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INDEX to the Proctor files
ROBERT PROCTOR (d. 1697) of Concord and Chelmsford
Robert Proctor died on 28 Apr 1697 in Chelmsford. [Ref, p. 5][Ref] He married Jane Hildreth on 31 Dec 1645 [Ref] in Concord. [Ref]
Robert was admitted freeman on 10 May 1643. [Ref] Robert, Gershom, Peter, James and Israel Poctor were in the Chelmsford garrison on 16 Mar 1691/2. [Ref] Robert signed his will with his mark on 10 Mar 1695/6. [Ref]
The origin of Chelmsford was a 1652 petition signed by citizens of Concord and Woburn requesting the right to look at land on the other side of the Concord River. On 19 May 1653, 29 men, including Isaac Learned, Wiliam Chamberlain, Thomas Adams, William Fletcher, Robert Proctor and Richard Hildreth, requested a grant of six square miles. [Ref]
Robert was constable in 1660 in Chelmsford. [Ref][Ref, 1;116] He was chosen juror on 1 Apr 1662. [Ref, 1;147] In 1669 Robert was a juror for a coroner's inquest to examine the death of five-year-old John Blanchard, who fell into a kettle of lye. [Ref, 2;91]
On 30 (3) 1671 the selectman of Chelmsford assessed the residents of the town to pay the minister; Robert was assessed a moderately high rate: £2.09.10. [Ref]
In his will, Robert mentions his wife Jane, his sons Gershom, Peter, James, John, Samuel, Israel and Thomas; his daughters Dorothy Barrett, Elizabeth Proctor, Sarah the wife of Thomas Chamberlain and Mary Bourne. [Ref] He refers to his beloved brother Jacob Warren, Sr. of Chelmsford [Ref], who was the husband of Jane Hildreth's half sister Mary Hildreth.
Children of Robert Proctor and Jane Hildreth:
SAMUEL PROCTOR (1665 - 1740) of Chelmsford
Parents: Robert Proctor married Jane Hildreth [Ref][Ref, p. 7]
Samuel Proctor was born on 16 Sep 1665 in Chelmsford. [Ref, p. 7][Ref] He died on 12 Apr 1740 [Ref, p. 7] in Chelmsford. [Ref] He is buried in the Forefathers' Cemetery in Chelmsford Centre. [Ref] Click here to see a photo of his grave. He married Sarah Unknown. [Ref, p. 7] Sarah was born about 1672. She died on 17 Jan 1757 [Ref, p. 7] at 85 years of age in Chelmsford. [Ref]
Samuel Proctor, the son of Robert, settled near Sparks Hill in Westford before 1700. [Ref, p. 10]
Samuel was one of the petitioners for a grant of land which became Townsend. [Ref, p. 7]
Children of Samuel Proctor and Sarah Unknown:
THOMAS PROCTOR (1698 - 1774) of Chelmsford and Westford
Parents: Samuel Proctor and Sarah Unknown [Ref, p. 7]
Thomas Proctor was born on 12 Dec 1698 in Chelmsford. [Ref][Ref, p. 14][Ref] He died on 3 Sep 1774, age 76, in Westford. [Ref] He married Hannah Barron [Ref, p. 14][Ref] after 23 Dec 1722 when their intention was recorded in Chelmsford. [Ref]
Children of Thomas Broctor and Hannah Barron:
CAPT. LEONARD PROCTOR (1735 - 1827) of Westford, Cavendish and Proctorsville
Parents: Thomas Proctor and Hannah Barron [Ref, p. 14]
Leonard Proctor was born on 5 Jan 1734/5 [Ref, says 16 Jan][Ref, p. 29, says 16 Jan] in Westford. [Ref] He died on 3 Jan 1827 [Ref] in Proctorsville. [Ref][Ref, p. 29] He is buried in the Proctor cemetery. [Ref] His gravestone has a revolutionary marker. He married first Lydia Nutting of Westford [Ref, p. 29] after 6 Sep 1760, when they published their intention in Westford. [Ref] She died on 16 Nov 1767 [Ref, p. 29, says 16 Nov] or 1768, age 31, in Westford. [Ref] He married second Mary Keep on 25 Dec 1769 [Ref, p. 29] in Harvard. [Ref] Mary is called Mary Proctor in her father's will. [Ref, p. 24]
Leonard was a selectman of Westford in 1770, 1778 and 1779. [Ref, p. 29] He was an officer in the Revolutionary War and took part in the battles of Lexington, Trenton and Monmouth. [Ref, p. 29] He was second lieutenant in Capt. Minot's company which marched from Westford in the alarm of 19 Apr 1775. [Ref, p. 29] He was one of the Committee of Correspondence for 1780. [Ref, p. 29] That year he was one of a committee to "take under consideration the new form of government." [Ref, p. 29] He was a captain in 1781. [Ref, p. 29]
After the war, Leonard moved to Cavendish. [Ref, p. 29] He was a freeman in Cavendish in 1782. [Ref, p. 164] He was a selectman there in 1784 and 1785. [Ref, p. 164] In the unbroken forest near Cavendish, he founded the village of Proctorsville. [Ref, p. 29]
"A man of great force and character ... " [Ref, p. 164]
Children of Leonard Proctor and Lydia Nutting:
Philip "was in the Army and Navy during the Revolution, he and his brother Abel were in the six months levy of soldiers from Westford in 1780. After the war was over he married in Boston, afterwards he settled in Charleston, South Carolina, where he lived many years; after his wife and four children died he returned to Boston but after living there some years he returned to Charleston and died there, August ___ 1795 aged nearly 34 years."
Abel and Elizabeth "lived happily many years and prospered in acquiring property. [Abel] purchased and loaded a small vessel and sailed for the West Indies accompanied by his younger brother Asa. Before they reached their destination they found, at an island, a vessel owned in New London, the crew all having died of yellow fever and the cargo receiving damage. Asa stopped to take charge of the vessel and cargo and Abel proceeded on his voyage. After disposing of his cargo, he went up river, about twenty miles from his vessel, to purchase coffee. In a day or two the Captain who remained with the vessel heard he was ill, so he started to go to him and reached the place in the evening to hear he 'died the day before and was buried an hour ago'."
Asa born November 26, 1766 died November 18th, 1796, age 30, buried at sea.
Children of Leonard Proctor and Mary Keep:
JABEZ PROCTOR (1780 - 1839) of Proctorsville
Parents: Capt. Leonard Proctor and Mary Keep [Ref, p. 62]
Jabez Proctor was born on 22 Apr 1780 [Ref] in Westford. [Ref, p. 62] He was baptised on 23 Apr 1780 in Westford. [Ref] He died on 22 Nov 1839 [Ref] in Proctorsville. [Ref, p. 62] He is buried in the Proctor cemetery in Proctorsville; his gravestone says that he is the son of Leonard and Mary. [Ref] Click here to see a photo. He married Betsey Parker on 26 Nov 1817. [Ref, p. 62]
In 1820 Jabez was living in Cavendish (the town in which the village of Proctorsville is located). With him lived a women 26 - 45, seven males aged 16 - 26, two females aged 16 - 26 and a girl under ten. [Ref]
In 1822 Jabez was a member of the Governor's Council. [Ref] In 1830 - 1834 he was a Judge of Probate. [Ref] In 1824 and 1836 he was a presidential elector. [Ref]
photo: Redfield Proctor
Children of Jabez Proctor and Betsey Parker:
Sixth Generation 6
HARRIET ELIZABETH PROCTOR (1819 - 1852)
Parents: Jabez Proctor and Betsey Parker [Ref, p. 62], gravestone
Harriet Elizabeth Proctor was born on 2 Jan 1819 in Proctorsville. [Ref, p. 62] She died on 28 Jul 1852 in the burning of the steamboat Henry Clay on the Hudson River. [Ref, p. 62] She is buried in the Proctor cemetery. [Ref] She married Hon. Stoddard B. Colby on 10 Feb 1840. [Ref, p. 62]
Stoddard B. Colby's description of the burning of the Henry Clay:
July 31, 1852
The last sad service to the remains of my dear, dear HARRIET was attended yesterday at 2 o'clock, afternoon. It may be some days before I see you, and I will write the particulars of that fatal scene as my crushed heart will permit.
Our party, consisting of myself and wife, J.W. Ellis, wife and sister, left Albany, for N.Y. city by the steamer Henry Clay about 7, a.m., on Wednesday morning. We went upon the promenade deck for the better view of villages and scenery along the shore. We were not many miles out before I discovered the "Armenia", a rival boat, coming down behind and apparently gaining upon us. I then feared racing, but had been strongly assured at Albany, by reliable persons, as we supposed, that no racing would be allowed and I hoped it was so. But not long after, I noticed that the landings of our boat were effected with great haste, and passengers were passed off and on with dangerous rapidity. At one of our landings, the third one, I think, the Armenia passed us. Our boat was behind for some distance and only got along side the other as were were nearing Kingston - then the two boats ran side by side, at times very close, and at length the bows were in contact. A hand on the Henry Clay put out a fender against the wheel-house of the Armenia to prevent closer collision, and, in that position, we ran for some distance. The passengers were greatly disturbed, and were generally standing up on the upper decks, when some official of the boat came up and passed around them saying "there was no danger," and that they were "not racing," and urging all to step to the opposite side of the deck to ease off the boat. I then appealed to him to stop this and not run us into danger. He repeated with greater emphasis, we were "perfectly safe," "no danger," and "all would be right if he passengers stepped to the other side as he requested," - this was done and the Henry Clay went ahead. After this occurrence we concluded to leave the boat and go ashore; but the other boat did not come up with us afterward and was finally lost sight of. The circumstance quieted our fears and we felt quite secure for some hours before the fire, - in the meantime many of the passengers took dinner.
About the time we passed Yonkers, I left my wife sitting in the ladies' saloon where she had been most of the day, and went on the promenade deck where were the others, Mr. Ellis and his ladies. Within 20 minutes I think, after I went up, there was a cry and smoke forward - about the center of the boat - and at once I started to go below for my wife, and alas! she was gone!! I screamed for her, - in vain, the saloon which was filled with ladies when I left it - was empty - and the hot flames and smoke were pouring through it, in a torrent. I ran outside on the guard - there was the whole horror of a hundred deaths at once - all who had left the saloon had gone over the sides in utter panic and despair. My wife was not to be found, and it was plain that the alarm and the fire were felt in the saloon before those on the upper deck were aroused; and it now seems that many had gone overboard before the boat struck. I hoped that she might have gone forward and reached the shore. That hope prevented me from plunging into that cauldron of death. It only remained for me to get off the boat. The fire below prevented going forward from the lower deck where I then was. I went up the stairs on the promenade deck - it was then cleared of people - the fire had nearly covered it - but a space on the starboard side allowed me to pass it and to reach the shore - the last one who escaped by going forward, I think, for the fire, at that instant, enveloped the whole width of the boat. -
There was no small boat on the Henry Clay, I am sure, or if there was, it was not used, nor was it in sight. Help came after some time from some vessels in the river; two boats came but the fire allowed no near approach to the wreck. The bodies of those who went over before the boat stopped were doubtless first found. My wife was found some rods from the stern of the boat and up the stream from the boat. She must have fallen in at the first fright, as her position would have been down the stream if she fell after the boat stopped. Her seat in the saloon was next to the door, and it was but a few steps from that to the guard out of which so many rushed to perish. Her dress and person were in no way touched by the fire or heat. She seamed as if life was not gone - but all effort to restore her was made that could be, on such a shore, away from houses and accommodations. The precious spark had fled and with it, in a moment, all my earthly hopes. Could I but have been with her, and died with her, or heard her last word, it had seemed a milder fate. I had left her, at her request, to have me to go on deck and lose the views of the shores as we neared N. York. She preferred not to go up as the breeze was strong and she had some headache; besides, I thing the fright in the morning really induced her to prefer the Saloon. Sure _
"There's a Divinity that shapes our ends
Rough hew them how we will"
That the managers of the boat were grossly, culpable, nay criminal, can be demonstrated, and whatever shall be the verdict of the coroner's jury, upon their conduct, I shall ever blame myself for periling that dear life in the control of such reckless men.
It was 3 o'clock when the fire took. At 8 o'clock, the Hudson R.R. Road train stopped for us and took us to the city where the officers and agents gave every attention to the sufferers in their power. At the  I found the proprietor, Mr. Howe ready with every attention; and my friend Hon. D. A. Smalley, who was a guest, then devoted most of the night to my  and returned with me the next day to Vermont in charge of the remains. Such kindness to all who have felt keen distress  know how to appreciate.
It is with great difficulty thatI am writing this sorrowful, heart rending narrative but suppose many of our friends will be anxious to hear more directly than through the newspapers.
Your affectionate friend
Ancestry.com, Vermont Death Records, 1909-2008, Provo, UT, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
Best, Frank Eugene,. John Keep of Longmeadow, Massachusetts, 1676-1680, and his descendants. Chicago: Best, 1899.
Bureau of the Census, Fourth Census of the United States, 1820, Washington, DC, National Archives and Records Administration, 1820.
Chandler, Charles H., The History of New Ipswich, New Hampshire, 1735-1914 : with genealogical records of the principal families, Fitchburg, MA, Sentinel Print. Co., 1914.
Colby, Stoddard B., Letter describing the burning of the Henry Clay, Proctorsville, 31 Jul 1852.
Davis, Walter Goodwin, Massachusetts and Maine Families in the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis, v. I-III, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1996.
Hodgman, Edwin R., History of the Town of Westford in the County of Middlesex, Massachusetts: 1659-1883, Westford, Westford Town History Association, 1883.
Lamb, Wallace E., The Lake Champlain and Lake George Valley, New York, The American Historical Co., 1940.
Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850. Online Database: NewEnglandAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2007.
No author, Biographical Sketches of Vermonters, Montpelier, Vermont Historical Society, 1947.
No author, Middlesex County, MA, Abstracts of Court Files, 1649-1675, New England Historical and Genealogical Society database, http://www.americanancestors.org.
No author, Proctor Cemetery, Proctorsvsille, Windsor County, Vermont, Cemetery Transcription Library, www.Interment.net.
Paige, Lucius, R., "List of Freemen, " New England Historical and Genealogical Register 3, 1849, 89-96, 187-194, 239-246, 345-352.
Proctor, Mr. and Mrs. William Lawrence, Genealogy of Descendants of Robert Proctor of Concord and Chelmsford, Mass., Republican & Journal Print, Ogdensburg, NY, 1898.
Waters, Wilson, History of Chelmsford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Courier-Citizen Co., Lowell, MA, c. 1917.