Otis Family - The First Six Generations

Our Otis family traces itself back to the immigrant ancestor, John Otis, who was the son of Richard Otis. Born in 1581 in Glastonbury, Somerset, England, it is thought that he might have lived for a time in Hingham, Norfolk, England, before embarking for America in the latter part of 1630. The first record of him in this country is found in Hingham, Plymouth, Massachusetts, where he drew lots for a house lot on June 1, 1631. He took the oath and was made a freeman of the Colony of Massachusetts on March 3, 1635. He built a house on what was subsequently called Otis Hill, southwest of the harbor. The house burned on March 15, 1646, but was soon rebuilt, and John lived there until the death of his wife, Margaret on April 28, 1653. He then moved to Weymouth, where he married Elizabeth Streame, and lived four more years, dying on May 31, 1657.

Margaret and John had eight children, the first seven of whom were born in Glastonbury. Their names and dates are as follows: Allice born in 1604; Joan, born in 1610 and died the next year; Joan (Ann) born in 1612; Elizabeth, born in 1614 and died the next year; Richard, born and died in 1614; Hannah, born in 1618; and John, born in 1621. The last child, Margaret, was possibly born in Hingham, England. (2014: there are some corrections since this paragraph, see correct dates here)

In John's will, which is dated the day before his death, his name is spelled Ottis. His widow in various court records after his death spells it Oates. This lack of consensus over the spelling of the name lasts well into the next century. In his will, John leaves bequests to his daughters, Allice and Ann, who seem to have never married; to his daughters, Margaret Burton and Hannah Gile, and to his son and executor John Ottis.

Our descent continues through John Otis, the only surviving son. He was baptized in Glastonbury on January 14, 1621. At the age of ten he and his family made the long ocean voyage to New England, settling in Hingham, Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts where he would live until his parents' deaths.

In 1653, John married Mary Jacob, a daughter of Nicholas and Mary Jacob of Hingham, who had emigrated in 1633.

The family residence was at Otis Hill, where John lived until after his parents' death. In 1661, he moved to the town of Scituate, buying a house on the south of Coleman Hill, formerly the residence of General Cudworth. He bought another piece of property in Scituate in 1663 for sixty nine pounds; and in 1678, he went to Barnstable and settled on a piece of land called Otis farm near the Marshes, West Parish.

"John seems to have been of a rather pugnacious disposition and not easily amenable to the strict laws of the Puritans, so that one finds frequent references in the old records to his various legal troubles." These various misdeeds include resisting a constable on two occasions, and selling cider without order from the Court.

John and his wife, Mary, had eight children, all of whom lived to adulthood. The first four were born in Hingham: Mary, born in 1653, and living to 1733; John, born in 1657 and living until 1727; Hannah, born in 1659; Stephen, born in 1661 and living to 1733. The last four children were born in Scituate: James, born in 1663 and living until 1690; Joseph, born in 1665 and living until 1754; Job, born in 1667 and living until 1758; and Elizabeth, born in 1671 and living until 1745.

John died January 16, 1683 in Scituate, Plymouth, Massachusetts. It is believed that Mary died the year before.

Our descent is through Joseph Otis, who is known as Judge Joseph. Born on June 3, 1665 in Scituate, Plymouth, Massachusetts, he married Dorothy Thomas, the daughter of Nathaniel and Deborah Jacob Thomas, on November 20, 1688. They were first cousins having Nicholas Jacob and Mary Gilman Jacob as their common grandparents. The Otises had twelve children, all but one of whom lived to marry. Their children were as follows: Nathaniel, born in 1690 and living until 1771; James, born in 1693 and living until 1754; Deborah, born in 1694; Mary, born in 1696; Dorothy, born in 1698; Elizabeth, born in 1700 and living until 1753; Ann, born in 1702; Bethiah, born in 1703 and living until 1750; Delight, born in 1706, and dying in 1754; Hannah, born in 1709 and living until 1725; Joseph, born in 1712 and living until 1793, and Rachel, born in 1713, and living until 1761.

Joseph was very active in the affairs of Scituate. He served as Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Plymouth County, from 1703 to 1714. In 1709 the town of Scituate voted that "the Society empower Joseph Otis, Esq. to finish the meeting house by pewing it, and also to appoint two and two to a pew (when they do not agree to couple themselves), each couple paying the cost of building the pew."

In 1721 Joseph moved his family to New London, Connecticut, where many of his family and friends had preceded him. Buying a tract of six hundred and fifty acres in the North Parish in New London on a pond called Obplintksok, which is now called Gardner's Lake, he settled into a routine like that he had observed in Scituate. He was chosen as Moderator of Town Meetings, and was called on to serve on committees for parish and church. The following description was written about him soon after his death on June 11, 1754 at the age of eighty nine:

He was a Christian upon principle; a public spirited and useful man, distinguished by talents of the solid judicious and useful, rather than the brilliant and showy kind. He was of large stature; his countenance solemn and serene; frank and open in his manner; of ready wit and sound understanding; As a private individual he had the union of simple dignity and benevolent courtesy which marks the gentleman. He died universally lamented.

His wife followed him in death the next year, at the age of eighty five. Their gravestones in the Raymond Hill Cemetery were described by an Otis descendant in 1907. He had great difficulty then in deciphering the words because of the shallowness of the cutting and the overlay of moss. Nothing can be read now, but the worn nubbins of stone are still there in the Otis section of the graveyard.

Our descent is through the eleventh child, Joseph Otis, who was born on October 1, 1712 in Scituate, Plymouth, Massachusetts. He married on June 6, 1738, Elizabeth Little, the daughter of David and Elizabeth Southworth Little. David Little was the great-grandson of Richard Warren; Elizabeth the great-granddaughter of John Alden. Through these two lines, members of our family can claim membership in the Society of the Mayflower.

It is not known where the young couple were married, but Joseph's parents had moved to the New London area when Joseph was nine, joining many of their friends and relatives who had also moved from Scituate. The Otises lived in Montville, just north of New London, and it is there that their fifteen children were born. They were Joseph, born 1739 and living to 1823; Elizabeth, born 1740 and living to 1798; Nathaniel, born in 1742 and living to 1834; David, born in 1743 and living to 1825; Mabel, born in 1745; Mercy, born in 1747; Dorothy, born in 1749 and living only a year; James, born in 1751 and living to 1837; Jonathan, born in 1753 and living to 1778; Olive; Dorothy, born in 1755; Barnabas, born in 1756 and living to 1850; a twin of Barnabas who died; Shubael, born in 1760 and living to 1778; and William, born in 1762 and living to 1813.

In the Otis Genealogy there is the following anecdote about Joseph:

He was noted for going to sleep in his wagon and other places. He sometimes fell asleep while smoking; so often breaking his pipe in this way that he procured one made of iron. It was told of him by Dr. Watson of Colchester that when at church one Sunday, the sermon happening to be longer than usual, he took out a doughnut, and while in the act of biting it, fell asleep. His head fell back with the cake protruding from his mouth, and he was an object of great merriment.

It is not known where Joseph died; the Otis Genealogy reports Richmond, Massachusetts, or possibly Whitestown, New York, but no grave has been found anywhere. It is generally agreed that he died in 1793. It is not known when or where his wife died.

Barnabas Otis, the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Little Otis, was born June 14, 1756 in Montville, New London County, Connecticut and died on January 15, 1850, in Marion County, Ohio. He is buried in the Paw Cemetery in Lot 9, Grave 1, and a headstone has been erected for him in the last few years, probably by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Republic.

Enlisting at Lebanon, Connecticut in 1775, he served as a private in Captain Keyes' Company of Colonel Durkee's Regiment of Connecticut militia. He was engaged in the battles of Trenton and Princeton, and numerous other skirmishes; was wounded and subsequently discharged after thirteen months, in the town of Morristown, New Jersey.

In 1783, he married Mehitable Turner, the daughter of John and Mary Gillet Turner, in Norfolk, Litchfield, Connecticut. The first of their ten children, Stephen, was born June 1, 1784 in Norfolk. Amos was born and died in 1785 and is buried in Norfolk. Harvey was born in 1788; John in 1790. James, 1794, Minerva, 1797, and Olive, 1799, were all born in Rutland county, Vermont. The family then moved west to Herkimer County, New York, where William was born in 1801; and then to Ontario County, New York, where Lovina, 1804, and Barnabas, 1811, were born.

In May of 1818, Barnabas appeared before a Judge Stephen Phelps in Canadaigua, New York, to apply for a pension. On November 13, 1821, he appeared in the Court of Common Pleas in Washington County Ohio to declare that "he soon after removed to this State and only lately heard by letter from Judge Phelps that his pension had been allowed, and of course, does not know the number - " In this pension request he listed his assets as follows:
1 Cow $12.00
1 Calf 3.00
3 Hogs 12.00
1 Spinning Wheel 2.50
6 earthen plates .50
2 earthen bowls .20
1 Tea Kettle 1.00
1 Bake Pan 1.50
1 quart measure .12 1/2
1 Small chest 1.50
5 old barrels 2.50
2 Earthen Platters .16
1 Pail (wood) .33
1 old wood dying tub .50
1 Axe (old) .60
1 Hoe (old) .25
1 Meat barrel .33
1 Candle stick .12 1/2
5 Knives and Forks .30
Total $40.05

"The declarant is by occupation a Farmer, & that from his age and infirmities he is able to labour but little, that he had a wife, aged 56 years & infirm, one son, John Otis, aged 31 years has been deranged since he was five years old, from the reduced situation of Declarant the county has for the year past, rendered some assistance toward his maintenance under the state law for providing for lunatics or insane persons, that he has one Daughter 21 or 2 years lives with him, but works for herself and pays for her board. One Son Barnabas Otis is aged 11 years." This sad document is duly sworn to by George Dunlevy, the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, Washington County, Ohio. It appears from the documents sent by the Veterans Administration that Barnabas was given a total of $225.45 with the promise of a semi-annual allowance of $48.00 per year.

Mehitable Turner, the eighth child of John Turner and Mary Gillet Turner, was born August 21, 1765 in Norfolk, Litchfield, Connecticut, and was identified as Mable Turner on the birth records of the town. After much research, it was found that during this period the two names were used interchangeably. There is very little known about her except her vital dates. She was to die on New Year's Day, 1850 and be followed in death by her husband, Barnabas fifteen days later. In the 1850 Census of Marion County, Ohio, Grand Township, the following Otises were enumerated: James Otis (aged 56); and his wife, Ellice (50), and Olive Otis (50) and Clarissa (25) (the daughter of Stephen Otis and his first wife, Mary Cloudy). It can be presumed that the old couple lived with either their son James and his family, or their unmarried daughter, Olive.

Mehitable Turner was the daughter of John Turner and Mary Gillet Turner. Her parents had moved from the Hartford area to Norfolk, Litchfield County to the northwest into what was undoubtedly the frontier. There were ten children born to them: Mary, Martha, John, Moses, William, Susannah, Abigail, Mehitable, Hezekiah and Sarah. Mehitable married Barnabas Otis at the age of eighteen in 1783, and their oldest son, Stephen, was born in Norfolk the following year.

John Turner, the son of John Turner and Abigail Richards Turner, was born in Hartford on July 16, 1727 and died August 11, 1811 in Norfolk, Litchfield, Connecticut. Mary Gillet Turner, the daughter of John Gillet and Mary Williams Gillet, was born February 14, 1728 in Wethersfield, Hartford, Connecticut and died in Norfolk in May, 1774, leaving ten children under the age of nineteen.

John Turner's grave is in the main cemetery in Norfolk, Litchfield, Connecticut. Sarah and John Babcock visited the site in October 1990.

(To see pictures of tombstones, click links below)

                     ┌── John OTIS (Immigrant 1637), b. 1581, d. 1657
                 ┌── John OTIS (Immigrant), bap. 1621, d. 1683
                 │ └── Margaret (__________) (Immigrant), d. 1653
             ┌── Judge Joseph OTIS, b. 1665, d. 1754
             │ │ ┌── Nicholas JACOB (Immigrant), b. 1597, d. 1657
             │ └── Mary JACOB, b. 1634, d. after 1683
             │ └── Mary GILMAN (Immigrant), d. 1681
         ┌── Deacon Joseph OTIS, b. 1712, d. 1793
         │ │ ┌── Nathaniel THOMAS (Immigrant), b. 1606, d. 1674
         │ │ ┌── Nathaniel THOMAS, b. 1643, d. 1718
         │ │ │ └── Mary (__________) (Immigrant), b. circa 1614
         │ └── Dorothy THOMAS, b. 1670, d. 1755
         │ │ ┌── Nicholas JACOB (Immigrant) (see above)
         │ └── Deborah JACOB, b. 1643, d. 1696
         │ └── Mary GILMAN (Immigrant) (see above)
     ┌── Barnabas Little OTIS (DAR Patriot), b. 1759, d. 1850
     │ │ ┌── Thomas LITTLE (Immigrant), b. circa 1609, d. 1671
     │ │ ┌── Ephraim LITTLE, b. 1650, d. 1717
     │ │ │ └── Anna WARREN (Immigrant), b. circa 1612, d. after 1676
     │ │ ┌── David LITTLE, b. 1680, d. 1759
     │ │ │ │ ┌── Samuel STURTEVANT (Immigrant), b. 1622, d. 1669
     │ │ │ └── Mary STURTEVANT, b. 1651, d. 1718
     │ │ │ └── Ann (__________) (Immigrant), b. circa 1622, d. after 1697
     │ └── Elizabeth LITTLE, b. 1719
     │ │ ┌── Constant SOUTHWORTH (Immigrant), b. 1615, d. 1679
     │ │ ┌── William SOUTHWORTH, b. 1659, d. 1718
     │ │ │ └── Elizabeth COLLIER (Immigrant), b. circa 1616
     │ └── Elizabeth SOUTHWORTH, b. 1686, d. 1743
     │ │ ┌── William PABODIE (Immigrant), b. 1620, d. 1707
     │ └── Rebecca PABODIE, b. 1660, d. 1702
     │ └── Elizabeth ALDEN, b. 1625, d. 1717
Stephen OTIS, b. 1784, d. 1868
     │ ┌── Edward TURNER (Immigrant), b. 1633, d. 1717
     │ ┌── John TURNER, b. 1669, d. 1744
     │ │ └── Mary SANFORD (Immigrant), b. circa 1630
     │ ┌── John TURNER, chr. 1703
     │ │ │ ┌── John MERRILL (Immigrant), b. 1635, d. 1712
     │ │ └── Susannah MERRILL, b. 1677, d. 1744
     │ │ └── Sarah WATSON, b. circa 1641, d. after 1714
     │ ┌── John TURNER, b. 1727, d. 1811
     │ │ │ ┌── John RICHARDS (Immigrant), b. circa 1631, d. after 1712
     │ │ │ ┌── Deacon Thomas RICHARDS, b. 1666, d. 1749
     │ │ │ │ └── Lydia STOCKING
     │ │ └── Abigail RICHARDS, b. 1702
     │ │ │ ┌── Benjamin PARSONS (Immigrant), b. 1625, d. 1689
     │ │ └── Mary PARSONS, b. 1670, d. 1758
     │ │ └── Sarah VORE (Immigrant), b. circa 1625, d. 1676
     └── Mehitable TURNER, b. 1765, d. 1850
         │ ┌── Jeremiah GILLET (Immigrant), b. 1647, d. 1685
         │ ┌── John GILLET, b. circa 1673, d. 1717
         │ │ └── (__________) (__________)
         │ ┌── John GILLET, b. 1702, d. 1764
         │ │ │ ┌── William TRYON (Immigrant), b. circa 1645, d. 1711
         │ │ └── Sarah TRYON, b. 1675, d. 1758
         │ │ └── Mary STEELE, b. 1652, d. circa 1687
         └── Mary GILLET, b. 1728, d. 1774
             │ ┌── Thomas WILLIAMS
             │ ┌── Jacob WILLIAMS, b. 1664, d. 1712
             │ │ └── Rebecca WATERHOUSE
             └── Mary WILLIAMS, b. 1701
                 │ ┌── Josiah GILBERT
                 └── Sarah GILBERT, b. 1661
                     └── Elizabeth BELCHER, d. 1682