James Gage

James Gage is where I have been a little unsure of our Gage line.  I know Isaac Gage is the son of James Gage and Rebecca as recorded in Pelham County, New Hampshire transcribed records.  But who was James Gage?  I cast my net about New Hampshire.

I found one James Gage death record in Pelham, New Hampshire.  No help, it’s the same transcription variety like the others.  It records his death date as 21 April 1794 at the age of 54.  But is this the correct James?  Off to search again and in Rockingham County I find a probate record for James Gage dated 20 August 1794.  Isaac Gage of Pelham County is one of the petitioners for Administration of James’ estate.  There was only one Isaac Gage in Pelham (well, two if you count his son) so this would be the correct James.  Death at the age of 54 puts James’ birth year at about 1739.  It appears as though James died intestate as there is no Will attached to the probate record nor a settlement, so no widow’s name.  Only Isaac’s birth transcription provides the name, Rebecca.

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, 1794 map of New Hampshire. Salem, New Hampshire is in Rockingham County and borders Pelham in Hillsborough County, so the following transcript mentioning Rockingham County is within the geographic scope of the Gage research.

Know all Men by these Presents, That We Isaac Gage Yeoman Abel Gage Gent both of Pelham & Jeremiah Dow of Salem Gent all in the County of Rockingham Are holden and stand firmly bound and obliged unto Samuel Tenney Esq. Judge of the Probate of Wills, and for granting Administrations within Said County…

I have to make a confession – on my own, I kind of hit a brick wall at this point.  So I looked to see what other researchers had to say about James.  I mean, this is one of the more researched family names (in my pool of families, anyway) so it wouldn’t be a mistake to just peak, right?  Well, many researchers have his place of birth as Bradford, Massachusetts with a wife named Rebecca Kimball.  And Bradford is where all early Gage families pass through.

Meanwhile, I always read early histories of places where my ancestors live, and I was reading an early History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire (1885) and right there it reads:

SETTLEMENT–The exact date of the settlement [Pelham] is not known. Tradition gives it as 1721. Mr. Fox, in the ‘History of Dunstable,’ says 1722. The earliest settlers were Butler, Hamblet, Richardson, Wyman and Jacques, who came from Woburn and vicinity; also Gage, who came from Bradford [Massachusetts]….There came, probably between 1735 and 1740, four families of Gages from Bradford, who settled on what is now known as Gage Hill. These were Josiah Gage, Daniel Gage, and Amos Gage, sons of Daniel and Martha Gage, of Bradford, and their nephew, James Gage.

And this is where I get a little fuzzy.  The evidence found this far doesn’t come right out and say, “James Gage of New Hampshire was the husband of Rebecca Kimball.”  How can we be sure that James Gage, husband of Rebecca, who died in Pelham, New Hampshire is the same man as James Gage who married Rebecca Kimball in Bradford, Massachusetts, or even the same James Gage who was related to Daniel and Martha of Bradford?  Let me explain.

For starters, there is not enough information on James Gage of Pelham to make a clean connection to James Gage, husband of Rebecca Kimball in Bradford.  They have the same birth years.  Their wives are both named Rebecca.  But, there must be more than one James Gage by the mere fact of the commonality of the given name “James” and the Gages had prospered in Massachusetts.  Then there is his wife.  In the 18th century New England, Rebecca was not that uncommon of a name either.

Returning to that history book, I am confident that the James Gage mentioned in History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire is related, but how?  The English language in written form is tricky, making intent sometimes elusive.  If you use the practice of breaking down a sentence by taking out the stuff between commas, one must ask: was James the nephew of brothers Josiah, Daniel, and Amos?  Or was he the nephew of their parents, Daniel and Martha?  The book never gives his date of birth, which makes it difficult to pinpoint his exact position in Daniel and Martha’s family.

Moving to the early Massachusetts vital records (the transcribed records are conveniently sorted and batched by surname), there is only one James Gage who was born in 1739. And only one James Gage who married a woman named Rebecca. I have not found any James Gage marriages to women named Rebecca in New Hampshire. This is the basis for my acceptance that James Gage of Pelham, New Hampshire whose wife’s name was Rebecca is the same James Gage who married Rebecca Kimball in Bradford, Massachusetts in 1757.

Boston Public Library, Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, 1711 map of eastern Massachusetts and vicinity. Pelham, New Hampshire is not shown on this map, but it would have been directly north of Dracut and due west of Bradford.

There are three other James’.  Two were born in significantly later years (1775, and 1820).  The third was born in 1736, three years earlier than the James born in 1739.  Which one married Rebecca Kimball in 1757?  James b. 1739 is the son of Moses and Mary.  James b. 1736 is the son of Thomas and Phebe.  Let me pause here and circle back to this dilemma.

While I am looking in Bradford vital records, I look for children of Daniel and Martha and find two of the sons mentioned in the History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire; Daniel (b. 1708) and Amos (b. 1718).  They are old enough to be James’ father making him most likely a nephew of Josiah, Daniel, and Amos.

A cross-reference between James’ birth, and children born to Daniel and Martha uncovers another son named Moses, who was born about 1706.  Moses is the father of a man named James b. 1739.  This makes a man named Moses a brother of the Pelham pioneers and further support my supposition that James of Pelham (son of Moses) was the nephew of Josiah, Daniel, and Amos, making Daniel and Martha his grandparents.

Now, circling back to which James married Rebecca Kimball. If James of Pelham is the husband of Rebecca, and the grandson of Daniel and Martha who were the parents of Moses, then the James Gage born in 1739 to Moses and Mary is the husband of Rebecca Kimball.

Genealogy… it’s a regular roller coaster ride.

I perused the New England Historical and Genealogy Society’s database and found several old family publications that cover the Gage’s and the Kimball’s. The History of the Kimball Family in America (1897) shows a complex intertwining of the Kimball and Gage family. There are quite a few marriages between them over several generations, one of which is James Gage and Rebecca Kimball in 1757. This publication names Rebecca’s parents, but not James’.

In 1908, Arthur E. Gage published his research in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, which included Daniel and Martha and lists sons, Josiah, Daniel, Amos, and Moses (among others). He also records a son of Moses as James, and further states that Moses left James property in Pelham, New Hampshire through his Will proved in 1771. Unfortunately, his research did not include James’s marriage or offspring. He also records the other James Gage who was born in 1736 and names his wife (not Rebecca). He also reports James b. 1736 never lived in Pelham (his parents, however, did settle in Pelham and are the ancestral owners of the Gage chairs in the possession of the Pelham Historical Society).

There is just one little thing niggling at me. The History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire says Daniel, Martha, three of their sons, and James came to Pelham around 1735 to 1740. James Gage, who married Rebecca Kimball and fathered Isaac Gage was born in 1739. Either the publication is wrong regarding the years they arrived, or (shoot me) there is another James Gage who would be the nephew of Daniel and Martha (this would be the only alternative that would make sense). To date, no one has identified a nephew of Daniel and Martha named James, and the Bradford vital records don’t record any Gage named James born prior to 1736.

The records point to the following summary:

James Gage was born in Bradford, Essex County, Massachusetts on 10 June 1739 to Moses Gage and Mary Haseltine/Heaseltine.  He married Rebecca Kimball on 18 August 1757, the daughter of Isaac Kimball and Elizabeth Jewett.  In 1771 he inherited property in Pelham, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire but may have already owned property in that county.  James died in Pelham on 21 April 1794, and his probate was filed in Rockingham County, New Hampshire on 20 August 1794 where his son Isaac filed for joint administration along with Abel Gage of Pelham and Jeremiah Dow of Salem, New Hampshire.

James and Rebecca had the following children:

  1. Richard b. 28 November 1758 in either Pelham, New Hampshire or Andover, Massachusetts.  He d. 24 August 1776 at age of 17 in Pelham, New Hampshire.
  2. Isaac b. 10 February 1761 in Pelham, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire.  He married Olive Abbott 13 April 1780 in New Hampshire and d. 27 September 1813 in Orford, New Hamspshire.
  3. James b. 22 April 1771 in Pelham, New Hampshire.
  4. Hitte b. 14 April 1776 and d. 7 August 1776 in Pelham, New Hampshire.