Bidwell Lore – Bathsheba and Philemon

Welcome to Bidwell Lore number 138! This week in our Agrippa Hull series we share more about his mother Bathsheba after Agrippa’s father died.

Portrait of Agrippa Hull, unknown artist, unknown date. Acc# 47.002. Courtesy of the Stockbridge Library Museum & Archives. Painted from an 1845 daguerreotype taken by Anson Clark in West Stockbridge, also in the collection of the Stockbridge Library Museum & Archives.

Bathsheba and Philemon
Rick Wilcox, 2022

In April of 1767, Agrippa’s mother, Bathsheba, married a man named Philemon Lee. Unfortunately, by May of 1768, Bathsheba, her seven year old daughter Margaret and her new husband, Philemon, appeared in the Hampshire County Court due to homelessness. The court ruled that they were ‘transients’ and they were warned out of Springfield. ‘It was determined by the Court that these free individuals came last from Northampton.’ Agrippa was not with them as he had joined the Benney family around 1766.

Northampton Record of Marriage, April 1767, Philemon Lee & Bathsheba [1]

“By 1771 Philemon also appears in the Tax List of Stockbridge, ‘one poll ratable,’ but with no assets. The Lees and Hulls lived in a community of free Blacks in the southeast corner of Stockbridge, along with the families of Joab Benny, Enoch Humphrey, and Primus. Another free Negro, Hannibal, who married an Indian woman, Hannah Mhuttawampe, was granted 50 acres in 1765, and lived on the western edge of the town near Johannis Mhuttawampe, his father-in-law.” [2]
“Philemon bought 1 ½ acres ‘more of less’ in Stockbridge in 1773 for 6 pounds, and on the same day he sold 3 acres to John Sergeant for 15 pounds – a somewhat puzzling transaction. No further record of him has been found. Later we learn that Bathsheba had been supported by her son, Agrippa, for quite some time.” [3]

Above map of Stockbridge courtesy Google Maps

Emily Piper, author of the article “The Family of Agrippa Hull,” was puzzled by the land transaction mentioned above, and I wanted to know the rest of the story as well. Turns out that the land in question is on what is currently Yale Hill Road in Stockbridge (see map above). Yale Hill Road was originally four rods wide or 66 feet, indicating it was to be a major thoroughfare from Stockbridge to Lenox. During the early 18th Century, the road harbored the most mills in town. By the mid-18th century, the location of the mills shifted to the Housatonic River in Glendale. Philemon’s two deeds connected to the property were the only purchase or sale on record by Philemon and the land descriptions are essentially the same with the exception that the plot went from 1 ½ acres to 3 acres and the selling price went from six pounds to fifteen pounds in less than one day. It would appear that the Rev. John Sergeant [4] may have been scammed. Lee listed his occupation as cordwainer, a skill that should have provided a decent income. The two deeds for the aforementioned land transactions can be found below.

Orias Strong to Philemon Lee, Book 9, Page 733 (1773)
TO ALL PEOPLE to whom these Presents Shall come, GREETING. Know Ye, That I Orias Strong of Hartwood in the County of Berkshire & province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England.
For and in Consideration of the Sum of Six Pounds lawful Money to me in Hand before the Ensealing hereof, well and truly paid by Philemon Lee of Stockbridge in said County, and province aforesaid Cordwainer – the Receipt whereof we do hereby acknowledge and our selves therewith fully satisfied and contented; and thereof, and of every Part and Parcel thereof, do exonerate, acquit and discharge unto the said Philemon his Heirs, Executors and Administrators, forever by these Presents: HAVE given, granted, bargained, Sold, aliened, conveyed and confirmed; and by these Presents, DO freely, fully and absolutely give, grant, bargain, sell, aliene, convey and confirm unto him the said Philemon his Heirs and Assigns forever, One certain tract of Land lying in Stockbridge aforesaid it being a piece of Land given to the said Orias Strong for building a bridge across the Old Mill Brook, [4] and is bounded as follows viz West on the highway north on Land of Tim Edwards Esqr. east on the Mill Brook aforesaid it lying between the place where the Old Mill stood and Mr. Woodbridge’s old Grist Mill
[5] containing One acre and half be it more or less.
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the said granted and bargained Premises, with all the Appurtenances, Privileges and Commodities to the same belonging, or in any wise appertaining to him the said Philemon Heirs and Assigns forever. To his and their only Proper Use, Benefit and Behoof forever. And I the said Orias for myself my Heirs, Executors and Administrators, do Covenant, Promise and Grant to and with the said Philemon his Heirs and Assigns, that before the Ensealing hereof, I am the true, sole and lawful Owner of the above bargained Premises, and am lawfully seized and possessed of the same in my own proper Right, as a good, perfect and absolute Estate of Inheritance in Fee Simple: And have in myself good Right, full Power and lawful Authority, to grant, bargain, sell, convey and confirm said bargained Premises in Manner aforesaid: And that the said Philemon his Heirs and Assigns shall and may from Time to Time, and at all Times forever hereafter, by Force and Virtue of these Presents, lawfully, peaceably and quietly Have, Hold, Use, Occupy, Possess, and Enjoy the said demised and bargained Premises, with the Appurtenances, free and clear, and freely and clearly acquitted, exonerated and discharged  of, from all Manner of former or other Gifts, Grants, Bargains, Sales, Leases, Mortgages, Wills, Entails, Jointures, Dowries, Judgements, Executions, or Incombrances of what Name or Nature forever, that might in any Measure or Degree obstruct or make Void this present Deed.
Furthermore, I the said Orias for my self my Heirs, Executors and Administrator, do Covenant and Engage the above demised Premises to him the Philemon his Heirs and Assigns, against the lawful Claims or Demands of any Person or Persons whatsoever, forever hereafter to Warrant, Secure and Defend by these Presents. In Witness whereof I have here unto set my Hand & Seal this Twenty Sixth Day of October anno Dom: one Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-two and in the thirteenth year of his Majesty’s Reign George the Third King & C.
Jah. Woodbridge, Lucy Woodbridge. Oeias Strong

Philemon Lee to John Sergeant, Book 10, Page 538 (1773)
{Philemon Lee to John Sergeant} TO ALL PEOPLE to whom these presents shall come I Philemon Leeof Stockbridge in the County of Berkshire and province of the Massachusetts Bay Cordwinder [6] said Greeting. Know Ye that I the said Philemon Lee in Consideration of the sum of fifteen Pounds Lawful Money to me in hand paid before the Delivery hereof by John Sergeant [7] of the Town, County and province aforesaid Gentleman, the Receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge, have given granted bargained, and sold and do by these presents give, grant bargain sell and convey unto him the said John “One certain Tract of Land lying in Stockbridge aforesaid it being a piece of land given Orias Strong for building a bridge across the old Mill Brook and is bounded as follows viz) west on the Highway north of Land of Tim Edwards, [8] Esqr. & east on the Mill Brook aforesaid it lying between the place where the old Saw mill stood and Mr. Woodbridge’s old Grist Mill [9] containing three acres more or less. [10] TO HAVE & TO HOLD the said granted and Bargained premises with all the appurtenances to him the said John Sergeant his Heirs & Assigns forever, and I the said Philemon Lee for myself mu Heirs Executors and administrators do hereby covenant to and with the said John that at the sealing hereof I am the lawful Owner of said granted premises with their appurtenances and stand seized thereof in my own proper Right as a good estate in Fee Simple, that I have lawful Right to sell the same aforesaid that they are free of all incumbrances whatsoever, and further that myself my Heirs Executors & administrators shall, and will Warrant & Defend sd granted premises unto the said John his Heirs & Assigns forever against the Claims of all People. In Witness whereof I the said Philemon have hereunto set my hand and Seal this Thirteenth day of August ammo dom one thousand seven hundred & seventy-three in the thirteenth years of his Majesty’s Reign
Signed, Sealed & Delivered in presence of Jah Woodbridge, Lucy Woodridge
Philemon Lee & Seal
Berkshire SS September 3rd 1773 the above named Philemon Lee personally appeared and owned this Instrument to be his act & Deed.
Coram Jah Woodbridge Just: Peace
September 16: 1773 Recd. and Recorded from the original by M. Hopkins Reg.

Next week we will continue with the theme of the land and discuss the division of lands in Stockbridge.

1. Stockbridge Library Museum & Archives, Agrippa Hull collection.
2. Piper, Emily S. “The Family of Agrippa Hull.” Berkshire Genealogist, Volume 22, Number 1, page 4.
3. Piper, Emily S. “The Family of Agrippa Hull.” Berkshire Genealogist, Volume 22, Number 1, page 4.
4. Kamposa Brook or Konk’s Brook. There is a town meeting reference to Konk’s Crossing.
5. Joseph Woodbridge built a mill at the base of Yale Hill in 1755. Moses Barnum owned a fulling mill where the brook crosses under the road.
6. Cordwainer is a shoemaker. A cobbler repairs shoes.
7. Son of the Rev. John Sergeant, first missionary to the Mohican people.
8. Son of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards.
9. Joseph Woodbridge, brother of schoolmaster Timothy Woodbridge, built the grist mill in 1755 at the bottom of Yale Hill. Moses Barnum owned a fulling mill where the brook crossed under the highway on the land that he purchased from Hannah Nepaulum an “Indian Woman.” Berkshire Middle Registry of Deeds, Book 13, Page 182.
10. When Lee bought the land on the same day it was an acre and one half.

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