Jesse N. Noton/Nolton
By Karen Cuccinello
While researching for Samuel I. Brown in the Stamford Presbyterian Church records, that are housed in the Stamford Village Library history room, I found an interesting notation, written in the vernacular of the day, with the funeral date for Jesse Norton. It said he was colored “ A former slave. Liberated in the war.” He is the only one in the records with this type of listing. So I thought let me see what I can find out about this guy.
There was not much to find because he did not live very long and he did not have family in Stamford.
He was in Stamford at least by 1870, because Jessie Knowlton, age 26 born in Virginia, is a farm laborer for Elijah Churchill (this is Dr. Stephen E. Churchill’s father) in the census and Jesse Nolton became a member of the Presbyterian Church the same year. Can you imagine walking or riding a horse to Stamford from VA on a trip that now takes about 10 hours in a car? His last name was listed a few different ways which was not unusual for the time period.
From the Presbyterian Church records and Stamford Mirror newspaper I discovered that he was married to Miss Sarah Hedges on April 4, 1878, by Reverend L.E. Richards. Both are listed as being from Stamford and colored. Sadly she died just over six months later on October 15, 1878, aged about 23 years old. I found Sarah in the 1875 Stamford census, age 20 and born in Virginia, working as a servant for Chauncey B. Hinman and family. I did not find any other Hedge or Noton family members in Stamford census reports.
In the 1880 census for Stamford, in the Town of Stamford section of the Village of Stamford – Jesse Newton is living on his own, age 36, occupation-”does job work in village”, single and he and his parents were born in Virginia.
September 1883 (Gilboa Monitor)- C.A. McMurdy has purchased Jesse Noton’s house and lot near Lawrence’s hardware store. McMurdy is preparing to build a cooperage, 25 x10 feet, to be run by steam.
In the 1892 census Stamford, Jessee N. Noton is age 44, laborer and Nannie age 28 is his wife. Interestingly they are living next door to Samuel I. Brown. I did not find any more information on Nannie.
From the Stamford Village death records (transcribed copy at the library) Jesse died May 24, 1895 age 48 years and six months (so that would put his birth at December 1846). His occupation was a laborer and he had lived in Stamford about 30 years. No names were listed for his parents, only said that they were all from VA. His doctor, E.W. Gallup, listed his cause of death as gastroenteritis 30 days.
June 1895 (Stamford Mirror-Recorder)-Jesse Noton, who has been a familiar figure in Stamford for many years, died age 48. He was born a slave and came North from Virginia at the close of the civil war. He had been in the employ of Dr. E.W. Gallup for the past five years and was a faithful servant. An attack of grip followed by other troubles caused his death. Funeral at the Presbyterian Church, where he was a member, was largely attended. He was twice married and a wife survives.
April 4, 1896 (Stamford Mirror)- The house and lot on Prospect Street belonging to the estate of Jesse Noton was sold to W.D. Robertson for $920.
THEN, Since he had property, I went to the Delaware County Surrogates Court in Delhi and found out that he did not leave a will but he had a rather full folder pertaining to settling his estate. From the time of his death it took 13 months to close out his estate. His wife Nannie, listed as age 36, petitioned the court and became the administrator. Throughout the paperwork his name was listed as “Jesse Noton (or Nolton)” and he had no living relatives, less than $20 in cash, no personal items of any value and a house worth about $900 at the time of his death.
His house (purchased in 1887 from Ralph Newell), on a ½ acre lot on Prospect St. known as the old District Schoolhouse (the schoolhouse became the innards of Columbia House boarding house which still stands at 1 Prospect St.) sold for $920 at auction in 1896 to W.D. Robertson. The sale of the house made things look good for Nannie but there was a $580 mortgage on the house, other debts and legal fees. Jesse had been running a tab with assorted merchants (VanDyke, Hanaford & Co. claimed the most at $73 mostly for clothing) from about 1890-1893.
Attorney Charles L. Andrus received the bulk of the monies, about $140, Nannie got about $100 (Nannie also claimed she was owed $355 that she had loaned Jesse but that did not make it into the final calculations), funeral director got $30, grave digger $5 and the rest to the merchants (VanDyke, Hanaford & Co. ended up with $17). Since Jesse had good enough credit to buy property, I am suspecting that Jesse must have been sick to some extent during the last five years of his life and was unable to work full time.
THEN, I visited Sandy Ferris and Bob Tripp at the Stamford Cemetery to see what kind of records they might have. I had previously looked for Jesse and Sarah’s graves unsuccessfully so Bob told me exactly where Sarah’s was. It is towards the front (towards the road) of section “C” next to George Churchill and family and Bob even cleaned the stone up. No stone for Jesse but I am pretty sure he is next to Sarah.
The cemetery records state that Jesse Nolton purchased 10 plots which does not make sense because it was only he and his two wives. The records also state that they were deeded (then there is a word I can not read) 1904 which also doesn’t make sense because he died 1895. Another weird thing is somebody paid maintenance on the plots from 1930-1958 and there is only one stone and two bodies in the whole row. One last interesting tidbit is in parentheses “bodies moved from Main St. Cemetery”. Did somebody from the Churchill family move them and pay for the plots? but then why is there only one stone for Sarah??????? And a beautiful stone it is!