JEFFERSON COUNTY, NEW YORK


PIONEER WILLIAM COMSTOCK

of

WELLS ISLAND & ALEXANDRIA BAY, NY



William Comstock was born in 1791 in Matilda, Dundas County, Ontario Canada, son of Levi Comstock and Abigail Richardson. His parents were both stepchildren of United Empire Loyalists which qualified them to petition for free lands in Canada because the stepfathers had served in the British cause during the Revolutionary War. William's mother, Abigail, submitted her petition for land in 1791 and his father, Levi, also petitioned from that location in 1790. There were several children in the family of Levi and Abigail, whose land holdings led them to the Yonge area in Leeds and Grenville Counties. Levi died in 1804 of unknown causes and Abigail, as his widow, continued to be listed in the census records until about 1820. When William reached the age of 21 years, he became the oldest son and heir of Levi and began to sell, portion and grant the family lands in the Yonge area, probably because the taxes on the landholdings were extensive. In the 1820 census of Yonge Township, William and his wife, Mary, had already started a family, with three girls and two boys; however, the second boy deceased early or was visiting from another family. From the estate records of William Pattison, who died in Jefferson County, NY, we learn that William Comstock's wife, Mary, was a Pattison. Her estimated date of birth is 1790-92.

By 1827, William and Mary were living on Wells Island where some of their children and grandchildren were born. From the birth dates of their children, their marriage occurred probably between 1810 and 1811. By occupation, it is probable that William was a farmer and may have raised sheep for wool. A future relative through the marriage of their children, neighbor Henry Hoadley, was a wool farmer on Waterloo Lake on Wells Island. William died on 24 August 1850 in Alexandria Bay, NY and was buried on Wells Island, grave location unknown, according to the Dutch Reformed Church records in Alexandria Bay. Mary died after the birth of their youngest son, Thomas, probably about 1828. When William Pattison's estate was probated in Jefferson County in 1859, the known children of William Comstock and Mary were listed as potential heirs to his estate, being nieces and nephews of Pattison's deceased sister, Mary. All six children listed following were named in the estate papers and were still living in 1859. It is also possible that William Pattison purchased a large amount of land on Wells Island, where family members were buried without tombstones or markers.

Known children of William Comstock and Mary Pattison:

1) Elizabeth (Betsey) Comstock was born about 1812 in Canada. She died in 1884 and is buried in the Walton Street Cemetery in Alexandria Bay. She married 1)William Seaman and 2)Francis Bowen. In the early days of the second marriage, they were living on Wells Island as that is the location given for the births of some of their children.

Known children of Elizabeth Comstock and William Seaman:

1a) Nancy J. Seaman b Feb. 1832
1b) Experience Seaman b 1835
1c) Philena Seaman b 9 Dec. 1837
1d) Elizabeth Seaman b 1840

Known children of Elizabeth Comstock and Francis Bowen:

1e) Asa Bowen b 1843
1f) Levi Bowen b 1846
1g) Alpheus Bowen b 8 March 1847 Wells Island
1h) John Bowen b 1855

2) Sarah Comstock was born about 1813 in Canada and died after 1859. She married Joseph Russel, who was born about 1814, son of Hull Russel and Annie Hart.

Known children of Sarah Comstock and Joseph Russel:

2a) William Russel b 1838
2b) Alpheus Russel b 1839
2c) Allen Russel b 1841
2d) Hiram Russel b 1843
2e) Huldah Russel b 1845
2f) Jane Russel b 1847
2g) Eliza Rusel b 1849
2h) Thomas Russel b 1852

3) Philena Abigail Comstock was born about 1814 in Canada and died 25 August 1881 at 67 years 4 months in Alexandria Bay. She married John Hoadley who was born about 1809 and who died on 20 October 1874 at 65 years. Both are buried in Alexandria Bay in the Walton Street Cemetery.

Known children of Philena A. Comstock and John Hoadley:

3a) John Hoadley bc 1839
3b) Thomas Hoadley b 11 April 1841
3c) Phebe Hoadley m Morris Chisamon/Chisamore
3d) Lovina bc 1833
3e) Sarah Hoadley bc 1835
3f) Mary (Polly) bc 1837
3g) Nathan Hoadley bc 1844 (probably died young)
3h) Amelia May Hoadley bc 1847
3i) Sophronia Hoadley bc 1852
3j) Etta (Anna) bc 1864

4) Alpheus Comstock was born 3 November 1817 in Canada and died 30 November 1867 in Alexandria Bay and was buried in the Walton Street Cemetery. In 1975 his tombstone had been shattered but still readable. Alpheus was an oarsman and guide on the St. Lawrence River. He married Ruth E. Russel who was born 28 March 1828 at French Creek, now Clayton, Jefferson County, NY, daughter of Hull Russel and Annie Hart. She was baptized at the Dutch Reformed Church of the Thousand Islands on 3 August 1851. After Alpheus died, Ruth E. moved with some of her children to Calumet County, Wisconsin where she was employed as a housekeeper for the then-widowed Charles Cofren and his six children from his first marriage to Rebecca Lyons. They were married on 4 July 1869 in Chilton, Calumet County by H. R. Sprague, Justice of the Peace, according to her widow's pension application, as Charles Cofren had served in the Civil War, and died on 27 August 1892 at Forrestville. Among the pension application materials was a sworn affidavit from Thomas Comstock of Alexandria Bay, brother of Alpheus, who stated he had attended the funeral and knew that Alpheus and Ruth were married, and that Alpheus was deceased. Charles had operated a mill in Calumet but he was also a skilled carpenter and they moved to Forrestville in Door County, Wisconsin. Ruth died on 14 March 1914 in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and both Ruth and Charles Cofren are buried in the Brockhausen Cemetery at Forrestville, Door Co., WI.

Known children of Alpheus Comstock and Ruth E. Russel:

4a) William Comstock bc 1843
4b) Phebe Ann Comstock bc 1846
4c) Joseph Comstock b 18 Jan. 1849
4d) Martha Combstock b 5 Nov. 1850
4e) Richardson Comstock b 1852
4f) infant Comstock b October 1855; died shortly after birth
4g) Sarah Comstock b 10 Dec. 1856
4h) Willard Comstock b 13 Nov. 1858
4i) Daniel S. Comstock b 9 March 1859

5) Levi Comstock was born 1821-22 in the United States and died 3 August 1877 at 56 years at Delta, Ontario, Canada. He is buried in Delta, Ontario. He married Jane Comstock who was born 1820-21 in Quebec, Canada, daughter of Stephen and Nancy Comstock. Levi by occupation was a pumpmaker when he lived in New York and became a hotel owner in Delta, Ontario. His partner in the hotel was Henry Mott and in 1868 they obtained a liquor license to enhance hotel services. After Levi's death, his widow, Jane married on 20 August 1883 at Napanee Canada to Henry Mott, son of Reuben Mott and Esther Thompson; Reuben born 1817 in Napanee.

Known children of Levi Comstock and Jane Comstock:

5a) Levi Comstock bc 1839
5b) Dianna Comstock bc 1841

6) Thomas Comstock was born 1826/27, probably on Wells Island and died 26 May 1897 at 72 years. He was a boatbuilder and carpenter in Alexandria Bay. Thomas married 1)Maria McCue, who was born 1826, and died 10 Dec. 1851 at 26 years. He married 2)Caroline Edgerly on 18 Nov. 1853 at the home of his uncle, William Pattison, on Wells Island. Caroline died on 22 Sept. 1891 at 57 years in Alexandria Bay. Thomas Comstock's family bible was rescued from E-Bay by a direct descendant.

Known children of Thomas Comstock and Maria McCue:

6a) George W. Comstock bc 1849
Known children of Thomas Comstock and Caroline Edgerly:
6b) Adelia Comstock bc 1855
6c) Thomas Comstock bc 1857
6d) infant who died in 1862
6e) Frederick Comstock bc 1864
6f) Lodwick Comstock bc June 1866
6g) Walter M. Comstock b 27 May 1869

In the 1850 census of Alexandria Bay, NY, William Comstock is listed with a wife, Pamela. She was born between 1818 and 1820 in Canada East. It is not known if Pamela was a second wife or the census takers mistakenly wrote Pamela instead of Amelia.

1) Mary Comstock bc 1836
2) Loisa Comstock bc 1838
3) Jane Comstock bc 1840; she married on 11 January 1857 in Alexandria Bay to Richard Wells. He was born 1838. Jane Comstock Wells died 20 Sept. 1896 and both are buried in Pine Hills Cemetery, Leeds Co., Ontario, Canada. Richard Wells was the son of Henry Wells and Nancy Pattison, who moved from Jefferson County to Ontario, Canada.
4) Riley Comstock bc 1843 (full name was William Riley Comstock); In 1880, he was in the household of Alexander Griffin in Alexandria Bay as a brother-in-law of Alexander.
5) Merrilla Comstock bc 1845
6) Phebe Comstock bc 1848

In the 1855 census of Yates, Monroe County, NY, the following family unit was discovered. The census takers did not make the stepchild notation clear; that is, were the children stepchildren of his wife or were they George Gillman's stepchildren.

George W. Gillman, age 31, b NY
Amelia Gilman, age 35, born Canada East
Mary Comstock, stepchild of wife, age 19, born Jefferson Co., NY
Jane Comstock, stepchild of wife, age 14, born Jefferson Co., NY
William R. Comstock, stepchild of wife, age 12, born Jefferson Co., NY
Merilla Comstock, stepchild of wife, age 10, born Jefferson Co., NY
Phebe Comstock, stepchild of wife, age 7, born Jefferson Co., NY

In the 1860 census of Alexandria Bay, Jefferson Co., NY:

Amelia Gillman, age 40 born Canada East
Phebe Comstock, age 12, born NY
Mary E. Gillman, age 3, bc 1857; She married Alexander Griffin, b 1845; d 1898 in Alexandria Bay, NY, son of Charles Griffin, b 1811, and Polly Griffin bc 1813 of Alexandria Bay.
    Children of Alexander Griffin and Mary E. Gillman:
            - Ella bc 1876
            - George H. who died 4 Sept. 1886 at age 2
Captola L. Gillman, age 1, born 1859
Richard Wells, age 21
Jane Wells, age 19

NOTE: Hull Russel, father of Joseph Russel (married Sarah/Sally Comstock), and Ruth E. Russel (married Alpheus Comstock) was born 31 March 1791 in Dartmouth, MA, son of Joseph Russel and Phebe Devol, who married in Dartmouth on 13 March 1790 in Dartmouth. In 1805, Hull witnessed a deed for the sale of property by his parents in Saratoga County, NY. His father was a cooper by occupation. His mother, Phebe Devol Russel was born in 1771 in Rhode Island and died 11 Nov. 1859; buried West Burlington Cemetery in Otsego County, NY. Hull Russel was in Chenango County NY in 1829 and in 1835 was a resident of Alexandria Township in Jefferson Co., NY. Census records indicate a marriage had occurred in that year, and because Hull was not listed with a wife, it is likely his son, Joseph, who married Sally Comstock in that year. Also listed is a female child under 10, which would have been Ruth E. Russel. It is not known when Hull died or Annie Hart, his wife, but it seems that Ruth E. was probably raised in the household of her brother, Joseph and his wife, Sally Comstock.

MS/2015


This information about the Pioneer William Comstock family was contributed by volunteer Marilyn Sapienza.


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