The Young Family of Surry, Maine
Samuel Young was an early settler of Surry, Maine, arriving by 1778. His name was common, making it is difficult to determine who Samuel Young’s parents were, though the Young family dates back to the 17th century in the greater York, Maine area. A local historian who wrote the bi-centennial history of the town says the Youngs came from Old Newbury, Massachusetts. One source notes that a Samuel Young was born in 1735 in Northern Ireland, then emigrated. If so, he may be a Scots-Irish immigrant (link). We do know that before Samuel Young moved north, he married Elizabeth (Sarah) Joy on May 10, 1761, in Biddeford, Maine, a fact that could tie him either to the Young family in neighboring York or to a migrant from Old Newbury.
According to Osmond Bonsey in his history of Surry, “the young settlers were sons who could find no land near their parents; others were people always restless, who never stayed long in any one place or who preferred solitary existence…These settlers were familiar with the area as they had often been to the east on fishing or trading expeditions.” By the 1780s, Bonsey writes, there were a number of settlers from "Old" Newbury, Massachusetts, including the Clarks, Treworgys and Youngs who settled on Newbury Neck in Surry. The historical record shows that these Massachusetts settlers were mobile, and many stopped in places like York or Saco, Maine, for a couple of years before trying their chances further north in Surry.
Although an exact arrival date is impossible to fix, Young certainly arrived in Surry by the time of the American Revolution.
Samuel Young's Revolutionary War Service
He was mustered into militia service in July 1779, one of the hundreds of poorly trained farmers and mariners sent in at the tail end of the failed Penobscot Expedition. The 48-year-old farmer served for 17 days in Colonel Ebenezer Buck’s company of volunteers, which was part of Col. Josiah Brewer’s regiment and Col. Lovell’s brigade.
Samuel Young appears as a resident of Surry in the 1790 census in a household with three males under age 16, three older than 16 and four females. He died three years later, in 1793, though his grave site remains unknown.
A 19th-century biographical sketch confirms much of this. It reports that Samuel Young came from Saco, Maine, and “settled on (Newbury) Neck, close to the shore. He took up a tract of wild land, which by means of incessant toil he converted into a good farm. Like his pioneer neighbors he built a log house and there dwelt for rest of his life, rearing his family and reaching good old age.”
Elizabeth Sarah Joy Young (1737-82)
Another question that cannot be satisfactorily answered is the heritage of Samuel Young’s wife, Elizabeth Joy. The couple was married in Biddeford, Maine in 1761, and many amateur genealogists say she was born in 1737, a daughter of Benjamin Joy and Elizabeth Hovey. That would make her a sister of Benjamin Joy II, who is celebrated as a founder of Ellsworth, Maine, which borders Surry. Benjamin Joy appears in the early records of Township No. 6 and it would make sense that his sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and Samuel Young, followed him to the area.
Joseph Cohoes Young (1778-1863)
Samuel Young’s son, Joseph Cohoes Young, my 4th great-grandfather, was born in 1778, in Surry. His biographer writes that “Joseph Young was born in the old log cabin on the homestead which his father wrested from the wilderness. During his earlier years he was employed in coasting. Subsequently he turned his attention to farming, in which he was successfully engaged until his death at the venerable age of four score and four years. A son of sterling integrity, he became prominent in town affairs and wielded an influence for good in the community. To him and his wife, whose maiden name was Margaret Edmunds, eight children were born.”
Margaret Edmunds Young (1791-1831)
Margaret Edmunds’ parentage is much hazier. Death records say she was born in either Gouldsboro or Sullivan, Maine, but no one with this surname appears in the 1790 census. Other clues about any Edmunds living east of the Penobscot include the 1791 naturalization record of John Edmunds, an Irish immigrant who swore he had lived in the U.S. for at least two years and maintained a “good moral character.”
John Edmunds was in Machias when he was naturalized and the same town recorded a marriage of John Edmunds and Jane M. Dole three years later, on February 16, 1794. A late 19th-century history of the Narragaugus Valley, which includes the area from Steuben to Machias, notes “the first school was taught by one John Edmunds, an Irishman, in the house of Mr. Isaac Patten, that stood near the Creek.”
Margaret Edmunds was born in 1791 so whether she is the daughter of John and Jane remains a mystery.
The marriage of Joseph C. Young and Margaret gave birth to Armelia Young, who married a sea captained name Henry Jarvis Ray. In 1852, Armelia and Henry Jarvis Ray’s daughter married Christopher Atwood Eldridge, whose father had moved the family to Surry a decade earlier. By 1862, both Christopher and Margaret were dead and their two young sons, my great-grandfather and great grand-uncle, went to live with their grandfather, Hezekiah Eldridge.
(Read the full story of Robert Ray’s Scots-Irish parentage here.)
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