Numerous traditions recorded by families descended from the above John Casse land him at Newport, R.I., between 1630 and 1640. The only direct evidence known to the writer is from Drake's "Founders of New England," which says: "The ship ' Dorset,' John Flower, master, sailed from Gravesend, Eng., Sept. 3d, 1635, for the Bomodes (Bermudas). Among the passengers was Mr. Casse, aged 19."
It may be said here that this spelling of Casse only appears in the above ship record, and in a power of attorney given in 1656 by John Casse, and witnessed by his brother, Thomas Casse. A copy of this paper will be found farther on. John's will is signed Case, and so we will call him. John's age at death in 1704 is not known, and much inquiry and research fail to show it. If found to correspond with that of the emigrant in the ship Dorset, it would seem certain that it was our John who then landed.
Mr. Willard E. Case, of Auburn, N. Y., thinks that the Dorset man was William Case, who settled in Newport, R. I., was a Freeman in 1665, and member of General Assembly in 1675, who died about 1681. But I think it was John. In John's will, made in 1700, he describes himself as "well stricken in years and drawing grave-ward." If he was the Dorset passenger, it would make him 88 at his death in 1704.
Some family traditions say he lived in Newport a few years. Savage says he was in New London in 1656, and moved to Windsor the next year. But up to this year his history has been a perfect blank from 1635 to 1656, a period of twenty-one years.
It was reserved for Miss Charlotte Case, of Wethersfield, Conn., to find in the State records at Hartford the conveyance of six parcels of land by John Case to William Gibbines in February, 1640. As the lands were in the vicinity of Hartford, it tends to show him a resident there, and of an age to convey land. One was "a building lot of two roods;" one of "one acre lying in Hockanum;" one of "two and twenty acres on this side of Rocki Hill;" one of "nyne acres on the road leading to the great swamp;" one of "fower acres of swamp abutting on the great river, and on the west by land yt did belong to the Indians;" "one psill of meadow of three acres by the dead swamp on the west."
The next record evidence of John is the following power of attorney given at
Maspeth Kills (now Newtown, L. I.), in which he describes himself as "now
inhabiting." Maspeth is now a postoffice just over the Brooklyn city line. As
before stated, this was, up to 1898, the first record evidence of John in America,
the first of his marriage, and the first of the one he married; and as wedding
journeys were not in vogue at that time, it is fair to assume that he was "now
inhabiting" at Maspeth Kills:
Know all men by these presents, that I, John Case, now inhabiting in Mashpath
Kills in the New Nedewlands, have constituted and made my father, William
Edwards, inhabitant in Hartford in New England, my true and lawfull Attornye, to
demand, recover and receive in my name and for my be'f, of Mr. Richard Lord, of
Hartford in New England, mrcht, Sixe pounds, which the said Mr. Richard Lord
was Assigned by the Overseers to pay unto my wife in pease and wheat when she
was eighteen yeares of Age: in pease at three shillings the Bushell and Wheat at
foure shillings the Bushell. Also I doe Authorize my Attornye with as full power as
if my selfe was Exhistent to demand, recover and receive of the said Mr. Lord all
other debts or dues which shall bee found to bee owing unto me from him. I
say I doe Authorize, Ratifie and Confirme my Attornye with as full power in this
case as if myselfe was Existant: uppon the refusall to pay, I doe Authorize my
Attournye to arrest, sue, recover and uppon receipt to give, discharge, or if
occasion he, to plead or implead in my name and place, and what my Attournye
shall see cause to doe in this case, I will ratify and confirme as done by my selfe.
On the back side was written:
An unsigned addition on the margin of the paper authorizes Mr. Edwards to collect " whatsoever debts shall be found owing unto me from any other men."
This seems to make it probable that both John Case and his wife had resided in Hartford, and that they were married there. When they were married is not known.
From other sources we learn that he married Sarah Spencer, daughter of William and Agnes Spencer, who were among the first settlers at Hartford. Sarah was born in 1636, and they were probably married in 1656. Sarah's father, William, died in 1640, and in 1645 his widow married William Edwards, also one of Hartford's first settlers. Mr. Edwards thus became the step-father of Sarah Spencer, who married John Case, and thus became John's attorney. Mr. and Mrs. Edwards had but one child, Richard, born 1647. Richard became the grandfather of the famous preacher and writer, Jonathan Edwards, born 1703. I think some of the early Cases may have been indoctrinated by their distant relative.
From 1656 John's life becomes better known. But, before proceeding with it, we will say a few words about things at Maspeth Kills.
The Newtown, L. I., records show that John had two brothers there--Thomas, who is a witness on John's power of attorney, and William. All we know of William is that he died 1727 and left all of his estate in "Martin's Vineyard" to his five daughters; and that his son William inherited the estate of his uncleThomas. Thomas was said to have come from Fairfield, Conn. He is said to have been married about 1659, and to have died 1692. He had no children.
In the tax roll of Newtown, 1675, "Thom: Case" has 20 acres meadow, 1 horse, 2 oxen, 4 cows, 4 young cattle, 20 sheep and 3 hogs. He was a noted and persistent Quaker, well-known and well-hated on the north shore of Long Island and the south shore of Connecticut. Dr. Increase Mather thus speaks of him in 1681:
"There went down about a moneth since three mad Quakers, called Thomas Case's crew, one man named Denham, belonging to Newer-Snicks, and two women with him belonging to Oyster Bay; these went down to South-hold, where they meet with Samuel Banks of Fairfield, the most blasphemous villain that ever was known in those parts. These joining together with some other inhabitants of South-hold of the same spirit, there went into their company a young merchant named Thomas Harris, who was somewhat inclining to the Quakers before (he belonged to Boston); they all go about him and fell a-dancing and singing, according to their diabolical manner."
Trumbull's History of Connecticut tells of "one Case and one Banks, two lewd men, called singing Quakers, coming through the Colony, singing and dancing, accompanied with a number of women to assist them in their musical exercises, and especially to proclaim how their lips dropped with myrrh and honey."
How long John had lived in Maspeth Kills (Newtown) no one knows. But in 1656 or '57 he joined the new colony of Windsor, on the Connecticut river, eight or nine miles above Hartford, at the mouth of Farmington river. We know but little about his residence there, except that his first five children were born there. As early as 1648 the Windsor colony had informal deeds from the Indians of lands on the Farmington river, known as Massacoe, now Simsbury. In 1664 a few settlements were made, and in 1667 the first grant of land there was made to John Case and twenty others. In the spring of 1669 thirteen of these grantees moved to Massacoe. Their names were Thomas Barber, John Case, Samuel Filley, Joseph Phelps, John Griffin, Michael Humphrey, Joshua Holcomb, Thomas Maskell, Luke Hill, Samuel Pinney, John Buell, Peter Buell, Joseph Skinner.
In 1670 the colony asked for town privlleges and sent John Case and Joshua Holcomb to the May session of General Court. The delegates were seated as members, and the request granted as follows:
"This Court grants Massacoe's bounds shall run from Farmington bounds to the northward tenn miles, and from Windsor bounds on the east, to run westward tenn miles; provided it doe not prejudice any former grant. The Court orders that the plantation at Massacoe be called Simsbury."
It was ordered by the town in June, 1674, "that all the inhabitants of Simsbury, from fourteen years old to sixty, shall next Monday sennight stub bushes." This was to clear the roads, and was all that was done for roads for nearly fifty years.
John Case settled in the south part of the town, then, and now, known as Weatogue. He was appointed by the General Assembly as Constable for Massacoe in October, 1669, being the first officer in the new town. In 1670 he represented the town in the General Assembly, and also in '74, '75 and '91.
King Philip's Indian war drove the new settlers from their homes in March, 1676. In August, 1665, the Colonial Council ordered a night watch on every plantation, and all males from 16 to 70 to take part in it. The town of Windsor was ordered to send four men every other day to clear the road to Simsbury. The Indians had been turbulent for over a year, and in 1675 the County of Hartford raised 100 dragoons (seven from Simsbury) to protect the colonies, and the different settlements were ordered to fortify their houses and keep arms and ammunition on hand. The Simsbury people took their movable things to their old homes in Windsor and Hartford, but all of their houses and much of their effects were burned by the Indians. A few returned in the spring of 1677, and many never went back.
The settlement was at a standstill for ten years, and had no representative at the General Assembly from 1675 to 1687, nor were they taxed until 1689. Willard E. Case thinks that John Case visited his brother Thomas, at Maspeth Kills, during King Philip's war.
In 1671 the town had voted to build a meeting house, had made a contract for the same, and the timbers were ready in 1674. But there was such a quarrel over its location that nine years were spent in fighting it out. Finally it was decided by lot:
"At a solemn meeting on May 24th, 1683--Whereas, there is two papers put into ye hatt, one east, and ye other for ye west side of ye River (Farmington), for ye decision of ye two places formerly nominated. It is now agreed that ye first paper that is drawn shall be the lott--this voted. The lott that came forth was for ye west side of ye River."
The building was then erected, being 24x28, with 14-foot posts, but left unfinished until 1685, when a floor was put in, seats furnished and a pulpit built. In 1696 it was ceiled, and windows and a gallery put in. The first settled pastor was Edward Thompson, with a salary of fifty pounds per annum, "payable in good and current pay, to wit, one-third in good and merchantable wheat at four shillings per bushel, and one-third in Indian corn or pork, the corn at two shillings sixpence per bushel, and the pork at three pounds ten shillings the barrel."
At an ordination in 1697 the following were among the articles furnished: Half a lamb of mutton, 2s. 6d.; butter, sixpence per pound; four pounds of sugar, 2s. 6d.; half a bushel Indian meal, 1s. 3d. ; two fowls, 8d.; eighty-four pounds of beef, 15s.; thirty pounds venison, 3s. 9d.; nineteen pounds of pork, 4s. 9d.; nine pounds of mutton, 2s.; two gills of rum, 9d. Reduced to present currency, beef was three cents a pound, mutton three and a half cents, and venison two cents.
In 1679 John Terry and John Case petitioned the General Assembly to prosecute those to whom house lots had been granted and who had failed to build on them as agreed. Fourteen were so prosecuted and fined. In 1683 there were 32 voters in the town.
These are the meagre surroundings of old John's life that have come down to us. We only know that he was an active participant in all the public affairs of Simsbury as long as he lived--active in the church, in politics, in society. He was evidently a man of strong character and influence. He acquired a large property for that time. It is difficult for those of this luxurious period to realize the life of toil and privation in a border colony of Connecticut 230 years ago. It was worse than Klondike, for there was no gold in the soil. But the Puritan character, with its grim, unyielding perseverance, was peculiarly adapted to the trials of an unknown world. What a pity that the modern peripatetic photographer cannot visit that remote region and bring us views of its log huts, stumpy fields and dark forests. What a pity that old John had no kodac in the house, with which he could leave us a picture of his grim, determined face and stalwart form. I think he must have been a hard man to manage. And as his inventory showed him possessed of a shot-gun, a musket, three pounds of powder, eight and a half pounds of lead, a rapier, a back-sword and a cutlass, he must have been well prepared to be belligerent. It needed a tremendous will power to make a will of eight finely-written foolscap pages. This brings us to the closing scenes of John Case's life. His wife, Sarah Spencer Case, died in 1691, aged 55. A few years later he married Elizabeth, widow of Nathaniel Loomis, of Windsor. Elizabeth died at Windsor in 1728, aged 90. Finally, in February, 1704, with his ten children all married and settled around him, his end came. We have no record at all of the last ten years of his life, except as indicated in his will. He is supposed to be buried in the old cemetery at Simsbury, by the side of his first wife, Sarah Spencer; but there is no stone or record to prove it. Sarah's grave is marked with a red sandstone slab with record on it, probably erected by John. It seems strange that with ten children surviving, all of mature age, that his grave should have been left unmarked.
The old homestead was held in succession by direct descendants until 1869, when it was sold by Harvey B Case, a descendant of Bartholomew Case, to E. C. Stacy. Mr. Harvey E. Case (now dead) informed the writer that no part of the old house remained. The place has recently come into the possession of F. P. Dodge, of New York City, and converted into an elegant summer residence. His will, made in 1700, is a lengthy document, filling eight foolscap pages with fine writing. His first bequest is to "my well-beloved wife, Elizabeth Case, the full and just summ of five pounds in good and current pay of the country annually, as was engaged before marriage."
Elizabeth seems to have made a sure thing of it. The inventory appended to the will shows him possessed of seventeen parcels of land, a corn mill and a saw mill. The lands and personal property were divided up among his sons and daughters. A codocil to his will, made in 1704, just before his death, revoked the former gift of the homestead to his youngest son Joseph, "because he has declined his due respects service from me in this time of distress and sickness, contrary to my expectation and agreement." Joseph must have been a bad boy (then 30), and that must have been the reason why he was afterwards sent to the General Assembly for twenty sessions. Legislatures have been crowded with bad boys ever since. Of the annuity to his wife Elizabeth, fifteen shillings each was to be paid by his sons William, Samuel, Richard and Bartholomew, and two pounds by his son Joseph.
There are many curious items in John's inventory. Among them are: "A Broadcloth Coat, a Kersey Coat, a home-made cloth coat, a woolen cloth coat, Table linen and Napkins, Blue Trucking cloth sheets, Linen sheets, tow sheets, Bibles and Divinity books, a Short gun, a muskett, 3 lbs. powder, 8 ® lbs. lead, a Rapier, a back-sword, a cutlash, 6 ® bls. Cyder, 2 Stocks Beer, 160 pd. tobacco, 2 pr.breeches, tow breeches, beding, feather bedd, bolster, 2 pillows, shag rug, green rugg, wainscot bedstead, new coverlid, old coverlid, one more coverlid, 21 ® yds. linsy woolsey, 26 yards tow cloth, 9 yards linen cloth, 22 runn of linin yarn, 10 ® runn of Tow yarn, pewter platters, pewter flagon, a great brass Kettle, 2 little brass Kettles, Chambers pott, warming pan, Smoothing Iron, a pair Stilliards. cheese press, &c." This curious inventory is attached to the will, and covers three finely-written foolscap pages. It is footed as 562:S05:01. The administrators of the will are: "My beloved and trusty friends, viz., my brother, Samuel Spencer, of Hartford, and my son, John Case, of Simsbury." The will is signed thus:
"The mark I. C. of John Case, Senr." The witnesses are: John Slater, Clerk; William Gillett, Elias Slater. From the form of John's signature, the inference is that he could not write.
It is still an open question if John Case had another brother. The only evidence known to the writer is that presented in Phelps' " History of Simsbury," as compiled from private and public records in Windsor: "Richard Case resided at East Hartford, and afterwards, it is supposed, removed to Simsbury, though this is uncertain. His wife was Elizabeth, daughter of John Purchase, one of the first settlers of Hartford. Richard died in 1694. His children were Richard, John and Mary. He is supposed to have been a brother of John Case. Mary married Joseph Phelps."
It may be noted that the names of Richard's children all appear in John's family. It also appears that Joseph Phelps' second wife was Sarah, daughter of John Case, and his third wife was Mary, daughter of Richard Case. We know nothing more of Richard or his family. To get an idea of how these early settlers spread themselves it is only necessary to read that twenty-five leading Simsbury families (eight of whom were Cases) had 218 children, 115 males and 103 females. Joseph Mills, Richard Case, Samuel Barber and Isaac Messinger, living near each other, had 40 sons, 39 of whom lived to manhood.
Rose Terry Cook tells a humorous story of several pages in Harper's Magazine for April, 1875, showing the modern prevalence of old families in the Simsbury region. Its title is "The Widow Case." A young Hartford lawyer takes the cars for Albany, through the Case corner of Connecticut. An old couple get on at Pekin (Canton), bound for Canaan, and when they get off they drop a photo of "Widow Case," showing a young and very attractive face. The lawyer picks it up and falls in love with it. On his way back he stops at Pekin, and asks his landlord if there is a Widow Case there. "Bless you," he says, "there ain't much here but Cases and Humphreys." Then the hunt begins, and he finds Widow Cases of all ages and conditions. The search continues for some months before a widow who matches the picture is found--and married, of course.
We have record of ten marriages of Cases to Holcombs, eleven to Phelps, forty-two to Humphreys. Numerous other marriages occurred with Enos, Pettibones, Mills, Barbers and others, and seventy-two to other Cases-and these are but a small part of the list. The Cases seem to have been fond of each other.
Some idea of the early life of Simsbury may be had from the following items in the town records:
In 1746 it was "Voted, that the standing committee cause the drum to be beat on Sabbath days, to notify ye parish when to begin meeting."
In March, 1696, the Selectmen issued the following order, "Elizabeth, wife of James Mills, you being now resident at your son's, John Matson's, these presents are to warrant you and admonish you to depart out of the bounds and limits of the township of Simsbury forthwith, as you will answer to the contrary, and you may not any longer reside here; and now do warn you to seek some other place for your residence, and pray you tak notice of this our warning who are the townesmen of Simsbury, In December, 1701, it was voted: "Whereas, the Towne of Simsbury being greatly damnified by Persons thrusting themselves into our Towne, which proves greatly to the Damage of the Towne; for ye prevention thereof, this towne do order therefore for the future: no Persons shall crowd and thrust themselves into our Towne to reside there above one month without liberty first obtained from the said towne or Townsmen upon the forfeiture of twenty shillings to the Towne."
"Sarah Slater was born February the sixth day, 1716, at 11 o'clock at night, and baptized the 10th day--the 16 day thare apeared an uper fore toot, the 19th day at one of the clok after noon it came quite out."
"On the 14th January, 1718, two men, Ephraim Buell and John Barber, his son-in-law, went to the West Mountain to hunt horses, where they perished. Their bodies were found and brought back on the 17th January."
In 1718 "The town agreed with Steven Pettibone to sweep the meeting house for 15 shillings, he likewise is to dig the graves, also to prepare and carry water to the meeting house for the baptism of children."
"1719, Feb. 28th. The Town order and agree that John Drak shall make Coffins for our Towns people."
In January, 1725, the town voted to use all surplus town funds in teaching children to read and write.
In December, 1701, John Slater, Sen., was employed as school master for the town, at forty shillings a month. The school was to be kept for three months each, at the Plain and at Weatogue. He was "to teach such of said towne children as are sent, to read, writ, and to cypher, or to say the rules of Arithmetick as are capable and designed by their parents to learn Arithmatick."
In 1782 it was "Voted that the seaters shall dignify the pews and seats in this meeting house as they think fit."
In 1781, "Voted that the Society desire Mess'rs. Theodore Hillyer, Elisha Cornish, Jr., and Job Case, Jr., to assist in tuning the Psalms on Lord's days."
1784, "Voted to allow the singers as much of the front seats around the galleries as they shall want."
In 1741 " It was voted that any orthodox minister who has a right to preach the gospel, may upon the desire of a number of persons, with the consent of two of the Society's Committee, have liberty to preach in the meeting house on any day, not disturbing any other religious meeting." At a subsequent meeting "popish priests" were excluded from this license.
1773, April. "Voted to sing on the Lord's Day according to rules taught in singing schools in this and neighboring societies." But a new teacher brought in his choir on a Sunday and sang such a lively tune that Deacon Brewster Higley took his hat and left the house, shouting "Popery-popery!"
There seems to have been a stray Case at Southold, L. I. Henry Case appeared there in 1658, and that year married Martha, daughter of Thomas Corwin, of Southold. The same year he was granted a house lot there. He built on the lot and the house is still standing and bears the date of 1647, and is called one of the oldest houses on the Atlantic coast. But it certainly was not built until after 1658. The tax list of Southold for 1675 has no Cases, but that of 1683 has Henry Case, 35, and Theopulos Case, 109. Henry had a son Theophilus. Hon. Joseph Wickham Case and his son, Alburton Case, both of Southold, and descendants of Henry Case, say that all attempts to connect their family with that of John Case, of Simsbury, have so far been unsuccessful.
The Cases of Orange county, N. Y., think they go back to Henry Case, of Southold. The founder of the Orange county colony was John Case, 1742-1819. He went from Long Island toOrange county before 1765. The late Admiral Augustus Ludlow Case was a descendant of the above John.
Several Case family traditions say that some of the Cases who remained in Rhode Island changed their names to Casey. But the ancestors of the late Gen. Silas Casey brought their name with them direct from Ireland. Irish genealogy abounds with Casey, Casses, Casse, Case, Cassy, Casie--many of them having coats of arms with one common feature on the shield, a hand issuing from a cloud. And it may be mentioned here that in old Gaelic "casi" is '' hand." Perhaps this is the origin of the family name. The Casey family, who were lords of Saithue, County Dublin, were dispossessed and scattered by DeLacy in the Anglo- Norman invasion. In this family the name of Casse is used, and the given names of John, William, Thomas, Stephen often occur. In the list of foreign refugees who settled in England and Ireland during the reign of Louis XIV. of France (1643-1715), is the name of De la Case. Among the English Cases prominent were John, of Norfolk county, an Oxford scholar and author, died 1600. Thomas (son of George), of Kent, an Oxford scholar and famous London preacher, 1598-1682. John, 1660-1700, a noted doctor of London, mentioned several times in " The Tatler." At a dinner where he was present, some one pointed at the doctor and gave a toast, "To the fools, your patients." The doctor replied, "Give me the fools, and I'll gladly give you the rest of the practice." Thomas, of Westchester, was granted a coat of arms in 1599. Richard, James, John, Thomas, Jonathan, Henry were of an old Lancaster family. These names have occurred often at Simsbury. Among the coats of arms of English "Case" and "Casse " families are a winged globe surmounted with a dove, and an arm and hand grasping a sword; and a Westchester family, an arm and hand grasping a buckle. The late Charles T. Case, of Nashville, Tenn., a descendant of John Case, found among his family relics a copper plate die of a coat of arms to Harry Case; on the shield a unicorn head, surmounted by a swan. He did not know who Harry Case was or where or when he lived. But the entire Case family have managed to exist comfortably with such coats and arms as they have been blessed with.
To go back still farther into the dusty past, in 1887 the papers gave an account of an old Case castle on Case hill, near Belfast, Ireland, whose ruins some antiquaries wished to protect by a stone wall around them. When the job was done the antiquaries went to inspect it, and found that the contractor had used the stone of the castle for the wall, quite an Irish proceeding.
In that famous old book, "Le Morte D'Arthur," printed by Caxton in 1485, we find in Chapter 2 of Book II. an interesting story of "the Castle of Case." King Pelles, "king of the foreign country," was at his castle of Carbonek, near the city of Corbin, and near the sea towards Ireland. (If you know where it was, I wish you would tell me.) King Pelles had for a guest Sir Launcelot, one of King Arthur's most famous Knights of the Round Table. King Pelles had a beautiful daughter named Elaine, but she was visiting at "the castle of Case." Sir Launcelot asked how far it was to the castle of Case, and they told him it was about five miles away. Then he determined to go there and see Elaine. He saw, and for the first time in his life was conquered. From their union sprang Sir Galahad, the knight par excellence, surpassing all other knights, even his noted father.
The above scraps and fragments of history and tradition have been gathered during many past years by the writer, a descendant of old John Case through his youngest son Joseph, and are now given as a possible stimulus and guide to future explorers. He desires to express his obligations to "Goodwin's Notes" and Phelps' "History of Simsbury," in historical matters; and especially to Mr. Willard E. Case, of Auburn, N. Y., for personal facts about John Case. Mr. Case has spent much time on old John's tracks in this country, and made two voyages to England, largely to locate John's English ancestors, but without success. And, as before mentioned, to Charlotte Case, of Wethersfield, whose patient research has given us sixteen years earlier record than we previously had. A study of the coat of arms issued to "Harry Case" may help to find the English origin of the family.
I give below a brief list of John's children and grandchildren, merely for a starting
point in the history of the family:
1.Elizabeth--Married, 1st, Joseph Lewis; 2d, John Tuller. She had eight
So old John's family of ten children had increased to eighty-three. Of the sons, John, Jr., was a member of the General Assembly ten sessions, Richard one, and Joseph twenty.