Tuesday, April 1, 2014
#8 What Do You Mean, I Cannot have a Cup of Tea? Ebenezer Newell
In genealogy, I am always much more interested in what people did and how they lived, rather than when they were born, died, married, etc. Thus it is always a good when I can find out something more about a person. Since Patriots Day in Massachusetts is coming soon, I though in the next couple of blogs I should find out more about my relatives that were involved in the Revolutionary War.
One such person was my 3th great grandfather, Ebenezer Newell. Other than the basics, I did not know much about him. I did know that Ebenezer was born on January 4, 1712. His parents were Josiah and Hannah (Fisher) Newell in Needham, Massachusetts. In 1735 he married Elizabeth Bullard. After her death in 1753 he married Elizabeth Allen. Originally a resident of Needham, in 1748, he moved to the Strawberry Hills section of Dover. He farmed there until 1769 when he sold the farm and moved back to Needham. Ebenezer died on January 8, 1798.
Since Ebenezer would have been in his sixties during the Revolutionary War, I was surprised to find that he was indeed involved in the war efforts. According to the History of Needham, Massachusetts, 1711-1911: including West Needham, now the town of Wellesley, to its separation from Needham, Ebenezer was on the Committee of Correspondence, Inspection and Safety during the war. While the Committee was involved in writing to other committees about colonial issues and plans of action, and overseeing the militia, one of its most interesting tasks involved the drinking of tea. In essence, because the taxes on tea supported the British, the Committee was to see that the people in the town did not drink tea.
According to Frank Smith (1897) in Narrative History: A History of Dover, Massachusetts as a Precinct, Parish, District and Town:
On December 5, 1774, the town voted “that we do not further engage that we will not drink, nor suffer any in our families to drink, any kind of India tea till we have a full redress of all the grievances enumerated in the Association Agreement” …The committee of inspection were instructed to endeavor to find out whether any of the inhabitants presumed to violate the foregoing engagement, and if any were found acting contrary thereto, to post up their names in some public place in each parish as enemies of the welfare of America.
I can find no records of people whose names were posted or how Ebenezer and the other committee members went about this task. Thus, if I could talk to Ebenezer, I would ask: How did you find out who was drinking tea? Did you post their names? How did other people react to those who had their names posted: What did people drink in place of tea?