The Gaspee Days Committee at www.gaspee.COM is a civic-minded nonprofit organization that operates many community events in and around Pawtuxet Village, including the famous Gaspee Days Parade each June. These events are all designed to commemorate the 1772 burning of the hated British revenue schooner, HMS Gaspee, by Rhode Island patriots as America's 'First Blow for Freedom' TM. Our historical research center, the Gaspee Virtual Archives at www.gaspee.ORG , has presented these research notes as an attempt to gather further information on one who has been suspected of being associated with the the burning of the Gaspee. Please e-mail your comments or further questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Evidence implicating Justin
Judge Staples writes that http://gaspee.org/StaplesGaspee.htm p108:
Mr. John Howland says, that on the morning after the affair, Justin Jacobs, a young man, was parading himself on "the great bridge," then the usual place of resort, with Lieutenant Dudingston's gold laced beaver on his head, detailing to a circle around him the particulars of the transaction, and the manner in which he obtained the hat from the cabin of the Gaspee. It required sharp words to induce him to retire and hold his peace. There were others, probably, equally indiscreet; and yet not an individual could be found who knew anything about the affair.John Howland, the original director of the Rhode Island Historical Society, was a few years younger than Jacobs, but was there when the boats set off to attack the Gaspee, and apparently was there when they returned. Justin Jacobs is not directly referenced by any other source. Given the 1772 time frame, Howland's description, and the age of other young Gaspee raiders we can estimate Jacob's age at being about 17, which would make his birth year c1755.
Curiously, it is this same Justin Jacobs that author James Otis Kale used for personating the first-person telling of the fictionalized story of the Gaspee incident in his 1901 When We Destroyed the Gaspee.
|Biographical and Genealogical
As of August 2002-
We also discover a William Jacobs as Master of a Providence-based privateer, Happy Return, owned by John Brown in 1779, (Field, Edward, State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at the End of the Century: A History. Boston, Mason Publishing Co. 1902, Vol II, pp424-430) . The Fall 2011 edition of the RIHS Updates, Rhode Island Historical Society presents a newly acquired painting of Wilson Jacobs (c1748-10Aug1805) painted in 1779. The brief article states that Wilson Jacobs was probably born in Massachusetts but by 1774 had settled down in Providence with his wife Marcy and several children. He was a member of the local militia, Independent Company of Light Artillery of Providence County and was later a commissioned privateer, commanding the Reprisal in March 1782. William and Wilson Jacobs could be the same man, but Wilson Jacobs is too young to have been the father of our Justin Jacobs, and is likely a relative.
In the Hampshire (MA) Federalist of 14Sep1809 is the death notice of a Justin Jacobs, age 31, who drowned in the Cambridge River on 2Sept1809
From the 1770 List of Providence Taxpayers, we get the name of three properties held by the Jacobs clan, all across the Great Bridge on the West Side of Providence. Two are listed for Nathaniel Jacobs, one being a Still House, and one for the Widow of Nathaniel Jacobs (not shown on map). This is all VERY interesting, since those who owned still houses were likely involved in illegal, untaxed shipping of rum, and would likely have had an ax or two grind with the Gaspee. Per Ancestry.com files we do find a Nathaniel Jacobs (1721-1807) that married a Sarah Cooke in Bristol, RI in 1744. And the RI Historical Cemeteries database does tell us that this Nathaniel was buried with his wife in the Swan Point Cemetery in Providence:
JACOBS NATHANIEL 1720c - 24 AUG 1807 PV003USGenWeb tells us that during the 1790 Federal Census, the Nathaniel Jacobs in Providence was 2-1-4-*-*, that is two males over 16, one less than 16, 4 females, and no slaves or other persons. This gives us a hint that, at very least, there was some extended family in the Nathaniel Jacobs household at the time, perhaps harboring a Justin Jacobs of the right age. Unfortunately, none of the genealogical databases cite any offspring from the marriage.
|In April 2004 we received the
following e-mail from Rich Houghton from Washington, DC,
a descendant of the Jacobs clan that
fills in all the holes in our knowledge of Justin Jacobs. Besides
family sources, the other source for his info is:
(stale link 2009)
I stumbled across your website tonight as I was trying to solve a puzzle about the first marriage of my great-great-great-grandmother, Mary (Bradford)(Jacobs) Houghton, and in doing so may have helped you solve yours.
Mary "Polly" Bradford was born in October, 1755, probably in Attleborough, Bristol County, Massachusetts (became Cumberland, Providence County, Rhode Island in 1746). She was the daughter of Perez-5 Bradford (1728/9 -- 1763) and Mary-4 Jackson (1732--?) of Cumberland, Providence County, Rhode Island.
In March 1791, she married Asa-4 Houghton in Hampden County, Massachusetts Their intent to marry was published on 6 February 1791 in Wales, Hamden County; the same intention had been announced the day before -- 5 February -- in Sturbridge, Worcester County, where Mary was apparently living at the time.
It was Mary's second marriage, however. When she married Asa, she is listed in the records as "Polly Jacobs, a widow." And this is where your organization comes in. She had previously married a man named Justin or Justis (depending on which of the very few sources you consult) JACOBS. Polly and Justis/n had one child, Justis/Justin Jr.; it is unknown what became of the boy. Justis/Justis Sr. died "at sea" sometime before 1791 ). Mary's granddaughter Carrie Houghton said in an 1885 letter: "We have no record of Uncle Justin Jacobs' [Jr.] marriage or death, nor of his father [Sr.]. His father was lost at sea, it was supposed, as the vessel [he was sailing on] was lost & he never returned. Grandma waited seven years before she married Granpa."
Who this Justis/n was seems to be a complete mystery, even to his relatives. In 14 years of searching I have found no birth, marriage, death, war service or other record for him. The mention in the 1885 letter is about all there is, and that I stumbled across accidentally.
So I read with growing interest your page on Justin Jacobs. The coincidences are striking.
1) The first and surname combination itself seems sufficiently rare to warrant by itself the conclusion that these are the same person.
2) Working backwards, Mary married Asa in 1791. If we take her granddaughter at her word in 1885 that Mary had waited seven years since the disappearance of Jacobs to marry, that would mean he disappeared somewhere around 1784. Subtract a year for having their son, and a year of marriage before that, and we have 1782. Throw in another year or two to be safe, and we're at 1780. If we assume the norm for a male to marry at this time as between 22-25, we have an approximate date of birth for Mary's first husband between 1753 and 1755. You estimate your Jacobs' year of birth as around 1755.
3) Mary's family was from the Cumberland/Attleborough area of Bristol/Providence County; so, I assume during this period, was her J. Jacobs' family. This seems to be the same area you were searching for Jacobs' family.
4) Mary's husband was "lost at sea;" while it is unclear whether he was at sea in a civilian or military capacity, I was struck my the naval connection in both their lives.
5) While Mary's J. Jacobs was of the right age, there is no Massachusetts record of him having served in the War for that commonwealth. Given Mary's family's geographic roots, I assumed therefore that this probably meant if he did serve, it was in Rhode Island.
In any event, the number of similarities seems to me to be striking. I would be interested to know what you make of it all.
One more item of interest. I note on your J. Jacobs page you searched the Whipple Family Organization and Rehoboth records for information on Jacobs. Another coincidence: Mary (Bradford) Jacobs' mother, Mary Jackson, was the granddaughter of Benjamin Tower and Deborah Whipple of Rehoboth and Providence through their daughter Zipporah.
We may even believe that the Justin Jacobs born in Deighton in 1783 was perhaps the son of our Justin Jacobs and Mary "Polly" Bradford. Rich Houghton writes further that he found a
Justin Jacobs who could be the Justin Jr. who was the son of Justin Sr. On 11 October 1811, a Justin Jacobs married Polly Sargent. Born on 2 October 1793, Polly was the daughter of Moses-5 Sargent (1757-1839) and Sarah Cram. Justin was a clergyman "of Warren." They eventually resided in Chester, Adams County, Wisconsin. Among their children was another Justin Jacobs, born 1815. Again, the similarity of the rare name combination is striking. In addition, the Justin who married Polly Sargent was the right age to have been the son of Polly Bradford and Justin Jacobs Sr.
From Cochrane, W. R. History of Francestown, N.H. : from its earliest settlement April, 1758, to January 1, 1891 : with a brief genealogical record of all the Francestown families (Francestown, N.H.: The town, 1895, 1076 pg). p598 is the Cram family genealogy indicating that Polly Sergeant, b 2Oct1793, (daughter of Moses Sergeant and Sarah Cram) married a Justin Jacobs. From similar sources, Child, Hamilton Gazetteer of Washington County, Vt., 1783-1889 (Syracuse, N.Y.: H. Child, 1889, 842 pgs) p486 "Town of Warren" Among the soldiers of the town that served in the War of 1812 was Justin Jacobs. Francestown is in south-central New Hampshire while Warren is in mid-central Vermont. We also note here that large segments of the Easterbrooks/Cole/and Luther families whose members were fellow Gaspee raiders from Warren/Bristol, RI also migrated to the Vermont/Upstate New York area early in the Revolutionary War.
In October, 2004, we received the following communication from genealogist, Betsey Patterson:
I live out in Wellfleet, MA on Cape Cod. I am doing some genealogy for a friend who has a Jacobs line. Her ancestor is a Justin Bradford Jacobs b. MA, who married Lydia Young in Wellfleet in 1803. He was either born in Scituate, MA or Boston. He died in 1846 at age 68, making him born ca 1778, about the time frame of the missing son Justin. Justin and Lydia had at least 2 children, John Young Jacobs b. 1806 Wellfleet, and a Mary "Polly" Bradford Jacobs b. 1804 Wellfleet. The wife of Justin Jacobs, b. ca 1755, of the Gaspee incident, was a Mary "Polly" Bradford b. ca 1755. Thought these coincidences were enough to send you an email.
|In August 2005 we received
communication from Jeff Alexander
who found testimony given by a Justin Jacobs in November 1776 relating
an incident where John Paul Jones and the crew of the Continental Navy
ship Alfred pressed the
entire crew of the privateer schooner Eagle
out of Providence. Jacobs was prize-master on board the Eagle, so this incident lends
weight to the above argument that Justin Jacobs went onto a maritime
career, and ultimately died at sea.
In August 2009, Jeff Alexander came across two additional snippets regarding a Justin Jacobs. From: Naval Officers of the American Revolution: a concise biographical dictionary, Claghorn, Charles E., NJ, 1988, pg 164:
JACOBS, Justin, RI Continental Navy Mar 7, 1777 Midshipman on the ship Columbus commanded by Hoysted Hacker.Also from Naval Documents of the American Revolution.Vol 8, pg 118 the name of Justin Jacobs appears as a midshipman entered 7 March 1777 aboard the Columbus. Alexander notes that Hacker was the Captain of the Providence (travelling with the Alfred and J.P. Jones) when Justin and his crew was pressed into service. It looks like Justin signed up for a follow-on cruise with Hacker. Justin Jacobs name being on the roster of the Independent Company of Light Infantry of Providence Counnty in January of 1777 is consistent with his later signing on with the naval forces.
|The Gaspee Days Committee recognizes Justin Jacobs as a true American patriot for his participation in the attack on the HMS Gaspee in 1772 and later Revolution.|
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