Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#52 Ancestors - Week 3: Nicholas Olmstead

The topic this week was birthdays - I didn't stick with that topic.   Last week I was contacted by someone that is a DNA match with my great-uncle.  The suspect link, which we still have yet to prove, is the Olmsteads.     This is a line that I had not looked at much - and as I started looking at what we believe may be our most recent common relative, Nicholas Olmstead, I found myself delving into areas of U.S. History that I was not familiar with.      While the result is more or less a bare-bones timeline, I learned a ton.      Where was my passion for genealogy during my school years?   I would have had a whole different appreciation of the history of America!!!

Nicholas Olmstead is my 9x great grandfather.   He was born in England and came to the United States in 1632.  He was a civic minded individual which means that records of his comings and goings are recorded in history books of the various settlements that were being created in the 1600's.   He settled in Hartford, CT approx 5 years after he arrived in the US and stayed there until he died in 1684.      His emigrated to the United States with his family and cousin.   This group of 3 men appear together in the history books.    They moved to Hartford together, served in civic positions together and fought together in 2 wars.   His father, James Olmstead is listed as one of the original founders of Hartford, and his name appears on the memorial honoring the men that settled that city.

One of the most interesting things I learned is that trials for witchcraft did not originate in Massachusetts and existed in various places in New England well before 1692.  

With that - here are the key facts I learned about Nicholas Olmstead and his life:

  • 1613 - Born at Fairstead, Essex, England
  • 1632 - Arrived in Boston, MA, U.S.A. - Aboard the ship named Lion or Lyon
  • 1634 - Moved to Hartford, CT, U.S.A.  
  • 1637 - Fought in the Pequot War

The Pequot War occurred in 1637.  It was a relatively short war.   Nicholas served under Captain Mason.   The group left Hartford CT on May 28, and battled the Pequot Indians.  Over 600 Pequot Indians were killed and his group returned home within 3 days.   Nicholas received a grant of land for his participation.   Several of his family members also participated.

  • 1640 - Married Sarah Loomis
  • 1646 to 1647 - Served as Surveyor of Highways

I was not sure what this was exactly - what does a Surveyor of Highways do?  I did a little research, I could not find anything specific to CT, but based on what I read - it appears that a Surveyor of Highways was in charge of making sure that bridges and roads were kept in good repair, and deciding the specific route of any new roads that are needed.

  • 1653 to 1662 - Served as Townsman for the North Side (of Hartford, CT)

I researched to see what exactly a Townsman did.   Depending on the town - it could be any number of things including making sure buildings were kept in repair, being in charge of roads and fences, responsibility for overseeing the town finances, and judges in petty cases.

  • 1658 - Received rank of Corporal of the Hartford Troop of Horse
  • 1662 - Received rank of Ensign of the Hartford Troop of Horse
  • 1662 - Served as a juror of a trial that accused 2 people of witch craft - Nathaniel and Rebecca Greensmith who were convicted and executed.

  • 1669 - Served as List and Rate Maker
  • 1672 - Appointed Deputy to General Court
  • 1673 - Received rank of Lieutenant of the Hartford Troop of Horse
Nicholas was placed in command of troops and sent to New London and Huntington, and was made a Captain in 1675.
  • 1675 - Received rank of Captain, during King Phillips War. 
  • 1684 - Died at Hartford, CT 


  • Genealogy of the Olmstead Family in America, Compiled by Henry King Olmstead M.D., Revised and completed by Reverend George K. Ward A.M..  Published by A.T. De La Mare Printing and Publishing Company, Ltd., New York, 1912.    Link
  • A History of Connecticut by George Larkin Clark.  Published by G.P. Putnams Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, New York, 1914.  Link

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