Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Allen line: John Root 1608-1684, Immigrant

Although we know quite a bit about John Root, there are two big questions I have after going through all the material I can find about him.  The first is his origin.  His gravestone, which I think is old but probably not dating back to 1684, states that he was a "Descendant of the Huguenots Routtes who fled from France to England."  I've seen statements that this headstone was actually put up as late as 1880, and that the statement should be discounted because it was an American who had it installed. Being an American doesn't necessarily make it wrong, of course, and there is a Thomas Routte/Roote/Root who is accepted by the National Huguenot Society as being an ancestor.  I don't know how much credibility to apply to this statement except that it does seem likely that at some point the Routte family came to England.

The second mystery about John is his parents.  They are given everywhere as John Roote and Mary Ann Russell or Rushall.  However, we are also told that John was raised by a wealthy uncle, and looking at the family tree, it appears that this couple might fit that description.  I can't find documentation as to his birth or to the death of these "parents" so I'm not clear on exactly who John is.  However, he was born February 26,1608 in Badby, Northamptonshire, England.  Supposedly the uncle who raised him was pressing John to go into the Parliamentary Army under Cromwell, and our John was not willing to do that, so he came to America as a Puritan and settled in Farmington, Connecticut in 1640. 

He married Mary Kilbourne, most likely after arriving in Farmington but possibly in England.  Their first known child was born in 1642 in Farmington, so if they met soon after John's arrival, possibly in church, then a marriage perhaps in 1641 and a child born a year later would make sense. 

John was a weaver as well as a farmer.  We know that he and his wife were members of the church in Farmington, that John served on several juries at Hartford, and that he was apparently a respected man of his town.  We are fortunate that copies of his estate are still available.  At his death, it was valued at 819 pounds.  Interestingly, it includes a list of the 32 books in his library, most of which were religious.  There was one "law book" and it's not clear what a couple of the other books were, but most had titles like "Israel's Safety" or "door of Salvation."  His inventory also included a long gun, a musket, a carbine, a backsword and belt, and various equipment needed to support these weapons.  It is likely that he was part of the "military train" for much of his life, but since he lived until 1684, when he would have been 76 years old, he had probably been excused from military service some years earlier.  He was have been 67 or 68 when King Philip's War broke out, so likely stayed home to help guard the women and children when the men of the town were called out. 

John died in August of 1684 and his wife Mary died in 1697.  Among his descendants, so our cousins, are President Rutherford B. Hayes, Louisa May Alcott (yes!  I knew I liked her!), Nancy Davis Reagan, Bess Wallace Truman, and Clint Eastwood.  He contributed much to American's history, besides settling in Connecticut and helping make a town out of the wilderness.

Our line of descent is:

John Root-Mary Kilbourne
John Root Mary Ashley
Samuel Root-Mary Gunn
Martin Root-Eunice Lamb
Martin Root-Ruth Noble
Ruth Root-Samuel Falley
Clarissa Falley-John Havens Starr
Harriet Starr-John Wilson Knott
Edith Knott-Edward Allen
Richard Allen-Gladys Holbrook
Their descendants

A second line is the same for the first two generations, and then is:

John Root-Sarah Stebbins
Sarah Root-Thomas Noble
Stephen Noble-Ruth Church
Ruth Noble-Martin Root
and so on.  Ruth Noble and Martin Root were second cousins, if I have this figured right.  So we're doubly related to all those famous people I mentioned!