Sunday, June 29, 2014

TRYPHENA FISHER, wife of CURTIS OTWELL of Maryland & Delaware

Well, it has taken me fifteen years, but I believe I have finally found the family of TRYPHENA FISHER, born about 1741, wife of CURTIS OTWELL of Maryland & Sussex Co Delaware.

In her writings about her Quaker family's history, ANN MILLIS FRAZIER WAY indicated that TRYPHENA FISHER was the daughter of HENRY FISHER, and that they were "from Ireland".

For fifteen years I have labored under this assumption, finding absolutely nothing. Now I have solid evidence that TRYPHENA FISHER was from a Maryland family, and that her father was not HENRY FISHER.

What has really helped is that the Maryland State Archives are now online with a searchable database for their records!

The first clue I discovered in the Maryland State Archives records was that SOLOMON OTWELL--who married RACHEL CURTIS & was father of CURTIS OTWELL--died 1755 in Dorchester Co Maryland, and not in Somerset Co Maryland as I had previously been led to believe.

Here are the index cards for SOLOMON OTWELL's 1755 probate & the 1756 Estate Account by RACHEL OTWELL from the Maryland State Archives.  Unfortunately I live on the west coast, and can't go to the Maryland State Archives to copy these files. There were several more index cards related to the death of SOLOMON OTWELL, by the way.

I am uncertain exactly when SOLOMON OTWELL moved from Somerset to Dorchester Co Maryland; more records need to be found tracing the family in Dorchester.  Parts of Dorchester Co Maryland became Caroline Co Maryland in 1774, so records may exist in that county also.

TRYPHENA FISHER, the daughter of JOHN PRITCHETT FISHER Sr & REBECCA EDGAR, was born about 1741 in Dorchester Co Maryland.

JOHN PRITCHETT FISHER Sr , born about 1700 Maryland, died before June 10, 1762 Dorchester Co Maryland, was the son of HENRY FISHER & MARY PRITCHETT of Dorchester Co Maryland, and grandson of Dr JOHN PRITCHETT/PRITCHARD & MARY PRICE,  early settlers of Dorchester Co Maryland.

To her credit, ANN MILLIS FRAZIER WAY was only one generation off in her remembering.  HENRY FISHER of Dorchester Co Maryland was the grandfather, not father, of TRYPHENA FISHER.

JOHN PRITCHETT FISHER Sr left a will Nov 21, 1761 in Dorchester Co Maryland. Here is an abstract:

27 Nov. 1761 WILL of   JOHN PRICHET FISHER, Dorchester Co. Maryland,  Gentleman;
--To my son HENRY FISHER, Rang 50a where he lives, a cow & heifer, 2 ewes, & my desk. 
--To my 2 sons, JAMES FISHER & JOHN PRICHETT FISHER, the rest of my lands div. by a line from the first bounder of Hopkins Horse Pond to the middle of Fishers Venture, JAMES & JOHN to have the E & W parts respectively, & to son JAMES my old gun & to son JOHN my new gun. 
--To my dau. ELIZABETH GOSLIN, a cow. 
--To my dau. MARY BARWICK, 6 yr.-old hogs. 
--To my dau. JANE FISHER, mulatto boy TOM. 
--To my dau. TRIPHENA FISHER, mulatto boy SAMBO. 
--The residue, equ. div.betrw. my 4 chldn. - JAMES, JOHN PRICHETT, JANE, & TRIPHENA FISHER - on the d. of my wife. 
--Extrx: my wife, REBECCA FISHER.  Witn: Jeremiah Prichett, William Morris, Salathiel Parrish. 
    10 June 1762, sworn to by all 3 with.
SOURCE: "Maryland Calendar of Wills Vol 12 1759-1764" by F. Edward Wright p 162

TRYPHENA FISHER  likely married CURTIS OTWELL in Dorchester Co Maryland--which is why I have never been able to find a marriage record for them in Somerset Co Maryland. I am estimating marriage in around 1769. By 1777, CURTIS OTWELL was mentioned as a landowner in Sussex Co Delaware, and his will dated April 1779 names wife TRUFENER, and children (not named).  CURTIS OTWELL was approximately 42 years old when he died.

What became of TRYPHENA FISHER OTWELL after CURTIS' death is unclear.  I did not find a will for her in Sussex Co Delaware.  According to Ed Brezenger, TRIFFINAH OTWELL, widowed wife of CURTIS OTWELL is listed in the 1790 Northwest Fork Hundred, Delaware census. I have not yet seen this record myself. Another source indicates that the entire 1790 Delaware census was destroyed in the war of 1812. So now I am very confused.

Many questions swirl around the FISHER, PRITCHETT,  & EDGAR families of Dorchester Co Maryland:  Where did they come from?  Were they Quakers, as most of their descendants were?  Did they relinquish their Quaker faith when they settled Maryland?  If they were Quakers, did they first settle in Accomack County Virginia, as the CURTIS family did, before moving to Maryland in 1661, when Virginia outlawed the Quaker religion in the colony?

And speaking of the CURTIS family... RACHEL, the wife of SOLOMON OTWELL was not RACHEL SMITH, daughter of HOLLIDAY SMITH, as has been erroneously reported in many online trees (including my own, at one time).

RACHEL was likely the daughter of JAMES CURTIS born Nov 7, 1666 Annamessex, Somerset Co Maryland, son of DANIEL CURTIS, the Quaker, previously of Accomack Co Virginia.

JAMES CURTIS married SARAH HALL Feb 2, 1685 Somerset Co Maryland.  He was apparently not a Quaker during his lifetime. His will was probated April 18, 1720, and in it he names his daughter RACHEL CURTIS.

I recently found the record for RACHEL CURTIS OTWELL which probably started the rumor that she was RACHEL SMITH.

On Feb 4, 1770 "RACHEL OWTWELL"  witnessed the Kent Co Delaware will of REBECCA SMITH:


Of course, there is no way of knowing from this will how or if RACHEL CURTIS OTWELL was related to REBECCA SMITH, and besides, SMITH was likely REBECCA's married name, not her maiden name.  

Finding the will of RACHEL CURTIS OTWELL has proven to be difficult; did she die in Dorchester/Caroline Co Maryland, or in Sussex Co Delaware?

And one last thought:  JAMES OTWELL, son of TRYPHENA FISHER & CURTIS OTWELL, freed his slaves in 1800 in Guilford Co North Carolina, likely at the request of his Quaker wife, ELEANOR REYNOLDS. Were the slaves that he freed the descendants of the mulatto boy SAMBO who was willed to TRYPHENA FISHER by her father, JOHN PRITCHETT FISHER in 1761?

Stay tuned.....

Have a great day!


© Betty Tartas  2014

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