Sunday, November 11, 2018

Col. Thomas Starrett: 52 Ancestors #67

Thomas Starrett was born in 1738 in St. Georges Plantation (now Warren), Lincoln, Maine, the fourth of five children of William Starrett and Mary Gamble. He was about 7 years old when his father, one of the first settlers of the plantation, removed the family to Dedham, Massachusetts, for safety from Indian attacks on the plantation during the French and Indian wars.1

Marriage of Thomas "Sterret" and Rebekah Lewis, 1762, Dedham, Mass.
Thomas grew up in Dedham, and on 3 June 1762, married Rebecca Lewis,2 daughter of Isaac and Mary (Whiting) Lewis of Dedham.3 In 1763, with the wars finally over, he returned to Maine and settled on his father's farm on the western side of the river4 – lot 40 from the first assignment to the Georges River settlers.5 His father never returned from Dedham, and after his death in 1769, Thomas brought his mother to St. Georges, where he built her a house and provided for her care until she died in 1786.6 About 1772, Thomas sold lot 40 and purchased another farm on the eastern side of the river, where he lived out the rest of his life.7

Thomas was a deeply respected member of his community, involved throughout his life in business, government, military, and church affairs. He was a partner in the building of a sawmill in 1774;8 was granted a license as a retailer (of what is unstated) in 1789-90;9 and owned two ships – the sloop Union, launched in 1786,10 and (with Capt. John Spear) the first brig owned in Warren, the Speedwell, built 1791 and lost to a French privateer in 1799.11

In 1775, with war looming, a committee of correspondence was formed in the town, with Thomas one of the members. As supplies were gathered, "Mr. Tho. Starrett [was ordered] to receive the drum and colors" and, along with others, received 14 lbs. of powder "for the defence of the inhabitants."12 A captain in the militia, he was one of the "first company officers in the Upper town ... spontaneously elected by the people in 1775.... Under the auspices of Capt. Starrett... the military affairs of the place, were... conducted to the general satisfaction."13 He served under Col. Mason Wheaton and, upon Wheaton's retirement in 1785, was appointed Colonel in his place and was thereafter known generally as "Col. Starrett."14

The "upper town" of St. George's Plantation was incorporated as the Town of Warren in 1776. When the first town meeting was called in March 1777, Col. Starrett was elected as one of the first selectmen and assessors.15 For the next two decades he almost continually held office, variously as selectman, assessor, or town treasurer, and was the town's representative to the state legislature in 1781, 84, 85, and 92.16 When the town petitioned the Massachusetts State Legislature in 1793 to pass an act to regulate the fishery of the St. George's River falls, Thomas and Thomas Jr. were among the more than fifty signatories on the petition.17 (Eaton, alas, makes no mention of this in his Annals, so I have no idea whether their petition was successful or not.)

In 1795 a Congregational Church was established in Warren. Thomas Starrett was chosen as the first deacon of this church in 1796 and "for more than a quarter of a century exercised the office, and, by his piety and meekness, contributed much to its prosperity."18

Thomas and Rebecca had 12 children:19
  1. Mary (1764-1848), m. John O'Brien
  2. Thomas Jr. (1765-1844), m. Ann Kirkpatrick (daughter of John Kirkpatrick and Ann Bradbury)
  3. Capt. William 3rd (1767-1834), m. (1) Jane Spear (daughter of Capt. John Spear and Agnes Lamb), (2) Martha McCarter
  4. Isaac (1769-1830), m. Mary Spear (daughter of Capt. John Spear and Agnes Lamb)
  5. Rebecca (1771-1852), m. Capt. John Spear 2d (son of Capt. John Spear and Agnes Lamb)
  6. John (1773-1856), m. Margaret Fitzgerald
  7. Margaret (1775-1855), m. Thomas Kirkpatrick (son of John Kirkpatrick and Ann Bradbury)
  8. Nancy (1777-1834), m. John Kirkpatrick 2d (son of John Kirkpatrick and Ann Bradbury)
  9. Sarah (1780-1854), m. Capt. Lemuel Andrews
  10. Lewis (1783-1863), m. Mary Cole
  11. Lucy (1786-1866), m. John McDowell
  12. Elizabeth (1788-1875), m. Capt. Stephen Crowell Burgess
This illustrates how closely families could be intertwined at the time: three of the Starrett children married three Kirkpatrick siblings, while another three Starretts married three Spear siblings. (In later generations there were more Starrett-Kirkpatrick and Starrett-Spear intermarriages, and at least one Kirkpatrick-Spear marriage that I am aware of. I would imagine the DNA trail would be complicated.)

In 1790, 10 of the 12 children were still unmarried and presumably still in Thomas's household. The next two households in the census enumeration are married son Thomas Jr. and John "O'Bryan," husband of daughter Mary Starrett.20

1790 U.S. census, Warren, Lincoln County, Maine, Thomas "Starret" household
Thomas Starrett died 31 January 1822 in Warren at age 83, and was buried in the Town Cemetery beside his wife.21 (Click on the photo to enlarge – the stone is very worn and difficult to read.)

Col. Thomas Starrett gravestone, Town Cemetery, Warren, Maine

My descent from Thomas Starrett (my 4x great-grandfather):

  1. Greenleaf Cilley and Jonathan P. Cilley, The Mount Desert Widow: Genealogy of the Maine Gamble Family (Rockland, Maine: Knox County Historical and Genealogical Magazine, 1895), p. 131.
  2. "Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001," database and digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 Nov 2018) > Norfolk > Dedham > Births, marriages, deaths 1635-1853 > image 722 of 763; "Births, Deaths & Marriages 1635-1777," p. 223, marriage of Thomas "Sterret" and Rebekah Lewis, 3 Jun 1762.
  3. Cilley and Cilley, p. 131.
  4. Cyrus Eaton, Annals of the Town of Warren, in Knox County, Maine, Second Edition (Hallowell, Maine: Masters & Livermore, 1877), p. 135.
  5. Cilley and Cilley, p. 131.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Eaton, p. 135.
  8. Ibid., p. 178.
  9. Ibid., p. 664.
  10. Ibid., p. 673.
  11. Ibid., p. 246.
  12. Ibid., p. 169.
  13. Ibid., p. 172.
  14. Ibid., p. 231.
  15. Ibid., p. 177.
  16. Ibid., pp. 657-60.
  17. "Commonwealth of Massachusetts, May 22, 1793," petition from inhabitants of Warren, Lincoln County, Eastern Herald (Portland, Maine), 17 Mar 1794, p. 3, cols. 3-4; database and images, GenealogyBank ( : accessed 14 Feb 2016).
  18. Eaton, pp. 261-2.
  19. Ibid. pp. 624-5.
  20. 1790 U.S. census, population schedule, Maine, Lincoln County, Warren, p. 324, lines 17-19, Thomas Starret, Thomas Starret Junr, and John O'Bryan households; digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 15 Aug 2015).
  21. Town Cemetery (Warren, Knox County, Maine), Col. Thomas Starrett gravestone, read and photographed by the author, 6 Oct 2013.

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