Saturday, September 24, 2016

Surname Saturday ~ Smith of Massachusetts and Maine

Watertown, Mass. from Wikipedia.
My immigrant Smith ancestor is Thomas Smith, who was born about 1601 and died in Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, on March 10, 1692/93 (Watertown Vital Records).

There are a few online family trees that have a birth location for Thomas Smith in England, and although I'm pretty sure he was born in England, until I see a primary source for a specific birth location, I don't plan to include it in my family tree database.

It is unclear as to when he arrived in Massachusetts, though there is a suggestion that he arrived in 1635. Robert Charles Anderson states that this Thomas Smith is no relation to other Smiths in Watertown at this time.

He was definitely in Watertown by 1637, when he was admitted as a freeman on May 17, 1637, and owned land in Watertown.

His wife was Mary Knopp, daughter of William Knopp and Judith Tue. Thomas and Mary had ten children, not all of whose births are recorded in the Watertown Vital Records.

His will was dated March 16, 1687/88, in Watertown and he died March 10, 1693. His will leaves 40 shillings to "his grand child James Smith of Pascattaqua." This indicates that this family was just north of what is now known as the New Hampshire-Maine border.

I descend from his eldest son, James (father of the grandchild James mentioned in Thomas' will).

Generation 2:
James Smith the son of Thomas and
Mary Smith born the 18th - 7 m Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988
"Watertown, Massachusetts, Births, Marriages and Deaths." 1637 record of birth for James Smith

James was born on September 18, 1637, in Watertown, Massachusetts, to Thomas and Mary Smith.

By 1668, he was in the area of York, Maine when he appears in deed records.

York County, Maine
The U.S. Wills and Probates collection at is worth the subscription price for the wealth of information that can be found for early American ancestors. Although there are several online family trees that have James Smith dying in 1701 (that's a different James Smith), I know that he died between August 10, 1687, when he wrote his will, and September 14, 1687, when his will was probated in Berwick, York County, Maine. The will bequeaths half of his land and houses to his eldest son James when he reaches the age of 21, implying that the son James was born after 1866. (A later document indicates that he was born about 1675; he was 63 in July 1738.)

Her married Martha Mills, daughter of Thomas Mills and Mary Wadleigh and had at least four children (who were mentioned in his will): James, Mary, Elizabeth, and John.

I descend from his oldest son, James, who was mentioned in his grandfather Thomas' will (as noted above).

Generation 3:
James Smith (about 1675-17??) married Martha Bragdon and had six children: Joseph, James, Daniel, Mary, Martha, and Ebenezer

I descend from his oldest son, Joseph. This James is my weakest link in this Smith ancestry.  I need to dig into probate and land records and possibly other unknown-to-me local records in order to confirm this connection with more authority.

Generation 4: Joseph Smith (1694-after 1742). According to the 1895 History of Litchfield, he moved to Brunswick, Maine soon after his son Eliphalet was born to land he had acquired in 1738.

There is disagreement as to who his wife is, and I don't know when or where he died. I descend from his son Eliphalet.

Generation 5: Eliphalet Smith (1742-1800) married Jane Neal (1732-????) of Scituate, Massachusetts. He moved to Litchfield, Maine in 1776.
Generation 6: Joseph Smith  (1773-1852) married Martha Robinson (1775-1857). They moved to Lee, Maine in 1831.
Generation 7: Sarah Smith (1795-1884) married Reuben Lowell (1794-1837). They settled in Calais, Maine by 1825.
Generation 8: Sarah Lowell (1833-1916) married Henry Clay Copeland (1832-1912)
Generation 9: Lowell Copeland (1862-1935) married Ethel May Greeley (1875-1931)
Generation 10: Lowell Townsend Copeland (1900-1974) married Helen Lysle Hunter (1907-1990)

Generation 11: My mother

Generation 12: Me


My sources for the earliest generations include:
Dean Crawford Smith, The Ancestry of Eva Belle Kempton, 1878-1908, Part I (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1996), pp. 433-437.

Robert Charles Anderson F.A.S.G., "John Smith of Watertown, Massachusetts." The American Genealogist 61 (January/April 1985): 18-31 (specifically pp. 28-29); online archives, New England Historic Genealogical Society (

Edwin E. Smith, M.D., James Smith, Berwick, 1668, Some of His Descendants (Kennebunk, Maine: The Star Print, Inc., 1940), pp. 4-6; online archives, The Internet Archive (
Henry Bond, M.D., Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts (Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1855), page 433; online archives, Google Books (

For the later generations, sources include:
History of Litchfield and an Account of its Centennial Celebration, 1895 (Augusta, Maine: Kennebec Journal Print, 1897), pp. 307-311; online archives, (


  1. I wish I could trace my ancestors back to the 1600s in America! I hope you find evidence proving (or disproving) that Thomas Smith was born in England. It could open up a lot more research!

    1. Thanks for the comment. Actually I'd love to find more on generation 3 (James) and generation 4 (Joseph). I don't feel I know them at all due to the few records I've been able to find.