OLIVER4 (Josiah3, John2, Roger1) of MILFORD and
WATERBURY, NEW HAVEN, CT,
and OHIO and FAMILY
Nancy Tyrrel Theodore 1 March 2021
All highlighted and underlined items in this article are links to copies of original documents.
Oliver4, the son of Josiah3 and Mary (Goodwin) Terrill, was baptized in Milford, New Haven, CT on 28 June 1730a; m. 1) Lidda Lewis widow of Eli Lewis of Lyme, New London, CT 2 December 1760. Oliver4 and Lidda had children:1. Lucinda5 b. 8 February 1762, and 2. Ichabod5 b. 20 December 1764; Oliver m. 2) Damaris Lewis, widow of Bela Lewis.w Oliver and Damaris had one child: 3. Patience5 b.c. 1770.(c vol. 3 p. 601, vol. 8 p. 1926)
After one hundred years on the land near Milford, perhaps it was “farmed-out” or, perhaps becoming too crowded for this space-loving family. But, for whatever reason, when Oliver4 was seven years old in 1737 Josiah3 moved his family to Waterbury, Connecticut to an area called Judd’s Meadow, about 30 miles north of Milford.
The uprooting to Waterbury coincided with an earthquake in the churches. A “great awakening” was on the land and revivals were conducted by passionate preachers in a noisy but spiritually satisfying fashion. The old order was grabbed by the shirt front and shaken to its core.
Oliver’s father, Josiah3, was raised in the Puritan tradition of the “chosen” which expected and wanted proof of faith before the baptized were welcomed into the fold. The revivals provided proof. Participants were transported by fiery sermons into the spiritual realm with outcries of joy and sorrow, even physical manifestations. Thus, Oliver was raised on a diet of rules which forbid “card playing, frolicking and horse-racing.” Josiah expected and got strict accounting. After the revivals, the strict believers formed separate churches or formed new Baptist churches. Oliver’s brother, Isaac4, became one of the first Baptists of Waterbury, an unpopular stance at the time as the established Congregational churches were still the most powerful in the community and intolerance was the rule, not the exception. Oliver associated with a “separate” church association. Oliver and his neighbors at Judd’s Meadow and parts of Milford and Derby (the area now called Prospect, then Columbia) were granted their petition for their own society, thus removing the long trudge to attend the meeting-house in Waterbury. The Sabbath was strictly held and no exceptions were tolerated.
To emphasize the importance of keeping the Sabbath holy, a sad little story is told, in which Oliver plays a part, about a boy in Waterbury. Joseph Lewis was a ward of Waterbury, having lost his mother when he was two years old, his father when he was thirteen and his grandfather Lewis a few days later during the great sickness of 1749. The boy, after losing his grandfather, was left alone in the house. Joseph went to a corn field and plucked the ears and made a fire on the Sabbath day and roasted and ate the corn---- he was publicly whipped for this crime and that whipping destroyed his reason. Thus, he became a ward of Waterbury. In May of 1756, when Joseph was 18 and a town pauper, he was tried on complaint from Oliver for stealing forty shillings and condemned to pay six pounds with cost of the suit, plus a fine of ten shillings, and whipped on “ye naked body ten stripes.” He was whipped according to the judgment of the court, and bound out to Oliver as a servant until the fines and costs were paid. This was the period of time that Oliver was about to leave for Albany and his first encounter with the Colonial Wars, so just how he used Joseph’s services remain a matter of speculation. Although Joseph never regained control of his property as his name never appears on a tax list, he did serve in the Revolution as a soldier. We are left to wonder if Joseph has any relationship to Oliver’s future wives, both Lewis widows.
In 1689 the colonies became involved in wars referred to as the French and Indian Wars. They were really four wars ending with the Seven Years War of 1756-1763. These conflicts were spin-offs of the wars of the parent European countries and their struggle for supremacy and territory. As Oliver grew to manhood and the prospect of marriage should have taken first priority, the wars made their demands, and Oliver responded.
In 1756, when Oliver was 26, England had become alarmed enough with the French encroachment into the Ohio Valley to declare war. Oliver fought in the Colonial Wars, first in the Second regiment, in the Waterbury Company (b Vol. 1, p. 392). He answered the call for the expedition against Crown Point from April to December 1756.
Oliver had no longer gotten home than he was enlisted in the Captain Eldad Lewis Company in the Fort William Henry Alarm in 1757. They were called in such haste “too great to take blankets, or knapsacks, or anything but the soldier himself and his fire-arms to the rescue. So great was the risk of delay that the horses, when no longer needed, were left to wander away” but were later gathered and returned to their homes in Connecticut (b Vol I, p. 393).
Fort William Henry was at the head of Lake George in New York and was being besieged by the French forces under Montcalm who had a force of 6,000 troop and 2,000 Indians. The Fort commanded by Col. Munroe had a force of 500 inside the fort and about 1,700 that included 800 reinforcements from Waterbury, camped about a half mile away. After a barrage of artillery Munroe’s situation was desperate. His commander, Gen. Webb, who was at Fort Edward some fourteen miles distant, could have come to his rescue but instead advised Munroe to capitulate. Montcalm marched the troop away from the fort allowing them to keep their baggage. The Indians, disappointed by the lack of plunder, stripped the British and American packs, butchered 87 of the sick or wounded and massacred panicked soldiers who were running off. Order was finally restored but not before about two hundred prisoners had been killed, and another two hundred were carried off by the Indians who now abandoned the French. The rest of the approximately 1600 prisoners, including Oliver, were finally marched to nearby Fort Edward and released on their promise.
Undoubtedly Oliver had enough of this war and holding to his promise not to fight the French for the rest of the conflict does not again appear on any roster for military duty in the French and Indian War that ended 3 November 1762.
When Oliver returned home from the Fort William Henry debacle he was 27 and ready to turn his attention to more personal matters. On 2 December 1760, when 30 years of age, Oliver finally married. He chose as his bride, Lidda, who was the widow of Eli Lewis of Lyme, Connecticut. They had their first child, Lucinda5 on 8 February 1762. Their second child Ichabod5 was born on 20 December 1763. Within 35 days Lidda died and speculation is that she died from the complications of childbirth.
So Oliver after three short years of marriage, found himself a widower with two infants to raise, one a babe of only a month. He probably depended heavily on his neighbors, who would have pitched in willingly, as was usual when friends faced troubles. Probably prompted by his motherless children, Oliver rushed the date of his second marriage. In about four months he married again, to yet another widow, Damaras (Prindle) Lewis. Damaras was born 17 December 1738, the daughter of Jonathan and Elizabeth (Thompson) Prindle of Wallingford. Her late husband, Bela Lewis, was in the Second Regiment, the Waterbury company of Captain Eldad Lewis, from 27 March to 16 November 1758. It is probable this company took part in the unsuccessful campaign against Fort Ticonderoga that year. Bela was the son of Benjamin and Esther (Matthews) Lewis of Wallingford. His widow, Damaras, was his second wife. They had married exactly three years before his death on 15 May 1763. She followed to the day the customary one-year mourning period, and she and Oliver married 15 May 1764. Oliver and Damaras had only one recorded child, a daughter, in 1770, six years after their marriage. She was appropriately name Patience5. Ichabod5 thus became the only and cherished son of Oliver4.
Oliver4, again put duty, and country first, although for him it was not yet a country but a community of neighbors with common goals and beliefs. Although Oliver was fourth generation American colonist, he was nevertheless made keenly aware of the choke-hold of mother England. She kept interfering in his and his new country’s life. The years after the end of the colonial wars in 1763 should have been a happy time for Oliver. With his marriage in May 1764 to Damaras he must have been looking forward to a time of peace in which to raise his growing family. Tensions, however, were building and it touched everyone's life in colonial America.
At the end of the Colonial Wars England faced a huge war debt; determined that the colonies should pay their share they imposed taxes upon them without consent. The colonists strongly objected to this “taxation without representation” and in October of 1764 petitioned the English Parliament against the bill for a stamp duty, or any bill for an internal tax on the colony. In March 1766 King George II repealed the Stamp Act and there was great rejoicing in the colonies… until they read the details of the Declaratory Act. Though the Stamp Act was repealed, the new act asserted that the mother country had the right to “bind the colonies and people of America…. In all cases whatsoever.” This whole affair has been regarded as one of the chief causes of the Revolution. With this continued unrest, Britain strengthened the force of soldiers in the colonies and eventually reimposed taxes, duties and trade restraints.
These strains on the nerves of the colonists led, in 1770, to the Boston massacre, considered by many the “first act in the drama of the Revolution.” Regardless of the provocation, the colonists regarded the firing by British soldiers into a crowd of their fellow countrymen as an example of the continuing oppression of their rights, liberties, possessions and persons by the British. This mood of unrest and rebellion finally exploded into the Boston Tea Party incident in 1773 and the British parliament reacted strongly to these threats to their absolute lordship over the colonies. On the tenth of May 1774, Boston received notice that an act of parliament had been passed closing the port, transferring the board of customs to Marblehead and the seat of government to Salem. King George thought this application of pressure would result in obedience. Instead, it forged into a union the various colonies in their response to the attack on their sister, Boston.
Immediately Connecticut's House of Representatives passed eleven resolutions which restated their right to be taxed only with consent, judged and tried only by their peers and duly established court systems, and their support for Boston. That September the representatives of the colonies gathered in Philadelphia to conduct the first American Congress. In November of 1774 Waterbury authorities reinforced their stance by appointing a Committee of Inspection to see to the enforcement of their resolutions and December doubled their store of powder, bullets and flints.
According to the census of the Connecticut colony in 1774, Waterbury had 3,526 inhabitants, of which 700 were men between 20 and 70, with a tax-paying population of 750 persons. The area of Naugatuck had 91 taxpayers, mainly adult males (Naugatuck included Salem and Prospect of the Columbia Society). Of these 91 persons, 82 were “meeting-house” people and 9 were churchmen of the Church of England. In other words, of Oliver’s neighbors, about one man in 9 were considered loyal to King George. In Waterbury township as a whole, 571 men paying taxes belonged to the Established Church and 180 to the Church of England, or about one man in four established Church members were generally Whigs and Church of England were Tories. In January 1775, there were nine militia companies in Waterbury totaling 540 men…. nearly all the adult men. In April 1775, it was ordered that one-fourth part of the militia in the colony should be enlisted; equipped and assembled for the special defense and safety of the colony. The 15th Company of Salem parish (10th Regiment) was formed and Ens. Israel Terrill commissioned. Many other Terrill relatives joined the militia ranks, but Oliver seems to have held back in 1775.
Oliver was no longer considered a young man, for in 1775 he was 45 years of age. Most certainly Oliver was in the militia, as were nearly all of the adult males, but he was not enlisted in the decreed units. His son Ichabod was then 12, and Oliver must have worried about a protracted conflict that would endanger his only son. He must have watched events unfold with an anxious eye.
During the eventful summer of 1776, Waterbury had her special excitement when the militia companies of the township were ordered to New York. The British forces were augmented to such a degree that General Washington called for home troops and the Fifth Battalion, Wadsworth Brigade responded. (i p. 406) On August 17, under Lieut Col. Jonathan Baldwin, the 10th Militia Regiment marched. They were in New York and on the Brooklyn front in the battle of Long Island on 27 August 1776. In that battle, Major Porter’s Regiment, state troops who had marched to New York in July in which Waterbury men fought in six of its eight companies and “was in the thickest of the fight.” In the 1st Company was Sgt. Enoch Terrell (i p. 407), in the 3rd Company was Private Eliakim Terrill (i p. 408), and the 4th Company were Privates Jared Tirrel and Elihu Tirrel. (i p. 407). After their retreat from that battle, the regiment was stationed at Kips Bay where they were attacked on 15 September and again retreated. They were in the White Plains engagement of 28 October.
Oliver’s worst fears were coming true. His neighbors and family were in the fighting. Many in the Terrill clan served, among them including Enoch, his great uncle Daniel’s grandson; Jared and Elihue his nephews and Elihue his future son-in-law. Also, Oliver’s brothers Capt. Josiah, Lieut. Israel and Isaac Terrill all fought in the Revolution.
By December 1776, the situation was appalling for the American people. Connecticut’s prisons were crowded with Tories, the term of service of the militia was expiring, and it was feared that the people would ‘rise in arms and openly join the British forces” while Washington’s army did not exceed four thousand men. Under these circumstances, the General Assembly of Connecticut asked every able-bodied man living west of the Connecticut river to go forward and offer himself for the service. Oliver traveled to Milford and on 26 May 1777 enlisted for 8 months in Capt. Elizur Warner’s 8th Company in the 7th Regiment of the Connecticut Line.
Oliver was thus with the Connecticut 7th in the fall of 1777 when they were ordered, under Gen. McDougall, to join Washington’s army in Pennsylvania. They fought at Germantown 4 October 1777 and then wintered at Valley Forge (i p. 217 and p. 226) for about a month until his discharge on 9 January 1778.
When an undoubtedly thin and perhaps sick Oliver got home his only son, Ichabod, going on 15, was clamoring with a young man’s enthusiasm to be allowed to fight. Eventually Ichabod did his part as his name is listed in the Waterbury records showing men who served in the Revolution. Finally, in April of 1783 George Washington issued a proclamation officially ceasing hostilities with England and the Revolution was over. America entered a period of reconstruction, reorganization and resettlement.
In 1810 Oliver, at age 80, journeyed on horseback to the wilds of Ohio with his grandson Tillotson and family and Noah Terrell and family. They were awaiting the arrival of their friends and relatives in Columbia to eventually settle in what would become Lorain County. r
War, Oliver’s faithful companion, was still stalking him. By 1811, the now United States of America was having difficulties with Great Britain resulting in the War of 1812. Thus it was, in the midst of great personal trials in the wilderness, Oliver and his family and friends found themselves embroiled in the War with fighting taking place right on their doorstep. A company of militia had been formed including three of Oliver’s grandsons, Tillotson6, Philander6 and Oliver6. When a rumor was floated that on the heels of Hull’s surrender to the British that the Indians were landing close by and would soon be there, the militia garrisoned for three months in a block house, leaving their homes and families unprotected with only the older men, such as Oliver, to watch over their homes. Perry’s victory on Lake Erie, in September 1813, finally ended the threat of the red coat and scalping knife.
By now Oliver seemed immortal, but this great oak of a man was finally felled at Columbia in 1816 at age 86. The strength of his personal sacrifices and service to his community and family must have been sorely missed. His sons and grandsons would live to carry on the proud tradition, and they and their sons would serve the country in the military and be the next pioneers to open up the virgin lands in the Iowa territory. Oliver would have approved.
Revolutionary War gravestone and marker are at the Beebetown Baptist Church Cemetery in Liverpool Township, Medina County, OH. (With thanks to DOR member Jane Davies Coven, who attended the graveside service held 1 June 1985 to honor Oliver’s Revolutionary War service.)
a The American Genealogist, Vol. 25, pp. 40-41, “The Terrill Family of Connecticut,” by Donald Lines Jacobus.
b The Town and City of Waterbury, Connecticut, from the Aboriginal Period to the Year Eighteen Hundred and Ninety Five, edited by Joseph Anderson, D.D.; New Haven; The Price & Lee Company 1896; published in three volumes, all of which are available in several formats at Internet Archive, vol. 1, 2, 3.
c Families of Ancient New Haven, compiled by Donald Lines Jacobus (1887-1970), originally published as New Haven Genealogical Magazine, vols. I-VIII, 1922-1932, available in several formats at Internet Archive, vols 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8.
i The Record of Connecticut Men in the Military and Naval Service During the War of the Revolution, 1775-1783;
ed. by Henry P. Johnston under authority of the Adjutant-General of Connecticut; Hartford, 1889. Available at Internet Archive.
r The Elyria Constitution (Elyria, Lorain Co., Ohio), S. Reefy, ed., 22 Jun. 1876, p. 3 col. 5, "Ridgeville / Early Incidents---No. 9. / by An Old Hunter [Willis Terrell]" (available on Ancestry.com, subscription required).
w Waterbury, New Haven, CT Proprietors Land and Family Records, Vol. 1-2, 1672 – 1748, LDS Film #6111. Film very dark (see processed photocopy). It reads:, p. 475:
“Oliver Terrill son of Josiah Terrill of Waterbury was married to Lidda Lewis Relict of Eli Lewis of Lyme December 2 1760. Their first child a daughter named Lucinda born Feb 8th 1762. Their second child a son named Ichabod born Decem 20th 1764.
“The above named Oliver Terrill was married a 2 time to Damaris Lewis Rellick of Bela Lewis Deceasd May 15 AD 1764
“The above named Lidda wife of said Oliver Dyed January 5th 1764.
“Bela Lewis of Waterbury son of Benj Lewis of Wallingford was married to Damaras Prindle daughter of Jonathan Prindle of sd Wallingford May 14th AD 1760.
“The above named Bela Lewis Dyed May 15th 1763.”