(Sorting the numerous) BLACKSMITHS
EBENEZER MORSE & OBADIAH MORSE
Copyright by Debbie McArdle and Colleen Morse, January 27, 2013:
Our Ebenezer Morse was born, probably in Virginia or Maryland, around 1736.
Fellow researcher Colleen Norman and I found an Ebenezer Morse advertising in 1729 in the "Maryland Gazette" newspaper out of Annapolis:
"This is to give notice, That the Subscriber proposes to attend at his Shop next Door to Mr. Overard's, in Annapolis, at the Time of all publick Courts and Assemblies, to make and grind all sorts of Cutlery Ware. And at other Times, all Persons that have Occasion, may leave what they want to be done, at Mr. Price's, at the Mitre, in Annapolis, and Care will be taken that they be well done, by............ Ebenezer Mors."
Before that, in 1723, we found:
"Cash paid Ebenezer Moss for Touch holding the Great Guns 12.0.0.
To paid William Groves for carting the Guns to and from Mosses" (p43);
4th October, "To Cash paid Ebenezer Moss for Smiths Work for 2 ..15..9 the Guns"
and "To my Attendance 4 days Agreing with Brickies and Moss to do the Work Allowed p Governor and Council" (p44).
(All from government proceedings found at the Maryland State Archives)
Some of you fellow researchers may recall there was an Ebenezer (we'll abbreviate to Eb) and Obadiah (we'll abbreviate to Ob) Morse in Westmoreland County, VA at the time our Eb (with an Ob) was in Stafford / Prince William Counties, VA. They were probably cousins, and yDNA testing proves some kind of close relationship. THE Westmoreland County, VA MORSES WERE ALSO BLACKSMITHS.
In the late 1600s there was an Eb and Ob Morse living in Portmouth, NH just north of the first iron furnace established in the colonies (Saugus Furnace in Lynn, Massachusetts). They were also blacksmiths and dropped out of site in the very early 1700s though their father remained in Portsmouth, NH. Our Eb's yDNA matches that of descendants related to the parents of this Eb and Ob who had lived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and who were blacksmiths.
So, we know they are all somehow connected. And, yes, trades in those days were passed down among the men in the family. Too much of a coincidence to have all these Ebs and Obs all being blacksmiths. And, of course, it is no coincidence they have matching yDNA. We just don't know HOW they are all connected. My guess is that the fellow in Annapolis in 1723-29 is our Eb's grandfather, but no proof yet.
Now about the iron furnaces. It was a revelation to us to learn that blacksmiths could not forge anything until they had iron that had been processed in an iron furnace. The iron furnace smelted iron ore into iron. The first permanent & successful iron furnace established in America was the Saugus Furnace in Saugus, Massachusetts in the 1640s. (Now Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site) Many skilled iron workers were recruited from England to work at this furnace and this may be the reason for our Morse family's immigration. Saugus, Massachusetts is very close to Portsmouth, New Hampshire where, later in that century, an Eb and Ob Morse, blacksmiths, were living. The Saugus Furnace would have provided the materials needed for a Portsmouth, New Hampshire blacksmith.
In the beginning (mid-1600s) the furnaces were in Massachusetts, then moving down the N.E. Seaboard.
A quote from the 1690s:
"The lack of towns in this area (Stafford County, Virginia where our Eb lived in the mid-1700s) was considered by some Virginians a deplorable situation. One of the results of this lack was the excessively high price of labor and the scarcity of skilled draftsmen. . artisans and craftsmen could not survive well in a completely rural society. . . Col. William Fitzhugh found this almost reason enough to leave Virginia, for it was next to impossible to find a blacksmith to forge a nail . . .in Stafford County, Virginia in the 1690s." (Source: "The Five George Masons," The Board of Regents of Gunston Hall, p42)
The colonial government quickly learned that new lands could not be occupied by citizens, (and those citizens could not defend themselves) without the benefit of iron furnaces, so the government began to establish incentives for entrepreneurs to establish iron furnaces. In 1724 the first iron furnace in Maryland, Principio Iron, was established at Talbot's Manor in Cecil County near the mouth of Principio Creek at Chesapeake Bay. Materials could easily be shipped by boat to Annapolis from there. This corresponds with when we find an Ebenezer offering his blacksmith services in Annapolis, Maryland (just a boatride across the Chesapeake from Principio Iron). In 1737 the first iron furnace was opened in Virginia, not far from where Eb evenually lived, but between 1749-1755, one opened up called Occoquan Forge and it was run by William Ballendine with whom an Eb Morse had many dealings. In fact, in 1752 on the 29th of November, there is a court case "Ebenezer Mors, Plaintiff; William Ballandine, defendant". (Prince William County, Va. Minute Book, p89) Unfortunately the details of the case were lost long ago. It appears the blacksmith Morses left Maryland to follow the opening of Virginia's iron furnaces.
An additional note: In 1761 we find our Ebenezer and Agness Morse in nearby Dumfries, Virginia trading at Daniel Payne's Store on the debit account of James Fowley Jr., overseer to Miss F. Ballendine (who certainly is related to William Ballendine of nearby Occoquan Forge):
1761: 22 June
Creditt Agness Moss 20/ . . . 1/4 lb. Alspice
9 August 1762: Cash dd you 45/ . . . Creditt Ebenezer Moss (pounds sterling)3..6..8 . .
(Source: "The Ledger of Daniel Payne's Store, Dumfries, Virginia, 1758-1764", Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, Md., microfilm #MS635, Folio #103, 22 June 1761)
So now we know it is more than a guess that our Eb came from a long line of blacksmiths. He, like others in the trades, learned from his kin. And, like all other humans throughout time, he followed opportunity. It wasn't until now that we understood exactly what that opportunity was: THE IRON FURNACES! With his skill, and with a reliable source for his raw materials, he could provide a good living for his family. And by following the furnaces as they opened in the colonies, he could be among the first blacksmiths on the frontier. In fact, he left VA just as the first forge was opening in northern NC. He stayed there only briefly until the first forge was opened in SC, just a few miles from where he settled in Enoree. And guess who owned that forge? A William Wofford! It's all tying together.
If any researchers have anything to add about any Ebenezer or Obadiah Morses that were blacksmiths, Colleen and I would be delighted to hear from you. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to Early American Life Magazine for their excellent article in their February, 2012 issue, "Roots of American Iron" by Winfield Ross, which introduced us to the process of making iron in the American Colonial era. For additional reading, we recommend the following books:
"Irons in the Fire", Laura Croghan Kamoie, University of Virginia Press, 2007, Discusses early business history of Stafford County, VA, including the importance of the iron furnaces.
"Laying the Hoe", Jerrilynn Eby, Heritage Books, 2007, A century of iron manufacturing in Stafford County, Virginia
~1760s: Thomas Bryant Martin: Prince William; 105 a. on waters of Neabsco & Hoes Creek; adj. Col. Cock (now Bertram Ewell), Ebenezer Moss, Col. Blackburn (now Occoquan Forge Company), John Foley. (Source: "Abstracts of Virginia's Northern Neck Warrants & Surveys, 1653-1781" by Joyner, p52, Northern Neck Forfeited Plats) (Did Col. Blackburn sell to William Selecman circa 1745? See below under ‘Owners’.)
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/P?mgw:1:./temp/~ammem_Yohf::, Geo. Washinton Papers, Library of Congress: (Looks like this is about 9 miles north of Dumfries on Route 1 and then 2 miles up the river towards Occoquan - so a total of 11 miles from Dumfries. Look on your DeLorme map of Virginia, p76, C4. Furnace Road crosses the Occoquan about 2 miles up river from Colchester toward Occoquan, but this is not especially near Neabsco and Hoes Creeks as described in the land description.) John Ballendine (d. 1782) of Prince William County, an enthusiastic promoter, builder, and operator of a series of mills, ironworks, and canals, had moved in 1755 to a site on Occoquan Creek about two miles above Colchester and now operated "an iron furnace, a forge, two saw mills, and a bolting mill" there (BURNABY, 66). The "fraud" was a shortage in weight of an iron shipment from the Occoquan works to Mount Vernon. On 19 Dec. 1759 GW had paid Ballendine £44 12s. 3d. for 2 tons of bar iron, but he received only 3,556 pounds, leaving a balance of £8 5s. 7d. charged against Ballendine (LEDGER A, 69). GW wished to recover that sum in iron or cash and at the same time to teach Ballendine a lesson, but George Johnston (d. 1766) of Alexandria and Belvale, a distinguished lawyer and Fairfax County burgess, today told him that a suit in the county court would be expensive and that a conviction would have little, if any, effect on Ballendine, because he had been previously found guilty and punished severely in a similar case without producing any change in his behavior (Johnston to GW, 8 Jan. 1760, DLC:GW). Although Ballendine wrote GW 18 Nov. 1760, expressing a desire to send iron to make up the deficiency and thus to dear his name of all suspicion of dishonesty, the dispute was never settled (DLC: GW). GW continued to charge £8 5s. 7d. against Ballendine in his ledgers until about 1773, when he wrote the sum off as "lost" (LEDGER B, 7).
Ballandine's Iron Forge/Occoquan, Virginia, 1745: (Gathered from a 1938 research project)
Location: One fourth mile northwest of Route #9, Occoquan, Virginia. There is a path that leads from the public road and past the ruins of the cotton mill.
William Selecman, 1745.
John Ballandine, 1755.
John Semple, 1762.
William Ellicott, 17-
Samuel Janney, 1828.
Bought a few rears ago from the Janney heirs by Occoquan Hydro Electric Power Co., present owners.
There is left little today of this old industry, the once well traveled road is only a narrow foot path, going along what was once the mill race and past the site of the dam, on the river side. There are parts of the foundation wall of the furnace, scattered stones and even a few pieces of rotten timbers. The present owner has but a marker on a tree to indicate a spot to visitors.
While there were other forges in Prince William, in the early 18th century, this one is perhaps the best known, possibly as the owner, John Ballandine, was a man with a talent for what in these days we call publicity, however, as is still often seen, he tried to expand too quickly, and in 1762, he signed over the various industries to John Semple of Maryland.
OccoquanMuseum, Tel. 703-491-7525: By 1737 Occoquan had a small thriving society. John Ballendine purchased the warehouse site in 1755 and built "forges, water grist mills, bolting mills, bake houses, saw mills, store houses and dwellings." His iron works was located near the falls.
http://www.australiastudy.com/geog337/papers/spring2001/clementandtimpano/page2.html This site has a picture of the grist mill office that was built in 1759. The mill, on the river, burned down in the early 1900s, but if Ebenezer lived in Occoquan, bordering the forge which was also on the river, surely he and Agness were familiar with this building.
Town of Occoquan (30) Rt 123, at Occoquan Bridge, Nathaniel Ellicott formally established the town in 1804, bringing to fruition industrial and commercial developments begun 'at or near thefalls ofOccoquan' by John Ballendine c. 1750. The estuary of the Occoquan has attracted the attention of travelers since the time of John Smith. Copper was being shipped from 'King' Carter's landing, and tobacco from a public warehouse by the 1730s.
Town of Occoquan (31) Corner of Washington and Mill Streets, In 1758 when John Ballendine built his dwelling "Rockledge," at Occoquan, the town began to prosper. By 1765 it was a flourishing industrial settlement with grist mills, foundry and tobacco warehouses. "Rockledge" and a portion of merchants (grist) mill still stand at the west end ofMill Street.
Neabsco Mills Ironworks (23) The Neabsco Mills Ironworks complex, under the ownership of three generations of the Tayloe family, (Colleen, see Tayloe papers below) of Richmond County, operated between 1737 and 1828. Located near this site, it was one of the longest continuously operating ironworks in present-day Northern Virginia. The 5,000-acre iron plantation, which was worked by resident free laborers (Colleen, do you know what that means?) indentured servants, and slaves, was a multifaceted operation. The workers produced not only pig and bar iron for sale at home and export to Great Britain, but also engaged in shipbuilding, milling, leatherworking, shoemaking, and farming. The complex was an important supplier of iron for weaponry during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Neabsco Creek (7) Rt. 1 andNeabsco Mills Road. Iron mining was begun here as early as 1734. Remains of a colonial furnace, foundry, and mill have been discovered.
Copied the following from: http://www.lexisnexis.com/academic/guides/southern_hist/plantations/plantm1.htm#intro
Tayloe Family Papers, 1740-1860 (Neabsco and Occaquan Companies)
Mss1T2118a The account book of John Tayloe (1687-1747) concerning the operations of an iron foundry (among many other files.
Mss1T2118b Section 3, Tayloe, John; Account Book, 1749-1768. This section consists of one volume, an account book of John Tayloe. Entries concern his accounts atMountAiry,Richmond County,Virginia, with the Occoquan Company and the Neabsco Iron Works of Prince William County, Virginia, and with British merchants.
Mss1T2118d, Tayloe Family Papers, 1650-1970,
Over five generations of Tayloes are reflected in papers and account books revealing relations among family, neighborhood, and peer groups. Adjuncts to the plantation operations included iron forges, blacksmith and shoe shops, sailing vessels, and other specialized operations using slave labor. Family members owned and operated plantations in Maryland. Maryland estates were in Montgomery and St. Mary's counties. The collection is divided into sections covering the following: Sections 1-5, Virginia Land Records; Sections 6-18, John Tayloe (1721-1779) and Elizabeth (Gwynn) Lyde Tayloe; Sections 19-28, John Tayloe (1721-1779); . . . Colleen, I have copied and pasted this about Stephen Norman. Is he yours and do you need this????"This section consists of fifty-three items, land records of Stafford County, Virginia. Items include patents, 1651-1692, issued to Philip Buckner, Francis Dade, Palmer Hinton (with verdict), and Stephen Norman (with plat and memorandum of Anthony Thorntop) by the Virginia land office. . . . "
Section 3, Land Records, 1653-1845, of Northumberland (now Prince William) County, VirginiaThis section consists of thirty items, lands records of Northumberland County (now Prince William County), Virginia. Items include patents and grants, 1653-1815, issued to Christopher Boyce, Edward Streater (also, deeds for land owned by John Lear, Martin Scarlett, Mrs. Ann Green Scarlett, and Thomas Owsley), Abraham Farrow, William Farrow, Ann Hancock, Catherine S. Hancock, and Margaret Hancock (signed by James Patton Preston and bears seal of Virginia; annexed: receipt of John Davenport, and a survey, 1818, of the land made by Philip Warden); report, 1695, of Edwin Conway concerning the lawsuit of William Buckner v. John Harvey in the General Court of Virginia (bears plat made by Edwin Conway); deeds, 1733-1845, for land owned by Richard Atkinson, Richard Blackburn, Basil Brawner, Mrs. Margaret Chapman, Taylor Chapman, Jabez Downman, William Fairfax, Mrs. Francis B. Gibson, John Gibson, John Gosling (with bond to Richard Blackburn), Charles Green, Mrs. Ann Harrison, Burr Harrison, John Jeremiah Heiss, Nimrod Hott Section 13, Farrow, Abraham (d. 1743), Lease, 1734 This section consists of one item, a lease, 1734 April 22, of Abraham Farrow and William Farrow to John Tayloe I, for land in Prince William County, Virginia. The lease is witnessed by John Champe, John Diskin, Burr Harrison, and Thomas Osborne and bears seals of Abraham Farrow and William Farrow. Colleen: I don't know if it would be of any interest to see where Abraham Farrow's land was - and maybe we already know but I don't have it in my computer yet. It is interesting, however, that the Farrows are selling land to the man that owns the Neabsco Iron Furnace. Section 315, Various Persons, Accounts, 1755-1882 This section consists of 198 items, accounts, 1755-1882, of various individuals
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