, (see forward).
  7. Horace J., born March 13, 1815, died November 13, 1835.
  8. William H., born January 11, 1819, married, September 10, 1846, Mary Harris; married (second), May 6, 1850, Mrs. Susan C. Harris; married (third), May 11, 1862, Martha Waite, born 1825.
  9. Mary, December 14, 1820, married, April 26, 1843, James Trumbull, Jr.
  10. Jane, born January 19, 1823, married, August 25, 1846, David Hall.
  11. Otis Augustus (see forward).

(VII) John H. Tefft, son of Joseph (2) and Chloe (Heath) Tefft, was born February 23, 1812. He married Dyanthia Winship, born April 12, 1817. Children:

  1. Sarah, born September 26, 1837;
  2. Mary Jane, November 10, 1839, married, October 3, 1857, George M. Dickinson;
  3. Harriet C., December 25, 1843, married (first) December 29, 1860, Ezra R. Dickinson, (second), October 21, 1874, Charles A. Dailey;
  4. Frances A., see forward;
  5. Horace W., March 31, 1848;
  6. Ella E., October 14, 1853, married, May 3, 1874, Nelson Bromley.

(VIII) Frances A., daughter of John H. and Dyanthia (Winship) Tefft, was born August 1, 1845. She educated herself for a teacher, and her first experience was in the Argyle Academy, where she began teaching in 1864 with a Mr. McLaren. She remained in the academy three years, and in 1867 she and Mr. McLaren were associated in a private school at Sandy Hill. In the next year, 1868, Miss Tefft accepted the position of preceptress of the Union schools of Sandy Hill, which position she held until 1876, when she and Mr. McLaren purchased the Glens Falls Academy, where she taught until 1887, when she returned to Sandy Hill and again became principal of the Union schools. She now holds the position of superintendent, which she fills with pronounced success. Through her entire career her work has been characterized by such ability and success that she stands in the front rank of the teachers of the state. Sandy Hill is justly proud of its schools, and their efficiency is to be attributed, in a large degree, to the intelligent work of their principal. She is one of the foremost educators of the state, and is so recognized in the profession. She is a Baptist.

(VII) Otis Augustus, son of Joseph (2) and Chloe (Heath) Tefft, was born November 11, 1826, died November 21, 1909. He was born in the town of Greenwich, Washington county, New York, and was four years of age when his parents moved to Kingsbury, where his boyhood and youthful manhood were spent. He was educated in the Moss street public school and Glens Falls Academy. He worked on his father's farm, and for a time ran a boat on the Champlain canal. In 1854 he was sent by his brother Henry to manage a saw-mill in the town of Black Brook, Clinton county, New York, then a virginal wilderness. His life there in the forest and on the lake and river begot in him a passionate love for outdoor life, which remained with him until the last. In 1859 a forest fire destroyed the mill at Black Brook, and the firm of which he had now become a member, H. & O. A. Tefft, removed to Plattsburgh and erected three saw-mills there. They owned large tracts in the Adirondacks and their lumbering interests were extensive. During the ten years following 1860, Mr. Tefft gained a competence, and in 1870 the firm disposed of their entire holdings. For a short period he was engaged in the manufacture of repeating rifles at Plattsburgh. In 1873 he moved to Sandy Hill (now Hudson Falls), which was ever afterward his home. During the period between 1875-81 he assisted his brother Henry to reëstablish his business, which had been swept away by the panic of 1873. In 1881 he, with others, established the Sandy Hill Iron and Brass Works, but in 1883 he resigned his interests to his son Richard C. Tefft, who is now president of the company. Mr. Tefft entered heartily into the life of his village, and was most generous in his support of its churches and schools. His private and public charities were very extensive, and so quietly bestowed as to be almost unknown, save by those benefited. He was of a strong, determined and independent character. He loved young men and was always ready to assist them to establish in business. He hated everything that was unfair, and was the persistent opponent of anyone whom he thought did not deal squarely. He was fond of outdoor life and of hunting. He was one of the first to use the safety bicycle, and his wheel knew every road and by-path of the region surrounding his home. He continued the use of his wheel until his eightieth year. For the last thirty-five years of his life he was strongly attracted to Lake George, and spent most of his summers there. For his own use he probably owned more rowboats, steam and gasoline launches than any other man on the lake, his being the second gasoline launch used on it. He was fearless in a boat in the wildest seas. He knew every island, bay and rock of his beloved lake, where he spent so much of his time. He married November 23, 1856, Mary Carlisle, of Hartford, New York, born November 27, 1832, died August 11, 1878, (see Carlisle). Children:

  1. May, born May 25, 1858, died July 20, 1874;
  2. Richard Carlisle, (see forward);
  3. Laura C., born September 10, 1869, died March 1, 1870.

(VIII) Richard Carlisle, only son of Otis Augustus and Mary (Carlisle) Tefft, was born at Plattsburgh, New York, November 8, 1860. He was educated in the public schools of Sandy Hill and at Glens Falls Academy. He read law in the offices of Hughes & Northrop, eminent lawyers of Sandy Hill, then entered Yale Law School, where he was graduated LL.B., 1883. He was admitted to the bar the same year. He then took his father's place as a member of The Sandy Hill Iron and Brass Works. In 1899 that concern was incorporated, and he was chosen vice-president, continuing in that office until 1907, when he succeeded to the presidency made vacant by the death of Francis Van Wormer. In addition to his duties as president of the company, he is a director of the Sandy Hill National Bank, and for several years held a similar relation to the Imperial Wall Paper Company. He is a member and trustee of the First Baptist church of Hudson Falls, and deeply interested in the laywork of the church. At the convention of the Laymen Missionary Movement, held at Glens Falls in 1910, he was chosen president of the convention and presided over its deliberations. He is strictly independent in politics, supporting men and measures that promise best for the public good.

He married, June 27, 1888, Mary L., daughter of Lewis and Matilda (Caton) Luther. Children:

  1. Richard Carlisle, Jr., born August 9, 1893;
  2. Ruth Marcella, May 11, 1897.

Mr. Tefft is a member of Hudson Lodge, also Chapter No. 189, Free and Accepted Masons.

(The Carlisle Line)

William Carlisle, a rich man's son of Scotland, ran away from home and came to America. He settled in Hebron, Washington county, New York, married, and had four children:

  1. Samuel, married Mary Platt;
  2. Lois, married J. B. Mathewson;
  3. Susan, married Judge Henry Mathewson;
  4. James (see forward).

(II) James, youngest son of William Carlisle, married Philinda Clough. He died in 1843. Children:

  1. William, drowned in Lake Champlain in 1822;
  2. Betsey, married Silas Glazer;
  3. John (see forward);
  4. Jane, married John Park;
  5. Anna, married Henry Broughton;
  6. James H., married Huldah Ingalls.

(III) John, son of James and Philinda (Clough) Carlisle, was born at Hebron, Washington county, New York, July 5, 1804, died 1838. He was a merchant and postmaster of Hartford, New York. He was clerk of the Baptist church in that town and treasurer of the Baptist Association of Washington county. In 1838, in company with four residents of Hartford, he went west prospecting, was taken ill of fever at Laporte, Indiana, and died there. Three others of the expedition succumbed to the fever, all prominent men of Washington county. He married, December 1, 1831, Lucina M. Baker, born at Fort Ann, Washington county, New York, February 8, 1806, died June 19, 1844. Children:

  1. Mary, born November 27, 1832, married, November 23, 1856, Otis Augustus Tefft, she died August 11, 1878 (see Tefft VII).
  2. William, born October 1, 1835, married, October 3, 1870, Lucy M. Manning. He served in the war of the rebellion from 1861 to 1865. He first enlisted as a private in Company B, First Kansas Infantry, June 3, 1861, was discharged October 19, 1861; reënlisted in Company G, Eighty-third Regiment, of New York, July 7, 1863, transferred to Company E, First Regiment, Volunteer Relief Corps, May 1, 1864; final discharge at Albany, New York, July 19, 1865. He died in 1898.

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