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Chancey Prentice of East Lyme, CT

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Chancey Prentice of East Lyme, CT
By Linus Joseph Dewald Jr., Editor
Winter 2003 and Revised 27 Dec 2010

Is he the son of Stephen Prentice and Mary of East Lyme?

We are working with Dave LaVasseur and Karen Gauthier in tracing the ancestry and descendants of Chancey Prentice of East Lyme, CT. Here is what we have so far:

1. Chancey Prentice was b. c. 1814 at an unknown location in CT and d. c. 1850 en route to the California Gold Rush in 1850 and was buried at sea near Cabo San Lucas, Baja California (per Dave LaVasseur, email, 18 Jul 2006). In 1835, at the time of his marriage, he was living in Lyme, CT (per Barbour Index).

He m. 1st Caroline Latham of Lyme on 18 Oct 1835 (per Barbour Index which shows his first name as Chauncey). She was perhaps b. c. 1817 and d. 1840, dau. of Seabury Latham. They had 1 or more children, including a daughter:

  1. Frances Jemima Prentice, b. Mar 1838, CT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [2]

Chancey m. 2nd Juliette G. Denison, b. c. 1818, CT (per Dave LaVasseur, email, 18 Jul 2006). They appear in the 1850 East Lyme, New London, CT census where is described as a Mechanic. Children of Chancey and Juliette:

  1. Caloline(?) I.(?) Prentice, son, b. c. 1840, CT. For now, it is unclear whether he was a son of Chancey's 1st or 2nd marriage.
  2. Caroline E. Prentice, b. c. 1847, CT

2. Frances Jemima Prentice, b. Mar 1838. She appears in the 1850 East Lyme, New London, CT. Frances was raised by her maternal grandfather and uncle (Seabury Latham and Ezra Latham, respectively) after she lost her father at sea in 1850.

Frances married George A. Beckwith on 9 Jun 1858. He was b. 1837 and d. 1867, and East Lyme (Niantic). Karen Gauthier's email of 27 Dec 2010 says that they were "half first cousins" through a Beckwith grandfather who had 2 wives: Naomi Haynes and Clarissa Mack. Karen adds the following bit of family history and lore:

    "I have not found much on Naomi Haynes althought there was a JOHN OR JOSHUA HAYNES in that area, an indian who sued but lost, over farm animals of the white man coming in and killing his corn crops. Also Clarissa Mack's mother was Phebe Miller who had a brother Lemuel and Bethuel Miller who had sons who married a Molly, Polly, and a Sally George. Incidently, Elizabeth George, the great matriarch of the Pequots had three aunts named Molly, Polly and Sally George all whom married men with the last name Miller from what I found. Also, there is a Lemuel Miller on the 1861 census of the Mohegan Tribe, first to be listed, and he is listed as half Mohegan and half Pequot.

    "Further, I would like to add that on a 1860 map of the area: there is property owned down in Blackpoint next to J.Nonesuch (Nehantic Indian) that was owned by a Beckwith, I believe to be owned by the Beckwith with the two wives mentioned and somehow he had gotten that property through marriage! Most likely the one with Clarissa Mack!

    "Also, there are the family stories of my great great grandmother Caroline Beckwith Dean was very close with Scotia Nonesuch.... Stories which rang true, when I visited the Lee House.

    "Also, in the town hall records George Beckwith's parents do not indicate at the time of his birth if he is white or not..... I continue to be curious as to why... Why not just say white or American and call it a day!?"

Frances and George had 1 or more children, including:

  1. Elizabeth Caroline Beckwith, b. 3 Oct 1859. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [3]

3, Elizabeth Caroline Beckwith, b. 3 Oct 1859. She is Dave LaVasseur's great-grandmother. She is said to be half Niantic Indian (per Karen Gauthier. See Footnote 1). She appears in the 1900 census in East Lyme. CT/

She married Robert A. Dean on 18 Dec 1879. He was b. 1858 and d. 1933], of East Lyme (Flanders). They had a farm and raised a family on what is now called Dean Road in East Lyme (named for Dave LaVasseur's great grandfather, Robert. Family tradition is that Robert served as a Selectman in East Lyme and that Elizabeth was part Niantic Indian (per Chief Harold Tantaquideon of the Mohegans to Dave LaVasseur's great uncle George Dean in the 1930's). Children per 1900 East Lyme, CT. census:

  1. Flora Ann Dean, b. 27 Jul 1880. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [4]
  2. Esther Dean, b. Sep 1881, CT.
  3. George R. Dean, b. Jul 1884, CT.
  4. William Dean, b. Jun 1888, CT.
  5. Henry E. Dean, b. Apr 1890, CT.
  6. (illegible) Dean, dau., b. Jun 1892, CT.
  7. Walter A. Dean, b. Aug 1894. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . [5]

4. Flora Ann Dean, b. 27 Jul 1880. She m. James F. Daniels on 24 Dec 1903 in New London, CT. He was b. 1881 and d. 1955. They had 4 daughters, per 1910 East Lyme, CT, census:

  • Mildred B. Daniels, b. c. 1905, CT
  • Thelma O. Daniels, b. c. 1907, CT.
  • Lulu I. Daniels, b. c. 1909-10, CT
  • Eva Elizabeth Daniels, born on March 16, 1913 and d. Oct 2005. She m. William J. LeVasseur on 30 Jan 1848 in Guilford, CT. He d. 1994. They had 1 or more children, including (per Dave LaVasseur, email, 19 Jul 2006:
    1. Dave LaVasseur, b. 1954.

    5. Walter A. Dean, b. Aug 1894. He is the great grandfather of Karen Gauthier.

    He m. Eliza Jane Swaney The had several children, including:

    1. Marjorie Dean. She m. John Franklin Klewin and had:
        Karen Klewin. She m. Mr. Gauthier.

    Who are Chancey Prentice's Parents?

    Since Chancey appears in the 1850 census in East Lyme, New London Co., CT, we checked to see who else was living in East Lyme. No Prentices appear there in the 1810 census. However, a Stephen Prentice appears there in the 1820 and 1840 census. The 1820 gives his age as 26-45 (b. c. 1775-94) and the 1840 census gives his age as 60-70 (b. c. 1770-80); reading both together, they indicate that Stephen was b. c. 1775-80.

    The 1820 census shows a son b. 1810-20, while the 1840 census also shows a son b. 1810-20. Since Chancey was b. c. 1814, that son might be Chancey.

    We also note in our Summer 2002 article about Patience Prentice of Lyme, CT shows that she was likely b. c. 1800-1810 at an unknown location and d. 28 Mar 1899 in Montville, CT. Her father is identified in the Ancestral File as as Stephen Prentice, but the basis for identification is not yet known and there is no other information about him, his wife, or family.

    We do note that the 1820 census for Lyme also shows Stephen as having a dau. b. c. 1804-1810 which might be Patience Prentice. We also note that the 1850 census for East Lyme shows shows a Stephen Prentis, b. c. 1778, CT. and Mary, b. c. 1798, CT, probably his wife.

    From the foregoing information, we can tentatively conclude that Stephen Prentis and Mary are the parents of Chancey Prentice. They may, or may not, be related toThomas F. Prentice who appears in the 1850 Lyme census as b. c. 1823,CT, Sailor, with his wife, Mary, b. c. 1827, CT. However, additional investigation is needed for confirmation.


    Footnote 1: Half Indians in 1870 Census

    It was mentioned that Caroline Elizabeth (Elizabeth Caroline?) Beckwith was said to be half Niantic Indian. We know that her mother, Frances J. Prentice is not Indian, so if she is half Indian, than it would have to be her father, George A. Beckwith, who is an Indian. I checked the 1850 and 1860 census, but neither of them specified his race, or that of any other person on his census page. Her father, George, does not appear in the 1870 census, but all Beckwith's listed in the 1870 CT census are specified as "white", including Elizabeth who is specified as "white."

    However, that doesn't necessarily resolve the issue. We did a google search to see what the criteria was in 1870 for persons who were half Indian. The criteria was not terribly helpful. Persons who were half white and half Indian were classified as "white", but only if they lived with whites, had the "habits of life" and "methods of industry" of whites. However, if they lived in Indian communities, they were to be classified as Indian.

    So, let us assume, only for purposes of discussion, that George A. Beckwith was an Indian. Under 1850 and 1860 census criteria, an Indian who appeared in census records was deemed "white". It was not until 1870 that a racial componant, "Native Americank," was added to census records. Unfortunately, George does not appear in the 1870 census, so we do not have the benefit of the racial classification he would have received.

    Since Elizabeth's mother, Frances J. Prentice, was white, it seems to me pretty unlikely that at the time of the 1870 census she and George were living in an Indian community, and also probable that Elizabeth's "habits of life" and "methods of industry" were those of her white mother and white grandparents. Given those circumstances, Elizabeth's classification in 1870 as "white" doesn't really provide any guidance even if her father were Indian.


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