Friday, February 19, 2016

William Barton, Jr.- the Smoot connection

1634 - 1717
1 William Barton, Jr., 2 Elizabeth Barton , 3 Elizabeth Barton Smoot, 4 Charles Thomas Philpott, 5 David Philpott, 6 Enos Philpott, 7 Rebecca Philpott, 8 Lula Jane Johnson, 9 Charles Thomas Copeland, Sr, 10 Charles Thomas Copeland, Jr.

Although genealogy research continues to uncover more family secrets all the time, there are still many unsolved mysteries lurking “out there”.  One of those mysteries is the confusing relationship between two colonial families - the Smootes (aka Smoot) and the Bartons (aka Batten) who, because there were so many marriages between their children over the years, seemed to have interchangeable surnames.

A number of frustrated researchers have even resorted to drawing up the family trees on paper, while keeping a goodly supply of erasers nearby.  Despite all their efforts, however, the mystery of how the Smoote /Barton family tree has blended into the Barton/Smoote family tree continues to this day.  Adding to the confusion is an over-abundance of common first names like William, Thomas and Elizabeth in just about every generation.  

  The man featured in this post is William Barton, Jr. who was born in Warwickshire, England in 1634 and, as a 20 year old, sailed with his parents and younger siblings to Maryland, a land still primitive and unsettled.

It wasn't an easy journey!  After battling the elements on the sea, they were finally able to put their feet on dry land in Virginia, where they rested and replenished their supplies.  Some time later, they sailed into the Chesapeake Bay and then the Potomac River, where they joined the earlier English settlers who had made some headway in wresting the land away from the Indians and pirates. Their reasons for leaving England and settling in Maryland were probably the same as those who had come before them: freedom from religious persecution and the opportunity to build a better life for their families. 

After sailing into the Potomac, they went ashore on St. Clement's Island which was named for St. Clement, the patron saint of mariners, and eventually became the southern boundary of the newly formed Maryland colony.  A priest, Father Andrew White, who had joined the original group of colonists in 1634, poetically described what he saw as they entered the Potomac:“Never have I beheld a larger or more beautiful river. Fine trees appear, not choked with briers or bushes and undergrowth but growing at intervals as if planted by the hand of men so that you can drive a four horse carriage wherever you choose, through the midst of trees.” 

St. Clement's Island in St. Mary's County, MD was eventually named Blackstone Island in honor of 200 years of ownership by the Blackstone family.  Its rich land encouraged the creation of tobacco producing plantations and provided an abundance of timber ripe for harvesting. 

Upon landing on its shores, the Protestant Bartons learned that Maryland was a place where Christians of all denominations could practice their faith without impediment, and Native Americans - as a separate people - also were granted their inherent rights.  Around the same time, William Penn also instituted a policy of religious freedom in Pennsylvania.

Immigration records indicate that the Smootes had traveled from London to Maryland about 10 years after the first settlers and10 years before the Bartons arrived.  Nothing is written about how they met, but it probably hadn't taken long before  the families connected and - as sometimes happens - formed a deep and lasting friendship. Of course this was before telephone, email, or even Morris Code so it is likely that the two families would make their visits last several days at a time.  If this was indeed the case, it is not surprising that the Barton and Smoote children would also enjoy their time together and build relationships that were to last for centuries.

Finally, after years of playing together and sharing their childish secrets, friendship often deepened into love which led to wedding celebrations for many of those young people  (perhaps because there weren't many other young people to choose from?).  

Four years after making his home on St. Clements Island, 24 year old William Barton, Jr. married a young widow, Anne Smoote Hungerford, who was the mother of a little boy named William Hungerford, Jr.  Even after her first husband's death, her son continued to be absorbed into the Barton and Smoote families and was given the same privileges and benefits as the other children.  

Tragically Anne and William were married only a few years before tragedy struck – first when their five year old daughter died, and then, three years later, both Anne and their baby named William Barton the Third died shortly after his birth.  

At that time, a widower with children often married fairly soon after his wife's death so that the children could be cared for, but despite the lack of living children, William re-married fairly soon after Anne's death.  His second wife's name was Mary, but her last name was never recorded ( I suspect she was a Smoote or Hungerford since there were few other surnames listed in William's extensive will). Several children were born to this union and lived into adulthood, one of whom was also named William in memory of his grandfather and his half-brother who had died at birth.

As a well known planter and mariner, William was one of the settlers who took advantage of the continual need for planters to harvest food and tobacco and mariners to ship their tobacco, lumber, salted fish, and other coveted goods to England in return for skilled workers and carpenters who were begging  for work in England. 
Thanks to their proximity to the Potomac River and  Chesapeake Bay, transportation and shipping were fairly easy to organize between the two countries and became the preferred locations to build  new ships and boats.  On the creative side, those builders paid attention to how well the Indian dugout canoes maneuvered in American rivers and on the sea.   Using the shape of those canoes as a model, English boat builders eventually modified their designs and developed new and more useful boats for use in the Bay waters.

William seemingly was not only ambitious, but must have had a tremendous amount of talent and energy to be able to put his fingers in so many pies. There are a number of official records confirming that besides being a mariner and planter, he acted as Justice of the Peace in both St. Mary's and Charles Counties and became a member of the Governor's Council.

But it seems that he mainly gave his attention to the Provincial Militia, which was not officially recognized by the British military but often called upon to fill in the gaps when war broke out (which was fairly often).

This militia became a well known and respected fighting force and participated in such battles as  "King William's War" (aka The Second Indian War) and" Queen Anne's War" (the second in a series of French and Indian wars). In 1676, he and some of the members of his militia captured four Indians and turned them over to the local authorities.  In recognition of his leadership abilities, William was appointed "Captain of the Foot" (infantry), a title that he carried for the rest of his life.   

Thanks to Captain Barton's organizational skills, he was appointed, in 1684, to be one of those regulating the affairs of the militia in Charles County, Maryland and, in an endeavor to keep the hard-won peace, he - as a Protestant himself -  signed an article assuring Maryland's citizens that the Indians had no plans to kill Protestants.
    In September of 1717,  83 year old William Barton, who was weak and feeble by that time, signed his Will with a mark, although he could read and write.

    Upon reading that Will, one can see that the Bartons and Smootes had continued to experience an incredibly close relationship which had begun years before when a Barton married a Smoote.

    In that Will, which was probated a month later, he left  a number of grants to family members and specifically asked that his grandson, Barton Smoot, be given William's slave, Samm. Barton was directed to treat Samm kindly as, "if the Laws would have permitted, I would have given Samm his freedom". 

    Also Included in the Will was a grant to his granddaughter Elizabeth Smoote Philpott who married another Copeland ancestor, Charles Thomas Philpott, a Revolutionary soldier whose story was told in an earlier post. William died soon after signing his Will.

    St. Clement’s Island lays a half-mile from the mainland in what is Colton’s Point, MD today, at the southern end of St. Mary’s County. Its modest, forested profile spills low on the horizon as you look from the long pier at the St. Clement’s Island-Potomac River Museum. The 40-acre island is now a public park, owned by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and maintained by the county.