Chester Jackson's Forebears

The Button Line

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The very oldest Button ancestors we can trace via extend into Welsh landed gentry, specifically associated with Worlton Manor, Llwyneliddon, Glamorganshire, Wales.

The American Button descendants, down to Mary (1750-1826), wife of Abraham Jackson, Jr., include Matthias (1607-72), Peter (1660-1726) and Joseph (1702-1750).

The Button line in America, however, left whatever claim it may have had of gentrification behind, traveling to the New World in the person of Matthias Button (1607-72), who is said to have arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1628, only eight years after the founding of Plymouth Colony.  In this, of course, he beat even the early-arriving Henry Jackson, by seven years.

In case you might wonder the locations of Plymouth (home of my Pilgrim ancestor) and Salem with relation to each other:

Nowadays a couple hours drive; in the early 17th century a trip of days overland, with a major river crossing (the Charles River in Boston).  The settlements were, for all practical purposes, isolated from each other.

A couple of web resources tell about Matthias:

The American line of the Button family history seems to focus around a young man named Matthias Button. Matthias came over on one of the early immigrant ships (The Abigail) from England when he was around 20 years old. In this day of hours to cross the Atlantic, the early ships that crossed the Atlantic in the 1600’s, could take months of sailing. If there were storms or calm periods, the crossing could take significantly longer. ....

The pilgrims had landed at Plymouth in 1620. This puts Matthias arriving only 8 years after them. Arriving in Salem, Mass with Governor John Endicott’s party, we pickup little snips about Matthias from the few paper records of that day.

Matthias outlived 3 of his 4 wives. It can be assumed that he was a strong man as the records of the ocean trip record many of the party becoming sick and “weak of limb”. Matthias Button being one of the few that after arriving in the new land, was able to man a cannon to frighten off a large number of Indians bent on destroying the new colonists.

... [H]e crossed paths with John Godfrey. John Godfrey’s name pops up often in court cases during this time period. Seems John took great delight in making claims that he had occult powers. In 1665 a case comes before the court connecting John Godfrey and Matthias Button.

Matthias was called as a witness in a lawsuit against John and his possible use of witchcraft. The written document of the court case say that Matthias was one of those that testified against John. “…for not having the fear of God before his eyes, did or consulted with a familiar spirit and being instigated by the divil have done much hurt and mischief by several acts of witchcraft to the bodyes and goods of several persons”
The trial further stated that Godfrey passed through locked doors, appearing in two places at the same instant, etc.  [Remember, this was Salem, for which claims of witchcraft became notorious.]

If the timeline is correct sometime after the case ended with John being found “suspiciously guilty” but not “legally guilty” and released with a verbal warning to discontinue his blasphemous way of life. John visited Matthias’s home. Matthias had built a home just outside of Haverhill, Mass. It’s then recorded that his home burned seemly under some suspicious nature shortly after the visit of John Godfrey. Thus it was back to court with Button of Haverhill vs. John Godfrey where Matthias won a judgment for 238 pounds and 2 shillings, against John Godfrey for the loss of his home (Essex County Court Records). Sadly Matthias also lost his third wife, Ann Teagle Button [my 6th great grandmother], during this time, of some probable result of the house fire. It’s not surprising that over the next few years there develops some hostilities between Matthias Button and John Godfrey. I rather think that John was not on Matthias’s Christmas Card list!

Matthias remarries again and while owning many acres of land in and around the Haverhill, Mass area, was never considered wealthy. During this time land was cheap and was purchased from the original landowners, the Indians! Each purchase of land was documented as purchased from the Indian who owned it. Though the price for the land was often trinkets and other materials, it still was recorded as a land transfer.

Matthias lived to be 68 years old, died Aug 13, 1672 in Haverhill, Ma. He had 9 sons and daughters with 5 still living when he died.

And so we have the beginnings of the Button Family in the Americas.

Matthias Button Sr. the immigrant came to America with Governor John Endicott, landing at Salem, Mass. September 6, 1628. (Savage's Gen. Dict.)

He was a son of Thomas Button of Harrold, Bedford Co., England. He was baptized there October 11, 1607. (Parish Records of Harrold). He died at Haverhill, Mass. August 13, 1672. (Haverhill Town Records). He married (1st Lettyce; (2nd) about 1639, Joanne, widow of John Thornton; (3rd) about 1849 Ann Teagle and (4th) June 9, 1663 Elizabeth, daughter of John and Ann Wheeler of Newbury, Mass.; she was born at Salsbury, England and died at Haverhill, Mass. July 16, 1690.

John Wheeler and wife came from Salsbury, Eng. in 1634, in the ship Mary and John, embarking from Southampton, and settled in Newbury, Mass. In his will made March 28, 1668, proved October 11, 1670 he mentions his daughter, Elizabeth Button, to whom he bequeathed œ4.

Some early writer recorded Matthias as a Dutchman. This is evidently an error; the man does not indicate a Holland nativity, and the foregoing records show his baptism in England, and probable English birth. He may have gone to Holland just previous to coming to America, and possibly married his wife Lettyce there; we do not find any record of his first marriage. He must have been about 20 when he landed in America. His stay in Salem was brief; he soon removed to Boston, where he is found among the earliest settlers. He identified himself with the First Church of England sometime previous to 1633, and there at least two of his children were baptized. He removed thence to Ipswich, where he was a commoner in 1641 and thence in 1646 to Haverhill, where he died. (Haverhill Town Records, Genealogical Register Vol. 6 page 246)

Rev. Cobbett says Mr. Button died at Haverhill in 1672 at a great age. (Savage's Genealogical Dictionary)

According to our records, if he was baptized in infancy, as was customary, he was about 65 years of age when he died. He doubtless appeared much older, due to sickness, anxiety, and hardships endured.

After a voyage of months in one of the frail vessels of that day across a practically untracked and uncharted ocean, he passed through the trials, hardships, privations, and dangers of pioneer life in early New England. Wild beasts, and far more dangerous wild and savage men who roamed the wilderness night and day, made it necessary for the settlers to be constantly on their guard against the dangers; even on the Sabbath when attending church, they were constantly in danger of the deadly tomahawk and scalping knife, expecting at any moment to hear one of the hideous warwhoops of the bloodthirsty savages. Besides which Mr. Button had a long siege of sickness in his family, and lost children, and his first three wives died, the last from fright and exposure while sick in bed, due to the burning of their dwelling by an implacable and unrelenting personal enemy who caused him no end of trouble for several years. Probably the chief cause of the enmity of this man, John Godfrey by name, was due to the fact that Mr. Button, with Edward Yeomans and others, were witnesses against him when he was arrested on complaint of Job Tyler and John Remington on suspicion of Witchcraft and tried in court at Boston in March, 1665. (Essex County Court Records)

Mr. Button evidently inherited the spirit of adventure as history tells us that those who came with Governor John Endicott were gentlemen and their families who came to better their impaired fortunes, and enjoy the peace of religious liberty.

Mr. Button was a very young man when he landed on this continent, and it is not known whether he brought his wife Lettyce with him or not. As no record of their marriage has been found, it is presumed that she came with him.

In 1650 Mr. Button's estate was assessed at œ60. This does not show him to have been wealthy, nor yet poor. Land property those days was not valued very high, and very few of the early settlers of New England were considered rich. Even the Vanderbilts and Goulds of early New York were men of moderate property.

Mr. Button had several grants of land in and near Haverhill, as shown by the public records. He had many hindrances in his acquisition of property; he had a prolonged siege of sickness himself, besides the here-in-before mentioned sickness and death of children, and the sickness of his third wife and her death following the burning of his dwelling by John Godfrey and the litigation that followed.

From court records we learn that a thatched house belonging to Matthias Buttin in 1671, and situated near the present home of Thomas West, one mile north east of the village of Haverhill was burned; this is of interest in showing the style of roof that was used on some of the houses in those days.

The following are among transfers of real estate recorded:

Matthias Button of Haverhill, and his wife Teagell, for œ60 deed to John Hazeltine of Rowley, six acres planting land, bounded north on highway, west with a runlet, south butting towards the great river, east on land of Stephen Kent. Also three acres upland; bounded west on John Byers, east on highway running up to land of Robert Ayres, the north side to said Ayers marked tree, thence to land of John Ayers over the swamp.

Peter Button (1660-1726) was one of Matthias's sons by Ann Teagle.

The following is recorded in the old colonial laws of Massachusetts in the State House at Boston and is the form of oath which was required of a young man in those days: "I, PETER BUTTON, being by God's providence an inhabitant within the jurisdiction of his commonwealth, do freely and sincerely acknowledge myself to be subject to the government thereof, and therefore do swear by the great and dreadful name of the one living God, that I will be true and faithful to the same, and will accordingly yield assistance and support with my person and estate as in equity I am bound; and will also truly endeavor to maintain and preserve all the liberties and privileges thereof, submitting to the wholesome laws made and established by the same; and further I will not plot or practice evil against it nor consent to any that shall do so; but will truly discover and reveal the same to lawful authority here established for the speedy preventing thereof, So help me God in the Lord Jesus Christ. -- March 28, 1677, Haverhill, Mass. (Signed) PETER BUTTON  [I.e., he was 17 when taking the oath.]

In 1675, experiencing increasing encroachment and pressure by the expanding colonists, the Wampanoag, Anawon, Tuspaquin, Nipmuc, and Pocumtuc indian tribes joined together under the leadership of King Phillip, chief of the Wampanoags.

In September, the towns of Deerfield and Hadley, MA were attacked forcing the colonist to abandon their homes and fort-up in Deerfield.

Facing a winter without food, 80 soldiers under Captain Thomas Lothrop, including Daniel Button, were dispatched with 18 teamsters driving oxcarts to gather the abandoned wheat crops near Hadley. All went well until the return journey, when on September 18, 1675 the expedition spotted some grapes along the trail just South of Deerfield. The men apparently took few precautions and were confident that their numbers belied attack. Many of the men laid down their rifles and began to pick the grapes.

Then the expedition was ambushed by 700 Pocumtuc indians. It has become apparent that Phillip with his Wampanoags and the Nipmuck bands under Sagamore Same, Mantaup, One-eyed John, Matoonas, Panquahow, and other minor sanchems had crossed Connecticut to lay in wait for the Hadley delivery. A virtual slaughter ensued. It is said the water of the nearby stream turned red with blood, hence, "Bloody Brook." Only seven or eight escaped. Captain Lothrop was also killed.

Another English force under Captain Mosely with 60 Mogegan warriors arrived too late and found only seven survivors. Outnumbered about ten to one, Mosely fought the "swarming legions" for some four to five hours, gaining little ground. Exhausted and encumbered by his wounded, Mosely was preparing to make his retreat when Major Treat with one hundred Connecticut men and 50 Mohicans arrived. The combat was soon ended, and the united force marched back to Pocomptuck ‎(Deerfield)‎ for night, carrying their wounded and leaving the dead where they lay.

The next day, Sunday, Mosely and Treat returned to the grisly scene of carnage and buried the dead "in one dreadful grave." Mather said, "In this black and fatal day. . . six and twenty children made orphans, all in one little plantation."

We have no narrative materials for Joseph Button, nor for Mary Button, daughter of Joseph and Abigail Rhodes.  Mary of course was Abraham Jackson, Jr.'s wife, so the remainder of the Button narrative merges with that of the Jacksons.

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