Oldest – Moses Gage and Beyond

52 Ancestors

As I have mentioned in earlier posts (probably once or twice), our Gage line arrived in the New World around 1633 with the Winthrop fleet, making them the oldest new world family in our lineage.  But in my musings I have been a little befuddled in the story of James Gage, father of Isaac Gage, our American Revolution ancestor.  Regardless of the inconsistent dates and the confusing punctuation used in The History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire (1885), I am fairly certain that James Gage is the nephew of early Pelham settler brothers, Josiah, Daniel, and Amos. This makes him the son of their brother, Moses, and his wife, Mary Heaseltine (sp?).

On our journey to the Gage immigrant ancestor we’ll talk next about Moses. Moses lived a nice and quite life.  He did not leave many records behind, but he did pay taxes, write a will, and attended church.  He lived and worked among his many Gage, Kimball, and Burbank cousins in Bradford, Massachusetts.

Moses was born on 1 May 1706 in Bradford, Essex County, Massachusetts to Daniel Gage and Martha Burbank. He was the second born son of 14 children (5th born child).

At the age of 23, he married 18 year old Mary Heaseltine. Their union was recorded on 12 April 1733 in Bradford.  Her family’s surname has also been spelled Hazeltine and Haseltine.

Moses made his will out on 14 June 1769 and it was witnessed by Daniel Faulkner, John Bridges, and Moody Bridges. Daniel Faulkner and Moody Bridges appeared with Mary Gage on 28 January 1771 to file his probate and name Mary as the Executrix.  There is no record of his death, but using the date of his probate, his death can be placed sometime between December 1770 and January 1771.  In his will, he dutifully names his wife and five surviving children (he and Mary had ten known children).  As mentioned before and of interest to us, he bequeathed land to his second son, James, and that land was in Pelham, New Hampshire. 

An inventory of his will shows how successful he was at the farming trade. In the 18th century, farming included both crops and livestock, among other things.  In addition to his property in Pelham, Moses had buildings and lands in Bradford, and a salt meadow or marsh in “Newbury Neck” which he left to sons Moses and William.  He had lands in Methuen, Massachusetts and a “piece of marsh” at a place called Longpoint on Plum Island (along the Massachusetts coast) which he left to his youngest son Thaddeus, as well as a specific piece of property he recently purchased in Bradford.  Thaddeus also inherited his stock of cattle.  To his only surviving daughter, Sarah, he left a share of household goods, the remaining share went to his widow, Mary.

His Bradford buildings contained a provision of hay, husbandry tools, leather and bricks, firearms and lime, and clapboards. These were listed in his probate inventory and is presumed to have gone with the Bradford buildings to sons, Moses and William.  Also listed in his inventory as having value was one quarter of mill privilege and a pew in a meeting house (most likely the First Congregational church where many of the Gage family early vital events are recorded).  All in total, his estate was worth £481, 13s, and 4p. According to UK National Archives currency converter, that is worth £42,027.97 today or $53,553.93.  In 1770, with £481, Moses could buy about 70 horses or 103 cows.  Not bad for his time.

Though he had property in Pelham, he lived his entire life in Bradford. His brothers, Josiah, Daniel, and Amos had moved to Pelham by the 1740s, probably prompting him to buy land there around the same time as them.  Did he plan to move with them, but never made it?  What kept him in Bradford?  His parents had died in Bradford around the same time his brothers left; his father in 1747 and his mother in 1745.

Arthur E. Gage, A.M., published his research Some Descendants of John Gage of Ipswich, Mass in 1908 (NEHGS Register Vol. LXII) and places Moses living on a farm at Gages Ferry near Bradford. In A record of Pierce Gage and his descendants written by George Gage in 1894, Gages Ferry is also known as Upper Ferry, was located on the main road to Methuen at the northwest corner of Bradford on the Merrimack river, and was operated by Moses’ father, Daniel.  Since Moses stayed behind, it stands to reason that he took over Gage’s ferry and may have been hesitant to leave family land.  Also, his will indicates he had a very well established life in Bradford.  Farms, salt marsh, mill privileges, and the ferry.

Moses’s father is not the only family member he lost in 1747. Four of his ten children also died, very young, that same year.  The history books don’t tell us what medical ailment occurred in the community of Bradford that year, but several sources point to influenza or smallpox as a probability.  In January, little Abigail dies at the age of 1 and a half followed by her sister, Mary. Mary was 1 month shy of 1 year old. Father, Daniel, was next in March. In December, young William is taken four months before his 6th birthday and then, shortly after that, Richard succumbs at the age of 4 to whatever plagued the family.  Considering the short time span between these deaths, it is only hypothesized that it was an outbreak of something, but then, perhaps this family was just unlucky in the year 1747.

For those searching for Bradford on modern maps, it has been incorporated into Haverhill and is that part of the city that is on the south bank of the Merrimack River. The ferry landing and Gage house is long gone but is described as being in the northwest section of Bradford on the Merrimack.  While the name Bradford still exists in modern Haverhill, the Gage name does not appear to survive there.

His 10 children with Mary Heaseline who were all born in Bradford are:

  1. Moses was born 7 March 1735/6.  One of the five children mentioned in his will.
  2. Sarah was born 9 November 1737 and married Stephen Carlton.  She is the only daughter mentioned in his will.
  3. James was born 10 June 1739 and died 21 April 1794 in New Hampshire, most likely in Pelham.  He married Rebakah Kimball on 18 August 1757 in Bradford.
  4. William was born 16 August 1741 and died young on 14 December 1747.
  5. Richard was born 16 July 1743 and died young on 23 December 1747.
  6. Abigail was born 25 June 1745 and died young on 4 January 1747/8.
  7. Mary Gage was baptized 15 February 1746 and died young on 23 January 1747/8.
  8. William was born 24 November 1748. One of five children mentioned in his will.
  9. Richard was born 20 May 1751 and died young on 21 February 1756. 
  10. Thaddeus was born 17 April 1754 and died 11 May 1845 at Franklin, New Hampshire.  He married Abigail Merril on 30 November 1774.  He is also a revolution war veteran and served in Nathaniel Gage’s company of minute-men.